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.

Some random pictures Elder Morgan sent with his letter.

MTC Group and Teacher


"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


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