Monday, January 26, 2015

On the Line

Hello Everyone,

It has been quite the week. Quite the week, quite the week. 

Last week, I left Alicante. It was very, very hard. I love the people there a lot, and it was extremely difficult for me to leave behind a lot of the people -- so many of them are just fantastic. I will miss them. I have learned a lot there, from my companion Elder Sharp, from the other missionaries, and from the people I´ve been able to be with.

The bus ride from Alicante to La Linea adds up to be about 11 hours of traveling. It was pretty cool, we got to stop in Granada, which is my favorite spot in our mission, and eventually got to Algecires, a district just outside of La Linea. We had to stay there with four other Elders while the landlords were preparing our apartment. When we finally were able to move in on Saturday, we got to our apartment, and were very, very surprised. There weren´t any dishes, and only one bed that was big enough. We ended up having to go over to the landlord´s mother´s house where we got a mattress and a bed frame. We were able to throw together another bed before we got to sleep, but mostly our goal for these past couple of days has been getting the essentials to live.

But La Linea is fantastic. It´s a very Spanish town with some cool buildings and a lot of cool culture here. It´s going to be a great area. We are completely opening the area. Starting completely from scratch. No other missionaries have touched this area for a very long time. We also have Gibraltar in our area, which is absolutely fantastic. We were able to go there last night, and it is a completely different world there. Everyone speaks English. EVERYONE. It was completely weird. The also use the pound there. I was not ready to start hearing, "It costs ten pounds" Instead of Euros.

It´s been a crazy, crazy week. I don´t even know where to start. Basically, we have been talking with a lot of people. Almost no one here has even heard of Mormons nor seen a Mormon missionary before, so we are the first. The people here are very helpful. Really, if you ask for directions, often they will walk with you to the place where you need to go. They are fantastic. They´re also really hospitable. A lady invited us to her house to eat, without knowing anything about the church or about missionaries, and fed us authentic Peruvian food. It was delicious.
It´s been a week full of changes. It´s been difficult, but it´s also been a lot of good experiences. I know that this work is God´s work. I know that he is in the details of our lives, because even though it might not seem like we can overcome challenges, we can. I know that he gives us challenges so that our weaknesses can become strengths. It won´t be easy. It really, really won´t. I know because I have been stretched a lot this week. But I´ve also come to know my Savior more. When I´ve been really stressed, hurting, or struggling, I remember that no matter what, he is always there. I remember this last week looking at a picture of Christ I received from home, and sitting there in our bare floored apartment, I really truly felt how much God loves us. No matter what. No matter how weak or under qualified we are. He truly, truly does love us.

I´m sorry this email´s a little bit short, I don´t have much time. I love you all so much. Thank you for all that you do and for the support that you give me. You all have made such a huge impact on my life and for that I´m grateful. 

It´s a great day to be a missionary!

Elder Weenig

Monday, January 19, 2015

Last Week in Alicante

Happy Martin Luther King day everybody!

Wow. This week. Where do I begin? It´s been quite the week.

We found out about transfers! I am being transferred to the border of Spain and....Great Britain! My new area will be La Linea de la Concepción. It´s right next to the British owned-city/peninsula. I´m really excited. It´ll be cool, because currently, there are no missionaries serving in La Linea. We will be opening it up for missionary work. I can´t wait. I have been talking with a returned missionary who is in our ward, and served her mission in Madrid about opening an area, and she says that it was one of the best experiences of her mission. It´s going to be hard, because we will be starting from ground zero, but it will also be a really good time to learn and grow. I´m really, really excited.

But about this week. I guess I should start off by saying that if there are two things that I absolutely cannot stand and they are being sick and saying goodbye. This past week, I´ve been pretty sick. The weather´s been cold and rainy, so we´ve been bundling up every time we go out and drinking lots of Cola Cao (this fantastic chocolate drink that I´ve discovered in Spain that´s pretty similar to hot chocolate). It´s been a pretty difficult week physically, but we´ve been working hard. Up until last night, which was interesting. We were having a goodbye dinner in the house of our primary president. I had been feeling pretty sick all night, and halfway through the dinner, had to run to the bathroom, and ended up throwing up. It was probably the most embarrassing moment of my mission yet. I just wanted to melt on the spot. But the mother was so nice. She kept telling me not to worry about it and made me this infusion that is supposed to help out with stomach problems. The members here are fantastic. I can´t believe I am going to be leaving them. We had a lot of goodbyes yesterday, and a lot of them were really hard. I am really going to miss Alicante. The people here have such strong testimonies and they have so much strength. I wish that I had their spiritual strength and ability.  A lot of them have become my role models. 

I was talking with Elder Sharp the other night about improvement. It really struck me some of the things that he said about how we will never be perfect. We can try, and we should always strive, but we will never be perfect. The important thing is just to keep doing our best, and that it what counts.  I think that´s something that applies to our lives. If we are doing what is right, and we are trying to do God´s will, he will bless our efforts and let us know that he is pleased with what we are doing.

A great end to my time in Alicante -- Tekki finally got baptized! On Saturday, we had her baptism. It´s been a very interesting ride with getting her baptism to work out, but she is a fantastic new member of the church. She got up in the last fast and testimony meeting and bore her testimony of how much she loves this Gospel. So cool. She´s only ten, but she has a testimony that makes her seem so much older. I wish that I´d had her strength when I was her age. She is incredible. 

This last week has been amazing, and Alicante has been amazing. I am going to miss it so much. I love it here. I´m going to miss it a lot. But, I am going to learn a lot in my next area. Well, I don´t have much time. But I just wanted to say thanks for all that you do for me, for the love and support that you always give. You all are fantastic.

It´s a great day to be a missionary!

Elder Weenig
The Magaña family who would feed us every week. Great family.

Roza and her family. I am going to miss them

Monday, January 12, 2015

God is in Our Lives Daily

First off, Happy Birthday this week to the best Dad in the world! I love you Dad, thanks for your example.

This has been quite the week. It´s been a very cool week to see God´s hand helping us with our work, but it´s also been a hard week physically, I´ve been pretty sick. But we´ve been able to keep working and have been able to see some really cool miracles in the area. 

Today´s p-day and it´s been a pretty great p-day. We got to go and play tennis with a tennis teacher who is a recent convert of the hermanas in our district. The scoring of tennis in Spanish is almost the exact same as in English, but I think that that comes mostly from the fact that most of the words used come from French. Well, actually only one word, but regardless, it has been a really fun day. There is a foreign exchange student here from Utah who came and played with us, and she is amazing at tennis, she was number one varsity at her school, so it was cool to get to play against and with her in a doubles match. The teacher that we go with, Mateo, is fantastic. He is always giving us helpful hints on how we can improve our serve, how we can get more spin on the ball. He´s great.

I think that the most important thing that I´ve learned this past week is how much we need to accept what we can´t control. As a missionary, we completely realize that other people´s decisions completely affect our day to day lives, but we have to learn to be happy regardless of other people´s decisions. For example, we were talking with one of our investigators, who told us that he just would not get baptized. It was very hard, especially because I had grown to love the guy, but we stopped meeting with him for a time, because he refused to make progress.

It´s hard sometimes, being a missionary. Sometimes we just have to keep pushing on, and God eventually does bless us. Like this last week, I was teaching English class on splits, and we had exactly one student: a fourteen year old kid named Luis from the Dominican Republic. He knew how to speak a little bit of English and the class was going really well. I kept teaching with the Elder I was with when my companion shows up in the window of the door to the classroom. He starts waving at me, and pointing at Luis and acting really excited. I had to go and talk to him, because really, I had no idea what he was trying to tell me. It turns out that Luis was a reference of GOLD that we hadn´t been able to contact before. A member from the other ward in Alicante knows his father and had invited him to the English class. Luis is fantastic. Every time he prays he tells us that he is going to talk with God. He really prays with meaning and it´s really cool to hear him pray. He is great at coming to church, which is always a good sign. He also loves playing soccer, and we were actually going to play with him this last Saturday, but unfortunately I was sick, and we ended up just being the super supportive Elders that showed up at the soccer game.

But we really do see God in our lives daily here. Our lives are really hectic and sometimes we feel like we´re just riding a really steep and random emotional roller coaster. But it´s awesome. Elder Sharp and I were talking about it the other day, how you feel some of the most extreme emotions you will ever feel on your mission. That is what is what is so tiring about missionary work. But, you get to appreciate the moments that are great. I really, really love being a missionary. I realized that about a week ago, I hit my five month mark in the mission. The time is going by so fast. I can´t believe that I am about to leave my first area. Alicante has been amazing. I have so many good memories here, and I am going to miss it. I really am very grateful I was able to start my mission here. The mission, I honestly believe, is a place to change. That´s why people are always saying it is so hard, because change is hardly ever easy. That´s why the mission feels difficult at times. We are changing, growing and just becoming better people. It´s like what they told us in the MTC: "There is no growth in the comfort zone, and no comfort in the growth zone." But I cannot describe how much I love being a missionary. I really do treasure every second of this experience. It sounds corny, but it really makes me sad to think that I have already gone through five months of my mission. The time FLIES out here. That´s why we really have got to make the most of every moment. 

Thank you all so much for all of your love, support, and letters. It means a lot. Thanks especially to mom and dad for letting me be out here, it is such a great experience. It´s hard. Very, very, hard. It stretches you in every way possible, but I love it. So thank you. 

It´s a great day to be a missionary!

Elder Weenig
This is the family we had Christmas dinner with. The daughter standing next to me left for her mission a couple of weeks ago to Brazil, and the other sister recently got back from serving in Madrid. The mother just left to go to London to live. They are a fantastic family. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Feliz Año Nuevo!

Happy New Year!

Spain welcomes in the New Year with grapes. Traditionally, as the bells are sounding in the last twelve seconds of the old year, you eat a grape each time that the bell sounds. So for the last bit of 2014, we were eating twelve grapes with a bell keeping time. It was fantastic. 

A couple of cool miracles from this week. Almost a month ago, we stopped a woman in the street, and asked her if she would like to hear a message about Jesus Christ. She said yes, gave us her address and phone number, but ever since then, we haven´t been able to get in contact with her. We have passed by a number of times, but she´s never been able to meet. One day last week, I was on an exchange with another elder in our district, and we knocked on her door, and her husband answered. He let us in, and we started talking about what we do as missionaries and talked about how families can be eternal. The son and the father listened and at the end told us that we could definitely come back. They seem like they have a LOT of potential.

This last week was fast and testimony meeting for our ward. One recent convert and one less active girl that we have been working with got up to bear their testimonies. One, Dana, is from Romania, and is a CHAMPION. She is the only member in her family and has to shoulder a lot of the responsibility that a sixteen year old girl should never have to deal with. She is inspiring. She got up and bore her testimony and it was so simple and sincere that you could just feel the love that she felt for the gospel and how much it has changed her life. The other girl, Valentina, is great. She stopped us in a locutorio (telephone/internet store) about two months ago and asked if we were from the Mormon church. We told her that we were missionaries, and she told us that she was a member! We were a little shocked, but it turns out that she had gotten baptized when she was nine, but she hadn´t come to church since. We´ve been meeting with her since and have been encouraging her to come back to church. She really is amazing. Her mom doesn´t think much of the church, but she comes anyway. She was really afraid to bear her testimony, but I told her that it would be my last testimony meeting in Alicante, and that she needed to, and thankfully she did. Really powerful experience to hear someone that has been away from the church testify about how much happiness the church really does bring.

It´s been a very good week. I´ve learned a lot about perseverance. Sometimes it seems impossible to keep going with a smile on our face and a really cheery attitude. But the important thing that we always need to remember to is keep going. To endure to the end, even though it may seem impossible. God asks us to do impossible things at times. But through him, all things become possible. And if we keep that in mind, our trials and obstacles that we have to confront become more bearable. The problems that we have seem smaller. We just have to keep an eternal perspective. It´s hard, but when we have that mindset, we become so much more capable and so much more ready to confront life´s challenges. The mission has taught me that more than anything. We may never know why we have a specific set of challenges, but if we do our best to overcome them, God will help the impossible become possible.

I love you all. Thanks for all of the support that you give to me. I love and miss you all a lot, but I love being a missionary and I love Spain, the Spanish language, and the culture that it here. I am so lucky to be serving in Spain. 

It´s a great day to be a missionary!

Elder Weenig
New proselyting clothes :) These were cool. Traditional Spanish suits. Each of them about $1000 each. (No worries, just looking, no buying) :D
Us just about to eat the grapes on New Years. 

This was Christmas Eve night, the family we ate with are awesome. They are from Brazil. 

Aaaand this was on our way up to the castle on our last pday.