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E-Mail from 10/28/14 – And then there were two . . .

But we’re not counting.  It’s a weird day and unfortunately with all the moving and transfers and crazy it’s looking a little bit like I won’t have much time to write.

I’m in Terrassa still.  Super shocker!  My new companion is Hermana Stanciu.  She’s Romanian, but she grew up in Madrid.  Guess who’s spending the last few transfers in Spanish? … This gal!  Oh yay!  And apparently she’s a machine so I’m super stoked because we’re going to baptize 6 converts.  The rest of the district is the same, which is always nice.  I really like the Elders we have here.  They’re good kids.  Hermana Masters and Hermana Reid are still in the piso…until further notice.  So fun for them!

Adrian is doing pretty good.  He’s just a good solid kid.  He reminds me a lot of Kevin from Vic.  Sweet, genuine, ready for the gospel, sad past… but it’ll be good.  We have to work on the hope thing.  We’re going to set a baptismal date on Thursday.

This transfer will be one of finding lots of people to work with and getting organized.  Also, I’m totally getting this ward excited about life because we don’t do activities or nothing.  Boo on that!  So if I have to, I’m going to single-handedly start activities.  But thankfully the Elders are okay with that so… we’re going to do it!

Next month we have the opportunity to have Stake Conference.  The REALLY cool part is that Elder Quentin L. Cook is coming!  Everyone is so very excited.  We’re inviting the whole world practically.  It’ll be in the Barcelona chapel so that’ll be nice to spend every single Stake Conference in the same building.  Cute, right?  November 22nd and 23rd (I think…).  Gonna be great!

It was a week of miracles.  It started with the Christmas turron, finding 6 new investigators, having members just pop out of nowhere to help, and ended with a great couple of lessons.  The area is progressing.  I’m very excited to just rock it out.  Work hard until the day I “die”.  The best part of all of this is that no one knows how much time I have in the mission, so it’s an exciting thing for everyone.  I’ll just disappear! … maybe…

Sorry it’s short.  I love you all, be good, share the gospel!  I’ll keep better notes of the week for next time.  MUAH!

Hermana Durham

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E-Mail on 10/20/14 – Blood, Sweat, and Tears

We’ve had a weird heat wave this week.  The Elders were given the okay to not have to wear their jackets until tomorrow.  They enjoyed that.  It’s nothing like Castellón hot but it got close.

We tried to celebrate Hna. Masters birthday but her companion was sick so we had to just spend the day writing letters in piso…which was depressing.  We bought fake champagne though and I made a cheesecake and we had that the next night to celebrate.  We also made pancakes in the morning to celebrate.  Then we took them out to eat at this really cool Viking Burger joint to celebrate.  Um… Viking burgers?!  Can it get any cooler?!?! No.  It can’t. So that’s how we tried to patch up the birthday thing.

We met with Adrian this week!  It was an awesome lesson.  He told us why he had disappeared (girl problems…ugh we’re the worst) and said he was really glad to spend time with us again because we help him feel better.  He told us he probably wouldn’t come to church on Sunday because he wasn’t sure about his schedule.  On Sunday we got a call during the Sacrament (super embarrassing… I was mortified) and it was him!  He showed up at the church!  He stayed, seemed to enjoy himself, we confirmed a cita for Tuesday and he left.  He said he might not be home though because he’s mad he doesn’t know my name…I hope he was kidding.

It’s Hermana Rackham’s last week.  We’re not going to talk about it too much but we are trying to slowly make it more real so that she can feel…normal… so that she doesn’t burst into tears when it is mentioned… things like that.  She’s taking it like a champ.  We’re going to work our tails off this week though!  She’s really quite incredible, this gal.

This Saturday we sang for a blood drive.  Then we donated blood.  I tried to but here’s the thing… I have tiny veins that are hard to find.  I had to get stabbed in both arms.  They finally got a vein BUT because it was so small I couldn’t fill up the bag in the time frame and therefore, it was all for nothing!  BOO!  I get to join the “I’m special and can’t donate even though I want to” club.

Kim and Julian finally set up a cita with us.  Julian gets it!  His korean wife…not so much.  It’s amazing to see how they want to change.  Julian chose not to drink wine or coffee in front of us.  That’s a cute little change.  He also prayed.  Kim prays too.  They’re getting there!

Juana let us in (we’re cleaning her house tonight… yay service!) and had us share the message.  She closed with a prayer that was super powerful!  She asked for help to understand the Book of Mormon because she knew it was true and that the church was true.  Baptism, anyone?  She’s older…so it’s harder for her to retain information.  Little by little with her.  BUT WOW!

It’s been a really good week.  We’re going to Barcelona to go bowling with a TON of missionaries because it’s the last preparation day of the transfer (Meaning next week I’ll write you on Tuesday) so it’s a party.  We’re dropping of Hna. Reid to sleep at a members house so that Hna. Masters can actually have fun for once.  Poor dear.

Do good things, read your scriptures (should be starting Alma 7 today), share the gospel, be happy!

Hermana Durham

E-Mail on 10/13/14 – We can have our cake and eat it too!

The lice thing is going okay.  Tomorrow I have to re-poison my head JUST IN CASE.  Charming, right?  But it should be fine.  I did have a fun case of busting out into hives though.  I get stress hives.  That is what we’ve decided, with all our wise medical knowledge that we have.  I’ve never gotten hives before in my life, but on the mission it’s happened 4 times now.  In stressful situations.  That’s what we’re stickin’ with.

This week my dear companion made wonderful pass-by sheets and cards to help me get to know the area a little better.  She did this while I was knocked out cold by my stress hives… poor thing.  I felt so bad!  Sick days are the worst things ever and especially when you just want to go out and work hard.  BUT the pass-by sheets and color coordinated map is probably the coolest thing ever.  It will help us a lot to be more effect and stay organized.  It’s already proving to be a good little back-up plan when people fail to be at home or whatever.

The Elders made and delivered cake for us on Thursday for weekly planning.  Super sweet!  We have some top notch guys here.  I don’t know why they did it (maybe the whole lice/hives/bed bugs thing made them have some pity on us) but it was awesome.  Oh!  They had promised to save Hermana Masters a few pieces from last Monday and they didn’t.  That was probably it.

We went to Tibidaboo last week.  On the top of this really awesome mountain that overlooks Sabadell and Barcelona is a huge church… and an amusement park.  We went and looked at the church, got to the top where Jesus is, took pictures, then went down and ate papa a la juancaína (we had to phonetically spell that) with cake.  Eating a peruvian meal outside a catholic church on top of a mountain in Spain…. sounds like the perfect cultural experience, right?  It was awesome.  Today we’re taking Hermana Masters out for her birthday, which is tomorrow.  The Elders were disappointed in our “girl date, no Elders allowed” plans, but they’ll get over it.

Adrian fell off the face of the earth.  Sad day.  We’re working on finding new people and working with the ward and just getting the whole thing under control.  We don’t talk about the fact that Hermana Rackham is on her last two weeks because everyone else already reminds her.  It is sad.  I’ve successfully lied to everyone about my time here so no one knows.  We’ll see if that holds up.  Do I feel bad?  No.

Hopefully this week does not hold any dramatic surprises or anything…We see miracles every day and we’re just happy.  It’s fun to walk in the rain in the ghetto of Terrassa!  That could be taken sarcastically but I mean it!  We’re having a blast here and it’ll only get better!

Share the gospel this week!  Hay que compartir el amor de Dios!

Hermana Durham

E-Mail on 10/6/14 – Ay… Que Semana Mas Loca

So just over a year ago I wrote an email about lisps and love and lice, right?  Lets dwell on that for a moment as I tell the tale of how I definitely relived an aspect of that.

MY HEAD ITCHES STILL!  That’s my not so subtle way of telling ya’ll that I got lice.  I don’t know how but my head was killing me.  Thankfully no one else in the piso was infected, not even my companion.  I would have felt so bad if Sabadell left bed bugs to come and get lice… jeez.  But no.  Just me.  My poor, sweet companion spent a good hour and a half picking nits out of my hair.  Super fun for all of us.  The Elders took the news dramatically and think they have lice too, which they don’t.  If my companion didn’t get it, how in the world did they?  So… another two weeks with a plastic bag pillow.  Yay.

This Monday the Hermanas moved in, right?  We called the Elders to see if they had any extra sheets, blankets, pillows, etc.  They assured us that they could get some stuff to us.  I then said “Okay… you probably will say no because this is silly, but…do you have an extra dresser?”.  Miraculously they did.  Double miracle was that they were all free at that moment to carry it to our piso.  It’s a huge dresser.  The Elders are not exactly body builders.  They deserve such hot wives for the distance they had to walk, the hill they had to climb, the stairs they had to head up all for the sake of letting us have space to put our clothing.  AND they brought cupcakes.  Could they be any sweeter?!  Top notch Elders we have.

Conference was this weekend and we LOVED IT!  I had to watch the majority of it in Spanish because of slow internet.  I loved that the speakers could speak in their native tongues.  That made it awesome.  Ironically enough we watched the spanish Elder in English… it would have been easier in Spanish for us but oh well.  I really loved what Elder Jorg Klebingat had to say.  Elder Holland was solid as well, as usual.  It’s a bummer that the Sunday afternoon session isn’t available to download quite yet because we missed that one.  I’m sure it was great!  But wow, what a great weekend!  Kim and Julian (two investigators) came to conference and loved it.

Tomorrow we have interviews with President and I’m very excited!  They’re my favorite!

Trying to get a hang of Terrassa and I’m still not very confident with the area.  I hardly know the ward.  It’ll be an interesting transition when all of a sudden I am the one who knows the area.  Yikes!

We met a kid named Adrian this week.  He has a fecha for the 25th to get baptized.  We’re excited about it.  He reminds me a lot of Kevin.  I hope that it goes well but it’s still a new development.  We have a lot of new developments.  Gotta start getting those ironed out.

Well, I hope you all learned great things from Conference.  Share those great things!  Be good, be happy!  Love you all!  (Holy Cow! PICTURES!)

Hermana Durham

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E-Mail on 9/29/14 – I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day

It’s been freaking cold this week!  In a completely,  I don’t mind one bit, kind of way.  It did rain a whole lot yesterday which ended in us getting soaked.  I ended up jumping in the puddle because there was no point in avoiding them.  It was definitely lucky that I was gifted an umbrella by a missionary because my companion didn’t have one so I had two!

We’ve been cleaning out our area book this week.  It’s a long, slow, not super fun process but it’s given us the opportunity to really appreciate the wonderful miracles that come along.  We’ve met a few pretty promising people with all our work and we’ve set up a pretty full week this week!  It sure beats the last week of absolutely nothing.

CONFERENCE IS THIS WEEKEND!  I’m pretty much super excited.  It would have been cooler if we could have gone to Barcelona to see it but we’ll be in Sabadell.  Which is fine too…just not as fun.  I like seeing my Barcelona pals.  But it’s going to be easier to see them because we’re so close and we go to Barcelona every Monday pretty much.

Wednesday we have Zone Focus which means I get to see Hermana Masters, Hermana Findlay and Hermana Hassett…. my favorite people in the mission.  Oh and Elder Miller is pretty great too.  It’s a zone full of mission buddies which I really love.

Sabadell has the bed bugs so the Hermanas are moving in tonight for the rest of the transfer.  Will that be hard?  Kinda.  Will it be AWESOME?!  YEEESSSSS!!!!  Hermana Masters!!!!!  We’ll try to make the most out of it… I mostly feel bad for them.  It totally sucks to live far from your area.

I still miss Castellon.  I’m slowly getting to know the area here, the people, the ward.  It’s a hard transition but it’s going okay.  I just liked where I was.  Poc a poc.  Relief society was actually really funny this week… I think it was the first time I actually caught on to all the jokes and everything.  Curse the language barrier that’s STILL causing problems!  I’m still, also, growing my testimony of Relief Society.

There is a really cute member here, Rosario, who invited us over to eat.  She blessed that the food wouldn’t make us fat.  She also prays that it won’t rain on us.  She also always prays for our food and our families.  She’s just a funny little old lady.  I love her!

This week a car honked at us and Hermana Rackham waved.  Four men shouted out the window and she said “Oh… I don’t know them…”.  The next time we had a car honk at us and men shouting, she proudly turned to me and said “Hey!  I didn’t wave this time!”  She cracks me up.  We celebrated by getting churros with love.  Adventures in Terrassa!  Those happen every day.  SHOOT!  I don’t have my cord otherwise I’d send a picture of our ghetto area.  Next time.

Well… the work goes on!  Even if it’s raining, even if it’s hard.  The Lord needs His servants.  I hope you’re all reading the Book of Mormon!  I love you all!

Hermana Durham

E-Mail on 9/22/14 – Sugar and Spice

That sums up my new companionship.  I’m probably with the sweetest, sugariest sister missionary of all time.  Hermana Rackham is a doll.  I’ve played the mom role this whole mission so it’s really weird that now I have a mom… but she’s so great!  She likes making food.  She loves all the people so much.  She’s funny too.  Apparently she’s related to a famous pirate.  Calico Jack Rackham.  She was companions with Hermana Findlay in Barcelona (MY Barcelona!) so we have a good time chatting about that.

My district consists of Elder Wright (District Leader), Elder Weight (Super super SUPER new), Elder Pisciotta (Italian Mafia member), and Elder Gomez (he’s from Texas).  Elder Wright is basically like Jake Durham.  It weirds me out a little bit… my district leader is my cousin.  It’s a good little group.  Today we’re going down to Barcelona for preparation day… I think.  We’re still working out the kinks.

I woke up this morning with a fever and lots of aches.  I think switching climates really killed me… I actually know it did.  So this morning I was wrapped up in a blanket and cardigan to try and break the fever before the day started.  It worked!  I feel a lot better.  Plus Elder Miller is going to hook me up with some drugs.  And I bought orange juice.  Nothing like being a sick missionary.

So Terrassa is pretty good.  There is a LOT of work to be done here.  It’s a pretty difficult area.  At every turn I kept thinking “Jeez… I miss Castellon.  I miss the members.  I miss my investigators.  I miss the people I love.”  It’s been a harder transition than I thought.  It’s going to be a hard few months but it’ll be good.  Hard work keeps you focused.  Lots of contacting… lots of trying to win over the members… lots of everything.  Poco a poco.

That’s about all… Are you reading the Book of Mormon?  You should be!  It’s important!  I love you all, be good, do good things, share the gospel!

Hermana Durham

E-Mail on 9/16/14 – ¿Para Donde Vas, Muchacha?

Well after a nice 3 transfers in the heat of Castellón, I am off on a new adventure, in a new place.  I am called to serve in Terrassa which is a small-ish place near Barcelona.  I’m definitely excited to start in a new place, get to know new people and keep on working hard.

The last transfer ended with a bang.  We had the dedication of the chapel.  I got to bear my testimony and I was crying before I even got up to say anything.  That’s always hard.  Then we had the baptisms of Gianella and Helen.  FINALLY!  It was probably the most hectic day of my life and I would never, ever choose to re-live it…but it happened.  Two girls are now baptized members of the church and that makes me happy!

Had to say goodbye to everyone yesterday and I missed a couple people that I wish I hadn’t but… there are only so many hours in the day.  I hope the members understand.  I love them all very much but I am only one girl.  It was hard to say goodbye… I’m not good at it.  It’s easier for me to just wave at them all and walk away.  It feels like dragging out the pain when I have to see them over and over and over.  Harder.  But it was good.  I got to see the Rojas family, love them a ton.  Said goodbye to Sorin which was hard because I just want him to be back in church already.  Sara and Janet.  Ivonne and her kids.  Marius and Carlos met us outside our piso right before it was time up and that was a fun surprise.  This morning we were accompanied to the train station by Carlos, Marius, Roxana, and Melanie.  Waiting at the train station was Rita, Priscilla, Jason, and Emilio.  It was a fun little gathering.  Marius and Carlos earn a big gold sticker for dragging my luggage all around because it’s HEAVY.  My arms are KILLING ME because I had to lug it up and down the stairs to get out to Terrassa!  My poor companion.

Speaking of, her name is Hermana Rackham.  She has one transfer left but she’s like me and doesn’t like to talk about it.  She was companions with Hermana Findlay in Barcelona so we have a lot to talk about.  I can already tell we’re gonna get along just great. She’s a doll.

Also, I’m back in the Barcelona zone and in Catalunya.  Way to end it where it started.  I also am in the same zone as Hermana Masters.  STOKED!  I love that kid.  And Elder Miller.  Stoked!  Love that kid too!

I have big goals for this area.  I’m changing a lot because I learned a lot about how I can improve in Castellón.  I’m going to work hard.  I have a personal goal of (at least) 6 baptisms here to make it a nice 3, 4, 5, 6 pattern.  Mostly though, I want to help people find hope.  Hope is needed.

Love you all, do work!

Hermana Durham

E-Mail on 9/8/14 – Outta the Loop

Zone Conference was last week and it was quite nice.  We focused a lot on getting people to come to church because, well, church is important.  Duh.  It was nice to see Hermana and President Pace, as usual.  They’re pretty great.  At Zone Conference we found out that we DIDN’T have Zone Focus on Thursday and that it would be the following week… way to let us in on THAT one…

Today I’m actually emailing from Catarroja because we’re having a zone activity down here.  I think volleyball and water balloons are involved.  We almost didn’t get invited to this thing either.  Castellon is just too far from real life I guess.

It’s been wicked hot out here.  Everyone says it’s weird because it should be cooling down by now… and it’s definitely not.

This week Gianella and Helen are getting baptized!  The Uncle from L.A. is in fact here in Castellon!  Now… I haven’t seen him with my own eyes but that’s the word on the street.  Whooooop!  Baptisms are the best!

Also, this Sunday is the dedication of the new church so it will be a lovely little event.  I think it makes it better that it’s the last Sunday of the transfer so that if any of us leave, we at least get a party.  And I was volunteered to make cookies.  Surprise there, right?

We are going to be doing lots of finding this week… we have practically no one to work with.  But that’s okay!  It’s part of the work.  You can’t just have perfect weeks all the time… you have to work hard before you can harvest.  So yeah.  This week we’re going to focus and work real hard!

Sorry that this email is lame.  There just wasn’t a whole lot to say about the last week… But because this week will be so awesome, I’m sure I’ll have more to say next Tuesday.  Keep on working hard, doing what you gotta.  I love you all!

Hermana Durham

E-Mail on 9/1/14 – And then the police showed up

This week was an interesting one.  It’s interesting because I don’t really remember a WHOLE lot what happened…

We’re not sleeping well here.  A part of it is the heat, another part are the bug bites, another part the stress, another part is that we’re just both breaking down as we getting closer to the inevitable… Exhaustion is a big part of our life right now.  It’s jolly good fun!

Marius is doing really well.  In fact, yesterday, he went with us to visit a Romanian family.  He talked about the church (in Romanian… so we think it was good things… he said “I told them to stay away from you guys” but I don’t think he did…maybe…) and then said the closing prayer.  CUTE!  He’s been great.  He doesn’t like when we make him read with us so much but it’s growing on him I think.  We read in Romanian for him.  We try to anyway.  It’s a really hard language!  He promised us he would pray in English sometime.  So proud of him… he’s my best friend here, seriously!

Juan Carlos is still struggling with the dejar de fumar thing.  We made him a box of scripture cigarettes because we’re girls and we do crafty things like that.  We’ll see if that works.  Poco a poco.

Rita opened her mission call and is going to Chile.  She’s really great!  She’s probably one of the craziest people I know, but she does really well in lessons with people.  She knows her stuff and she’ll be an incredible missionary.  This means we have a missionary leaving in September (Diego, the bishop’s son, Argentina), October (Rita, Chile), and November (Maria Christina, England).  Fun couple months for the ward!  Especially because a handful are coming home too!  WOW!

Luz is struggling.  We’re trying really hard to help out the family but it’s not progressing as well as we would like.  I don’t know what to do.  We’re trying to save a broken family but it’s hard because we’re restricted in what we CAN do and the language barrier thing really gets in the way when it comes to talking about this stuff.  We’re hoping for the best though, pushing through!

This Saturday we went to sports and I gave a tour of the church with Jonathan and Maria Laura (one of the young women) while everyone was playing.  I don’t know how it happened but he ended up accepting to get baptized… kind of a miracle really.  No.  Big miracle, actually.  Afterwards, we were cleaning up and getting ready to go home when a cop car pulled up and the cops got out.  They asked if they could see the church because they’re always driving by and were curious about what goes on.  We showed them around, they liked it a lot and we ended up in the sacrament room.  We invited them to church (like we do) and then I asked if we could end with a prayer.  Everyone thinks I’m weird when I do that, but I really just love saying prayers whenever with whoever.  So I said a prayer with two cops and a bunch of young folks in sports clothes in the sacrament room and then we left.  Nothing huge, but really incredible that we were able to show off the church a little.

It was a good week with lots of little miracles!  We have very wonderful members here in Castellon who help us out a ton.  Melanie and Rita saved us this week and did splits on Saturday night.  Marius helped out too!  I don’t know what we’d do without the JAS, they’re fantastic!  It’s a good ward here.

This week we have Zone Conference and Zone Focus so we’re headed to Valencia twice this week.  Woo.  This transfer is going by real fast… we have two weeks left.  I can’t believe it!  Time flies.  It’s September folks.  Woah.  Well…  I love you all, do good work this week!

Hermana Durham

Oh and one more thought:  As a mission and with all the stakes in our mission we are doing a Book of Mormon reading challenge to read it all by the end of the year.  To do so you have to read two chapters everyday.  I invite you to join in on our challenge!  Here is the calendar (it’s in Spanish… sorry… use google translate!  Except you Elder Bascopé).  Have fun!

E-Mail on 8/25/14 – What’s up, Lollipops!

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That’s our new way of saludar-ing the Elders.  We’re really good friends with them, obviously.  We say really kind things to each other.  (Another name for lollipops being suckers, see?  Clever).

So, the surprise baptism went smashingly.  Marius’ mother came and seemed to really enjoy it.  It also would seem that she has a baptismal fecha set herself.  Let’s hope that goes well!  Marius is getting incorporated into the JAS group even though he basically refuses to speak Spanish with them.  We have a decent amount of them that speak, or at least understand, English.  It’s cute that they try.  He’s a shy person, but super funny so they’ll appreciate him.  He’s changed a whole lot and it’s great to have a friend in him.

Juan Carlos also got baptized this last Saturday.  He was about the cutest thing in the whole wide world.  His testimony was great too!  I’m so proud of him!  He is also making big changes.  He asked Carlos to baptize him which is super sweet because this is the first baptism Carlos has performed.  Carlos spent all week reading scriptures and praying and fixing problems so that he was completely clean and worthy to perform this sacred priesthood ordinance.  I’m so proud of Carlos.  It was really cute that he cared so much.  He understands and cherishes the priesthood.

We had 18 lessons with a member present this week.  That’s a ton.  We were really blessed.  A lot of the JAS have been helping us out a lot lately which we really appreciate.  They’re pretty stinkin’ great.  We went with them to a place somewhere for preparation day today.  It’s Melanie’s birthday.  Double reason to go.

I ran out of time, sorry.  It was a great week.  We saw lots of great miracles!  For example, we need to send numbers in a 9 o’clock on Sunday night.  By 8:30 we only had 2 new investigators for the week.  In 30 minutes we found 4 news.  Incredible!  So we “hit 4 pautas” this week which is awesome.  We were only one number away from hitting all five!  DARN!  But that just means we’ll push ourselves harder next time.

I love you all!  Have a great week, do good things, smile lots!  MUAH!

Hermana Durham