Monday, October 28, 2013

¡La Semana de MILAGROS!

Man, I love Málaga! It´s a great place, you guys should definitely come visit. So for those of you don´t know Spanish, the title of this email is Week of Miracles! I loved these past 7 days, little miracles keep popping up everywhere! First of all we found 11 new investigators all in this week and it would´ve been even more if some of the people we taught agreed to a return appointment. But get this they are all either from Africa or Romania...this week my Spanish didn´t help anything haha. English did though since all the Nigerians speak English. It seemed like every person we passed by let us in without a prior appointment and a lot of our backup plans turned into actual teaching opportunities. Which is definitely not the norm even in Málaga. My face probably showed my surprise every time someone said "come in" to us. And then even more surprise by the amount of people who were there when we did come in.
I want to share about one experience in particular. There is a Romanian family in our ward called the Patars. The four children are all baptized and the parents would like to be but are saving up money to make a trip back to Romania to get married first. The missionaries first started teaching them over a year ago and they have been actively coming to church ever since. Florina, the mother, barely knew any Spanish and also didn´t even know how to read in Romanian. But in order to attend church and read the Book of Mormon she has been learning. The family is incredible. I have never seen people like them. They live in poor, humble circumstances, but have extremely strong testimonies. They children (ages 8 to 14) are always eager to learn and pray and sing and are so sweet. They read the Book of Mormon on their own everyday and always ask us for more pamphlets to fill out the questions in the back. They literally melt my heart.
Anyway, we passed by an old reference from that family to see if they were home so we could meet them. Her friend´s name is Andrea ironically enough. She was home and let us in. We talked about the Book of Mormon and the gospel. She brought out her BOM that she already had in Romanian but told us she didn´t know how to read. She also barely understood what we were saying in Spanish. But we setup a return appt for Sunday evening and asked Florina and two of her daughters to accompany us. When we showed up they let us in and there were a ton of people. The sister, mother, husband, brother-in-law, her 3 kids, and her 3 nephews. There were also other people coming in and out of back rooms...I think I counted around 13 or 14 people in that small apartment. So I was sitting there like "holy cow...what do we do...I´ve never seen this many people in one place and they all speak Romanian..." Florina explained who we were a little bit better and some basics. I tried to watch the Restoration DVD since it was in Romanian and there were a lot of kids, but as always, it didn´t work. I swear Satan controls all technology in every investigator house we enter haha. Anyway, Florina summarized the story of the Restoration for us in her own words and then I asked her to explain the book of Mormon. She was like...I already did it. So I asked her to share her experience finding out it was true and her testimony, and she was like...I already did it. She is seriously so great. We read a little in the Book of Mormon and invited them all to read and pray and come to church. And I just wish you could´ve seen their faces- full of hope and welcome to our message. I wanted so badly to be able to communicate more fully to all of them in the moment but I knew they understood and at least the children can understand and read. But here I was listening to this woman, who is not even baptized but has been actively coming to church for a year, share her testimony in Romanian and feeling the spirit so strongly. At the end she said "we could all talk forever! when I talk about God my heart feels warm" and all the Romanian women were smiling back at me. She has incredible faith and they are all such good examples to me. I´ll let you know what happens from here!
Nigerians are interesting. They are also very receptive and humble. It´s definitely weird teaching so many lessons in English. Plus they are all men too so that makes our life difficult. Oh, there is also a recent convert here from Haiti! She has family in Florida and so we talk about that sometimes. She is so sweet and has such a great testimony. They let us stay to eat last time we visited :) Well there are other things but I´ve got to go! We are going to the castle today! And apparently we are supposed to be having a Halloween party in the chapel so we´ll see how that goes haha.
Love you all!
Hna Thompson

one member, Patricia, had a turtle and a cat so we were playing with them after FHE. That´s Michael by the way, a recent convert from Nigeria. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

First week in Málaga 2!

Hey everyone! I´m in Málaga, the promised land, and I´m loving it. Not that I got here with a lot of work since there is only like one investigator and not much else...but hey we´ll fix that. So the ward here is huge. And the members are incredible. See a correlation? Because I sure do. Like I said before there are 4 wards here and two of them meet in our building. Our area is split between us and the elders so it´s actually not very big but it seems huge because Málaga is huge and it could be that our small chunk of Málaga is bigger than Benidorm but maybe that´s just me. And we keep getting lost ALL the time. My trainee Hna Andrew still doesn´t know the area very well and our map is actually in book form so I keep getting confused haha. We´ll figure it out soon though. I still can´t get over how great some of the members are here, it literally feels like I am in the states in some of the houses. And of course when I tell people I am from Florida they always ask about Alligators and the beach haha. 

You wanna know my favorite part so far? And please don´t think I am bragging but I am just so happy about it...but I´ve had people ask where I´m from because they thought I was American but I sound Spanish so they get confused! And these are people from Spain that ask. So if I just looked a little bit more española I could pass! Heh. When I come home you´ll all think I sound funny and speak with a lisp but I actually love the general Spanish accent. The Málaga accent not so much. They drop the s on words, shorten the endings, and use the "theta" on the s´s as well...they are a bit harder to understand in the beginning but I am getting used to it. And people here are so nice! I heard that Andalucia was more friendly but seriously, people actually say hello back and I´ve had people come up to us to help us when we are lost without asking. The demographics here are different as well. Less south Americans, more Africans, and A LOT more people that are actually from Spain. In the Benidorm area everyone was from somewhere else and so I was used to asking and here when I ask they say Málaga...of course...sorry for asking. 

The area has been in the hands of fairly new missionaries for a while so I am trying to change things and get everything reorganized...including finding all the information out for 6 MONTH OLD baptismal records that weren´t ever turned in...poor people still don´t count as actual members haha. Oh hey, and yesterday was my 7th month mark! Weirdddd. Time passes by differently in the mission. 

Leaving Benidorm was incredibly weird. It kind of felt like I was starting a new mission or something. It was sad too of course but I needed a change. And Málaga is the complete opposite. On Sunday we were almost like a side note...I didn´t get called up to introduce myself, I didn´t have to teach any classes, and I couldn´t even count the number of people. So different! But it is so nice to see a ward that actually functions! I´ll let you all know how things go! Oh and Hna Andrew know Spanish! So that is a nice break. Obviously she still has a lot to learn but she gets by really well and contributes well to lessons already. She is 20, from Ohio, and went to BYU. People are always surprised when neither one of us is from Utah (or the factory as they call it haha). 

Love you all and keep praying for missionary work!
Hna Thompson

my new address: 
Avenida Manuel Torres 6, 1ºB
29003 Málaga, Spain

ps- photos!
1. Last Monday in Benidorm- Mario (an investigator who has a baptismal date...fingers crossed!), Carlos and Griselda (members from Uruguay)
2. My new piso in Málaga! It has a CAT pillow. It was a great welcome and I new I was at home. 
3. Hna Andrew and I in the internet place. We didn´t get the chance to get a good quality one earlier so we just did this selfie right now for yáll

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I´m being transferred to the PROMISED LAND!

OKAY. So I am finally leaving Benidorm! It still hasn´t sunk in completely. I know nothing else...I now associate my mission with Benidorm so it´ll be weird leaving. And any guesses as to where I will be going? MÁLAGA! Yep! Exactly where I wanted to be transferred to. Funny how that works out huh? There are four wards there with 6 missionaries in each ward. I will be serving in the 2nd ward with 4 elders and Hermana Andrew. She has only been out 6 weeks so I will be finishing up her training. Foreverrrr training. Haha but no it´s good, at least it´s not the first 6 weeks again ;) I leave Wednesday morning to head down there by bus (8.5 hours ughhh) and next Monday I´ll let you all know m new address!

Sunday was bitter-sweet. Oh and funny too. Funny thing first. So when the meeting started there were only like 18 people there and while we were singing the opening hymn one of the families came in late and their 11 year old son just starting throwing up right next to us in the aisle! So gross. I was trying not to laugh at the whole situation as the members kept singing and staring in disgust. That´s when you breathe through your mouth. The father came in during the opening prayer and started to mop it up but the smell lingered. Poor child, he looked green. In total there only ended up being 28 people there in church which is the lowest I have ever seen :( But it was fast and testimony meeting so I went up and said my goodbyes and bore testimony. It was hard to get through. I really am going to miss the people so much and I will always remember the experiences I had here. I can´t believe how much I´ve changed in the last 6 months in Benidorm. It seems like forever ago that I arrived and felt overwhelmed with the language and useless. It makes me nervous to leave the area behind to other missionaries but it has to be done. Saying goodbye to the members and the chapel was sad but I´m sure I´ll return someday...well I better since I promised certain people that I would haha. 

This week we had a meeting with all the missionaries from our stake, the stake presidency, and the mission president. Oh it was so good! The topic was the work of salvation in the stake and their vision for the specific areas. The stake president and his counselors are such incredible men. And young too, two of them in their early 30s. They´ve all served missions as well and so their counsel to us was specific and particularly meaningful. I learned so much from them and felt the spirit so strongly. It´s just too bad that I am now leaving right after hearing all of that. 

Today we barely have any pday, we had an appt with an investigator this morning, right now we are going to go eat for the last time with a member family, and then later tonight another appt. But it´s okay, I´m almost done packing anyway. The weather is nice right now too! There is a breeze and at night time it actually feels a little chilly. 

Oh and last Monday I totally got to play Settler´s of Catan in Spanish! Are you reading this Dan and Audrey? One of the elders in my district splurged and bought the game with an extension. I was close to winning but was short a point in the end. Still fun.

Well love you all and I will send news from Málaga next Monday! I still can´t believe how lucky I am to be going there! I´ve always wanted to serve in Málaga and to be so close to the other missionaries and Pres during Halloween and most likely Christmas? Score! Oh and I ´ve tried contacting Miri a million times with no luck, we even had an appt set up with her and she failed on us. I have no idea what´s going on...but thanks for your prayers!

Take care!
Hermana Thompson

ps- photos!
1. us and Vicente, our favorite person on the planet
2. my district! Elder Dansie, Elder Day, Hna Camacho, Elder Tudela, Elder Orr, Hna Parrilla, me, and Hna Noriega. The photo kind of stinks but oh well...and elder Orr is 6´10 i think if anyone was wondering haha

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Lord is aware of us!

Happy conference weekend everyone! Didn´t you just love it? And if you have not watched all the sessions, repent and go watch them online. It was kind of a fiasco being able to watch conference for us. Our branch only broad casted one session in the chapel on Sunday night (the Sunday am session for you guys) and we didn´t find out about it until late Friday night so we couldn´t tell our investigators or members any concrete details. Lame. But Saturday we went to the chapel by ourselves to watch the relief society broadcast in the morning and the sat am session live that evening at 6pm. Sunday we went to the chapel after they had finished showing priesthood and found the branch pres on the computer ugh so we ended up having to watch the sat pm session in an Internet cafe. Not ideal but oh well. Sunday evening we watched the sun am sesh in English on the computer and the others on a TV and two investigators came so that was nice. We later had a FHE and dinner at a members house with the two investigators, Estela and Angela. They come to all the activities and things but the father doesn´t like religion so we can´t do much. Angela is an angel, she is 10 years old knows the BOM is true and wants to serve a mission...I hope one day she can get baptized. 

We still have yet to be able to watch the last session of conference but we will succeed, I am not going to miss it that´s for sure. Well I know everyone says conference is just for them but this time it really was. All of my questions were answered and all of my concerns were addressed rapidly, as soon as it started. This conference was very focused on trials, the atonement, covenants, and missionary work. All the things I think about and talk about everyday. It´s because they are the most important and most prevalent. I also noticed how every topic and scripture addressed was something I had just studied for personal study. That happened last conference as well. It confirmed to me that if we are in tune with the spirit and are seeking for guidance and revelation that we can receive it- the same revelation that apostles and prophets of the Lord receive, but for our own personal instruction. 

Favorites? Well obviously always Elder Holland, Elder Bednar, Pres Uctdorf, Pres Eyring, and Pres Monson. But also Elder Ballard, Dyches, and Soares. Ok I don´t mean to list them all. Also from Relief society, Sister Reeves. I think one of the things that struck me the most is what Pres Eyring said: that there is not one person in this world that God does not desire to save, and there isn´t one person that he hasn´t made a plan to save. That spoke directly to one of my concerns. Many times I get discouraged at the amount of people who need the Gospel and despair for the overwhelmingness of it all, but that helps to remind me to trust in the Lord and His divine design. There is so much more I would love to share but I lack time.

This week was one of learning. To make a long story very short, I felt awful on Tuesday. Completely discouraged and hopeless for a few hours of time. I couldn´t feel the spirit and I didn´t want to communicate. I doubted myself and what I was doing. We then had a lesson with investigator family. I had tried so hard, so hard, to get a member to come to the lesson because I knew they weren´t progressing and that was why. Nobody could come. Every other time the lessons were distracted, a baby was screaming, people were in and out, and it wasn´t the best teaching I´ve ever done either. But Tuesday was different. The baby was asleep, both Liliana and Johnny were there and waiting and ready. The change in the lesson and spirit was remarkable and we didn´t even have a member present. They were receptive and more engaged and we walked away filled with gratitude and amazement. I then realized how aware the Lord was of me. I no longer felt the despair and self-criticism, I felt the gloom lift and saw clearer. I had tried my hardest to do what was out of my control and on top of that I was feeling bad for other reasons but the Lord saw fit to give me a tender mercy and I am so grateful. I add my testimony to those of the apostles and prophet this weekend that the Lord loves us and knows our circumstances. He is always aware of us and with His atonement will come to our rescue just when we feel like we can´t carry our own personal crosses. I love this Gospel and I love this wonderful church.

Love you all!
Hermana Thompson