Amber, I have been thinking about you so much this week, I randomly say to Hermana Carrol, "My sister is going to Cochabamba, Bolivia!!!" And even though I have said it out loud randomly countless times this week, it still doesn't feel real! I have met a lot of people from there (Victor and Marcela, investigators from Tenerife are from there!!!) and you will love it :) More than anything, I am so excited to see how you grow and develop and Come to know Our Savior, Amber. It will be the best experience of your life, not because you fully enjoy every moment of it, but because you will truly come to discover so many things about yourself and about others of different cultures that you never knew. And we learn how Christ's Atonement applies to each and every situation and person. I am not sure I could possible express the gratitude that I have for the opportunity I have been given to serve. It is the hardest thing I have done mentally, intellectually, spiritually, etc. Just in every way! But you will love it Amber. You will be "investida con poder" in the temple and come to realize personally all of the blessings that The Lord has in store for you and His children. You will spend more time on your knees than you have ever spent in your life. You will be amazed at the humility and diligence it takes to learn a language!! But I can tell you one thing: IT WILL BE WORTH IT. Please look up and read the talk "Rise to Your Call". I thought of you when I read it this week :) You will do INCREDIBLE things Amber. You will touch many lives with the gifts you personally have been given. That’s also an incredible thing about missionary work. We are all called, we all wear the chapa [nametag], teach the same lessons, but the talents and gifts YOU HAVE will touch others in a way that no other person could. The Lord has called you, He will guide you, and He will magnify you :)
This week has been sooo interesting!! Overall, it’s been one of the smoothest adjustments from transfers that I have had, despite all of the traveling from one end of the ocean to the other, haha. Hermana Carrol is a gem. She is 25 years old and has great desires to be obedient and learn Spanish and touch others. I received such peaceful feelings before I came and various times this week, knowing that this is where the Lord needs me in His vineyard. I realized something though! She is my first companion from the United States in 7.5 months since Hermana Aagard! Wow! It’s been weird being able to speak English again. My brain is so Spanish oriented and sometimes the Spanish words just come out when I am speaking English, haha it’s embarrassing! I miss speaking Spanish so naturally 24/7. I am realizing what effort it will take on my part to continue to improve and progress in speaking and learning the Spanish language. I love helping Hermana Carrol too.
So many missionaries in the northern Spain have a mindset, that is it very difficult and the people are very close minded and it's close to impossible to baptize people here. I do not want to ever let that get into my mind! I know there are many prepared people here. It is different for sure, but we will see miracles!! There is a lot of work that needs to be done with less-active members here that we feel need help, so we have been working on reaching out to them. It can be difficult to really get to the bottom of their struggles and understand how to help them feel the spirit and help them. I have come to be very grateful on my mission to catch a glimpse of how Christ felt during His earthly ministry. I love thinking about what He would do if He were here in my situation. Sometimes we need to feel the heartache of rejection or misunderstanding or pride (we felt that one lesson this week with a man, it was a difficult night for me… he was not very open learn and feel the Spirit) to feel a portion of what Christ felt. He, The Son of God, was rejected and spit upon and He continued, knowing that what He taught was eternal truth that would save their souls. Wow, it amazes me how He truly learned line upon line, precept upon precept, and continued forward. I truly believe that I need to experience tough moments like that to understand the hurt that Heavenly Father has when His children are too far from feeling to feel His presence. But it is so true (and we see this pattern over and over again in the Book of Mormon) that "His hand is stretched out still." I have gained a testimony that because of His love, His merciful hand is ALWAYS stretched out towards his children.
Oh! Hermana Carrol and her former companion started teaching a Dominican family here: Antonia (the Mom), Fran (son, 17 years old), and Aaron (son, 8 years old). I love Dominicans!!! We teach English and the gospel to them each week, and she also brought us some yummy peanut butter :) I am excited to get to know them better. They have a baptismal date for October. I have already felt so welcome in the ward here. The first night we went to President Florin´s house (he is from Romania) and met them, ate some wonderful Colombian food (his wife, Gladis, is from Columbia!) and got to know them. Gladis is so wonderful and willing to help the missionaries. This is my first time serving in the branch, and there is a lot of drama that goes on. Many people have become offended and gone inactive, so we plan to really SHARE THE LOVE with everyone. It will be different and interesting. We are up for the challenge!
And Gijon! We were going to go to the beach today buuuuttttt it is really rainy. Next week! Ha, we really need to improve on taking more pictures. This is the only picture we have really taken this week. He is an incredible ugly but cute dog Carmelo and Vicky have (members here). His tongue doesn't fit in His mouth and his is veeerrrry wrinkly. haha. Enjoy.
Oodles of LOVE!!,
p.s. "If I only think of my own performance, my sadness deepens. But when I remember that the Lord promised that His power would go with me, I begin to look for evidence of what He has done in the lives of the people I am to serve. I pray to see with spiritual eyes the effects of His power." Rise to Your Call by Elder Henry B. Eyring (read it!!!)
p.p.s. One more thing! To prepare for General Conference, read the talk General Conference: Strengthening Faith and Testimony by Elder Robert D. Hales! Start getting your questions ready and preparing. I am so excited! :)