This is Kathleen's most recent letter. I am posting the entire letter.
Familia y Amigos!
Let me explain the title of this email. A few weeks ago an Elder once told me that his brother told him that all missionaries get to a point in their mission where they look back and all they see is mission. Then they look forward and all they see is mission. A little like being in the middle of the ocean.
I hit that point this week. It´s a little surreal.
Also, I had to strain my eyes at the word "voyage" to remember if it was actually a word in English.
I´ll start with the funny stuff this week.
We had a ward activity this week that was a lot of fun. We met a few people and have some good leads of new people to teach. This was also one of the funniest culture shocks of my mission.
We had a barbecue, and I´m kicking myself for thinking we would eat hot dogs and hamburgers. We are in a ward that is about 95% South American, and the food we eat with the members is usually stuff I don´t recognize. We went into the kitchen to see what they were preparing and they had a GINORMOUS tub filled with some sort of organ meat. I´ve eaten various organs before, but I didn´t recognize these. This is what ensued:
"Hey, Paa. What are these?"
"Oh! They´re whatchamacallits!"
"I don´t know what that is.
"Oh... Um... It´s the part of the chicken that holds the eggs. They´re great! I promise!"
What she was describing were chicken ovaries. We both tried one, and we politely left the room to find a place to spit them out. I also ate what I´m pretty sure was chicken tongues this week. I was at a lunch where one of the elders was served cow tongue. He hid most of it in his napkin and later described it as "It was like kissing a cow!"
We had two investigators -- Jx and S -- show up to this ward activity and they had a great time! They stayed all five hours and played games, played with the children and made a lot of friends. We both felt pretty strongly that this was going to help them progress a lot.
I´ve noticed a strange quirk about the people in Spain. The last few days have been REALLY hot. Normally people tell us to put on a coat even when it´s warm, but they usually believe that it´s cold out (it´s not). It´s been 70 and above, and I´ve still been seeing people with winter coats and sweaters. We saw several women in wool coats fanning themselves with flamenco fans on a hot bus yesterday. In case there was any doubt before, we´re in Spain.
Now on to the more spiritual stuff.
The fifth person contacted us on the street this week. He had met with missionaries before and had wanted to know if we knew one. He invited us to come talk to him next week. We´ve been having a lot of luck with people contacting us!
We met with a less active woman this week named Ja. She was baptized with her cousins in Peru when she was 8, but when she was 13, she inexplicably stopped coming to church. She lived her life as normal: Went to school, moved to Spain, got married, had a baby. Everything was going normally until her life started to unravel. She started to realize how much she needed God in her life and she had spoken to just about everyone: Jehovah´s Witnesses, Pentecostals, Hari Krishnas, but nothing seemed to work. She ran into the Elders in the neighboring area and she told us that it just seemed right that she ran into them.
She was so excited to have us come over to meet her (even though we woke up her baby, Ls). We discovered that she didn´t know much about the church, and we started teaching her about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We had asked her if she had ever asked herself why there were so many churches in the world, and she told us that was one of the most prominent questions in her mind. She also wanted to know why -- if there is a God -- so many bad things happen in the world, especially to children.
We promised her that if she prayed and asked God, that he would reveal an answer to her. She was very confident that she could receive an answer. She might be one of the most amazing people we teach. We could tell during the whole lesson that she has the Gift of the Holy Ghost. She is very in tune with the Spirit.
We´re really excited about Smith. He´s super enthusiastic about church and loves coming. He´s working really hard on keeping the commandments and is doing a good job! He´s been progressing really well and, assuming he keeps pushing along, will get baptized next week. We´ve been praying for him that he can receive and nurture a testimony. Your prayers are appreciated too.
Ji left for Barcelona this week and won´t be back until the 15th. She might even move there. We´re going to be in contact with her. Nonetheless, she´s progressing really well. Please keep praying for her and her family.
I learned a lot about seed planting this week (in the spiritual sense). I´ve finally started to see that no matter how small my actions are, if I´m trying to be like the Savior and teaching people (even though they reject us sometimes), I am actually making a difference.
I read something in Preach My Gospel this week about what it means to be an effective missionary. It doesn´t matter what the external factors (number of baptisms, lessons taught, etc.) but what you are trying to do and if you are trying to follow Jesus Christ. I found this list and I loved it so much I made a poster for my desk:
You´re an effective missionary (or member or person) when you:
- Feel the Spirit testify to people through you.
- Love people and desire their salvation.
- Obey with exactness.
- Live so that you can receive and know how to follow the Spirit, who will show you where to go, what to do, and what to say.
- Develop Christlike attributes.
- Work effectively every day, do your very best to bring souls to Christ, and seek earnestly to learn and improve.
- Help build up the Church (the ward) wherever you are assigned to work.
- Warn people of the consequences of sin. Invite them to make and keep commitments.
- Teach and serve other missionaries.
- Go about doing good and serving people at every opportunity, whether or not they accept your message.
I love you guys all very much. Have a great week!