Serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in northern France, southern Belgium and Luxembourg.

Monday, February 9, 2015

I'm going on an adventure

February 2, 2015
(last one from the Madrid MTC)

Hey guys! I know I said my last email would be my last from Madrid, but apparently they let you email on the day before you fly to your mission just to keep everyone up to date and let you know we´re not dead. Again, I don´t have much time, but I´ll write what I can. Tomorrow morning, earlier than early, I fly out to the real thing. Practice is over. It´s game time.

P-day happened. We chose to go to downtown Madrid. Super super pretty and cool. Not a lot of remarkable experiences, but it was all just pretty great. I bought some postcards to send to you guys but I can´t seem to find them. :C Again, once I have time, I´ll upload pictures.

We taught some really powerful lessons to our fake investigators this week. We got much more unified, better at planning, better at following the Spirit (absolutely the most important part), better at asking questions, better at discerning needs and teaching to fit those needs, etc. I feel so so SO much more ready to teach now than I felt two weeks ago. The three strongest and most spiritual lessons all involved bearing testimonies and personal experiences. We have three incredibly different life stories in this three-person district and we often have something that´ll help someone. Also, in two of the most powerful lessons, I or someone else recited the First Vision story in French and it really invited such a strong spirit.

Let me tell you a bit about my district. Elder Rivas was forced to leave El Salvador in the middle of an engineering degree when his stepfather (he never met his real father or his siblings on that side) was threatened for being a police officer. He moved to a different continent, learned a whole new language, and lived with 7 people in one room. He was inactive for a long time and had to re-find his testimony. When he did, at 25, he left his job and almost-fiancée (who called him an idiot for it and broke up with him) and came on a mission. Soeur Yaka Yake, on the other hand, was the only active member of her whole family, most of which was super anti. She found her own way to seminary every morning and walked to church on Sundays. She didn´t get any presents from her family on Christmas or her birthday because they hated that she was a member of the church. In the past year, both her dad and the woman who raised her (remember that she didn´t have the best mom) both passed away from illnesses. Yet both of them are here, serving the Lord. I can´t believe any of that. Super strong people.

You guys wanted to know about the food. Well, it´s nothing like the Provo MTC food place, from what I´ve heard about it. It´s some pretty local food here. Lots of fried stuff. Decent amount of soup. There´s this sauce that Elder Rivas calls "samurai sauce" that I put on almost everything. It´s kind of like a slightly spicy version of thousand island dressing? Best way to describe it. The cooks stop serving food after 20-ish minutes, so you have to decide right away if you´re going to want more of something so you can grab another plate. Other than that, it´s just lots of bread, lots of Nutella, lots of caffeine-free Coke, haha. But yeah, not too exciting. Talking about food is not something I´m good at.

The devotionals here are SO GOOD. They´re replays of other MTC devotionals and you can only see them at MTCs. Otherwise I would tell you all to watch every single one of them. I have four favourites - two by Elder Holland (big surprise eh?) and two from Elder Bednar. Elder Bednar´s were about recognizing and following the Spirit, and the character of Christ, respectively. Something I learned about following the Spirit is that we don´t have to wait for a super distinct prompting to act. If we´re being good, keeping the commandments and the mission rules, and being true to our covenants, our steps will be guided and our mouths will be filled with what we need to say, and most of the time we won´t even realize it. Promptings come when we act, not when we wait around. Something I learned about the character of Christ was His tendency to turn outward instead of inward. I already read about that on Kelsi´s blog (shoutout to Kelsi) so it was kind of a review, but it was still super good. After fasting for forty days and being tempted three times by Satan himself, Christ still thought of His friend John the Baptist, who was in prison, and sent angels to him. After suffering through the Atonement, which was literally like going through hell for us, and then being betrayed by His friend, He still took the time to heal the ear of one of the guards who was coming to arrest Him. When He was on the cross, dying one of the most painful deaths, He thought of His mother Mary and made sure she would be cared for. I think we need to all strive to be more like that.

Elder Holland´s talks were superb too but I have no time so I´ll write about them later! Thank you all for writing me and for your prayers! I promise to respond soon. Love you all so so much!

Elder Stanford

Me and my MTC companion, Elder Rivas. It was windy in Madrid that day. Don't judge my hair.

Me, Elder Rivas, and our friend Elder Bekker (a missionary from Israel!!).

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