Tuesday, March 1, 2016

My African Name

OK. This week. This week this week this week. This week... Was a bit
nuts, and really good, and sometimes sad, and sometimes frustrating,
and really spiritual, and just the normal...mission...life. Haha! Ok.
First thing. You know how I said earlier that there are a lot of
people here from Africa? Well, it's still true. And guess what?? This
week, I have finally received my own African Name. Ready? It's...drum
roll please....OSAHONRUWEN! Yup, it took me a few tries to get it,
too. And I'm still working on the pronunciation a bit, haha. But you
know what it means? "God answers my prayers." I mean, RIGHT??? I love
it. And it actually ended up being a bit of a theme this week, and
it's always going to be a good reminder of why I'm here.
Lowlights of the week:
1. Mosquito bites. I have FIVE on my arms right now, which is really
not fun. There's a sneaky mosquito that just likes to eat me alive
while I'm sleeping, and the next morning I wake up with another red,
swollen part of my arm. Bug Spray and Anti-itch cream have been my
close friends this week. ;)
Highlights of the week:
1. After Church on Sunday, we, (Hermana Perkins and I) headed up into
the hills to meet with a member family for Comida, and we were lucky
enough to get to walk with the Familia Osa from Nigeria. (They were
the ones who gave me the name) They have 5 little kids, I think all
under the age of 12, and they are SO ADORABLE. They are absolutely
indescribably cute. So I had 3 surrounding me and Hermana Perkins had
a child on each arm and we all just walked up the hill, happy as could
be. They are so fun, and they think it's really fun to try and teach
me Spanish. I get all kinds of new words when I talk with them! :) We
also talked about who their favorite princesses are, and the littlest
one, Laura, said something along the lines of "Tu y la Hermana
Perkins! .....No, Espera.... Elsa y Ana!" So it's really sweet and
precious to think that Hermana Perkins and I make a close second to
Elsa and Ana on the Disney Princess Scale. Then one of the older
girls, I think she's about 7 or 8, borrowed one of my Chapas and put
it on her own shirt so that she could be a missionary also. She took
out her notebook and "Contacted" her mom and her aunt, which was,
again, hilariously adorable to witness. "Hi! I'm here to share a
message about Jesus Christ. Do you want to read the Book of Mormon?
Can I get your telephone number so we can call you? When may we visit
you?" Yup, cute.
2. Every Friday night, we have a Ward night that is usually mainly
coordinated by us 8 missionaries in the Badalona District. This week
we had a movie night where we watched "Conosca a los Mormones". (Meet
the Mormons) That was super fun! It started about an hour late, as
most things do here in Spain, but we popped popcorn and had soda and
got to watch a movie with ward members and investigators! That was
super fun for everyone, and the movie was a big hit! ESPECIALLY the
last story about the mom and the son who was preparing for his
mission. EVERY. ONE. Of the missionaries, sisters AND elders had a
tear or two in their eyes, and I think that we got a glance from each
member and investigator that was present. Most everyone else cried as
well. ;) Not of sadness, rest assured. Just because.... I'm not sure.
I guess it's just an opportunity to reflect on how we were feeling at
these different stages, how we feel now, how much we love these people
here, and how lucky we are to get to be here.
3. My piso mates. They are so fantastic and I just love them all to
death, especially my amazing companion. Have I told you about them
yet? Probably not. Hermana Perkins is my Companion, and she is just...
Phenomenal. I couldn't have asked for a better companion or a better
trainer. She is only here for one more week, unfortunately, and then
her mission is over! I just got her for the last little bit of her
mission here in Spain, and I am SO GLAD that I got the opportunity to
know her! She got her Master's at BYU in Vocal Performance, and she is
a professional choral singer, and an Opera singer to boot! She also
studied Theater for a time at SUU, so you can imagine that we tend to
sing in our piso A Lot, haha. She plays a variety of instruments, so
she is the lucky soul in our ward that gets to play the piano for
Every single event that we have, every church class, and every
baptism. She's such a trooper about it, and she is so patient and
funny and boy howdy am I going to miss her. We are so similar, as
well! The short list being that we're both fans of Dr. Pepper with
coconut and half and half and Cafe Rio/Costa Vida, we quote the same
movies at the SAME TIME, we have the SAME music and geek out over the
SAME singers/actors, and we just think about the world and people the
same way. Similar approaches to life, you know? I love her. ALSO we
have here Hermana Leija, who is originally from Mexico but now lives
in the south of Spain. She is REALLY funny, and she is an AMAZING
COOK! Goodness her food is so. Good. And she's stylin' AND generous,
so through her generosity, my closet has basically tripled in size.
Now we have ANOTHER Hermana LarsEn, which makes things a bit confusing
around Piso sometimes. But it's all good! She is a ballet dancer from
Colorado, and she is so sweet and so kind and always makes sure that
everyone is feeling loved and happy. So GREAT PISO!
This week we also had "Intercambios", (I'm not actually sure what
they're called in English), and I was with Hermana Leija for the day.
(She's a Sister Training Leader here as well.) We had a pretty rough
day for contacts, very few people wanted to talk with us, and those
who did didn't live in our area so we had to pass them over to people
in other areas. BUT THEN we were walking over to the Chapel, and we
decided to make one more contact, just as we were passing this lady in
the street. She was very short, about a head shorter than ME even,
(which is not abnormal here in Spain... People are super short) and I
just flagged her down and said in VERY broken Spanish, "Hello! We're
missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Can
we please talk with you for just a minute?" That last part I don't
usually say, I think it was a bit of a leap of desperation because
nobody had been speaking with us that day. She was very nice, and
glanced at her watch for a second, and agreed, though she said she
didn't have much time. We assured her we'd be brief, and started
talking about the gospel, how it focused on Families, and we testified
that we have a prophet of God who leads our church today. She was very
receptive, and accepted a Book of Mormon and a Pass Along card, and
AGREED TO MEET WITH US ON WEDNESDAY (tomorrow.) We got her contact
information, and she told us a little about herself, but then she had
to run off and we told her we'd call to confirm later on in the week.
We were super happy, obviously, and it was an amazing miracle. BUT
THEN. We've been going through our Area books and organizing and
re-contacting investigators or less-active members this week, and the
other hermanas in our Piso have been doing the same thing. Then
yesterday, when we got home at the end of the day, Hermana Larsen and
Hermana Leija told us that they had found a couple of registros in
their folder that actually were in our area, and that they had put
them on our desk. We headed in, looked at them, (mind you this is a
couple days later), and guess what. SHE WAS ONE OF OUR OLD
INVESTIGATORS! She had been contacted by the missionaries about a year
ago, and had been visited a couple of times, but somehow had slipped
though the cracks and hadn't been contacted since then. AND WE FOUND
HER! WE FOUND HER! I'm so excited and it is DEFINITELY a miracle,
because she is so ready and we're so excited for her to learn all
about the Gospel! So that was a fairly clear evidence of the Lord's
hands in our lives, for sure.
Another miracle this week, (we seem to have had quite a few) was with
one of our investigators, who is a mom from Peru and her two young
sons. She is one of the sweetest, most hardworking people I have ever
met, and she meets with us as often as she can, though she's usually
exhausted and running around from job to job. We were finally able to
meet with her this week, though, and talk with her a little bit more
about the Gospel and how it can bless her family. She's been trying to
read, but it's hard for her because she just doesn't have the time to
sit and read, you know? Literally. She is running back and forth all
day and being such a good mom and she works. So. Hard. I love her so
much. So we introduced the Gospel Library App to her and showed her
how she could have it on her phone and could even listen to it while
she worked if she wanted to, which she and her sons LOVED. They got
each of their devices that could have the app on them, and they
downloaded it right then and there! Then we started talking about
modern prophets and how twice a year we are able to have a world-wide
conference, where we get to hear the words of the servants of the
Lord. As we were testifying of the truthfulness of the words of these
modern prophets, though, one of her neighbors started just yelling and
screaming and cursing up and down the hallway, (which, unfortunately,
is not all that uncommon here in Badalona.) The walls in these
apartments are fairly thin, though, and the doors often aren't sealed,
so the sound just travels everywhere, totally unimpeded. The spirit
that we had been feeling in this lesson with this extraordinary family
just couldn't continue, you know? It was horrible. We weren't sure
what we could do, but Hermana Perkins and I just knew that we couldn't
leave the visit on such a low note. And then, my brilliant and
inspired companion decided that we would SING. Of COURSE! Because she
has the voice of an Angel, and what brings the spirit more than Music?
With our newly downloaded Gospel Libraries, we looked at the songs,
and the eldest son, who is about 10, decided on The Morning Breaks.
Together, the five of us in this little piso in Badalona, sang song
after song in order to bring the spirit back into their home and allow
the light to overcome the darkness. (Cheesy, I know, but it just can't
be described in any other way.) You could feel such a difference,
especially as we sang songs from the Children's hymn book, and after
each one, the mom would say something about how much she loved the
song, how peaceful and good she felt, and how much she loved having
the missionaries come to visit. We left from that visit so happy, and
we want more than anything for this family to be able to get Baptized
and continue progressing together so that they can be sealed together
forever. I think that that is one of the real goals here, you know?
The first steps are faith and repentance and baptism and confirmation,
which is why we missionaries are here, but ultimately it is SO
IMPORTANT that they follow the last step, Endure to the End, and be
able to go through the temple to be sealed together for all eternity.
It's such an amazing and beautiful and irreplaceable gift, and it's a
message that I have the privilege and honor and responsibility to
share with everyone that I can.
And can I just say again how much I love my companion? I love her
so.much. She is amazing and so hard working and patient and funny and
compassionate and charitable and long-suffering and humble and kind
and loving and the members and investigators adore her ALMOST as much
as I do. ;) She is practically perfect in every way, and she has been
and will continue to be a fantastic roll model and example for me. The
saddest thing in my life right now is that I only get to be with her
for one more week, but I am so blessed to have been with her.
That's the update for this week! I love you all so much!!!
Te Amo para Siempre,
-Hermana Larson

Barcelona / Badalona Specialized Training--Wednesday February 24th
Photo cred: espanabarcelonamission.blogspot.com

Hermanas Larson, Larsen, Leija, and Perkins

My Area!  Nice view of the beach, eh?

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