Monthly Archives: September 2013

E-Mail on 9/30/13

Well… it was one of THOSE weeks.

It’s still Africa hot here.  I still sweat a ton and a half.  I wake up in the mornings feeling super nauseous.  I have a ton of bug bites on my legs.  One of my companions drives me freaking nuts.  I can’t speak Spanish as well as I’d like to.  I have a cold right now.  We spent 4 hours street contacting with little to show for it, minus very exhausted feet.

Bright side is, after a week and a half of showering in Antarctica, we now have warm water again.  Praying only warmed the water up so much, ya know?

Ugh.  This letter sounds so whiny.  How dumb!  But it was a hard week.

The Sagrada Familia is SOOOO COOOOOOL!  It’s gorgeous on the inside.  The outside is definitely like the termite hills in Africa, Mom.  It´s true.  But up close it has the whole life of Christ on the outside.  That’s pretty cool.  You can see the different stories and everything.  Love it!  They still have so much left to build though.  Like… I´ll probably have great grandkids and they’ll still be working on it.  It’s a lot left.  I watched a whole video on it.  I’ll be sending some pictures next week, okay?  So cool.  Totally worth every penny… oh… it was free for us.  (HA!)

We met this guy named Jordi.  He has pamphlets from the 80’s!  He is very…interesting, and by that I mean weird.  But he accepted the invitation to be baptized.  And then he didn’t show up to the next lesson.  And then he told us he didn’t want us meeting in his house but that he’d go to church.  And then he didn’t go to church.  And then he was DRUNK when we met with him on Sunday afternoon.  We gave him a good chastisement (like the Hermanas are pretty well qualified to do) and told him that if he really wanted this, he needed to change his attitude and get himself together.  Life is hard.  We know that it is just as much as he does.  Christ has us graven on his palms though.  He never abandons us, he never forgets us.  Jordi cried and agreed to read the Book of Mormon a little.  I stared him down the whole time because I knew he was fighting his demons.  I told him I was here because I know God loves all of us.  I know God is always there for us and that he wants us to come to Him.  And then I said  “but you have to listen to us”.  We’ll see where that goes.

Then we have Julian who is like the exact opposite.  He CRAVES knowledge.  His only downside is that he wants to learn about all sorts of religions.  Dun dun dun.  NO! NO JULIAN NO!  This is the right church!  Well, basically he had a million and ten questions about the Holy Ghost and we did our best in our broken Spanish (H. Cozzolino was doing some Sister Leadership training duties).  I think we answered his questions.  I also showed him the little guide at the back of the Book of Mormon and said that if he had any questions he could look it up by subject.  He really liked that.  This kid is just starving for knowledge.  I really like him!

It’s been pretty cool how many people stop us to ask us who we are.  There are some very prepared people.  It is a blessing to be able to be here for them all.  It truly changes lives.  You get to see a spark, a light (of Christ, if you will) and then it just spreads.  People smile more.  People laugh more.  They cry more too but that’s because they know this can help.  It really helps.  This gospel heals people more than anything ever could.  I really enjoy seeing THAT.  Families coming together, the broken and down trodden rising up.  So cool.

I know this is true.  I know God loves everyone (I literally feel it in lessons with people).  I know that the Book of Mormon can answer any question you may have in life.  I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and our biggest supporter.  He knows everything we are going through and he wants to help us.  We just have to want to be helped and we show that desire by following the example set for us.  I know this works.  I really do.  I wish I could say it better in Spanish, but I can say enough.   And my “enough” is enough.  Christ makes up the difference.

I love you all.  Thank you for the support.  I try to be better organized on Sunday night so that writing goes faster so I can respond better but these last two Sundays have ended in companionship fights… that’s always awkward… so I will get around to emailing you, I swear!  Keep on keeping on.

Hermana Durham

E-Mail on 9/23/13

Lisps, Letters, Love, and Lice

So the more I meet people, the more I realize that the Spanish theta (the Lisp) is practically useless.  No one uses it but the Spaniards and like I said before, the Spaniards aren’t the ones listening to us.  I’m torn about whether or not to actually use it… I probably won’t.  So don’t be too disappointed when I come home without it.

I got letters! I got one from Sadie Fish (with the best drawings ever), one from Grandma and one from Ethan.  Thank you for sending them to me!  It was super exciting.  So yes, I don’t receive letters, and I really love getting them.

Love.  Love is all the really gross new couples making out in public…everywhere.  Love is the really old couples who sweetly hold hands while walking down the street.  Love is the married couple who protect their newborn from the wind.  Love is sending your missionary two dozen roses from across the world.  Love is being patient that her whole mission now knows about the two dozen roses.  Love is heart break when a mother won’t allow her daughter to choose the path of Christ.  Love is washing the dishes while your investigator runs to work.  Love is the grin you get seeing that dripping wet smile on her face when she walks out of the baptismal font.  Love is making the choice to talk to people who seem disinterested because you know they need to know about love.  Love is many things, but it is the best thing we have.  It´s the greatest tool we have to change the lives of those we teach.

Lice….yeah.  That awkward moment when someone in the piso gets lice and you spend an afternoon with gross shampoo in your hair and a plastic bag on your head to make sure you’re in the clear.  It’s been a real party with the plastic bag pillows and all.

Heidi got baptized this Saturday!  I have never been so happy in my whole life.  She was beautiful.  Her testimony was beautiful.  Nardi did a wonderful job even though he didn’t know the baptismal prayer until just then.  The music was perfect.  The ward was great.  It was just a perfectly perfect day.  I wish Nikole could have participated but her mother wouldn’t let her be baptized.  How heart-breaking.  This poor girl is so prepared, she craves this light so much, it has been helping her with her depression even!  Her mother knows that!  Ugh.  That is hard.

I love this work.  It’s definitely hard, especially when companions fight, but it’s worth it.  It’s worth it to see people smile.  To be there when they start to breath a little easier.  When they look surprised that all we want for them is their happiness.  No one expects that.  No one expects that there are people out there who care about them.  It is a blessing to be able to share that.  Everyone is hurting, but everyone can help.  I get to be helped too, just by getting to wake up everyday and go out into the streets filled with God’s children.  It’s pretty awesome, you know?

Anywho, I love you all a lot.  My prayers take forever because I have so many people to be grateful for and so many people to ask blessings for.  Thank you for your love and your support.  I feel it.  I do.  Keep on keeping on!

Hermana Durham

E-Mail 9/16/13

Okay folks, here we go with more information.

My piso is gigantic. It is currently housing 8 sisters, 3 companionships. There isn´t a piso in Badalona for those sisters so they´re having to get a little creative in the meantime. It´s only a little crowded though. Oh guess what I get to see every single day? Nothing too big. Nothing too cool. Just the Sagrada Familia. Yeah. I can see the top of it from my bedroom. And my desk. But, you know, it´s not like it´s world famous or anything.

So I don´t live in Spain. I live in Catalunya. I don´t speak Spanish. I speak Castilliano (actually I don´t speak that either…). On the 11th, there was some big demonstration or something because Barcelona is hating on Spain and they want nothing to do with Spain in general. They are upset because they make the most, give the most in taxes, and get the least back. It´s intense apparently. I haven´t really noticed.

Investigators… boy do I have some good ones!

Heidi. She is a golden…no… PLATINUM investigator. She found US. She just showed up at the church looking for the Mormons because she had been in contact with some missionaries back home in Bolivia. She remembered how she felt around them and wanted that peace again. She agreed to be baptized our first lesson with her (this week… yeah it´s been 2 weeks… yeah I have a baptism already… yeah I´m stoked). She has the cutest freaking daughter too. She´s 4, she´s whip-smart and she´s a sassy pants. I love them!

Mariela. We found her on the metro. At first she didn´t seem too receptive (she was probably exhausted from work) but H. Cozzolino gave her a card (we give out pass-along cards like candy, guys. LIKE CANDY.) We didn´t expect too much but guess what? She came to church. ALL of church. She´s hard to track down because she works all the time but we finally had a lesson and she too agreed to be baptized the very first lesson. She said she knew that God would bless her family if she attended church. What a champ! These people are so prepared!

Eric. He´s an interesting soul. Our first contact with him was shortly after he punched the wall of the metro. It scared us quite a bit so naturally we walked straight for him. He was upset about Spain, immigrants, his children seeing him only as a prisoner (he´s done some time), his marriage in shambles, his alcoholism… pretty heavy stuff. H. Cozzolino told him he could be baptized and all his sins would be forgiven. This big, tough, scary dude started crying on the metro. We kept talking, he cried more, we prayed, we told him to come to church, he asked if it was okay that he had tattoos, we said of course, then we went our seperate ways. He needs a lot of work, but he´s a good man with a good heart.

Barcelona is wicked hot. Siempre. I sweat literally all the time. I wish I was exaggerating but I´m not. Okay I am a little. But seriously it´s burning lava hot, and humid, and ridiculous. The metro is probably my least favorite thing in the world. It is SO hot and SO gross. We walk, we sprint, we ride. It´s a real adventure here in Barcelona, what with the transportation and all.

The members feed us SO well. They love us. We get massive portions, desserts, drinks…oh man. It´s good stuff. The food is really quite good. The flan is not my favorite, but I realize I have to learn to deal with that. I really just hate flan. It´s like eating caramel cat food. Ew. So gross. The members are also really patient with my Spanish… Castillano. One of the younger ones reminded her mother to speak slowly or I wouldn´t understand. Another family would say a few things and then turn and asked if I was understanding. It´s a slow and brutal process. I catch about 30% on a good day. 10% on a bad day. But everyone knows. I´m the pasty white, blue-eyed Utahn. You think I know Castillano? Pfft.

Last week for preparation day (no more nicknames) we went to a science museum. It was super legit! This coming Monday we scored free tickets to go inside the Sagrada Familia. I might just die of excitement! Might! Woooooo!

Cute things about my mission… at 10 am we have a mission wide prayer. Adorable. We are also reading the Book of Mormon as a mission. Precious. The nickname for our mission is “El Faro” which is a Lighthouse and the theme song for us is the hymn that goes “Brightly beams our Father´s mercy…”. The one Dad loves. Heavenly Father likes sending me these musical reminders, He really does.

This Sunday was Stake Conference. That was pretty cool, minus the not understanding anything. A couple times the speakers went out and no one could here. All the missionaries were freaking out because we all have investigators there trying to listen. I started praying immediately, H. Cozzolino said “This is the devil…” so I said “If you pray the sound will come back on” so she started praying too. It worked. Tiny little miracle. H. Cozzolino was surprised but I wasn´t.

Missionaries pray. A lot. I pray over everything… “Please bless that the hot water will start working”, “please bless that the lights will work again”, “please bless that this person   won´t be a distraction to our investigator”,”please bless…”. I mean really. Everything. And it works because the Lord gives us those tender mercies when we really need them. I will say though that missionary prayers are waaaay too long. We have a lot of things to ask for and a long list of people and it´s a little bit, lotta bit ridiculous. In a good way I suppose.

This address is perfect for mail (I got some today, in fact):

Hermana Durham

Barcelona Spain LDS Mission

C/ Calatrava 10-12, Bajos

08017 Barcelona

Spain

Thanks for all the prayers and all the letters. I really love getting them all! You are amazing and wonderful and God loves you because He loves all His children!

OH WAIT! I need to do a little chastising of the ward and Dad since you are in the bishopric you can pass this little love letter along:

As I missionary I feel I have the right to be bold. We´re supposed to be bold. This is a serious work, salvation is on the line. And so I must say this, missionaries NEED members. We CANNOT do this work without them. Our ward was super small when I left, right? But guess what? There are still the same amount of homes in the ward. All the people living in the ward boundaries are your brothers and sisters. They are children of God who need the gospel, they need a friend, they need a neighbor. Reach out to everyone. Don´t just settle on sticking a note in their mailbox telling them about an activity. Knock on the door. Meet them. Serve them. Love them. THAT´S how you convert someone. THAT´S what moves the work. When the members are willing to do the work, miracles happen. Missionaries can teach the lessons and convert people, but the members keep them going to church, keep them active. Don´t judge, don´t avoid. I promise you that if you put in the effort,    you´ll see big changes. Help out the poor little missionaries in the ward by being willing to host lessons, willing to go out with them to teach. It goes much better with the members around. PLEASE! I exhort you! I love you all, move the work!

Okay now I´m done. I love you! Stay happy, stay safe, stay well!

Hermana Durham

E-Mail 9/9/13

Hola from…. *drum roll*…. Barcelona Barrio 1! What the what? Yep. Barcelona, ladies and gents. I knew it from the second we went out on Tuesday and Wednesday (yes we did go real life tracting with real life missionaries in real life after finishing our fake life) that I was at home. Let me explain better.

Tuesday we arose, we a-rode, we arrived. We got little tickets that said who our companion was and who our temporary companion was. My companion was none other than Hermana Marti Gillete. Fate, my dear friends. Fate. Our temporary companion was Hermana Franchino. We hiked to the hotel, which was death by the fiery heat of Barcelona, and then group 1 (my group) was SWEPT away into a van to become official residents of Spain. This is a big, long, annoying process. Let´s just not discuss it. After that we went to the ward building nearby (oh it´s so precious in it´s tiny-ness and not really church appearing esque-ness) for lunch and interviews and packet reading. It was a little hectic.  Poor President Pace and Hermana Pace have never had to deal with so many people! The typical transfer? 7 people in a good week. Our transfer? 43. So… yeah we are a little bit to handle I think. There were 22 hermanas and the typical one for that is 2. The Lord is hastening His work! Later we went FOR REAL tracting with Hermana Franchino. We met a family that was in her area book and was an investigador antigua (old investigator). Then we basically had to sprint back to the hotel. I tell you what, I am not cut out for the “missionary pace”. Woof. Wednesday we had to wake up EXTRA early because we had more residency stuff to deal with so we hung out at the Stake Center (which is MASSIVE) and then went back and forth to the police station or whatever official office-y place that was. Then we went tracting again. Then we had lunch. Then we watched something back at the tiny ward building and I was sleepy so that was wasted on me. Then we went tracting again. THIS time H. Franchino just decided to do door to door knocking, basically. It was awfully tiring. BUT we found this woman named Jesusa (English prononuciation of that name is not nearly as nice sounding as the Spanish…trust me) and she let us in and we taught her how to pray and told her to read the Book of Mormon. Totally cool! Oh we also got a massive bag of free churros because H. Franchino and her companion H. Cozzolino are tight with the churro boy at one of the metro stops. It was super sweet of him. Thursday we woke up at a decent time of day, went to the tiny church, had orientations, lunch, orientations…just newbie missionary things. Then. It was time. Time to find out our fate!

It was really sweet because we had all the real missionaries there and they would come and sweep away their brand new, timid little missionary companion in a big flurry of clapping and joy or whatever. I have been watching everyone. I´m among the last of the Hermanas. She´s going to Mallorca, She´s going to Pamplona, She´s going to Valencia…on and on… “Hermana Durham” *gulp*. “You will be in Barcelona Barrio 1, with Hermana Cozzolino and Hermana Franchino!” WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! That was pretty exciting. I guess.

Hermana Rebecca Franchino is from California, she is the only member in her family, she was converted 5 years ago. She was one of the first of the 19 year olds to get her papers in. She got her call in November. Inspiring? Yes! Hermana Cozzolino is a native. This is her last transfer. She is really amazing. I love them both very much.

We have really cool investigators, awesome stories… but unfortunately I have to write about them later because apparently we don´t have any more time except that I was pretty sure we have another half hour but whatever. I have to go where my companions go. I love you all! Stay safe!

Hermana Durham

E-Mail – 9/2/13

Hola!

This is weird, ain´t it? We were given a short amount of time to write a little note to our family dearest to inform them that we will be getting up at 5am to hop on a bus that will take us to a train that will take us to our respective missions. AHHHHHHHH! Am I ready? No. Have I spent all day in meetings and orientation to teach me about the field? Yes. Did that help? No! I´m freaking out. We get pizza tonight though so that should help. *shrug* maybe. I love you a lot! Let´s hope no crashes happen, yeah? Cool! I love love love love love you guys! I´ll write you when I can next. (Rumor has it that it will be Mondays for P-Day…we´ll see)

Love ya!

Hermana Durham