Saturday, February 18, 2017

El Ultimo Correo

I can't believe this is my last email home. I will probably keep it short because I will see you soon!

L's husband who is working in Peru had some medical problems and is in the hospital. She is obviously worried about him on top of studying, caring for her elderly dad and three year old daughter. I feel so bad for her. We talked with her about eternal families and she has such an amazing attitude and perspective. She said that she thinks it happened for her husband to start believing in God and for her to trust God more. Although she's been stressed and worried she has felt a lot of peace.

We have a new missionary schedule which was announced on Wednesday. We still do the same things but there's more flexibility for when we want to do them. We also have longer p days. Woohoo! I only get to experience the changes for the last week and a half of my mission but it will be interesting to see how it affects missions of other people like Maddie. I'm sure I'll tell you more about it when I get home.

They also changed the key indicators so now we only have four weekly goals instead of nine weekly and six daily goals. It's supposed to help missionaries focused on their real purpose and not on numbers. I think it's pretty cool.

It was fun and sad to see lots of other missionaries for the last time at the meeting on Wednesday. I ran into Hermana Warner on the metro on our way there and she said "You have two weeks left!" and I started to cry. I never expected to love the people and love being a missionary so much. I will miss it.

I always saw return missionaries as practically perfect. Now that I am almost a return missionary (ahhhh!) I realize more and more how much farther from perfect I am. One of the reasons I love to make things is to see the beauty in each part of the process. I love sketches before they are painted, cut fabric before it is sewn, wound yarn before it is knitted. I think we can also see a lot of beauty in the process of us being perfected. We don't have to wait to be happy with the final result.

The mission has taught me to be happier, more outgoing, more patient. I've learned to appreciate other cultures, enjoy new foods, love difficult people, travel in a foreign country, speak a new language. But the most important thing I will take from my mission is a greater understanding and love of the atonement and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I love you! See you soon!

Hermana Schriever

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Mid January

Dear family,

     Another good week in Carabanchel. I emailed four days ago so not a whole lot has happened in that time. This week we found six "new investigators" and talked to tons of people. This area is known for being easy (relative to other places) to get people to talk to you but having them to actually be interested and progress is another story.
    On Saturday I had an exchange with Hermana C who is an amazing missionary. She is always talking to people in the street, on the metro, going up escalators, at the bus stop, etc. She's a really hard worker and great example to me. We taught a first lesson with an Ecuadorian guy named L and invited him to be baptized in a few weeks. He said yes and that he will read the Book of Mormon so it will be exciting to see what happens. We are supposed to invite people to be baptized on the first lesson and I always felt so nervous doing it at the beginning of the mission but now I always do it. It's good that people understand that we are here to help them not just hang out. Hermana H and Q taught a new Dominican family and the mom and daughter came to church yesterday. We are going to see them again tonight.
     A few weeks ago we met a Dominican lady, S, in the street who was about 8.5 months pregnant. Later we were passing by people on the ward list who we don't know and knocked on her door. The member we were looking for had moved but S lives there now so we met her again but she was busy. We passed by again on Friday and she had just gotten home from the hospital after having the baby. She let us in to see the baby and said we could come back anytime. It was super weird but cool. I guess we are really supposed to talk to her because we have met her several times in different ways.
     Our ward mission leader, D, returned from his mission to Barcelona six months ago. He went out contacting with the elders this week and said our area is more culturally diverse than any area he's seen. It's probably true. There's a part of our area where all the street signs are in Chinese. There's people from all over South and Central America, Africa, Asia, everywhere. I would say that's pretty true for most of Spain and especially Madrid.
     My companion and I realized we've been Spaniardized when I said to her the other day "why aren't you wearing a scarf, aren't you cold?" People always wear scarves here and members will get mad if they see us without scarves. Theres a verb "abrigarse" that means more or less 'wrap yourself up warm.' Also I drink herbal tea all the time which I hated before the mission.
     Thanks for your emails. I hope you guys have a good week. Love you!

Hermana Schriever

Día de Reyes

Dear family,

     It was fun to see photos of all the snow. Not going to lie, I do not look forward to driving in the snow. But I haven't seen snow in two years either.
     Last Thursday I did my first exchange in B3. We did a split one so I stayed in B3 and Hermana H went to Leganés. Luckily I was able to find my way around and we had a couple good lessons. I was with Hermana P who has been out for just a few months. She's doing great. 
     Friday was Día de los Reyes, or Three Kings (wise men) Day. I ate so much roscón, panettone and hot chocolate at members and investigators houses. Roscón is a ring shaped bread that has candied fruits on top and is usually filled with cream. They hide a tiny ceramic king and a dried bean inside. Whoever finds the bean has to buy the roscón next year and the king is good luck or something. I got the bean one of the times I had it. Panettone is another bread they eat at Christmas time, it usually has raisins and orange peel pieces.
     We found a couple new people this week. That's always exciting. We had a lesson with a lady we contacted on the street named A and at the beginning of the lesson she said "I have a surprise. I'm already Mormon, I was baptized thirty years ago in chile." That actually happens a lot. Hopefully we can help her come back to church.
     We have an investigator named L who is studying to be a dental hygienist and lives here with her two year old daughter while her husband is in their country. She has just had the worst time. She was going to go to Italy for Christmas but forgot her passport at home and couldn't go. Then this week her purse was stolen and she lost her wallet, phone and documents. Poor thing. She still came to church on Sunday because she had no way to contact us besides seeing us at church. 
     We had a combined Madrid zone conference yesterday which was my last one. They always have the missionaries give their testimony in their last zone meeting and it was weird and sad for it to be my turn. I was the only one in the three zones to be going home this transfer. The conference was mainly about repentance and how we need to understand repentance ourselves in order to teach people. Repentance is something I have come to love and understand better on the mission and I'm so grateful for that. I'm definitely not a perfect missionary or person but through the atonement I am always improving. Repentance is a happy thing.
     This morning we went to the temple. It was really good. It my last time in the Madrid temple as a missionary. I'm not enjoying having all these "lasts". At the beginning of the mission I never could have guess how sad I would be to see it ending. Some other sad news, I lost one of my chapas (name tags). We are only allowed to have two and I don't have time to order a new one since they take a few months to get here from Provo. So I am now a one chapa missionary. 
     I hope you are getting back in the swing of things after Christmas break. Thanks for your emails this week. It's always great to here what's going on at home. Love you!
Hermana Schriever

Feliz Año!

Hey family,

     Feliz año nuevo! It was fun starting off the new year in a new area. It's crazy to think that I was a missionary for all of 2016. It was a good year. 2017 has a lot of exciting unknowns ahead.
     It has been a good week in B3. The first few days I was really sad and missed my old area but I like this place too. It was kind of a mini culture shock moving from the center of Madrid to Carabanchel. There are soooo many people in B1 which I didn't think I'd miss but I do. B3 is quieter and laid back. My old area covered about 25 metro stops and several pueblos. B3 is just 9 metro stops, which is good because it's easier for me to learn where things are.
     There is an actual church building here which is nice but we don't have keys so we don't have lessons there. The ward is very nice, they feed us a lot. Almost everyone is from either Peru or Bolivia. Someone described B3 as mini Cochabamba. Not many people were there on my first Sunday because it was New Year's Day.
     The Christmas season lasts forever in Spain. January 6th is Día de los Reyes celebrating the three kings visiting Jesus, and is their big gift giving day as opposed to Christmas. So the missionary work might be a little slow for another week while people are still in holiday mode.
     On New Year's Eve a family invited us over for pork and potatoes with some Peruvian sauces. We forgot to take into account that the buses and metro wouldn't be running so we had a long cold walk home. Good memories. They gave us grapes to do the midnight countdown too.
     Our district is us, the zone leaders Elder H from Pocatello, Elder T from southern Spain, Elder J from Nampa, and a greenie Elder R from El Salvador. Hermana H is from Colorado and went to one year at Utah State before the mission. She's been here for one transfer, her companion before me was here for five transfers and just went home. Hermana H and I were in the same room in the MTC but she is extending a transfer. We get along well and it will be a great transfer.
     A family invited us over for lunch on Sunday for patasca, a Bolivian dish that they eat on New Years. It's a pig head soup with hominy. It was good.
     Today we went to a police station to try to renew our residency which they didn't let us do. Then we played fútbol with the elders, some members and some gypsy kids. It has been really cold lately but it was fun. Afterward we got all you can eat dominoes. Elder planned P-Day.
     Thanks for the emails. I hope you guys have a good week. Going back to school and work after the holidays is always hard. Love you!

Hermana Schriever

Post Christmas

Hi family,

     It was good to talk to you yesterday! I was (and am) overwhelmed and sad about leaving B1. I was really expecting to stay there until the end and I loved the area and Hermana J. It will be good to learn something new from a new area and new companion this transfer.
     It was a pretty exciting week. The beginning of the week was pretty normal. We sang in Parque de Retiro with the missionary choir. We also caroled with the elders to members and investigators a few times when none of us had lessons.
     Christmas Eve was a great day. S got baptized in the morning and her family came. It was definitely the smoothest baptism program. We didn't have trouble finding baptism clothes that fit, people to speak or anything. The Stephens, an American family in the ward, really helped us out. Brother S directed the meeting and confirmed
S on Sunday. Sister S gave a talk and played violin for a musical number. The elders did the other talks and prayers and we did a little presentation while she was changing. It was all in English sowe were pretty limited to who could help. President Pack and his family came to the baptism too. I think S's mom and brother had a good experience and S was so happy. It was a beautiful baptism.
     On Christmas Eve night a member M invited the six missionaries over since her daughter is on a mission and she's alone. She's from Peru so we had the traditional panettone and some really good hot chocolate. We left her house and found out transfers right before going home. So that night and Christmas night I was packing to leave B1.
     Not very many people came to church on Sunday since it was just sacrament meeting and the buses weren't running normally. S was confirmed, fitting to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost on Christmas. I gave a talk about charity. Most people weren't there for me to say goodbye to them. I hate goodbyes so that made it a little easier but it was still hard.
     On Sunday afternoon all six missionaries got invited to a Filipino couple's house. They make really good, but also a lot, of food. She started off by saying that they had expected more people so they made food for 12 so we needed to eat a lot. They just have us sit down and then they come in and out of the kitchen bringing course after course of food. They're very sweet. First quiche, then shrimp, pork buns, spaghetti and meatballs, salad, chicken, and dessert, which was macaroni noodles with yogurt sauce and raisins. It was all really good but it was about 5 meals worth of food all at once.
     This morning we met up with Hermana H in Pavones because her companion went home and she was dropping her off. Then we went to B3 and now we are going to Sol. We are apparently in kind of a ghetto area but our piso is really nice. There is an actual church building, I've never served in a ward with that. It's way, way more calm than B1, way less people. I kind of miss the busy-ness, or at least familiarity, of B1.
     You'll have to tell me how the rest of Christmas went. I hope you guys have a good rest of the Christmas break. Love you!

Hermana Schriever

     I have a little more time so I thought I'd add some stuff. I think I told you about our goal to give out 100 copies of the Book of Mormon this transfer. We did it! Number 99 and 100 were Sylvia's mom and brother so that was cool. We passed out a few more on Christmas Eve and Christmas too. 
     I am so exhausted. On Christmas Eve I only slept for about three hours and Christmas night not a lot better. I was just so nervous to get transferred for some reason. Today I spent about 2 hours dragging my suitcases from B1 to Pavones and then to B3. We were in Sol for a few hours so that Hermana J could reunite with an old companion and some converts. Hermana J will be with us until tomorrow morning when her companion arrives. I'm glad we're not separated quite yet. 
     Well, that's about it. Have a good one

Hermana Schriever

Merry Christmas!

Dear family,

 On Tuesday we had zone conference combined with all the zones of Madrid. It was the most missionaries I've seen all together since Elder Bednar came in May. It was fun and they talked a lot about having faith to find people to teach.
     That night we got home and decided to change up our plans. We were going to visit some investigators but decided to drop them instead and chose an area to street contact. We ended up taking some wrong turns and getting lost but it was all meant to be because we met a guy named K. He's 20 and from the Canary Islands. Hermana J and I have both served there so it was fun to talk about that. We got his number and called him and had a lesson later in the week. Between meeting us and the lesson he looked up a bunch of stuff and watched 'Meet the Mormons'. He had a lot of questions and is pretty interested. He even came to the ward Christmas party the next day and church on Sunday. He's going home for Christmas for a few weeks but hopefully we'll stay in touch. The JAS (young single adults) in the ward are super excited after hanging out with him at the Christmas party. A couple of them offered to help us in the lessons with him. 
      On Thursday we had intercambios with the hermanas from León. I was with Hermana M who is from Bolivia. She's really sweet. Hermana J was her companion in Vecindario so we all know a lot of the same people. 
     The elders and us went with the stake single adults to sing at a residency for elderly people on Saturday. Kind of awkward for us to be there when they introduced us the single adults from the Mormon church. I guess it's true though. They were all very Catholic and kept asking which parroquia (parish?) we were from. It was kind of sad to see them there. Someone told me that over 50% of the Spanish population is elderly. I would not be surprised. There's a ton of immigrants but most of the actual Spaniards are old. Most Latinos here work cleaning or caring for elderly Spaniards. 
     On Saturday night we had the ward Christmas party. As expected, it "started" at 7:00, it actually started at 8:00, the primary reenacted the Nativity  and everyone started eating at 9:00. We left at 9:40 to get home by 10:00 (our schedule is later than the normal missionary schedule). At that point Santa had just barely come out and they were going to have dancing after that. They take their parties seriously here. 
     S is doing great. Her finals are all done and her mom and brother are coming this week. She came to the Christmas party too and we are all really excited for her baptism. It will be really interesting having a baptism in English. Luckily we have a few English speakers in the ward, an American family and a Filipino couple, who are going to help us with the baptism service. 
     On Sunday a lady named A came to church and we are super excited to start teaching her. She moved here from Venezuela a week ago and was on the bus looking for a church to go to on Sunday morning. She overheard some members talking and asked them if they were going to church and if she could go too. Heavenly Father has been blessing us a lot. 
      The missionary choir sang in Sol last night. My favorite part was when some break dancing kids came and danced to us singing. Hahaha It's been to be able to sing Christmas songs. I miss playing violin though.
     I had an Ebenezer Scrooge- like experience one morning this week. Kind of like when gets woken three times during the night and sees the future and then wakes up and realizes he has a chance to change. Anyway, I accidentally set my alarm for 6 instead of 7 and got completely ready. I thought my companion was just being disobedient and not getting up and I was kind of annoyed until I looked at the clock and realized it was 6:50. Then I realized I could go back to bed for 10 minutes and start the day completely over without being annoyed. Besides missing an hour of sleep, it was really funny. 
     Speaking of Scrooge, this week I've been thinking a lot of 'A Christmas Carol', one of my favorite Christmas stories. Maybe because Eli and Sam always called me Scrooge and I kind of identify with him. Looking at Christmases past I'm grateful that this year I'm starting to understand better the power of the Atonement. Scrooge saw who he really was and where he would go and realized that he needed to change. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ it is possible for us to repent and change. We can feel the same joy that Scrooge felt on Christmas morning as he bought toys, Christmas punch and the butcher's biggest turkey. I love a quote by Linda Reeves from this General Conference: 
To me, the greatest miracles in life are not the parting of the Red Sea, the moving of mountains, or even the healing of the body. The greatest miracle happens when we humbly approach our Father in Heaven in prayer, fervently plead to be forgiven, and then are cleansed of those sins through the atoning sacrifice of our Savior.
     I still have many ways that I want and need to improve and I am so glad to know that I can change through the gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm grateful for the hope, happiness and Christmas spirit that we feel this time of year, which is really the Holy Ghost. If we always have Christ in our lives we can feel the joy and peace of Christmas all year long. Have a very merry Christmas!

Love, Anna

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Dear family,

     We had a pretty normal week. We are struggling to find new people to teach but I think it's kind of universal for all missionaries this time of year.
     It's starting to feel like Christmas, besides the fall leaves still on the trees and warmer than Idaho winter temperatures. It's fun to be in the middle of Madrid and see lights and decorations popping up in the shops and streets.
     S had her baptism interview and is getting baptized on Christmas Eve! We were originally planning for January but her mom and brother will be visiting for Christmas and she wanted them to be there. She is so prepared and understands everything so well. We went to the temple and it was so peaceful and beautiful to sit outside it and talk about God's plan for us. S (and us) can't wait to go inside soon.
     We had kind of a crazy lesson with two Polish ladies and A. We met J a few weeks ago and set up a lesson with her. We invited A to come help us too because he loves helping the missionaries. J invited a friend, W who also wanted to come. So we had a lesson with several language barriers going on. A bore his testimony about it on Sunday though about how the spirit has no boundaries- language, race, nationality, etc. So it must have been a
good experience for him.
     We are teaching his daughter G too and he always tells us to teach her in English because according to him we don't speak that well and he wants her to understand. That A, he knows how to give a compliment.
     Today we were going to go ice skating until we found out we are not allowed to. So instead we went to a park to play outside while there's still nice-ish weather. Spain has some really fun parks.
     I'm excited to talk to you soon. We need to coordinate the time, let me know. Have a great week! I hope finals and the last week of school go well for everyone. Love you!

Hermana Schriever