Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Out of order...

(This was the letter from the week of August 17 - I forgot to put it in before I added last week's email. Plus more pictures coming soon!!!)

Hello Family!!!
Sounds like everyone had a great time in Yellowstone. A good way to spend some time with Gramma and Grampa before they leave. And nothing wrong with a few fresh fish! And I love hearing stories about moose. Everytime I hear one, I think about the day the moose rammed the baseball fence at the high school. Good memories. And moose are so neat to look at. Must have been cool to have one right there every day. And sounds like a really interesting way sacrament meeting. That is definitely a lot of people!

Hope that mom and Brenna start to feel better quickly...and just an FYI, you can not tell me that my mom had a "little" operation, and then not tell me anything else. I was a little freaked when I read gramma's email, but then everything was better when I got to dad's...

Well, I guess that everyone needs a few days of down time before school starts, after all the vacations and whatnot (Pres. Watkins says that my family is pretty active.)

Yay for the MTC! I am so excited for gramma and grampa. I know that they will have a great time. The MTC is a really neat experience. And then its off to Russia! Wahoo!

This week is Patricia's baptism. (You really need to work on your dates over Saturday does not mean this upcoming Saturday, it is the Saturday after that. The upcoming Saturday is this Saturday) But everything is going great. She had her interview last weekend, and we are finalizing the details. Yesterday during our lesson, Hna. Marín called her to see how things are going. Patricia told her that she's getting baptized, and now Hna. Marín is going to do everything she can to be at the baptism, and I'm sure we'll see her there. We have spent a lot of time looking for people to teach, we don't have too many investigators right now. So we have spent a lot of time knocking doors (or rather, pressing the buttons to call up to their pisos.) and have spent a lot of time in the office calling the old investigators. We have been working pretty hard.

In crazy news from Spain...Tomorrow, the Pope is coming to Spain, and he has invited the youth (they look to be about high school-college aged) of the world to come to Spain for a type of youth conference. Anyway there are about 1 million more people in the country right now, and there are youth everywhere! It is insane. Yesterday, on our way to district meeting, a bunch of people from Hong Kong boarded our train. And then we ran into people from Italy and Portugal, we saw people from Switzerland on our way back.

Today we are in Madrid for P-day. And the metro station was packed with people here to see the Pope. We had to grab hold of one another to get through the crowd of people. It is absolutely insane, and we feel a little awkward to be so close to it all. Things aren't like this at all in Guadalajara, so I guess I should count my blessings that I don't have to spend my day in the streets of downtown Madrid tomorrow.

Friday, is Hna. Pérez's birthday. So today we are celebrating with a few of her converts and members from her old ward, which is why we are in Madrid with all the people. But I think that we are going to have a great time here.

Everyone is telling me how much my Spanish has improved. The members in the ward, other missionaries I've met, and Pres. Watkins. He came to our district meeting yesterday. And we have two greenies in our district, and as a bit of encouragement, Pres. Watkins told everyone just how much my Spanish has improved. It's good that everyone else can see it. I know that it's gotten better because I can remember when I didn't understand a thing, but it's hard to see the improvement as a whole, because I hear myself speak (and think!) in Spanish all the time.

One thing I've learned since I've been on the mission, is that you really don't need to bring your entire wardrobe. It was really funny to watch Hna. Marín pack up all the clothing she had accumulated while she was here. The stuff she brought with her, the stuff she bought in the mission, and the stuff she got when other missionaries got home. And she had a lot of clothes. We move around more than Gramma and Grampa will, but it is really nice to be able to fit everything into two suitcases. And not have to worry about how you are going to get everything there.

Well, I can't think of anything else...we are working hard in Guadalajara!
Love, Amber

We've just been working hard...

Sounds like the MTC is great! I sure loved it there. And I'm sure that you will have a great time. The Tuesday devotionals are the best, and if you get lucky, an apostle will come. It's always a general authority, but every once in a while, an apostle comes. But they are always good. And yes, the cafeteria is huge, but you will get to know it pretty quickly. When I was at the MTC, they were working on one of the buildings that is used for the senior missionaries, I don't know if they're still working on it, or if they really are just too full.

We are still in the middle of a hot summer. I guess summer doesn't actually end until the middle of September here. But we do what we can to get out of the heat. We actually had a couple of good days this week...not to hot, and some rain the other day.

And I didn't even realize that this is the first week of school. School doesn't start until September here, so I haven't really been thinking about it. But it sounds like it was a good first day.

I bet that Brenna is ready to head off to school, I know that I sure was.
I can't even remember the things I needed to take. Just that if there are clothes that you haven't worn in over a year, you're not going to wear them at school, and it's best not to bring them. And shopping for school stuff is super fun, especially when you get to buy all the stuff for the apartment. By the way, Brenna is more than welcome to use the stuff I've got, at least for this year...I might need them next year.

Hope you have fun with Keith and Val this weekend. You sure have seen everybody a lot this summer. new calling. I don't really have much to tell you about a YSA adviser, except that I imagine that you will have to work a lot with the local singles ward, and make sure that the YSA attending your ward know about all their activities...but other than that, I don't really know what a YSA adviser does, I was always in the singles/student wards...but I'm sure it will be a lot of fun...I do remember getting a bunch of emails from Scotty Halls, so there may or may not be an email list...

To clear things up...I wasn't too worried about the procedure, it's just that gramma wrote that "your mom is recovering from some minor surgery she had today" and didn't tell me anything else, so what was I supposed to think. Once I read dad's email it was all good. I just read that there had been some surgery and nothing else...but it was good of everybody not to say anything until after the fact...I probably would have been too worried if I had known ahead of time.

Things sure were interesting this week with all the people. Being in Guadalajara, away from Madrid, we didn't have too much interaction with everything. We saw all the people that were there when we went to Madrid for P-day, but it wasn't a problem for us. I do imagine it was a problem for the missionaries actually in Madrid. The other Elders in our district (who are in the province of Madrid,) asked to change their P-day, so that they didn't have to be out working the day the Pope was here. But there were a ton of people here. From everywhere. It was pretty amazing, and super difficult to maneuver in the metro.

The mini-missionary left this week, but it was fun to have her around. We are still looking for more people, and going through the old investigators, lists of less-actives, and knocking doors to find people.
Saturday, was Patricia's baptism. It was super cool. And a really great experience. She has been talking with Hna. Marín, and told her about the baptism, so Hna. Marín made a suprise visit this weekend. Which was fun too.

Next week (which is September 3) is the baptism of Jenny, the miracle of intercambios. An old investigator of the elders, we contacted her in the street the day I left for Mardid for intercambios. That night, the hnas. talked with her about baptism and everything. Hna. Pérez and I have been working with her to get her ready for baptism. It has been really cool to watch her progress.

The next week we hope to have another baptism. Simon, who is from Peru, is sharing an apartment with one of the members, so is actually a reference from a member. He too, is really progressing well, he came to Patricia's baptism, and then on Sunday we took him, and the member, to a baptism in Madrid and then to the temple for a tour. It was really cool, we could really feel the spirit, and have had some amazing lessons with him. He is really quiet, and doesn't say too much, but does tell a lot of things to the member, who then tells us. For example, his daughter called him (his family lives in Peru) to tell him that she and her mom have been meeting with the elders in Peru, and that she has been reading the Book of Mormon. Kinda cool to think that the family, in two different parts of the world, and learning the same thing and have been visiting with the missionaries at the same time. We've talked a lot about baptism with Simon, and if everything goes well, he will get baptized the week after Jenny. But we are still looking for more people to teach.
We've just been working hard, and things are going really well, and trying not to stay in the sun...
Love, Amber

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A new Companion!

Greetings from.....Guadalajara!

I'm staying in Guadalajara for at least another transfer.

But, I have a new companion, Hna. Peréz.
She is from Málaga, so I have another Spaniard for a companion...most missionaries don't get this's pretty rare to have two native Spaniards as companions back to back...but on the bright side, my Spanish is going to be fantastic when I get back!
I'm not the Sr. Companion yet, it's very possible that Hna. Perez will finish her mission here in Guadalajara, so she has more time in the mission than I do, and I still feel very inexperienced, but I think that will change pretty quickly.

Everyone tells me that she is a great missionary, and in the few days she's been here, I can see it! She's different than Hna. Marín, and has a different way of working, so things will be different, but I am positive that they will be great!

It must be pretty exciting for Gramma and Grampa to be here, and spending more time at the MTC. I'm sure that the Russian is really coming along...(but just a little heads-up, when you get to Russia, you won't be able to understand a thing...I just don't want you to get discouraged when you get there )

Sounds like the movie (17 Miracles) was the past few months we've been able to buy the Joseph Smith movie in the distribution center here in Madrid, it has a couple of good little shorts about a few of the pioneers, and they are really great stories...You should look into buying the movie if you can...

Yay for Tyler and Janae! I'm so excited for them, and what a fun way to tell everyone about it. I bet that the new baby will be just as cute as Harrison!

School really is coming up quickly isn't it. School doesn't start until September here, so I kinda forget that you all start pretty soon.

Glad to hear everyone likes the pictures! And I better be getting tan, we spend a lot of time in the fact, I have to tell a lot of people that I'm not actually blond. The highlights from last year are still pretty strong, and with all the sun we get, my roots and the top layer of my hair has lightened up quite a bit.

We do have a lot of fun in the mission, I think we would go crazy if we couldn't have fun, and it's super easy to laugh at the little things that happen during the day.

A mini-missionary is a lot what it sounds like, she gets to be a missionary for a few weeks or a few months, whatever they choose. And people can start to be mini-missionaries after they turn 16...if you think about the 16 yr. old boys can go on splits with the missionaries. It's not something that we have at home, can you imagine how many people would want to go on a mini-mission?

She lives with us, and is a missionary just like us. Mini-missionaries don't normally teach a lot, but do share their testimony in our lessons. It's an opportunity to get to work with the missionaries, and to see what it is to be a missionary. One of the Italian sisters in the MTC told us that she had been a mini-missionary, and that it was a big reason that she decided to serve a mission. So it is definitely a good thing.

I hope that you all enjoy Yellowstone this week. And I hope there isn't too much rain I'm sure everyone will have a great time.

Who gets to keep the cat? And now that it no longer lives with Gramma, do you get to call it Mouse again?

Anyway, back to the work here. It is going good so far. Hna. Perez and I get along pretty good. It's a little bit weird to have a different companion, but in a day or two it will be normal. And I can tell that my Spanish is improving, I can know follow a conversation, and most importantly, I can mostly follow a phone conversation! Yay! It's harder to understand the people when we are talking on the phone, but now it is much easier.

Yesterday, we fixed a baptismal date with Patricia, our pregnant investigator. She had some problems with one of the commandments, and what turned out to be a sad situation for her personal life turned out to be a great one for her spiritually.

She is going to get baptized next Saturday! It is super exciting. She is fantastic, and I have really been able to see her grow and progress in the gospel. We have had some super spiritual experiences with her, especially when she talks about the difference the gospel, and we, have made in her life. This baptism is going to be different than the one we had with Brayan. Patricia is at a different point in her life, and I think that the gospel means a little bit more to her.

Today, we had a couple of visitors from Barrio 1, the last area of Hna. Perez. We tried to rent some bikes for the day, but it turns out that you have to rent the bikes for at least a week ( you can leave them at bike stations in various spots throughout the city) and that you have to go the bank and get a money order, because the city hall can't actually accept money...and a bunch of other things.

In the end we went to McDonald's, had lunch and just chilled waiting for the bus. Because it's August, the buses are running their summer schedule, and the buses come by less frequently. So, if you miss the bus, you have to wait for 20 min. for the next one. We spent a lot of time waiting for the bus today, but in the end it was pretty fun.

Love, Amber

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Mini-Missionary!


The big news is that Monday we received our Mini-missionary! Her name is Hna. Mendoza, she is 16, originally from Peru, but lives in Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands. We are super excited to have her here. She has given us a bit of a jump start, and is helping us to just keep working this last week.
This is indeed the last week of Hna. Marín, and a bunch of other missionaries. So there will definitely be changes this week. We will know later this week, probably Friday or Saturday, and we will change companions on Monday. So you will know next week about everything!
Today, for our P-day we went to Madrid. We first met up with some of the elders in our district in the train to Madrid. We played an "assassination" game in the train to pass the time, and had a blast! We then met up with a bunch of other missionaries, and rode a "gondola" across a huge park in Madrid. We got to see the city from the sky, which was pretty cool, and we took some pretty cool pictures. The trip was pretty short, and afterward, we played a little game of soccer. With the three teams we created, and a triangle-ish shaped field. In the end my team won (yay!), but only because we scored the final point! And then we took the return trip back across the park. We then ate at Taco Bell, and headed home. It was a pretty good P-day, and I good final P-day for Hna. Marín.
Tomorrow, we have Zone Conferece! I'm super excited. Between the Zone Conference, the fiestas, and dinner appointments, we don't have much time to actually work, but we are making it count! But the visits with the members sure are great!
I guess it would be a little strange to go from having a demanding calling to not having one at all...but at least Sophie will have a new "friend" for Wednesday fun-day!
Glad to hear that everything got all packed up at Gramma's house, it sounded a little sketchy there at the end. I bet they are super excited for the new adventure! I know that I am!
Yay for Tricia! That must be so exciting for her, and for her family! I can't wait to see pictures. Be sure to tell her that I said congratulations, and that I wish the best for her!
I don't think that we will be able to get that last baptism before Hna. Marín leaves, but if we only postpone it one week, she said that she would definitely come back for it! More than one week, and Hna. Marín begins her vacations, but I think that one week is all that we need.
Toledo did remind me a bit of Cashmere and Chelan, but the hills we pass when we travel to Alcalá sure do remind me of home. And today, as we rode over the park, we saw plenty of green trees, especially evergreens, with grass as brown and dry as brown and dry could be! And I couldn't help but think of all the dry, brown grass that we get at home sometimes.
I remember that when my friends started coming home I noticed that they had changed a lot, but not a lot at the same time. It was a little weird and a little bit fun to figure out what had changed and what hadn't. It must be very exciting fro Bro. and Sis. Coleman to have Garret home with them. And the Polynesian languages do sound funny. In the MTC, we lived next to sisters headed to the Phillipines. It was fun to listen to them practice!
And I want to see pictures of Will! I know that I can't Facebook stalk him, or even meet him yet, but pictures is as good as it is going to get. And to be "Facebook Official" is pretty exciting. I'm super stoked for Brenna!

Love you lots, and hope that everyone is having a great summer!
Love, Amber

Monday, August 1, 2011

Photos of Barrio 6 Intercambios

Hna. Neilsen and Hna. Lewis

Hna. Hernandez, Hna. Long, Hna. Nielsen, and Hna. Lewis
being silly

Hna. Hernandez, Hna. Long, Hna. Nielsen, and Hna. Lewis

Random Photos!

Hna. Lewis and Hna. Marin waiting for the bus

Hna. Lewis and Hna. Marin in the piso

Hna. Lewis and Hna. Marin

Hna. Lewis teaching her first Sunday School Lesson "Faith in Jesus Christ"

District Photo (a bit blurry)

Missionaries at a BBQ in Leganes

Brayan's Baptism

Anibal, Brayan, Gabriel, Rafael, Fredina, and Gabriella

Pres. Ribeiro, Brayan, Hna. Marín, and Hna. Lewis

Pres. Ribeiro, Brayan, Gabriel, Rafael, Anibal, Fredina, Gabriella, Hna. Marín, and Hna. Lewis

Pictures from P-day in Toledo