Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Birthday to Ben

Dear family,

All is well. I am glad that Dad had a good birthday. Although birthdays just aren´t as fun when you get older. And they are even less fun in the mission. It´s ok though. Some religions don´t even celebrate birthdays! 

THANK YOU for the package!!! We are having a zone dinner tomorrow for Thanksgiving. But I am not bringing my special thanksgiving food. There will be too many people. Plus it´s not even Thanksgiving. So Weenig and I might invite the other elders over on Thursday and we have everything bought to do the real thanksgiving feast there. I am going to make turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffed mushrooms, gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole...the works. I am excited!! It cost a pretty penny but it´s definitely worth it. The ensign was my favorite part :) 

Things are going well. We had a really good week. I was very happy. We set four baptismal dates. We found some pretty awesome investigators. A 20 year old boy called Henry, who is really prepared. He´s from Ecuador. We have this Bulgarian investigator called Rosa that is going to be baptized on the 20th of December. She´s progressing very well. Jaime and Diana are doing well. Slowly progressing. It´s hard to meet with them but they are SO nice and I know that they need to hear this message right now. 

So there is a Sister in my ward that is going to leave for Brazil on December 2nd. She is in Brigham´s same group, but she is Brazilian and doesn´t need to learn the language, so she enters a little less than two weeks before the field entry date. So she is totally going to see BRIGHAM!!! Her name is Sister Barbosa and she is super awesome. She speaks english so she´ll be able to talk to Brigham. I was super excited to hear that. 

So I don´t have a whole lot to say. I really have missed my family this week. It doesn´t ever go away. I cannot wait to see Spencer again. And I feel like I won´t see Brigham for years. Which is totally true :( It makes me sad. Sigh. I didn´t anticipate this whole ¨let´s all serve missions at the same time¨ thing being so stinking difficult on me. But it really is. I can only imagine how it is for my parents. 

Church is always a joy. Yesterday we had to sit in primary the whole time because Elder Weenig is apparently the only mormon pianist in all of Alicante. Haha. It´s ridiculous. Even the other ward calls us and tries to get us to go to their choir practices every week. I am not the biggest fan of being the pianist´s companion because we waste lots of time. But at least we are serving the members. Well. My companion is :) I sing in their choirs though so I think that counts for something. Anyway. The primary in Spain is just special. It´s basically nursery with larger children. Those poor poor primary teachers. I have so much respect for them. 

I was thinking about my testimony during church. I feel like before the mission I had never ever really sat down and contemplated my own testimony. It´s certainly changed a lot in the last 20 months. The little sapling has grown into a pretty sturdy, young little tree. I have ways to go. But I do enjoy having testimonies of so many different aspects of the gospel. All of the principles. The commandments. I have the biggest testimony of obedience. I truly understand the commandments and the reasons for which we have them. I love living them and I am so grateful for the clarity that I feel. The mission has been the biggest blessing in that regard. The life of someone who lives the gospel is SOOOOOO different than the lives of those who don´t. I am ridiculously blessed. I really have learned how to rely upon the atonement of the Savior and apply it into my life. And I really do know that this church is His. I feel it everytime I think about it. It has become so clear in the mission field. 

Sometimes I ask myself why I was born into such incredible circumstances. The best time of the world, into the best family ever, into the greatest country ever, with the gospel....I really just don´t understand it. Herriman is such a special place. It´s different than the rest of Utah. I honestly couldn´t have asked for a better situation in life. My life is perfect and it scares me. I have everything that I could ever want. Weenig and I talk about it a lot. He said something that impacted me a bit. Where much is given, much is required. My blessing says that exact same thing. And it´s true. We are expected to live much different lives than the rest of the world. I really do want to give back all that I can. He has given me so much. I don´t have time to write about all of the things that I am grateful for, but if you really want to know I´ll let you read my journal come March. God has given me EVERYTHING. 

I was reading the ensign that you sent me. Thanks by the way. I love it. I especially love Elder Eyring´s talk about receiving revelation. I feel like I relate to him very well on certain things. One of them being our relationship with our mother. In his talk he recalls coming home at night and quietly walking past his parent´s bedroom, and then hearing his mother call ¨Hal, come in for a moment¨ Hahaha. Oh I know how that feels. He then walked in and sat on their bed for two hours or so, and then perhaps his father sent them out to the family room because he was tired and needed to sleep for work the next day. So he and his mother went out into the family room and talked for another two hours. It probably ended with a very very long hug, maybe some tears. Elder Eyring mentions that his mother sought revelation to help her son who may or may not have been struggling. And, just from reading his talk, one infers that her inspired counsel made a lasting impact upon his life. So profound that those counsels have stayed with him until this day. Even though his mother passed away over 40 years ago. 

I love reading that. I have been blessed with a similar mother who seeks revelation to help her struggling sons. And an equally incredible father. The counsel that was given to me has also stayed with me throughout my short life, and it will be something that I remember forever. I am eternally grateful for that. For the effort that you two put forth to help me SEE clearly. That was always a common theme. The things that are truly important in this life, and the things that are not. Seeing clearly and taking off the teenage blinders that cause us to put so much emphasis on things that really don´t matter. The importance of striving to develop a testimony at a young age. I wish I had listened more. I think the message that most sunk through was ¨don´t have a girlfriend before your mission¨. hahaha. But now the Spirit bring things back to me and I say to myself I wish I had listened to them. I wish I had tried harder to understand the gospel and listen to the spirit. I wish I hadn´t wasted so much time on things that weren´t really that important. How I RELISH those memories. Those long, late nights. Those nights have made a profound impact on my life. I am so grateful for two parents that have invested so much in me. I really hope to make that investment worth it. 

I have been thinking about my mission. I can´t believe I have this much time here. Hermana Herrera asks me all the time ¨What would you say if you had to sum up your mission in a few words?¨ or ¨What have you enjoyed most about your mission¨? I hate those questions. I hate having to look back over my mission and see that it´s coming to an end. I randomly broke down crying in the streets the other night. We were walking and I was thinking about how much of a miracle the mission even is. It shouldn´t work. Young adults should not be willing to give up 2 years of their life to go and talk to people about their religion. It´s so weird. And they certainly should not be able to convince people to change their entire life and join a church and then do the same thing. It really doesn´t make sense how the missionary program even functions properly. But it does. And it´s successful. I am so thankful for this time that I have been given. I am especially grateful for the 3 and a half months that I have left. It´s going to be a wonderful time and we are going to make the most of it. I have had the greatest experience out here. I would reccommend this to everyone. And I do. It has changed me completely. I have gained so much more than I have given. 

Anyway. I love you all. 

Happy birthday to ben 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Gospel Unites Us

Dearest mother and father, and family,

I cried a little looking a those pictures. He´s gone. I am praying for all of you. I hope that you can get back to the swing of things quickly. I can´t imagine what you must be feeling though. God is blessing you. That´s for sure. He is going to have the greatest experience of his life,,,so far. Really. This is what God wants. I have a firm testimony, a sure knowledge, that all of this is literally welding our family together. We were always close before, but the love, adoration, devotion and appreciation that I have for my family has multiplied a hundredfold on my mission. The financial blessings are great, but the most incredible blessing that I think we will receive is what this is doing for our family spiritually and emotionally. We´re going to be an eternal family. 

Is Abby lactose intolerant?

I have had an interesting week. A whirlwind of a week. I love being a missionary. I have had a lot of wonderful little experiences this week that have just touched my heart! 

My companion is unreal. I feel like I am companions with a celestial being. He could be translated at any moment. He has shared some pretty personal things with me about his life and I just cannot believe how incredible he is. Such a pure, sincere desire to bless the lives of others. Even before his mission. That´s all he wants in life. I was so selfish before the mission. He inspires me. He inspires everyone. He´s literally 18 years old and has no experience, but he is a natural leader. I am really excited for him. We get along really well. Sometimes his singing gets to be a little too much. I think going twenty months surrounded by people who hate when I sing has rubbed off on me and caused me to stop. Cause I don´t sing that much. But he is ALWAYS singing. That´s my only complaint though. His only flaws are fretting too much about whether or not he´s being perfect. I think being with someone that has that problem is helping me to work on it too. Cause I am not super good at that either. 

I was in an interview with President Deere today. And I was telling him about my companion. My interview with him was weird. But he talked to the two of us together, Weenig and I, about teaching correctly, and then Weenig left and we talked about how I will end my mission here in Alicante and we talked a little bit about my companion. He told me how much he appreciates me as a missionary, and then I told him about Elder Weenig. Honestly I just got emotional. I felt so weird. But I was telling him about Elder Weenig and how much he is going to accomplish on his mission and how pure and powerful he is and the Spirit just got super strong. President Deere felt it as well, and he just said   I know. He´s special.   That´s why I am trusting you with him.¨  It was nice to hear that. Elder Weenig is probably going to be an Apostle. 

I told President Deere that I want to stay with Elder Weenig until the end of my mission, but he just laughed and said that it probably wasn´t going to happen. My gut feeling is that Weenig will leave in December and that I will train. That´s what President wants. But he told me he would pray and think about letting Weenig and I stay together another transfer. 

President Deere is going to go teach lessons with us tonight in an hour. We changed our Pday a little today, and now Pres Deere is going to come work with us. I am super nervous about it. Never done it before and we don´t have the greatest lessons planned. But it´´ll be ok. 

Could you send me a recipe on cooking potatoes in the oven? The red ones that you do? I don´t like baked potatoes, and mashed get old after a while. What else can I do? 

Elder Weenig and I are doing really well. One of our investigators is getting baptized this week. Her name is Tekki. She´s pretty awesome. There aren´t a lot of progressing investigators here, but a few of our investigators have fechas. We dropped a lot of them and we are starting from scratch. We have a goal of finding nine this week. I love this work. I really do. 

I don´t have much time left. I am trying to remember what happened this week. 

Oh I saw President Lopez, my old stake president from Elche, on saturday. I LOVE talking with him. He gave me a lot of great advice and really inspired me. I feel like once I capture the vision for a particular ward/area, everything becomes much easier. Honestly I love taking part in this. I keep having all of these ¨missionary moments¨ where I wish I could just take a snapshot of my life. Just yesterday we cornered our incredibly difficult to meet with Bishop and sat him down and had a little meeting with him asking how we could best help the ward and all of that, and just sitting down with him in that room just meant so much to me. I love it. I love feeling like such a huge part of this work. I really did nothing with my life before the mission. Another one was seeing an African recent convert (who are kind of....looked at warily here because most of them go inactive quickly) sit down amidst the congregation after having given and INCREDIBLE talk in SPANISH and then all of the spanish members turned and clapped him on the shoulder and thanked him for his words. He was beaming. I was watching from the other side of the room, but I just felt such a joy in my heart. The gospel unites us. It changes lives. It gives people second chances. I have more that I wanted to share, but I am out of time. But I really am loving every minute. Being here in Alicante has revitalized me. Elder Weenig has revitalized me. 

I must admit, I think about your suggestion often. Living at home that first semester. I think that is what I am supposed to do. It answers a lot of my problems and worries. I will have to look into it, but I have a good feeling about that. Anyway. 

I love you all so much. I miss you but I am so happy to be where I am. 

Tea tree and that blue face soap please. 


Elder Sharp, the first

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Soggy, Moldy, Fly-infested Pillow

Dear Family, 

It was really great talking to you!!! I loved seeing all of you, and seeing my grandparents as well! You all look so great!!  It gets easier every time to hang up that skype phone call! I don´t know why. Perhaps it was easy this time because I know it´s less than two months till we get to do it again. And it will probably be easy next time as well. It´s so crazy. I feel like I am running so fast and that there is a big wall of fire chasing me matter how fast I run it´s always gaining on me. Four stinking months. I kind of want them to last forever....and at the same time I want them to pass by in the blink of an eye. Ugh. So many conradicting feelings. You guys all look great. I am super excited to talk to you again :) 

Alright to explain a few things. My companion is seriously the greatest missionary I have ever met. I feel like I am companions with a future prophet. Seriously this kid is going to accomplish miracles in the mission field. He speaks spanish fluently and understands exactly what missionaries should do to be successful. He is 100 percent exactly obedient to the T in every single way. He feels an urgency and truly desires to use every second in the most effective way possible. He knows the area INCREDIBLY well and also knows the members and their stories. He´s also freakishly positive. I haven´t heard one negative thing come out of his mouth. Not one!! He never speaks unkindly about ANYONE. He is optimistic, driven, and here to serve God and serve these people. He is also a skilled teacher. And an effective planner. It´s like he´s been out here for over a year, but it´s been six weeks. I cannot comprehend it. He contacts, invites people to be baptized, follows every single rule, and strives so hard to use every second wisely. I have never had a comp like him I really don´t feel like there is a whole lot I can teach him, but I am doing my best. I feel like being companions with him is a big responsibility. Like the future of many souls is in my hands right now, and I have to make sure this kid keeps going like he is. It´s really awesome being companions with him. He just has so much FAITH! AND HE´S BEEN HERE FOR SIX WEEKS!! Sometimes it is a little frustrating in the beginning because we aren´t used to each other. But I think he has a lot more respect for me now after having worked together for a while. I think his last comp was awesome, but didn´t really keep up with Weenig very well. I can keep up with him though, and he knows it. Plus I have a year and a half of experience on him, and he is starting to realize it. In the beginning he just thought he had to carry the whole world on his shoulders, and it´s not supposed to be like that. But really he´s amazing. I feel like I have been given a chance to work harder and more consecrated than I ever have. And I am going to do it. I´ve already decided. I am tired and sometimes it´s hard for me to find motivation, but I am going to give it my all with this guy. 

The only negative thing was when I stepped into the piso. Absolutely filthy. The dirtiest piso I have ever come to. I seriously don´t understand how some missionaries can live like this. This morning we spent SIX hours cleaning the piso. Weenig is actually a fairly clean person, but he said that he just assumed that as missionaries we just lived like that. I just stared at him for like ten seconds without even saying anything, and asked him if they ever did their monday morning cleaning. He just stared at me blankly and said...what´s that?  I was so bothered at the previous missionary. So I dug through a huge stack of papers and found the cleaning chart that our mission has that tells us what to clean each day, week, and transfer. Haha. I could have been nicer about it. I couldn´t clean until today, but saturday night we went and spent like 15 bucks on cleaning supplies just to get ready for monday morning. Honestly, I have spent the past five days just miserable. I couldn´t walk into the kitchen without feeling overwhelmed and depressed. It literally grates at my soul living in a dirty place like that. JUST WAITING to be able to clean it. Flies EVERYWHERE food spills EVERYWHERE honey all over inside the cupboards and flour/spice residue everywhere because a few months ago some idiots thought it would be cool to have a food war in their piso. It seriously looked like a bunch of fetching animals had lived there for the past six months. The bathrooms were filthy and in the laundry room there was a wet PILLOW and towels in this big sink that had been molding and rotting for ages, and there was this bug nest underneath there and that´s why there were so many flies. A soggy moldy fly infested PILLOW!! What the heck? I don´t think they cleaned the toilets once last transfer. Seriously I don´t get it. I don´t get it. People think that cleaning is picking up trash and washing some dishes. So this morning we swept and mopped everything and threw away tons of crap that missionaries always leave in their pisos and then I went through all of the cupboards and drawers and took out all of the dishes that were thrown in there and scrubbed every single cupboard and drawer in the kitchen and washed all of the dishes in the entire kitchen, even the ¨clean¨ ones (missionaries don´t know how to wash dishes properly) and then scrubbed the floor and the fridge and the sink and took care of the heck that was going on in that laundry room. Then cleaned the inside of the fridge and threw away all of the old disgusting food that no one bothers to worry about. I swear. I just don´t get it. But thankfully our piso is spotless right now. And I am much happier :) Although we spent a lot of Pday time cleaning, it was definitely worth it. My sanity is pretty important. 

On a happier note, the ward is good. It´s a very pretty area. There isn´t much work here but that´s not really a shocker because I never get sent to an area that is going well. I am used to it by now. And I also have a lot of hope for the future. Weenig and I are going to see miracles together. I am sure of it. We already have seen a few miracles. We are working so hard. Seriously. I love it. As I told you before, I have never had a comp that pushed me like this. I am not a bad missionary or anything, and I am certainly not disobedient. I mean, sometimes I email for fifteen minutes longer than I should, and occasionally I don´t do area book during medio dia, but I would say that I am a pretty obedient missionary. But Weenig is the type who makes obedience a quest. He just loves finding new rules so that he can follow them. It´s sometimes a little irritating, but then I repent and try to help him be as obedient as possible. Like I said, I don´t want to ruin the guy. I am going to do the best I can to make sure that he always has this mentality. I really am excited to be here. My area is beautiful. It´s got some really rich parts in it. Everything is super close to our piso. I am really glad to FINISH MY MISSION HERE ( that was for Thorpe). It is an amazing area and the members really care about the missionaries and I think we´re going to see lots of miracles. 

Which is really what I want. I want to hit the tape sprinting as fast as I can. And my comp is willing to run right along side of me. So I am going to make this my best area. 

I had a cool experience in church yesterday. We were in class and there was a recent convert there and he was having a lot of doubts about Jesus being Jehovah. He used to be Jehovah Witness. But the teacher (who is my spanish hero here in Alicante, I have one in every area) just explained it with so much love and compassion, and finally got through to the guy when the missionaries have been trying for months. And after the teacher just bore his testimony about the gospel and truth and understanding true principles and doctrine and I just felt such a peace inside my heart. I felt so much LOVE for the church and for the blessing that it has been in my life. I really do love it. I love the gospel so much and I am forever grateful to have been born to parents who sacrificed so much to teach it to me. I am so stinking lucky. That´s all that I felt after hanging up with you guys. Pure and immense gratitude. I have so much to look forward to after my mission and so many amazing people who love me. And many people don´t have that. Families are the most important thing in this world, because I am convinced that true and lasting happiness comes from knowing that you will be with your family forever. Life would be so hard without that knowledge. Sigh. I really don´t deserve everything that has been given to me. 

I don´t have much time left. 

I was thinking that we don´t need to go to Almeria. I would rather have more time in other places. I don´t have very many friendships here, and I would be ok with not visiting there. I t would be better that way. So first Sevilla, then Jerez, then Elche and Alicante, and from there to Barcelona and on to Paris and all of that. So yeah. Let me know if you need more specifics. I would like to see a musical or something in London, and also visit the HP castle, but I will be happy just being with you people so don´t worry about it. Thanks so much for everything. 

Good luck Brigham. I love you. You´re going to be awesome :) I am so stinking proud of you. We´re three for three so far. Only three left!!! 

Clayton´s grades are absolutely beautiful. I love that. What a huge feat for him. That´s so great!! You should buy him an ice cream or something. 

And Dad your thoughts on parenting were interesting to me. I guess it makes sense. The motivation goes down as the years go by. Hang in there :) I am super excited to help you in the yard, and you´ll have to wait and see in order to believe me!!! 

I love you all SOOOOOOOOOOOO much, The church is true and we are soo blessed.