¡Feliz Navidad! We finally made it to the hap-happiest season of all and it's FANTASTIC here in Santander!
They put up these cute little lights across every street and there are Christmas trees in every little plaza. Our personal favorite thing is a nice little outdoor ice skating rink that we took advantage of today. :) Every night, especially during the weekend, it's almost IMPOSSIBLE to walk down the Main Streets because there are so many people out celebrating and laughing and talking and shopping... it makes us both a little claustrophobic. But it's made for some really interesting contacts! It's really rewarding to get to talk to people about the true meaning of Christmas and how we can make the season even merrier for others (and, by doing so, ourselves!) We've shared that video of #LighttheWorld probably about a hundred times, and we never get tired of it. It's such an incredible opportunity that we have to be able to give the Savior everything we've got for these few short months!
Let's break down the week.
Monday night we got to have a fun little Family Home Evening with one of our favorite families, where we were able to bring Jaime and talk about Personal Revelation. Afterwards, Virginia, (the mother of the family) took us into the kitchen and taught us how to make Venezuelan Empanadas.... THEY'RE TO DIE FOR. So, I'll add that to my resume once I get a little more practice. It was a really spiritually (and physically) filling night!
Tuesday we spent the first part of the day in Bilbao for District meeting. (Side note: our elders got moved, and so now Hermana Nelson and I have all of Santander to ourselves. Which is CRAZY because this city is HUGE but we both love having to run from event to event and cita to cita.) We accidentally missed our 9:30 bus and the only other bus that would get us there in time was a "premium" bus, which basically means you each pay 10 more euro to pretend that you're on a plane - in-flight snacks and everything. So we both felt pretty fancy about that.
When we got back we ran from visit to visit with our investigators, and we had a SUPER incredible lesson with our investigator Alassana and our member friend Patrick. (I don't remember if I've talked about him or not already, but Alassana is from Guinea Bissau and we're teaching him poco a poco about who Christ is and why He came to the earth.) We talked about prayer and the spirit was super strong! I love getting to testify of the things which I know are true. And the best part of it all is that at the end, I get to say, "look. We don't actually want you to just take our word for it. Try it yourself! Will you pray every day this week and ask God if what we're telling you is true?" Because that's what differentiates this gospel from anything else. And that's the only thing that keeps this crazy work running. The fact that it's true! And that you can find out for yourself!
Wednesday morning we spent with one of our Less-active members, Yanina, who we're teaching English. And I've just got to say. I'm SO glad that I have grown up speaking this language, haha! Spanish is so much easier to learn than English. But as we're teaching, we're also learning a lot about how to speak properly, so there's a bonus! In the afternoon we went over to the house of Virginia and Franklin (our Venezuelan member family) and had lunch with them and our investigator, Saul, who lives in the same apartment. We had super fancy food that Saul made for us (he works in one of the super pijo restaurants here in Santander) including Murcia, which is the sausage that they make out of pig or cow blood mixed with rice powdery stuff. Super delicious, right? Yeah. But we finished off the meal with oreo cheesecake to celebrate Hermana Nelson reaching 6 months in the mission! (Which is super weird, because, again, we worked together her first night in the mission field, and that feels like it was just yesterday.
That afternoon we went out contacting with Virginia, and introduced ourselves to all of her neighbors. (Which was actually HER idea!!!) and then went out and hit the streets for a few minutes. We always see such amazing miracles when we're with her!
Really sad side note. On wednesday we had a visit set up with Jaime, but he texted us telling us that he wasn't going to be able to make it, and that he needed a few days to think over things. That, obviously doesn't sound super promising, and so a few days later we passed by his house to check up on him. He had a pretty bad relapse, which has him pretty discouraged. And about 10 minutes ago we got a text from him that said that he won't be meeting with us anymore. He still believes that the church is true, but he says he can't come to church or visit with us until he feels like he can commit completely to the Savior. Which, of course, we understand, but it's always hard to see someone walk away. That's ok, though, because we've still got lots of really promising investigators and lots of incredible miracles that we're seeing here in Santander!
This week we've also been cleaning as much as we can in our spare moments, because we had Piso Check on Saturday. Los Rhode came to our piso during mediodia on Saturday and we all ate lunch together and then they inspected our piso. It's a pretty old building actually... and as we were cleaning we found a lot of things, both good and bad. Our landlord (or dueño as they call them here) left behind TONS of stuff, so we've decided to dedicate an entire room just for storing the stuff that we don't use. We found a whole lot of entertaining clothes, quite a few spiders, LOTS of dust, and some more christmas decor! (Which we definitely put up immediately.)
Our piso was pretty clean, but we got some suggestions about how to help it get even closer to godliness (get it?) and how to make it more home-y. So there's still work to do there!
The good news is that I finally got unpacked.
And today! Our original plan was to go to Bilbao and meet up with the hermanas there, but there were some complications with the bus schedule and we ended up having to create a plan B. SO we decided to go to that cute little skating rink! After buying a few groceries, we went out to a little cafe for lunch and enjoyed the christmas music that they were playing there, and then went and spent an hour on the ice. We planned it out nicely so that there was almost NOBODY there... Monday during mediodia is ideal for doing fun things and avoiding crowds. And then we just walked along the docks and ate ice cream. (Yes. ice cream. It was probably about 70 degrees outside today... how strange!) so it was a good day!
Tonight we'll be meeting with another family for FHE and that'll probably be our day!
I am so grateful to be here. I love this work and I love this gospel. I know that it's true. I know that our Savior lives and that He loves us and that His Atonement is infinite and powerful and real. I'm so grateful for the chance that I have to be here in Santander sharing the truth of the restored gospel with the people here. I know that NONE of this would be possible without the Spirit and that we're here on the Lord's errand. I read a quote this week by Gordon B. Hinckley that reads, "Those who have read the Book of Mormon prayerfully, be they rich or poor, learned or unlearned, have grown under it's power. Without reservation I promise you that if you will prayerfully read the Book of Mormon, regardless of how many times you have previously read it, there will come into your hearts... the spirit of the Lord. There will come a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments and there will come a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God."
So... Read it!
I love you!! Have a good week! #IluminaElMundo
Love, Hermana Larson