Monday, June 12, 2017

June 7, 2017 ~ Transfer 7 Week 6/Transfers

Hi everyone!

This week has been pretty busy with my companion preparing to go home. And two days ago (Saturday) we found out about transfers (where and if we will be moving to a different area in Spain). Our district (the 8 total missionaries in this area of Madrid and Cuenca) got changed around a ton. Every companionship had a change. I found out I'm staying in Barrio 6. My companion goes home this week and my new companion is named Elder Irene from Wyoming. I'm excited to continue working hard this new transfer =)

So this week in the work was pretty normal. But one notable event was that we went to lunch with an investigator of the other Elders and with that investigator's mom. She's super thankful for what we are doing and really likes the values that we have. She cares a ton for her son and only wants the best for him. It's super cool to see that (even when he thinks she's a little too dramatic, haha). We ate Chinese food with them (it's been a while since I have had Chinese food, it was super good).

And finally our ward mission leader is back from vacations (he's the one who coordinates with the church congregation leaders about our efforts). It was difficult when he was gone because no one else was able to fill his spot, there was a leadership change and the person who was asked to fill the role no longer could. But I'm glad he's back. And he brought us all ties from Perú!

Some notable food items this week =)
-We ate cheese filled Bratwursts from the store - I have not had those in over a year
-my companion taught we how to make morir soñando (a sweet Dominican drink with ice, milk, lemon juice and lots of sugar), super good and great for summer
-and eith Raúl the ward mission leader we had chicha morada and ate arroz chofa y papa a la huancaina

The weather here is getting terribly hot. We had to buy some new fans this week. It's getting to the 100's and it doesn't cool down much at night (around mid 70s and 80s, but the heat stays trapped in the apartment). Right now it is a constant fight to stay cool. And it's only supposed to get worse haha. This is just the beginning. And the worst part is that when it's cooler and if we open the windows, bugs and mosquitoes get in (they don't have screens here). 
It's a struggle.

Have a wonderful week!

Elder Openshaw

June 7, 2017 ~ Transfer 7 Week 5

Hi all!

It's been a long but great week filled with a lot of ups and a lot of downs. On the upside, I have a loaner tablet to use now until I get a new one.

The work is going well. We found some new people to teach this week which was a miracle in itself. Another miracle we had is that I was telling another missionary that I wanted someone new to teach and just in that same moment after I had said that, we received a call. It was the front desk of the temple and they told us that someone had come to the temple and asked for more information about what the church is. We've met once and it was quite the blessing. Maybe I should ask more often =) 

We also taught a family on Friday who are super prepared. A member family invited us over for pizza and this other family (their friends who are actually their next door neighbors). It was great. We will probably meet with them again this coming weekend. Lately it's been pretty difficult to find new people and to have those two things happen it helped a ton. 

And then we also had a lot more success talking to people. I haven't gotten people to stop in a while and much less get a real number and while we were talking with people we found two who wanted to meet. One was a youth who I invited to play soccer with us. And another was an elderly man who was carrying grocery bags. They looked heavy because I saw them over filling and I saw him struggling. And I asked if we could help. And he said yes! Which doesn't happen very often. We helped him and the bags were super heavy! I don't know how he was doing it by himself. He invited us in for water and told us if we ever need a break we can pass by his house haha =)

Other things:
Champion's League was this past Saturday and it's basically like the Super Bowl for soccer. Real Madrid won and you can hear when goals are scored because the whole neighborhood watches the games and makes a ton of noise. It was 4 to 1 from the screams I heard and with the firecrackers and celebrating I figure Real Madrid won =) haha I got some videos (it's more the audio that counts).
We also ended up locking ourselves out of piso. Thank goodness the lady who lives underneath our piso has a key for us (apparently this isn't the first time haha).

Food: we had domino's ordered to our piso (which here is free to have it delivered, super nice)
We had some great Gelato and some kebab. The kebab was a tin filled to the top with kebab meat and it was sooo good. A ton of food.

We also had 2 district meetings before the last time I emailed. We talked about learning the language and about how to teaching better. And my favorite part of the week was yesterday. We had a zone conference (a training meeting) with Elder Gay. It was super good, I'll share some of my notes. He talked about so many different things that we needed (and that I needed to hear personally). It was amazing.

Here's what I enjoyed:
There is always a solution. (My mom says that a lot too =) and now I understand even better what she means)

Don't beat yourself up about whether you did something wrong or right. Heavenly Father does His own work. As long as we are trying our best Heavenly Father can use our mistakes for His benefits also.

Have a great week!

Elder Openshaw

May 29, 2017 ~ Transfer 7 Week 4

Hi all!

This week went by very fast. We had a zone conference (where all the missionaries in an area get together for a training, there were about 60ish of us) and interviews with our mission president. And I also got sick towards the end of the week which didn't help much.

So Monday my companion and I went to Fuenlabrada, an old area of his to say goodbye to people (he finishes his mission in 2 weeks), today we went to Leganés, another one of his old areas. After P-Day was finished we went to an activity with some members in their home and we made 5 things of tortilla de patata for them and the other elders tried to make brownies (it ended up tasting like cake but it was still good). My companion and I are getting a lot better at our tortilla de patata, a very Spanish dish - he has it down and taught me, I'm the one still working on it haha.

On Tuesday was the zone conference. On Wednesday, one of my companion's old companions (who is Peruvian but lives in Sweden) got permission to take us out with his family to eat. We went to a Peruvian restaurant and we had inca cola, arroz chofa, rotisserie chicken with French fries, ceviche and papa a la huancaina. It was super good food. And this family who took us out to eat are amazing.

What happened is the restaurant hadn't opened up yet so they talked to the store owner and convinced them to set some plates out for them, and while the restaurant was preparing the return missionary contacted with us! It was awesome. And then the family very naturally invited
the store owners to meet with us. I learned so much from their family and they really helped me to recognize how blessed I am. It was a blessing to get to spend a morning with them.

Thursday was a normal day, Friday we had interviews and I got sick in the evening until Sunday. It's pretty boring when you are sick in the mission, you stay at home and sleep although you want to keep working.
(Thankfully I am feeling a lot better).

Some funny moments:
On Wednesday we had some extra elders staying in our piso and so to minimize how much food was lost (although somewhat in vain), I made French toast. And I invited everyone to have some and apparently my companion didn't hear and so he was the only one who didn't get any haha :) and then he made French toast for himself :)

Then on Friday we had interviews like I said. The thing is we thought our interviews were at 2pm and we knew there was a bus that left every two hours at 12:30pm. So we knew we had to take it at 12:30pm or we would be late. We hopped on the bus thinking that it was weird that there were not any other missionaries. And we continued to the mission home and got there okay. The funny thing is that we learned later that night that our interviews really were at 4:00pm! And that there were 6
missionaries who had missed the bus that we had made. Our mission president was not expecting us to be there so early, but in the end it all worked out.

I hope you all have a great week!

Elder Openshaw

May 22, 2017 ~ Transfer 7 Week 3

Hi all!

Well this week was quite the week. I'm going to let you in on all the highlights of this week. Overall it was a pretty normal week but with some significant events.

Tuesday we played volleyball with some less actives and recent converts and it was a lot of fun. Someone from the Canary Islands was visiting the temple and they played with us too. It was really funny because the canarian kept calling me "tramposo"(cheater) like 100 times because I kept scoring haha :) She also kept saying "come lentejas"(eat lentils) if someone didn't hit the ball hard enough because apparently Spaniard think lentils make you stronger.

Wednesday was district meeting and it went quite well. I'm starting to get the hang of it a little better :) Also I got my shoes fixed by a cobbler for quite cheap which was nice. The heel on one of my shoes didn't have any more leather on the back because my heel had rubbed through it. So he fixed it up and it's good as new :)

Friday, we ate lunch at the Kimballs apartment. They are a matrimony couple in charge of self-reliance for all of Spain. Some of the best food in a long time. We had BBQ pork sandwiches, seafood paella, shrimp (here you have to take off the legs and head and such, they aren't shelled), and to top it off we had brownies and whipped cream with strawberries. It was super super good.

Then Sunday was a sad day. 
At about 4:45pm yesterday my tablet died. 
Rest in Pieces. 

We were leaving the church and it was at my side, I tried to change how I was holding it and it dropped. Face down. I thought, it's fine nothing will be wrong. Well...two pebbles had cracked the screen. And I then thought, maybe it's still going to work fine, it just looks bad. Nope, wrong again. I tried to turn it on and the screen only flickered. So now I get to figure out what to do haha. 

Thankfully there was a tender mercy. I had just written the report I have to send to the zone leaders about how everyone is doing in our district and I thought it was lost. Thank goodness we found it in my drafts when I logged in to another device. I can now sympathize with those who have broken their screens before...this is my first and I did a good job haha :) 

I'm pretty bummed but maybe it's a blessing in disguise, now I get to learn how to do things differently and not depend so much on my tablet :) 

And to end, Thursday and Saturday were quite normal days. 

Well, have a great week!!
Elder Openshaw

May 15, 2017 ~ Transfer 7 Week 2

Hi all!

So this week in the work it got pretty interesting because many of our lessons failed like last week. And most of our current investigators were busy. So we were in the streets a lot more talking with people. We also attempted to play basketball but nobody showed up... so we got volleyball going and we had some less actives and recent converts show up. It was a lot of fun. We also finally met with Adriana, the girl I accidentally called when trying to call Andrea and we found out she was interested in meeting but that she lives in a different area. The bad part about your area being so small in Madrid.

Every week we have a preparation day usually on Monday, to do something fun and to focus on cleaning, buying food, etc to be able to focus on the work the rest of the week. Last week we went to Parque Europa - a park that has a mini version of the monuments around Europe. It was pretty cool, the mini Effiel Tower was cool (it was 1/10th the original size) =) Today we went to Toledo which is known for its swords. There are swords from Lord of the Rings, a sword of Moroni, a sword of Laban and many other cool swords. There were also a ton of daggers and knifes. My companion has bought a ton of stuff from one store earlier in his mission and the store owner recognized him. She let us take a ton of pictures and hold some really nice knifes (which usually they don't let you do). 

I also got to talk with my family for Mother’s Day! That was super awesome =) it was definitely the highlight of my week.

Food moments:
One day we didn't feel like cooking at all so we went to a Peruivan restaurant and bought Arroz chofa, Inca cola and roasted chicken. It was really good.

Funny moments:
This week I tried getting the stains out of my clothes. And as a missionary your white shirts can get pretty dirty since you wear them everyday and so I had to scrub quite a bit to get some of the stains out. But I had the wonderful idea to use bleach to perhaps not have to scrub as much. Let's just say I tried my idea out and it didn't work as expected. I ended up giving myself a few little chemical burns on my fingers. Nothing too bad but I definitely will not try that idea again without wearing gloves!

Another funny moment, the Hermanas (the sister missionaries) got locked out of their Piso when they forgot their keys. This was early in the morning during our scripture studies. We heard someone ring our timbre (the door bell, but it was the one to the main door downstairs). And sometimes when you don't know who it is you don't do anything. So we didn't answer. Then 10 min later we heard them at our front door. And then we were weirded out because we had no clue who it was and for Spaniards it was still really early in the morning. It was the Hermanas! Somehow they had gotten in and guessed correctly which door was ours (after few tries, they really didn't know). So my companion and I had to pick their piso (apartment) door open for them (because it can be very expensive to have the locksmith come). After a lot of struggling and about an hour of work we got in!

I've been learning quite a lot. This week I really focused on improving my teaching skills. I practiced a ton trying to teach/explain different principles I explain too complicated and I'm trying to simplify everything. I'm already starting to notice the difference, it's really helped to practice. 

Here's a scripture I really liked this week. Our Heavenly Father gives us commandments for our benefit to help us to be happy. They are loving instructions that we can either ignore or follow. If we ignore them, we miss out on the blessings that could be ours. If we follow them, we can realize they come from a loving Heavenly Father and obey them, receiving the blessings and joy.

Here's the scripture:
Mosiah 2:41 "And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it."

I know that Heavenly Father blesses us for our obedience to His counsels. He wants to help us to be happy. He knows our weaknesses, is patient with us and wants us to succeed. And through prayer we can grow closer to Him - thanking Him for our blessings and asking for the help that we and do others need.

Have a great week!

Elder Openshaw

May 8, 2017 ~ Transfer 7 Week 1

So I'm going to hopefully spare you the boredom but this week in the work wasn't very exciting. I would compare this week to an oasis, from far away it looked very promising. We had lots of lessons and activities planned out. But as we got closer we found out there really wasn't much - much of it fell through. We had a ton of failed lessons and so we did normal thing to do when you don't have lessons, try to set up more and talk to people to see if they are interested. Sometimes it can get interesting when talking with people but nothing too crazy this week. I'm just thankful for the few lessons that didn't fall through. 

We had a tender mercy when someone we contacted in the street called us to set up a lesson. That very rarely happens, it's happened maybe once before for me. The only issue is he speaks french (better said, Haitian creole, he's from Haiti) and all our 3 french members were busy at that moment. So we will meet the coming week. But, this week we were able to get a lot of less actives and investigators together to play volleyball and that was a ton of fun =)

We celebrated the birthday of a recent convert of ours. It was a ton of fun because we went to a Brazilian steak house and got to eat all we wanted. My favorite meats were "cadera" (the meat from the hip of a cow) and "las entrañas" (which I probably shouldn't translate but it's the entrails and surprisingly was really good). There also was a grilled pineapple covered with cinnamon that they brought around and it was super good. I probably ate 2-3 pounds of meat. I knew it would be a very long time before I ate meat that amazing, so I took advantage of the opportunity. =)

I learned a lot this week. 
I'm learning how to be a better leader and teacher. 
From my daily scripture studies I learned something that just hit me. It's a simple detail that's hard to explain but for me it makes a world of difference. Every week at church we partake of the sacrament, bread and water that represents Christ and His sacrifice for us. And here is part of the sacrament prayer that I saw a little differently: 
"...that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen."

We promise when baptized that we will take the name of Christ upon us, always remember Him and keep His commandments and we are promised in return that we may always have the Spirit with us. But the promise is NOT that we will always will FEEL the influence of the Spirit. The Spirit is the 3rd member of the Godhead and has a lot more roles than just to help us to feel good. So after realizing that this week it helped me see better that the Spirit is still guiding my life for the good whether I feel it or not. For this reason, we should cherish those special moments when we do feel the Spirit testifying to us personally. 

We don't need to know whether an idea is the spirit or from ourselves, if it's good it comes from God. And here's a scripture that backs that up.
Moroni 7:13 (13-17)" But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God."
As long as we are doing what is right and keeping our side of the promise, I know that Heavenly Father keeps His end of the promise.

Funny moments:
We made some calls Sunday to set up for today and I tried calling our investigator Andrea who we haven't had contact with for weeks because she is caring for an old person and lives there. So I called what I thought was Andrea's number and was talking with the person. I thought she sounded different but I continued and invited her to an activity we are doing tonight night. I kept saying things like "How's your family in Peru?, we can meet at the church" and she was confused and I was too. After she told me she didn't know how to get to the church I realized I probably had not been talking to Andrea...I hung up and realized the name was Adriana! Andrea didn't answer. =/ But Adriana is coming to the activity haha =) 

During calls, one of the Elders here likes to end his calls in this way:
"Hey, what sound does a microwave make? Can you imitate that sound?" And then he hangs up the phone and leaves them hearing the same sound =) it's pretty funny especially when someone isn't expecting it =)

Additional food moments:
I love being in Barrio 6 because we get fed to a lot of Peruvians and Peruvian food is amazing. This week we had Lomo saltado (I don't know how to explain it) and Ceviche (fish with lemon juice and onions, very sour and spicy). My companion and I have been eating Jamon Serrano the past week, we bought a kilo (2.2 lbs) and have been buying fresh bread to go with it. We make sandwiches of it and put on tomatos and alioli. It's amazing. (I've sent pictures of the Jamon Serrano legs, they are cured pig legs, really salty and flavorful). I also learned how to prepare a coconut and tell if it is ripe or not (thanks to a member). Coconut (to me) doesn't taste like much without being sweetened haha =) I also got creative and made fresh strawberry lemonade and then made frozen strawberry lemonade too. It was quite good.

Have a great week!

Elder Openshaw

May 1, 2017 ~ Transfer 6/Transfer Week

Hi everybody!

So this week was pretty busy. You already heard from me on the past Wednesday when we had our temple day. Thursday through Sunday was quite busy, we were rushing around a lot. 

Thursday was a normal day. 

Friday we were running around lesson to lesson. We did studies in the morning and then all the time after that were we running around. We got late when we couldn't find an apartment number and it set everything off haha =) the struggles of planning a filled day. But we had a lot of tender mercies, we got to help a family move some furniture up from a moving truck to the 4th floor with no elevator (we got there right when they needed help), although it was unplanned it worked out really well (we did have a lesson planned with them just not moving furniture). 

We also needed to find a someone to help us with a lesson very last minute and we called and called people to see if anyone could help. After probably 5-6 "no's" we found someone to help and it was perfect. Then we helped a family move who we helped a couple weeks ago and they've had trouble finding an apartment. They had been living with family but there were 12 people in one small apartment so they needed to leave. And the ironic thing is that they found a piso right across from the previous one. =) I laughed when we found that out. Another tender mercy is that the family fed us pizza for helping them and they make really good pizza =)

Saturday - we ran around but weren't as late as before. =) We had English class, then ran over to a home where we help the daughter with her English homework occasionally. What happened is after finishing up and getting ready to leave they invited us to eat - papa de guacaina. It was great but we also had planned a comida  (a big meal that they eat here in the middle of the day, Mediodía). We ate and then we went and ate again, back to back (we had roast beef and rice at the next house). It was manageable but it was difficult trying to run around for the rest of the days activities with your stomach feeling ready to explode =)

Saturday was also when we found out about transfers and whether or not we leave to a different area on Monday. Me and my companion weren't sure if we both were staying and we are low on food (because that's what happens towards the end of a transfer). The worse thing is that transfers fell on the weekend of a holiday here in Spain (what they call a bridge, when the holidays fall next to each other and they have 3-4 days of holidays). All the stores are closed except the bakeries and the Chinos (small stores ran by people from China). So... with finding out about transfers on Saturday night at 9:30pm and all the stores closing at 9pm...we were left with no food. And they were no changes so we were (and are) left with little food. Struggles of transfers haha =) thankfully the zone leaders still have food in piso... =)

Funny moment: 
Yesterday we were at a member's home and they have a ton of leftover candy from their 1-year-olds birthday party. And so me and my companion told the mom that the sisters (girl missionaries) wanted candy. "Hermana White really wants more candy, she says she doesn't but she's just saying it to be polite". We ended up leaving with quite a bit of candy ÷) (especially because they don't want it). The Hermanas weren't happy with us but it was funny =) the members played along with us.

Have a great week!!

Elder Openshaw