Monday, October 27, 2014

Transfer #12 :)

27 Octubre 2014

Where do I start with all of you goobers?!?!  THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL OF THE BIRTHDAY WISHES AND LETTERS AND PACKAGES!!! Wow, I can almost hear you singing to me :) Wowowowowow how time has flown.  It was a miracle that the packages came! The last day that packages could arrive was Friday and the timbre [doorbell] sounded and we weren't sure who it was, packages never come that early and we were about to leave for the day. If he had come just 5 minutes later we wouldn't have been there! Heavenly Father is very aware of me. It really has already been such an incredible birthday.

So, you have made me cry twice this week! From reading this thoughtful email and I also received the envelope of letters and pictures from Grandma and Grandpa Powell. I was just brought to tears as I read all of those words. I have always wished that I could have known Grandma and Grandpa, they sound like incredible people, but I cannot tell you how perfect the timing was to received their words. I feel such closeness with them, especially grandma. I NEVER EVEN KNEW SHE SERVED A MISSION! I felt like in so many ways she just took the words out of my mouth as she said over and over again "This sure is proving to be better than I even imagined, and I expected it to be a grand experience" or saying how she wanted to enjoy every minute of her mission. I felt like Grandma Powell was sitting next to me telling me these things. I felt her love and the impression that she is proud of Wade and I as missionaries (wow it’s hard not to get emotional even just thinking about it again). I felt their presence stronger than ever, and I know that they are close to us, every step along the way. Did you feel that too Wade? Have you received their letters? Do we realize what a blessing it is to have this in our lives? The missionary work in general may have changed quite a bit, but the message has always been the same. Grandma and Grandpa Powell felt the same. I sure loved Grandmas story of how she and Grandpa met. haha I felt like I was reading a really good love story novel, but it really stuck out to me that their first date night together they spent a lot of time talking about their missions and how much it all meant to them, I hope that I can make this year and a half here in the service of the Lord the same in my life, it means so much to me this opportunity I have had here´, like it meant so much to them. THANK YOU for sending that to me, I can´t wait to be all together with those I love in one place someday and meet your parents, mom. I think it will surprise me how familiar they are to me :) They sure do sound wonderful!

SO! Today begins Transfer #12! Hermana Carroll and I were debating all week what might happen... our time together. I just said goodbye to Hermana Carroll, I can't believe how time flies and I feel so grateful for the time that we had together. She taught me so much. I feel so blessed by all of my companions! I always feel just a bit nervous to area train or get a new companion, but I am so excited to meet my new companion and finish off here in Gijon, I feel like the Lord expects so much more of me. It’s hard to explain, and it’s crazy thinking that these will be the last six weeks to serve with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength. There are so many feelings of excitement and happiness and most of all, gratitude for this great opportunity to serve. The more time I have in the mission, the more in-debt I feel to Him, and even though my body feels tired and I wonder if I can keep going, the best way to show my gratitude and love for Him is to give it ALL that I have this last transfer and not leave anything behind. I realize more and more what a sacred time this is, even though it's not always easy. I have so much to give because of the Gospel. My heart just feels overly full with gratitude for my Savior and for HIS WORK. I know that this work is true, I have never felt something so deep in my heart, because I feel so happy doing it. I know that when we go with The Lord to do His work, He magnifies us. He has given my everything I have. I have handed over a year and a half of my time, and He has taken that, magnified it, and made it SO MUCH MORE that I cannot even comprehend right now, but I have begun to see a small glimpse of it. I have just had a lot of that on my mind, and I am determined to serve with all of my heart these last 6 weeks. It’s still a lot of time :)

I am in Oviedo right now waiting for my new compie!!

Hermana Mather

Last day for Hermana Carroll with our Gijon Relief Society

Javier!, Hermana Carroll, Hermana Mather

Hermana Carroll, Amanda, Eduarda, Hermana Mather

Hermana Mather's new compie, Hermana Orrego from Argentina!
She has lived in Chile most of her life

Monday, October 20, 2014

Dios es Amor‏ [God is Love]

20 Octubre 2014

It’s funny, sitting here at the computer, thinking about the week, wondering what happened, and there is always SO MUCH TO TELL! As I have come towards the later end of my mission, everything points toward LOVE. Heavenly Father constantly shows me what it truly means to love others as Christ loved others... unconditionally and perfectly, even when it’s a hard day or we aren't sure how to express to others that we love them.

I told you a while ago about Eva (a recent convert from Paraguay that moved here a week before I was transferred here). I have learned so much from her!!!! She truly is what this ward needed! She is FULL OF LOVE. The Branch here in Gijon can be difficult to work with sometime because so many of the members have been offended and left the church or don't get along (I don't mean to sound negative, but it’s important to realize to be able to teach to their needs). But I have found no better solution than to care less about WHY or HOW it all happened, and simply just see everyone as a Child of God and see the best in them. Being a missionary has taught me that people all truly need to feel this love of Christ expressed through others’ actions, and it’s important we know how they receive that love. I am not sure if I am making any sense, haha. Eva could talk hours and hours and tells us every day over and over again how being baptized in Paraguay changed her life and the happiest day was when her grandchildren were baptized. She has needed to work on Sundays for the time being but meets with us almost every week day after 4:30 to go visit people, she is so willing to trudge through the rain and walk all across town with us even when appointments cancel and we are talking to others on the street. But she has an amazing influence on me and on others, warmly inviting others to join and learn and testifying of how it changed her life. As we have met with her, I have loved seeing her testimony grow and blossom.

We taught a lady named Isabel (pretty old and very Catholic) that the Hermanas found when I first got there because they invited her to come to a baptism. She was interested to ONLY to see them play violin and piano, and said she was still very happy to be Catholic, but that really opened up doors for her to accept our message little by little and build open the wonderful truths that she does know, and understand that she can learn more! Eva told her of her Catholic background (she was very Catholic as well) and told her that we love her (of course!) and that because we love her we are more than willing to walk in the pouring rain to get to her house. She always says with such conviction "Dios es amor" over and over again. And constantly testifies that this gospel is where she has found that love she has looked for all of her life (60 years!) that cannot be found anywhere else. It is all so true isn't it? Just a funny side note, Isabel is pretty old and has two cats that are basically her two children. She has to cover the couch when we go over so we don´t get hair all over ourselves haha. The other day we ate Spanish tortilla with cat hair flying around everywhere. We had to eat fast before it attacked the tortilla. She also talks to her plants and prays for them to grow. Hehe  What a sweet lady. She came to church yesterday and has sincere desires to know the truth of the Book of Mormon. She said she would be baptized if she knows the truth of it! She as slowly progressed so much!

I also wanted to tell you about July. She lives with a member named Angela. They are crazy Dominicans (I love Dominicans!). When Angela was taking the missionary discussions a little while ago, she never really talked to the missionaries, and in fact avoided them. She didn't want to feel obligated to do anything, and found it too confusing to find the truth because there are so many religions. But I know that she has been prepared. When we visited Angela about a month ago, she actually stayed in the room and listened :) and we read the Promise of the Book of Mormon... for the first time she began to open up and accepted a return appointment. She said we could pass by anytime we want. Since then we have seen some incredible changes in her! Rather than sitting at home doing nothing like she had been doing all day before, she has started working and taking classes again. Every time we go over, she says that she has NEVER felt such peach and guidance in her life. The nightmares that she has had for all of her life have completely stopped and she feels the NEED like a hunger to read because the peace comes from the Book of Mormon and the Bible. She said that the first time she met with us was different. She didn't feel obligated and there must be SOMETHING to what we are doing because why else would young American girls be here doing this 24/7 away from our families? That really caught her attention, and her boyfriend says that we should come over more often because she is always calmer and nicer afterwards. hehe. I love teacher her. She always prays at the end of the lesson asking God to give us patience with her and keep visiting her so she can keep learning more. That patience is needed, it’s hard to get her to come to church, but I love seeing her progress! It strengthens my testimony of Christ’s perfect, individual love and patience for each of us.

Well, I am running out of time! Just so you know, missionaries are awkward at weddings, haha. Two of the recent converts in our ward got married and we went to the wedding for a little while, they started dancing Bachata and we left.  hehe.  It all went well and Isabel came.

We have loved listening to the conference talks over and over and over again in our free time getting ready and eating breakfast and such in the morning. I am reminded over and over again that these men are called from God and EVERY talk from EVERY apostle can be applied to us. We are so blessed to have this gospel in our lives, and I know without a doubt that we have living prophet to guide us. Have you been reviewing the conference talks?

Also, what have you been reading in the Book of Mormon? I am really working towards finishing by December 9th... My eyes are opened everyday as I read that incredible book and I learn something new. I LOVE the BOOK OF MORMON! I hope you are having your own similar personal experiences! :)

Si no escojemos el Reino de Dios, realmente, no importa lo que hayamos escogido en su lugar :) [If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God, it will make in the end no difference what you have chosen instead]

Have a great week!!!

Love, Hermana Mather

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Buenoo..... (:‏

13 Octubre 2014

WEEEELLLL ...BUENOOOO... This week! Something amazing happened! Various amazing things happened! But, I don´t know if Bill Busath has talked to you recently, but Gijòn was the first area in his mission 23 years ago, and so I come in contact with a family, "La Familia Villa" (Emilio, Begoña, Natalia) many times a week and it amazes me how small this world is. I am filled with gratitude for being here and for Brother Busath serving a mission here! I wrote him this week and said:

BROTHER BUSATH!!!!  I wish I had hours to tell you all about the branch here in Gijòn! I love it here! It has been incredible to make that connection, I feel so blessed to serve here 23 years after you :) YES! I met Presidente Villa, Begoña, and Natalia. They are all very active here in the branch. They each bore their testimonies yesterday in church, and I was touched thinking about how you changed their lives and I am able to witness the fruits of your labors here in the branch. They each testified of simple truths like reading the scriptures together as a family (I loved that, they are such a united family!) and Begoña said something I loved: las decisiones màs importantes en mi vida que he tomado son 1. mi esposo 2. mi decision de bautizarme. [The most important decisions in my life are: 1. My husband 2. My decision to be baptized.] Could you have imagined all those years ago when you had just started your mission that this family would be such a strong foundation for the branch and district? Natalia is young women's president and teaches seminary, Begoña teaches institute and taught in relief society on Sunday, and Emilio has served in various District callings for the past 10 years. They told me that you could hardly speak any Spanish yet when you came, and they would speak very slow for you to understand, I can't relate to that! It’s incredible to see how the Lord uses us as humble instruments in His hands to work miracles! I feel so grateful for your decision to serve a mission years ago and for being worthy and faithful, La Familia Villa es incredible! I want to meet Raquel. She married a man who isn't a member, but we are going to try and visit her! I would also really like to visit the man who was president while you were here, I will ask Natalia about him.

Tenemos una capilla grande ya aqui en Gijon, tendrè que enviarte fotos![We have a large chapel her in Gijon, I have to send photos!]  Yes, I ate Fabada [stew]. It is so delicious :) made from true Spaniards, the morcilla [blood sausage]. I ate it not knowing what it was and liked it, but now, knowing what it was, haha, I am not so sure! The Spanish bread here is to die for, and I will make sure to eat a palmera [palm] for you.

We will be going over to the Familia Villa’s house sometime soon and she will teach us to make paella and tortilla soon, I will send ya pictures of them, but for now, here is one of all of us!

This really strengthened my testimony of how we NEVER know how we are impacting the lives of others. Although we feel incredibly inadequate for the task we have been given, or unable to speak the language we have been assigned, we are making a difference in God´s eyes! We never know who's life we can touch when we simply smile or choose to spend time with someone. We never know how our service spent will impact the lives of others. I believe the more we study and learn about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it truly is all about LOVE and learning how to share it with others, teaching them how to access it, and losing our lives in search to feel Christ´s love for others all the time. This family was a result of that! Selfless service as a missionary.

Also, have I told you much about Javier? He was a man that came to conference last weekend on Sunday, expecting to see a regular sacrament meeting (he had been invited by the sister missionaries a year ago and never came). He ended up liking it and came for another two sessions! His parents are from Spain, and he grew up most of his life in Venezuela. He is looking to come closer to God in his life, and we began teaching him this week, and he is already progressing very rapidly. We also teach him English! He is basically fluent, and very fun to talk with! haha. The Lord is blessing us greatly with many miracles. We will be teaching him tonight as well.

I will attach pictures of Covadonga! We went with Carmelo and Vicky and the Elders here :)  It was like a fairytale! And pictures with La Familia Villa.

Have a great week!

Love, Hermana Mather

La Familia Villa: Emilio, Begoña, Natalia :)
Covadonga is part of Picos De Europa. Its looks like the shire!!

This chapel is in a cave!  And this fountain has seven drains.
They say if you drink from all seven of them you will be married in the next year! haha
I may or may not have drank from all seven of them.

Elena, Hermana Mather, Rosa Vela, Hermana , Eva! (left to right)

Our District!

Corina, an older lady in our Ward that we visited!
She knows some of my good friends in Alcobendas,
they started attending church in Cuatro Caminos,
the first ward in Spain.  Small world!

Monday, October 6, 2014

General Conference!!!‏

6 Octubre 2014


The Lord is blessing us here in Gijòn :)

I am never sure exactly where to start these emails, so much can be packed into one week here, it really surprises me every week! The highlight of the week, definitely General Conference :) I LOVE watching it in English or Spanish. The spirit truly speaks the same language and all of the questions and worries that I have are answered and I feel peaceful :) It sure is nice hearing the speakers' voices in English though, we watched two in English, and two in Spanish! I really felt the need for that spiritual recharge... we are SO BLESSED to have prophets and apostles that know what we need to work on for the next six months. I have so many goals set that I want to start working on. How about you? It amazed me how this conference felt so UNITED with this world, they could speak in their native tongues, we saw little children singing songs in the native languages, etc. We spent all day Sunday in our ward building watching the sessions with ward members and investigators and eating lots of delicious food, it sure was a day to remember, we felt sooooo happy. I still need to see the Sunday Afternoon session though, it was broadcast too late here, I am excited to see the other talks.

The entire time we were watching conference, I just felt an immense amount of gratitude for all that the Lord has blessed me with and permitted me to experience, especially here, serving a mission. At times, we can reach a point in our lives when we seem to be going through the motions, almost as if we feel a bit numb to many things, especially to the Spirit. We are still doing the right things, going to church, etc., and I feel like I have found myself in many situations like that before. But here, yesterday especially as we listened to conference I found myself thinking, “WHY DIDN'T I FEEL THIS WAY BEFORE?" Have you ever thought that too? I have gained a testimony of the importance of personal preparation and always remembering the goodness of God in our lives and letting Him soften our hearts. I pray that we never reach the point of becoming beyond feeling, because it is SUCH a wonderful feeling to be full of purpose and know with a surety that God is aware of us and can speak to our hearts. Even when those feelings and thoughts that we may have are not even very related to what the speaker is saying, I know that is personal revelation coming directly from the Lord! This was my last General Conference as a missionary... and I was reflecting a lot, I began to cry a few times in gratitude for the way I have come to know that Lord by serving Him and how any sacrifice I think I might have made for the Lord has been paid back to me in tenfold. I am grateful to be able to speak Spanish, to be a part of this incredible work, and for feeling full of light and discovering truth. I hope all of this makes at least a little bit of sense. I know this church is true, I know it is Christ's church and I know that God lives!!

Mom and Dad, I thought of you when Elder Tad R. Callister and Elder L. Tom Perry gave their talks. Thank you for making your job as parents your number one priority and not just giving us your leftover energy after work and studies and cleaning was done :) I am so blessed to have you as my parents, I can never thank you enough for all that you have done for me.

In the last session we had in the chapel yesterday afternoon, we had a miracle! We had been doing our best to call people, and stop by their apartments to help them come to conference. There reaches a point when you can only do what is in your power and let them exercise their agency, but from all of those that we had invited, they hadn't showed up! But Carlos, the mustache man from Gijon came to the last session! The talks were perfect for him too, and he really liked it. We had a lesson with him afterwards, and I always enjoy his prayers, they are the most sincere, intimate conversations with God as he has been learning to communicate himself with our Father in Heaven. He consults with God telling him that he will for sure meditate all of these wonderful words that he had heard this day and ask to truly know that these men are called of God (didn't you love those talks about received personal conviction and confirmation of the truth?). And he also said that he was grateful to have made THREE NEW FRIENDS in church that day. I love his little mustachy smile, he sure is happy when he comes to visit with us, and he had a good first time at church.

Oh I neeeeeed to tell you more about Eva (a recent convert from Paraguay) and Rosa Vela (a lady that has been inactive for 10 years and three weeks ago just decided to put her life into order and come back to church!) Both of them are sooo strong and really brighten our lives. We can count on them to help us in lessons. I can't believe they were not a part of our lives three weeks ago. Eva came here about when I did in search of her missing husband and they both come from very different backgrounds, but we will be helping the both of them prepare to go receive their endowments in the temple. It was fun to spend conference with them; they loved it.

I LOVED Elder Jorg Klebingat´s talk and Elder Neil L. Anderson’s. It stood out to me how much they emphasized truth and how to gain truth through personal revelation, they can see the spiritual wars we have ahead. The temple protects and prepares us. Both talks from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf really spoke to me, too.

"Why does the Lord allow opposition? Because it sends seekers of truth to their knees" -Neil A. Anderson


Hermana Mather