Monthly Archives: April 2014

E-Mail from 4/21/14 – A week of celebration

FIRST, I have to start off and say a piece of drama that I completely forgot about from last week!  So…um… Rami is pregnant.  They found that out shortly after her interview and we found out shortly before bedtime.  Just a little sidenote… so David can’t serve a mission anymore but he took it pretty well.  They’re preparing to get married and it’s pretty cute.

 

After the drama week, we had dinner with the majority of the people involved with said drama.  We shared verses from 1 John 4.  I love the verses in here.  It’s all about love and why we just need to love and be charitable and care about the people around us.  The Spirit really guided that lesson, I must say.  They all listened well, they didn’t have any snarky comments, I practically confessed my love for them all.  It was a pretty ideal lesson as far as how to call people to repentance in a loving way.  I told them I loved them too much and our branch was too small to be having these problems and that I didn’t like seeing the pain involved in all of this.

 

People apologized.  People are more civil and kind.  No more gossip.  No more back biting.

 

I love when you can see immediate effects of lessons.  Changes.  People change when the Spirit works with them.  It’s an incredible thing and I feel very blessed to be a front row participant in it all.  I think that’s what makes the whole mission worth it.  You have the hard moments that aren’t fun, but then people start changing.  People smile more, people read the Book of Mormon, people get involved in the church by coming to activities, people move out, people quit habits.  It’s amazing!  Super amazing.

 

We’ve met a handful of people this week who have hard stories.  There are lots of those in the world.  Broken stories, broken people.  It’s pretty sad.  I almost cried talking to this man from Poland while he was explaining why he doesn’t really believe in God.  It’s a hard life without this light.  That’s why we have to spread it!

 

Friday we had a “Platos Tipicos” activity.  I made Mac-n-Cheese, H. Hamson made brownies, Elder Sadler made an attempt at the Spanish Tortilla because his mother is from Spain, and Elder Miller made some Bread and Butter pudding thing, some apple crumble thing and some meatballs from Denmark to really represent his British and Danish decent.  The Danish are from Denmark, right?  That was right, right?  That’s awkward.  Can’t remember things.  Our little branch has surprisingly wide variety.  Ghana, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, El Salvador, and of course Spain/Catalunya were all represented pretty well and the food was DELICIOUS.  The last time I was part of this type of activity I didn’t actually get to eat anything so it was nice to be able to this time.  It was a nice activity with a decent turn out.  The branch needs a new home though because WOW!  We had no space for this.  Crazy.

 

So, the Spaniards like to close everything down for holidays.  Friday was holy so nothing was open and almost no one was home.  Today is Easter Monday so everything is closed unless it’s owned by people with non-christian backgrounds or is something commercial like movie theatres or the like.  We’re going bowling today, for example.  We can’t buy food.  Bowling is a decent substitute for lack of food though.

Yeah…well… That was my week.  Easter was great.  I loved teaching with the eggs in Spanish.  I loved the treats and everything (and so did the branch).  I’m sitting here thinking of Aunt Leslie because there is a little moth buddy watching me type.  Cute little moth buddy.  It was a pretty uneventful week, comparatively, and for that I’m grateful.  We had an intercambio with Hermana Tuttle so THAT was crazy to work with her again.  It was really fun to catch up and just enjoy a little piece of the “used to be”.  It’s weird how natural it was to be teaching with her again!  I guess that’s what happens when you’re with someone 24/7, right?  So it was a nice week, lots of rain, and we’re excited to be off and running this week!  We have some people to find and share the gospel with and I hope you do too!  Have a great week!

 

Les quiero, hasta lunes!

Hermana, only 8 months in still, Durham 

E-Mail on 4/14/14 – La vida tiene sus altibajos . . .

So this week can basically be summed up with: “Welcome to Dramaville!  Population: La Rama de Vic”

Tuesday we had a FOUR HOUR meeting with David and Rami.  It started off really nicely with a decent lesson on tithing.  Then it got ugly when they said they were disappointed by conference and that they don’t believe in prophets.  Then it got uglier when Rami started crying during her prayer and David said she was only doing this because he was and that she was weak and didn’t have faith.  Then it got ugliest when David said he wouldn’t be baptized on Thursday but that shouldn’t stop her from getting baptized and she told him that he was just testing her.  So… yeah… we left there feeling pretty awful.  Then that night we see them at Noche de Amigos and David tells us that he secretly is getting baptized and he has set up is secret baptismal interview with Elder Miller.  I wanted to wring his little neck!  So basically that confirmed that he was, in fact, testing Rami and her commitment level to this.

Wednesday we had Enfoque de Zona which was probably the only drama free thing this week.  It was nice.  Minus the Jehovah’s Witnesses bashing… not very Christlike.  Not a fan.  Both David and Rami got interviewed, David told Rami he would get baptized.  All is back on track!  Phew!

But wait….

Thursday morning, day of the baptism.  We get a call from Elder Miller.  Their baptism, Tanya, doesn’t want to get baptized because OUR person offended her and her family.  Fun fact.  David and Tanya used to date back when he was like 15… She’s 12 years older than him more or less and has a 12 year old son.  So yeah… more drama and awkward.  Okay so we contact as many people as possible to try and calm Tanya down.  Kevin, Deysi, Leo… anyone who can possibly help.  Okay, Tanya will get baptized now.  4 baptisms, back on!  Everyone arrives to the baptism and some of the members look livid.  Abel pulls aside Pres. Merchan and tells him that he won’t come anymore to the Vic branch because it’s full of hypocrites and liars.  They chat for awhile.  The baptism continues with very little drama, minus the part where Deysi is angry and she and Leo go out to calm down.  The baptism went pretty well, lots of noise, lots of crazy because each baptizee was baptized by their own person.  8 wet people…3 towels.  I threatened them all to bring towels so that was their own fault that they forgot.  We’re all trying to get home… Leo, Abel and Pres. Merchan are SHOUTING outside.  LOTS OF DRAMA!  It’s a whole ugly mess between members of the branch… it only takes a little poison, a little division, a little pride, a little gossip to ruin a wonderful thing, doesn’t it?  We talk to Shirley on the phone, share a scripture, say a prayer because she is practically inconsolable.

Friday.  The branch drama is bigger and uglier.  Everyone needs comforting.

Saturday.  Antenor’s baptism!  He is so great.  I really just love Antenor!  I know that he going to do great things once he can get his feet on the ground.  He was pretty sad that his mom couldn’t be there for his baptism because she’s in Bolivia.  His mom is supportive and all.  He burst into tears before his baptism… I hope that he is happy about his decision.  Saturday night we stop by Abel’s house. He is angry, not himself.  I cry.  I cry and cry and cry and I don’t know why I can’t stop but my heart is just so broken because of all the animosity between so many people.

Sunday.  WOW! Five people get confirmed and Shirley’s daughter gets a “baby” blessing.  Beautiful start to a somewhat depressing testimony meeting.  Someone’s sister had passed away during the week.  I cried.  Lots of people talked about needing to love and not judge.  I cried.  I cried basically during the entire meeting because man.  I just love this branch.  I love these people.  My heart was broken for Roddy because he lost his sister, broken for Antenor because he’s having such a hard time, broken for Shirley, for Abel, for Leo, for Deysi, for Piero…just torn to pieces and I couldn’t help it.

Love.  We’re here to learn how to love and respect people.  It’s when we stop seeing each other as brothers and sisters, as children of a Heavenly Father, that we start seeing problems in society.  No one is perfect and people will hurt us but they deserve our love and forgiveness.  We can’t change someone else’s behavior, but we can change ours.  So that is the lesson of this week.  Just love people for crying out loud.

Five baptisms for Vic, 3 for the Hermanas.  It was a very beautiful week in that aspect.  I hope that we can start finding more and more people soon!  Have a lovely week!

Hermana, I’m not big into crying, I promise, Durham

E-Mail from 4/7/14 – Mini miracles and answered prayers

Okay so I´m going to start this email with a story of what happened last preparation day because it was probably the scariest moment of my mission thus far. Mom, remain calm during this story and realize that all is well, I am alive, we are protected, no worries! Okay? Okay….soooo…

 

Last week we went to the art museum towards the end of the day. It´s in the center of town where all the little streets are. After the museum we said farewell to the Elders and we headed towards our house for a moment because we had about an hour left. Hermana Hamson and I were just walking and talking when I felt the presence of someone. That´s not super weird or anything, the streets are small and people are out and about on nice days. I looked back and there was a man in a red jacket behind us. He winked. I turned back and said “No worries…we´re just being stalked” because this man had been at the corner when we had split off from the Elders. The man walked past, headed one direction, and we didn´t think anything of it. We kept heading towards home, turning onto our street, still talking and all. Then a man in a red jacket walks past us. I gasped and said “It´s that man!”. There was a moment where we were deciding if it was or not based on other factors but then he turned his head slightly and Hermana Hamson gasped “Yep, that´s him. Same cheekbones.” We slowed down until we were a decent distance away and discussed how we could quickly duck into our piso when we pass it. The man stops right in front of the store next to our piso and waits for us to catch up. We decide to head to the pharmacy so we cross the street. The man is walking at the same pace as we are on the other side of the road. We head into the pharmacy where I look at medicines while Hermana Hamson weighs herself. The man in the red jacket is standing outside the door pretending to read the sign. I call the Elders. They don´t answer. I call again…. the man sees me and heads back across the street. He stands there making phone gestures at me because he knows I´m calling someone to help. He disappears. We walk to the corner of the pharmacy where we can´t be seen, but we can´t see out either. The Elders finally call back and we explain the situation. We decided that they didn´t need to come save us, but they stay on the phone and we inch our way out of the pharmacy. There´s a man in a red jacket, slightly hidden on the corner of the street a ways down. We walk very closely to the wall in the opposite direction, heading towards the church. Just then…. a policewoman comes around the corner. Hermana Hamson stops her and tells her what is going on and she stands watch as we get away. Immediately the feeling of dread is lifted and we are good to go. The Spirit really does let you know when you´re in danger. And the Lord sends back up. This definitely made me realize just how important it is to pay attention to the promptings you get because if we hadn´t noticed the man pass us, we would have headed right into our piso where he would have been right there and who KNOWS how that could have ended. Then the policewoman…that was a blessing too! So yes. We´re safe. Don´t worry!

 

David has claimed that he is sick because he is living the law of chastity. I don´t think I´ve laughed so hard in my life. It´s moments like this that make me remember that he is 19 years old… Boys. Such drama queens! But no… David and Rami are progressing really well. Tonight we have to see if they are on board with the whole living prophet thing because they´re not quite sure about it. They both came to conference on Sunday (which was the Saturday Afternoon session).

 

We, the missionaries of Vic, prayed that during that session there would be a good talk about keeping the Sabbath Day holy because many members of the branch are in a little fútbol team that has games on Sunday afternoons. We´ve tried to get it across to them that that´s not the BEST use of their Sabbath day time but they wouldn´t budge. They´re setting a pretty rough standard for these new converts and almost converts is all… Elder Nelson´s talk was a SLAM DUNK! Pun aside, we were pretty much cheering while listening to it, knowing full well that our little peeps were getting chastised down below. Don´t tie yourself to a ball. WIN! Prayers work.

 

Another little miracle that came after a prayer, Antenor. He was supposed to go to conference with the Elders for the priesthood session. The Elders called us Sunday morning and said that he never made it to the station so we called him. His phone was off. That´s always a moment of devastation… and panic…. We called the Elders and asked them to pray for him and we stopped our personal study and prayed for him too. We just wanted him to be able to see conference and to get in touch with him. We called about every 10 minutes with no luck right up until we left. We get a llamada perdida from him during the session at 2. He had been jumped by the same people that had beat him up the last time on his way home from conference the day before. He was scared to leave the house and his phone was dead so he couldn´t contact us. I almost burst into tears. He sounded awful on the phone but told us he felt much better now that he was talking to us. We told him we´d work out a way for him to see the session live. Hermana Shirley graciously opened her home to him so that he could see it and so we orchestrated that from Barcelona and just prayed he would get there in Vic. He did and he loved it. We have a lesson tonight with him and I just wish I could give him a hug. He needs it more than anything. My heart just breaks for him… but he is doing well. Our prayers were answered, yet again!

 

The week was full of little miracles, running into people on the street, people getting help in unexpected ways, getting to see my whole Barcelona family again… it was a very happy week, even though we didn´t do so well with our numbers. This week our focus is EXACT obedience because we need miracles this week too. We have to get David and Rami baptized Thursday night and then Antenor on Saturday night in Granollers…. that´s a lot of effort and we need all the help we can get from the Lord.

 

I am happy, I love the mission. I never want to leave! I am beyond excited to get to work this transfer because I know we can make it a good one. Keep up the work at home, do good things, love people, smile a lot, be happy! Les quiero!

 

Hermana Durham

E-Mail from 4/1/14 – Me voy a . . . .

Quedarme!  I have at least six more weeks to really work over the hoppin’ pueblo of Vic. I’m pretty excited about it actually!  There are just too many untied strings that I would have been very sad to have left unresolved.  I’m hoping to be here to see David, Rami and Antenor get baptized.  Of course Eber is still in that list but he needs a little more time to get his priorites straight.

Big news!  Rami “lost” her job so she can in fact go to church.  It’s sad news but good news in the end.  She can’t see that yet but we all know she’ll be blessed for keeping the commandments.  Bigger news!  Rami is going sans coffee this week (and hopefully forever after) to get herself in line with the Word of Wisdom.  And Biggest news!  David is moving into his aunt’s house TODAY so that they are keeping the law of chastity.  WOW!  I’m just in awe of how awesome these people are.  They know what they want and they are actually willing to work on it.  It’s refreshing compared to people who say they want to be baptized but aren’t willing to commit in reality.

Shirley, an investigator of the Elder’s, got baptized on Friday.  She basically counts as one of our baptisms because she’s practically the love of my life.  We would go over and read with her when the Elders couldn’t visit because they didn’t have another man.  She also would confide in us and call us first when she had problems instead of the Elders.  She’s practically my investigator.  We’ve worked out that she can fit in my suitcase and everything by the way so she might be coming home with me.  I adore her!  It was so beautiful to see her be baptized!  She’s also dating our Ward Mission Leader now… so… you know.  That helped too I guess.

I really feel like there is more to be written but I’m drawing blanks here.  Well today we got to go inside the Roman Temple which is closed on Mondays.  And also we went to the markets.  And we’re going to the Medievel Art museum after this that is ALSO closed on Mondays.  We’re taking advantage of the Tuesday preparation day to the fullest!  WOO!

Otherwise, the work keeps on moving along.  I can’t believe it’s April. I’m so excited for General Conference for multiple reasons (I get to see my Barcelona buddies again, I get to hear from the prophet, it’s fun to talk about with investigators, etc.)!  I just feel happy and excited a lot of the time which is nice.  I really enjoy teaching the Plan of Salvation.  It’s a beautiful and hopeful message we have.  So we ought to share it!

My invitation to all of you is to find someone to share this message with!  Ready…..?  GO!  Have a lovely week, smile, remember God loves you and He also loves all the people that drive you crazy.  So, learn to love them too!  (That´s my goal this week…) 

Hermana Durham