Monday, December 30, 2013

Missionaries Need a Naptime

I was kind of bad at journal writing this week, but here we go. We all know that even though I say this will be short, it will be long.

It´s all going pretty well. We have some baptisms on the way and we just need to wait for time or special situations. It´s kind of patience-testing, but I´ll survive. I´m sorry I don´t have much to tell about the investigators this week. Henry, who just got baptized, has very little light in his room so he can´t read so we got him a headlamp as a present and Elder Fisher gave him a tie for church.

Christmas Eve was mostly tracting, but I use that term loosely because it was Christmas Eve and we´re in Spain. There was almost no one on the streets. We did that all day until the afternoon where we went to a small bit of a Christmas devotional. We split for a member´s house and had a huge Christmas Eve dinner and celebrations. It was really fun to be around a lot of people and have somewhere to be on Christmas Eve. And for some reason they were all Ecuadorians. I seem to know a lot of those on the mission.  We woke up on Christmas and went to the same members for the morning. I opened my presents there with everyone and made biscuit cinnamon rolls. The first batch was really wet and didn´t come out well but I learned what to do the second time and made a beautiful batch. Everybody loved them and everyone was full. Also everyone had that wonderful sick feeling after eating those because your stomach cannot handle the deliciousness.

I got to call my family and even though they were right ways up I was upside down. No idea why. C´est la vie. It was pretty great. I was kind of tired and didn´t know what to say, but we got to talk a lot. It was weird because my mind was back at home and I couldn´t think of the mission stories and whatnot. And they told my I say "whatnot" a lot. You guys love it. I wish I could´ve seen Wesley too, but I loved seeing everyone. I won´t type much about the call because most of the people reading this were a part of it and I don´t remember the exact wording. Although one thing I do want to mention that I think got misunderstood was that "coger" here and in the dictionary means "to get" but in a lot of parts of Spanish America it is the equivalent to the f word. We use it the right way, it´s the other countries that use it as slang in terrible ways. I don´t want you all to think I am starting to swear like a truck driver, or worse: a Spanish person. They swear a mountain load. But anyways, it was really great to talk to family but it was really sad to hit the end call button.

Today was pretty interesting. We got haircuts and turns out they were 3 times the cost as other shops. Wow. We found a Subway! It was great to eat that again. And we went to the grocery store, Mercadona, that I always went to in my first area. I was happy to find all the good items and brands again. Like how they have quiches and a huge bakery section. And I found worchestershire (that´s how you spell it?) sauce! It was so exciting because you can´t find it anywhere and I need it for quite a few recipes from home. It was a simple joy to go to that store and find all the things I used to get. All of it is the glorious store brand, Hacendado. It was nostalgia.

It was a pretty uneventful week and I´m pretty tired. No idea why. But it turns out this was pretty short. We had a lot of failed stuff and obviously Tuesday and Wednesday weren´t the best days for mission work. Like always I have hope for the future! Hopefully a less tired future. I suppose it´s good that I´m tired because that´s generally linked with work. I love you all! Miss you loads! Talk to you next week!

Elder Morgan the Younger

I found Daniel's mission companion's  mother on a missionary mom website.  She was kind enough to send some photos.  Daniel hasn't sent any for a while, so it was good to at least see what his companion looks like.




          

    Monday, December 16, 2013

    DUNKED

    I opened the package. I´m excited for everything, and I think I have a pretty good idea what presents are. The little 6" Christmas tree chills on my desk.

    Most importantly, WE HAD A BAPTISM! Henry from Nigeria was baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday. This makes me happy because I know that I at least have one baptism. I was very afraid of a "seed planting" mission because Europe is difficult. Ya, it´s pretty great. And there´s more of them on the way. It was so dang hard though. There were forces definitely trying to stop this baptism. The Zone Leader, Bishop, and Ward Mission Leader all forgot about the baptism and things related to it. The Zone Leader forgot about the baptismal interview but we were barely able to fit it in right before the baptism. The Bishop wanted us to move it. And the ward mission leader forgot so the day of the baptism we had to sort of break into everything in the church to get the baptism set up by ourselves. Really it was looking for hidden keys and asking for passwords and figuring out the pipe system in the "dungeon." Ya, it´s these stone steps behind the church that are covered by a metal grate and you find random antiques and whatnot down there. But we eventually got everything opened, filled, printed, and whatnot. We celebrated with kebabs (the greatest food ever) and now we can relax again.

    Random side note: There are many types of kebaps/kebabs. Shish kebab is what we have at home. Döner kebabs are delicious grilled meat shaved off and put in a sort of pita bread thing with lettuce and special sauces and a Dürum is that just shoved tightly into a tortilla type thing. Doner is the best. It´s also called shawarma. Remember in the Avengers that Iron Man asked if they wanted to go eat shawarma down the street and during the credits it shows them eating in a half destroyed restaurant? That is what a Doner kebab is. It´s wonderful.

    Not much else to tell. We have plans to go to a member´s house on Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) and on Christmas. If all goes to plan, I should be able to make biscuit cinnamon rolls as well! My trainer gave me a recipe for biscuits without cream of tartar. I´m excited because there will be a lot of ward friends there and it sounds awesome.

    I gotta cut this short because I have a lot to do and before that I have to write Mom. See you guys soon! Love you loads!

    Elder Morgan the Younger


    Monday, December 9, 2013

    Nos Vemos!*

    The Christmas package came! I don´t know if I can open it or not. From what I read from Wesley it sounds like some is ok to open now and some is wrapped. I´ll go for it. If I see nothing wrapped I´ll shut it and pretend I saw nothing. Although now it´s too late to say that I didn´t but I shouldn´t lie anyways. Ya, It just barely dipped below freezing on Sunday. Everyone here is dying and always asks me how I´m not cold. Now my nickname is Iceman but imagine with a thick Spanish accent. It does snow in the mountains and a bit here, but not much. I think the North might be a bit warmer than us or at least the stuff by the ocean because the water keeps the temperature from dropping too much.

    Aww, I´m missing all the beginning winter accidents. Pity. It´s going to be wonderful driving when I get home. I´ve learned much more patience here with travelling so a car will be so dang fast. A bus takes like 4 times as long as a car does if people give us rides. The trains are nice now. I have a B3 Abono! You can buy public transport passes of increasing sizes. The A Abono covers main Madrid and it goes all the way to E2 which goes outside the providence and places as far away as Toledo. I don´t have that but I have much more power to travel now! 

    Alright, Investigators. We have only a few but it´s quality rather than quantity. We have a guy from Nigeria who came to us in church asking to be baptized and now he´s almost at the end and should be baptized in a week if all goes to plan. Then we have a Spanish man who has been wanting to be baptized for a while but it´s a case of the infamous Spanish wedding paperwork. He´ll be married in the beginning of January and baptized soon after. Then we have a girl who´s a friend of a member and she wants to be baptized but her parents didn´t know what was going down so they want to investigate everything before they let her and hopefully they´ll be converted since they're pretty open and nice. Another Dominican guy wants to be baptized but he has some vague legal stuff that we don´t know about and some personal drama, but he wants to be baptized. Another lady is a mother of two member children but is waiting for her husband who is also investigating to come back from England where is now. Both want to be baptized I believe. Then we just started teaching a Dominican guy who works at a bar in his bar and he´s really hopeful. And we have a Romanian guy who is on the right path to baptism but isn´t sure about it yet. It´s a huge contrast to the people in Vallecas who were a lot good people that wouldn´t go to church or having a huge desire to be baptized. I´m very excited for this area. I´m really sad to leave my old investigators that I´ve worked so hard with but I´m really happy about this area. My baptismal clothing should be on the drying rack a few times here.

    I baptized a guy on Saturday! The Hermanas asked me to baptize him for them (After they had already put my name on all the programs) but I was pumped. He is Yaw Kokwa from Ghana. His nickname is Lala and he was actually a reference passed on from me and Elder Shumway in Vallecas. He was so happy the whole time. 

    Oh! I ATE CHESTNUTS ROASTED OVER AN OPEN FIRE! Yes. Yes I did. It makes me happy. It´s a lot different than you´d think. I imagined something along the lines of a walnut or a peanut. It has the thinnest husk ever and the inside is like a tiny potato. It´s slightly salty and slightly sweet. I can scratch that off my bucket list. Next one is getting a face shave with a straight edge razor. Yes they do that here and yes I am so excited to try it.

    So we were running to the train and Elder Fisher jumped in right before the doors closed but I couldn´t get in despite our efforts to open the door. It felt really awkward to be alone. It was really funny though. 

    They apparently play Settlers of Katan (Catan?) here! Here it´s just Catan. Just thought you´d want to know. 

    I had intercambios with an elder who had 1 week in the mission. That was very interesting. It made me remember being new. There´s a certain basic Spanish that we all use and when you´re new you say hi to everyone you see and so many other things. And he´s from Orem! He went to Timp. Elder Schwenke.* It was cool to talk about my old home city. 

    So we passed by the ice rink to see the youth and teach our investigator at the ice rink. Apparently their budget didn´t fit in a Zamboni. I now understand why. It was so snowy and scraped up. Like gouges in the ice. I tried the Spanish hot chocolate. Oh my goodness it is wonderful. It´s so thick and rich. Love it! Some recent converts had invited us over for breakfast and we taught a lesson and set up their tree. It was really cool to do that. 

    I busted out the Christmas music finally. It´s a bit bittersweet. It makes me feel happy but also it´s tinged with missing home. I finally understand "Riu Riu Chiu" from Dad´s Christmas album. Or at least more of it. It´s still pretty fast. 

    I just came back from our choir practice--hence the reason I´m in kind of a hurry. We´re singing What Child is This (Que Niño es Este?), Hark! the Herald Angels Sing (Escuchad el Son Triunfal), Silent Night (Noche de Luz), Joy to the World (Regocijad!) and Los Peces en el Rio. The last is a Spanish song and is very strange. It´s all about fishes drinking so that they can watch Mary brush her hair and clean diapers. But still look it up. It´s fun. And it´s been in my head for the last month.  We have a huge concert of all the missionaries in Madrid to sing to investigators and members and whatnot. It´ll be awesome.

    I hope I wrote enough. It feels like I´ve written so little but I guess it´s been a lot. Maybe it´s just a contrast from last week. Sorry about the long one. I hope you all enjoyed it. I´ve noticed that these have turned into a mix of diary of events and mission work. Maybe I should focus more on mission work like Wesley´s? I don´t know. I like telling random stuff and facts. We´ll see what goes down after a while. Anyway, miss you all loads and love you even more! I´ll probably be seeing you soon on video!

    Nos vemos! (See you!)

     *Daniel didn't know it yet, but Elder Schwenke is the grandson of the Relief Society President in our ward--small world!

    Monday, December 2, 2013

    Santa Just Got Usurped

    Sorry I can´t send photos right now. I didn't bring my cable and even if I did, this computer has a floppy drive. Enough said. Shoutout from the 90´s. I´ll go to a different one later that resides in this millennium. Hey, speaking of sending, the office sent out a picture in the bulletin of all the packages they have for Christmas already. It´s pretty big already. It ought to be since there´s like 220 missionaries here. 

    I got transferred On Monday just an hour or two before I wrote the email. We received the transfer info on Saturday night at 9:00 or 9:30. Just my companionship was whitewashed. The other companionship is "another area" even though it´s the same geographical area.

    I have to edit my email and filter my fingers so much because I want to write in Spanglish or here they say Caste-yankie (Castellano and Yankie). So many words don´t exist in my English vocabulary. Like I live in a piso, not an apartment or whatever. A LOT is un montón. What is pijo in English? Pijo is rich and snobby I guess. No idea. But I speak hardcore missionary casteyankie. It´s becoming more Castellano than Yankie as I go on.

    Alright, so stuff to write. So Torrejon de Ardoz is indeed a whole ton of apartments. There´s not much to see here besides shops. I don´t know why they have a huge 4 star hotel here. No offense to Torrejon. Although, they just finished up their intense Christmas decorating in the plaza. When I say intense I mean intense. They set up a huge Christmas park thing with statues and music and decorations that takes up most of the square. It´s lined with little cabin-looking shops that sell everything. They have everything from pedal go-karts to pony rides to a skating rink to sitting on a king´s lap. Santa just got usurped. Yes, there is a black man in the most ostentatious, feathery, colorful, who-knows-what-else outfit that little kids come to sit on. It´s weird. Then they set up Christmas lights and signs and icicles and too much to explain. Basically everything is decked out around the plaza. I´ll have to take pictures. They take their Christmas and Kings´ Day very seriously here.

    My companion is Elder Fisher. He is a 6´6" very chill Californian. He´s from Newport Beach. Yes, I will send pictures later. It´s a bit of a contrast from the 4 person crazy piso, but I like it. We work well together and this will be a good area. The other missionaries in the area are Hermana King and Hermana Reyes. They get an intro later. And President Jackson must have though he was funny because their last names are essentially the same thing just different languages.

    The ward is wonderful here. They´re all very nice, open, and warm, we get lots of member references, and they feed us often. You just love the people. We have a lot more members in lessons with us too which helps a lot. They share their boss testimony and connect with the people. I found some people that I know or know through others. One guy was a member´s boyfriend so he was in B8 a lot or another one was the brother of our ward mission leader in Barrio 8. 

    So, the night of the day I came, we had a meal/lesson combined with the hermanas at an investigators house. We met them right outside our piso for the appointment. Hermana King is from California I believe, Hermana Reyes is from the Dominican Republic (you can tell from her name and looks) and they brought along a blonde girl who was an exchange student. We taught a short lesson, and then then they went back to make pizza. Hermana Reyes was always back in the kitchen with the investigator man--they´re both in their young twenties--and her companion wasn´t with her. That´s bad. Lots of jazz went down like her companion asking if we thought "flirt to convert" was ok and if they were ok in there and the guy asked if missionaries can date and it was really weird and awkward. Halfway through the dinner, Hermana Reyes admits to not being Hermana Reyes and hands the tag to the real Hermana Reyes, the blonde "exchange student" who apparently is half mexican but looks like the most blonde, white girl ever. The false Hermana Reyes was the really wife of the "investigator" who is just a normal member. Well played. It just works out so well to have a native be "Hermana Reyes" and the real one not be her. You never expect it. They apparently have done it before much worse. It was pretty dang funny. 

    Dang this is going to be long. Wrist and finger rest. Alright.

    This will be a summary of my last week in Barrio 8. Back at the farm in Barrio Ocho in the month of November: We had an amazing meal with the Stake President´s family. I love eating at members' houses here. They do it well here. We held a huge goodbye/get together for all the missionaries in Madrid and it was sick to see everyone. We had many amazing lessons last week that I would share if I had more time and you guys had more patience. Trust me, they were great. Dang I wish I could remember more of lessons to share with you guys. We also ate with the Bishop and his wife. Both talk very fast. We had paella and they failed to tell me that the really crunchy, black things in it were small clams and I got to spit out shell shards. They have this magically horrible stuff that is called Eko (Made by Nestle) that supposedly tastes exactly like coffee. So basically you get the horrible taste without the supposed benefits. It´s gross. 

    We had a Zone Conference which was great. We heard many hours of wonderful talks. Not enough time and space. This bad boy is long enough already. We ate Domino´s! My friend from the MTC got an emergency transfer to Madrid so he got to be there and it was awesome. I got a letter from some guy who just moved into our home ward, Jim Hansen. Turns out he´s the Jackson´s  (Mission President's wife) uncle. Hermana Jackson was happy to hear that. We taught a golden Spanish man who contacted us, loves us, writes down scriptures, and is just beyond gold. Sadly, I don´t get to teach him anymore.

    Mom, a while ago you asked if I knew an Elder Smiley who was your book group friend´s daughter´s boyfriend. Yes. He showed us many pictures of her and talked about her and he now has really short hair, not his previous mullet, and he thought it was the funniest thing that his girlfriend's mom was in your book group. Just remembered that. Tangent! 

    After all that was transfers and I got moved. The Sunday was really sad and there were many tears and farewells. I got a lot of nice and funny notes. I now have a list--which probably will expand much more--to add to my Facebook when I get home. That will explain if I get a random friend request from some Spanish person. It´s very important to get a specific name for Facebook because here they have like 4 or 5 names and they mix it up on which they abbreviate, omit, or leave alone. 

    Got here. The rest is history I think. I don´t know how much I wrote. Oh my goodness, our investigators are great. We don´t have as many, but they definitely make up for it in quality. Especially with huge desire to be baptized. I´ll write more on them when I´m not writing a email for 2 weeks and a new area. 

    I finished Jesus the Christ! Huge book. I love it. I want to read more of Talmage later. I love that book. I have so much church literature to read at home. I´m very excited for it. Now I see why they won´t let us read more. It would take so much of our time. I went to District meeting and met my wonderful district. There´s an Hermana from my old District here too! Never thought that would happen. 

    So Thanksgiving! I still haven´t written about that. Sorry, this will be a big email. We ate at the member's house that I was deceived at. The Hermanas made Thanksgiving. It was really good, although much of it was made from their memories of seeing someone make it so it was a bit interesting, but I still loved it. It was nice to have a Thanksgiving dinner. It just felt so like home and of course everyone there was people that are great. It was a good experience. My comp and I brought the mostol (Wine without alcohol) and made paper turkeys from our hands so they were pretty big. Everyone loved the meal and we had a lot of laughs and smiles and everything.

    The next day we made a breakfast for a member family, an investigator, and her mom so that she could see what her daughter is getting into. Sadly the mom didn´t come, but we still ate it because it was all made. My comp made French toast and bacon, I made eggs and maple syrup (Thanks for the maple extract Mom!). They loved it all and so did I. It felt very American. And it was tasty, of course. It was a pity we didn´t make more toast.

    We fasted from food and all English. Quite a few people actually fainted in church from the fast. One kid was during the sacrament and a woman screamed and he hit his head so he had blood and whatnot so that one got pretty dramatic, but he is perfectly fine. No wounds or damage outside. I love the ward. I´ll write more later about it. We finally met the girl's parents and they´re sweet and we had a sweet member testimony and story and we had a great lesson with the investigator and a member family afterward. 

    Finally we are at today. Sorry about the length. We got locked out of our piso and had a great experience running to a friend across the city in our shorts in the cold and organizing things. I´ll explain more later.

    Then I wrote a whole lot of emails and this ridiculously long one to my family. I still have much more to write and explain for next week. I love our investigators! Sorry that there isn´t as much on the investigators. This one was also special because I had a lot to fit in. More next week on them! I love you all so much and miss you all just as much! 

    -Elder Morgan the Younger

    Monday, November 25, 2013

    An Actual Short Email - Transfer!



    I don´t have much time! So, really quickly, my trainer finished his mission. It´s very sad. Hopefully I´ll see him another day. Since he left, I, the other companion, would normally stay here. Wrong. We got "white-washed". I just arrived in my new area, Torrejon de Ardoz. I literally just got here a couple hours ago so I´m pretty exhausted emotionally, physically, and mentally. So this one is going to be a short one for real. Also I forgot my journal. I´ll write more next week about everything to make up for a really short one today.

    It´s really cool to hear about people becoming missionaries! I´m excited for my new area. I´ll find out more and tell loads next week. It was very sad to leave my old one. I´m almost done with Jesus the Christ! It´s a great book. Ya, I have 4 months now.  It feels really short yet really long. It´s hard to explain. Time sort of distorts on the mission. Ah! Lots of things to say. Later. I gotta go! I miss you all loads! Stay strong and pray for me! Love you all!

    -Elder Morgan the Younger

    Monday, November 18, 2013

    I need a new Spacebar

    I´m really going to miss Brother Cooper.* He is one of the kind of old people I will strive to be like when I grow old. So many more people needed to meet Brother Cooper. I´ve always tried to tell people about him but I just can´t do him justice. That really stinks. I wish we still had more time with Brother Cooper. At least our ward and stake will remember him. All my friends who got a patriarchal blessing loved him. Dang. That´s really, really sad.

    Aw, apparently the reports of Ender´s Game aren´t exactly hopeful. Oh well. Easier to not miss it. I always love seeing English titles translated into Spanish. Like there are a few billboards for Los Juegos Del Hambre: En Llamas (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire). Language always makes me happy. I´m excited to be fluent someday. Although I don´t know random words like when an investigator asked us to translate "buoy". Ya, that´s a bit obscure. But I´m getting better each day. Subjunctive is still waiting for its time to shine. It´s the hardest because we have no English equivalent. It´s when you express doubt or judgement or emotion or who knows what. I´m definitely making sure that my children are bilingual, because it seems that when you know a romance language (Latin based) then you can learn them all so easily. Everyone learns like 2 or 3 others. Although the cool part is talking to Portuguese or Italian people because you can understand them for the most part even without knowing the language. 

    Ya, we heard about the Philippines from members. We heard big things like the government almost going bankrupt. I always wonder if I´ll have one of those disaster moments as a missionary. Who knows. Hopefully it´ll be ok. 

    Wow, a lot of these questions seem to be always about food. Ya, I´ve had lots of ham (jamón). It´s practically the basic meat here. Although we do have a lot of chorizo. My paté is jamón flavored. They serve it plain at houses. Ya, we do have meals at members houses. Some places they get fed almost every meal. I´ve only had like 5 or 6 overall, but they were great. I think we´ve been getting more since my comp is leaving. We were just at the Stake President´s house yesterday and his wife is an amazing cook. I should´ve gotten those recipes. We get up at 7 during the winter and 7:30 in the summer. It still feels early. Tortillas aren´t too common in our piso. They take a surprising amount of effort and time when you have a missionary schedule. Maybe some day. 

    Winter has come at last. It´s been hovering above freezing for the last few days. since it´s humid here your breath goes infinitely farther when it´s cold. It´s fun. I enjoy small pleasures, even if they´re a bit childish. Like crunchy leaves. When you live in a city with tree lined streets, it´s so fun in the fall. And our heaters work at last! Huzzah!

    This is a warning to all missionaries. CTR clothing has nice stuff, but it falls apart fast. My trainer´s suit from there tore when he was just barely in the MTC. Other jazz breaks too. The only merit they do have so far is socks and belts. I love the belts (I´m getting more when I get home), and the socks dry before you even put them on the drying rack and stay soft. But most missionaries are sick of their CTR clothing stuff. 

    The investigators are pretty much the same. On the edge of baptism, lazy as heck, and everything between. John Anthony needs to quit smoking and should this week if all goes to plan. He said he needs something to put in his mouth and between his fingers and we always joked about carrots but we bought him a 1kg bag of carrots and he thought it was so funny. So many other people are ready, they just haven´t realized within themselves. Some we´re dropping because they won´t do anything and won´t meet. The investigator portion of this email will be short because there´s not much I feel like talking about. But there is hope upon the horizon. 

    We watched On the Lord´s Errand. It´s Thomas S. Monson´s life. Love it. I am on the last stretch of Jesus the Christ! I´m in the 600´s. That is a long and deep book. He spent so long recently talking about all the mistakes of Jesus´s trial. He spent a page just about donkeys when he talked about Palm Sunday.

    Confound this space bar. We are in a different locutorio and I have to slam these keys to get them to work and I have to annihilate the spacebar for it to work. I fixed a lot of errors in this email. It doesn´t help either that the computer is Spanish so this whole email is underlined in red besides a few random words. 

    Man, pardon my French but I just feel pooped so much and I think, "This week, the email will be like 3 paragraphs," and then it turns out to be a junior teen book series. If you see my journal entries they are like 4 lines but I look back at my emails and it´s an ocean of words. I seriously want to print these all off when I get home. For all of you who will read these is the future: Greetings. To the rest of you all who are reading them in the present: Talk to you later! Miss you all!

    -Elder Morgan the Younger

    P.S. To all of you reading from the past: How and why? And who? And all that good stuff.

    *Our Patriarch passed away last week.

    Monday, November 11, 2013

    Navy Nights

    Investigators are just like always. Some are on the way to baptism and some are just straight up frustrating. Some we connected with super well recently and we have great, powerful lessons with them. But the problem with Spain is that people can be really lazy. Every time we go to one investigator´s house he´s still sleeping and they have to wake him up. At 1 in the afternoon! And a lot of people can´t get up in time to go to church at 10:30. We just need people to go to church, read, and pray. It´s really simple but not many have done it. I really wish there was some sort of re-baptism for menos activos (less active members). We´re working with a lot of them and I wish the ones who are gaining a testimony now could be baptized again after they´ve been truly converted. Usually it´s pressure from the family being baptized that gets people baptized without a testimony. I wish they wouldn´t do that. But I´m glad we get to help them come back. We´ve also had some great lessons with them too. But it´s just interesting right now. I don´t know how much to write about. I feel like a lot of stuff I want to talk about concerning the lessons is people´s personal stuff. It´s hard to know what to write and what not to write. And it´s hard to remember. So much jazz goes on during the week in lessons and it´s hard enough to understand what´s going down in Spanish, let alone remember it. I am definitely excited to get fluent. Once that happens the lesson section will be longer here. We should have a few baptisms to report on in a couple weeks! 

    I just had a Rhapsody in Blue moment. The trains were running at minimum (Even though it´s not a weekend or holiday) and we were barely able to squeeze into the huge crowd inside the train. We were all pushed against each other and then we saw the next station had at least 100 people needing to get on. I don´t think they all did, but we were all packed beyond tight and holding onto the rail above and I felt exactly like the Rhapsody in Blue cartoon in Fantasia 2000. I half expected us to come out like them but we didn´t.

     Remember how I said that they put a movie in half the poster slots in the city? Last week and this week it´s all been Ender´s Game (El Juego de Ender). That´s a low blow. Well, in two years I´ll get to see it. I´ve seen enough of the poster. Not to be rude or anything, but I don´t remember there being an African American woman in Ender´s Game. She´s on the posters with everyone else but I have no idea who she is supposed to be. Tell me how it is! Don´t reveal any plot changes or anything. Just tell me how it is and I´ll experience all that jazz for myself later. 

    For mum´s question: We buy food separately, cook separately, and we eat at like 10-11PM depending on the season and what we make. Ya, my comp goes home in 2 weeks but he doesn´t like to talk about it even though everyone else wants to. Ya, we probably will have baptisms before he goes. Ya, the ads are kind of sketch. You have to watch where you look. Especially pharmacies, of all things. Yay Europe! 

    Back to food: We have food again! Huzzah! I got a little adventurous. I have a nice little jar of jamón* flavored paté and I found hummus! And the cheese is interesting here. I´m excited to try all of them. I´ve never eaten so much havarti cheese in my life. It´s the most normal, but you can get fancy aged cheese and weird kinds like gouda. I got these things called polvorónes and mantecados. It´s code for super dang crumbly shortbread. You put them in your mouth and it´s instant crumbs. Not bad, though. I´m also excited to try the King´s Day food that they already have out. There´s no Thanksgiving and Christmas isn´t that big so they already are decorating and whatnot. 

    I think Jed needs to meet one of the guys in my piso,** Elder Anderson. He loves Star Wars so much and told me all this jazz about it. He´s read tons of the books by George Lucas and all the other official jazz. There´s so much information and he just went on for a few hours. There´s a lot of stuff before, between, and after the movies. Like Luke apparently goes to the dark side before the 6th and after the 5th and that´s why he uses a force choke; and they didn´t kill the real Emperor, it´s apparently one of the many clones and they have to do all that after the last 3 movies and there´s a whole dang series on Jango Fett! I have no idea why because he´s the most random character ever. Anyways...

    We saw the new temple video! We got to all see it in our native language and it was interesting. The beginning and creation were pretty boss. They did a lot of green screen scenes. The actors were different. I feel like Satan ruined it as he always does in real life. I prefer the old actor. Eve cried and smiled at the most random times. But they did a lot of cool things like make Satan deceitful and the wilderness was very different. I wish they´d alternate them both, though. I still want to be able to see the old one again.

    The Zone meeting after the temple changed a few things. Now we have to be in sight and sound every moment in the piso. It´s not bad for some pisos, but ours is divided into like 9 small rooms and has a lot of hallways. So basically if your comp needs to go anywhere farther than 10 feet from you, you´re going with him. It´ll take quite a bit of getting used to.

    The nights here are interesting. The sky is very bright navy and the clouds are between light grey and white. It all apparently happens because we´re in such a big city. I´ve been exhausted so many nights recently. And I´ve had weird dreams. If any of you have missed hearing my weird dreams, or have never heard one, here´s one. I dreamt that for our morning exercise we had to fight lions in the Coliseum and all we had was two baseball bats, a sword, and a computer. Weird. There´s so much more.

    So for the last week, the people who clean the streets have been on a strike. It also means no garbage is picked up off the streets. It´s disgusting now. In one week a lot of stuff gets on the ground. Everything from cigarettes to flyers to fecal matter. It´s legal to go to the bathroom on the streets. Usually only drunks do it in corners but people let their kids just let it loose in the street. Although, it looks kind of funny when they are holding them in the air folded up and squeezing them like a lemon to let them poo in the dirt. You see strange things here. Yay for Europe again!

    I have to go through my emails and remove all the ç letters after every paragraph. In American keyboards the enter button is wide but here they took a chunk out and fit a nice little ç in their for the French. You´re welcome France. There are some random keys here. I will never understand the purpose of the ¬ symbol. Such are the mysteries of life.

    Love you all loads! Sorry if I don´t write back as much as I should. I hope this is sufficient. See you later! Miss you all!

    -Elder Morgan the Younger

    *ham
    **apartment

    Monday, November 4, 2013

    How Does Moses Make His Tea?

    My journal writing suffered this week so it might not be as long as usual. So I started the "Missionary Journal" and it´s pretty intense. The first like 20 pages have places for everything important and random before, during, and after your mission. I´ll fill it out later.

    I survived the food shortage! I have enough food to make a couple sandwiches, a bowl of peas, and a whole lot of plain rice. It was pretty close. After this I get to buy food! I was getting a little sick of that stuff. Our fridge is so sad right now. It´s the cliché empty shelves with like 3 items for each of us. 
    I didn´t dream in Spanish that I can remember yet but apparently my first week I spoke in my sleep in Spanish and they´ll never let it down.
     
    I had a great intercambios* last week. It was with my friend Elder Ballard from Barrio 6. He´s a cool guy and they guessed correctly that we´d do well together. It was a great day despite every lesson cancelling. We got some great street contacting, though! Hopefully we´ll be in the same district someday.

    Oh, investigators. It´s hard because quite a few are right on the brink of baptism. They just need that push into the font. That´s one reason I´m always excited. They´re so close! One guy was really hit by the Joseph Smith video. He was just so shocked that he died at the end and kept talking about it. I´ve really liked some of the lessons we´ve been having. This one Adventist lady read a scripture we showed her in the Bible about the sticks of Judah and Joseph and asked us how the other churches could be saved without the Book of Mormon. Then we explained our purpose and now she´s super duper on our side which was good because it was a big family we were teaching and they were throwing out weird ideas and trying to undo our doctrine sometimes. She just kept on slamming into them that we need the Book of Mormon. We work with a lot of menos activos (less active members--sounds weird in English) recently. We´re having great lessons with one who was baptized without a full testimony and he´s progressing. It´s always great to see them at church and at activities. Speaking of which, we had a boss Halloween party.

    We, the missionaries, worked with the ward council to have a Halloween party on the first. It went great. People said they hadn´t had a party like that in Barrio 8 for a long time. It definitely boosted the ward´s confidence in ward activities and the missionaries. We spent almost all of Friday setting it up. Most of the side games actually failed, but the dance, food, and people were great. We got the ward to spread word pretty far and bring lots of nonmember friends and we had investigators come and menos activos and they made ward friends. It helped some want to come to activities and to the church again. I made brownies for it! They were pretty dang delicious if I may say so. The weird part of the party was the music because it was normal music. Like music I´ve heard on the radio. I´m so used to church music. It was nice to have a day to celebrate. 

    Apparently the way to advertise a movie here is to put it on every single bus station known to mankind. It almost is like that. Literally about half of the posters are for a single movie and they change every so often. They have some pretty thought provoking ads here too. It´s a pity they don´t get paid attention to much. They have some thought provoking image and powerful quote and then tell you to stop doing drugs or something. I always love seeing people do good here and not join their iniquitous brethren. Like helping blind people through the train station or a couple who decided to have a family at a normal age. Most families are two 50 year olds with one kid or no kid. They spend their lives in the eat-drink-and-be-merry style. My thoughts were confirmed when an apostle (Elder Oaks?) in general conference said that some European countries aren´t having enough kids to support their population. It´s pretty evident here. Hopefully that will enact some kind of Darwinism and all the wholesome people will be the only people raising the next generation. 

    Spanish joke: ¿Qué es la diferencia entre un pera y una novia de un misionero? Uno es pera pero el otro no espera. (What is the difference between a pear and a missionary´s girlfriend? One is a pear but the other doesn´t wait. Makes more humor in Spanish since it sounds nearly identical.) My joke repertoire is expanding into Spanish. I know like 6 now. I love jokes because generally there´s always one that will make someone laugh whether it´s a terrible pun or an anti joke. Ooh! I just remembered a church pun. How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it. That one´s golden. 

    Whoops, just kidding. The email was still long. Psych! Love you all!

    -Elder Morgan the Younger

    *Exchanges

    Monday, October 28, 2013

    A Storm is A'Comin'

    We got the Liahona and I loved it. There are some good stories in there for everyone. Apparently it´s a mixture of the New Era, the Ensign, and the Friend all in one. I finally know the story behind the quote, "A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!" Heard it a billion times but never knew what it was. I got a bunch of letters from the primary! Most were very amusing to read. My favorite was Gunnar which had my name written at the top by some teacher and a big scribble all over the paper in purple crayon. 

    So John Anthony, the smoker guy, didn´t come to the church for meetings 7 times in a row so we got his address to visit him. We called right outside his house and he said, "I´m sorry my friend. I cannot come to the church right now. I´m at home." Trying to fail us. But it was perfect. Hung up. We rang the doorbell immediately afterwards.  Now he comes to the church again to meet with us. A little mean, but necessary. He´s back on the right track again. He should quit smoking in no time. We´ve brought members to some lessons and they´re always boss. Especially when they have super strong testimonies. We get to meet with some too and they are always so nice. Not much big news, just a lot of people progressing along at their own pace. The frustrating part is getting them to come to church. Although part of the problem was that it has been at 3:30 for the past few weeks. We got contact with a couple that we lost for a few weeks! I´m excited for them. The guys from Mali still aren´t back.

    I´m very excited for the next month because I feel like we´re going to have a lot of good happening. Personally I´ve been feeling better and better. Much better this week. I think the mission mainly just goes uphill from the first day. It already is going pretty fast. I know there will be harder weeks, but I´m excited for the future. It´ll be easier too when I can actually carry on conversation and whatnot. But I like the path the mission is going. We planted a lot of seeds, and we´re seeing them grow. I wish I had more to tell about them, but I can´t remember or other things. I think everyone gets the gist of things. Also, I love seeing answers to prayers and fasting. It feels really good.

    So, basically all the cliché WW2 political parties still exist here but they´re mostly just a bunch of angry citizens. The Communists are still somewhat big from before, but they just have more graffiti than others. And some crappy stuff at that, Maybe someone would actually listen to their cause if they got a decent stencil of the symbol. It´s just some unproportioned T and a vague sickle. I was a bit worried because they wrote plans to rally and whatnot all over the walls for the 22-24th. Guess what happened? Nothing, Speaking of Communists, I can´t remember if I mentioned our milk. Irradiated milk. Sketchiest sounding thing ever. Irradiated just makes me think of the Cold War and hazmat suits. And if the milk stays on the shelf too long (sealed) they send it back and irradiate it again. It tastes a bit funky but I´ve adjusted. No, we will never have a dryer. The only ones are in the MTC or the mission home and the mission home one apparently takes hours and hours. 

    We shop for groceries in pretty big supermarkets every week on P-Day. We´re not allowed other days except for snacks at Chinos (Chinese stores) which sell bars of bread too. The main ones for missionaries here are Mercadona (what we use), Dia, Carrefour, and Al Campo. Cereal is usually cheap as long as it´s from here. It´s between 1 or 2€ when we get it. American ones can be worse. In an American store things like Lucky Charms go for 12 or 15 €. Wow. I hope I find an American store soon. I miss some of that stuff. But I make eggs usually for breakfast. Sometimes the rice cereal and sometimes just normal lunch meals.

    Both me and my comp have no money left on our cards because I couldn´t turn in my reimbursement on time and he has to do a weird reimbursement because he goes next month. It´s complicated, but the Lord has helped us. We´ve been fed by a lot more people and some people give us food when they never had before. I got a package with correct shoes and candy from home so now I have some of that too to end meals. I also notice little things like buses coming immediately when we´re in a hurry or stuff like that. It´s nice to have little miracles throughout the day.  We´re surviving too. Our meals are sometimes just a sandwich, but it´s better than nothing. Hey, apparently our "grilled cheese maker" is a sandwich maker. I´ve misnamed it all along. It makes normal sandwiches much more exciting since it´s warm and toasted.

    The weather has been wonderful. It´s been cloudy and rainy all week practically. Most people aren´t too happy but I love it. It started pouring down too so I got to try my raincoat. I love the rain but I´m not going to chill in a downpour for 3 hours outside. It´s really waterproof. And the umbrella is perfect for contacting on the street. It fits me, my companion, and like 2 people. It´s now in the 60´s all the time. Love it. My companion hates it and won´t even comment anymore on the weather. I´m excited to get to the cold where I put on all layers. Although we don´t have anything for pants. Oh well. And I´m so excited for hot foods like chestnuts for the cold days. I walk by it all the time and think, "Soon!" 

    Man, we should compile these into one big word document or something. I could print off a book. Who knows, maybe my posterity would read it someday. Could you actually start putting these into a single word document with a date above each one so it doesn´t just squish together? Seriously, by the end of my mission I´ll have 102 entries of a pretty decent length. That would be so cool to print off and put together.

    Future author,
    Elder Morgan the Younger

    Monday, October 21, 2013

    Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

    This week was black and white. I had great days, not so great days, wonderful investigators, and frustrating investigators. Like we got to teach the guy who works at Starbucks the Word of Wisdom. I thought it was going to be quite the lesson. Turns out, he doesn´t like or drink coffee! Woot. But he does love tea--but he straight up accepted the Word of Wisdom. We finally got the address of the guy who keeps failing our lessons at the church! Now he will never fail! We were getting pretty sick of that. He´d come sometimes. Other times, he´d call us desperately wanting to meet in an hour so we´d get to the church then. Right when we travel all the way across our area to the church, he cancels the lesson he sets up. But no more! We have some pretty golden investigators and some that just need to read or pray or go to church. I don´t want to get into that because I´ll get frustrated. Anyways, I´m really excited for the lessons this week!

    No, gypsies aren´t Africans.* Gypsies are nomads from India who spread across Europe a while back. They are a distinct race, and everything. You learn the physical differences and they do look quite a bit Indian sometimes Ya, they´re called "Gitanos". My experience with them is that they generally have parties on the street, drink, smoke, yell at people, and sing loudly in public. But now they hibernate for the winter so we´re safe. There´s quite the cultural mixing pot here. We give out half our books in Spanish but the other have have been Arabic, Romanian, French, African dialects, and whatnot. It´s all very interesting. We are now teaching this Romanian guy and he was so excited that we had a Book of Mormon in Romanian (Cartea lui Mormon). He said he´d read it all!

    We have our own little washing machine in the kitchen. We have drying racks that we fold up and hang dry everything. If you don´t have fabric softener things are really stiff. I will never take for granted the beauty of our wonderful dryer again. So many other simple things too: Shower heads that stay on the wall, beds that fit Americans, normal sized elevators that don´t feel like death is at hand, etc. I got my hair cut at a haircutter. Apparently they are mostly Morroccan men. It looks pretty dang European/Russian. It´s hard to describe. The other guys in my piso** are Elder Miles and Elder Anderson. In my district are Hermana Hansen, Hermana Thunborg, Hermana Clay, Hermana O´Keeffe, Elder Quesne, and Elder Alpblanalp and the guys in my piso and my comp Elder Shumway.

    Random stuff. I finally had the infamous Choco Flakes cereal. It was pretty good. It´s practically cookies in a bowl of milk. It´s Portuguese I believe. We have a game like slugbug but instead of VW Bugs we have Nuns and Priests. Nuns are one punch and Priests are two. We yell, "Monja!" and punch. Monja is a nun. And there is actually a guy who sells chestnuts roasting on an open fire! I´m so excited to get that when it get´s cold. So excited. That and hot chocolate (which is literally just like melted chocolate) and warm churros. Yum!

    Sorry if I didn´t respond to much. Hopefully I have news of a baptism soon! Love you all loads!

    -Elder Morgan the Younger

    *Our home teacher served his mission in Madrid and he told us the gypsies come from Morocco and other parts of Africa.
    **apartment

    Some random pictures Elder Morgan sent with his letter.

    MTC Group and Teacher

    MTC Fun

    "Sweet Building" in Downtown Madrid

    View from their Madrid Apartment
     

    Monday, October 14, 2013

    The Grapes of Wrath

    Oh my heck, there is something about people from Mali and grape picking. That cool guy, Aguibou, from Mali? He left to go pick grapes is Zamora like I said next week. We found a new guy from Mali named Yakuba. Guess what. He´s going to the northeast to pick grapes for a month too. And we met another dude from Mali. Who knows. He may have left already to pick grapes. It´s good an all that they got jobs, but for mission lessons... not so great. But don´t get me wrong, everyone I´ve met from Mali is great. They´re some of the nicest people here. Really I should be blaming grapes and all the dang drunks. Legal drinking age is 14 and buying age is 18. For alcohol, not grapes. Maybe I should blame the grapes less than the drunks, but the Drunks of Wrath for a email title doesn´t flow off the tongue and it wasn´t a book by Ernest Hemingway. I might be wrong on the author´s name but lots of people won´t know or care. Anyways...

    From Mali we travel to Nigeria. We were talking with the elders quorom president who is from Nigeria. It was the end of the night, but he wanted to give us some food so he put some pepper soup in tupperware. First off, pepper soup is essentially water and parts of super hot peppers. This one had goat meat. I was interested. We opened it at home and found it was goat stomach. Yum. I was beyond curious and hungry, so I tried it. Imagine the feeling of eating broccoli, but it´s made of eternally chewy something that has a slight taste of meat. That´s stomach. It looks great too. I should have taken a picture. It was ok, just a little weird and time consuming. Apparently the technique is put small bites in that you can swallow because there is no way to chew it. 

    I did intercambios* again, but this time I moved. I went up to an area called Cuatro Caminos. Dang I forgot how ghetto of a neighborhood we live in. It´s nice up there especially compared to here. But I love this place too. Not much happened. We were both greenies up there and he didn´t know where much was so we got lost. I was glad to be home and realize how great my comps are. 

    Random news! It´s getting colder now and I love it! My comp from Arizona... not so much. I can still live with just a long sleeve shirt. Everyone else is rocking the cardigan or rocking the sweater. Maybe someday. Clothing can be dang expensive here, just like home. Some places are the kind that sell 40€ white tees and some are the places that sell fine looking shoes for 3€.  I´m expanding my food skills. It´s hard because the things have to work in the short amount of time.

    Transfers! We lost 3 hermanas from our original 6 and gained 1. None of the 4 elders left. Cuenca--they are far south-east but used to be in our district--shrunk again so now they´re back with us! My comp gets to enjoy his last transfer being a trainer and a zone leader. The city got 2 new zones, hence the new leader. Our zones were way beyond normal sized. We were like 56? And I believe the size range is supposed to be around 24 to 36. No title for me yet, but I have a transfer in the field under my belt. Half greenie! 

    On all the investigators. Two are now picking grapes elsewhere, one still needs to quit smoking again, one still needs to get married but his papers will be done in January, one now has to work overtime for Starbucks (Coffee of Wrath), one´s progressing nicely to his baptism, one has a huge load of school work and wants to be absolutely sure about the church, two others are also fuzzy, one family we can only see once a week and they just started, and the rest are pretty normal. Despite the many circumstances, many seem to be on the right path. I´m very excited and hopeful. I have a bad memory. There are just so many names and ethnicities and situations to remember. Ideally this would be the bigger section of the email, but I can´t remember our lessons in detail and I´m still trying to understand some people still. We should have some sweet progress on lots of people soon. Like we´re teaching a part member family. The parents are great and seem like long time converts, but they haven´t even had a year yet so we get to do temple prep sort of. The Restoration video hit a guy pretty hard. Although he´s the Starbucks guy and it seemed like he was breaking up with us. He even said, "I hope we can still be friends." But he´s not leaving us. Just doing more work.  Agh, this is frustrating. My mind knows there are so many lessons and whatnot to talk about but they´re not there. Oh well, hopefully when I´m more experienced I´ll remember more. 

    I understand about the state of the numbers in the Missionary Impossible card game. My planner after its short duty looks like the 6 week card. It´s bent and broken and dirty and who knows what. My new planner is pristine and ready to rumble. I got pictures to send! I´ll put them in another email. Pardon my incorrect signature last email. I was writing other short emails before to people who gave me nicknames. 

    Love you all loads!

    -Elder Morgan the Younger

    *exchanges

    Roman Aqueduct in Segovia

    Cathedral in Segovia

    View of Castle in Segovia from the Tower
     

    Monday, October 7, 2013

    I sort of got a shoutout from an Apostle!

    So, I found out two funny things about the government and one sad thing. The sad thing is that the driver of the train crash is only getting 12 years in prison. That´s messed up. He was speeding because he was late, he just didn´t think the train would fall. Wow. So, ya. The funny things are that you can apply to the government to be legally boyfriend and girlfriend and get tax benefits and whatnot. It costs €1000. We joke that it´s the next step beyond facebook official. Government official. Also, they build the cobblestones on dirt and sand. Whenever it rains, it gets ruined, starts sinking, and they have to redo huge sections of street. They are literally under construction constantly. I guarantee that if you look up the street La Albufera on Google that there will be construction. 

    I can´t remember what I´ve told. Pardon me if I repeat. We had a lovely conversation with a drunk Romanian guy with his ever so classy wine in a one liter box. Everything comes in a 1 liter box. I got to see my MTC teacher right before she got sealed in the temple! We were doing a lesson in front of the MTC and temple and we said Hi afterwards. We taught a man that looked like a Spanish George Clooney. Speaking of which, I see the posters for Gravity everywhere. Tell me how that one is. We had about 5 blessings given in 1 week. Thankfully I had my trusty little bottle on my backpack. We stopped what we affectionately call the "Tribal War". A couple Africans from opposing countries had some conflicts. The bishop--a little Ecuadorian man-- asked us to come to the meeting between the two in his office to help but mostly to protect them both. We found out one of them was a general in his army for 11 years or so. That was crazy but hopefully resolved. One of our investigators finally quit smoking, but wouldn´t come to church. He came to church! And started smoking again... Really? So his baptism might be moved again. 

    Random quote from Elder Ballard from his talk to us: He said he is so busy and works so hard travelling over Europe, but the reason he goes on is because he understands Gethsemane and the Atonement. Wow. I had written that in my journal. And did you notice the shoutout to us missionaries he met during conference? We were part of those 3000 he met over the week. 

    The random favorite quote of the week was when the elders from Cuenca visited. One of them grabbed a vase, put it over his mouth, put his hand on an elder´s shoulder and like Bane said, "Do you feel in charge?" I died laughing. It was a perfect impression and so random. It´s something the bad guy says in the third Batman. I also have a reputation for jokes in this area now. 

    I love Noche de Hogar (FHE) and English classes on Wednesdays. We do both for members and investigators and anyone who wants to come. The NDH´s are always fun and everyone is happy. The English classes have some pretty interesting characters and conversations. Most of it you have to see and hear. I love all those guys.

    I got to go to the temple! I loved it. I had the headphones half on so I did English and Spanish simultaneously. It was also a nice place to just chill and take a much needed emotional break. 

    I want to share one of my favorite meals that my companion taught me. I make 3/4 cups of rice, put it in a bowl with a chunk of butter on the bottom, fill it with milk, put sugar on top, and put it in the microwave. It´s like some amazing hot cereal that is pretty cheap too. He said his mom would make it for him. Try it, but I don´t know the milk, sugar, and butter amounts. We just do it by sight. I learned a sweet way to make a Spanish tortilla but that´s too complicated for email. I wrote it in my journal for when I get home. It makes it poofy! 

    Conference was amazing. Also very... heavy? I don´t know the word for it. It was powerful and deep. I, like many other missionaries, now love conference. I loved so many talks and took so many notes. Although some I just put "Just watch it later. I just want to watch and not write." They were good. It was also really fun to see everyone since a lot of people came from the surrounding area. Missionaries mostly were who I talked to. We watched the morning sessions live at 6PM on Saturday and Sunday, Priesthood was a recording at 11 AM on Sunday, and so was Saturday afternoon at 2PM on Sunday. We don´t get to see Sunday afternoon now. Only if we somehow get to see it on the web later or read it in the Liahona. We couldn´t go home between sessions, so we just all chilled for an hour or two between everything. All public transport is slow and much less frequent on Sundays.

    I still don´t remember much about investigators. Sorry. We have 2 official fechas (baptismal dates) and 1 who just needs to come to church to make it official. Aguibou just moved to the wine country for a month (Zamora?) for work picking grapes. Most everyone else just needs to come to church but can´t because of a novel´s worth of reasons. I´m excited for the next few lessons with some people because it will definitely improve them. It´s weird how I write more about stuff that takes less of my time and I write less about stuff that takes most of my time. I just wish people would come to church more and not be busy.

    It´s definitely much better now! I feel much different. I´ve improved a lot. It´s not like I was bad before the mission, but missions definitely make better people. If I write more I might get arthritis, and I´ve already a mountain of things. Spanish lesson of the week: Un montón* of something is like a super "a lot". Dang, I know I´ve forgotten to write a lot of things and answer questions, but I´ll remember them next week. Love you loads!

    -Elder Danny Morgan

    *monton means a pile or heap

    Monday, September 30, 2013

    Segovia!

    Whoops, forgot a subject last time. First I need to write about today before I forget, We went to Segovia! It´s gorgeous. It´s a pity I can´t serve there. Maybe it will open again in a couple years. I´m definitely going there as a non missionary. We saw the aqueduct which was amazing. It´s so huge! The pillars are like as wide as I am tall or more. It was so huge and cool! Basically every street was a beautiful view. It´s all antique-ish. And all the streets are the legit cobblestone where they just grab a load of rocks and put cement between them. We saw the cathedral but didn´t go inside. It was pretty dang spectacular. Look it up.

    We went to the castle and inside the castle! It was pretty dang sick. Although in one room the people in the paintings have just straight black eyes which is beyond creepy because it was kind of dark in there anyways. We went up the tower which is quite the hike. It definitely would be hard to invade. At the top you get a reward for your muscles burning because the view is amazing. I took some great pictures. It´s just perfect. My camera died right before the castle, so I´ll send them later along with others. And I have to get pictures from other people.

    Afterwards we decided to be really American and go to the Burger King. It was good, especially the free refills of Fanta. I was full to the point of uncomforable-ness. That has been a while. But the burgers... The patties were so tiny! They were like 3 inches across or something. If you get a XXL one then it´s normal American sized. We got to wear normal clothing! It feels so odd. I think I may have either lost my beloved red shirt or left it at home. Is it at home? A huge part of the fun of the trip was the group. It was the guys from my district and Barrio 1. They have some really funny people and they´re all really nice. 2 are from my group. And the hermanas were both hispanic so it was quite the test of Spanish. One was Argentinian so we got to hear the sh sound on the y´s and ll´s. 
    This week was so much better. We essentially opened this area when I first came. But now we have some progressing investigators and baptismal dates. I´m getting used to the exercise and schedule. I can´t remember many experiences because I forgot my journal because of Segovia. And I have to type like a madman because we only have an hour left and we still have lots to do. It´ll be much better next week. I want to tell stories but I´ll save that for next week too.

    I´ll just quickly mention a few things. We had a couple days sprinting home and making it 2 minutes before curfew. It´s been cooling down and raining! My companion from Arizona is not happy with that but I love it. Lots of cloud and mist and rain. Umm, more stories next week. My companion is a passionate lover of mate* and country music. Don´t talk bad about either. He made me try the máte and it was pretty dang gross. And I´m not the biggest country fan. But it´s all in good fun. Love you all loads! Be excited for stories. Hopefully I wrote them down too.

    Random weird Spanish lesson. They say "me cae" and then bien or mal. It means I like that person or I don't like that person, but literally it means "they fall me". I hear it and it still makes me weirded out. Just like hearing English. My brain always sort of trips when I hear American English.

    Love you all!

    Elder Morgan the Younger

    *Mate is an herbal tea popular in Argentina
     

    Monday, September 23, 2013

    Life in Madrid

    So I'm adding pics of the beautiful sunset, one of the cool tree lined streets around here, and the view of the temple that we got every time we went up the staircase. I haven't been able to look at many so I´ll do that later. I finally got my camera to work so here it is!



    Sorry, it's hard to remember all the questions. Here are the answers to what I remember. We live in Vallecas. Brother Corbridge sent me an email and asked me if I was there. He knows where it is. We live in the second most ghetto place with gypsies around us. If you want really specific, here it is. There's a train system called renfe cercanías. We're just a hundred feet north of the El Pozo station. The street is Calle Violeteria or something like that. We have 4 people in the apartment. We call them pisos. We have little cell phones with the normal keypad, no more than that. Apparently Europe gets everything last, but who knows when we´ll get stuff. It could be in a month or it could be in a year. I´ve also heard that we might not be able to take them out of the pisos and only use them as an area book and whatnot. I´ll find out what the President says when we get them. We do email in little shops called Locutorios. They sell computer use based on time and print stuff and have phone booths and other things. It varies between locutorios.

    Man, half the time in the work is travelling. It's a big city. It's about 20 minutes by bus to the church. But it's hard to be on time because things vary. You might get the bus or metro or renfe perfectly or you might have to wait an extra 20 minutes. It´s interesting. 

    I don't care about miss appointments too much. This is definitely the refiner's fire time. It's ok though because everyone says that it gets better as you go on. I do feel good being exhausted at the end of the day. There's a lot to explain, but I know it will get better. The good thing is I will come out of this as a seasoned veteran. And ripped. Dang ripped. The missionary walk is quite the pace. I'm down to like 88 kilos from 100 initially.* Best weight loss program ever. That´s normal supposedly. It should slow down. My comp used to be a bigger guy and he´s lost 70 pounds overall. 

    I learned how to counter Jehovah's Witnesses! They're bigger than us in Spain and they're around a lot. Testigos de Jehova. Everyone thinks we are them. I hear the word "testigos" a lot. My comp told me about their lessons that are always the same and how to answer their accusations and questions to flip it around. They have some interesting beliefs. Now I have the counter to their bible bashes! The Armor of God.

    Alright, so stories during the work. We actually had a guy come to us on the street instead of the other way around. He wanted to learn English and we quickly changed it to church lessons in English. He's going really well. He likes it. He found a friend at church that's from Peru too (he's from Peru). We have a lot of menos activo** people to teach. It's hard because a lot of them have work which is really important for people in the Crisis. Spain is at 25% unemployment overall. Some areas it's much worse. John Anthony continues to call us every day to tell us that he is watching the news or just blessed his food. He's getting so close to quitting smoking! He got down to 3 cigarettes but went back to 6 and ten but then goes back down. This last bit seems to be the hardest. Hopefully he'll be good by October. We're teaching this awesome African guy called Aguibou (Ah-gee-boo) on the city center steps a lot. I really need to remember more of these people. I'll try to remember to write a list. We have a lot of references to go try out. We're getting to know a lot more people in the ward so we're getting more references, members that want to come, and whatnot. This should be a great week. I'm excited!

    Random Spanish lesson of the week. People never say "Hasta luego!" They sort of scrunch it up and it becomes "Staluego!" Now you know.

    Love you all and I miss you loads!

    -Elder Morgan the Younger

    *He's lost 25 pounds.
    **less active

    Monday, September 16, 2013

    La Vida Bella*

    After writing last email I forgot loads of stuff that happened that week but I don't want to go into it now because that wasn't so great. Like I said, it was crazy. I don't remember if I've said this, but I feel like I'm in that Japanese movie called Spirited Away. The girl gets a new name and starts forgetting her old name and needs her old name to get home. It's weird to remember that my name is Daniel not Elder Morgan. Hopefully I remember my name for these two years. 

    I forgot to write about my last MTC days. Monday we had Dominoes pizza, took pictures, and a emotional testimony meeting. A funny moment was in the testimony meeting. At the end a girl said she could feel the spirit so strong that she wouldn't be surprised if Jesus walked in at that moment. Right after she said that the door opened and we all whipped our heads around in shock but it was just a tiny Spanish man with a clipboard. Maybe his name was Jesus. They have a lot of those. It was so sad to see everyone go. I got email info so I hope I´ll see them all again. I see a few people at zone meetings and whatnot.

    Speaking of awesome meetings, we got a talk from an apostle! Elder Ballard is going around Europe for leadership conferences and whatnot and President asked if he would come and see us. He was able to squeeze in an hour to shake all our hands and give us a talk. It was pretty awesome. Although we had to wake up dang early to get to it.

    The problem with many people here is that they won't say no to our faces. We get them to accept appointments but then they won't answer the door or their phone. One day we had all 7 appointments fall through. It was actually kind of funny. That's all you can really do about that. Laugh or else you cry. It's interesting teaching. Especially when I can only catch a few words. Poco a poco.** That's the rough part. The two main messages I'm being told by everyone is it will take time and you need to be patient and that missionaries need to not take so long and do good work. I don't know how to put it but they're conflicting and it's hard to find the medium. Although the second one is more for the experienced missionaries but it still is quite prevalent. I at least know I'm working hard because I am exhausted a lot.

    I'm not sure what I have but I'm surviving so far. The blood tests came back ok so that's good. I have some appointments elsewhere hopefully soon. It's hard because they're far away. I did get some meds so that may help me get through all this jazz. Oh my heck, there is literally a pharmacy on almost every street corner. They all have glowing green crosses. People must be druggies here. It's cheap too. The stuff I had to get only cost 8€. People drink and smoke like there's no tomorrow here too. It's quite the crazy life style for a lot of people here. A lot of people don't get married until much, much later and look like their kids' grandparents. 

    I'm sorry I don't remember much about my investigators/menos activos.*** There's so many yet so few. By that I mean so many that we try to meet but so few that we actually get to or we just don´t see them that much. We do a lot of menos activo work here. We have like 4 people we are teaching named Viviana and that get's confusing. The a lot people who we do teach have really strong testimonies. Not all but there are a lot of really good people. I hope to be able to actually teach more.

    I've had a few conversations with people in Spanish. Mostly casual ones about random things. More than often members or missionaries. I met this really nice Italian couple and we had a Spanish/Italian/English conversation. It was quite interesting. We had both seen Life Is Beautiful so that was fun. It made me happy. There is a big mixture of accents so that makes things interesting. I hear everything from Dominican to Andalusia to Paraguayan.

    That is quite the email. I could write more but I won't. Please still pray for me, if you would. It's still rough, I just don't want that to be the main theme of my email. I really love physical letters too. This is definitely a trial of patience and humility. Wish me luck and pray me luck. 

    Vale,
    Elder Morgan the Younger

    *The Beautiful Life
    **Little by little
    ***less actives

    Saturday, September 14, 2013

    MTC Life

    Elder Morgan's companion's mother was nice enough to send me (Mom) some of the pictures her son took.  I'm including a few here.


    With Companion Elder Lopez from Layton, Utah


    District in the MTC
    Checking out a soccer stadium

    In front of the Royal Palace
    More touristy stuff

     

    Tired on the bus--who that joking around?


    Studying hard or hardly studying?


    Monday, September 9, 2013

    The World is Quiet Here

    So, first week. It's been quite the week. My companion said it's been an insane week for him too. Another Elder took our keys 3 hours north so it was quite the trip getting home. We had to room 5 elders going to the Islands that day. We've been a hotel basically. We had elders staying for zone conference, the island elders, and a Segovia elder, and one other that I can't remember. Segovia was open for 4 days and now it closed again. All I really can say is that things went corrupt so they took the elders out.

    So, I've been told the first week is the worst week of your life and it was definitely leaning towards that. I've been sick for a few weeks but we don't know what it is yet. Tests are coming back soon. Some guesses were things like Mono. Part of it is I'm not getting REM sleep, they think, and so it's kind of rough doing such hard work. Whatever it is, I'm still going to work and stay until I can't physically do the mission work. And a lot of people spread around a nice cold which seems to like me a lot and wants to stay a week longer than everyone else. And apparently the second most popular activity in Spain after breathing is smoking. Not really but there are a lot of smokers here which doesn't help much. We live in the southeast area of Madrid which is the ghetto. There are lots of Spanish gypsies which are much different than the Romanian gypsies who lie and beg more money and whatnot. Nothing got stolen. 

    After a series of events, we have almost no investigators from the start so it's been a lot of contacting on the streets. The investigators we have can be frustrating. There's a guy from Africa who is angry at some people in the ward over misunderstandings and we have to help him get more of a testimony of the priesthood. We have this awesome guy John Anthony who has taken the lessons, he's just trying to quit smoking. He's doing well. He started at 20 per day around when I got here and now he's only doing 5. He wants to get baptized on his birthday which is the third of next month. Hopefully that will work out. He calls us 5 times a day to talk shortly. He always says, "Hello my friend" in his deep Spanish voice in English whenever he starts talking to anyone. He once called us to basically tell us that he was at work and couldn't talk and had to go. He's a sweet guy. We´re getting more contacts to hopefully it will be better. We went to a member's house and apparently we had talked to the husband at church, the hermanas talked to the wife at church, and the hometeachers just came over so we all taught at once and had a good laugh about accidentally overlapping. 

    Our apartment is a mess. It came from not so clean elders sooooo, ya. Dishwashing soap is expensive so we use the sink, people don't wash that much, and we have very few dishes so finding a clean dish around here is hard. We're trying to fix that. We do have air conditioning which is a blessing. And the weather is getting better. We finally got hand soap and laundry detergent so that will be nicer. Ah, the ghetto. But hey, it's home. Since our scale is sketchy, I'm not sure how much I've lost but I think I lost 10 to 20 pounds this week. It's a lot of work and we don´t eat big meals. Any illusion I had about cooking or using any simple recipe are out the window. It's just been things that require no cooking or can be heated in the microwave. The milk's not too bad. Most liquids come in a 1 liter box. All the ingredients are expensive, not worth getting for a short amount of time, and/or I have no time. I´m eating all my food groups, though. We were fed by a member once. It was really nice and made me happy. They were nice members from the north visiting the temple who knew my companion.

    I went to my first Sunday in a ward. It was nice. I can't understand much but I get what I can. I got to talk a bit this Sunday. Our ward building is the one on temple grounds so I see the MTC a lot and get nostalgic. I miss that place now. Especially the people. Strange how it's that way for most everyone. When you're in, you want out. When you're out, you want in. My companion's nice. He´s very patient and understanding. He's very experienced. He doesn't like people to bring it up, but he leaves in 12 weeks right after he trains me. Elder Shumway. It's a good sign that he thinks that way. It means he'll go good until the end. I'm getting better little by little. They say the mission gets better and faster as you go on, so all I can do is keep working. It's a bit slow and rough right now. I definitely need prayers and support. 

    Sorry that I didn't respond to anything or stuff. I'm pretty exhausted physically, emotionally, mentally, and whatnot. I'll write better emails when I'm well, rested, and doing better. Spain is gorgeous. Every street is tree lined. There are many flavors of cobblestones. The good ones have good grip but aren't a rockslide. We have 10 missionaries in our ward. 6 hermanas and 4 elders. One of the hermanas, Hermana Seastrand, turned out to be Mr. Seastrand's niece I think. He's a teacher at Orem High. We use the public transport system like none other. Mom, I got your letter that you meant to reach me in the MTC but I got it now. Thanks for it, it helped. So, I'm pooped. I'll write more next week and hopefully more coherently. Tell me if any of this doesn't make sense and I'll explain it next week and probably tell more next week. How things are changing, it'll be much better, Wish me luck! Or rather pray me luck. 

    P.S. The liking/loving system goes like so:
    Me gusta - I like (whatever or whoever)
    Me encanta - I really like (whatever or whoever)
    Te/Le quiero - I love you (really friends way or slightly romantic)
    Te/Le amo - I love you (Family and significant others.)

    Now you are bilingual..

    Les amo,
    Elder Morgan the Younger