Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hey Family!

Haha, sorry I spoiled you last week. It does seems like it´s been forever since I´ve heard from you. It´s nice to hear how things are going.

The adjustment to Spain has not been easy, but it´s all going well now. Time seems a little more normal here. The days are still long, but I can actually believe it´s been a week. Jet-lag was really tough for a few days, but I´m over it now. Now I´m just normal-missionary tired all the time. 

Honestly I don´t mind too much how few missionaries there are. Class is way better because of it. It´s practically one-on-one with the teacher, since there only two of us learning Spanish. The only thing that is difficult is having a district of only 2 missionaries and only 2 districts (the other has 6). I found out Sunday morning that I had to teach all our district meetings and conduct devotional, which was a little stressful. In end it was all good, though. My companion and I just shared what we had learned during the week and the conducting was in English. Most of our meetings all together are in English, so that it can be translated for the French. Some of the French elders know English really well, so I have been able to get to know them better. Somehow (with lots of translation) we all get along and have a lot of fun together. Since there are so few of us we do almost everything together, so we have grown pretty close over the week.

The teachers here are incredible and we are moving at such a faster pace than in Provo. I love my teachers! They have helped not only my Spanish, but my teaching so much! My Spanish is miles ahead of where it was in Provo already. Talking with native speakers makes such a difference and they actually force us to say it in Spanish. In fact some of them don´t speak English that well, so you have to figure out how to explain it in Spanish. It´s helping me so much and I love it!

Because we are the only companionship learning Spanish, we have 4 investigators to teach instead of the normal 2. It´s a little crazy keeping track and teaching all the time, but it is helping so much. Also, they give us feedback after nearly ever lesson, which is not something that happened in Provo. My teaching is improving so much and so much faster. Mom and Dad, I can´t thank you enough for getting my visa finished early. Being here is already helping me feel more prepared for the field. Oh, we are supposed to have a group of native Spanish missionaries coming in 2 weeks, so that will also help with the language and we´ll have quite a few more people here.

The temple was interesting with the headset. But I could do the repetition part in English so it was fine. I don´t know about doing it all in Spanish, today was the first time I could do almost all the words in English. It would be a really cool experience though. 

I´ve decided the Madrid temple is my new favorite. It is absolutely beautiful! Of all the temples I have been in, I think it´s the most beautiful. Obviously I can´t send pictures of the inside, but I have some of the outside that I will have to get to you. 

We didn´t get to see much of the city last week, we just walked to a store nearby and bought some stamps, but we are planning on going out this afternoon. I´m not sure if we are going to the center or somewhere else, but there should be plenty to see either way. Next week I definitely am going to the center though. I want to see all the cool stuff, like the royal palace. I´m going to have lots of pictures.
We did go out in the park on Saturday and it was quite the experience. It´s very different talking to actual people who have never heard the gospel. Most of them wanted nothing to do with us, but I feel like we were really good about talking to everyone anyway. In the end we were able to place 3 copies of the Book of Mormon and I´ve been praying since that they will read it and feel the spirit. It was a great experience and I´m excited for the next one, and to do better connecting with people and helping them see how much this can bless their lives. 

One last quick thing to end on a spiritual note. Last night we watched a talk by Elder Holland. It was so powerful! One part stood out to me. He was talking about why it was so hard and he explained that salvation is not a cheap experience. It was never easy for Christ. If we want to be like Him, we have to face some of what he did. I realized then, that missionary work is the same work that Christ preformed. He provided the means for salvation for everyone, and that is what we do as missionaries. We are not Saviors and Redeemers, but we will save and we will redeem. My testimony of this work has been strengthened so much. 

Anyway, I hope that helped someone, or meant something to someone. I love you all, friends and family. Thank you for all your support! I miss you, but there is nothing better than serving the Lord.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

August 23, 2012

Hello, again. Today is P-day so I guess we have time to write again. 

The time difference is still killing me. I was good for about an hour after I woke up and then I was ready for bed again, despite having slept a good 10 hours last night. These first few days are going to be rough, but I´ll get used to it.

First, you had questions, I have answers. Elder Farah actually left this morning for Barcelona, so Elder Adams is my companion for 6 weeks and then he will be serving in Malaga (pray for him, they speak super fast there). As of now (and probably for the full six weeks) we are a district of 2 and the only ones learning Spanish. It´s a little depressing. No one sits by us at mealtimes because we are the only ones who don´t speak Spanish or French. The French missionaries will be serving in France, they are just here for 3 weeks to learn how to be missionaries. 

Today has been good so far. We went to the temple this morning, and had to use the little headsets. It´s funny too, because the movie is exactly the same just dubbed in Spanish. The temple is beautiful though! I´ll have to get some pictures today. 

I think we are going to go out in the city today, but I´m not sure where or how to get there. We are going to the post office too. I´ve heard it takes a week for mail to reach the US from here and vice versa, in case anyone was wondering.

I think for my plaque I would want Helaman 5:12. It´s always been one of my favorites. Thanks for taking care of that for me. 

I´m trying to remember that trip, but I´m coming up blank. What did we do there? My teacher said that by the time I get out it will be getting cold, at least in the north. She said the north is like England, cold and rainy most of the time.

Well, can´t think of anything else to report. Sorry if I sound a little down. I´m tired and it´s hard not knowing anyone within thousands of miles of you. :/ Things will get better once classes start I think, and hopefully we´ll do something fun today. Thanks for responding so fast yesterday, Dad. I love you all, talk to you next week! 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

(We got to talk to Quinn for about an hour yesterday when he called from Atlanta during his layover. He was the only missionary going to his mission to have gotten his visa. He said the others most likely will spend the next six weeks in the Provo MTC. He was able to travel with a couple of missionaries going to the Barcelona Mission, though. Today, we got this email from him letting us know he made it to Madrid!)

¡Hola de Madrid! Check it out, even the keyboard is in Spanish so I can actually do that! So, the staff here was kind enough to allow us time to e-mail our families and let you know that we arrived safely. This place is way more chill than Provo. And a lot smaller. In fact myself, the two elders who also flew from Provo, and a couple of French missionaries are the only ones here right now. There are more teachers here than missionaries! They said they were expecting 23 others from Provo, but visas didn't work out. Thank you again so much for getting mine in early, Mom. It´s the only reason I´m here. Everyone here is so nice! I love the teachers. They are impossible to understand when they speak Spanish, though. During lunch the 3 of us just sat there watching, with no idea what was going on. I did say I felt like I needed to push myself harder in the language. Careful what you wish for. I´m stoked though. It will be hard, but my Spanish will be so much better for it! Also, they do use the theta (¨th¨ sound on certain letters) and it makes all the difference. I don´t recognize words I should. I think I´m going to make it a goal to learn with the theta.

The flight was terrible, in case you were wondering. I didn't sleep very much and I had nothing else to do. Plus, thirteen plus hours in an airplane in one day is no bueno. The three of us have been walking around like zombies all day. After dinner they will let us go to bed, which is in only. . . (great, I have to learn 24 hour time also) . . . 4ish hours! Jet lag is awful. Also, we keep getting confused that today is actually Wednesday.

Enough negative, something awesome is that I can see the Madrid temple out my bedroom window! It is right there. In fact the MTC and the Stake building are actually part of the temple grounds. Tomorrow morning we get to go to the temple (Thursday is P-day here), so I´m stoked about that.
I can already tell this place is way cooler than Provo. For one thing we have already left the grounds to go see this ghetto, but awesome concrete futb├│l pitch that we can use during gym time. I totally want to go sometime, but it may take some convincing the other elders. It was roasting outside! I mean, the hottest you've ever felt. It is really dry though, which I´m happy about. 

I also found out we do get to go to the park every Saturday and contact real people for a couple hours. The teachers said everyone loves it, so I´m excited. The best thing though is, get this, on P-days, in the afternoon, we are allowed to go wherever we want! We can totally go sight-seeing and exploring! I can´t wait! There are so many cool things to see here!

Well, that´s all I have time for. I still can´t believe I´m actually in Spain, in a totally different country. I can´t wait to learn to love it and the people! Wish me luck! I love you all! ¡Hasta luego!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Contrary to what Quinn wrote in last week's email, he did get his visa and he will be traveling to Spain tomorrow! Here he is receiving his visa and passport from the Consul (who happens to be Chair of the UVU Languages Department and a colleague of Rob) last Friday.

So starting now letters should go to the Madrid MTC at

Elder Cousins
Spain MTC
4A. Planta
Calle del Templo #2
Madrid 28030

(We have been a bit slow in getting this blog set up, so we will post all of Quinn's correspondence from the Provo MTC here, in chronological order, oldest to most recent. Then, starting this week (with his arrival in in Spain!), we will post his emails and letters as they come in, with the most recent always at the top.)

PDF of first letter from the MTC, Aug. 1, 2012

Aug. 8, 2012

Wow! I was not expecting a different letter from everybody! Thank you all so much! I only have a half hour for e-mail, so this will be the family e-mail and if I have time I will write back to everyone else. Speaking of which there is a website called Dear Elder where you can send e-mails and they will print out a copy and give it to me, so I will get it the next day. If you want to do that, that may give me more time to e-mail and I would be able to send you written mail also (if I have time). Time, time time! Things have been so busy here! From the moment I left you guys at the curb it's been pretty much non-stop. I can't really remember what I wrote you in my first letter so I'll just cover the first week pretty quick. I can't believe it's been a whole week! I think the first day you know about actually, so I'll skip to Friday. We taught our "investigator" for the first time Friday night. All in Spanish. That was pretty intense, but we were able to understand each other. Elder Pugh and I basically just memorized what we were going to say. We were able to commit him to pray though, so that was good. Then the next morning we taught again with practically no preparation time. And we did amazing! We just knew what we wanted to say in English, but had no Spanish preparation. But we were able to teach him much better and actually teach him, not a lesson. Fast forward to today, we have taught him four times and he is reading his scriptures and praying everyday, he feels the spirit, and we have committed him to come to church and to be baptized! I know none of it is real, but it is still an incredible experience to see the gospel change someone's life. I think the most powerful experience I've with teaching though was the second lesson, we had Daniel (the investigator) pray with us for the first time. I didn't understand everything he said, but I was able to catch him asking Heavenly Father if what we had taught was true, if the Book of Mormon was true and if Jose Smith was a prophet. I was filled with a joy and a love I've never felt before. I think that was my first real taste of missionary work and I loved it!

My district is incredible! I can't believe I've only known these guys a week, I love them so much. They are all so eager to serve, have such strong testimonies and love the Lord. I am learning so much about their examples. Elder Pugh, my companion, is from Rexburg and he is amazing! We get along really well, in fact he reminds me of Cyrus sometimes. He is so sensitive to the spirit and so eager to do good. We've already developed such a trust and bond. I usually do most of the talking in our lessons, just because I know more Spanish, but when he bears his testimony the spirit is there so strong. He is really good at following the spirit in what to say as well. The other Elders in our district going to Spain are Elders Taylor and Shumway. They are also our roommates and awesome guys.
Sarah and Erin, thank you both so much for your emails! I'm sorry I didn't get to respond to them separately, but please keep writing them, I love hearing from you both so much! That is an awesome idea about the quotes Erin, there is power in inspired words. I hope you enjoyed the vacation (I'm super jealous you go to go to Bryce! I love it there)! 

We are supposed to fly out the 22nd, but they haven't told us anything about our visas yet. I'll keep you posted.

Well I am out of time, sorry! I'll try to be more prepared next time and using the Dear Elder might help. Also, if there is anyway you could find out the addresses for my friends from school (Sarah, Alexa, Morgan) that would be awesome so I can write them back. 

Thank you so much for writing me and for all your love and support. I love you all so much!

Elder Cousins
Aug. 15, 2012
Hey thank you for all the notes and for the letter! It was nice to get mail during the week. Thanks for trying to get my friends' addresses too. Sorry you're back at school already, Mom. Meetings are no fun, especially on a Friday. We have double class time on Fridays, 3 hours then dinner then 3 more hours, so I feel you. But we learn about coo gospel stuff so its not too bad. :) Haha, that's hilarious about the girls getting lost. I shouldn't talk though, I remember one time we were going to movie and I told Bekah to turn at the wrong place. I think we missed the movie too. I don't think any of us are very good with directions. I didn't know Elder Thorly, but I did have several classes with his younger sister Brooke. That's cool that he's home! I wish it were possible to eat well. The food here is pretty terrible. But then I guess I'm pretty spoiled by your amazing cooking. I'm getting by alright.

Well, I guess I better start with the bad news. Last week all of the Elders going to Spain received a note from the travel office saying that no one's visa had cleared and that we would not be leaving on our scheduled date. It said they would let us know when they had our visas, so I have no idea when I'll be flying out. I'll write you as soon as I know, but that may be awhile. I've heard a rumor that everyone in Spain goes on vacation for the month of August, so maybe after the end of the month we'll have some news, but no promises. I was pretty bummed out at first, but I am in a good place here with good companions, so I should be fine for a while. I just hope I don't reassigned to a different mission for a while. So, pray for my visa! 

So, I actually have a request for some things I need, if that's alright. If you could send me one or two more plain t-shirts of mine, that would be awesome. Also, I've realized that I have no way of telling time, or an alarm clock. Some of the elders here have these slick "travel alarm clocks" that I think are pretty cool. I think the brand is Sharp and I heard you can get them at Target. They fold like a cell phone. That would be really helpful if you could get your hands on one to send me. Sorry I'm asking for stuff already, I'll try not to make it a habit. :)

So we haven't been doing too much teaching lately. We finished with our first investigator and now he is one of our teachers, Hermano Clarke. He is way cool! So this week we teach him as a different person and our first teacher Hno. Riboldi as investigators. On Thursday we did the TRC where we taught people who are actually members. It was a little tough at first, because what are we supposed to teach them, right? But Elder Pugh took over and bore powerful testimony and I followed suit. He is really good at bringing the spirit. We got notes from the members thanking us for helping them feel the spirit and for sharing our testimonies, so I think it went well. Also, one of the people we taught was a girl in my graduating class, so that was fun.

Oh, fun story really fast! On Sunday I saw both Pres. Rodgers and Pres. Doman. I guess they are in branch presidencies here.

Well, I'm sure what else to talk about. Everyday here is pretty much the same now. I suppose my letters will get more interesting when I have real people to teach and tell about. Spanish is going good. I say almost all my prayers in Spanish now :) I love learning a new language! It's cool too, because everything we learn is gospel related.

Well I am out of time, but I want you to know that I love you more than anything! Thanks for raising me in this gospel, I know there is no other way to be truly happy, not only in this life but after as well, and I want so badly to share that knowledge. I know this is where I am supposed to be and where the Lord wants me to be. Thanks for supporting me always. Love you guys!

Elder Cousins