Wednesday, January 30, 2013

First impressions of Spain

Hola Familia!

Ayyyy madre mia, no se donde puedo empezar. I've been in Spain for 5 days now, and I absolutely love it. It's taken so long to get here though, it's good to finally be here and settled in. Friday morning I was supposed to be at the MTC to leave with all the visa waiters at 6:00, but they had told President McCune 6:30, so when we got there everyone was gone.

Elder Cook and I waited for our visas together in Provo
He and Sister McCune ended up taking me to the airport, and that was really nice. I had asked President a month ago if he could take me to the airport instead of the MTC shuttle and he said he'd see what he could do, so Friday morning when we were on our way up there he was like, "You know Sister Munden, I don't know how you did it, but you got your wish." Hooray for that :)

I traveled with Sister Zitting and two senior couples. Sister Zitting was waiting for her visa in the Idaho Pocatello Mission and she knows the elders from my MTC district! I like her a lot. We had a 3 hour flight to Atlanta, and then an 8 hour flight to Madrid. I took a couple Advil PMs and slept for the majority of both flights. We landed in Madrid at about 8:30 Saturday morning and President and Sister Jackson came to greet us at the airport. The weather here is beauuuuuutiful! I guess it's been really cold the last couple months, but it warmed up just in time for us to get here. It's got to be at least 20 degrees warmer than Provo so I'm grateful for that.

Right now I'm serving in a place called Leganés, just south of Madrid.

Good morning from Leganes
 My companion is Hermana Miron.

Hermana Miron and me after the temple
She's from Romania (but speaks perfect English and Spanish) and goes home in just 6 weeks. Our piso (flat) is super nice. Apparently it's the biggest one in the mission. It's two stories and we live with Hermana Zitting and Miron's old companion, Hermana Coakwell. Our room is on the top floor so sometimes I climb out on the roof and write in my journal or study out there. It's super preeeeetty.

My view from the roof
Everything is so different here: there's no carpet, they don't use dryers for their clothes, the light switches are funny, and I can't find any peanut butter to save my life. I speak Latin American Spanish so nobody here can understand me and I'm hearing all these strange new words for the first time - like zumo for juice instead of jugo, coche for car instead of carro, and aseos for the bathroom instead of baño. There's a tonnnn of people here from South America though, so I like being around them because we speak the same language. Haha it's awesome. The majority of members here are from Ecuador, so we get to talk about my favorite country in the world and the time I lived in Quito.

The mission here is really different too. P-days are Wednesdays instead of Mondays, transfers are Mondays instead of Wednesdays, there are no cars, we don't eat dinner with members, and they don't ever have mission conferences. There are good differences too though! My favorite part... the schedule :) We wake up at 7 instead of 6:30 and go to bed at 11 instead of 10:30. And then from April to October, we wake up at 7:30 and go to bed at 11:30. It's the best thing in the world. Also we have mediodia for 2 hours. Which means we come home and eat lunch, sleep, do whatever while the city is basically shut down and then go back out. It's pretty neat. Also, every 5th Wednesday of the transfer (like today) we do a session at the temple with President and Sister Jackson and all the missionaries serving in the areas around Madrid. It's pretty fantastic. I like all that a lot.

When I first got here, even though I was thrilled to finally be in Spain, I was super bummed. I was missing Provo a ton and didn't feel like I fit in to this mission yet. But after being a here a few days, getting to know my companion, and teaching a few lessons, everything feels so natural. More natural than it did in Provo. It's like Heavenly Father is confirming to me that this is the mission I was called to and this is where I'm supposed to be serving right now. I'm learning to love the Spain Madrid Mission and I'm grateful I get to be here for a year.

We're teaching a lot of cool people. Again, most of them are from South America - some from Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and Mexico. We are teaching a girl named Evelyn from Bolivia. She's 14 and her parents are members, but they've been less active for a very long time. Last night she decided she wants to get baptized on February 23rd, so we have a baptism in 3 weeks! Ahh I can't wait. I've moved from the highest baptizing mission in the world to the highest baptizing mission in Europe. Missionaries here teach a lot and have a lot of success and I'm looking forward to being a part of it.

It's time to go take a quick siesta so I'm awake for tonight's lesson with Carmen and her daughters. But thanks for the millionth time for the continued support and love. I'm happy.

With love from Spain,
Hermana Munden

P.S. Remember Zach from Provo who we fasted with about baptism? Sister Cha told me he got baptized this past Saturday and he has a powerful testimony that he is a child of God :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Hi Family :)

So we moved houses on Monday. It's 5 miles from BYU, so we got a car! Right before I leave the area. Convenient. It's a brand new 2013 white Chevy Malibu and it only had 74 miles on it when we got it because they drove it down from SLC. I got to drive it for like 3 hours though because Cha had a trainer's meeting to go to, and I had to go work. It was niiiiiice. I moved into my new house with my new companions on Wednesday. The house is huge and really nice and the best conditions I've been in since being here. It sucks that I only get it for a week, but that's okay!

Us and the Barlows - best landlords everrrrrrr
I looove Hermana Barrera and Hermana Vandenbark. They're really fantastic. Nothing has gone wrong, no one has cried, and no one feels like a third wheel. It's going great. Haha but really, they're really fun. Barrera has been our for a year on Friday, she's Mexican but is from Colorado, and she speaks perfect English and Spanish. Vandenbark has been out 8 months, she's from Indiana but her parents are currently living in the Olathe Kansas Stake, and I like her a lot too. She's really really sweet!

Life in Slate Canyon is goooood. Whitewashing is HARD though. The elders didn't leave a very detailed area book so it was hard to figure out what was going on. We've spent most of the last five days visiting ward leadership to meet some of the families in the ward and build a relationship with them and it's been going really well. Everyone we've met is really nice and excited to have sisters in the ward for the first time in what sounds like forever!

So for some detail on the exciting events of last week... Thursday morning during studies I got call from President McCune. "Sister Munden, I have some verrrrrrrry good news for you." Of course I assumed it was my visa, and it was! I feel like I've been waiting for this day forevz. Probably because I have. It's been a long 6 months since I applied for my visa and 4 long months in the field. Surprisingly, I'm kind of sad to leave. I've really loved my time in this mission. I love President and Sister McCune and the 5 companions I've had here. I've loved my DL's and ZL's and teaching in Provo. It's gonna be hard to leave. But that being said, I can't WAIT to get to Spain. It's going to be an entirely different experience and I'm half nervous and half excited. I'm prepared to work hard, speak with a lisp, eat really good food, and love everyone. Yay for Spain!

Elder Kuhn and Elder Chavez left us a note with all the appointments we had, so Saturday morning we went to teach Sasha and her daughter Bernice. Bernice was really sweet. She told us she prays and reads the scriptures every night and feels Heavenly Father there with her. She's been to church several times and really enjoys it, so I think we might turn our focus more from Sasha to Bernice because she seems a lot more receptive and interested.

Sunday morning we had church at 9. It's weird being in an area where we only cover one ward, as opposed to 115 like at BYU. Sacrament meeting was really cool. It was all about missionary work. Sometimes I have moments when I realize how much I love being a missionary. And I was thinking about that a lot yesterday. I get to spend a year and a half of my life dedicated to serving the Lord. I get to share with people the beautiful blessing of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and help them realize and feel the love Heavenly Father has for them. It doesn't get any better than that!

Sunday night was Travis' baptism. Elder Yoon H. Choi of the Seventy came, because Travis' wife is his nice. While Travis was changing he had us sing I Am a Child of God. In English, Cha and Barrera did it in Spanish, Elder Choi and his wife did it in Japanese, the whole Choi family did it in Korean, and Bro. Aidukaitis (Travis' Ward Mission Leader) sang it in Portuguese. It was really cool. It's a song we've known forever, but it's such an important truth that we are literally children of God. I love knowing that.

Travis' massive family
So tomorrow morning I have to be at the mission home at 8 for an interview with President, we have a meeting at 9:30 at the MTC with the 50 visa waiters and the consulate, and then later this week I'll be on a plane to Madrid. Hooray!

I'm gonna miss Provo sunsets.

Hermana Munden

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Moving day, finally!


So I don't have a whole lot of time today because we have to go home to finish packing and getting ready to move. Sister Smith found us a new place. Hooray! That's the good news. The bad news is that the apartment is wayyyyy out of our area, so hopefully we're getting a car because if not, we'll have to get rides for literally everything and that'd be a major pain. Transfer calls just came! Sister Cha is training and I'm going to open Slate Canyon with Hermanas Barrera and Vandenbark. Elders were in that area before, so we'll be white washing (when the previous missionaries all come out and new ones go in). I'm majorly bummed. I don't want to leave Connor and Stephanie and Katia, but I know this is where the Lord wants me to go … until I go to SPAIN NEXT WEEK! That’s right, my visa is here and right now the plan is for me to go to the MTC next Tuesday to work through the details and then get on a plane to Spain on Wednesday! What a whirlwind it has been this week – moving, transfers happening, and then the news that all of that doesn’t really matter for me because I’ll finally be heading to the destination of my original call – Madrid! Although it’s hard to think about much more than that, here’s the rundown of our week:

We got a new investigator this week! His name is Zach and he's from Vegas. The elders there taught him last month and then when he moved here we picked up where they left off. He's a really cool kid. We talked about fasting and prayer with him and the power and blessings that come from it. We invited him to fast the next Fast Sunday and he's like "Actually I'd like to fast this Sunday." So we're like, "COOL, we'll join you! What are we fasting for?" And he goes, "Well, I really want to fast about whether or not I should be baptized." Done. He's great and I'm excited to hear how his fast went.

The highlight of the week was Daisy's baptism!

It was perfect. At 11:45 the font was only about 6 inches full. The baptism was supposed to start at noon and there was no way it'd be full on time. So many people helped bring in buckets of water to help fill it - including President Randall (the Stake President), President Heiner (his counselor), Bishop Seamons (Daisy's Bishop), Bro. Christensen (the high councilman over missionary work for the stake) and several others.  It was incredible. Daisy's friend Shad baptized her. He's just 16 and he did a great job, so that was really neat.

Shad and Daisy

The whole service was pretty cool. She had so many people there to support her, including 3 returned and 4 current missionaries who taught her. After she was baptized she and her dad both bore their testimonies. She said Sister Cha and I were angels and she's grateful we came back after she told us to go away. Daisy has the most powerful testimony and I'm glad a lot of people were able to hear it!
All of Daisy's friends from school that came to support her!
Speaking of baptisms, we have another one Tuesday! His name is Travis, he's Hawaiian, from Vegas, and we met him last week. Craziness.

Yesterday we went to three wards. We were speaking in one, Katia's ward had Ward Conference, and then we went to Daisy's ward for her confirmation. Ward Conference was really good. Bishop Jakins (the family who had us over Christmas morning) is the Bishop in that ward so we got to hear from him and President Randall. They based their talks off of Elder Bednar's about testimony vs. conversion. It was really good. Yesterday I was especially grateful for church leadership. President Randall is such a good man and I'm so thankful for his diligence and efforts in helping us do our job as missionaries, and his example of service Saturday at Daisy's baptism. Daisy's dad confirmed her and it was the cutest thing ever. Especially because he just joined the church two years ago and it was his first time. Really cool. Daisy's oldest sister Gabby came too! She's the only one in the family who isn't a member... yet. Maybe one day!

Last night we went to the CES Fireside because President Uchtdorf spoke. We brought Connor and our new investigator Zach. Get this. The topic was truth. What is truth and how do we find truth and what do we do if the truth that we learn contradicts our previous beliefs? HOW PERFECT IS THAT? It was incredible. Zach and Connor watched and listened so intently and I can't wait to hear what they thought of it.

It's gonna be so hard to teach in Spanish after 3 months of English, but if I do my part, I know the Lord will be there for me. I love you guys! I'm gonna be sad to BYU, but change is good! I miss you and hope everything is well. I can't believe I've been out over 4 months and that I only have 13 left. Time goes by too fast. Be good :)

Hermana Munden

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New year, new semester, new day

Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii :)

Today is the first day of the semester! Hooray! That means all our people are back, a bunch of new faces, and hopefully some good quality referrals. I'm so happy BYU isn't dead anymore. Also, this week is Board Week, when President and the Assistants make transfer decisions. I can't believe this transfer is almost over. Seriously though, fastest 6 weeks of my life. Our predictions are that either we'll get another sister and we'll be in a trio (ugh I hate trios), or that I'll leave the area and be in a trio in a Spanish speaking area. I don't wanna leave Mama Cha, but it'd be nice if I could serve in a Spanish area again.

So this week was Katia's birthday! Sister Cha and I made a bunch of paper hearts and wrote stuff on them (scriptures, happy birthday, cosas asi) and then put them all over her front door. It was so fun. We went to her work that day too and ate pupusas. So yummy. That night she had us over for her birthday party. Their was cake and music and dancing and tacos and all sorts of fun birthday things. I like that lady a lot.

Yesterday was interesting. We had two wards to be at that started at the same time, so we found splits and I went to church with Rachel while Sister Cha went to church with Daisy. While I was with Rachel, I SAW RYAN SMITH! Ahhh made my whole day. How come nobody told me he was in Provo? That was the best. All three hours were really good and I learned a lot, especially from the testimonies during Sacrament Meeting. It's cool how sometimes Heavenly Father answers our prayers through other people. That happened for me yesterday and I was grateful for it. I think Rachel really enjoyed church too, so that was good. And we got to see Connor last night! We talked about the Doctrine and Covenants (since that's what he'll be studying in Sunday School this year) and about how is Christmas with his family was. It was really good to see him.

Here's the interesting part... we got a call last night from Rachel. Things have been going really well with her. We had a cool lesson with her on Saturday and we have been planning to invite her to be baptized when we saw her later this week. Well when she called, she told us that actually, she's a member. What the heck. So in the MTC there's the TRC where you can volunteer and pretend you're a nonmember to help the missionaries in the MTC practice how to teach. Well, Rachel didn't know that they only do that in the MTC. So she's been pretending this whole time that she's not a member, and we believed her. Sister Cha thinks it's hilarious, but I'm mad about it! Haha I guess it's not her fault because she didn't know, but still, annoying!

This week is going to be really good. We have two baptisms we're getting ready for, we just got two referrals, and we're planning on spending lots of time on campus, getting to know all the new people that have come in. My 4 month mark is on Saturday, and it's also Daisy's baptism so I'm excited for this weekend! Her story is really cool and I'm so happy for her.

I've been thinking a lot lately about missionary work and why sometimes, even though I'm trying my hardest to do everything right, it's so, so hard. Appointments fall through, people slam doors in our faces, investigators turn out to be fake (that doesn't happen very often though haha), and we don't see results of our efforts as quickly as we'd like. But this quote from Elder Holland helped things make more sense: "I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation was never easy. We are the church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our great eternal head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him." I like that a lot.

When I get home I want to be more assertive about missionary work. I was always pretty good about sharing the gospel when people had questions or wanted to know more about me and what I believe, but I think it's important that we not be afraid to share the gospel with others. We shouldn't be worried it'll ruin our relationships with friends, classmates, and coworkers, or that they'll be offended, or reject what we have to say. We never know when it's the right time for someone to hear the truth and accept it. I'm learning that more every day. We've found so many people who have been searching and praying to find the truth, but like the scriptures say, "they know not where to find it." I urge you guys to sincerely and faithfully pray for missionary opportunities. If you do, and if you act on promptings you receive, you'll have those experiences! In the MTC they taught us to not be surprised by miracles, but to expect them. This is the Lord's work and it's the most important thing we can be apart of!

I love you all and appreciate your continued support and encouragement. I have a feeling my time in this mission is dwindling, so I'm trying to enjoy the rest of it while I can! I hope everyone has a good week!

Hermana Munden

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A New Year's Miracle

Hi Family!

I can't believe it's 2013. I feel like 2012 went by really fast, but maybe that's just me. Things are so different now than they were a year ago. This time last year I was in Rexburg, working at Texas Roadhouse and thinking about moving down to Provo. And it was about this time that I decided to go on a mission! Then I moved home in February, turned my papers in right before my 21st birthday in March, got my call in May, and then worked all summer at Texas Roadhouse in Louisville until I left for the MTC in September. Then because of visa delays I got reassigned to the Utah Provo Mission, and here we are! It all happened so fast, it's so crazy to me. Speaking of visas, I could be gone any day now. I don't know when specifically, but soon. I have mixed feelings about that, but I'll go where the Lord wants me to go.

Alright, so. I don't have much to share this week, except for one really cool experience we had. We've been teaching this girl Daisy pretty regularly for the past month or so. Her mom was baptized when she was younger, her brother Steven and sister Pauline when they were 8, and then her dad and older sister Christina were baptized 2 years ago through missionary efforts. I already mentioned this before, but Daisy was supposed to get baptized 2 years ago too with Christina and their dad, but backed out at the very last second because she was feeling too much pressure. So for the last two years missionaries have come, and her family has been really eager for Daisy to get baptized, but we wanted to take things slow so she wouldn't get scared again. So things have been going really well for the last month or so and then we met with her on Sunday. We talked a lot about faith, especially faith in Jesus Christ and faith when we pray. We asked when we could meet with her again, but she said she wanted to stop having the lessons. Her sister said the prayer and then we went home. Sister Cha and I were just quiet when we got back to our house. She knelt down and prayed and cried and I knelt down and prayed and cried. I felt so discouraged. I didn't understand why she had bad feelings instead of good ones when she thought about joining the church. I didn't understand how the gospel could make her family so happy, but it didn't do the same for her. I was confused and angry and was frustrated with Heavenly Father. I figured He would be more willing to give people an answer/confirmation/testimony, especially when they were doing all the right things. So I was talking with Heavenly Father, telling Him all these things, and telling Him what happened with Daisy. I told Him that even though she dropped us, I wasn't ready to give up on her. I told him I was upset and that I wanted to go home. I repented for my lack of obedience and diligence and faith, in even the smallest things, and I promised Him that if He would work a miracle with Daisy, if He would change her heart, I would do whatever He wanted me to do. And I meant it. Then yesterday I woke up feeling really sick. I was really dizzy and lightheaded and shaky and it wasn't going away. I had the worst headache in the world and I felt really nauseous and super weak. I sat in the bathroom for about an hour just praying it would pass. Sister Cha came in to check on me and she asked for the phone so she could call the mission nurse. I gave her the phone and was like, "Someone called and left a voicemail, but I don't know what they said." She went out to our room and listened to it and when I came out she was crying and gave me the phone and was just like, "Listen to this..." So I did. It was the Ward Mission Leader from Daisy's ward. He called and said, "Hi Sisters, I have some really good news for you. I know Daisy told you on Sunday she doesn't want to meet with you anymore, but she read Alma 32, had a spiritual experience, knows the Book of Mormon is true, and wants to be baptized on January 15th, the two year anniversary of her dad and sister's baptisms." Oh my goodness. We cried and hugged and cried some more and kept saying how happy we were. We read Alma 32 together and then thanked Heavenly Father for this miracle! DAISY IS GETTING BAPTIZED! We visited her last night and she was so happy. We could notice the change in her countenance and her voice. She looked happy, she sounded happy, she just was so, so happy. She told us about the experience she had with the Book of Mormon and we knew she knew it was true.

"Have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men." (Moroni 7:29)

I love being a missionary. I love seeing the gospel change the lives of the people we share it with. I love watching them change their lives to live better and getting to see them come closer to Christ. This gospel is individual. Daisy didn't get baptized when the rest of her family did because it wasn't her time. She hadn't received her answer and she wasn't going to do it until she had, until she knew it was true. And I admire that.

I love love love this quote from Elder Holland: "I believe that in our own individual ways, God takes us to the grove or the mountain or the temple and there shows us the wonder of what His plan is for us. We may not see it as fully as Moses or Nephi or the brother of Jared did, but we see as much as we need to see in order to know the Lord's will for us and to know that He loves us beyond mortal comprehension."

I know Heavenly Father loves Daisy. I know He's looking out for her and I know that what happened this week was truly a New Year's miracle. I know prayers are answered and hearts can change. Gosh dangit, I love being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sister Cha always writes on her envelopes before she puts her letters in the mail, "be happy, be Mormon :)" It's true though. I'm happy. And I hope you all are too!

Hermana Munden

P.S. Happy Birthday to my baby sister on Saturday!