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


    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