Monday, July 25, 2016

Gandía week 2

Muy Buenas!

This week has been FANTASTIC, because we've been running all over
every day trying to get things done. I love having so many things to
do and people to see and places to be! Having a purpose for every
movement and action really makes the time fly and the work feel like
play. Being here with Hermana Stahl is SO GREAT! She's a MACHINE
(which is a really common praise-phrase here in Spain.... I can't
remember if we say it in English. It feels a little weird to type
out.) and we get along just swimmingly.

We decided one day this week,
when we didn't have anyone set up, to just do as many street contacts
as we possibly could. We ended up doing about 40, and we saw some real
miracles! People here are pretty nice, even if the most common
response here is that people have an appointment and are in a hurry.
But we found a couple of really promising news! We were also able to
have a good lesson with our investigator Mirel about the Gospel of
Jesus Christ, (pop quiz... Can anyone name the 5 steps?) and gave him
a baptismal FECHA for the 6th of August! Fingers crossed. :) we also
made a lot of cookie dough to bring cookies to Noche de Barrio, and I
BURNT THEM ALL. all of them. Ugh I was so ashamed. I didn't realize
how self-conscious I could be about chocolate chip cookies. But people
were very gracious and ate them anyway, which was really nice of them.
;) we've received a lot of invitations from the members of the Ward to
go eat with them this week, so maybe I'll get the chance to eat some
real Valenciano paella por fin. (Fun fact: the Valenciano flag has a
bat on it.  And there are oranges EVERYWHERE.)
Today we went with the Elders and a couple of members to a Chinese
Buffett and did some window shopping at our local mall. It was nice to
relax and talk for a couple of hours! Now we've gotta get our grocery
shopping done, so I've gotta head out, but I love you all! Read Alma
17 this week! It's a really really REALLY good chapter! Also, a little
late, the attribute of Christ this month was Obedience, so I'll write
up what I learned next week.

He Lives!

-Hermana Larson

Monday, July 18, 2016

Gandía week 1

Muy buenas a todos!!! Como estamos?

For me, this week has been probably one of the strangest of my life,
just because there have been SOOOO MANY CHANGES. So. Starting off of
the last time I wrote, which waaaaassss.... Tuesday I believe. Ok. So
Tuesday we ate McDonalds at the train station and then Hermana
Romero's companion came, (I think we already talked about her, but
just to reiterate, she's a mini-missionary, she's suuuuuper cute, and
they're just gonna kill it.) and then we ran to piso, dropped off her
bags, ran back to Barce to go to the Mission Home, and received our
companions for the night! I got to be with Hermana Nelson, who is
SUUUUPER CUTE, super sweet, and super ready to be in the mission.
Unfortunately, I don't know where she ended up, but hopefully I'll get
to see her in the future. She's great. We spend the evening
contacting, and then we said goodbye and had a lesson with one of my
favorite families of Badalona, I don't remember if I talked about them
or not, but Christina and Francine and Daniela? Christina is a recent
convert and we were teaching her 8 year old niece Daniela. They're
from the Congo, and they are ADORABLE and I love them. 

"I love this cutie!!!"
Christine and Daniela

So we had a
sweet lesson with them and then we ran home. With 3 new baby
missionaries, the 2 new missionaries to Badalona,  the 2 veterans, and
me, the random chica with no home or companion haha, we had a pretty
adventurous evening, trying to get everyone fed and cleaned and with a
space to sleep. I couldn't sleep much that night. I kept thinking
about my time in Badalona, where I was at the beginning, the people I
had met, the funny things that had happened, etc. and to top it all
off, I was SUPER NERVOUS about starting off training somebody in an
area I don't know, haha. This whole process has given me a newfound
appreciation for my trainers and for the effect they had on me. It's a
lot of pressure!!! I was really blessed to be with two companions that
really helped me learn and grow and love the mission. 

Hermana Leija (one of her first piso mates in Badalona)
So with all of
that on my mind, I didn't really sleep, haha. The next morning I got
up an hour early to finish writing in transfer journals of my
piso-mates and packing, and then me and my temporary companion,
Hermana Nelson, brought my giant suitcases to the mission home. (Sorry
that's how you had to spend your first morning in the mission,
Hermana!) We arrived just in time to head to the trainers meeting,
which was really really really great, but didn't help calm my nerves
much, hahaha. It was another good opportunity to think about how great
my trainers were, though! Now usually, the trainers do the meeting,
and then the trainees and trainers meet for lunch and then they have a
meeting to introduce the babies to the mission, pautas, etc, and to
have a big reveal to find out who your new companion is and where
you'll be serving. BUT my new companion and area were waiting for me!
So right after the training meeting, we headed out, took another metro
adventure with my suitcases, and my old companion and piso mates said
goodbye to me. I waited for a couple of hours in the Train station,
just kind of stewing in my own sweat/nerves.... But then I got to
talking with a lady sitting next to me, who was also from Switzerland!
(Like my new companion) It was kind of funny to me to kind of pause
after that conversation and realize that I had just spoken to someone
completely in Spanish, without the guidance and help of my companion.
I kinda cried a little bit, haha. I NEVER THOUGHT THIS DAY WOULD
COME!!!! I'm not fluent, nor can I express myself really as completely
as I would like, but I can communicate, jaja. Yay! Miracles.

Then came what I like to call, "The train ride of Temptation." 3
reasons for that:

1. My train car didn't have a functioning AC system, so it was VERY
HOT. At the same time, we were passing a lot of really really really
gorgeous beach... Temptation #1.

2. The trainride was approximately 3 hours long, from Barcelona to
Gandía, and so they had a movie playing the entire time. Oh no, not
just any movie...
Star Wars.
The new one.

Such. Killer. Temptation.

3. That one was really hard to resist, but I was just able to glue my
eyes to the windows, and was settled comfortably WHEN SUDDENLY the
little girl sitting next to me starts playing TANGLED on her tablet.
Ugh. Satan knows us well, y'all.


I managed to stay strong, however, and FINALLY we made it to Valencia.
Where I ran into the welcoming arms of my new companion! She's super
super SUPER cute. Her name is Hermana Stahl, she's from Switzerland,
she is a FANTASTIC cook, she loves to sing, and she's a wizard who
speaks five languages. We had another hour long train ride to Gandía,
which we spent laughing and talking, already the best of friends, then
we pulled my suitcases to piso and went back out and contacted for the
remaining 30 minutes of our day. The following days have been filled
with visits and church and sports and noche de barrio and getting to
know the area, and it feels like we've just been running ever since!
She and I had a meeting during weekly planning our first morning
together, and we agreed that we're going to do our very best to be
exactly obedient, hard-working, worthy, consecrated missionaries.
We're a good team, I can already tell! Gandía is SO beautiful, and I
really AM going to get a nice tan, haha! (I hope) it's really really
hot and humid, and the streets here are DEAD from about 1 to about 5.
They don't speak Catalan, which is a bit of a bummer, ;) but they
speak Valenciano, which is basically the same. There are LOTS of
Spaniards here, as well as Bolivians, Senegalians, and LOTS of
Tourists in the beach part of our area. The Ward is super nice, and we
have lots of members who are always willing to help us out with visits
and contacting, which is amazing. I love it here already! We're
surrounded by all these cute little mountains, and then on one side we
have the Mediterranean Sea, so it's really really beautiful here. (I
didn't do so well on picture taking this week, so I'll do better next
week.) We have lots of really beautiful Catholic Churches and
monasteries and even some ruins up in the mountains somewhere, so I
can't wait to explore more around here! We're right down about 17
kilometers from the Malaga mission boarder, which is also a little
funny. Gotta be careful there! The only complaint I have is that there
aren't really many cute little bakeries around here.... Fresh, warm
pan is a little harder to come by, I guess. But we're still on the
lookout! ;) well, this afternoon we'll be going to a birthday party
for one of our members, so we've gotta head out soon, but I also
wanted to just say something really quick that I learned in personal
study. Alma 36:3 has become one of my favorite scriptures, because
it's such a simple and powerful testimony of the worth of faith and
confidence in the Lord. I may not know everything about this gospel or
this message, but I do know the most important thing: that it's true.
I know that each trial and difficulty we may have in our lives can be
overcome with the help of the Lord and through faith in His power and
His timing. I know that my Savior lives and loves me. I know he loves
the people here. And I know there is somebody here who is searching
for that knowledge. The Church is true, the Book is blue. ;)
Les quiero,

-Hermana Larson

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Leaving Badalona

¡¡¡Hola familia!!!

Well, this email is a little different from usual, because I'm
currently sitting in the Barcelona Train station! It's not for what
you think, though, exactly. We're here waiting for Hermana Romero's
new companion, a mini-missionary from the Palma de Mallorca, and then
we'll head to the office to snag some new missionaries for the night!
(A couple of side notes. Mini-missionaries are members that offer to
spend 6 weeks with us, following all the rules and hours of full-time
missionaries, and this transfer we have SIXTEEN of them in our
mission! We just met her, Hermana Orjuela, and she's SUPER CUTE!!!
She's gonna be great. :) Then this transfer we've received 10 new
hermanas and 1 elder, so Hermanas Romero, Orjuela and I will be taking
2 of them out for the first time in the Field. This is so funny to me,
because Hermana Romero took ME out for the first time when I first got
here! So I've gotta be super nice to this cute newbie, just in case
we're companions someday. ;)

All that being said, if it makes any sense at all......

*dramatic sports movie monologue soundtrack starts*

After 6 and a half months, (ok... Really five and a half), three
companions, two of which ended up "dead", countless embarrassing
mishaps while learning Spanish, freezing winds to sweltering heat,
quite a few holidays, and 4 transfers.....

*music intensifies*

I'm leaving Badalona.

*single tear drops*

*slowclap starts*

Ok, but really though, I'm really really sad to have to leave here.
It's my home! My nest! My "birthplace"! Shoot.

LEAVING BADALONA. I'm still trying to let it sink in.

BUT Hermana Larson, you may ask, if you're leaving Badalona, why are
you still there? And where might you be heading?

Excellent questions. But first, let me explain about something I
somehow totally forgot to explain a little while ago. Once upon a
time, every transfer, we have an "intercambio"(I don't know what the
word is in English) where we switch companions or areas for a day to
learn and grow and change things up a bit. Up until this last
transfer, the intercambios I had been on had always been in our own
cute little Badalona. THEN one day things changed, and I took a train
all by myself (prearranged, I'll grant you, but terrifying
nonetheless) all the way to Vic, which is in the north maybe an hour
or so from the French boarder. I had an AMAZING intercambio with
Hermana LarsEn, whom I love, in this cute little Catalan town over in
the hills! Where it's green! And it's not quite so grungy! I loved it.
It was the first time that I'd been outside the city my WHOLE MISSION
SO FAR! I've only ever been in Madrid, Hospitalet, Barcelona, and
Badalona, so getting to see a REAL Spain-ified city was a game
changer. I realized that I get to be in the best mission in the whole
world, because it's like being in the whole world all at once! It's a
wonderful mesh of cultures and languages and people in the cities, and
then you get to see the cute little towns and culture that we have
here in Catalunia. It was just a really great experience, and I
thought to myself, you know what? I would love to serve in a pueblo
like this someday.


Someone must've heard that thought.

I'm heading to the FURTHEST POINT SOUTH of the whole mission, to a
cute little town called Gandía!!!!!! Way down in Valencia!!!!! 

I've heard exactly 5 things from anyone who I've asked about it.

1. You're going to love it there
2. You're going to melt there
3. You're going to eat more paella than you've ever had your whole life
4. The beach there is so pretty
5. You're going to come back super brown. (Then they see that I'm
white, and they change their minds.) You're going to come back super

AND to top it all off, I'm moving from a 4-person apartment, to a 2
person apartment, to be with my new trainee, Hermana Stahl! I don't
know her yet, but I've heard so many great things about her! She's
from Switzerland, she speaks like 5 languages, and she loves to cook!
So we're going to get along very nicely. :) Her first trainer, Hermana
Sebastiá, is finishing her mission today, so I'm going to finish her
training! We have a very similar situation, it would seem. ;) I'm
SUPER nervous, because I feel like Hermana Birch was finishing my
training just yesterday, and I'm still a baby! But I have a feeling
we're going to get along really really well, and I can't wait to meet
her. :) For that reason, I'm staying here in Badalona for an extra day
so that I can attend the trainers meeting tomorrow at the Mission

So! It's been a big week, trying to say goodbye to everyone here and
prep to move out of my first piso, but I'm so excited for this new
transfer! I gotta head out now, but I love you all!!! I know the Lord
is there, that he hears and answers prayers, and that He loves us. I
know that we are here to become more like Him. I love my mission, I
love Badalona, I just know I'm gonna love Gandía, and I love YOU! :)

Have the best week ever!!

Hermana Larson

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Centered Upon Families

Bueeeeeeenas Tardes Familia!!!
Aqui estamos otra vez!

I'm gonna start off by saying how much I LOVE YOU. I love you, family.
And I don't really say it enough now. So there you go! I love you all
a whooooole lot. I love you.

This week was AMAZING! We saw so many little miracles, and the hands
of the Lord were super evident every day. It's just so amazing, how
many little tender mercies there are daily if we're just looking for
(One of those BIG ones this week has been air conditioning and ice
cream. And shade. haha it's HOT here!!!!)

Last Monday for preparation day, we spent some time at the Stake
Center in Barcelona with the Barcelona Zone playing some volleyball,
which was super fun to watch! (It was a little too hot to actually
play for most of us... So we made some really good cheerleaders!) And
then we headed over to the Rambla to do some window shopping and eat
lunch. We headed back to do some compras, and then sat down to email!
It was nice to have a little more of a low-key preparation day. Then,
we headed out to go do some proselyting! 

It's nice to go contacting
later in the evening, when things are cooling off a little more. And I
love going out and talking to people during the summer evenings,
because 1) It's a time when LOTS of people are outside, just talking
and walking casually, 2) it's still light outside and THAT is
something I really love. Walking around the city when it's light is a
little less scary than walking around when it's dark, hehe. 3)People
are all together with their families! And this message is FOR, ABOUT,
and CENTERED UPON Families!!! Perfect situation. That being said,
there are some people who don't really appreciate us coming up and
talking to them, but we always find some really golden hearted souls
who take pity upon us poor sweating missionaries and offer us drinks
and fans. (Did I mention that that's something super socially
acceptable here? Fans? I love it. It's like my favorite thing.) ALSO
my favorite things that I have definitely adopted from the Spanish
culture are weird sandwiches, and yogurt/fruit postres. Usually for
lunch, we're too tired or sweaty to want to cook anything, so we just
run and get a 40 cent bar of bread, a couple of tomatoes from our
favorite fruiteria, and some fancy kind of cheese, and make a fun
little Spanish sandwich! A tad bit of olive oil on the bread, toast it
for like 15 seconds in a pan, cut the tomato in half and smear it on
the bread, slices of cheese, and voila! Lunch. SUPER DELICIOUS. Also
tortilla de patata sandwiches are really really good. This week we've
been trying to do as many cute little sister-missionary things as
possible, like heart-attacking people, thank-you notes, and chocolate
chip cookies for EVERYONE! (Super expensive to make here, by the
way... Chocolate chips are practically a delicacy!)  So that's what we
spent our Fourth of July doing. Cookies! And Banana Bread muffins!
Yum. But there has been a disappointing lack of fireworks recently,
which is a shame. But no problem! We sang the national Anthem during
companion study. Brittany Spears Style. We basically killed it. Let's
see.... What else happened? Oh yeah! We got to teach English class and
we had a new student show up from off the street! He's from Pakistan,
and actually, he came to English class to learn Spanish! So we taught
Spanglish class this week. Also, for Noche de Barrio this week, we had
a movie night! Popcorn, coke, orange Fanta and all. (I'm pretty sure
those are the national drinks of Spain. They are on EVERY person's
table.) We watched The Work and the Glory #3, which was a kind of odd
choice of movies, but it was fun! As we watched it, we were talking
with a few of our members, and for the first time I realized how
blessed I was to have lived so close to temples, and especially Salt
Lake City and Temple Square! It's a dream of so many families here to
go to Salt Lake and see the temple, and I always took it so much for
granted! People here have to drive for 7-8 hours to get to the closest
temple! They plan trips around it all summer. It's so amazing to see
the dedication and love that the members here have for the temple.
I'll have to come back if/when they put a temple here in Barce!

Also, today we toured the FCBarce stadium, which was SUPER fun. I
still have to learn how to play futbol.... Most 5 and 6 year olds here
can and do outplay me every Saturday. Gotta practice a bit more!

Transfers are next week.... We'll find out what happens this Saturday.
I have 5 months in this cute little town... I'd be pretty sad to leave
I think.

I know that God lives. I know he's our Father in Heaven and that He
loves us. I know He has a plan for us. And I know that this Gospel is

I love you all!!!! Have a FANTASTIC week!!!

-Hermana Larson