Opening My Mission Call

Opening My Mission Call
August 16, 2010

Monday, January 30, 2012

Through the Ceiling...

What a crazy up and down week. It has been a huge change but I am loving it. It's always good when you go to another place that is just as good. It makes the change a little less difficult. Well, to end my final P Day in Sevilla I decided what I really wanted to do was just hang out with the other missionaries, but it has to be an adventure, so we took about 14 missionaries to... the Sevilla Bullfighting Ring. Now that was fun! I tried taking a bunch of photos but you might not get them in this email, but I will try. 

I also said goodbye to all of the members and investigators which was pretty sad. They were my family and friends for 6 months so to just leave was tough. They all tried to leave me with something to leave a mark, which they didn't have to do. Bishop is an explorer and he likes to visit the close Roman ruins in his free time, and one time while digging (they encourage exploring) he found some old pottery and coins, and so he gave me one of the old Roman coins he found. What a nice memory. Some of the other members decided to give me other types of "thank yous...." For example, one of the people owns a luggage store and so he decided to give me a nice piece of carry on luggage hahaha. Now I have three pieces of luggage and let's just say that that made packing super stress free. 

After packing everything I went to go stay the night at some of the Sevilla elders piso since my bus left at 0745. We stayed the night, and well.... you can guess what happens when elders stay the night over. Well first it starts with a barrage of oranges being thrown from the roof. They live on the 11th floor of this huge apartment building and let's just say that they thought it would be funny to throw fruit off their balcony as we tried entering. I had dodging skills though so no one got hit. I got some orange juice splattered on me though.... sick. Well, then, everyone just loves chatting and so no one got to bed at close to a decent hour. I am pretty sure that throughout the night I had maybe 3 hours sleep before my 745 bus... horrible.  I did still call those elders that I was leaving behind in Sevilla and said my goodbyes. It was pretty touching to say bye to some of them. When you work with them side by side for 6 months you get pretty attached, but I am sure I will see them again in the future. It's weird how attached you get to an area too before you leave. When I left Puertollano to come to Sevilla I said to myself how I would never be able to forget Puertollano and what not and how it was my home. Well now I am leaving Sevilla to go to Huércal and I just don't see how anything can ever replace Sevilla. It is the best city in the world!

Well, I took the long long long bus ride to Huércal. I didn't arrive until about 4pm and so I was just plain exhausted but we had places to go and people to see! So I dropped off my bags and went to work. The apartment is super nice. I am pumped. It is extremely comfortable and just large enough to be spacious, but nottoo spacious like our three story house/mansion in Sevilla. I even have my own bathroom. Elder Marchello has his, and I get the luxury of having mine. The only downside is that the piso has no heating and it is SUPER cold in the morning. Why? Well, just like all of Spain there is no carpet and it is just marble or whatever flooring and so it is like stepping on ice getting out of bed. No heat ever stays in the building so we have two space heaters that we turn on and leave in the main room with the doors closed and that is basically where we survive in the morning. I actually have found that I am getting 100% fully dressed in the bathroom right when I get out of the shower because it is too cold to walk around with just a towel. I freeze to death. So I go in to take a shower and I come out in a white shirt and tie haha. 

Well, we already had some pretty interesting things happen to us the first week. On Saturday the Lorca elders had a baptism but they had to come to Huercal to use our baptismal font. Why you ask? Remember that earthquake about a year ago almost that happened in Spain? Well, it hit Lorca hard and it destroyed the chapel pretty bad. It even hit the Elders' piso really bad too and they had to move out for awhile. Well, anyways, they had a baptism on Saturday and Elder Marchello and I set up the font on Friday night for them. Our plan was to wake up early on Saturday morning to start the water since it takes about 4ish hours to fill. Well, on Saturday morning we hear a knock at our door at 730 in the morning and it was the Lorca elders! They all came fully dressed and super tired. They didn't look at the bus schedule til the last minute and they realized that it was either arrive at 730 or arrive at their own baptism late, so they did the former and arrived at our piso super early. That was a nice surprise. So we shoved them into the room with all of the heaters and made them hot chocolate and all haha.

The baptism went great as well. Super cool, and the people were way happy. There was one problem though afterwards. How are we going to drain the font? Well before they just had a giant tube in the wall, and they poured the water down that. But now they just recently installed the kitchen so now there is no tube. We had an electric siphon so we tried using that and pumping it into the sink, but this thing was made for swimming pools and it just dumped gallons and gallons of water into the sink. Too fast for the sink to handle, so it just got the place soaking wet. So... we can't do that, now what? Let's pump it into the toilet! Perfect.... Wait, another problem.... the tube isn't long enough to get around the wall into the bathroom and into the toilet on the other side. Well... if we can't do it in the sink.... and we can't go around.... what if we went..... through the ceiling? We removed the tiles in the ceiling and fed the hose through the insulation and dropped the tube down into the women's bathroom. The tube was still short.... about three feet short. It was hanging three feet above the toilet. Well.... we might as well go for it so one of the elders threw the pump into the pool while I stood in the bathroom trying to aim gallons of water being pumped into a target: the tiny small Spanish toilet. Actually.... it worked haha. That's the funny thing is that it worked. We took pictures of the whole thing, and I don't have them yet but we will get them to you no worries. That was all in the first 4 days!

Then yesterday was the first day of church. It was fairly normal. Not a lot of members. The branch just was made back in April so there are not too many members. The President was talking about how all of the members need to help and be active in missionary work. He said at time it can be discouraging because we might see ourselves as failures if we don't baptize anyone or if our invitations get rejected. Yet, he compared missionary work and people to, for example, apples. You can count the number of seeds that are in an apple but you don't know how many apples can come from just one seed. Same goes with missionary work. You can count all of the baptisms you have, but even if you baptize just one person you have no idea what good that person will do or how many people he will bring into the Gospel. In fact, you don't even have to baptize anyone at all. I read of a story of one missionary giving a Japanese man a pamphlet and that was all he ever did with that one man. Well, years later in the future he re looked at the booklet after having a touch experience and he wanted to get in contact with the missionaries. He was eventually baptized and then helped his family and extended family get baptized which numbers like 45 people. So.... even just seeds planted, you never know what good it can cause. So that gives me hope on days where it doesn't seem worth it. That gives me hope when someone rejects me, and it gives me hope when I teach someone and spend a lot of effort and time with them and then they never say yes to baptism because I know I gave them the base and they will say yes eventually when another elder comes their way. 

Well, that was my first start in Huercal. Sounds like it will be a pretty good area eh? Only one week done, and who knows how many to go!

Elder Card

Monday, January 23, 2012

¿Huércal.... Qué?

"So Elder Card you ready to go?!?!"
"Wh....what? Ummm..... yes?"
"Okay good. Transfer time! You're going to...."
And that's pretty much how the conversation started on Friday night when President called me. It came a little bit as a shock but not really because I have been here for 6 months already. This Wednesday I will be going to..... Huércal-Overa! Do you know where that is? Neither do I..... It is a small pueblo of less than 20,000 people and this closest "big" city it is by is Lorca. That might be a bit more familiar since Lorca was the place that got destroyed by the Spanish earthquake last year. I will be companions with Elder Marchello and it looks like I will be killing him. President just likes sending me with people who are dying haha. I don't know why, but I'm excited. I don't know Marchello but he will go home in a couple months so I need to keep him animated until then.
What could be the most nerve wracking thing? Being the district leader over your former AP and Zone Leaders. Being DL here was fun and easy, and I enjoyed it since everyone was younger than me haha. Now, I will be district leader over two former zone leaders of mine and the ex-assistant to the President. Talk about a humbling assignment. What could I possibly teach them?! These are the experts and the best of the best! I am pretty nervous to go over there to be completely honest.
I started saying my goodbyes to the ward members as soon as I found out and it was pretty sad. It wasn't tearful, but it's true that I might never see these people again, well, personally. In the meantime, I have been teaching Elder Wells how to take over the area since it is geographically gigantic. He is also still trying to learn how to drive the car and so I am having to teach him that while at the same time teaching him directions. He will have to learn eventually so we'll see if he can get the hang of it by Wednesday.
I leave on Wednesday morning and it's brutal. I leave at 745am and travel to Granada by bus and arrive at 1115. Then I get on another bus from Granada to Huércal-Overa and arrive at 1600. That's a lot of sleeping time on that bus. I'm excited for that haha. Well... I don't know what else to say. That's the most recent update. I think next week will be really interesting and I'll send photos. Both of my goodbyes from this past week and my welcome to my new area next week (I forgot my camera cord today). Well, until next week I suppose!
Elder Card

Well, of course I need to give you all my new address I almost forgot! How else can you send me anything it is that you want to send me =)
Elder Steven G. Card
Calle Silvestre Martinez de Haro 21, 2B
04600 Huércal-Overa

To Everything There Is A Time and Season.....

Timing is everything. I think we have all learned that. Sorry for not being able to write to everyone last week but I was in a rush and had to cut my time short. But, these past two weeks I have definitely learned that to every thing there is a season and a purpose. Some things take longer than others, but all things will come in their time.

Anyways, a quick short funny story from two days. Elder Wells has been waiting for his driver's license so that he can finally drive the car. In the meantime, I have been driving since he has arrived, which to say the least, has hurt him in not learning the area; he claims that he can learn the area (10 different pueblos) better if he were to drive (something which I don't doubt).  Well, after weeks of waiting, he finally received his license in the mail and so I took him out to an empty parking lot to teach him how to drive the car. 

"So now, Elder Wells, do you know how to drive a stick?"
"Yeah, yeah, of course."
"All right. Well, turn it on and let's get going."

After about 5 minutes of him failing to start the car I ask him what happened. 

"What happened? Something wrong with the car?"
"No... I guess I forgot how to drive stick."
"Ah, who did you learn from?" 
"Need for Speed from Chuck 'E Cheese"

Oh goodness...... hahahaha. Well..... it took a bit longer than I thought to teach him, but I am happy to report that he is getting it down, and he drove us here to the library. I am NOT looking forward at all to the day that I have to teach my first 16 year old how to drive a car. When it was time for Elder Wells to leave the parking lot for the first time onto high-speed Spanish traffic I nearly died. I don't think I have ever been so stressed out before. And then when we went on to the freeway..... wow.... 

Anyways, these past few weeks have been pretty good. To be quite honest, I have been a bit down just because the work hasn't been booming, and to be honest, it has never been really "booming" for me, but I have learned a pretty good lesson as of late and I will try and share it with you. This is what President Henry B. Eying said,

"All of us make decisions every day, almost every hour, about whether it’s worth it to wait. The hardest ones are where the waiting includes working. Does it make sense to keep working, to keep sacrificing, when nothing seems to be coming from the effort?
There’s a young man in the mission field who’s made that choice in the last month. I heard his story, but there must have been thousands of such choices made last month. His companion would have made Job’s critical friends seem like the Three Nephites. Just living and working with his companion required more contribution than the young missionary had dreamed he was going to have to make. The mission president authorized them to stay in their apartment because wind brought the effective temperature to 80 degrees below zero. So, the young man had to decide, “Shall we go out? We’ve been tracting and it’s produced nothing. For what it would cost us, what would we get? We haven’t got a contact, so we’d be just hitting doors.” Well, he went—that’s an odd investment decision, but he went. What he got was to meet one man, behind one of a hundred doors. In his letter about the man’s baptism, he said, “I’ve never been more happy in my life.” "
To be honest, that is how I have felt a lot of the times. "Should we go out?" "Is it even worth it?" Because a lot of the times it is discouraging when your recent efforts seem to not bring the expected rewards. The trick is to know how to keep waiting and working when the harvest seems delayed. I have learned that not all of our efforts will bring forth fruit right away. The trick is to keep yourself motivated so that you don't give up before the delayed blessings come. It's all under the principle of endure to the end. Once again, this is what Henry B. Eying said,

"There are spiritual crops that require months, years, and sometimes a lifetime of cultivation before the harvest. Among them are spiritual rewards you want most. That shouldn’t surprise you. Common sense tells you that what matters most won’t come easily. But there is another reason suggested in the scriptures. Remember this from the Book of Mormon?

And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.
 [Ether 12:6]

And from the Doctrine and Covenants:
Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation. For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand. [D&C 58:3–4]

The simple fact is that there is a God who wants us to have faith in him. He knows that to strengthen faith we must use it. And so he gives us the chance to use it by letting some of the spiritual rewards we want most be delayed. Instead of first effort yielding returns, with a steady decline, it’s the reverse. First efforts, and even second efforts, seem to yield little. And then the rewards begin, perhaps much later, to grow and grow."

Anyways, I don't know if all of that just flew over your head, but it made sense in mine when I was typing it all out and thinking of what I wanted to write to you all. Point is, I have learned that perhaps the fruits of this mission will not come while I am on my mission. Maybe I won't be that missionary that baptizes 50 in his mission, but I have learned that with faith, and patience, I will see those fruits eventually. I know that if I endure to the end my reward will be there waiting for me. When I think of that principle, I think of the Jeffrey R. Holland quote that I used a couple of months ago that says,

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."

So.... maybe you aren't a missionary, but you can definitely apply it in your life. Be patient in your afflictions. Know that it all happens for a reason. And maybe you won't receive the blessings right away but they will always come eventually. You have to have faith and hope. Remember this rule of thumb when setting goals: "You must havelong term goals to keep you from being frustrated by short term failures." I suppose I can end with that. I hope that I was able to share a little bit of what I learned without completely confusing and making you bored. Well, until next week! I have been in Sevilla here now for about 6 months and transfer calls are this weekend. So next week there might be some exciting news!

Elder Steven Card

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

In the Dust..

Well.... so maybe the end could have ended a bit better but..... what can ya do? As for missionary wise it was a struggle, but it still was a fun time. Overall for the whole year though was a great success for all of the mission. This is what Hermana Clegg said about our success this last year: "Happy New Year to everyone! Here in the Spain Malaga Mission we are so excited to share our goal busting total of 325 baptisms this year. This is the 4th largest ever in the history of the mission and the 1st time it was done with only 100 missionaries. The other 3 years that were higher were back in the vicinity of 1989-91 and at that time they were 220 missionaries or more, so to say we are proud and pleased and blessed and honored and happy in this mission is an understatement. The best part about this is that the church is really growing here and the faith of the missionaries, put into action, works."

We did a great job this last year and the goal for this year coming up is 404! A nice rounded number. What super weird to think is that.... I won't even be here for the end of the goal! I come home this year! Yeah, sure, I would come home in November-December but still, when you put it in that perspective it is insane! I saw the pictures of the Medford youth and oh my gooooodness everyone has grown or looks way different to me. I can't believe it! Tell those West kids that we are playing Settlers that first week I get home! Actually, when I first saw the pictures I thought... oh man, who is Liz and Jon with? a cousin?? Oh my goodness that's Tyler! Shoot. Well, this past week was a bit rough since everyone was gone away for vacations. We still did our fair share of good stuff. For example, we went to Ikea a bunch of the days to treat ourselves to a cheap dinner or lunch, and some of the Americans from Dos Hermanas invited us over to eat dinner with them. To my sweet surprise, it was nothing but seafood and jamon!! I had a nice hand full of steamed clams, shrimp and pounds of cheese and ham. Then the kicker... they brought out the crab! Oh my goodness..... they had it right in front of me, and I couldn't resist. They went to weigh it and they told me I ate at least 6 pounds of crab legs! The hosts actually had to stop me and told me to stop, they wouldn't allow me to eat anymore because they were afraid I was going to get sick haha. It was a great night. Then, we drove back home and at midnight we ran into the streets and ate twelve uvas to the sound of the twelve cracks of the bell to start 2012. What a great start to the year. Now we are with our friends, the other missionaries, here in Alcalá and what a better way to start the new year than to go and play American bowling?!! Let's go see if I still have the touch...

Elder Steven Card