I have got some fun stories this week and not very long to write so I´m going to launch right into it.
The first story is that I ate my weirdest (grossest) meal so far in the mission. A Peruvian member family invited all 6 of us in Barrio 6 over for lunch (the big meal is around 2:00, if I haven´t mentioned that before). They brought out a stew type thing that you eat over rice and wouldn´t tell us what was in it, which is never a good sign. Elder Rigtrup turned pale when it was brought out and said he had had a bad experience last time he ate it. Then he explained that it was intestines. So the lot of us had a great time struggling through plates of intestine stew and trying not to insult the members. It actually didn´t taste bad at all, but the texture was disgusting. It was really rubbery and slimy and just knowing what it was made it difficult to eat. It was actually a pretty funny experience because we were all there suffering together. We kept making funny comments (in English) about how there were intestines in our intestines (Inception, anyone?) and the like. My favorite was Hermana Cassinat: "Look, you can see the micro-villi!"
This Thursday we had zone conference with a Seventy there, Elder Richards, to teach us. It was really, really good. He talked about how we need to improve. We are behind in our mission in finding. He focused on improving finding and teaching. He talked a lot about teaching with simple truth, not elaborating or using weird examples. He said when we teach doctrine and bear testimony the Spirit can testify. He also stressed the importance of making sure your investigators understand, by asking questions and letting them talk. It was exactly what Elder Rigtrup and I needed to hear. We had a first lesson with Carlos, a father of a family who are all members, this week where we really focused on that. It was one of the best, most powerful lessons we have taught in a long time. We found out what one of his big concerns is, that he doesn´t know if the First Vision actually happened. It was an awesome opportunity to bear testimony and really help him. He has yet to read on his own, but we are really pushing him and keeping daily contact with him to help him progress. It was time for some changes and this seems to be working so far.
The other exciting part of zone conference was that President Jackson talked about his vision for the mission. He said that we get one baptism for every 100 people found right now. He said that we can to do better. In the next few months we will double the number of missionaries in the field, which will help a lot, but we still need to do better. Then he announced our goal for 2013: 1,000 baptisms. It´s an awesome goal and it won´t be easy, but I have no doubt that we will do it.
Sunday we had a huge combined stake conference to create the new Madrid Central Stake, which includes our barrio. It was really cool to see the church growing here in Spain. We also got to be in the same room as pretty much the entire church in Spain all at once.
And last story: today for P-day we went to Toledo! It was super cool! Toledo is this medieval town that has been preserved almost exactly the same as it was centuries ago. It´s way cool! All of it is old castles and tiny cobblestone streets (don´t worry, I took a lot of pictures). It is also the sword capital of the world, from what I could tell. Every shop had swords in it. Needless to say I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I especially liked the Lord of the Rings replicas, which were everywhere! They were super legit, but I didn´t end up buying anything. Maybe I´ll go back someday and buy myself Sting. Or Arwen´s sword, that´s a sweet sword! As you can see it was a ton of fun. Probably the best P-day so far. I hope I get to go again sometime.
Now, Dad, to respond to your e-mail. I´m glad you liked the birthday card, sorry it was late. We definitely will have a lot to talk about after 2 years.
As far as I know there actually isn´t any Spanish word for ¨greenie,¨ but I haven´t had any native companions or piso-mates yet. Well, Elder Peña, but he was a greenie. I feel fairly comfortable right now, but the idea of taking charge and really doing everything is a little scary. The idea of training next transfer, which could very well happen, really scares me. At the same time, I know I´ll be able to do it. I know that if I get assigned a new companion here or am assigned to train that it will be what the Lord wants me to do and therefore I will have His help in doing it. Which means that I will be able to do it just fine.
Yeah, the work has been a little hard lately. It´s just rough feeling like you have no one to work with. It´s especially hard when people you had won´t see you anymore, so you can't figure out how to help them, like with Albert. But we have Carlos and he is kind of the spark for me right now. More people will come, but I won´t lie, we need to work on finding better. We don´t tract/knock doors at all (I guess you get kicked out if you do), just street contacting. But we need to work on talking to everyone, though there are fewer and fewer people out. Contacting is difficult for me because it seems so ineffective. Almost no one wants to talk to you and most references are fake or fall through for some reason. But we are commanded to do them and I don´t I want to spend my whole mission dreading contacts, so I´m working on being better. We are also focusing on asking for references from everyone, which is slightly more effective. Still not high numbers, but the chance of actually meeting with someone are higher. What we really want are lessons with member refs in member´s houses. That would be awesome. We almost had one yesterday, but she fired us.
Thank you for your encouragement, though. It´s good to know that you are praying for me and that things will get better. I know you are right.
Speaking of thanks, I did receive my Christmas package! Thank you so much! I loved it, getting packages is the best. Those gloves are super nice and warm, the cake is going to be awesome for my birthday, candy is always wonderful and I absolutely love the Lego Hawkeye! I´m so glad you guys know what makes me happy! I didn´t realize you can buy just the figures alone. I want to get all the Avengers, for sure! I´m saving the box for Christmas day so I have a present to open :), but I will probably open the other wrapped one soon, since I´m pretty sure it´s scarf and I need one badly (if it´s a blanket, that´s awesome too).
Ah, I knew I shouldn´t have told you about Christmas presents yet! Don´t feel bad, its actually been way fun finding stuff for everyone. I can´t wait to hear what you guys think. And I bought your present today, so I should send it soon. As soon as I can find a box. I´ll include instructions as to whose present is whose and stories about where I found them. Trust me it´ll be fun :)
Ok, Christmas phone call will actually be Christmas Skype call. Which means we need to coordinate time and everything. I assume you will be home all day, so that I´ll just let you know as soon as I know what time we are going over to the member´s house. But you will need a Skype account set up and I´ll need to know the name of it and everything. I should be able to just set one up with this e-mail that day. We´ll make it work. It should be a lot of fun, I´m excited to see you all again!
Well, I am out of time. Thanks for your e-mail and for always writing me. Thanks for love. To eveyone else who reads the blog, I love you all, thanks for your support and prayers. I hope everyone is safe and happy and looking forward to the Holiday season. See you next week!