Monthly Archives: January 2014

E-Mail on 1/27/14 – 6 months down, 12 Months to go

That was super freaky to figure out on Saturday.  I was doing personal study and looked up at my calendar, then announced “Oh.  Yesterday was my 6 month mark.  Wow.”  That really happened quick.  Plus it was already Saturday.  I’m telling you, you may not feel like the time is flying by but…man…. it’s really truly flying by.  Hermana Findlay and I are a little bit shocked that we’re already halfway through this transfer.

Hermana Findlay got sick this week so we spent all day Friday in our piso.  We watched “Legacy” which is the closest thing we have to a chick flick (it’s really cheesy…) and just talked.  I studied and highlighted scriptures in my Spanish set while she slept.  I took a nap too.  I made soup.  The Elders came in the morning and gave her a blessing and then returned later in the day with orange juice and “Aquarius” which is like their version of Gatorade.  Look, the Elders can be super great! (Except… that awkward moment when it was actually our District Leader and Elder Miller because they were on an intercambio so it wasn’t actually both the Vic Elders…).  It was an interesting day.  Hermana Findlay was super frustrated and didn’t want to be in the house but I told her she had to be because she couldn’t even stand without getting dizzy.

There were 3 baptisms this weekend.  Super awesome!  We served the Elders by making the programs and then we brought the Restoration DVD so we had something to do during the changing period.  However… all of the programs were incorrect… it helps to know how to spell the names of the investigators.  Hermana Findlay still wants them to say thanks for all our work.  I think we should just let it go and call it even… considering that all the programs were wrong.  We love the Elders.  We do, I promise.

The calendar Grandma gave me is being put to good use, by the way.  I’ve decided it’s my year of miracles.  Everyday I write at least ONE miracle or tender mercy or something.  The month of January has just been filling up and it makes me happy every day.  So I promise I have things going on… I just don’t always remember them when I sit down to write.

The language is getting better.  The last couple days everyone has been telling us that we speak really well.  This is comforting considering the couple days when anyone we contacted just looked at us like we’re dumb.  Contacting is always a fun surprise.  My favorite story of this week was when I contacted someone “Hola, somos misioneras de la Iglesia de Jesucristo” and the guy began to give us directions.  Both of us were trying really hard not to laugh (because I mean… it’s just our luck…) so we just said thanks and went our way.  People don’t get us.  Our accents are pretty “fuerte” I guess.  I’m feeling more comfortable talking though.  I can’t say everything I want to, I can’t understand everything I should… but I’m getting along.  I at least can survive here now.  Plus I carry around a mini dictionary still.  It’s come in handy many times.

We have a lot of work to do still. Every day we try to analyze what’s gone down in the day and how we can improve.  Hermana Findlay is worried that we won’t have hermanas here for much longer if we keep having the numbers we’ve been having.  I hope I can be exactly what this area needs.  We want to keep hermanas here.  We want to have this area be successful.  There is a lot to improve on, on my part.  I have a lot of relying on the Lord to do, too.  I just need to be the best version of me I can be and then the Lord can work with that.

I love the work, I love the people (even the ones who chop all my hair off).  I love the language (despite what I say during language study).  I love the scriptures.  I really just love it here.  I’m happy.  Truly, really, amazingly happy and that’s nice.  I feel like it’s been awhile since I’ve been happy.  This gospel is pretty incredible like that, and I get the chance to share it with people so they can be happy too.  Not a bad gig.  I have a whole year of sharing joy and love and peace and happiness.  So do all of you, you just have your name tags on your hearts.  It’s a new week, I have people to find and teach and so do all of you!  Good luck!  Hasta Lunes!  Les quiero mucho!  Tengan una buena semana!

Hermana Durham

E-Mail on 1/20/13 – Lessons in Patience

Basically the theme of this week….

Rough week here in Vic.  Lots of people who we WOULD have visited if they wanted to answer their phones or doors.  Lots of people we SHOULD have visited if they had been where they said they would be when they said they would be.  Lots of people we COULD have visited if they decided to listen to us on the street instead of keep walking.  It kinda wears on you sometimes.  Why the heck do people have agency?!  (Because it’s important and we can’t learn without it… yeah yeah. I know.)

Best lesson in patience was actually taught this morning.  We went to visit a recent convert, Karla (who we visit practically everyday) because Hermana Findlay needed a trim.  After getting her hair trimmed Karla asked if I wanted my hair cut.  I said I was okay.  She said she was willing to.  Then we started talking about hair and everything and I mentioned that before my mission my hair was pretty short and in a “V” shape and whatever.  THEN I specifically said that for a mission it was better to have it longer because I could do more with it and also that as missionaries we have to have a more subtle hairstyle.  Karla had me sit down, parted my hair down the middle and began cutting.  You know when you’re sitting there and then all of a sudden you feel a lot more air on your neck?  Yeah.  I had to really breathe.  My hair is all gone basically.  Karla is not a hairstylist by profession.  Hair grows back… it´s just hair.  I’ve never been one to freak out about my hair but today… today I did a little.  I’m still freaking out.  It’s super short.  And really awkwardly cut.  It’s just hair.  It’s just hair.  Curse this language barrier!  I just hope President Pace doesn’t think it’s too wild.  There’s really not much else I can do with it.

Another lesson in patience is when the Elder’s call Saturday afternoon to ask if you can teach Gospel Principles and talk about baptism because their investigator will be in there.  It’s kinda like… “You speak more Spanish than us, it’s YOUR investigator, and it’s not even the next lesson in the manual…” but we agreed.  Sweetly enough the Elders then let us off the hook because we had to teach it in English to the African members (actually only one ended up being there… we didn’t mention that to the Elders).  Or when the Elders ask you where your investigator lives so they can go visit him with a member for the “Noche de Citas” on Saturday night.  It’s… yeah. Patience.  I think we’re going to do some sort of service so we can better love and appreciate the Elders.

This week our game plan is to really work with the branch and help them realize that we’re here to help THEM.  This is THEIR work, not just ours.  We can’t baptize people into the branch unless we have people to teach.  We don’t have a ton of time to spend finding people.  We need to be meeting their friends and family and everything.  We have a couple good talks that we’re hoping will get them kicked into gear.  We have great plans for this branch.  We are going to fortify it!  We want hermanas to be able to stay here but it’s not looking good right now.  That’s kind of our threat to the branch if they don’t start helping out.  Cookies are also involved.  Like always.

Mosiah 24 was our theme for the week basically.  It’s funny that we read that scripture a lot with everyone and talked about how we have tough times to test our faith and patience.  Heavenly Father wanted us to learn this lesson just as much as our people we’re teaching.  Funny, just realized it now.

The people here are pretty great.  We had a lesson with an investigator, Eber, whose family is all menos activos.  He is scared to be baptized and make mistakes.  We haven’t been able to get in touch with him for the past two weeks, just sort of seeing him in the street here and there.  We finally taught a really powerful lesson on the Book of Mormon yesterday.  The spirit was SUPER STRONG!  He told us that this week he had been feeling really awful and that he didn’t want to do anything at all.  He was just feeling crappy in general.  But then, right then in that moment with us, he said he finally felt calm and happy.  We were like “Uh… yeah… duh.  That’s the spirit.  You’ve felt awful because you’ve been avoiding us, homeslice.”  Except that we didn’t say it like that at all, but we thought it.  It’s really rewarding when people get it.  When they realize the difference in their life.  It makes the whole dreadful week really worth it in the end.

So yeah… patience is a virtue.  One that I’m still trying to improve upon, little by little.  It’s crazy to think that I’m almost a third the way through this puppy.  I have no idea where the time has gone. I think a lot about what I wish I had done and how I could change to make it better now.  It’s a pretty incredible opportunity that I have been given to be out here and I don’t want to waste it.  I love it, still!  Tiring week and all!  This morning I prayed to find ways to improve as a missionary and the result was Alma 5.  Kind of potent, but definitely proof that Heavenly Father gives answers to prayers.  It’s always good to do a little self-evaluation here and there and Alma 5 is exactly the chapter for it.

Love it here.  Love you there.  I hope all is well and that ya’ll are doing your best to move the work along.  Missionaries can’t do it alone, it’s literally impossible.  We read a talk that said “Missionaries are trained to teach people who are ready for the gospel”.  It’s the members job to get their friends and family ready.  So… off you go!  Until next week, le queremos!

Hermana My Hair is Really All Gone Durham.

E-Mail on 1/13/14 – The work continues

In spite of my heart breaking move from Barcelona to Vic, the work is still going.  It’s sometimes awkward because I get to be the person that everyone is like “Oh… where did the other one go?  You know the one we liked…” and I’m like “Yeah sorry… she’s gone.  You’ll just have to settle for me.”  And then they’re like “….Welcome to Vic… I guess…” and then I’m like “Thanks… I love it here but I miss Barcelona…” Yeah.  That’s about how this week went.  I’m hoping that it gets better as they learn to love me and I learn to love them.  Which will happen.  I’m pretty stinkin’ lovable. 

One tender mercy (amongst the many, many tender mercies that we missionaries are blessed with literally every day) is that I’m in the same stake.  This Sunday we had Ward Conference so a bunch of leaders from the Stake came up and taught and it was super awesome.  One of my Peruvian mothers was one of those people that came up because she is the Stake Relief Society President.  She kind of threatened Hermana Findlay to take good care of me.  It was nice to have familiar faces in church on Sunday.  Nice…but also kinda sad too.  Eventually I’ll be okay with all this.  I pray for love a lot and that’s been working.

Vic is really cute and quaint.  I still have no idea where we are when we walk around (duh… it’s only been a week) but it won’t be too hard to figure out seeing as it’s not HUGE.  It’s fun to see people greet each other in the streets because most everyone knows everyone.  I love the idea of getting to know ALL the members completely.  I kind of like that type of community.  Tight.  Close.  Solid. 

The work here is a lot of fortifying the branch.  We’ve really realized that we can’t bring new people into this church if there isn’t a healthy climate for them to be in.  The stories of all the less actives are so sad and there needs to be a lot of lessons on the Atonement and forgiveness, but that’s why we’re here.  We’re here to make sure they know that we love them, God loves them, and it’s okay to come back.  It’s safe.  We’re the people in charge of convincing people that it’s safe to come back.  We are in charge of loving them like the Lord does without any judgement of any kind.  It’s an interesting balance of being stern enough because they’re members and they ought to know better and being gentle enough because they’re hurting and we don’t want to make it worse.  It’s harder than teaching new people.  However it’s just as, if not more, rewarding when a less active comes to church as an investigator.

I’ve realized that while I really don’t like street contacting, knocking doors doesn’t scare me at all.  I actually kind of like it. You hit the little “timbre” and they answer and you say “Somos las misioneras de la Iglesia de Jesucristo (de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias) y tenemos un mensaje que puede cambiar su vida acerca Jesucristo.  Tiene tiempo que podemos visitarle y compartir este mensaje?”.  Often they say no, sometimes they say come back another time, sometimes they beep you in before you say anything because they’re expecting company… It works.  You find people that way.  I don’t know why I’m so afraid of talking to people on the street though!  It’s scary just to approach them and start talking.  I’m trying to figure out the best way to do it still.  Once Hermana Findlay is talking to someone, I’m not scared anymore and I’m totally fine to jump in and chat.  It’s just that initial contact…. scary.

Hermana Findlay and I have the same level of Spanish.  I think President put us together to really get us to progress in that.  It’s kind of funny actually… we have almost the same time in the mission so we’re both used to being led.  Now we’re both trying to figure everything out.  I pull the “I’m the junior companion” card sometimes when I don’t want to decide something.  It’s kind of refreshing though to see that wow, I actually can do this… I have ideas, I can help people, I receive revelation.  It’s really fun working with Hermana Findlay.  She’s the sweetest person I know.  Plus we’re always laughing and having a good time.  We’re both goofy, easy-going, indecisive… every night we just talk and talk until bedtime.  It’s been really nice.  We’re buying a blender today.  Why?  Because we want to.  We’re just weird.  Smoothies for breakfast!!!

HEY!  I was listening to Christmas music (I told Hna. Findlay that you’d find that really funny because I’m the one who complains about Christmas music outside of December) and on the Mannheim Steamroller Extraordinare CD is a song that I’ve been hearing EVERYWHERE because it’s a Catalan song.  It’s like super classic.  I freaked out a little and said “WHAT?!  I’ve heard this song before in my life and never knew!”  It’s called “Fum Fum Fum”.  Go listen to it and know what my Christmas was like. 

I’m loving the mission.  I love it here so so much!  The people are great, the culture is great, the language is great (albeit a little tricky to speak).  I learn so much everyday and I just feel happy.  I can tell that I have changed a lot on my mission and I really hope that it stays that way.  I love it.  I would re-do this experience over and over and over if I could.  I am so very blessed to be serving the Lord.  I see so many miracles!  AH!  Missions are the best!

I love you guys, thank you for all the love and support!  Keep up the missionary work.  We really can’t do this without you all.  That’s what I’ve learned on my mission.  How to be a better member.  You gotta get involved!  It’s our job as members!  We have a beautiful message and people should know about it!  

Hasta Proxima Semana! Les quiero!

Hermana Durham

E-Mail on 1/7/14 – Me Voy a . . . Vic!

New year, new companion, new area!  It’s been a busy week, that’s for certain.  I’m companions with Hermana Jennifer Findlay who went to Cottonwood High School, graduated in 2012, is one transfer ahead of me, super sweet, lives right near us and knows a ton of the same people I know.  She was hired by Joni Hansen, she knows Hannah Call…. I mean things like that.  It’s been kind of fun today to just talk with her and figure this all out.

Vic is pretty north. Our area extends all the way to France… no big deal.  It’s SUPER weird to think that it takes 2 hours to get to the furthest point of our area where in Barcelona it took 20 minutes.  Also to go from the biggest chapel in Europe to a tiny little branch… I don’t know much about the area since I’ve only been in it for like 40 minutes but it’s pretty out here.  It’s colder for sure.  My heart hurts a lot.  I miss my district, I miss my zone.  I miss my ward and my recent converts and my investigators and my less actives and my companion and piso mates.  I miss Barcelona…. I miss it a lot.  It’s okay though.  I am here because I need to learn new things and meet new people.  Like I said in my testimony on Sunday, God knows where I need to go better than I do.  I said it in Spanish though… of course.  Oh but man it totally sucks.  I just love people too much and then I have to leave them and then that sucks hard core.  Ouch.

Kofi got baptized on the 4th and was confirmed on the 5th for my birthday!  What a miracle!  He was so ready and he’s so amazing.  He brought a friend to his baptism.  It was really cool to have a baptism completely in English… weird, but cool. It was a miracle!  I am so blessed to have seen 3 baptisms in my last area.  Spain is ready for this work.

So yeah… my birthday was this Sunday.  Love the fast sunday birthdays!  Combined with the transfer calls the night before… made for a real winner this year.  Actually it was very great.  My companion made my bed and put treats on it and decorated the room, Elder Ferrer (from Argentina) wrote me a really sweet letter, I got to bear my testimony and say goodbye to the ward in a fell swoop, Carolina fed us tasty Peruvian food for lunch, then Liseth and Cecilia invited us over for a little cake and treats. Hermana Tuttle and I walk in and HOW PRECIOUS!  It was all decorated and the cake said Happy Birthday Hermana Duran, We love you!  (In Spanish of course and no… they can’t usually spell my name correctly) and they had candies and soda and it was great.  Liseth asked if I liked surprises and I was like… Well… not really unless it’s a complete surprise.  She then said that she had a surprise and four of the craziest Elders jumped out from the room with bananas and tambourines and horns.  It was a little surprise party just for me to say Happy Birthday and Goodbye!  It was so sweet!  I was definitely well cared for.

January 6th is a holiday here in Spain… it’s THE holiday here in Spain.  Three Kings Day.  You get a cake/bread thing, you celebrate, you party, you give gifts.  It’s quite fun.  We went over to Carmen and Cesar’s house to celebrate with the Elders (we are ALWAYS with them…).  Carmen had made me a cake and they sung happy birthday to me.  Then they convinced me to take a bite out of the corner because it was a Spanish tradition.  I ain’t no dummy.  I asked to hold the cake myself and then, real shocker here, Elder Ferrer (from Spain) went to push the cake in my face, I was able to avoid a big mess with my ninja reflexes and hold the cake down.  Still got a little messy, totally knew it would happen.  Mean Spaniards!  Elder Bascopé told me that in Bolivia it’s waaaaaay worse.  My question is… if people know this happens, who are the dummies still falling for this?  Why are they still falling for this?  Anyway, the cutest little girls sang and danced for us then got us to play all sorts of silly games.  Mostly the Elders.  They’ll be great dads one day, bless them for being such good sports.  I have learned a much cooler way to play rock, paper, scissors.  It involves pinching and slapping. Sweet, right?  Juan Carlos was sad to see me go.  He let me make some churros, gave me candies for my birthday and texted us this morning to say he missed me already.  Oh churro boy.  I miss you too!

Hermana Scoville gets all the credit in the world for single-handedly packing my bags.  I was sitting on the floor, practically in tears, looking at all my stuff and the two bags it needed to go in.  She is amazing!  She got it all in and was even surprised that I didn’t have more stuff.  She nailed it.  I told her that she needs to be with me all the time because I don’t know how I’m going to get this stuff to the next place when I have even MORE stuff.  It’ll all work out, right?  I might need to mail some stuff home… Everyone was super sweet and super helpful.  The Elders asked me a million times if I was okay and they told me I’d be fine and I’d love it and I’d do great things.  I have had a lot of love and support.  Elder Bascopé reminded me that I will see them all for Specialized Training because the Badalona Zone meets WITH the Barcelona Zone.  AAAAAHHHHH!  YAY!  And I’m in the same Stake so I can see everyone again in the upcoming Stake Conference.  The Lord knows I needed baby steps with change. This was a blessing for sure.

Yep so… I’m in Vic.  It’s pretty, it’s cold, it’s new, it’s cute.  I’m excited for this new adventure.  It’s hard, but it’ll be good.  I know that I will love this place just as much as Barcelona.  And this transfer is the transfer to really nail Spanish because Hermana Findlay has 7 months here and I have 5.  And contacting.  It’s a newish area so we’ll need to get really good at contacting which is another fault of ours.  This will be great!  I knew right when I got the call that I’d be transferred and WHY I was being sent there.  I know I need this area and this experience… so as much as it sucks, I’m excited.  I know that I can have the power to do anything with faith in Christ (Moroni 7:33) and that we’re here to have joy (2nd Nefi… Nephi 2:25) and all that good stuff.  I’m happy here.  I can feel the time zipping by so fast and I am sad to see it go.  Almost a third in.  Boom…. just like that.  I CAN’T believe it.  This year is the year of my mission and after this, I’m practically home.  I have to make every moment count.

Thanks for all the birthday wishes, all the Christmas and New Years wishes and everything.  I’m so excited!  I am looking forward to this year.  Thank you for all the love and support and prayers!  Les quiero un monton!  Stay classy!

Hermana “I’m-so-old-now” Durham.