Monday, May 27, 2013

More Miracles!

So this week has been way interesting. But firstly, I am very sad to say there wasn´t a baptism yesterday. Antonio had to be in Alicante all day to pick someone up from the airport so for now it is postponed. But the mother of his children doesn´t like that we teach him (being women and all) so we´ll see. But he is still very prepared and already passed his baptismal interview.
Ok so some of you may recall that I got a random package in the Provo MTC from a woman (Phillipa Scrivens) I thought I had never heard of or met (I now remember who she is). All I could figure out at the time was that she was related to the Curzons in our home ward. Well she has family in Spain who live in Javea and sent me package for her sister explaining that they aren´t members and where they lived once she found out that I was going to the Malaga mission. I looked up where they lived on a map at the time and thought it was unlikely they actually even lived in our mission because I was right on the border lines with the Barcelona mission. And even if it was in our mission I knew it was probably unlikely to ever be in that area. When I was told I would be going to the northern areas of our mission I thought how weird it would be if I got put close to it! Then we were put in Benidorm. We checked the maps and Javea was one of our pueblos. At this point I was really surprised but also not sure if I´d ever make it up there since it is far away still.
Well on Wednesday we went to Javea. We took the bus there (it is the second farthest away pueblo) and when we arrived it was mediodia, so the streets were dead and everything was closed. We walked in the direction of the address of her sister´s address. I wasn´t sure how this would go because in the letter it said they were strong catholics and that the husband was opus dei. We couldn´t figure out where to go. I decided to take this random flight of stairs and then turn left at the top. No street signs or numbers. Then a woman came out of the house, I decided to go up and ask her for help. I showed her the address and name and she said "that´s us!". I wish you all could´ve seen my face. I was more than surprised. She said she was Rebeca, the daughter of Elizabeth (the sister) and that she knew we were probably there because her aunt is a member. She said her mom was sleeping and she had to pick up her nephew but that we could come back in a little while. She was incredibly nice and drove us to the next address, a friend of Phillipa´s. She dropped us off at the street name and then we walked a very long way down this country road. The whole time I was talking about how amazing this all was! I was used to not being able to find anyone and when we did they wouldn´t receive us in so nice a manner. Everything was too good to be true. Hermana Martín was making fun of me because she always teases me about my little faith. Which is so true and I´ve been trying to work on it. I am just too realistic I guess haha.
We came to the house and talked with the couple, Joy and Tony. They are British so I taught in English which was SOOOO WEIRD. Man I´ve never taught a lesson in English and I didn´t think it would be so different but it is. I felt much more timid. But I think it went well and hopefully it gave them something to ponder. But unfortunately we didn´t think to bring English BOMs. Joy was also very nice and drove us back to the other house. We then had a lesson with Elizabeth and Rebeca. I explained the whole back story and gave her the letter and things from her sister. She told me that her husband had just passed away three days beforehand and that they were still recovering. She also told me that she knew that us being there was not a coincidence and that the whole thing was of God! We felt the same way. We testified of eternal families, the restoration, and the Book of Mormon. (All in a combination of Spanish and English because she is British and married into a Spanish family). I know they were greatly touched and the timing of it all was incredible. After that lesson I truly felt like a tool in the hands of the Lord. They now have BOMs and our info so hopefully something comes of it. I don´t know when we will be able to return since it is far but we will try and make it back since we still have two more references. But that day in Javea really increased my faith and testimony of the Lord´s timing. I now have no doubt that the Lord is directing everything we do as missionaries. (I wrote Phillipa a letter but sent it to the Texas address so hopefully she gets it...if not talk to the Curzon family maybe?)
Also Felisa, the girl from Africa that just showed up at church has kinda disappeared. We had one lesson and she asked to be baptized and now we can´t get in contact with her so that´s a little weird. We have some new investigators but need a lot more so pray for that for me! We also had lunch with a member family yesterday whose son is an actor on the Disney channel in Spain so that´s a weird random fact for you all. Oh and something one of my investigators is a not-so-secret admirer hahaha I swear the people here are a bit loco. We must have the spirit really strongly with the amount of "ay guapas!" we get daily. Awkward...anyway I hope you all are well and thanks for the emails! Today for p-day we are gonna go hike a mountain/cliff that overlooks the coast :)
Love you all,
Hermana Thompson
ps photos-
Hermana martín and I in Javea at the top of a building
view of Javea
view of the coast from the bus ride

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hospitals, Pueblos, and a Little Miracle at Church

¡Hola Otra Vez!
This week we have been getting acquainted with all the little pueblos (towns) that surround Benidorm since we have a lot of members and inactives living in those areas. On Friday we took the train for an hour and a half to a place called Denia just to have lunch with some members. Crazy, huh? The family is amazing though, and always come to church. It´s so nice to see a strong committed family...and it´s because the father served a mission, love that. It was our first time taking the train North of Benidorm and it was so worth it! The scenery along the way was incredible! I think Spain might win all the prizes...and I´m not partial or anything. The white-washed towns, cliffs, mountains, sea, and coastline are breathtaking. I love the little pueblos, it is such a nice break from the craziness and tourism of Benidorm. Seriously, it´s not even hot yet and people are already taking off their shirts at every chance they get.
Soooo it seems like everyone in our branch is in the hospital or something. That´s where we were all evening yesterday. Two women have cancer and another little baby (he´s 9 months old and tiny) has some health problems with respiration that I don´t understand since it´s all in Spanish. So we have been visiting them and trying to help since most of them are part-member or inactive. It is the saddest thing especially the little baby since he reminds me of the nieces and nephews. But it only strengthens my testimony of how incredible the Atonement is and all of these families are such great examples of faith and hope despite their challenges.
Sunday was great, crazy, and a little weird. Antonio (one week until baptism!) and his two kids came to church and it was so wonderful to see them there. I don´t think I´ve ever sat through a more stressful sacrament meeting...trying to entertain his kids and make sure people would keep the door closed so they wouldn´t run out every two seconds. This branch is still learning not to talk or walk around during sacrament meeting haha. Antonio is seriously gold I swear, he was basically teaching the class for us at some points! Also one of our less active members showed up, which if you knew him is pretty incredible. We were at his house and he broke down, thanking us for coming there with power from God to change him. Pretty cool stuff. And as he took the sacrament he was crying the entire time. Hopefully we can rescue more and more less actives as well. And while we were teaching Gospel Principles a girl my age from Gabon in Africa walked in. She saw us on the street the day before (we didn´t see her or talk) and then Sunday as she was walking by the chapel she decided to come in! All alone and had never heard of the church. Hermana Martín and I were like...uh what?! She speaks French and enough Spanish (I wish I remembered my French but it all went out the window with starting this mission). We desperately need new investigators and this was such a blessing. So Sunday was such a good surprise! And I finally got to eat paella with a family that is actually from Spain

Hey any of you former missionaries, if you have good ideas on street contacting, knocking doors, and finding new people to teach I am all ears! I am so bad at it and you all know that I am shy enough as it is haha. Any catch phrases or things you said to people to break the ice and actually get them to listen? Oh and thanks for the info on Jehovah Witnesses! It actually is already being put to use. A roommate of one of our recent converts is one and was "discussing" it with us. But he´s seems more receptive than most so I think we actually might teach him at some point. Oh and I encourage all of you to give references to the missionaries, invite people to hear the gospel, and watch Mormon messages because they are seriously the bomb.
Love you all,
Hermana Thompson
ps- pictures:
Me in Vila Joiosa where most of the members and Antonio live. It´s my favorite place in our area :)
Hermana Martín walking in Vila Joiosa
The view out our window. Sweet, eh? (above)

 more pictures!
the view from the train on the way to Denia
Hermana Martín "studying" in the train (we are seriously always tired, hungry, and in need of a bathroom. so remember to always feed your friendly neighborhood missionaries!)

Monday, May 13, 2013

First Baptismal Date in Benidorm! :))


Sooooo guess what?!
I committed someone to be baptized yesterday! 

And I got to skype for mother´s day so I would say everything is super great right now. Oh and my voice is finally back! After a week of only being able to whisper I have never appreciated a voice more in my life. I still can´t sing very well but that´s ok haha. 

So let´s see, the last email I was kind of down and frustrated and that´s how the rest of the week went as well up until Sunday. I was sick, we weren´t having much success, I hurt my foot, my companion inventory didn´t go super well, and for the first time in my life I actually felt a little homesick. It was a hard week for sure but yesterday was such a blessing! We had only talked to Antonio once before and knew that we was going to be baptized at some point. If anyone is golden it´s gotta be him. We couldn´t teach him the first time since we didn´t have another person in the house or a member and it was just him and his two toddlers. But yesterday we went back with a woman from the ward and taught him the Plan of Salvation since the elders before us had already taught the restoration. And he accepted everything we said. Every time we presented a part of the plan and read a scripture about it he said "que bonita" or something to the effect of how beautiful, I want this in my life. He feels so keenly a love of the savior and the atonement too. At the end we asked if he thought the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and all of these things were true and he said yes! ¨"Claro que si"! I then asked him if he would follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized and he said, "Yes I feel prepared and I want to be baptized!" How amazing. I wish you all could´ve seen my face. That was an experience of pure joy I will never forget. The spirit was incredibly strong and I could feel how proud our Heavenly Father was of him and how much he loved Antonio. This will truly bless his family. He has committed to the 26th of May and I believe he´ll will surely follow through. So if you want to pray for someone, make it Antonio and his family!

Skyping home yesterday was great too! Such a blessing and exactly what I needed even if it did make me miss you all. Ask mom and dad for more details if you want haha :) Today we went to Alicante which is the next biggest city over and went on a zone p-day to a castle. It was great to see other missionaries and the view was amazing! The blue color of the Mediterranean here is INSANE. And I have seen some pretty views before, but man, Spain is gorgeous. We are seriously so blessed to be in a place this beautiful. And the weather has been perfect too. Not too hot and with a breeze from the sea. I get a little color too. People are always sure to tell me I am sunburned sometimes. But hey,  I´m pale and can´t help it. 

The people we are all teaching (investigators, inactives, and members) are mostly from all other countries. Like Honduras, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, etc. So I still haven´t eaten real authentic Spanish food at a member´s house yet. But the people are all so sweet and humble. We ate a man´s place yesterday and they didn´t even have a kitchen table. This week I think we will be making trips out to all the pueblos that surround the city of Benidorm. There are a lot of people farther away that don´t come to church because of the distance. But all the pueblos are so cute and charming, with little colorful houses lining the streets and a view of the water. Our city right now is starting to go a little crazy as the tourist pile in. Think Miami. We stumbled across the party and disco-tech district a couple days ago and got to witness why there are no Elders here haha. We get to see lots of drunk people and those who don´t like to wear shirts. But growing up in Florida none of it phases me. 

Well low on time, but I love you all and was astounded today by the number of emails in my inbox! Truly thank you all so much! I wish I had time to respond to each of you in length but I can´t. So I will try and send letters by hand. I have already sent one to Audrey and Phil/Carola, so hopefully you all got them. Keep praying for me and the people I work with, and keep me updated!

Hermana Thompson

ps- pictures:
castle in alicante from the bottom
the view from the top of the castle
Hermana Martín and I at the top

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

First days in Benidorm!

Hola otra vez!

Whew. Long time no talk! So so so much has happened and I wish I had more time. But we have to catch a train pretty soon. So I am in Benidorm. I am the farthest away you can possibly be in our mission, fun eh? And guess what else? We are opening the area...and my companion, Hermana Martín, is from Madrid so basically we only ever can speak Spanish to each other. Oh and I am sick on top of that. So my life is pretty...interesting. We are in the Alicante zone and we are the only missionaries in our area of Benidorm. There are no Elders because in the summer there are tons of tourists and beach goers. We have a small little branch to work with, there were about 33 people there including kids and us on Sunday but the people are really nice and it´s like a little family. Our piso (apartment) has a sweet view of the city and the ocean but it has a ton of random stuff in it from the owner and the most dust I have ever seen in my life. So we spent all morning cleaning it. Since we are opening the area we have a lot of work to do, there were Elders in the area about a month before us but it´s hard sifting through the area book and finding people. We haven´t really given any real lessons yet though. We gave 2 kind of but one of them was to an inactive member who started talking about obscure things like the free masons and told me my celtic knot ring from Ireland was a sign of the devil. Yep. And everyone only talks to Hermana Martín because she speaks better Spanish and then they speak faster and faster. And at the moment I can´t actually speak pretty much at all since my throat is in bad shape. We met up with some Elders today and they gave me a blessing and I´m hoping I get better soon so that we can work more. Benidorm is kind of similar to Miami in a way but also totally different. You should all look it up. There are only tons of ghetto skyscrapers that line the streets and some of the areas are pretty sketchy but not in a dangerous way. Oh and there are a TON of Jehovah Witnesses here in Spain, especially in our area. I swear we see them like 2 or 3 times a day. And every time we talk to someone they mention them and ask if we are like the same. So it someone (dad or phil) wants to send me some info on Jehovah Witnesses so I can get familiar with them a little bit more that would be so helpful. My companion tries to explain what she can but it´s all in Spanish so I am missing bits and pieces. 

Spanish. Oh Spanish. What I wouldn´t give to be able to speak English all day. I love Spain but boy am I jealous of all the lucky missionaries serving English speaking. Audrey, and all you people who learned languages like Russian and Chinese- kudos to you! I don´t know how you all did it! I recognize almost all the words and I can get by speaking ok but there are so many times when I don´t understand the meaning of what they are saying and I feel so restricted in what I can do. But I am way better off than most of the new missionaries. So I have a lot to be grateful for. But they all can speak English in their pisos and when I am home I still have to speak Spanish because of Hermana Martín. We get by fine though. But oh how I love the English language. Ok enough of my whining. I know it´ll come with time so I am trying to learn patience but I hate feeling like a waste of a missionary since I can´t teach how I want to yet. 

I don´t know if i mentioned this before but i got a package in the Provo mtc from a random lady that i guess was told by someone in the Naples ward that i am serving in Spain  and it was about her sister that is not a member and she wanted me to visit her family and I never thought I would be in that area, BUT she lives in Alicante which is in my zone! Not in my area but there are Elders there so I will work something out.

Before we came to Benidorm we were at the mission home and with the missionaries in Fuengirola (where the mission home is next to Malaga). I went on splits to a ward party and ate paella and got tons and tons of besos. It was nice to have a couple of days of down time and get fed lots of good food. But now I miss seeing other missionaries! 

Well, missions are hard but I am hanging in there. Keep praying for me and send me letters. Here is my new address (send packages here too):

Av. Beniarda 2
Plaz. Playmont 1, 11º2
Benidorm, Alicante 03502

Love you all, 
Hermana Thompson

ps- pictures above are of my district in the Spain mtc, Hermana Johnson and I with elders Day and Vogel, and the group of us that stayed in Malaga for a couple of days at Mijas. 
                                                                                    view from Mijas
                                                            you can see Africa in the first two pictures
                                                                  view from our piso in Benidorm
                                                        My Trainer Hermana Martin (from Madrid)