Monday, October 26, 2015

Granada Week Two

What an incredible last week.

I don't have a lot of time today, so I think that I will focus on one miracle that we were able to see this last week. We work, aside from just inside Granada, in the surrounding towns. We were in one of them this last Friday teaching in an Internet cafe. We decided to do splits with the member that had come with us. I stayed with the member in the cafe while my companions went to teach another investigator in another part of town. The woman that we were there to teach was very busy tending to customers, but she wanted to talk with us, so we sat down, and spoke with her for a few minutes. But we kept getting interrupted and she had to keep leaving. She ended up inviting her friend to come and sit with us and start listening. The friend sat down and started to listen to our message and was immediately interested. She told us that she had been looking for something like this her whole life. She told us that she was disappointed in her religion, and was looking for something that had all of the answers. As we talked, she told us about how she would like to know more, so we invited her to church. On Sunday, we called to see how she was coming along and she told us that she was at the bus stop with our other investigator ready to come to church. They arrived and absolutely loved it. At the end of gospel principles class, she stood up and thanked the teacher and bore her testimony about how she had felt and that she wanted to continue in this church. It was an incredible miracle bearing in mind that the first time that she had heard of the church was just two days before.

This last week has been great. Full of exchanges with the district leaders from around the Granada Zone. I had the opportunity to travel to Jaen and meet with a lot of members up there. It was also a really good learning experience for me to learn from the missionaries there.

It's pretty crazy, our days our packed, but I love every single minute. I love my companions and I love this area. We are seeing a lot of miracles and I know that a lot more are going to come. It will keep being a great day to be a missionary.

I love you all!
Elder Weenig

With Elders Fife (Hyde Park, UT) and Gantner (Switzerland) -- Last Transfer

Elder Black's Birthday
Elder McConnaughey (So. California), Me and Elder Black (Scotland) with Shirley, who made the cake for him.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

¡Viva Granada!

Fall is finally upon us here in Andalucia. We are finally having to put on sweaters, the leaves are starting to fall off the trees, the rain in Spain is coming in off of the plain, the residency situation is going well for the Spain Malaga Mission, and there is a new zone leader here in Granada.

Yup, you may have noticed that I am now writing to you on Monday, because I have left the office. President told me last Monday that I would be leaving on Wednesday. It was pretty crazy to get ready to leave in about 24 hours. It was sad to say goodbye to Martins and his family, but I was really glad that they will still be in my stake and I will see them soon at stake conference.

Granada. There are so many things that I could say about this city. I have wanted to serve here my entire mission. Granada means 'pomegranate' which I think is something everyone likes (unless your name is Persephone). Really though, Granada is the cultural center of Southern Spain. Home to the Alhambra, and nestled in Sierra Nevada mountains, it's the site where Ferdinand and Isabel expelled the Moors from Spain. It was actually the capital of the old Moorish empire here. For me, it is literally the perfect place.  My companions are already annoyed with me getting super excited about seeing the Alhambra every day. (Also, our apartment has a drier! A real clothes drier! I'm so excited! I haven't had one my whole mission and now I will be able to finish my whole load of laundry in one go. I'm quite excited.) My first night here was one of the most memorable in my mission. My companions thought it would be funny to play a prank with some of the members. They did it very well. We went to visit a member family, and when we walked through the door, the mom was shouting in very Andalusian Spanish, and the father was complaining about the food she had prepared. During the dinner, the mother kept throwing her leftover food on my plate and the father kept making crazy remarks and jokes. The entire family seemed absolutely crazy, with the shouting and food throwing, and I was just about to leave the house running when the dad broke down and told me it had all been an elaborate joke. Welcome to Granada, Elder Weenig.

Yes, companions in the plural. We are a trio of zone leaders which is pretty unusual. But President felt pretty good about it. I am now with Elder McConnaughey from Southern California and Elder Black from Scotland. Elder McConnaughey will be heading home at the end of this transfer, so afterwards it will be just Elder Black and I.  They are awesome, and we are going to be seeing a lot of miracles together. A couple of really great guys. They came down with me to Malaga to retake my driving test. Unfortunately, after the hour and a little bit of driving, we find out that my ID has had some problems in renovation and we had to turn right back and drive back to Granada. (Elder Black has a UK drivers license which is valid in Spain). This driving test has turned into a very large problem. To the point of discouragement. Well. Like F Scott Fitzgerald once said, "Trouble has no necessary correlation with discouragement, discouragement has a germ of its own." Which is the key. We can't let ourselves focus too much on what we are not able to do. We trust that God has a perfect plan for us. Sometimes our vision of what perfection is is not at all what God's view of perfection is. So we smile, recognize that yes, there are times of trouble, but we don't have to let them become times of discouragement.

We saw a lot of miracles this past week. A recently reactivated member named Pepe has been coming on splits with us so we are able to cover a lot more ground and speak with a lot of people about the gospel. We have a great new friend, named Antonio that was actually found almost by mistake. We were calling old investigators in our phone when we found Antonio. He agreed to meet with us, so we set a baptismal date on the first lesson, and he is progressing very well. It's really great. The ward here is incredibly strong. We are going to be seeing a lot of miracles. We have a great zone, and I'm really excited to be able to serve the missionaries here. It's going to be a great experience. Even in the rain. I can honestly say that it is a great day to be a missionary.

Love you all,
Elder Weenig

Palomo Family

Saying Goodbye

With Elder Black (Scotland)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Conference Week

I love conference week. It´s like a little battery charger for the next six months. We had the opportunity to watch it here in the office. We invited Martins and his family. They came and really enjoyed conference. They really are the best. When Martins walked in, one of the first things that he asked was, ¨Will Thomas S. Monson be speaking today?" They are really just a fantastic family. Yesterday, while we were at their house. Josefina prepared a typical dish from Nigeria, which is fried fish, cleaned, but with everything else on it. I just could not get myself to eat the eyes, but it was really, really good. They are progressing really well. We are talking about the temple in every lesson that we have with them so that they always have it in their mind. 

We have also been working with a Spanish couple that contacted us on the street. Their names are Pili and José. I don´t know if I have mentioned them before. They are progressing pretty well. We are trying to work with them so that they are able to come to church for the entire time. José has got a really interesting story. He actually found the book of Mormon in a library and has studied with some Elders in Málaga. We have been teaching them, and they both have a big desire to be baptized.

It´s been a really good week. We were bringing in a group of missionaries for residency, and when they got here the police station was closed! It was crazy. Even more crazy, Elder Gantner had driven the van all the way out to Alicante to pick them up. When they got here, we decided to keep all of the missionaries in Fuengirola, so we had about seven companionships working in our city at one time. It was pretty amazing. Elders Gantner and Fife took them back to Alicante, and I got to stay here in Fuengirola with one of the missionaries from Malaga.

We have been able to see a lot of miracles this past week. A lot of opportunities to find people, even when we don´t have a lot of time. I may not be here in Fuengirola next week, so if I don´t email until next Monday, that would be why. The expected transfer date for me is this Wednesday, but I don´t know. President may keep me here in Fuengirola for a while more. We will see. I love it here. It´s a great city and we have been able to see a lot of miracles. It´s places like this that make it a great day to be a missionary. 

Love you all,
Elder Weenig

Dominos after district meeting

Mission leadership council

Moving the office

Picasso birthplace (in Malaga)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Two Times in White

The mission, I have decided, has the largest range of experience that someone could ever physically experience. It´s kind of like living a roller coaster.

This last week was transfers. It was also my first week of training in the office. It´s been pretty crazy. I believe that nobody has come as close to true despair as the travel secretary when the night before transfers, the travel credit card fails. So, as Elder Gantner and I worked away at travel plans, we silently prayed that the card would not fail. Which ended up happening anyway, but we were able to make it work. I´m lucky to have Elder Gantner as an office trainee. He is VERY good with computers. Which really helps because I still struggle sometimes trying to make Excel work. Things have been going very well. I am hoping to leave the office within the next week and a half. I still am not sure where I am going. It was quite something to know where everyone in the mission was going except yourself. I guess it´s just one of those things where you have got to accept that it makes the plot to your story a little more interesting and you wait in suspense until you find it out.

I know I have mentioned what it is like to work through a transfer before as an office elder, but I think it is adequately compared to trying to walk on a balance beam while talking on the phone and simultaneously trying to buy tickets. With your feet tied together. Okay, so that might be an over exaggeration, but it can get pretty crazy.

This last transfer we had thirty one new missionaries come in. Which is a huge, huge group. I think the last time that a group this large came in was after the age change about two and a half years ago. So just that everything went well was a little miracle in itself.  But I´m getting ahead of myself. A lot more important things happened this week.

Martins and his family were baptized! They are in total three people. Martins, Josefina, and Getty. They are AMAZING. It was really cool, because each of us were able to baptize one of the members of the family (as we are now a trio in the office). They speak English, so we were able to baptize and confirm them in English. What an incredible experience. Our branch president got up to give some remarks at the end of the baptism, and he told us how remarkable and what a blessing it is that it´s not just Martins getting baptized, or just Josefina, but the whole family. That´s the way it should be. Josefina, as she was walking away from the font, said ´Finally, I´m clean. I´m finally, finally clean.¨ But what´s even more remarkable, is what happened the next time that we went to go visit them. President Andersen was also able to speak at their baptism, and shared about temples, and they received a picture of the temple at their baptism. We walked into their house, and up on their wall was the picture of the Madrid temple. One of the first questions that they asked us was ¨When are we going to the temple?´ Which is really what this is about. It´s not about just getting people baptized and that´s it. It´s about helping people change their lives and come to Christ. That´s what´s so great about the their baptism. They really have changed. I can´t wait to see them for their ´second time in white´. They have become ´new creatures in Christ´ and that´s why I´m so grateful to be here.   I guess I would say that´s why I´m so grateful it´s a great day to be a missionary.

I love you all,
Elder Weenig
Martins, Josefina, and Getty with Elders Gantner, Fife and Weenig