Well, we are officially in Semana Santa (Holy Week) here in Madrid! Yesterday was Domingo de las Ramas. There were little stands set up all over the place selling olive branches. I was actually wondering if you guys know what those are for. I get the significance of it, palms in the streets for the entry of Christ into Jerusalem, but what exactly do they do with them? Also, my companion and I were talking, isn´t there something special for every day this week in Catholicism? I guess we´ll see if we see any fancy parades or anything. Everyone is off work and school for most of the week, which hopefully means we´ll be able to find and teach more people. Something else cool is that the corridas (bullfights) have begun! Madrid´s Plaza de Toros (bullfighting ring) is right in front of our church so we pass it all the time. Last night there was a small crowd and a bunch of stands selling candy and drinks outside the ring. It was a festive, summer spirit. I´m excited to see in the summer how it is. Supposedly the big corridas attract a ton of people! Since I know you´re wondering, yes, I would be interested in seeing it, just once. Actually my companion and I are talking seriously about going to one. Until now they´ve only been on Sunday so we´ll see.
The weather´s got way warmer, down to the short sleeves. And we did have a sudden downpour for about 10 minutes the other day. Luckily we were inside the church. It happens pretty often in the spring and summer here.
Thanks again for your help with the apartment. Anything I need to do let me know. Also, thanks for letting me know about your plans for the end of the mission. I kind of feel bad I´ll be keeping you from the family reunion! :P though we will be having a reunion of our own :)
As for the work, a bit of a hard week. We´ve been hitting the streets a lot, but getting a lot a people who live in other areas or who aren´t really interested. It´s a little difficult too, because I have to focus more on helping my companion out as well. But if I can help him to be a better missionary and have more success in his mission, it´s worth the cost of having a little less success here. Elder Forsyth has a really hard time with Spanish and a hard time stopping people on the street. But we are working at it and seeing results. This week has gone better than the last one. The good thing is he wants to learn and is making an effort. Sadly, neither Andrea nor Marco Antonio came to church this week. It´s a set back. I´m not too sure we´ll still be able to baptize them on the 3 of May like we had planned. Both are amazing, they read and pray and everything, but church appears to be difficult. We´ll have to see how it goes this week. We´re going through a bit of a rough patch, but we had an amazing miracle this week, one of the coolest things in my mission. But I have to tell you the story from the start.
About a week or 2 ago we were out contacting. I´ve been trying to rely more on the Lord contacting, by praying in my head in the street to be able to recognize the people who are prepared. That night I was really trying to be a good example for my companion too and show him the success we can have contacting. Anyways, we were walking along and a man caught my eye. He was just standing by the entrance to the metro like he was waiting for someone. But he was a little ways away, we would need to get around some people and it´s a little weird stopping people who aren´t walking and for whatever other reason I didn´t go over to him. We got to the corner and crossed the street and I was still thinking about him. I decided we needed to talk to him, even though it would really be weird now because he´d seen us pass by once. But I knew we had to talk to him. So we went back and talked with him. It was a good contact and a good reference. He said he would have to talk with his wife first, and that we couldn´t come until a couple of weeks later, but he was a nice guy. 2 weeks later, on Friday, we had our first lesson with him. And with his wife and 3 kids. It was amazing! It is so rare to have a lesson with an entire family and especially one as good as we had. They are very open to listening and to coming to church. They have gone to lots of churches, but never felt quite right there. We testified that this is the Church of Jesus Christ and promised that it was what their family needed. It was a good lesson and both Alex and his wife, Mercedes, were very involved. I´ve always, always wanted to teach and baptize a whole family, that´s like every missionary's dream, so you can imagine how much I was flipping after the lesson.
But it gets better. Last night they came to the special noche de hogar that the Bonifaz (my favorite family in the ward) put on in the church. And they loved it! They got to feel the spirit and some of what we believe (all about Christ) in the lesson part and then later get to know some of the members and have a great time in the game that David did. It was perfect too, because the game split the whole family up so they had to get know some other people. Alex was in my group and he was having a blast. It was obvious that they liked it and afterwords Alex was asking what time church was next week, said they were coming and said that they are coming to the baptisms on Saturday. :D It was amazing! All the kids are old enough to be baptized too, Iker is 13, Natalia 13 and Pablo is 9. The coolest thing about all of it is that Alex told us during the lesson that they do everything as a family. Even if they just go over to the park, they go as a family. Which means they will always come to church and activities as a family, baptized as a family. . . :D So cool!!! It´s just been a huge miracle for me. I want to so badly to see this family accept the Gospel, be baptized together and later sealed together in the temple. I really feel like it could happen.
It´s amazing how the Lord always blesses us. He always has something amazing waiting when we go though hard times. I think I´m finally starting to remember that too, even when going through the hard times. Even though this transfer has been a little rough, I´ve been trying to remember that things will get better, it´s because the Lord is preparing us to appreciate the blessings He will give us later. But I didn´t expect this :D I´m happy.
That´s all for this week. I love you all, have a great semana santa ;) and a wonderful Easter. Be safe! I love you!!