First of all, yes, we are only seven hours ahead of time here now, instead of eight! I am so glad you were able to watch all of the sessions of General Conference! Did you make cinnamon rolls? Did you stay in your pajamas all day? Elder Bednar´s talk was my favorite too. So in Tenerife, there are three wards, and we are a part of the Santa Cruz Ward, in between the two other ones La Laguna and Los Cristianos. We attended conference in the chapel in La Laguna, and had special permission to stay out a little later to be able to watch it all live. We were doing the same thing at the same time this weekend for 8 hours!
And to correct my last email, our apartment doesn't actually have an ocean view, it is facing the opposite way, haha we actually see the beer factory behind us. I feel like I am in a different WORLD here. I am most definitely not in Spain, they speak very different Spanish here and the people are very different in their way of dressing and speaking and they seem quite a bit more relaxed in many ways. We don't really go close to the beach, but we can see it from many parts, it's beautiful! It's nice to have a little sun, too. I will try to attach pictures to this email :)
So, I first just want to tell you that this first week has not been easy. Not that I want to worry you or anything, but I feel like I have hit another hard part of my mission, and sometimes I have been trying to understand why! I do not feel like myself lately. It's been a struggle to adjust to a new area where I do not feel like the ward is my family, feeling very vulnerable and unsure of what I am doing, and trying to work with a new companion who is trying to help. But I don't know the area or members very well, feeling a bit like dead weight and hoping I am doing what the Lord wants me to do. One of the most important things on the mission is the companionship, and it's very difficult when you don´t click right away. I have just felt alone. Hermana Burgos really is great, I suppose that some relationships take more time that others, and I need to learn to live with ALL different kinds of people. I cannot really put it into words, but it has all just been a struggle and I have had those same panicky feelings that I had my first transfer, and I so badly just wanted to call home and talk to you. So please just pray for me. I don't want to worry you or anything but I do need you to just know what I am going through. Sometimes I wish I could just call and talk, but your letters help. And I have gained a testimony of prayer.
One night this week, after feeling a weight especially heavy on my shoulders, I said my nightly prayers out loud and just told my Heavenly Father all that I was feeling, pleading for guidance and relief. It was there on my knees that I felt the relief. I knew He was listening. I knew that He was the only person that could possibly know all of the thoughts and feelings and pressures and weight I could feel. Finally, the tears just came and I felt calm. I am certain that My Heavenly Father listens to our prayers and gives us trials so that we can look back at moments like this and say with certainty that He is listening. I also know that He gives us moments like this to test our faith and push us as far as we can go sometimes. I felt very humbled and receptive to the Spirit in this moment. I desired to know more than ever why I am here and what God wants us to do with this area. I read Doctrine & Covenants 100 and felt comforted about home as I try not to miss it so much. It doesn't feel like home just yet here, but I know God has a purpose here, and I just want to do His will.
WELL, that all being said, there are so many things to be grateful for! This experience makes me more ready than ever to hear the words of the Prophet and Apostles. I know with a certainty that they are inspired men of God who speak His words. I don't know about you, but I always have one or two talks that truly speak to me. Do you feel that way? As if God knew that you needed to hear those exact words or apply those specific principles for the next 6 months? The talks by President Deiter F. Uchtdorf and Elder David A. Bednar spoke to me! What a blessing it is to feel the peace and happiness this gospel brings. Conference is so powerful when we write down specific questions we have (for example, how we can enjoy life more, and recognize God's hand better?) and while we listen to General Conference, they are answered!! Do you feel the same? What talks spoke to you?
Also, I would like to put into practice what Elder M. Russell Ballard said: We should share our studies of Preach My Gospel with each other in emails and letters. Would you do that with me? Does everyone own a Preach My Gospel? :) AND are you doing the WRITE THE MISSIONARY Family Home Evenings? I would love letters from you. Amber, did you like the Preach My Gospel suggestions I gave you. I know you are busy, but just shoot me a letter and we can share what we are learning, and I would love to help you prepare :) And yes, I don´t know how other missions are, but these maps get WORN OUT using them all the time and usually we are lost in new areas. Hehe get ready for it.
I love my district here. Hermana Heims, my companion from the MTC [Missionary Training Center] is here, along with some other great Elders and Sisters, I really enjoyed our last district meeting, full of the spirit and missionaries that want to work hard!
Just to share a little bit about our investigators here: We had an incredible experience with a reference the Elders from the north passed to us. Her name is Tibisai, we met with her once this week, and she told us she is from Venezuela and was passing the store of a member from Venezuela. She we decided she should meet her. Turns out, they are from the same TINY town in Venezuela and had never met each other, but knew a lot of the same people and family members. We just couldn't believe it! Tibisai feels very alone and sad here without her family... what a tender mercy for her. Our lesson went very well with Tibisai, she said she wants to make changes in her life, and she knew that meeting this woman from Venezuela was not a coincidence. She also came to two sessions of general conference and loved it.
We also called a young man from the area book named Nelson, who has been passing through some trials in his life with friends and is looking for peace. In our lesson, he had so many great questions about the church, and told us that the missionaries always show up in his life when he needs the most peace. We told him that this is not coincidence! And that God is trying to send him a message. He said that when he met with us he felt so much peace of mind and had forgotten his problems.
So, all in all, I suppose the theme of this week is that God can sooth our minds and hearts in times of turmoil and he did with Tibisai, Nelson, and with me. I am so grateful that these "loads", as Elder Bednar says, are what leads us back to God (back to our families, as he said). They give us the spiritual traction to do so and I feel determined to live with more of an attitude of gratitude, as President Uchtdorf said, no matter the "number" of blessings we have. Simply living in gratitude because we know the Lord has a bigger plan.
OKAYYYY I think that is all for this week! Thanks for listening to me ramble on and on, I feel like a whole month has passed since I flew into Tenerife; it's only been a week! I am going to try to attach pictures now!
I love you and think of you and pray for you always :) have a great week! please write me letters EVERYONE. hehe.
Love, Hermana Mather