Monday, February 24, 2014

What A Week!‏

24 Febuero 2014

Buenos Dias Familia y Amigos!!!

What a week it has been! Wowza, so the week began with saying goodbye to Hermana Aagard as she headed off to Segovia, and I was in a trio with the other two sisters here (Hermanas Shelton y Hansen) for the night and morning. I felt strangely calm about everything, although the past few days before I was feeling very panicky, wondering who my new companion was, hoping I am capable enough to train, etc. But I do believe I was feeling the prayers of family once again! It was the strangest experience though, I had to travel 1 1/2 hours ALONE by metro (subway) to [Calle Hacienda de] Pavones (the temple) to go the training meeting and receive my new companion. Oh boy was that weird after being with someone 24/7 for the past 8 months. It all went okay, though, and I made it in one piece, and even received a reference, wahoo!! I was reading The Book of Mormon on the Metro ride and I noticed a lady looking at it so I said hello! It turns out part of her family is members and she has listened to the missionaries before :) cool!

I really enjoyed the training meeting with President and his assistants.  Once again I felt a calm, as if the Lord was telling me that everything will be alright. We talked about the importance of obedience (of course) and the importance of being an example. President Jackson even showed us a picture of HIS trainer (great comb-over hair and everything!) and how HE set the pace of the whole mission for him. I sure hope I am that kind of trainer for my trainee!

So we were all sitting in the chapel, President and Hermana Jackson had a cute little PowerPoint with pictures of our faces, where we are serving, and then the picture of our trainee!!! The three sisters that came in the field are from Spain, Argentina, and Italy.  My new companion´s name is Hermana Sanchez, from Granada, Spain!!! WAHOO for native companions!!! She doesn´t speak English (at least that is what she told me at first!) but she understands me usually when I say some things slowly in English. I am very excited to improve my Spanish; it has been helping so much already. I swear she came pre-trained!! She is so willing to be obedient and diligent, and that is all I can ask for!! And do you remember Araceli, the return missionary here that served in Washington D.C.? Hermana Sanchez is her sister-in-law! What a small world!
So we got back here in Alcobendas Tuesday night and got straight to work! We had two appointments that night across town, and we have just been running non-stop ever since... got up at 5 the next day to be able to go to the temple. SO WORTH IT. I love the spirit and relief I feel there. I continue to be amazed with my companion, she can already teach doctrine so clearly and I feel like we have been teaching together for a whole lot longer than a week. I think the Lord just wanted to train ME again. Haha. I sure love her. It really takes me back to about 7 months ago (wow has it really been that long??) when I entered the mission field and everything was so shocking and new. I am trying my best to help her to adjust well, understand everything clearly, feel the Spirit, and have fun! I taught her how to make brownies! Hopefully we will learn to make some yummy Spanish food too!

As for our investigators, WOWwowWOWwow. Javier and Gustavo are incredible!! They both were simple street contacts, but truly prepared people. They both have baptismal dates for the 15th of March. Javier continues to tell us that he does not feel like he did before, in the darkness, with the weight of so many past sins on his shoulders. And Gustavo... GUSTAVO! He is 20 years old... and he didn't even know he was looking for the truth. But he really thinks about everything very clearly and logically and it all makes sense. More than anything, he FEELS it. God is so good. I feel so blessed to see these miracles. The best part is when we plan days that we think are just perfect and flawless, they fall apart, and we see that God had a better plan, we saw that when Gustavo called us and said he couldn't make it to an appointment, which we had members coming to, but in the end he attended family home evening with the ward members and had a great time! He even shares messages and answers questions in Sunday School Gospel Principles [class] :) I feel so blessed.

Welp my companion is waiting on me, I had better go! Talk to you next week! I love you! I forgot my camera [memory card] converter, so I will send pictures with my companion next week :) I love you!

Love, Hermana Mather

PS. Trials in our lives

Not sure if I have sent this to you before, but I have been thinking of this a lot lately:

"Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass. We know that there are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits. However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were—better than we were, more understanding than we were, more empathetic than we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before." -Thomas S. Monson, “I Will Not Fail Thee, nor Forsake Thee

I love you :) and thank you for all the missionary talks you sent!!!

Monday, February 17, 2014


17 Febuero 2014

Well top of the mornin' to ya all!!!

So we have probably had the calmest week before transfers ever, normally I feel sick and worried, but we just got to work and tried not to worry about changes happening. It really has been a bit of a difficult transfer, in the way of having really consistent lessons and feeling like our investigators are progressing. I felt like the Lord was testing us, teaching us endurance and probably marriage prep (I would imagine, I don´t really know, haha). But this last week has been one of the best of my mission!  I have been thinking like Wade a lot lately, because sometimes it is frustrating to come to the end of the week and see the are numbers truly don´t show the number of people we have talked to, or lessons we have set up that fell through, people we comforted, doors we knocked, etc. Rather, we try to measure our days more by how we saw the hand of the Lord as we write down our little happy thoughts each day.

Last week, we were helping the senior couple that works in the office get haircuts because they needed help with how to say everything in Spanish. This was during proselyting time, so we were wondering if we should feel guilty or like we weren't using out time wisely, but I look back on moments like that and I know God wanted us to be there. It is in these little moments of service that we see the big picture! God does more with our time, and He put a very prepared man in our path, named Gustavo who is 20 years old, from Venezuela. We didn't think much of it at the time, but we had a lesson with him on Monday and we taught him about the Book of Mormon and how it answers the questions of our souls and questions we have from the bible like: why was Christ baptized? (answer- 2 Nephi 31) and he was amazed! Our next lesson with him, he had read all of Ether 12 and pages of the introduction and testimonies [of the Three Witnesses, Eight Witnesses, Joseph Smith]. If we had not been there to serve others, we would not have met this prepared man. At the moment, the act of service did not add to our numbers, but in the end it is leading another soul to Christ :)

On Monday, the miracle of all miracles happened!! We have been passing by an inactive family for 6 months now, and we have never gotten into their house. But finally, we passed once more, and she had told us to come by Tuesday. Turns out, some kind of offense happened years ago when her husband was bishop, but she still has a strong testimony and told us all about the mission she served in Chile and how she wants to bring her family back to church little by little. She told us her powerful conversion story and her admiration for missionaries, especially since she had had served a mission (and there are some incredible connections made with people who serve missions I think, because to understand what it is truly like, you need to go on a mission). So we will start working with their family more in the future.

On Thursday, a lesson cancelled on us, so we hit the streets again and found a man who agreed to be taught a lesson right then. His name is Javier, from Ecuador, and we also taught him the Book of Mormon and read in Enos about the miracle of repentance. In his simple and humble closing prayer, he began to cry, and apologized afterwards, saying that he has felt such a darkness around him lately. He felt so lonely and burdened by guilt from his past... and he said he could feel this burden lifting, and we assured him that the Lord is always there to receive us with merciful arms. The spirit has been so strong in all of the following lessons and I love his true desire to change.

OH! And I am not sure how much I have told you about Gerson, he is the friend of the less active member that we met earlier this transfer. I sure love this man. He has sooo many great questions and really wants to know that truth and study everything out. From the total of maybe 3 hours we spend with him every week (including English classes) we have grown to love his thirst for the truth. He said the sweetest goodbye to Hermana Aagard, saying that he never really like religion because he would see people act one way in church then go out and become a completely different person, and he says that he respects what we do as a church, especially dedication in missionary work (even if that means obeying rules that seem nit-picky like having a woman with us when we teach men). He says he sees that we do it because we FEEL it. Do we always do what we do because we FEEL the truth of it? I hope so. I love that :)

So, I still feel like each and every email a write does not express 1/394875029384752 of what I would like to say, but after this incredible week we had been blessed with, we were nervous to hear about transfers. Saturday night we found out that Hermana Aagard will leave to open up Segovia for sisters! How exciting is that? She will be incredible there, and I plan on visiting some castles with her for a Pday there :) AND... I will be staying here for my 5th transfer, training a new sister coming in, and I will be one of the Sister Training Leaders for the zone. Whewwww, it is all very shocking and overwhelming. We knew it was coming, but it has been hard to watch Hermana Aagard pack up and prepare to leave. Sister Jackson calls us the Partners in Crime, but the Partners in Crime are splitting up for a little while here. Yesterday at church was full of taking pictures and crying and saying goodbye to recent converts and members and investigators who love Hermana Aagard. I am all cried out, it is very strange because I feel like I am leaving home again and I am not even the one leaving. She has taught me everything I know about being a missionary and sometimes I am not sure where I start and she begins. The mission is all about being out of your comfort zone and there is not comfort in the growth zone! BUT I do know that God has a perfect plan. This is what we preach every day! Accepting God´s will. Although I am incredibly nervous and sad, I know that everything will be okay. Please pray for me!

Well, this is the longest email on planet earth, so sorry about that, but I have had so much on my mind lately, with transfers and all! I think of you every day, wondering what you are doing and thinking :) I sure love you all so much, and I am sorry I haven´t been the best at writing letters, especially with transfers, but I am hugging the air right now for all of you!!!

Have a great week!

Love, Hermana Mather

My Dominican mama here!

Making food with Rosa! A recent convert here!

Exchanges with Hermana Ferarri, from Argentina! I thought of Nathan the whole time :)

Family Home Evening with the Ward and our favorite little old Spanish lady in the Ward!

Some of the Relief Society women in our Ward!

With Hermana Heims again!

Reagan [Hermana Mather's college roommate] and Austin are studying and Alcala University here.
President Jackson said it would be okay for to visit them for Pday! So fun!

We like to run here in the morning!
Yes, it is morning, although it looks like midnight!

With Walter and Alba :) 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Price We Pay to Become Acquainted with God‏

10 Febuero 2014

SO! This week! Transfers are coming up this week, and as always I am nervous. I am anxious to stay, to go, to get a new companion, but we just keep swimming and trusting that we will go where the Lord would have us go! I was really thinking a lot after our weekly district meeting about why I chose to go on a mission in the beginning and how I am still her on the mission and how those reasons have changed. At the beginning, I just felt everything in my life pointing me towards serving a mission! I didn't have a really firm reason but I knew that the was the Lord's will in my life, and going on a mission was like taking a step into the dark. But why am I still here? I have seen the "step into the dark" transform and become light. I discover more and more everyday that this is where the Lord wants me and my testimony has been strengthened of the Atonement. That we can week power from the Father in our moments of weakness. I think about how the greatest expressions of love we show are through sacrifices we make. I know Mom loves me because she would get up at 5:30 in the morning to make us breakfast before school EVERY DAY and I know Dad loves us because he wants us to do well in school and work for what we have. I know our Father in Heaven loves us because he sent His son, the greatest expression of love we will ever know. SACRIFICE. Because Christ sacrificed all for me, I should be able to sacrifice my wants and desires and personal needs here. I love this quote (from Our Heritage, page 78):

“I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it. . . . I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.

“Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.”

I love this!!! Sometimes I feel like I can only go so far, but that is where God makes up for it! I knows us and loves us. Sorry the email is so short this week!

We have been doing lot of contacting and knocking doors in rainy weather. Taught some quality lessons and emphasized that our investigators need to be converted to God and not to us, since we are not sure what will be happening to us next transfer. Since my email is so short I am going to send some of Hermana Aagards to explain our week. hahaha she is so funny I love her:

Ok. Its going to be short. It was a good week, normal week. We contacted a lot, taught some quality lessons, we are working to have our investigators become CONVERTED to this gospel, and not us. We have really been working to push our investigators to keep their covenants so they can see the blessings that come from obedience. We told Marcos that God has to come first, or nothing else matters. That made him think, he definitely has not put God first before in his life….made me think if I am putting Gods desires before mine. Do I think of his will before mine? Marcos is progressing, but he told us this change of priorities is going to take some time..

We also taught Alba and Walter. I sure love them. They had zero problem with the word of wisdom. They love the church, but want to take baptism slow. They are great. Probably some of my favorite people I have met here in Spain!!

Also. Transfers this week. Start predicting. Who goes who stays? Will we have a 5th together?

Permy hermys update. Responses to our new hair were (in no particular order): ugly, exotic, did they make a mistake?, guapisima, soooo pretty, beautiful, do they do elders hair hahah its been a roller coaster of self esteem this week. Want to be humble? Get a perm from beauty students hahah. 

So have a great week! Did I mention I got a perm, yeah probably not my smartest decision ever, I hope our investigator that did it gets baptized haha.

Love you! Hermana Mather

Monday, February 3, 2014

God is Good :)‏‏

Well hello there. Happy February!!! Wow you would never believe it, I was in the shower this morning and Hermana Aagard was screaming and shouting all the sudden "it's snowing it's snowing!!!". I quickly dried off and ran to see...and it was! The first time I have seen snow in almost 8 months! It was a short-lived 2 minutes of snow but snow nonetheless :) a little tender mercy.

I am so happy Aaron seems to have had a great birthday!!! I am so glad that he loved all of his gifts and cards. Wow, I still can't believe he has passed be up in height and he is 14 years old. wowow! And I received your letters with fat cat pictures and personal notes from everyone. AHHH It was so good to hear from the whole family personally, and Missy :) You all sound like you're doing great, I appreciate the time you took to write letters (ha especially Aaron since I hear he is never really sure what to say), there are more coming for you from me!!

Well, this week! I think that more and more transfers will bring different challenges as the Lord slowly pushes us to become better. Being with Hermana Aagard for yet another transfer has showed me that the relationships we have in life should mean everything to us, and there is something to be learned with any person we come in contact with. Since she is basically my sister, I find that the challenge we face this transfer is keeping the fire that we had when we first got here. It is easy to get comfortable in our relationships and take advantage of those that are closest to us and forget to serve THEM while we are serving others around is. But THAT is where the success starts. Loving and serving your companion or family members, showing the Love the Lord has for them. So we are still chugging along here, through the last chilly month.

I wanted to share some thoughts with you as a read "How to Become a Consecrated Missionary" this week. There is nothing like reading a talk from an [Elder] to help buoy us up and put life into perspective. I feel like this talk describes very well the demands we feel as missionaries every day, but also the great opportunities we have to learn and grow.

The law of consecration is the law of the temple, it is the law of the celestial kingdom, and it is the law of a celestial mission.

First, a consecrated missionary puts on the altar of sacrifice any streak of disobedience he may possess, however large or small it may be. He has an unrelenting quest to be exactly obedient. King Lamoni recognized that Ammon was a consecrated missionary, for he said: “Even he doth remember all my commandments to execute them” (Alma 18:10).

One missionary, upon going home told me that he slept in one morning. His companion said to him, “It’s time to get out of bed.” This missionary responded, “I don’t want to.” His companion replied, “It’s not about what you want, it’s about what the Lord wants.” The missionary said; “I have never forgotten that – a mission is about that the Lord wants, not what I want.”

A consecrated missionary gives up his pride on the sacrificial altar. The Lord made it clear, “And no one can assist in this work except he be humble and full of love” (DC 12:8). Pride manifests itself in many ways – one way is disloyalty to those who are our leaders.

Pride may manifest itself in jealousy of companions. I think of one of the finest elders of our mission. I never heard him say “I.” It was always “we” or “my companion did this” or “my companion did that.” Though his words always credited someone else, somehow you always knew he was the driving force behind it all. Pride may manifest itself in a reluctance to confess our sins. We may be too embarrassed to do so, or fearful of the consequences or unrealistically hoping the sin will somehow vanish if we serve an honorable mission. But at the root of each of those excuses is pride.

For a consecrated missionary there is nothing more to give at the end of the day. What is the cost to become a consecrated missionary? Some time ago I saw a movie on the life of Martin Luther. He was about to be tried for heresy. Shortly before he was to meet with the Court of Inquisition, his spiritual mentor (a monk who had trained him and loved him) was cutting his hair with a razor. At one point the monk reprimanded Luther for having turned the world upside down, leading the world in revolt – Protestants against Catholics.

Then in a stirring moment, Luther grasps his arm and asks: “You wanted me to change the world. Did you think there would be no cost?” You young missionaries came out here to change the world, to change lives, but there is a cost. It costs everything that you have on the altar of sacrifice – your fears, your pride, your laziness, your disobedience, your weaknesses; we cannot hold anything back. When you came to the mission field you burned the bridges behind you, you burned the ships in the harbor. There is no retreat to your former life. You cannot have one foot at home and one foot in the mission field.

That is a certain formula for frustration. The Lord demands our whole soul on the sacrificial altar. That is the price we must pay, and when we do, we then become instruments in the hands of God.

And I think this describes very well the mission in a nutshell:

Each of us might appropriately ask, “What lack I yet to become a consecrated missionary?” There is no escaping it. God will demand our all. If we are shy or reserved – God will compel us to change, to be bold. He will jerk us out of our comfort zone again and again. If we are lazy or idle, he will push us and pull us even when we are exhausted. If we are disobedient, he will press us until we have a child-like submissiveness. He will not let us be content with our weaknesses.

Whatever the weakness may be that holds us back from becoming a consecrated missionary, the Lord has promised that if we have faith in him, and humble ourselves before him, that he will make weak things become strong unto us (Ether 12:26-27). I believe that. I do not believe there is one missionary whose weaknesses are greater than the potential strengths within him. Why? – because each of us is a son and daughter of God, with his divine nature and divine potential woven into the very fabric of our souls. I do not think the Lord expects immediate perfection of us, but I do believe he expects immediate progress, and with that progress comes consecration. I believe that he recognizes and appreciates every step we take forward, however small it may be, striving to put our whole souls on the altar of sacrifice. At first, consecration may seem like Mt. Everest, unconquerable, unapproachable, unassailable, but every step we take forward, however minute it may seem, furthers our ascent, until one day we have attained the summit.

May we not be content with being a good, even a great missionary, when we have the capacity to be consecrated missionaries. Mormon declared with boldness: “Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people that they might have everlasting life” (3 Nephi 5:13).

Well, maybe by the time you are done reading this email, you might as well just go read this talk, but I think it can apply to everyone, not just missionaries. God will NEVER let us be content with our weaknesses. Just as I feel like I have overcome one mountain, I find another to climb, but that is God´s way. He pushes me out of my comfort zone again and again and again. There are days when I am exhausted or lazy, but he expects me to keep going. I love the opportunity I have to show the Lord that I love him and His children out here, and I am GRATEFUL to be able to put everything I have on the altar of sacrifice to become the missionary and woman that the Lord wants me to be. However our improvements may be, I know that the Lord sees them and blesses us with His spirit as comfort. This talk changed my mission and perspective. I pray every day that I am one step closer to becoming a consecrated missionary :)

As for this week:

  • We still love meeting with Mervin every week. I love the Dominican People. Mervin is so humble and charitable and patient with others. He and Pablo work together as ward missionaries and take charge of Noche de Hogar, or the ward Family Home Evenings here :)
  • Ate a patata rellena from Columbia :) yum it was like Mom's Sunday roast and potatoes all mushed into one delicious ball. It tasted like home.
  • We did some jumping jack squats for exercises one day this week and the few days following we looked like 85 year old waddling women from how sore we were (just a funny story to make your day hehe)
  • We helped our favorite Bolivian mama make cheesy bread empanadas and sweet bread. yum!
  • It was a bit of a hard week in the way of appointments falling through and all, but God is so good. He never lets our days or weeks end without a smile. Augustina is a friend to everyone and makes our new investigators feel welcome at church and in lessons, and Alba and Walter are progressing slowly but surely.
  • Marcos is an interesting man, I am not sure that he will be ready to be baptized by February 15th like we were talking about. He seems to have taken a few steps back, but this man sure teaches us patience and charity. Ha.

Well, I would love to share more, but that's all the time for now! I love you!! Have a great week!!


Hermana Emily Mather