I'm am enjoying my mission a ton and the time really is flying by fast.
This week I want to copy and paste some parts from my journal that I think will be entertaining: "Dec 6: Some funny experiences: Monday I tripped someone at Mercadona(grocery store), a worker was walking really close perpendicular to the aisle we were in, my companion walked out of the aisle and I followed close behind him and this lady who works there walked between me and him and she tripped on my foot. Seemed like an eternity before she hit the ground. I tried to catch her and that did the work, she sprawled/was about to faceplant but somehow she ended up on her knees. I felt so bad. I tried helping her up and she won't let me and she had a terrible scowl on her face (probably about 22-28 years old).
With care from your friend,
Today in A Coruña I was going up the escalator to the bus station with the other Elders and tried adjusting my small handbag on the suitcase so I wouldn't have to carry it and then I dropped my suitcase down the escalator! It just flew straight down! Thank goodness there wasn't anybody underneath us (I dropped it from nearly the top/end of the escalator). Thankfully a man helped me pick it up at the bottom and try again =) haha
The elders in Ferrol have an amazing Piso! It is the nicest Piso I have ever seen on the mission (for elders at least). They also let us eat their food which was very nice.
Dec 7: Zone conference in A Coruña. Elder Simmons, Santa and Hermanas White and Nielsen are here from the same CCM group. In the conference, President and Hemana Pack and the ayudantes talked about faith. Very needed. I enjoyed the message they had to share especially about how we are called to this mission to be ourselves, not to be like someone else. I loved that because I've been struggling a lot to know if what I have been doing as a missionary is good enough and I've been trying to become much like my trainer. But that really isn't what I need to do. I need to become better but not compare myself to other missionaries. I need to keep working hard and trusting in the Lord, trusting with faith that He will help me get better, that I will be qualified for the work. We ate Cafe Rio style dinner/lunch which was great with plenty of dessert. Then we did a white elephant exchange after in our zones and I ended up getting a cupcake pan and gifted it away to someone who wanted it (I didn't care what I ended up with). We contacted in Ferrol with Elder Kmetz and Elder Simmons and received 2-3 numbers. Back at Elder Simmons piso tonight."
I have to say that when going in to Mercadona (our grocery store here) today I was a little scared that I would find the lady I tripped and she would remember me =) but I didn't run into her again (literally or figuratively).
We had some great experiences this week. This zone conference was great and I met two elders who are in the same stake as the Alstrom family in Colorado (one Elder is in the same ward). It's a small world.
This week was a little difficult. We didn't have much in the sense of lessons that worked out. We were booked until Saturday but then we missed our bus on Thursday morning (because it was a holiday here, almost every other day is a holiday) and had to wait til 5pm for the next bus. We learned our lesson. But the lesson that did work out as it was planned went really well. We are teaching a part member family (the daughter is a return missionary) and we taught them about the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. The spirit was so strong. The we knew they were feeling it too because one of the daughters started laughing and asking questions about totally unrelated gospel subjects (like why is this not done this way...kind of questions). And the mom who we are teaching answered the daughter's question by saying "honey, it's so easy..." It was pretty funny =) In the end, the spirit won. I know they felt it. It's just such a good feeling - I felt a feeling of peace and comfort. And then the mom asked for a blessing of comfort and I felt the spirit very strong during the blessing. I know the power of the priesthood is real.
A little bit about decisions and the choices we make in our lives. I was reading a talk and here are some quotes i liked:
It has been said that the door of history turns on small hinges, and so do people’s lives. The choices we make determine our destiny.
Most of you are familiar with Alice in Lewis Carroll’s classic novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. You will remember that she comes to a crossroads with two paths before her, each stretching onward but in opposite directions. As she contemplates which way to turn, she is confronted by the Cheshire Cat, of whom Alice asks, “Which path shall I follow?” The cat answers, “That depends where you want to go. If you do not know where you want to go, it doesn’t matter which path you take.”1
This principle is very important. If we don't know where we want to end up in life it doesn't matter what choices you make. But I know we have a purpose here. As it says in Alma 34:32, "This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors." And truly this life is for us to prepare to meet God. I challenge you to have goals. Think of who you want to become and what you want to do in life. And have that vision. Maybe it doesn't seem possible. Great =) that means you are thinking big. Set goals and pray about them. If you feel good, go for them. Do all you can and ask for God's help in accomplishing them. I know that we can do hard things and goal stretch, giving us something to look forward to and measure our progress. Choose to live your life in the way that will bring you closest to God. Serve. Forgive. Choose the right.
I was on the bus for 8 hours this week and thought about typing about the culture of Spain and the differences between here and the US so I could remember the differences and I thought I would share that:
These thoughts are based on my opinions and observations and so some things will be wrong but this should give you an idea of what it is like to live in Spain vs. the USA.
It feels like almost every other day is a holiday. I think Spaniards like their days off. Their Saturday nights are kind of like our Friday nights in the sense of the amount of people in the streets or people hanging out with friends.
Almost everyone lives in pisos which are apartments, 4-6 floors high sometimes with as many as A-J or as few as just a left and right piso.
People walk everywhere, transportation is different, bus (either a tour bus or a city bus where I am, in Asturias) and tren are more common than cars (because obtaining a license and gas is so expensive). Also, gas pumps are at stations but sometimes they have these stations that are on the roadside, we pull over and fuel up (and it doesn't seem like is much of a lane to pull over and fuel up but I guess there must be somehow they do it without stopping traffic behind them).
People use little carts to wheel their stuff around, carts kind of like a piece of luggage but made of cloth, 4 wheels for easily getting over high curbs, etc.
Everything is in grams and liters, it's sooo nice to do the math =) I don't know why America uses pounds and gallons. Also things are in kilometers (car speeds). And in Celsius (which at first didn't make sense but makes a lot more sense now).
Also the food is cheaper, you can buy 2.2 lbs (1kg) of apples or fruits for like 1€ (about $1.25)
You can buy almost the same products here but the super markets here are not like in America, here they have a super market for most supplies (food, cleaning supplies, candy) but not office supplies or light bulbs or some other things like that. I have to go to a smaller store to find everything I would like. They have what we call chinos here which are little stores with usually cheap items from China and Chinese owners, you can find quite a few things in chinos that are quite useful (like light bulbs). They have pig legs that are cured and just hang from the ceiling (called Jamon Serrano, but many different names based on the quality of the meat, affordable ones are called Pata negra (50€) haha =)). Nutella is so much cheaper here. You can buy almost all the same foods but milk tastes weird. Kind of sour but it's alright, you get used to it. The brown sugar is way more grainy. Chocolate chips and syrup are hard to come by. Coconut too I have found out, unless you want the whole thing (I don't know how to eat it when it isnt in shavings). And with fruits and vegetables you use plastic gloves, grab a bag, fill it yourself and weigh it on a scale which prints off a sticker that the cashier scans at the register. It's pretty cool =)
In restaurants you don't have to tip, it's so nice, everything is included in the price of the meal
Tax is already added into the price and so the prices are usually even numbers (1 € or 1,50€, usually easy numbers to do math)
There is something called kebab which is meat which is rotated on a skewer with coal on the wall behind it. They use some sort of razor to shave the meat off and then slice it up. And then it's put on bread, kind of little a mix of English muffin and pita bread and they put different sauces on it. It's quite good and usually very cheap (2€ per kebab!)
There aren't many trees but if their is a tree it is trimmed usually in the shape of an upside-down cone.
Almost no one speaks English which is good for me =) focuses me to practice. But usually the younger colleges aged people want to practice English and it becomes so hard to speak English =).
The mail system here is done through yellow cylinder mailboxes that you put in your outgoing mail. To recieve mail the mail company (Correos) use cars, motorcycles or people carrying their small Correo carts to deliver it to your Piso and put it in your mailbox on the first floor. Usually you have to buzz someone in if you get a package, and they press your Piso number on a panel (they are outside, on first floor, still not in the building) And you pick up the phone that buzzes, talk to them and press a button on the phone set to buzz them in.
Almost everything here is smaller. The sink, mops, brooms, trashcans, shopping carts, escalator (width) etc. The stuff here is fun-size =) and most pisos have a washer but you air dry your clothes on racks either in your Piso or outside the window in some areas (not our piso).
The elevators are a lot smaller. Sometimes it's hard to fit 4 people in one. =) but it has been done. Pressing the button is the difficult part =)
Many people have dogs. I was wondering where they went to the restroom if there isn't much grass...on sidewalks, steps, roads. Doesn't really matter to them =)
WiFi isn't everywhere like in the US, most people don't have computers or WiFi in their homes. Most people have smart phones but usually Sony or Samsung or other, not many iPhones.
People love soccer. The city of Oviedo goes silent (I'm sure other places around Spain do too) when Real Madrid and Barcelona are playing. Everyone goes to the bar to watch the game. There are bars everywhere, I don't know how they stay in business when they are all next to each other but they are often quite full, usually very full in the evenings.
With meals here, people eat a light breakfast (usually very sugary) and a huge lunch around 2pm called La Comida. From 2pm-4pm or 5pm people usually go home and take a break called Mediodía. Most businesses close and people go home to take a nap and eat and spend time in their homes or at the bar. The streets empty out around this time and we only see a person every now and then. Some people start Mediodía as early as 1pm. During this time we go to Piso (our apartment) eat food and study Spanish (in other missions people do language study usually in the morning after scripture study but becuase no one is out in the streets we do language study then). People usually only eat a small snack for dinner. For their sleeping schedule, Spaniards are usually up quite late into the night (2-4am) and sleep in until 11am or so.
The car brands are different here (European brands) but also some familiar ones like Ford, Toyota, Honda, BWM, Audi, Kia, Nissan . To be honest, they have some nice cars in Oviedo where I am. Some other brands are Fiat, Peugeot, and many others.
For soccer, most of the courts are made of concrete (I haven't seen many of grass, there isn't much grass here). There usually are basketball hoops on these same courts.
At every meal there is what I would call French bread (a bar of bread). If this is forgotten at the meal it might be the end of the world...it just doesn't happen =) Bread stores (Panaderías) stay open on holidays probably for this reason haha.
Also about the pisos, most are like small apartments but some can be pretty big. Nothing like a normal-sized house in the US, although the pisos can cost about the same as a small house in the US. There are two types of heaters I have seen. One, a heater is bought separately and a gas/butane can attached (these get insanely hot). Or two, the heater is a series of pipes (5-8 columns, kind of shaped like baldes) attached to the wall and hot water runs through them (from the water heater) to heat the Piso. We have the latter type.
The pillows here are longer (about the size of 1.5-2 regular sized pillows in length). So American pillowcases don't fit them, you have to use two (thanks mom for making sure I had an extra =) )
There are Domino's pizza, McDonald's, Burger King, H&M, Nike and many other American stores here. Interesting thing is that you can take McDonalds to go in big bags that you can walk with. Drive thrus exist but aren't as common (although Burger King in Oviedo has a drive thru). Dominos doesn't use paper plates, they give you a triangle shaped piece of cardboard (of course with the Domino's logo on them) that fits a slice of pizza and that is your plate. The sides fold up so you can use it to eat your pizza slice but it's so much easier just to pick it up with your hands =)
This will probably be the longest email of my mission just because I have copied and pasted stuff. I hope you found something that will help you feel a little more joy and happiness =)