Monday, December 28, 2015

Best Christmas ever

- Christmas morning walking the streets and giving out cookies and turrónes to homeless people. Some of them got really emotional as we talked to them about their lives. It brought me to tears. Then we saw a group of Romanian Carolers all dressed up like a nativity: wiseman, Angels, shepherds. As they sang silent Night in Romanian I started bawling in the middle of the street. The Spirit was very strong that morning.

- Javi and Ingrid's Christmas miracle. Javi came out on a visit with us even though he had basically just found out that they had to move out of their piso because they were short 5,000 euros. Then his wife Ingrid was super distressed, but told him to go help the hermanas anyway. So he did. Ingrid was praying and asking HF what to do. Then mid prayer her friend texted her and said she would loan her the money. Then Javi bought us snicker bars and we went over to their house and had a picnic. Then they told us all that had happened and we were all crying. This family just gives and gives and gives and serves!

- Christmas Eve lunch with this awesome Spanish couple. Goofy Motorbike dude and gorgeous posh woman, met in a bar, now sealed in the temple.

- gorgeous seaside walks with my amazing companion

- members giving us a bag of food and candy at church yesterday. Complete with a huge pineapple, peanut and regular m&ms, a loaf Of white bread, sausage and canned artichokes. Also our ward mission leader called us this morning and he has a roasted chicken at the church for us. Haha I love these people

- getting contacted by a Muslim man. Him telling us and trying to get us to read the Koran. Muslims are great people, but they just don't believe that Christ is the Savior of our sins. That is the most important part!

- Skyping you guys! Super fun! I love you so much! It was so good to see your faces.

Really was the best Christmas ever. There are no words to describe the feelings and experiences I've had. I love the Lord and I love His work. I love the miracles we see everyday in the mission!

Lots of love and happy new year!
Hermana Birch

We did so much this week! So many amazing experiences that I will never forget!

It was a great Christmas! Christmas on the mission is incredible.
Never have I had a deeper connection with why we celebrate Christmas
than I did this year.

Some of my favorite moments this week:

- FHE with the Calle family. The dad is Spanish and the mom is
Filipino. They have 4 kids, all young single adults. The dad is super
awesome and invited a nonmember Bolivian woman and now we are going to
her house this week and she's going to teach us how to make cuñapes!
Aka my favorite food ever

- contacted a homeless Nigerian man on the street and he came to
church yesterday! and brought his cousin Patricia, who is now my best
friend! And he already knew someone at church (another Nigerian)! And
now he wants to be baptized! Hermana Wiseman translating into English
at church for all the Nigerians was awesome.

- I asked Kenneth what the best moment of his life was, and he said
"when I decided to be baptized into the Mormon church."

- Hermana Wiseman's mom sent us Christmas stockings!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Sant Tomás

My companion spent about 45 minutes on Tuesday getting lice out of my hair. Yep, that's right. I got lice. We have no idea how. It was super gross and itchy.

The work here in Donostia is going really great. We love it here. We have so many awesome investigators. On Monday night we visited Niña and she had been waiting for us and had made us Dominican dinner! All setup and everything!

Also we took our best friend Kenneth (he's Nigerian) to get milkshakes. Unfortunately those don't exist in Spain so we got McFlurrys instead.

There is a black man in the ward named Bro West who took us out for Chinese. He has a selfie like this with all the hermanas that have ever served here.

He is so funny. He was like "I learned the hard way that if you want something to be kept quiet, don't tell the missionaries". Haha. Also he will not tell anyone where he's from. It's super weird. I asked him where he was from and he said "I'm from the Celestial Kingdom". I thought he was Nigerian, but then I started talking to him in Pigeon English and he didn't understand so I think he might be American.

I have had some really awesome experiences as I've been learning more about Jesus Christ. I've been reading Jesus The Christ and I love how it talks about how Christ was tempted. That's how he can succor us, he knows what it's like to be tempted. The devil tempted Jesus after he had been fasting for 40 days. I love how focused and consecrated Christ was to His purpose. He knew what He needed to do and He was subject to His Father. He wasn't swayed by the devil.

There are ton of members in our ward that are from Honduras, but still no one is from San Pedro Sula, they're all from the capital! I love being with Hondurans, I always tell them about Dad.

Being Christmasy this week we made sugar cookies. And then we sang karaoke at the ward party, which was super fun!

I am so grateful for the gospel. I love how almost all the people in our ward are converts! Their stories are amazing. Our bishop is from Congo and the missionaries contacted him 25 years ago in Barcelona, when he still couldn't really speak Spanish.

I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas!
Love, Hermana Birch

Nuggets of wisdom from this week:
Nigerians think it's super funny when you start talking to them in
their broken English language, Pigeon English.
Doesn't matter if you're traveling abroad or if you are a missionary
in a foreign place, just pretend you know what you're doing -Hermana
Making tortilla de patata, not as easy as you had hoped.
Singing karaoke at the Ward Christmas Party really ups your coolness
level among ward members and they will invite you to their secret cake
party in the middle of Sunday school

Feliz Navidad! Or as we say in Basque Country, Eguberri!

Today is a fun Basque holiday! Everyone is dressed up in shepherd
clothing, there's sausage stands, street performers, cheese, and lots
of alcohol. It's really cool.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Goodbye Granollers

This is Arturo and his family. We have a family home evening with them every week since my very first week. They cook us dinner, we eat and then we share a message. My first few weeks Arturo wouldn't even stay to talk with us as. Sometimes he would cook, but normally he would just take his son and go to another room. He's not a member but his wife and daughter are. I want to see him baptized and going to the temple so bad. The hermanas before us had already tried teaching him and you could tell that he was very cold with us because of that. I decided I would just love him and talk to ho, and joke around with him. He's so funny and always wears shirts with American cities on them, so I would always talk to him about it and really joke around. He started really being open with us and talking to us. Turns out that his mom made him go to seminary when he was younger in Bolivia, so he knows a lot about the church. But I never pushed. He starred cooking for us really delicious meals, and I always really complimented his food. He became a really good friend. And now when we visit he always stays out to talk to us and he cooks and serves us food. Last night I had to say goodbye to this dear family that I love so much. It was so hard.

My heart was bursting, they gave me a bracelet and the daughter Dari made me cupcakes. I cried so much.

Also saying goodbye to this girl was rough. She has become SO strong and her heart has truly changed. When I first met her, she suffered with depression, wouldn't pray or read her scriptures, but now she does and she wants to start coming back to church. As a goodbye present she made me this red headband, it matches my coat! She is so amazing, I love her sooooo much! What an amazing person!

This was a barbecue we did on Sunday. Mariano invited us. He's from Romania. I love him and his wife Rosa soooo much. They are so loving and sweet. They aren't even members but we do family home evening with them every week. This was a special bbq we did with them in this land that they just found and tore down all the trees themselves. Haha. They're awesome. Totally going to baptized one day.

Well this morning I woke up at 4:30 and took a train to Barcelona, and got another train from Barce to Bilbao! YES! I'm serving in the north and it is gorgeous. My new companion is awesome, she and I are going to have an amazing time together. We live in this super fancy city. This is in front of our apartment:

Last time with Carlos and family! Going to miss them!

I love the mission! God is real and answers our prayers!
Hermana BirchI had no idea but this week turned out to be my last week in
Granollers! They called us Saturday so I had Sunday and Monday to say
goodbye. It was so hard saying goodbye! I love these people so much.
My heart just was bursting.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Paella for Thanksgiving

Christ serving his disciples.

Have an awesome week!
Hermana Birch

We totally ate the best paella of my life on thanksgiving day, but I
forgot to take a picture! Paella is Spanish rice with seafood, or
chicken, or both. Josefa made it for us and it was sooooo good. I ate
two big plates. It was the first paella that I have liked! Haha Josefa
is amazing, she cooked it just for us two. It had octopus, calamari,
chicken, steak, mussels. Amazing.

Ugh I've been so bad with taking pictures this week! I know I know,
I'm sorry! I promise pictures next week!

This week was really rough. We got some more fake numbers. My feet
were literally frozen last night because we got stuck waiting outside
for a train for 30 minutes at like 9:30 at night and it was probably 5
degrees C. Sorry don't know what that would be in Fahrenheit. But it
was cold.

We had a zone conference with mission president in Barcelona (awesome
conference, LOVE The Daytons) and afterwards they gave us the flu
shot. Well, the next day I got sick. We still went out and worked
after mediodia, but we rested in the morning. So today we didn't go do
anything fun, we just went shopping for groceries and then I slept all

We have been visiting the ward members in their homes, mostly out of
necessity. Because if we don't we are out in the cold, literally. I
love visiting the members. Some of them really need our visits. Lots
of them are less active, lonely, or going through a rough time. They
are just as important sometimes as our investigators. The
investigators we had have dropped us and the other ones were
apparently too busy to meet this week.

The the Zone Conference Hermana Dayton talked about the importance of
thinking positive. And President Dayton and the Assistants talked
about how we need to be consecrated missionaries. I love it when we
learn about that. I feel like it's a common theme. I want to be that
Consecrated missionary. Totally focused on the work, left my "nets"
behind, like Peter James and John.

My companion is awesome. We aren't probably as close as friends as we
should be. That's definitely my fault. She kind of intimidates me I
guess. Her family has lots of money, she's really happy and serves me
a lot in piso (apartment) by cleaning and cooking and doing dishes.
Especially when I was sick last night after freezing my toes off, she
brought me herbal tea, toast and galletas (crackers...) in bed.

My favorite thing about my mission right now is the members. I feel so
close to many of them. I feel so loved by them, but I think they also
feel loved by us. When we are in their homes for an eating visit, or
just to stop by, they open up to us so much. They are awesome people.
They teach me so much. Their lives are filled with faith and

The Christmas website and video for this year has come out! I love it!

This is what I look at everyday.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Family Home Evening!

She's from Mexico.

I'm so grateful for the members and miracles here. We are all missionaries!

Love, Hermana Birch

Hola a todos!

We had an awesome miracle this week with Rosa! Our investigator from
Bolivia! I was super nervous to do this, but we decided to teach her
about Family Home Evening and then invite her and her husband to have
one this week. Her Romanian husband, we didn't know very well, never
really had talked to him, but he said we could do it and he would
participate! So we said we would bring a treat, and he could share a
spiritual thought and then Rosa was in charge of the game. So we
arrived to their house Saturday night and he said he actually wasn't
very religious and didn't have a thought, so instead we shared the
thought, no pasa nada, and we played a game and had a treat (Rosa made
one too) and it was super fun! And then at the end he invited us to a
barbecue and that we could do another FHE next week! We ran out of
that visit screaming and jumping because of how well it went. Mariano
is this huge Romanian guy, so he kind of intimidated us, but he was

Then Rosa came to church the next morning, Mariano drives her, helps
her with her baby and the stroller out of the car, but then leaves.
And in gospel principles Rosa said she really would like for him to
join her at church, but she says little by little with him. We will
keep doing the FHE and everything to slowly warm him up to the church.

I've been thinking a lot lately of my brothers, I hope all four of
them are preparing and planning to serve missions. The best thing you
can to do prepare is read The Book Of Mormon daily and really
strengthen your testimony of it.

It's really super cold now in Granollers. I had an intercambio this
week with my Sister Training Leader. She came here to my area!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Movie night

Last night was super super cold and we were in one of our pueblos (small town outside of our city) and we had about two hours until our next visit. So we were just walking around in the freezing cold. There was nobody in the streets and it was dark even though it was only like 6. I felt miserable because I was cold and we didn't have anything to do. We couldn't get into an apartment building to knock, so it was just bad. Luckily God really does watch over his missionaries. We said a prayer, I asked that we could find something to do and find some one who would accept us so we wouldn't just be here in the pueblo wasting our time. And then we literally followed the Spirit walking in the dark cold until we found a house and rang the doorbell. The houses in this neighborhood had gates and then the driveway. So the person had to come out the door and up the driveway to the gate to come talk to us. And a Spanish girl came out, our age, and she was super sweet. She wasn't interested at first but after we talked a little bit about God and we prayed with her she said we could come back and she's usually home in the mornings! When we most need visits!

And then we went on our way to a movie night we had planned with a less active. She had her friend over and we watched the hour long Joseph Smith movie. She bought me canapés (Bolivian cheese roll) because she knows how I love them. I just have grown to love her so much.

Also my new companion got to meet our two Spanish grandmas we have here in Granollers. Maria Jesús, who feeds us every single week and comes to church without fail even though she can't barely walk. She had breast cancer, she has no living family, she never was blessed to have kids but she is one of the funniest, happiest people I know and she has the strongest testimony I have ever seen.

And Josefa. Who also feeds us every single week, never went to school when she was younger, her kids aren't super active in the church, she gets super nervous giving talks at church but she loves serving us, never lets us help do dishes because she says it's a blessing to her that we come to her house.

I learn so much everyday, I'm seeing lots of miracles and Gods's hand in what we do. Do people always answer their phones? No. Do people cancel visits like all the time? Yes. But the most important thing is that we are doing what we can to help people understand and enjoy the gospel. It's not always easy but it's so fulfilling!

Con amor
Hermana Birch

Hello everybody

Well this week has just been great. My new companion is just a big
bundle of sunshine and rainbows, super positive and happy ALL the
time. She is so happy to be here because we have so many
investigators, we have a ton of potential in this area. It's so great
I feel so blessed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

New transfer!

She is awesome she is from Arizona. Hermana Handy.

We had a great week, saying goodbye to a companion is always hard. But it's another opportunity to learn and grow And change!

Last picture with Hermana Canales :( She has been a dream companion! Always doing the dishes, folding my clothes, making my bed and super chill but super hard worker and we had lots of unity :)

We had an awesome barbecue with a recent convert! The one that lives in the theatre, it was awesome!

Also we had our ward activity!

It was super great except we didn't have a great turnout, but overall it was super fun and super spiritual. We set up 3 classrooms, one for each kingdom of glory and we had games in the rest of the church. There were worldly games and spiritual games but no one noticed that the different coins they earned would get them to which kingdom. We set up the celestial kingdom with lights and everyone brought food and we made it really beautiful. The other kingdoms were dark and only had biscuits. And in the end we all made it to the celestial kingdom thanks to the atonement of Jesus Christ. It was really great.

Our bishop was mission president in Colombia in the 90s and he invited two of his ex missionaries to come speak in our ward. One is from Utah and he's a Kirkham so we might be cousins! Haha. His wife was there too, she didn't speak Spanish, she served a mission in Taiwan. They have 6 kids all young and came to Spain just them two just to visit our bishop :) so cool right?

We literally don't have time to write today so I'm sorry, but I love you all!

Love, Hermana Birchj Queridos familia y amigos,

I have a new companion!

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Rain In Spain

Saturday morning was awesome. We were on our way to visit Rosa, her husband is Romanian, but she's from Bolivia. And at the bus stop we ran into a member. She was on her way home from her morning job cleaning floors, and I felt like we should ask her to come with us to our visit. So I did, even though I totally didn't want to because I knew she was tired, but she came happily and Rosa, the investigator, came to church on Sunday for the first time ever! And the member that had came with us fellowshipped her and introduced her to other members! It was like a dream come true! I usually get so stressed on Sundays worrying about the investigators but we didn't have to worry at all. I feel like God really does know who we are teaching and wants them to feel good at church.

I felt the Spirit really strong this week when we were in the chapel having a visit with Lamin from Senegal (the Muslim). Honestly, teaching him is so frustrating. Like he speaks Spanish, just he can't understand everything, especially gospel things, so we teach SUPER simply. We decided to have a lesson just about Jesus Christ, because Muslims don't believe that Christ is the Savior. But what I love about Lamin is that he is so sincere, he really really loves everything we teach him. I have the gospel art book on my iPad so we were just flipping through the pictures of Jesus' life, and talking about them and when we got to the Atonement, I just started crying. I have learned so much about the Gospel on my mission, it has been such a wonderful gift to be here. I can't even explain how I felt, but it was really neat. And at the end of the lesson, Lamin prayed! I love it when people pray for the first time, it's so amazing.

We went to Barcelona today and we walked the Rambla and the food market! We loved it, it's soooo cool! There were a ton of tourists, I heard lots of English people!

After walking around this huge indoor market with every food imaginable- empanadas, fried fish, smoothies, gelato- we decided to go find a burger place that a member had told us about! Hermana Canales is obsessed with burgers. Haha

Lots of love,
Hermana BirchIt was really awesome to have some of our investigators at church this
week! The church is so true! We are teaching an African woman, and we
walked to church with her. We teach lots of Africans because they are
so humble and teachable. They have a strong belief in God. Her name is
Inmaculada, or Immaculate in English. She is like 60 but every time we
meet with her she runs out of her house to greet us and she's always
dancing. She's so cute!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

La Sagrada Familia!

All of the returned missionaries in the stake shared their testimonies, like 6 of them, and it was super powerful! The stake president then invited all of us missionaries serving to stand up so everyone could see us. Then he said that every single person who could serve a mission or start their papers right now, needed to do it and get going on it immediately! Missionary work is the best!

We also had interviews with our mission president this week. Really fun because while everyone was waiting to be interviewed, we talked to President Dayton's wife and she had music and a table set up with homemade banana bread and Halloween candy :) she's like our mom, and she is the most loving, generous, sweet person I have ever met.

After interviews we ate a a burger place in Barcelona! These burgers were huge, and really good too! And cheap!

Me and my companion are finally seeing some more success! We found a whole bunch of new investigators this week and our agenda is already full of appointments for the coming week! Whoo hoo! Kind of a miracle actually.

We are working with a less active that got baptized in her country, Bolivia, but hasn't been to church here in Spain since she moved here like 8 years ago. We contacted her in the street, not knowing that she was already a member! Miracle! She is so sweet and has a beautiful baby daughter. The only problem is that when we were visiting her in her house, her husband called. We could hear the conversation and we noticed that he is very controlling and very bad tempered. When she got off the phone I asked her if it was ok we were here, and she said no, so we left real fast! And we have seen her with bruises on her face and we are kind of worried about how he treats her. Like she was going to come to church last week, so we stopped by in the morning to pick her up, but she said her husband wouldn't let her. It's just so hard, we don't know what to do or how to help. Also we have an investigator who wants to be baptized, but her husband won't let her because he's Orthodox. Also the husband of a less active who recently has been reactivated, because her teenage daughter got baptized, has no interest, but we go to their house every Monday for Family Home Evening, but he doesn't stay for the lesson. We are just praying that the hearts of these women's husbands will be softened! It's like the general conference talks about women, and how the strong women of the church are the backbone.

Guess what! It's Christmas time again! I'm just slightly obsessed with these individually wrapped cookies that they sell only this time of year. I don't know what they would be called in English, but it's like an almond cookie, but comes in different flavors. Reminds me of the MTC because that's where I first tried them!

Something funny this week that me and Hermana Canales have been feeling is that we are really pesadas (annoying). Now that it gets dark super early, and it's cold, and nobody is in the street, we have to resort to door knocking. I just feel horribly annoying knocking on people's doors when they just want to be sleeping. But that's just something about the mission life. Our message is much more important than whatever anyone could be doing in their house.

Sometimes I feel really annoying because even when people tell us they're not interested I keep talking, until they slam the door in my face! It's just that they're saying no to something but they don't even know what it is! But president in my interview confirmed to me what I have been doing, he told me to be like Ammon. To be bold. Because the thing is, the church IS true! So this message is the most important message they will ever hear, and they might not get another chance in this life to hear it!

Sorry for the longish email this week!
Love you all so much!
Hermana BirchThis was a great week for us here! Everyday I love the mission more
and more, if that's even possible!

We had Stake Conference in Barcelona, which was awesome.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Week 3 Granollers

I keep getting the feeling that I need to trust more in the Lord. I think that the Lord is literally testing me. I can feel it. The mission.....ah I love it. You can like feel the eyes of the Lord on you at all times, He is literally here. Often times, when we are in a lesson or in the street, and I need help, I say "Heavenly Father, I know you're here right now, so can you help us with what to say, because I really don't know what this person needs" and I always feel the Spirit after and the person we are talking to receives exactly why they needed.

Halloween Cat in the casa de un miembro por Mediodia.

Creepy weird statues like this by every school. It's a weird Catalunya thing. Gotta love it.

We have contacted some great people this week. One guy when we gave him the card and he saw that there was a DVD he got super excited and so we are going to show him The Restoration tonight for the first visit! He's an old man, and the elders have visited him before, but I think it's been years. He says that his friend from Granollers works for Disney and helped on Frozen, Jesus Canal, you can look on the credits and see if it's true :)

Today we hiked to this mount of Tres Cruces with our friend, she is less active. We had a cool experience this week with her. We were in her area, but we never passby her house without calling first, but I had a feeling we should go. So we did and she was on the street with a friend, and at first we almost turned around because he was a guy and we didn't want to interrupt them, but I decided we should just go say hi. So we did and she said bye to her friend, invited us to her house and she opened up to us for the first time about her life and about her testimony. How she was super depressed but prayed and felt that God was there and now she's trying to come back to church again. We also shared Soy Mormon videos with her, which she loved! Great having an iPad.

I am healthy, and safe. But it has been really cold! And we don't have heat in piso. So lots of Colacaos (hot chocolate) and fuzzy socks. Also we think we are going to be super sore tomorrow from our hike today, pero Bueno!

This isn't sacrilegious at all. Well, this week has been another rough one. We are doing what we can
to improve the situation here. We went through the Area Book and got
all the names and addresses of ALL the past or potential investigators
that ever existed in this area and put them in our iPads. So that when
we are in the street we can stop by their houses when we don't have
other visits. Also to gain trust and love with the members we made
cookies for and have been heart attacking recent converts and less
actives. (Thank you Hermana Manotas) We are also planning a ward

Monday, October 5, 2015

Theater dining

4 Blessed art thou, [Hermana Birch] for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.

And it really comforted me.

On Saturday we were invited to eat at a member's house. She met us at a corner and walked us the rest of the way to her house, but when we arrived and she got out her key, we weren't at a house. It was a horribly rundown building, but I couldn't tell what it was. We walked into a dirty foyer and as we walked in further and we found ourselves in the stands of a dark, dilapidated theater. There was an ancient piano towards the front, by the stage. And other random things like a workout machine fit between some of the theater chairs. But directly to my left, in the back corner of the theater, was what appeared to be the dwelling of this woman. There was a small gas stove with food cooking, a round wooden table set for 3, a fridge and a tiny pantry stocked with humble food. Wooden planks were set up for privacy and one light bulb hung above the table for light.

I was flipping out. This woman actually lives here! And she's feeding US!

I watched the first session of General Conference on my iPad in English, in another room of the chapel, with a Nigerian woman and her little boy :) and then I watched the next one in Spanish.

I loved General Conference. I loved the testimonies of the three new apostles, you can feel that their testimonies are very strong. I am grateful to be guided by a prophet and apostles called of God. I know that whenever problems and difficulties come in my life, I will turn to the words of the prophets for comfort.

I also loved when the choir sang The Spirit Of God with the trio of three men. Was really cool! They don't usually do stuff like that.

For Preparation Day today we went shopping in Barcelona. I'm pretty sure you could google the best places to shop in the world and Barcelona would be up on the list! It's incredible!

Remember when I was a vegetarian?? Haha well that ship has sailed! Look at these pig legs of jamón! These are everywhere, I've never actually had jamón straight off the leg, but I buy it already sliced, it's delicious on pan con tomate!

Some cool sights in my awesome new area, Granollers!

I love being a Mormon, I love the gospel and I love you!
Hermana BirchFirst of all, we have been facing a lot of rejection. Like more than
usual for missionaries. And Saturday night I was feeling kind of
bugged, like why are we not finding people? Is it my fault? What do I
need to change? And then Sunday morning in study I read this: