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.