Thursday, June 23, 2011

My Spanish is Coming Along...

Hello again!
Yesterday was pretty crazy, and we are lucky that we had any time to email at all. We had a Family Home Evening last night with Bryan and his family, and one of the families in the branch. The members live in a town about 10 minutes outside of Guadalajara, so we had to plan for travel time and all that stuff. But it was fun, and everyone had a good time. Tomorrow is the baptismal interview, and Saturday morning is the baptism!

This week is the last week of the transfer, and nobody has any idea about what is going to happen, except we are all expecting a lot of changes, at least for the hermanas. Because half of the hermanas are going home in the next few transfer, and we are getting about ten new ones, we think that there will be a lot of changes to get ready for when all the new hermanas come in. So this weekend, I could be going somewhere else, or I could be staying in Guadalajara, I'll let you know next week!

Our P-Day yesterday was great. The mission home is in a sort of gated community on the outskirts of Madrid. There are tennis courts, soccer courts, Uno, Go fish, and food! It was super fun, and I think everyone had a great time.

Sounds like Mom is super busy, it sounds like you all are. But busy can be good, and it sounds like everyone is having good time.

I'm glad that Ryan had such a good time at Scout Camp, it definitely sounds like more of a vacation than scout camp. It kinda reminds me of my last year at Girl's camp. I'd been so used to Camp Shalom, that the whole camping at the lake thing was so different, and more like a vacation. (One night, we ate dinner at the golf course club house)

It has been super hot here. The humidity isn't too bad, actually I don't think that there is much of any humidity. It's just really hot. I think it was Tuesday that we got up to 42 degrees. Our piso gets nice and toasty because we don't have an air conditioner. We have some fans though, and I think that they will work just fine.

The sun sets really late here. When we return to our piso at 10:00 p.m. it is still sunny out. You would never think that it is 10:00, more like 7:00. And it doesn't really cool down at night. Every once in a while we get a cool mountainy breeze, but not too often. But we are adapting to the heat, and attempting to plan our day better so that we have fixed lessons during the hottest parts of the day.

It also sounds like Gramma, Grampa and Sophie are pretty busy, with trips to the lake and all the packing that needs to get done. I hope that everyone has a good time up there! It also sounds like there are some good vacations and family gatherings planned! I hope that everyone enjoys them.

My Spanish is coming along. Last week we had intercambios, and I had the same companion, but this time she came to me. And she told me that my Spanish has really improved. I can definitely understand more now than I could when I first got here, but I still feel a little lost, especially when people direct the conversation at me more or ask me a question. Understanding is definitely easier than speaking. I don't have to think about how to conjugate the verbs, or how to structure my sentence when I'm listening. But my speaking is definitely easier. I don't have to think about how to conjugate some verbs, especially the ones we use often.

I think the package will get to the mission office in 1 or 2 weeks. When the mission office can get it to me is another story. But I have always been a fan of late birthday gifts. It always feels like I get to stretch out my birthday!

I love the pictures! Please send more! (One day soon I will send some more to you...sometimes we email in other cities, and sometimes I forget my cord, or run out of time. But I will send you some!)
Love, Amber

Happy Birthday Dad

First off:
Hope you had a great birthday, and a great father's day too!

Everything has been good here. For our P-Day we went to the mission home with most of the missionaries in our zone, as well as the Madrid South zone. (Be sure to look for pictures on the mission blog!) It was really fun, but because the mission home is kinda far away, and we have a lesson a little bit earlier tonight, I will finish my email tomorrow, but wanted to get it started and send off something so that you don't worry too much.
Everything is going really well, and we have a baptism the Saturday! Bryan, who is 11 years old. We have been teaching his family, and we are super excited for the baptism! And I am way more excited for this than for our almost baptism of Jorge, because I have been teaching this family the whole time, and I have been able to see them progress. Everybody, even the family thought that the older brother would get baptized first, but nope. It's the younger one. The older needs a little bit more time, a little bit of understanding, and we need to help him realize that he doesn't need to be perfect to be baptized.
I just about died (of laughter) last week when I read that Sophie won the game of Settlers, and have been thinking about it all week long. In a kind of I-can't-believe-she-won way, and only when something reminds me of her.
I will finish it off tomorrow!
Love, Amber

Definitely Hotter this Week!

I hope that everyone is doing great! And I hope that Sophie will have a great time with Gramma and Grampa this summer. I finally sent some letters to Brenna and Sophie...but now Sophie is in Washington. I guess you will be able to get it to her. I expect letters and pics of New York (Brenna can email the pics) I also expect that Sophie will polish her Settlers skills up at Gramma's house.

It is weird to realize just how much shuffling the missionary department does. You think that it would be simple, you get your call and you go where they send you. I didn't really think about it until we got to Spain, there are a lot of missionaries here to had to do some visa waiting in another mission, and had their reporting dates changed and stuff. One of the new hermanas is from Argentina, and had to wait seven months for her visa. And the Spaniards who go to America have to visa wait as well, so they start off here in Madrid. I had never thought about all of the logistics of the missionary department, but there are a lot of things they have to deal with.
And I am excited for Tragen, I know he'll do great! (I love reading about this kinda stuff!)

I can't think about Ryan and High Adventure camp without laughing. I'm sure that he will have a great time...and I expect to read about ALL of his adventures next when he gets back.

It has definitely gotten hotter this week. And Monday we had our intercambios. Hna. Marín went to Madrid and told me that it is hotter here than in Madrid. Yep, it's hot. You'll have to check the internet for weather reports, because I have no idea what temperature it is. Because they use Celsius here, I have no idea what 35, 38 degrees is, I just know that it is hot. (I don't think I really want to know what the conversion is.)

We have been having some good lessons. Yesterday, we were able to fix a baptismal date with Bryan, the younger of the two boys. Anibal wants to wait a little bit longer to better know the church, but I think he will come around really soon. Their parents are divorced, and they only need the permission of their mom. Monday, before we went to Madrid for intercambios, we talked with her. She had a lot of good questions, and told us that she would talk with both of them and think it over. Yesterday, she told us that if they want to they can, but they need to really feel that this is the right thing, and they have to be committed to it. Which is why I think Anibal wants to wait, but with a little bit of time and some good discussions with us, and the youth, I know that he will want to, and I think it won't be very long.

We have another investigator, Patricia, who is amazing. Sunday, the Relief Society class was on obedience, but they ended up talking a lot about the word of wisdom, so yesterday we taught Patricia the word of wisdom. It was a great lesson, and she agreed to live it, which isn't too hard because she doesn't drink, doesn't really like coffee, and has already given up smoking. She is becoming good friends with the member who is also pregnant. They are definitely going to be friends for a while.

Yesterday, we went to visit an investigator, but he wasn't home, so we tried to visit some old investigators in the same neighborhood. We found one who still lives in their piso, (these investigators are several years old) and had a good lesson with her.

For our P-Day today, we went to the Parque Europa. It was kinda cool. It has miniature attractions of all the things you would want to see in Europe - the Eiffel Tower, the London Bridge, windmill, Greek Statues, cool stuff like that.

Love you lots!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Busy with Missionary Work


Glad to hear that the weekend was great! Sounds like it was a bunch of fun. And I'm sure that everyone is glad that it is over and that you all have a chance to relax a little bit. I'm a little bit sad that I couldn't be there, but only a little bit! I hope that Brenna and Gramma and Grampa are enjoying their time in New York.

Things are going good with our investigators. We think that we can fix baptismal dates with the nephews sometime this week. The couple isn't married, and they have to wait for their Spanish residency in order to be married here. Sometimes the South American countries will let couples get married in the Embassy, and their marriage is legal in their country. But this family is from Venezuela, and the relationship between Venezuela and Spain isn't all that we won't be seeing the baptism of the couple, but I'm sure that once all the paperwork is in order that some other missionaries will. The only problem we might have with the nephews is that they need parental permission to be baptized, because both are under 18. We met their mom while we were painting, and she wants to introduce us to her boyfriend, but she still hasn't been to church, and we haven't had a real lesson with her, so we will see what happens there. But the nephews are awesome! They came to church bythemselves these past two weeks, and Monday night they were invited to an FHE with one of the families in the branch. This family has kids the same age, and the younger ones are in the same class in school (if not they are definitely in the same grade and knew each other before.)

We had a good "lesson" last night with Josetty (a recent convert) about her husband and her daughters. The daughters want to get baptized, but their dad won't let them. But it sounds like there is some progress in their house. We are hoping that we will get to see their baptism, but who knows what is going to happen. We started teaching a woman from Peru, Patricia, who is pregnant. So we asked one of the members who is from Peru, and pregnant to come to the lessons with us. And they have the same due date! It was kinda funny when we figured it out. But they are already friends, and she came to the Visiting Teaching workshop on Saturday. She is really great, but isn't married. (We have run into this problem quite a few times.) And next week the YW are having a 60's dance for their camp fundraiser, so we are inviting everybody. I think it will be a lot of fun...I don't know how long we will be there or our plans for the dance, but we will most likely have investigators there.

Today we went to the temple! It was great. We went to the 9:00 session, so we had to leave kinda early to be able to get there on time. And today we were really early, so we did some initiatories while we waited. But it was fun to see the other missionaries. We both wish that we would have had more of a plan before we went to Madrid. We knew that the elders in our district wanted to play soccer and go eat somewhere, but no one really had a plan, and there was a lot of socializing afterward, so by the time we were ready to go eat the elders were already playing soccer and we didn't have time to wait for them to go eat. So we came back, ate some food on the way, and are going to go rest and write letters. It was a pretty good day.
I can't really think of anything else that has been going on this past week. We've just been busy with missionary work!

Love, Amber

June Already!

Hello Family!

Can you believe that it is June already? I sure can't. Especially with the weather we've been having. Thursday night, it poured! And we walked across town to get to an appointment. We were soaked. That morning had been nice and sunny, so we were wearing summer clothes and sandals, and didn't have our umbrellas. It has been pretty wet all week. Sunday night (or maybe it was Monday) we had a lighting storm, no rain. It was cool to look at. But it has been pretty stormy all week. It doesn't really feel like June yet.

We like to email at the end of the day, but sometimes it works better if we email a little bit earlier. It took us about an hour and a half to get to Leganes for our BBQ last week, so we emailed in the morning.

Yesterday was a holiday here in Guadalajara, but I totally forgot that this weekend is Memorial Day. The holidays are a little weird here. There was nobody in the street, all the shops were closed. Not like home at all, when all the stores are open longer with big sales and all.

I also can't believe that this weekend is the big weekend! Congratulations to both Brenna and Sophie. I am so excited for them. There is a chance that we will get to go to a baptismal service this weekend. We aren't that far from Madrid, and we are encouraged to go to the baptisms of other missionaries if we have investigators to take with us. I think we will try to go.

I think my MTC experience was a little bit different (than most). We never had a Spanish language class. We learned a little Spanish and then practiced teaching. And we almost always learned our Spanish with the goal of improving our teaching. But there were times when we had all of our study time back to back. And five straight hours of study was really difficult. Hard to stay focused for that long, even when we would switch what we were studying.

Our BBQ last week was way fun! It was a bit of a long ride, but totally worth it. We had a great time being with the other missionaries. There was food, soccer, music, and pictures. I have one to send you, but don't have my camera with me, maybe next week.

It's cool to hear about all the missionary stuff! When they redid the Spain missions, the missionaries went with the areas. We have quite a few missionaries who were serving in the Canary Islands, when they redid the missions. So these missionaries got called to Málaga, but will finish in Madrid. I guess there were quite a few changes when they redid the missions here.

The language is definitely getting better. I still have to think about everything more than I would like, but it is definitely coming. Our teaching is going great. Saturday, we helped the family we've been teaching paint their old apartment. (I got a ton of paint on my pants, but all of it came out in the wash today, the laundry pens are AMAZING!!!!) Because we helped them paint, the nephews could go to the YM activity, and they had a great time. We met their mom, and she wants to introduce us to her fiancee when he comes later this week. Afterward, we were invited to eat with them, and had some yummy Venezuelan food. And yesterday, after our lesson with them, we went with them to the house of one of the brothers, and his family. There were like a million people in that apartment, but we ate some yummy Colombian food. I think that I am going to get to experience all the great food of South America without actually having to go!

Our surprise birthday party was fun! We were late getting back from the BBQ, and the buses were running late, so we had to change our strategy, but we got her to the house, and she still had no idea.

President Watkins came to our district meeting yesterday, which was kinda fun, and unexpected. We didn't know that he was going to be there. Especially since the ayudantes (assistants) came to our meeting the week before. But fun nonetheless.

We have started having "fiestas" Sunday afternoons in the homes of some members. It started a couple of weeks ago, when a few of the members got together and invited us to come over for treats. We had a great time with them, and it is good way for investigators, and especially for the less actives, to get to know the members, and socialize away from church. So, we have more or less invited ourselves the past few weeks, but for the less actives it is a great thing!

This P-Day we went shopping here in Guadalajara - kinda relaxing after our crazy P-Day last week, and next week we are going to the temple with most of the missionaries in Madrid.
I can't think of anything else, but I hope that everybody has a blast this weekend!!!
Love, Amber


Hna. Lewis with Sorella Mondugno and Sorella Laratro

Hnas. Marin, Delgado and Lewis with the Don Quixote statue
in front of Cervantes' House

Hnas. Soderburg, Lewis and Greer in the MTC
with the Anzianos

Hna. Lewis and Sorella Silva

More Pictures!

MTC District

The MTC Missionaries

Hermanas and Sorellas

Statue of Bear and Strawberry Tree
Downtown Madrid

At the Plaza del Toro