Opening My Mission Call

Opening My Mission Call
August 16, 2010

Monday, December 19, 2011

Changes

Well, Elder Hall officially left and Elder Wells is officially here. Talk about a weird change. It's strange when you go from someone that was a great companion for 18 weeks to someone different. Everyone who comes in always wants to make a few changes and so I am trying to be patient haha. For example, first thing Elder Wells does is completely change the layout of the house. In fact, we are going to Ikea later today to buy more things haha. Also, I am doing P90x in the mornings with him, and I am learning to cook a bunch of different things. So maybe change is good... 

Other than that we are just working right along. It is weird to have to be the one to show him around. While driving around, I surprised myself. I don't know how I learned all of this stuff so fast. I hope that I don't get transferred too quickly because our area is super unique. We have a car because we have about 10 different pueblos that we visit. So not only do you need to learn the layout of one but 10 areas. It's difficult. I've been here for 18 weeks and I still don't know all of the areas, but I am excited to try and teach him around, there is a lot of cool stuff to see. He has opened up my eyes though to a lot of things, for example.... Ikea. I have never gone in my whole life in an Ikea, and we have one in our area. So we decided to go, just for the sake of going. I fell in love. Why don't we have one in Medford?? And the food!! Sure, it's not gourmet but it's super cheap, I loved it. 

This weekend is Christmas and so it's going to be a lot of fun. We only work til 6pm on Christmas Eve and then we get all of Sunday off. I think we are going to go to a BBQ on Saturday night, eat Christmas lunch with a member, and then go to Sevilla and just spend good ole quality time with the other missionaries. I don't know what I am going to do yet for Christmas morning (well, open presents). Tomorrow we have a special zone conference and so I am excited for that as well. I get to see a lot of missionaries I haven't seen in months.

Church for us is only one hour and it's at noon, so the rest of the day will be relaxing. I'm not sure if we also will get to use the Internet on Monday since we are calling on Sunday, but if we don't, then you will know why I haven't written. The holidays here are fun, but not like home. They celebrate more the Three Kings and so it's still not as exciting. Plus, instead of having special sales all the time, Spain has reserved two times a year for Black Fridays. So basically that means though that prices are the same the rest of the year, so there isn't any cool Christmas sales or nothin. I need to wait for the Spain Black Friday (Rebajas) in January to get all the cool stuff I want. 

Well.... I hope that everyone has an AMAZING Christmas. I am super happy to be a missionary during Christmas. There are few things better. I just hope everyone knows that I am having a blast, and that I just love Spain so much! Sure, there is no snow and it's weird to think that in America everyone is just full of Christmas cheer and movies and all (And if you're not, you should be). Other than that I am just pumped. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and thanks for all that you all do for me!

Love
Elder Card




Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Seven Stages of Grief

Yep... I felt those this week. Elder Hall is getting transferred!!! As soon as we got the call, I was devastated!!! Sure, we have been companions for 18 weeks, so we figured he was most likely going, but still. Actually, what made it worse was the way we found out. On Thursday, we were doing some good ole service at the farm of the Bishop. He has a nice little farm out in the country, so we went to help do so good ole work. Actually, it was really fun. He was making some new granite stairs for his front door and so we helped out with that. I felt like I was working on a temple, carving and chiseling away the granite stone. Very cool experience. Well, one of the other members of our missionary district called and told us that one of them was getting transferred! We didn't expect to receive calls on Thursday, and since President normally does calls at once, when we didn't receive a call for 5 hours, we assumed he was staying. So after that huge adrenalin rush, we all calmed down, and realized, look, 6 more weeks together as companions, and through the holidays! How awesome! Well... about 5 hours later, the zone leader called us and asked,
"Where is Elder Hall going?!?!" 
"What? What are you talking about?" I said.
"Yeah..... I already know his new companion......"
"Wait, you already know he is leaving?"
"Yeah.... oh.... you guys haven't been called yet...."
'Click'

Then ten minutes later, Elder Hall's new companion calls...
"Hey can I talk to Elder Hall??"
I said, "Wait... Elder Peterson? Is that you? Are you going to be his new companion?"
"Yeah... oh... you guys haven't been called yet..."
'click'

Stage 1: Shock and Denial

So yeah.... we got two subliminal messages that Elder Hall was leaving, but we never actually got the call. Talk about weird emotions. You think everything is staying the same, so you calm down, then a huge rumor, and then we receive no call. So we actually never received a call on Thursday, but eventually, President did call us Friday morning. Stage 2: Pain and Guilt. Well, it was more painful that he was leaving. I don't know about the guilt. Stage 3: Anger and Bargaining: Angry in the fact that it was right before Christmas, and I was thinking about calling President to offer him a deal haha. Step 4: Depression. That one I can't deny. I won't say it was real full on depression, but I was pretty down that he was leaving. Stage 5: The Upward Turn: The last few days I have just been realizing, "it won't be that bad." Step 6: Reconstruction and Hope: The transition of information has already been all given to me. I know my role as district leader, and I know what to do in the area for the first few weeks since I will be the only one familiar with the area and people. Step 7: Acceptance. Well, I am glad to say that I came into today, Monday, with an acceptance and hope that it will all be alright. Plus, I am sure I will see Elder Hall again anyways and we will be in touch. Anyways.... long story short, my new companion is Elder Wells! He is actually really old in the mission. He is going to "die" in this area, because he only has three transfers left. So now I am district leader and I need to make sure he "dies honorably". We'll see how that goes.

It's great to have the change, but I'll admit.. I didn't want this change! I loved Elder Hall, and now I have to readjust again. I guess that is one thing that the mission teaches you: how to deal with change. It's good that we at least ended with out best week ever!

On Monday we went to the great Sevilla Cathedral again. Mostly because no one else in our district has gone so we went again. This time I paid the extra €3 and bought the audio guide. Well worth it if you ask me. Then on Tuesday we all went to Huelva. The whole zone to have a special district meeting and to have a cosecha. Meaning all of us go out in Huelva to do contacts for them. Can you imagine? 16 missionaries all contacting in one city at one time. Pretty epic. Then, we hit a gold mine of investigators. The sister of one of our active members is a less active. And all of her kids are non-members so we taught them. One of them already has a date to be baptized and the others are all progressing. Not to mention, we had a Christmas concert on Saturday and that was just awesome. Well, at least we ended with a bang! I will miss him a lot, but it's okay. That's the mission life. I am excited for the future. (Can you tell I am trying to convince myself?) Haha. Well, thanks for all the support! Pray that Elder Wells and I will get along great! I am excited for it! Thanks for everything!

Love,
Elder Card

PS That family in the picture is the American family in the ward. The best people ever!!




Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thanksgiving in Spain...

   ....is pretty much non-existent haha. Actually, the truth is that, I am pretty sure the ward threw a Thanksgiving Day dinner for us just because we were all feeling the homesickness a bit. It was really nice of them. On Thursday, the ward got together and we had a big party about Thanksgiving. We explained a little bit about the culture and history of the holiday then we began! Well.... instead of jumping into the turkey we had chicken... and instead of mashed potatoes we had potato puré (yes, there is a difference). Other than that... it was pretty much Thanksgiving. We all had the family feel and it was a great time. Everyone was expected to bring a dish, and well... as missionaries..... we were running a little behind and we were busy, so we did the next logical thing.... Order pizza with chicken on it for our dish. Nothing better than having two Telepizza pizzas among the other homemade dishes. But it gets better.....
The next day we had to do a baptismal interview in Dos Hermanas so we go over and do the interview and everything goes great. Well... afterwards, the missionaries in Dos Herms invite us over to this American's house. He invited everyone over from the American Air Force base over to have Thanksgiving dinner and THAT was Thanksgiving! It felt just like home minus the family and friends. Other than that, REAL turkey, AMAZING Honey baked ham, creamy mashed potatoes. It was heaven. We were super fortunate. It was a lot better than some of the other food we had earlier in the week....
We were teaching some Africans and they invited us to eat at their house. They ate some stuff I have never seen before in my life. There was one thing in particular. It looked, tasted, and felt like raw dough. Just one giant plate of dough. What they would do is grab some in their hands, dip it into a soup and then swallow it whole. No chewing involved. Apparently, it's a popular dish in Nigeria.... Yeah.... It was a great week though. All of our investigators are slowly progressing. We are trying to be teaching more, and this week we get presentation time in our ward correlation to present our ward mission plan. Yeah... well, it was a way good week. Thanks for all of the love and support. If there is anything that I can do for anyone let me know!!
Stay in touch!
Love,
Elder Card

Monday, November 14, 2011

Good Things to Come...

I think this week I have learned a valuable lesson, well both Elder Hall and I both have. We have learned that in times when things look down and the whole world is crashing in upon you, you have to keep your head up and keep pushing. This week was so hard at the start, a lot of bad things happened, a lot of unlucky and bad things, but by the end of the week we both had a smile on our face and were both so extremely happy and proud of the things that we did earlier in the week. 

It all starts with the little things.... last P-Day we had to take the car in to go and get the oil changed. Well, the appointment was at 930 so, after 930 we would need to catch the bus to do all of our things since we didn't have a car. Well, we leave early and get there at 9am, but the service was slow and the line was out the door so we didn't get out of there til 10am. By then, our bus that we were planning to catch had already passed by. Discouraged, we realized that that bus was the last to pass for a long time so it was time to start the long back to another bus stop. It took us over 30 minutes walking to even find the closest bus, and even then we had to wait for awhile for the bus to even get there. After it was all said and done, we picked up our cars HOURS later (just for the oil mind you) and the cost? €178..... It was quite a.... shock to us, to say the least. By the time we got back we realized we couldn't even do library at our normal spot, the library; why? The library apparently closes for Halloween, and takes the whole week off..... Monday was far from relaxing to say the least..

Tuesday, was a fairly normal day, a lot of walking around since most of our citas failed us, and what do we see when we get back home at night? Our neighbor..... soaking wet. Apparently, since our plumbing is connected we had problems.... Our toilet wouldn't stop running and that caused hers to overflow. She was soaking wet in her PJs, and not too happy.... Por eso.... our landlords came the next day!! Fun... They inspected everything, and luckily we do do a good job with the upkeep. Well, it was really awkward to have studies and a nap while they were hovering over us the whole time. It was hard to pretend they weren't there.

Well, we decided to go visit a really old investigator since we were desperate. By this time it is Thursday and we have only taught 5 lessons. Things are rough. This man's name is Pascual. Well, he is the owner of a cyber cafe and he just wanted nothing to do with us. He said he wanted to listen but he just had no time whatsoever. So we gave him a Book of Mormon, and there goes another lead. Dead end. Well, I thought to myself, at least I'll buy myself a nice bag of chips to make me feel better. What's the worse thing that could possibly happen in regards to a vending machine? Well, first off, let me just say why do they even bother to put in the coin release button if it never works?!?! Yeah, it ate my money.... a little thing, but it was just enough to put you over the top on a week like this. To make it all worse I got lost driving home, and me and Elder Hall didn't get home until almost 2230. So.... with all that said, I will say that we were laughing and had a great time anyways, because like I have said before it's never your situation that determines your attitude, it's you that determines your attitude. So Elder Hall and I said to ourselves, these things just happen, beyond our control and we didn't let it get to us.

That's when the miracles started to happen. Starting on Friday things started to turn around for the better. I don't even know how to explain them all, and to others they might not seem like miracles at all, but to Elder Hall and I, we know that they were miracles. We were walking randomly down the street when an old investigator called us and told us he wanted to start listening to us again. Later that night, we were able to meet with another old investigator for the first time in months, and she said she wanted to take the discussions again. Then at church on Sunday one of the members who, from our perspective, always seemed as if he hated us, invited us over for dinner and it turns out it's quite the opposite. We have also seen old investigators while shopping at our grocery store. The rest of the week has just been filled with miracles. Throughout it all, I couldn't help but think of the words from Jeffrey R. Holland, who said,

"Every one of us has times when we need to know things will get better. Moroni spoke of it in the Book of Mormon as “hope for a better world.” For emotional health and spiritual stamina, everyone needs to be able to look forward to some respite, to something pleasant and renewing and hopeful, whether that blessing be near at hand or still some distance ahead. It is enough just to know we can get there, that however measured or far away, there is the promise of “good things to come.”

My declaration is that this is precisely what the gospel of Jesus Christ offers us, especially in times of need. There is help. There is happiness. There really is light at the end of the tunnel. To any who may be struggling to see that light and find that hope, I say: Hold on. Keep trying. God loves you. Things will improve.

I think of newly called missionaries leaving family and friends to face, on occasion, some rejection and some discouragement and, at least in the beginning, a moment or two of homesickness and perhaps a little fear. I say: Cling to your faith. Hold on to your hope. “Pray always, and be believing.”

You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead. You keep your chin up. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come."

--Jeffrey R. Holland

Anyways, I know that that is true, because I have lived it. Although it was just in the span of one week, and not one lifetime, I know that looking forward to the future with a smile and optimism will bring those good things to come. Elder Hall and I repeated that phrase many times throughout the week, and in the end I am proud to say that we made it. It was a rough week, but we survived, we did well, we are serving the Lord and throughout it all we looked forward to good things to come.

Thanks too all who send their support and I hope that this has brought some positive attitude into your lives this week! Until next Monday!! 

Love,
Elder Card

Monday, November 7, 2011

It Starts In Fifteen!

What a crazy weekend. Yesterday was the confirmation of Unai, our recent convert from last week. All day he was sweatin bullets because he didn't know what to say for his testimony. He was freaking out the whole time. Normally, he attends church with his grandma because his mom got offended by someone at church and for that she doesn't come. Well, right before the meeting started we get a call from her cell phone saying that she wanted to come to church to see her son Unai's confirmation! She never comes to church! We have tried for months now. Well, we look at our watches and we see that the meeting starts in fifteen minutes and Unai's mom has no idea how to get to the chapel! We rush out the chapel doors get in our car and head straight out the parking lot... I wasn't paying attention and BAM reversed the car right into a car parked behind me! 

Okay, so that part is a joke. But, moving on... we drive all the way out to the closest Burger King (the only monument everyone knows) and direct her to the church. As we park the car I felt like running into the meeting like I am about to stop a wedding! STOPPPPPP! Well, I didn't yell.... I actually didn't say anything. I walked reverently into the chapel, and it was right after the Sacrament so perfect timing. Well, Unai's grandfather confirmed him and all is said and done. He is officially a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints now. It was a great day. 

I wish I could say the same for the rest of the week.... It actually was really productive but I got sick! The first time in my whole mission that I was sick! I caught the flu, and I was bed ridden for a day or two. But, I was back on my feet in no time. It was a rough week when you are bed ridden and you can't just watch TV or eat Saltines and sip on 7-Up. We did manage to teach a new guy named Carlos. A 30 something Spaniard who is actually one of the most sincere guys I have met on my mission. His wife is a member and the missionaries have taught him in the past. He knows exactly what he has to do to get an answer, and the missionaries have been trying to show him that he is most likely received an answer. 

He came to church this last Sunday though, and even though he isn't a member he participates even more than the other members do. He is an awesome guy, but he wants to be positive before being baptized, so we are trying to show him that he already knows this church is true. He even came up to us at the end of the meeting and said, "You know, if it wasn't for you guys not one of these people would be here right now. Don't you feel a little prideful about that? You have effected each one of their lives." Almost everyone in our ward of about 70 is a first or second generation convert. Carlos is a great guy, and will hopefully be a member soon.

Well... anyways.... I love the support that you all have given me. If there are any questions that anyone has for me, let me know!! 

Thanks all! Love ya all

Love
Elder Steven Card



Monday, October 31, 2011

Ripped Pants

Well, it was an amazing weekend if I do say so myself. I mean, when you have a BAPTISM it's bound to be good. That's right!! Baptism in Aljarafe!! Unai just got baptized last night and it was one of the best services I have been apart of. His whole family was there, which was actually a huge deal since a lot of them are not members of the church. What was even cooler was that we had to travel to the main stake center to do the baptism which is about twenty minutes by car from our pueblo, but we had EVERY SINGLE ACTIVE member from our ward make it to the baptism. We had about 50 members from our ward show up to this baptism. It truly was a special event. He is a great kid, and now his family can be together forever! What a blessing!!! Unai had his interview earlier in the week, and he was really funny. He was afraid he wasn't going to pass since he stole a one Euro coin one time from his mom's purse, and so he was freaking out. He also had some pretty funny explanations about the law of chastity and word of wisdom.

This was just to top off the great week. Earlier in the week we had dinner at the American's that are in our ward. They cooked us some delicious chicken and warm Apple Pie. It was like heaven. I love going over there. They treat us way too well. We also got transfer calls this week!!! BUT Elder Hall isn't going anywhere. We will now have been together for 18 weeks at the end of the next transfer. That's insane. And he's been here even longer than I have! I also did a split with the elders in Dos Hermanas. There is an American Air Force base close by and because of that there are Americans in the ward. I visited them and they had Mountain Dew. It was like heaven. I missed it so much. But now I got my thirst quenched for at least another year.

I'm sorry that wasn't the best email, but I also attached a bunch of pictures to make up for it! Thanks again all for the support and I will be in touch!! Love ya all!!

Love
Elder Steven Card

 Oh yeah, the story of the title. The little kid, we gave him two pairs of pants to try on for the baptism. He ripped the first pair trying to get into them, and then we ran scrambling for more pairs, and then he ripped the second pair as well. He ended up having to be baptized in a pair about two sizes too small, with the button undone, and the zipper half way up hahahaah. He's a bit of a chubsters lol

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Olive trees...wait, What???

Oh wow, oh wow. It was such a great week, and then last night happened haha. I don't know if I have ever had an appointment go so awkward so fast. Our Bishop invited us over to have dinner and then talk to his cousin who has been having some weird dreams about vineyards. So we obviously accepted, then decided we would study Jacob 5. That was a mistake....

We get to the Bishop's house and we exchange our saludos and then start talking. She explains her dream and talks about she is walking in a vineyard and there is this tree that is always dying so she is trying so hard to save it but doesn't know how. Elder Hall and I thought, perfect, we'll show her the parable in Jacob 5 and she'll see that look the Book of Mormon has this parable that talks about a similar situation. Well.... we open up the book and start to read selected verses that we had marked. She then stops us in the middle of reading just the third verse and says..... "Yeah, this has nothing to do with my dream."

But we said, "But look, it has the dying tree, and the Lord of the vineyard wants to save this tree."
Dijo, "Yeah..... but not, I just don't see it."
Bishop dijo, "Well, why don't you explain your dream more then..."
She then basically went off for like twenty minutes talking about how this was all a trick of the Bishop trying to secretly convert her and that we were invited here to baptize her before she left the house.....

It was just a lot of confusion. You think the story sound random and confusing? Try being there. I don't even know how to type it out because it was just so strange so fast.....

Well.... anyways, we have a baptismal interview tomorrow for Unai! That 9 year old kid. Finally! He is getting baptized this Sunday so pray that it all goes through well. Elder Hall also just celebrated his one year mark in the mission field last week so we went to Telepizza and celebrated with €3 medium pizzas. I also had some spare time that morning so I went into the dark eerie basement and looked through some closets and I found a gold mine, of a sort. Ensigns! The old dueño of this house can read English and so he had Ensigns and he kept every single Ensign from the old missionaries that used to live here. I have Ensigns back to the 80's! I also found some old cool study guides and some pretty interesting books written by general authorities that I have never heard of before.

Well, anyways... it's been a strange week to say the least. Next week, if all goes well I will include pictures of the baptism!! As always, I am thinking of you all always! Stay in touch!!

Love
Elder Steven Card

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Stonecutter

This has been a pretty intense and crazy week. It was definitely not expected the way it turned out. First, I found out on Monday that there was going to be a mini exchange of companions for a day. The elder that I got switched with back in August was coming back to Sevilla to pick up his paperwork and so he needed a place to stay. Perfect, since my companion was going to be out of town for a special training. So.... let the fun begin. Well, I picked him up at the train station. I never realized it but after driving in the crazy narrow streets of Sevilla, I feel like I can drive anywhere in the world without problem now. 

But, I picked him up and away we went. He wanted to visit some of the families that he knew while he was here so we stopped by, and I don't think I have ever eaten so much in a single day. All of the families that we visited wanted to feed him so we ate probably three dinners that night. Well, the next day it was time for him to leave so away we went again to the train station. His train left at 1245, and one problem: No one knew what time my companion, Elder Hall was getting home. The zone leaders didn't know, the ayudantes didn't know, noone knew. The time passed though and he had to get on the train, so my temp companion left and I was left in Sevilla all alone. Now, I don't know if it was the mission that did this to me, because normally I don't mind being alone, but.... it was way way way weird. Being alone for just about an hour freaked me out. What has the mission done to me??? haha.

Well, we all figured it out, and I eventually just stayed with the Sevilla elders until Hall arrived. Then, the next day, the zone leaders call us because they have a problem: The mission just switched phone companies and all of the phones of the elders that switched didn't work. (The zone leaders and our phone had already switched earlier). That meant, that we needed to drive out to each of the areas, since we are the only ones with a car, and hand deliver the replacement SIM chip. We drove from Huelva to Dos Hermanas to Alcalá to Cordoba. A total of about 500km. It took us about 9 hours to do it all. What an exhausting day that was. 

To make it all better, why not play a little basketball on Saturday morning, right? Well.... the one court that was open that was close by on Saturday morning was a little off..... Maybe the Spaniards think that regulation hoop height is twelve feet, but.... it's not haha. Not even some of the tallest elders that were 6'4 could touch the rim. Well, it all is better when you hear of a great story to end the week. It is called the Stonecutter. Here it is:

Once upon a time there lived a stonecutter, who went every day to a great rock in the side of a big mountain and cut out slabs for gravestones or for houses. He understood very well the kinds of stones wanted for the different purposes, and as he was a careful workman he had plenty of customers. For a long time he was quite happy and contented, and asked for nothing better than what he had.
Now in the mountain dwelt a spirit which now and then appeared to men, and helped them in many ways to become rich and prosperous. The stonecutter, however, had never seen this spirit, and only shook his head, with an unbelieving air, when anyone spoke of it. But a time was coming when he learned to change his opinion.
One day the stonecutter carried a gravestone to the house of a rich man, and saw there all sorts of beautiful things, of which he had never even dreamed. Suddenly his daily work seemed to grow harder and heavier, and he said to himself: "Oh, if only I were a rich man, and could sleep in a bed with silken curtains and golden tassels, how happy I should be!"
And a voice answered him: "Your wish is heard; a rich man you shall be!"
At the sound of the voice the stonecutter looked around, but could see nobody. He thought it was all his fancy, and picked up his tools and went home, for he did not feel inclined to do any more work that day. But when he reached the little house where he lived, he stood still with amazement, for instead of his wooden hut was a stately palace filled with splendid furniture, and most splendid of all was the bed, in every respect like the one he had envied. He was nearly beside himself with joy, and in his new life the old one was soon forgotten.
It was now the beginning of summer, and each day the sun blazed more fiercely. One morning the heat was so great that the stonecutter could scarcely breathe, and he determined he would stop at home till the evening. He was rather dull, for he had never learned how to amuse himself, and was peeping through the closed blinds to see what was going on in the street, when a little carriage passed by, drawn by servants dressed in blue and silver. In the carriage sat a prince, and over his head a golden umbrella was held, to protect him from the sun's rays.
"Oh, if I were only a prince!" said the stonecutter to himself, as the carriage vanished around the corner. "Oh, if I were only a prince, and could go in such a carriage and have a golden umbrella held over me, how happy I should be!"
And a prince he was. Before his carriage rode one company of men and another behind it; servants dressed in scarlet and gold bore him along, the coveted umbrella was held over his head, everything his heart could desire was his. But yet it was not enough. He looked around still for something to wish for, and when he saw that in spite of the water he poured on the grass the rays of the sun scorched it, and that in spite of the umbrella held over his head each day his face grew browner and browner, he cried in his anger: "The sun is mightier than I; oh, if I were only the sun!"
And the mountain spirit answered: "Your wish is heard; the sun you shall be."
And the sun he was, and felt himself proud in his power. He shot his beams above and below, on earth and in heaven; he burnt up the grass in the fields and scorched the faces of princes as well as of poorer folk. but in a short time he began to grow tired of his might, for there seemed nothing left for him to do. Discontent once more filled his soul, and when a cloud covered his face, and hid the earth from him, he cried in his anger: "Does the cloud hold captive my rays, and is it mightier than I? Oh, that I were a cloud, and mightier than any!"
And the mountain spirit answered: "Your wish is heard; a cloud you shall be!"
And a cloud he was, and lay between the sun and the earth. He caught the sun's beams and held them, and to his joy the earth grew green again and flowers blossomed. But that was not enough for him, and for days and week he poured forth rain till the rivers overflowed their banks, and the crops of rice stood in water. Towns and villages were destroyed by the power of the rain, only the great rock on the mountainside remained unmoved. The cloud was amazed at the sight, and cried in wonder: "Is the rock, then, mightier than I? Oh, if I were only the rock!"
And the mountain spirit answered; "Your wish is heard; the rock you shall be!"
And the rock he was, and gloried in his power. Proudly he stood, and neither the heat of the sun nor the force of the rain could move him. "This is better than all!" he said to himself. But one day he heard a strange noise at his feet, and when he looked down to see what it could be, he saw a stonecutter driving tools into his surface. Even while he looked a trembling feeling ran all through him, and a great block broke off and fell upon the ground. Then he cried in his wrath: "Is a mere child of earth mightier than a rock? Oh, if I were only a man!"
And the mountain spirit answered: "Your wish is heard. A man once more you shall be!"
And a man he was, and in the sweat of his brow he toiled again at his trade of stone cutting. His bed was hard and his food scanty, but he had learned to be satisfied with it, and did not long to be something or somebody else. And as he never asked for things he did not have, or desired to be greater and mightier than other people, he was happy at last, and never again heard the voice of the mountain spirit.

Well, it is an interesting story, and one to think about as we go into the week ahead. Thanks everyone for all of the support! Love ya all!!
Elder Steven Card

Monday, October 3, 2011

There Is Nothing Better Than General Conference...

Especially when you watch three sessions in a row! We had an interesting week this week, to say the least. On Saturday we watched the Saturday morning session live at 6pm local time, so it was a good way to end the day. Then on Sunday we all came back to the stake center in Sevilla and watched the Priesthood session at 11, a short break, the Saturday afternoon session at 2, and then the Sunday morning session live at 6pm again. Basically, it was nothing but all day conference and I LOVED every last second of it. Is it just me, or are the conference talks just getting better? Or maybe, because I am a missionary now I am just amped up, and enjoying it more.

Well, I could easily talk about conference for hours and hours, but that wouldn't be very fun, since the majority of you have also, already watched conference, so it would be nothing new to you. 

Earlier this week, Elder Hall and I bought a haircutting kit, since we didn't want to deal with our long hair and having to pay for a haircut, etc. We decided to use the kit that very night, and so Hall said he would help me cut mine, so he gets out the kit, turns it on, and then puts one of the guards on the razor. He then puts it to my head and starts shaving away....

"Hmmm, that's strange, it looks fairly short....."
Elder Card: "Did you make sure to put the guard so the rounded side is facing down?"
"Oooops....."

Oooops is never something you want to hear when someone is cutting your hair. Instead of getting a nice 30mm cut like planned, I pretty much got cut down to where each morning my facial hair is longer than the hair on my head. Let's just say..... embarrassing, so... don't expect pictures hahaha.

Well, at least our first appointment after that incident was with an American so I could explain what happened in English. But to be honest, it didn't turn it toooo bad at all. And as for the American, he is the only other American in the ward, working for John Huntsman or something... but it was nice to be able to use my English scriptures in an appointment for once.

Well.... now we are all going to go out to Sevilla because they are having a World Festival, so I am going to go see how they represent our country....

Love,
Elder Steven Card

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pictures

Cuantos Electos Teneis?



Ohhhh good ole Spain, don't ya love it??

Last Monday we were able to visit Real Alcázar in Sevilla. It's an amazing palace with a huge garden right in the middle of Sevilla. I recommend that you should all look it up and look at some pictures, it is absolutely amazing. I should be able to send some pictures next week. There were roaming peacocks and I even got lost in a giant hedge maze. It was actually that last Monday that I met my first LDS Tourists since I have started here in Spain, and of all things they were from Salem, Oregon!! They took us out to eat, and they were really nice. What a blessing it is to have members feel like family no matter where you are in the world.

As for the mission work Spain is progressing. We have a goal of 300 baptisms this year and we have about 208. That means we need to stretch just a little bit to make 300, but I have faith that we can do it. We will reach it I am sure. Of course, Elder Hall and I here in Aljarafe are trying to contribute to that by doing our part. We are still teaching Soraya (The lady in the wheelchair) is coming along. She looks like she will be baptized, if all goes well, on the 15th of October. Her only problem is that she loves loves loves her Virgin Rocio, and so we are trying to understand why she has so much faith in her, and trying to get the entire..... ya'know.... idol worshiping thing across. That, and she asks the strangest questions. We read Mosiah 18 with her and she asked, "Where are the Waters of Mormon?" We tried answering her with the information that we knew, but she wants to know the exact river haha. We aren't exactly sure why it is so important, but we are pretty sure she will forget the question.

I know I gave everyone our little schedule last week, well.... it's about to change. This Saturday we are switching to the Winter schedule which basically just means, shift the entire schedule 30 minutes earlier. Go to sleep 30 mins, earlier, wake up 30 mins. earlier. And now mediodía is only two hours, darn!

That is about it for now. Oh, as for the title, it means, "How many elect do you have?" A member asked us that question, and it made us really think. We have a lot of investigators, but how many of them are actually the ones who can progress and are the elect ones. It has made us think. To make this email of some value, I will throw in a quote that I heard earlier this week during personal study from Neal A. Maxwell about prayer.

"Petitioning in prayer has taught me, again and again, that the vault of heaven with all its blessings is to be opened by a combination lock. One tumbler falls when there is faith, another when there is personal righteousness; the third and final tumbler falls only when what is sought is, in God's judgement - not ours - right for us. Sometimes we pound on the vault door for something we want very much and wonder why it does not open. We would be very spoiled children if that vault door opened any more easily than it does. I can tell, looking back, that God truly loves me by inventorying the petitions He has refused to grant me. Our rejected petitions tell us much about ourselves but also much about our flawless Father."

I know that is true, and I know the work that I am doing here is true, and I am loving every minute of it. Thanks for all of your support!

Love
Elder Steven Card

Oh the Life of a Missionary - September 19th

Well, considering that the blog followers would still want to receive an email, even though the week was fairly "dull", I will go ahead and explain what we as missionaries, and specifically what we in this area, Aljarafe, do. Well... it all starts with wake up time!!! We get up at 730 in the morning, and we work out, eat breakfast, shower, etc, etc. until 9am. At 9am we study. Study the scriptures, read from the Bible and Book of Mormon and the mission guide, Preach My Gospel. Then at 1000 we study again, but as a companionship. We share what we have learned in our individual study and kind of finalize the plans for the day. At 1100 it is out the door!!! We go onto the streets of Spain and.... wait... actually, we are a bit different. In my area, we are one of the few missionaries who have a car, so we utilize that. We hop in the car and drive off to our first cita (appointment). Our area is fairly large, and public transportation in our area is lacking so that is why we get a car. We cover about 6 or 7 pueblos.

We work all morning, and then at 1400 we come back to the house and have a few hours to rest. This is the typical siesta that you might have heard about in Spain. Well, the missionaries get one too. It is more of a necessity than anything else, since it is deathly hot outside at about these hours, and so the Spaniards refuse to come out of their houses to do anything. All they do is nap. We take this time from 1400 to 1700 to nap, cook lunch, read, study Spanish, etc. At 1700 we are out again doing our job until 2200. We come home, plan for the day to come and then eat dinner and what not, and 2330 we are in bed. I really like the schedule, it helps us do our job, and it is nice to be structured and organised. We are also on call for whatever needs to be done in our ward. For example, I am the ward pianist, and the first counselor called us Sunday morning to tell us that we were to give a talk that same Sunday haha. So we do a little bit of everything. In fact, this morning before emailing you, an elderly lady in the ward called and asked for a blessing so we dressed up and drove over to her house to do so. Well, it wasn't too exciting I know. I hope that next week something exciting happens so you will all still be interested in the blog. I will look for the stories. Thanks all for the support though. I really appreciate it.

Love
Elder Steven Card

PS The Photos are of two kids in the ward who tried to wear Elder Hall and I's suit coats haha

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Man with Two Horses

I'll share that story about the horses at the end... but, what a great week it was! We had the opportunity to have stake conference, and specialized training, back to back days. I loved it. On Saturday we went to the Sevilla stake center and met with President Clegg for a specialized training. He was just in Copenhagen for a mission president's seminar and so he was there with David A Bednar and was able to relate some stories that he heard. Bednar said that some of the biggest miracles he has ever seen in his life, have been the assignments of missionaries and their locations. He knows that it is based purely on revelation.

He then told a story of this kid who sent in his application who said he would be happy staying in the USA and speaking English. His bishop and stake president agreed with that and wrote that in their recommends. When Bednar saw it, he thought, okay, we'll do that then... but then he just didn't feel right about it, so he put it aside, and said he would come back to it. At the end of his session it came back to the same elder who wanted to stay in the states. Elder Bednar really just did not feel like that is where he should go.... he was assigned to go to the Far East learning Mandarin Chinese. Quite the change, eh? Turns out, Elder Bednar really wanted to follow this missionary to see why he was assigned there, so he followed him his whole mission (without the missionary knowing) and just would check up on him, to see how he was doing. Well, he didn't learn the language very fast, but he was a hard worker, and he tried his best. He wasn't Ammon or an amazing missionary, but he served honorably. Now, he is sealed in the temple, and living his life. Elder Bednar, is still following him, to see what the reason was for him to go to the Far East, because he knows he was sent there for a reason. Anyways..... that just gives me a lot of ánimo, knowing that I was sent to this mission, at this time, for a reason. I honestly still haven't found it yet. There hasn't been anything that has happened to show me, "yes.... this is the reason, why you were sent here at this time." I am still looking, and I might not find it, or realize it until after my mission, but I receive great comfort that I was assigned here by the Lord, and not by "man".

In my personal study this week I was just reading through the Book of Mormon (I finished yesterday!!!), and while I was reading 3 Nephi chapter 6, something ran into my mind, actually it was what my branch president told me in the MTC. He was always telling the missionaries, make the MTC a great place, and it can be a great place, if you choose it to be so. Basically, the MTC is the same place for everyone, but some are happy, and others, not. You can apply that to any situation, and any place in life. For example, look at 3 Nephi 6, right before the Savior comes to the Nephites, the Nephites were prospering a lot, and there was a division of classes among them. However, just because this happened, doesn't mean that you have to be lifted up in pride. Read verse 13:

13 Some were lifted up in pride, and others were exceedingly humble; some did return railing for railing, while others would receive railing and persecution and all manner of afflictions, and would not turn and revile again, but were humble and penitent before God.

Others were exceedingly humble. They choose for themselves to be humble. Whenever I am called on to give a Spiritual Thought on the spot, I always use a certain scripture in 1 Nephi 17, that talks about this very thing. It is allllll based on your ATTITUDE. You decide to be happy. You decide to murmur. Sure, the things around you can have an effect, but you still decide how to react. Read 1 Nephi 17:20 and the attitude of Laman and Lemeul. Now, read the attitutde of Nephi, on verse 2, of the same chapter. The same chapter, the same situation, the same family, but different attitudes, and look at their life. Anyways, that is what I learned this last week...

Well, our investigators are progressing really well. We had four people come to Stake Conference. I don't know why, but when I see the investigators walk into the building I just get filled with some of the happiest joy. It just makes me so happy to see that they used their agency for good and decided to come to church. We had Soraya, the investigator who is trying to stop smoking and is in the wheelchair, Unai, the little 8 year old kid, Daniella, a 20 year old girl from Venezuela, and Pepé, the brother to the bishop. When each one of them came in I was so happy. All of them are progressing at different speeds but I am so happy to see them come to church, and they came to a great session. President Clegg and Sister Clegg spoke, as well as the temple Presidents, President and Siter Moore of the Madrid Temple. They shared some great stories, and one in particular, was the analogy given by President Moore that I want to share to end.

Setting: Olden' day, before cars and and all that....

Okay, so there was this rancher who was packing up all of his things and it was time to head out to a new home. He loaded his wagon and his family and sent them off, while he took care of the last things. He realized he forgot two things in the house: Sponges (don't ask me why), and firewood. So he grabbed two horses and and put on one horse's back, all of the sponges, and on the other, the firewood. As they were walking the dusty trail he looked back, and the horse with the firewood was really working hard to keep up, you could say he was getting tired, while the other horse with the sponges was merely... walking. As if there was no weight on his back at all. Then, they came to a river. The rancher crossed then looked back to check on his horses, expecting the worse for the horse with the firewood, but then he saw something very interesting... The horse with the sponges... well, the sponges started to absorb all of the water, and the weight was too much to handle, and the horse sank, and died. The other horse with the firewood started to cross the water, and then.... the firewood started to float, and the firewood supported the horse, and carried him across the river.

At time, the faithful of God look as if they are burdened with carrying the commandments, and it isn't as easy going through the trail of life, with all of these "burdens" on your back. It isn't as easy as the person who has no commandments at all to live by. But in that day when the challenges come, and you need to cross the river, the thing that was a "burden" is actually what will save you in the end, and help you cross the river, and overcome the challenge, while the person with no weight when the trail was easy, is suddenly overcome too fast, and will flounder.

In the 9 months of my mission, I have seen this is so true. I know that the people who are in the Church and living the commandments, are actually living the life God wants them to live and are happier. I, myself, can say that before I joined the church it was technically "easier" since I didn't have any commandments to "burden" me, but now I know for sure, that I am 10000000 times happier, and that the commandments are what help keep me, and all of us afloat. I know that the members in this church are sometime laughed at because of all of the "rules". But in the end, it is the rules that keep us safe and alive. I know these things are true, and I hope everyone takes this time to reexamine their attitudes, and their obedience in living the commandments.

Love,
Elder Steven Card

Monday, September 5, 2011

September 5

Our mission has a goal of 300 baptisms this year, and we are short about 122, meaning we need about 30 a month until the end of the year. We usually average about 20-25 so it will be a stretch, but we are all, as a mission, extremely excited about the opportunity to reach this goal. This past week wasn't, once again sadly, too many amazing stories, but it was just a lot of good ole work, which is what I love. The time is flying since we are just working really hard every day. Our closest investigator to baptism is Soraya. She is in a wheelchair and super Catholic but super super nice. We are trying really hard to help her quit smoking. She is the second of our investigators who wants to quit. Well.... she wants to quit, but I don't know how much she is willing to actually do. Every time we try and say, okay, give us all of your tobacco, she pleads with us that we start the next day. No more of that. We need to just snatch them, and tell her it's time to quit. Besides that, she is a golden investigator and hopefully will be baptized on the 24th of September.

This weekend is Stake Conference which means we get to go to the Sevilla Stake Center which is an amazing building. It is like three stories and just an awesome chapel. I am really excited to go this weekend, I wonder if anyone special will be coming. Their last stake conference back in February had Donald Hallstrom and José Texiera. So... the chances of another Seventy or someone coming is slim, but we'll see.

This last Sunday was an amazing Sunday. I love our ward here so much. It is only about 50 or so people, but man, they are all amazing. Even with so little people I can see how happy everyone is, and it is like I am back home. We even have a lot of youth! I love just hanging out with them, and trying to get to know them, they are awesome kids. Also.... it is amazing but no one in our ward can play the piano, so I am the piano player for the ward. Can you believe it?? I didn't know how to play the piano pretty much at all before the mission but now I am the ward pianist. They even gave me an electric keyboard to practice with in the house haha. It is a lot more nerve wracking than I thought, so I have a lot more respect for all of the ward organists and pianists out there haha. One wrong note, and there goes the Spirit I feel haha. Well.... that is pretty much all to report from this week. I hope to have a lot of cool stories from this coming weekend. It should be good! Sorry for the small email this week, but thanks for all of your support and what not!! Much appreciated. Love you all!!

Love
Elder Steven Card

Sunday, September 4, 2011

August 29 - Faith Can Move Mountains?​? You Better Believe It!

Well.... this week... I was looking back on my journal to figure out what to write to everyone, and well, the truth is, there isn't that many amazing stories, but I feel like it was an amazingly productive week. Just good ole missionary work, and I am finally getting adjusted to my new area. Right after I sent my last email we went to the Sevilla Cathedral which is the largest Cathedral (based on area) in the world. It was amazing. I have a lot of pictures, but I will try and pick out the best ones to send, sorry if you don't receive them. It's because they are too big for your email to receive and I don't know how to shrink them.

Well, we had a goal of 20 lessons this week, and we worked so hard to get 20 lessons. It was just nothing but non stop prayer and hard work, since this area had never had 20 lessons, and I wanted my first full week here to be a great one. Well.... we saw miracles let me just say that. With faith you can accomplish everything. We had a slow start and only had 12 lessons going into the weekend, but we saw miracles. People with cranky old husbands who hate us, even called us back!! We set citas and got lessons out of nowhere. Sadly....... we didn't get 20, haha (I know, a little anti-climactic) but... we did get 19 lessons and that is a new record for the area! The thing is too we didn't even do too much differently than I guess they normally do, but with faith, the Lord will always help out, and look 19 lessons!!

Some of the people we are teaching are way cool. One is named Unai, and he is a 9 year old kid, and it is a bit difficult to actually teach him at time (the attention span thing....) but he is an awesome little kid who loves the missionaries. His mom is a meno activo, so we are trying to teach them both. He is coming along really well. Since he is 9, it is now the missionaries who come in and help.

We are also teaching this 17 year old kid named Kevin. He is pretty much.... me. He is really close friends to this strong active family in the ward and he is actually dating the daughter. Well, the daughter gave Kevin a Book of Mormon and now he is taking the discussions, much to the disliking of his mom. The difference is he has a hard time getting to church since he has no car.... but we will find a way!! I want to see this kid turn into a missionary just like I am. He is an amazing kid, it is way cool. Now I know, a little, what it is like to teach... well.... myself. To be in Elder Crandalls shoes.

Well, those are our top investigators.... a 9 year old kid and 17 year old teenager haha. But the work is coming along and I am having a blast. I am loving it.....

Well, remember awhile ago when I told you all to read the parable of the Good Samaritan... well I finally have the explanation and I hope you all learn something from these symbols and you can read it differently. Well.... it starts off with a lawyer questioning Jesus, and talking about who is our neighbor... Well, the parable starts with a certain man and we can put ourselves in that position, and it is really quite interesting the setting of Jerusalem and Jericho. Jerusalem is "a city on top of a hill" and is high up, while Jericho is the lowest inhabited city in the world, more than 800 feet below sea level. The road between the two cities is notoriously dangerous and winding. This can be seen as the fall of man, as he descends to go to Jericho. The man, or us, gets then attacked by thieves, or Satan and his temptations, and is left half dead. This can be seen spiritually dead, obviously not physically dead. Then a certain Samaritan comes along. A Samartian is a half Jew, half Gentile, and so who is this certain Samaritan? Jesus Christ. He heals us with the oil and wine or the Atonement and his Spirit, and he takes us to the inn, or church, and is always saying that he will pay what is necessary. Well.... I hope you all got something out of that haha... I think I through out all of the symbols I can remember.

Anyways.... I hope that you all have a great week, and thanks for the support!! I will talk to you all later!!

Love
Elder Card

August 22

So..... as some of you may have heard.... I got emergency transferred this last Tuesday!!! It has been such an intense up and down week!!! President Clegg called me on Tuesday morning and said I needed to pack my bags because I was going to be on a train to Aljarafe that same day at 6pm. Quite an adventure..... Since I had zero time to say goodbye it was kind of difficult to leave a place that I called home for 19 weeks of my life. I didn't even get to take a picture with any of the members. Hopefully, I can see them again. I quickly packed, which was horrible, then hopped on the AVE and took it so Sevilla.

We arrived and I met my new companion, Elder Josh Hall from West Jordan, Utah. He is the same "mission age" as Elder Hatch, so nothing new really. Just a new face. He actually is pretty similar to Elder Hatch in personality, so it should be an easy transition lol. Our new piso is actually a 4 story house. It is pretty narrow though so don't get the impression we are in a mansion, just a small house, but tall. It is way old fashioned, so its a bit scary at night, but its extremely comfortable. We even have a piano in the house!! I have found myself playing on it a lot during my free time. I need to be practicing considering, I am now the ward pianist. Can you believe that in a ward there is not one person that plays the piano, or I am just the best that plays the piano out of the 40 plus members that we do have. Take your pick. It's a miracle I learned how to play that well considering before the mission I could barely play anything.

Over the past week I have learned the new area, and we even have a car, so I am in the process of getting my international drivers license. It's a good thing I learned how to drive a stick before the mission. All the members here are really nice, and super caring. I have already had a bunch of eating citas and I am loving it. This last Sunday at church I got to speak and I basically just told my conversion story and said that we need member references because that is where the true success comes from. The stake president was there and afterwards he came up to me and told me his conversion story and told me how he too was the only member and convert in his family. He is a cool guy. Well... what more to say?? I am just trying to figure out where I am right now. I am in Aljarafe, a pueblo of Sevilla, but man.... I got so lost this past week. Here is my new address

C/ Jara Nº14
41927 Mairena del Aljarafe
Sevilla
España

I hope to get some nice stuff at my new home, wink wink. Okay. Adios for now!!!

Love
Elder Card

August 19th

So I was in my loving home of Puertollano for 19 weeks.... and I just got emergency transferred with only 8 hours notice to pack.... point is.... I was way way way way way way way way way sad. Not happy at all. But tahts life in the mission. But... now I am serving in Aljarafe a pueblo about 5 minutes from Sevilla. New Address, and I will talk again Monday. Send stuff for a warm homecoming to my new home :

Elder Steven Card
Calle Jara Nº14
41927 Mairena del Aljarafe
Sevilla
España

Thanks. Love ya

August 15th

Well this week has been quite good. Just another good hard week of work. The stories.... well.... they'll come, and the ones I have from this past week are probably not the funniest to share, since they are mostly inside jokes, but I will see what I can share!

First, every Monday night we have a Family Home Evening with the Branch President and his family. We do it without fail, and this last Monday we invited our recent convert. Now, President Montes was feeling in a singing mood, and so..... We started with an opening hymn, and then he said, "Yeah, yeah yeah, let's sing another one.... Brother León, what is your favorite hymn??" Okay, awesome. Let's sing that one!!! Tonight, is going to be a night of singing and glory to God. Elder Hatch and I then look at each other and are like, "Ummmm.... oh boy....." We sang every one's favorite hymn, including the missionaries. We opened with a hymn and a prayer, sang 11 more hymns, then ended with a prayer. I don't think I have had my voice hurt so much in a long time. Then our recent convert said, "Man, this is awesome. A FHE with all hymns, and how about next time we do one with all scriptures!! Then another one we will do one with all prayers!!!" Hmmm, I don't know how that would work..... Well, luckily, the wife of President Montes said, "Prayers?? Maybe.... instead.... we can do... umm... testimonies??" He agreed to do that instead. Whew.... saved.

Afterwards we all went to get ice cream, and I made the biggest mistake!! We NEVER go out to get ice cream, and so I needed to this opportunity for all I could. The ice cream parlor was filled with a great aroma and just amazing amount of flavors. Sadly, I decided to go for the.... horchata. Worst. Mistake. Ever. It is like a milkshake with Cinnamon and other type spices. Basically, I wasted the only time I had ever gone into that ice cream shop for a disgusting drink. I was so disappointed. If you are ever in Spain. NEVER order horchata!!!

We then had a great district meeting Tuesday and it was a lot of fun. Telepizza (a local pizza chain) has a deal where medium pizzas are only €5 each. So..... Call em up Tuesday morning!!! We would like 8 medium pizzas please!! They didn't open for another two hours, but they agreed to open up for our order! haha. We then all wore blue, and so we decided with the elderly missionary couple that we had we would all pose for our District Christmas card haha. It looks pretty good if you ask me. The La Mancha district is going places!! We also just got three new missionaries in our district, so the family is growing!!

Then, yesterday, for church, I realized how much small branches rely on missionaries. Technically, the branch president doesn't have any counselors, and so when he is gone we are the acting branch president. Also, President Montes, no fault of his own though, is not the most computer literate and so I also act as the branch secretary and I use MLS. I don't know what it is called in English, but it is the program to track all of the members and tithes. So I also count and send off the tithes. I don't know how he ever managed in the past so I have been trying to teach him how to use the system more and more so he can become more self reliant. Basically, just a lot of work these past few days.

Now, today is a festival day so a lot of stuff is closed. It looks like a nice rest day in our piso! Well, stay in touch all!! Thanks for everything!!
Love,
Elder Steven Card

Monday, August 8, 2011

More Random Pictures from July

Montes, Clegg and Chasa Family

Clegg with Card and Hatch

Random Pictures from July

Card with Pedraja Montes

Card with Cleggs
Elder Clegg on the left