Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July 25, 2012

Villalba from the balcony of the zone leaders' apartment

A residential street in Villalba

The entrance to the church in Villalba and Elder Valenzuela

Hello my family!

So just to answer your questions that you had at the end of your email, as far as cooking is concerned I haven´t really seen any restrictions except that here in Spain, they don´t believe in PAM, the spray oil, so we use butter or oil to grease the pans. Cooking things for me would be rice, which is easy to make. All you do is for every one cup of rice, two cups of water, and salt so that the rice isn´t tasteless. I also cook Cuscus, which is pretty much the same as rice, and I also try to buy lentejas al jardín, o garbanzos [lentils or garbanzo beans]. PBJ sandwiches are always an option too, but I prefer what I´ve mentioned above since it´s different and more delicious. In every piso [apartment] that I´ve been in, there has always been a stove and an oven, as well as a microwave so I never really have a problem cooking things. I´ve baked really good brownies in the oven too so yeah!!! Super good!! Anyway, on to my week.

So I didn´t bring my agenda so I don´t really know too much of what happened this week, so I´ll just start Sunday. So Sunday was pretty good. Elder McGrath, the Zone Leader, planned out intercambios [companionship exchanges], and we all decided that I would go to his area with his companion and that he would go to Parla. So I´ve been out of my area for the past few days and it´s been fun!!!!! I really enjoyed my time! So the area is called Villalba [if you look it up on a map, use the term Collado Villalba], and it´s just such a cool little town!!! It´s about half an hour outside of Madrid on bus and I just loved that area!! What made it super cool is that it´s in the mountains of North Madrid!! The air was clean and cool and it didn´t get further up than 30ºC [86ºF] unlike Parla and its 36ºC [97ºF]. The nights were cool too so I got to take a warm shower without dying!!

So I was going to be there Monday, and Tuesday, and Elder Valenzuela is pretty new and tried to set stuff up, but everything failed us. We did contacts pretty much my two days there, but it´s all good!! I loved it! Elder Valenzuela is from Chile and is also a convert to the church. Last night he was telling us (us because we went to sleep at the B1/B5 piso) about his conversion and it was really cool!! He was baptized a year and 3 months ago and he made a huge change!! He had his hair all the way down to his shoulders, and a lip piercing as well as a smoking problem. He´s super nice and super awesome!! He´s 25 too so yeah, just thought you wanted to know that, hahaa.

Anyways so Monday we also had the family home evening there at the church at 8:00, but we had a miracle moment happen before that!! So at around 6:00 or 6:30 we were walking just outside our piso [apartment] and this African lady cames running to us and tells us that she´s a member of the church, but hasn´t been to church for about 12 - 15 years because of her husband. She moved to Villalba and got there about an hour before she saw us to get away from her husband. When she saw us, she said to herself that she wasn´t going to lose the chance so she ran to us asking where the church was and telling us all of this. We told her where it was and it´s not that far from the piso, just 3 minutes walking, so we went with her to show her where it was. The church bajo [I think he means the entryway to the church – but I’m not sure] is really nice!! White walls and the chapel is pretty big too!! So when we got in, we thought that no one was going to be there, but there was. There were young men and women practicing for the dance for EFY or youth conference, as well as the relief society president!! The African lady also wanted a Book of Mormon in English so we told her that we would go to our piso really quickly and get her one.

As we were both walking to the piso we were both really happy!! This lady that when she got married had lost contact with the church because of her husband for 15 years. Now within hours of leaving Madrid and arriving to Villalba, she happened to run into us, we happened to be 3 minutes away from the church, and when we got to the church, the relief society president HAPPENED to be there. Three things that are pretty much impossible to happen in a matter of 10 - 15 minutes, happened!! That´s no coincidence, but that´s just a miracle!! I really enjoyed the look on the African lady´s face when she walked into the church and the first thing that she said was, "I´m back home." Super cool!!!!!!!!

So we were just overly happy after that and pretty much couldn´t get sad. We went to a person´s house, they weren´t there so we went to Family Home Evening at 8:00. It was pretty good since the message was about the Book of Mormon!! The members of Villalba ward are really cool and nice too!! They all...I can´t think of it in English so I´ll just say it in Spanish. Todos me saludaron [everyone greeted me], and it was all good!! We then played a game afterwards and it was that the person outside of the circle, we were all a chain pretty much, and he assigned us fruits, and whichever fruit that he called out, had to pretty much drop and the rest of the people had to support them. It was pretty cool, and I was impressed with my strength when Elder Valenzuela fell and I held him up!! I felt strong, hehe. That was pretty much the end of the day.

Tuesday we had to go to Madrid to Barrio 1/Barrio 5 [1st and 5th ward church] to have District Meeting, and it was really good!! Tell Grandma Karlene that Hermana [Sister] Kartchner-Hauley was there and we talked for a bit too. It was pretty fun!! President Jackson has told all of the leaders that the District Meetings have to be more practice based and this one was. It was a practice of how to begin teaching and it was really good!! We then returned to the piso and did some contacts before Ward Council. We then ended up not having Ward Council and so we returned to the piso, I packed my bag so that I could come to Madrid and not have to wake up early to get here. Today the plans for P-Day are that we will go to Palacio Real [royal palace] in Madrid and watch the change of guard or something like that. I´m glad that you guys are doing well. I hope that all is well and that everything goes the way that you guys have planned. Tell Giselle that a letter is coming for her, I sent it last week so it should be there soon. I also put in two memory cards full of pictures and videos of how Spain sounds like when they make a goal in fútball. Pretty funny!! Anyways take care and I´ll talk to you soon!!! Love you all!!!

Elder Bauer

Alex in front of the Palacio Real [royal palace] in Madrid

Another picture of the Palacio Real, with missionaries in front on P-day

Catedral de la Almudena - the cathedral next to the royal palace

Puerta del Sol - an important subway hub in downtown Madrid

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July 18, 2012

The group that came with us to the Palace.
From Left to Right, top to bottom: Elders Alvarez, Antola, Hilton, Bauer (Alex), Beatty, Christenson, Hermanas [Sisters] I´m not sure, Mercado, Clark, Frandsen and Farias. Bottom, Elder Soriano, Hermana [Sister] Miron, and Elder Simmons.

Elder Bauer (Alex) with Elder Hilton, his first MTC companion ever

The Royal Palace of Aranjuez...

and surrounding gardens

Elder Simmons with s'more failure in (and on) hand


So this week was pretty good!! Thursday nothing really happened except for weekly planning and contacts. Pretty boring actually, but that´s fine. Actually, something super cool and awesome happened!! So we had interviews with President Jackson and he got to know us more and we got to know him more! It was cool and fun!! The interview was really informal and that was different and interesting, but it´s fine!! I loved it!! He did make a mistake on going to the interviews and went to Parla when all of us were in Leganes, but it´s okay. He´s new and lost and green, but that´s fine!! He´s a great guy!! Friday we had to go to Leganes at 2:00 to give a blessing to someone´s baby since he was sick. The sisters are teaching the mom of the boy and so yeah. We had to go over and give the blessing and that was fun!! Later we had to go to Valdemoro to meet with the Branch Mission Leader so that he could introduce us to one of his friends to begin teaching him. We left Parla at 3:00 and got to Valdemoro at around 4:00. It´s not really that far, but he gave us a route that took us directly in front of his house so yeah. So we got there and his friend that he wanted us to teach didn´t show up, but we still ate without him. I don´t remember what the dish was called, but it had vegetables and raw fish as well as lemon juice. So it was my first time eating raw fish. I was praying that I wouldn´t get sick, and I didn´t. After eating that we ate rice with fried fish, then had flan for dessert.

After a while we were still waiting for his friend but he didn´t come, so we didn´t really want to make it a waste of time, so Amador is the name of the Branch Mission Leader of Aranjuez, talked to his other friend Hugo, who was there the whole time, and yeah. Hugo has had missionaries before but has been a bit hard on them and told us the whole story and yeah, pretty funny!! He then told us about other things and that´s when I started talking to him about The Family: A Proclamation to the World. He was having trouble finding a woman that wouldn´t just leave him after a while and he didn´t want to pass through that again and again since he´s already had it happen twice. The proclamation has one of my favorite paragraphs that I used and he started crying in the lesson so I´m sure that we hit a sweet spot there so yeah!!! I was happy!! So after talking to him for a bit, we had to leave so that we could get to Noche de Hogar [Family Home Evening] on time.

Saturday we had an okay day. We got to meet with a Muslim guy who we contacted in the street and yeah. We talked to him and it was a bit shaky, but good too. Later on we went to a less active´s house and saw her, and tried to animarla [cheer her up] a bit more. I don´t speak English, hahaha. After that we went back home. Sunday we also had another lesson with a referral sent to us. He lives in Ciempozuelos so it´s a bit far. He was super hard. We´d say one thing and he´d say, "No it´s not like that." So we showed him plenty of things that were easy to understand, and he kept saying that. I then just said, "Look, read, ponder and pray, that´s all you can, and have to do. You can´t listen and fight with us, pray and you´ll have the answer." He doesn´t believe in that either since other people pray for their books and receive an "answer" so yeah. I wasn´t really very happy. Not much else happened Sunday.

Monday we had set up 4 things and all of them failed us so we did contacts and former investigators. Tuesday was interesting. So Metrosur [southern subway line] has been cut off right at Getafe Central, the Renfe [commuter train] station two stops away from Parla, that is connected to Metrosur that takes us to Leganes. So instead of taking metro, we took a bus to a metro stop that was actually working. It was the longest trip to Leganes ever!! So we had district meeting and on the way back, Hermana [Sister] Frandsen told us how to get to a Renfe stop close by that would get us to a different Renfe stop to take us home. So we tried it, and it took just as long as the regular route with the metro, just more walking. We then met with Ana and she had a few doubts that we resolved and then we went to a less active’s house to eat dinner. They gave us a lot of food!! We showed him a Mormon Message about trials and how things will get better, from Elder Quintin L. Cook on Hope you Know, I´m having a Hard Time. It was good!! We then went to the Piso [apartment].

Today we went with a group of missionaries to Aranjuez to see the palace and the gardens there as well as eat s’mores. The palace and gardens worked out well, but the s’mores were a fail since we couldn´t melt the marshmallow. It was fun though. We then visited Cristina for the first time since her baptism just to see how she´s doing and to share a message with her. It was good!!! Take care and I´ll talk to you soon!! Love you all!!!

Elder Bauer

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

July 11, 2012

Elder Simmons celebrating his 2 year mark on the mission.
He extended so he´s going to be here for another transfer.

At the baptism:
From Left to Right: Elder Soriano, Cristina, Michael, Gerald, and Elder Bauer

Aranjuez branch members attending the baptism

Interior of the Renfe train
Why hello my familia!!!

What a crazy week this has been!!! For you and for me that is! So we had our last regular lesson with Cristina on Thursday before her baptism. She was doing super great and was waiting for her baptism. She says that she was counting down the days until the baptism so all was good with her. Friday we found out transfers and three of the four sisters in Leganes left and we got two new ones. Now Leganes has Hermanas [Sisters] Farías, Carter, and Frandsen. I know, a trio, but that´s fine for now. In Parla, no one changed so we´re all the same here. Nothing new in Parla, but it´s okay. Elder Forrest, my office companion, is also leaving the office and training Elder Bagley. He sounds so depressed over the phone, but I´m sure that he´ll get over it.

Saturday we had a lot of nothing in the morning, but in the afternoon we went over to Pavones to make sure that the baptismal font was full and that everything was good to go for the baptism at 6:00. Everything was fine and at around 6:00 everyone started coming to Pavones from Aranjuez. It was cool to meet some of the members there and to see Cristina and her two boys with smiles on their faces. We had a slight issue with the baptismal clothing, but all went well in the end. The sister missionaries that are serving there, namely Hermanas Jimenez and Shepherd, helped us out a lot with that. When the services started, it was awesome!! Pretty much the whole room was crying except for a small number of people, and the spirit was powerful!! Cristina´s older son, Michael, gave a talk on how happy he was to see his mom enter into this path. Then the ordinance of baptism was done and after Cristina bore her testimony and she didn´t last three seconds until she started crying. She shared how blessed she felt for having chosen this path and that she did it by herself, no one pushed her into it. It was really cool!!

Then her younger son who is deacon age, Gerald, bore his testimony and he said that ever since he was baptized, it was his dream to see his mom be baptized. He then said that it was made true that day. He was also crying up there as well as his brother in the front row, powerful!! Then the branch president also got up to welcome her into the branch and he cried too, as well as the relief society. Really cool experience! Afterwards we had refreshments and it was all good!! Sunday we went to the branch of Aranjuez for the confirmation and everyone was surprised to see missionaries there since there haven´t been any for about a year or more. We stayed there for the full three hours and went back to Parla afterwards. We then did contacts for the rest of the time.

Monday not much happened except that this evangelistic woman I swear just wanted to pick a fight with us since we ran into her two times and both times she preached to us. I remained silent most of the time in both occasions, but my companion tried to help/make her see where she was wrong. I really don´t see the point in fighting. I respect what everyone believes and such, so I leave them all alone and let them do, say, and preach what they want. If anyone decides to come up to me and try to talk to me about where I´m wrong, I´ll defend myself, but up to that point. I don´t look for fights, but anyway...moving on. Tuesday we had district meeting and it was pretty good. We got to know the new members of the district and all was well. We then had a lesson with Vincent, an African guy from Nigeria who we´ve been trying to get a hold of all of last transfer, but never got a hold of him. We then had a lesson with Ana, who is the one with most potential here in Parla. It was pretty good. I then called a less active lady called Raquel, she was a reference from the Barrio 8 Hermanas [sisters], and when I told her who we were she started crying since she recently moved to Parla, and probably wasn´t expecting to hear from the missionaries for a long time. I set something up with her and all is well. We will meet with her Thursday evening. Then we ran into a Columbian lady after looking for a different house, and she was carrying a heavy bag. We contacted her and offered to help her out with her bags and she accepted. Between the two of us, Elder Soriano and I, it was super heavy! I couldn´t understand how she could´ve carried that from the Renfe Station to her house, since it was a good 15 minute walk. We got to know her a bit and she said that she´ll pass by the church sometime or call us sometime soon. I´m pretty sure she will.

Today is P-Day and one of the things that I will definitely buy is a new pair of proselytizing pants since these are getting holes in the pockets. It´s also the best time to buy since there are rebajas por todos lados [sales everywhere]!! Everything is much cheaper than usual so I´ll have to aprovechar [take advantage of the sales]. Wow, I just lost my English abilities right there, but yeah. Take care and I love you all!!!

Elder Bauer

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July 4, 2012

Spanish soccer fans celebrating their 2012 European Championship Team

Missionaries serving in the Parla District
From left to right: Sisters Sican, Frandsen, Greer, Delgado, Elders Bauer (Alex), Soriano, Alvarez, and the District Leader Elder Simmons

Madrid missionaries celebrating the Fourth of July

Alex with President and Sister Jackson
Dear Father and Family,

It has taken a long time for me to write to you guys because we were celebrating the 4th of July in Leganes. We were over there at 12:00 noon, and came back here at 5:30, which we then had to get ready for a lesson at 6:30. After the super cool lesson, we went to buy food for the week and now I´m emailing. So as you can see, I´ve been busy and having fun so yeah! So here´s my week that you have been longing to hear!!!

Thursday nothing really happened. It was a pretty bad day, but again a pretty good day!! We went to Aranjuez to see Cristina and that was really cool!! She´s prepared for sure and I´m sure that everything will be great for her baptism this Saturday (the 7th). We taught her a bit about following the prophet, chastity, and honoring and sustaining the law. We then went over the interview questions so that she would feel comfortable about the interview and stuff. She´s prepared and it´s super cool to see how much she´s progressed in my stay here in Parla/Aranjuez. We then went back to Parla and saw Clement and her family. We got two contacts in so yeah.

Friday we did exchanges, so I was with Elder Alvarez and Elder Soriano was with Elder Simmons. We did exchanges so that Elder Simmons could do the interview and to learn so yeah. The one lesson planned with Elder Alvarez failed so we did contacts like crazy and it wasn´t the best thing I´ve ever done, but it´s okay. Even lunch failed, and those are usually fijo [set, firm]!! I can´t think too well in English right now so I´ll be saying things in Spanish, haha (or jaja). Anyways, then at around 7:30 we supposedly had English classes, but no one showed up, so I practiced Hymn 284, If You Could Hie to Kolob, and it´s a pretty difficult song, but I´m determined to learn it. We then had Noche de Hogar [family home evening], but Elder Alvarez and I went to a member´s house to give a blessing so we were there just in time to get some refreshments, haha.

Saturday we had things set up, but nothing worked out. Sunday we had church and then we had a less active at around 6:00. We returned home at around 8:00 since there was no one out in the streets since they were busy with the fútball game [2012 European Soccer Championship]. Let me just say that the games here are the craziest things ever!! I really don´t understand how people could go so crazy over a game!!! So any time Spain made a goal, the whole city would roar and noise makers would start sounding and explosions and fireworks, yeah, the whole deal!! When I send my memory cards home, you´ll see, just wait. It´s the funniest thing ever!! OH and right outside our piso [apartment] building, there´s a round-about and someone with the Spain Flag, would run around the round-about screaming and waving the flag, hahahahahahahaaaaaaaa!!! Super funny!!!!!! You´ll just have to see them, crazy insanity!! After the game it was worse, since people started driving and honking their horns while waving Spanish flags and so it was a noisy night.

Monday we bought our Bono C1 [monthly transportation pass], which is higher than the B2 that I had, which allows us to go to Aranjuez, without paying for a different ticket to get there. We also took a bus to get to Cristina´s house and back since it´s free now with the C1! Super cool to see a different part of Aranjuez! We organized a bit of the baptismal program for Cristina and then came back to Parla, did contacts and looked for former investigators. Tuesday, or yesterday, we had district meeting which was fun! Hermanas [sisters] Delgado and Greer spoke and it was pretty much their farewell since they go home at the end of this transfer, or next Tuesday. We then ate tacos which were really good and yeah! We then took pictures and Elder Soriano and I had to run to a lesson that we just barely missed when we got here to Parla. Not cool. We then were failed by Marcelio, a former who seems to have interest, but it´s fine. I won't give up on him. Then we had Otilia, the less active that we are trying to animate to go to church. She´s tired and stressed, but every time we go, she says that she feels better so yeah. We´ll continue passing by, and she says that she´ll come to the Noche de Hogar [family home evening] this Friday, so we´ll see what happens.

Today was P-Day and it was super cool!! So like I mentioned it was in Leganes, and Elder Alvarez organized it and it turned out to be super cool!! It was a BBQ and almost everyone in Madrid came!! Elder Alvarez even invited President Jackson to come, and he came!!! It was cool to meet him in person! Tuesday or Monday he called me and asked for Elder Cardwell so I talked to him on the phone for a few seconds, so yeah. I got to meet him in person, and he´s super cool!!! Elder Forrest (my wonderful ex-companion who´s good with money) and Elder Argyle (my child/son of the office) said that he was cool and it´s true!! They´re pretty young so yeah! I really like him and hope to be able to get to know him more through the last 10 months that I have on the mission. That´s just weird to think about, just 10 months I just won´t think about it and all will be fine, haha. Take care and I´ll talk to you next week! Take care and I love you all!!!

Elder Bauer