Tuesday, May 28, 2013

''Fear not what man can do, for God shall be with thee forever and ever.'' D&C 122:9

Hi Family!
So what's really weird is that on Friday I hit my halfway mark in the mission. And as of Saturday, I've been in the Spain Madrid Mission longer than I was in the Utah Provo Mission. Time has seriously flown. I can't even believe I'm on the downhill.
This week was good - pretty typical. Tuesday we had a lesson with a lady we were hoping to make a new investigator. Well, she told me she lived in Vicálvaro, but once we got there, we could not find her house to save our lives. We asked this older gentleman if he knew of the address and he said we needed to hop on bus 100 and that the bus driver would tell us when to get off. So we did just that. But the bus driver didn't tell us to get of til the very end of the line, so we ended up having to walk an extra ten minutes. We got so frustrated with finding the dang address, we almost just gave up and called to reschedule. But then we found it! And it's a good thing we did. After a few minutes of getting to know her we found out she was actually a member. She got baptized in Paraguay, but hadn't been to church since she moved to Spain. I shared a scripture with her and afterwards I asked what it meant to her. She got emotional and said it was just what she needed. She said she suffers from severe depression, that she'd really been struggling that particular morning, and that my scripture may have saved her life. I'm glad we didn't give up on finding her, and I'm grateful that the Holy Ghost told me what this sweet woman needed.
Later that day I got a call from Elder Pizarro and he goes, ''Hermana Munden, what does ah-way-sew-may mean?'' Obviously very confused, I asked him what the heck he was talking about, but he just repeated the word. Then he said that on his to do list in his planner it said ''tell Hermana Munden she's awesome'' and he didn't know what awesome meant. Hahahahahhahaha it was so hilarious. I'd forgotten I wrote that. He's picked up a lot of English from serving around American missionaries and I figured he knew what awesome was, but I guess not.
Wednesday was the best day ever. I was anxious all morning because on Tuesday Elder Forrest told me that Yo had gotten to Spain and that she was in my district! I got ready super fast and after studies we went down to wait for the rest of the district to show up. And THEN I saw Hermana Scheu! It was the best thing ever. It's probably a good thing we're not companions right now because instead of working, we'd probably just talk about our Ecuador babies all day. Haha I love her so much and I'm very happy she's in my district.
That afternoon we had a lesson with Jaime. We taught him the plan of salvation and took a good 2 hours because the man talks so much. He's really sweet though. And when it felt right, I asked him to be baptized on June 7th and he said yes! He's so excited and we're really happy for him. He's a good man and he's going to be such a faithful and strong member of the church.

Thursday we had a lesson with Rafa. He showed up 20 minutes late so we didn't have time to teach our planned lesson before we had to be at correlation. I wasn't really sure what to each so I asked him how his reading was going. He grabbed the book and started flipping through. He stopped at the introduction page and said, ''Well, I've read this... Uh, I've looked at the pictures...'' Hahaha what a punk. And then he said he read the scripture we gave him. I had no idea what he was talking about, but then he flipped to Helaman 5:12 and I remembered I'd texted that to him the other day. So we talked about the wise man and the foolish man and how Christ is the rock upon which we should build our lives. It was really good. He's a punk, like any 17 year-old kid would be, but he surprises me a lot and he's awesome.
K so I have to talk about Gusto, our Filipino investigator. Oh my gosh I love this man so much. He's so so so funny. And he always shows up early to lessons. By early I mean like two hours early. So on the way to the Filipino family's house he said he'd been riding the metro back and forth to kill time. Haha who does that? The man kills me. And then ten minutes later, out of nowhere he just says, ''Jesus was born in Bethlehem.'' I love Gusto. Anyhow, we had two really good lessons with him this week. I'm so happy there is a Filipino family in our ward who opens their home to us and helps us teach Gusto because it's really hard on our own because of the language barrier. But I love teaching him and I love the family who helps us.
After our lesson with Jaime earlier in the week we found out that he actually doesn't live in our area, which obviously was hard because it meant we'd have to give him to other missionaries. So on Friday we had a lesson with us, him, and the other hermanas who will teach him from now on. We taught the lesson on the gospel of Jesus Christ and it went well, except when Hermana Stepp said the Holy Ghost is like yogurt and discotecas are like jalapeños............. Nobody really understood where she was trying to go with that. Poor thing. Overall it was a really good lesson and it provided a smooth transition from us to them. Jaime is in really good hands.
This week a lot of spanish-speaking missionaries and people on the street have told me how good my Spanish is, or that it's improved a lot. I just remember back to the MTC when I felt like I was struggling a ton with teaching in Spanish, and I'm so happy I've gotten to a point where I feel so comfortable with the language. I'm blessed that I don't struggle with what to say aanymore and that my accent doesn't immediately identify me as an American. It makes everything so much easier.
Well, I have to go. I'll finish this week next week. Haha I wanna go home and take a nap before pday is over. I love youuuuu!

Hermana Munden

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Highlights from week 3 of transfer 6 (a.k.a. lamest subject line ever)

Hi Family!

It was soo good to talk to you yesterday! And to see your faces. I miss you guys. This week was better than last, so that's something to be happy about. I don't have a ton of time today, so here are the highlights of my week...

cutie girl from the ward with all our chapas on

After we watched the Joseph Smith movie with Rafa on Monday we asked what he thought. He said, ''Well I guess his life was kind of like Jesus' right? I mean, the people didn't believe Joseph was a prophet and that he saw God so they killed him. The people in Jesus' time didn't believe He was who He said He was, so they cruicified Him.'' Duuuuuuuuude this kid is so great. He's super quite, but then when he does say stuff, pure gold comes out!

Tuesday morning in our lesson with Eloy (it's been a whole transfer since he'd had time to meet with missionaries) he wanted to talk about baptism. We put him on date for June 8th and he said he's excited. That day I also got a call from the hermanas in Alcalá. Hermana Judy told me she was with someone who wanted to talk to me. It was Soto (my companion in Provo) who told me that she's in our mission now and I get to see her in two weeks at the temple!

On Thursday Rafa came to Family Home Evening at the church and this time a ton of youth come up to him and introduced themselves and invited him to the dance this weekend. He participated in the games and had a good time.

Friday morning Elder Pizarro got sealed to his family in the Madrid temple. It was really cute to see him reunited with his parents and two little siblings after not seeing them for 11 months. That day we also had a lesson with our Spanish David after we thought he'd disappeared. He said a really awesome prayer after a really awesome lesson.

Saturday was Elder Pizarro's birthday and I got our whole English class to sing to him. Haha it was fantastic. Then later we had ice cream cake with some other missionaries. That afternoon we found a random library in the park and it's our new email and lesson spot. There's floor to ceiling windows all around it so it's the best view of the park.

Yesterday two investigators came to church - Jaime and Gusto. Gusto is from the Philippines and doesn't speak English or Spanish very well. I tried to translate for him during sunday school, but after awhile he just turned to me, started laughing hysterically and said, ''I don't understand anything!'' It was hilarious. Lucky for us though, after church we found a complete Filipino family for him and we're having our lesson tomorrow night at their house. After church I called President to ask him a couple questions and he told me that YO SCHEU IS COMING TOMORROW! Hooraaaaay I'll be ruinited with my Ecuador homegirl so so soon. Also my camera magically started working, so pictures will forever be a part of my emails from now on.

us last night drinking alcohol free champagne to celebrate hermana olsen's sister's wedding

Hadley and Olsen's brother in love on our fridge
 And then obviously I ended my night talking to you people. I love you guys! Sorry your Mother's Day call was a week late, but I'm glad we got it to happen! I love you Mama.

My official halfway point is Friday and it's freaking me out. I never wanna leave :(

Hermana Munden

Monday, May 13, 2013

The hardest thing about being a missionary...

This week was really hard. There's a complete 180º difference between the work here in Pavones and the work in Leganés. In Leganés we had a teaching pool of about 20 people and hardly enough time to see them all in a week. The ward, though small, was supportive, loving, and really helpful in coming with us to teach investigators and welcoming us into their homes for meals or to share a message. When we brought new people to church, the bishop and at least five other people were quick to greet them and help them feel comfortable. Here I haven't experienced any of that. It's really difficult to do our part as missionaries when the members don't do their part to help us, and it's gotten us really discouraged lately.
But in my 8 months (as of yesterday) I've figured out what the absolute hardest thing for me is about being a missionary: when people reject the message we have.  It's sad because they don't know what they're walking away from, and I do. They're my brothers and sisters and they don't even know the happiness and blessings they choose to miss out on. But what hurts the absolute most is when they've received a testimony, when they've prayed and felt their Heavenly Father's love for them, when they've seen the blessings that come from keeping the commandments, when they've read the Book of Mormon and start to know it's true, when they've come to church and built friendships with the members, and then they give up. That's what kills me. It literally makes me hurt for them. Most of the tears I've cried since being a missionary have come from just that - people giving up on their investigation process. It's especially difficult because there's only so much I can do. I've taught them what needs to be taught, I've fasted and prayed for and with them, I've testified of truth and promised blessings, and I've helped create an environment where they can feel the Spirit and know the things I tell them are true. I've gained such a strong testimony that the Lord is in charge. People have their agency and can choose to accept or reject our message, but they are always in the Lord's hands. He knows them and loves them even more than I do and He knows what they need and when it will be their time. It's just really hard sometimes. Really, really hard.
We did have a miracle this week though. We've been teaching this kid who's 17, Bolivian, and really cool. So Saturday night we taught him about the restoration of the church of Jesus Christ and we brought this girl Natalie who's 19 and just got baptized 2 years ago. During most of the lesson he was looking down at the ground and not paying a whole lot of attention. Towards the end when we started talking about Joseph Smith and his role in restoring Christ's church, the Spirit was definitely present. I told him Joseph Smith's experience during the First Vision and he looked at me the whole time and then Natalie bore her testimony on what a blessing it is to have the true church of Jesus Christ on the Earth today. It was really powerful and I know Rafa felt the Spirit. I asked him afterwards if he believed that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could be Christ's true church and he said he believed it could, but that he wanted to ask God. Then we invited him to church the following morning.
The next morning (yesterday) I called Rafa at 9 to make sure he was up and still going to come. At 11:35 Hermana Olsen and I went outside to wait for him. I called him and heard that he was on the bus and he said he was almost there. I literally squealed with excitement. I was so proud! He's making progress! We sat together in sacrament meeting and it was awesome. He asked questions, listened to the talks, and I even noticed him singing along during the last two hymns. It was so good to have him there. And he's coming to our movie night tonight! We're watching the long Joseph Smith movie and I'm really excited.
So that's all that's really been on my mind lately. My membership in the only true church of Jesus Christ has made me who I am. A lot of people say ''I don't even know where I'd be without the gospel.'' I know exactly where, and who I'd be without the gospel of Jesus Christ and I never want to have to experience that. Every good thing I have in my life comes from God. Because I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I know who I am and more importantly, who I can become. This gospel is a gospel of change and because of my faith in and testimony of Jesus Christ I can improve myself every day. I'm so grateful for the life I've been given and for the direction and purpose it has because of my knowledge of the truth. That knowledge and the blessings that come from accepting the message and participating in the saving ordinances found only in this church are available to EVERYONE. It's just a matter of whether or not they choose to accept it. It's my constant hope, prayer, and deep desire that they do whether through my efforts or those of others.
Thank you all for your good examples and service to the missionaries. We full-time missionaries are so very dependent on your prayers, testimonies and support.
Hermana Munden

Monday, May 6, 2013

2 Nephi 5:27

This week felt like a year. But that's how the first week of transfers always are. I'm still not in love with my new area, but it's growing on me. Something I really do like about Pavones though is that we get to teach lessons on temple grounds. The people in Pavones, even though most of them haven't heard of the church, recognize and are really proud of the temple. It's so beauuuutiful.
Last Tuesday all the new baby missionaries came! There were 27 that showed up to our mission - 11 hermanas and 16 elders. They all look so dang young. But then again, the hermanas are 19 instead of 21. We ended the night ringing timbres (knocking doors) in a piso close to ours. We stopped at this lady's door and after we told her who we are and what we do she said, ''You know what, I have my religion and you have yours and I respect what you're doing, but I'm really not interested.'' I was ready to leave, and I had actually turned around and started walking the other way, when Hermana Olsen asked if she had any family or friends that could use the message that we have to share. She paused for a minute and then mentioned that her daughters both could use a little help. We talked about how the youth today as a whole doesn't have any morals and they've forgotten God. I explained that that's why I'm out here doing what I'm doing. I told her that my beliefs and the way I live according to my beliefs has changed me for the better and I want others to experience the same change and happiness. Then she said, ''And how exactly have you changed?' I was really taken aback by that question. For a second I didn't know how to answer. I told her that knowing God lives, love me, and has a plan for me gives my life purpose. I told her I know that the things I do in this life matter to God and that in the hard times when I feel alone, I take comfort in the scriptures and in knowing that God is walking alongside me every step of the way. After about 5 seconds of comfortable silence, she said with tears in her eyes, ''Thank you for your beautiful thoughts. I appreciate you for doing what you do and I'll think about having my girls call you.'' Our interaction with that lady went from kind of negative and disappointing to a really spiritual experience for me, and I think for her too. I'm grateful that Hermana Olsen followed the prompting to ask her for a reference.
Wednesday we did a lot of contacting in the metro. There were previously just two hermanas in our area so they had to split the area and we're basically starting from zero which is super hard. But contacting on Wednesday was really productive. I was sitting across from this 20 something year-old guy when I noticed he kept looking at my tag. He eventually leaned over and said, ''So are you a Jehova's Witness or an Evangelist?'' I told him I was actually Mormon which led him to ask what made our religion different and what some of our basic beliefs are. We talked about everything from the Book of Mormon to the Word of Wisdom to modern-day prophets to the Godhead to the Law of Chastity to everything. It was really awesome. I got his name and number and he said he'd love to learn more. It was super cool.

We ended the day singing in Retiro Park with Hermanas Hansen and Smith. It was a really incredible experience. There were a ton of people in the park and we were very much in the world. But as soon as we started bearing our testimonies in song, we created a heavenly atmosphere. Some people seemed drawn to us - little kids especially. The Spirit was so strong and during a couple songs I was almost brought to tears. There was something so incredible about singing about the gospel truths we normally share in word. I gained a testimony of the power of uplifting music that day.
Saturday made one year since receiving my call. I can't believe it's been that long! To celebrate we went to Domino's with the other Barrio 6 missionaries and Olsen bought my pizza :)
Church was really good yesterday.  In Sacrament Meeting the three of us that are new to the ward shared our testimonies. It was so much easier than it was 3 months ago when I got here. And the ward is HUGE. So many eyeballs were staring at me.
We had an awesome lesson with Rafa afterwards. He's 17 and from Bolivia. He hasn't heard anything about our church, but wants to know more. We talked to him about our purpose as missionaries and established our expectations of eachother. He's excited to read the Book of Mormon and at the end he said a beautiful prayer. I love hearing people pray for the first time :) We ended the night again singing in the park. We met this guy from London who said he previously had negative feelings about Mormons. He told us that even though he still isn't interested in knowing more at this point, he was moved by our singing and he now things positively about who we are and what we stand for. It really meant a lot.
I didn't get to even half of what happened this week, but that's the best of what happened. Since yesterday was cinco de mayo we had a party today in Leganés with like 15 of the hermanas. It was suuuper fun and Hermana Phillips made the best food ever. She's half Mexican.
Life is good. Really really good. I hope you all have a good week!
Hermana Munden