Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Week 19: The Lazarus Hole, Dominicanismos, "I burned my soul!", and my first Christmas in the Mission!

Hola family!

Thank you so much for the FaceTime call! It was so cool to be able to
talk and be with all of you on Christmas, even if it was weird calls
at 10 pm our time and 1 pm yours! This week has been what you'd call a
successful unsuccessful week, since there were a lot of great visits
with investigators and members, because we Caroled and had Christmas
meals with people, but at the same time we had barely any new
investigators, since no one would be out on the street Christmas
morning. But it was a great week being able to skype and to celebrate
Christ's birth!

One of the amazing experiences we had to bring the Christmas spirit to
our members and investigators was to sing Christmas carols to them
with the other 4 missionaries in our ward, which we spent our Tuesday
night doing. We had visited at least 6 investigators and members
before we headed out to our final stop, which was in a pueblo a few
minutes away from Valencia called Alequas(ok more like 30 to 40
minutes)to a menos activa couple from Ecuador named Fernando and Elsa.
We had been welcomed very warmly by the others we visited that night,
but it couldn't compare to their response. During the singing of
Silent Night, I remember looking up from my hymn book to see her and
Fernando crying quietly, feeling just as we did the Holy Ghost in
their home as we sang about Christ's birth. While not the most
memorable or crazy of experiences that I had this Christmas, I felt
like I was touched the most by seeing how much of an impact Christ's
birth has on people, and I felt honored to have made the 30 minute
journey to their home to bring that to them, even if it meant we
missed the last bus and had to walk 1.5 miles to the metro station(we
were a little sore).

On Christmas Eve we had dinner at Sonia's, a recent convert of the
hermanas. There we played Egyptian rat screw, Spoons, ate some
intensely hot sauce with chips, and we learned the rule of drinking
alcohol(from a less active British lady named Beth, we only drank
apple cider don't worry, but she was very proud to tell us about the
rule of which hand to drink with haha). We finished the night with confetti
cannons at the piso, and spraying each other with apple cider on the
patio, messy but fun!

On Christmas Day we made a delicious breakfast of Kneaders syrup and
French toast, strawberries, bacon, hash browns, and a bunch of juice,
where we ate way more food then we should have, because we followed
that up with a Christmas lunch with a member named Maria and
delivering a fish to a less active(long story). We ate a bunch of
Brazilian chicken, pork, rice and pasta, still full from breakfast so
we almost died. After that we walked across downtown Valencia to the
house of an American couple names Shane and Morgan, who had a super
cool 5 story piso with a spiral staircase, a roof top patio, and some
intense front doors, so big that there was a smaller door inside the
door to get in. It was a super fun night there eating a huge leg of
pulled pork wrapped with bacon, green bean casserole, and having some
of the funniest dinner conversations. One was after I burned my
hand on the green bean casserole and exclaiming "I burned my soul", for
some reason. We laughed for like 5 minutes after that, and when we
figured that there fireplace looked like Lazerous tomb door(the
lazerous hole!). We then facetiming our families before crashing on
our beds at home.

The rest of the week was pretty normal, we had a few great lessons
with some investigators, and went out teaching with our ward mission
leader victor from Nigeria(he's pretty cool as most Africans are!).
One of them being, Rafeal and Blessing, a Nigerian couple that had been
taught by the hermanas a few months back, but had lost contact. We
taught them the restoration, and I've never felt the spirit as
strongly as we spoke of the Book of Mormon and of the first vision,
especially as we all three, including our ward mission leader, gave
our testimonies to them about why we’re here, and why we know that the
church has been restored. Victor our mission leader also gave a very
powerful testimony about his son serving a mission in Argentina, and
how he knows from his conversion the power that missionaries have to
teach the truth, which was very humbling to hear as we sat listening
to him. We also visited other investigators and now we have some
progressing ones, which is a huge improvement after our difficult
experience two weeks ago with our three sisters firing on us(still
hurt inside from that).

We also ate Dominican food at a Dominican families house yesterday,
which was quite interesting, emenadas, yucca(super dry potato thingy) fish and a
bunch of rice! We also are learning dominicanismos from them just for
fun, which are the weird things that Dominicans say.

Overall, a super great first Christmas in the mission, and now we're
planning for a great week as we head into New Years and Three Kings
Day(a weird echo of Christmas with more gifts!).

Love and miss you all!

Elder Taylor Moulton

 Christmas dinner before calling home
 Christmas lunch at Maria's (She messaged us the picture here in the states!)
 Christmas pic after District meetings
Our homemade french toast breakfast with Kneader's syrup!
 Facetiming with my fam!!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Week 18: Chocolate Milk Eruption, Driving Skills, and Spanish Gokarting

Hola familia!!

4 days until we FaceTime!!! So pumped! This week has been a bit
interesting, and also a week of taking risks as I sang my first solo
in front of people(see the video if you're curious), and ate some
insanely spicy Spanish fish. We ate this fish called Meluza at Akim
Bigdadys house, our favorite Nigerian in the ward(his family’s the
bomb). It tasted great, but I kid you not if your breathed in
afterward it was like drinking Starbucks hot chocolate right after
they hand it to you, and then having the feeling stay for an hour. It
burned haha. It was a good experience, and we were able to teach a
good lesson with them after so it all worked out in the end.

Another story with Akim, we were contacting around our area with
him(he's a rockstar at it, he won't let one person go by without
trying to talk to them), when we saw this lady rub the bottom of her
low car on the edge of the concrete. He tried to help her, but when
she only made it worse, he loudly exclaimed "She's a woman, they don't
drive well" as we walked away, all in his heavy Nigerian English
accent. It was super funny, but offensive too, but it's was just
mainly funny to see him speak his mind so openly(then again, most
Nigerians here speak their mind pretty well).

Another fun thing this week was our wards Christmas Talent show and
lunch. The food was interesting to say the least(they gave us a
massive Tupperware filled with all of it so we’re still finding ways
to get rid of it), and the talent show was half filled by us
missionaries. We sang the Mumford and Sons version of come thou
font(search it it's super cool), and each of us had to sung a verse by
ourselves, we were terrified since we had all never done that before,
at least in front of people. But the ward liked it anyways, so either
they're really nice about it, or we actually sounded good(I hope the
second). Then, as elder Turner and Hemeyer sang hallelujah, Elder
Parker, the Hermanas, and I filmed on the stairs on the side of the
chapel. While filming, thus little two year old holding a chocolate
milk bottle squeezed it as hard as he could, spraying Elder Parker and
I all over our white shirts. The funniest part was trying not to make
a scene because the little kid started crying after doing that, the
other elders were still singing, and I was struggling to hold on to
the iPad that was filming them, all on now wet stairs. Overall a messy
but funny story from a successful ward activity(Jeannine our recent
convert was in charge of it, and she did an amazing job!).

As I mentioned last week, to bring the Christmas spirit to more
people, the six missionaries in our ward decided to go out caroling
in each of our three areas before Christmas, and last night we went
into Hermana Storer and Craguns area. We brought along one of the
American couples in the ward who are going to the Berkeley music
school here, but I don't think they expected the cultural experience
of going to Vicente, the old Spanish man from two weeks ago's
apartment. We had to dodge strange dance parties, and some flirtatious
Spaniards who we ended up singing jingle bells to anyways, but that
was all made up with how happy Vicente was to have visitors.

For preparation day today we went gokarting as a district near the
city of sciences, which was a blast! They were off-roading ones so we
flew past runners and over dirt mounds in the park as we played tag
with the karts, it was awesome, and it only costed 5 euros to rent
them! Definitely one of my favorite preparation days so far!

Overall, I’m excited for Christmas, and to get into this new week,
which is filled with meals with a bunch of people for the holidays,
and Christmas proselyting activities which I'll talk about next week!

Love and miss you all!

Elder Taylor Moulton

 Our mission Christmas card
 Our amazing zone after our Christmas Zone Conference with the mission president
 Delicious Meluza fish with rice and freaking spicy sauce!
 The view from Akim Bigdady's house
 Apparently the current Spanish president looks scarily like Senor Marsh from high school!
 Vicente and us with the giant Book of Mormon

 Gokarting for preparation day!

The Sciences

Monday, December 14, 2015

Week 17: Snakes, Airdropping, and being the Tall Guy

Hola family!!!!

Two weeks until face time what!!!???? I'm pretty pumped for that, and
to celebrate Christmas with some amazing members and people in
Valencia! Plus we have planned to go out as the six missionaries in
our ward, to go caroling in each of our three areas on different days
the next two weeks so that's going to be awesome(we’ll carry a pile of
pass along cards to be ready). Around Valencia , you can tell
Christmas is coming up since there are signs saying Bon Nadal on every
building (Valenciano for Merry Christmas), there are lights on a bunch
of balconies, and cool things is that there are a bunch of nativities
set up along the streets and in the markets, so that's been pretty
cool to see! Also the Corte ingles here is shoving ads down our
throats about Christmas sales in the metro and in the mail, since it
seriously has a monopoly in Spain making that the only department
store allowed in cities. But overall, the Christmas Spirit is here,
and we're here to make it more about Christ!

So you may be wondering why I mention snakes in a city, well let me
tell you. Snakes are the code word for the young, flirtatious, and
quite immodest Spanish women that seem to populate the metros and city
every weekend, and make it super hard to contact because they all, and
I mean pretty much all of them, want to beso us(cheek kissing). So yea
while they are very attentive listeners....., they aren't the most
productive way to spend our time, so most weekends we try to avoid the
snake filled areas of the city.

This week has been a pretty tough week with teaching, since we lost
all the fechas and progressing investigators that we had last week. So
while we were able to teach a few family home evenings and visit some
members, it's been a tough week getting lessons.

We also got a new piso mate this week named Elder Parker, who's from
England so it's been hard to speak with an American accent this week.
But he's super fun to be with, and so far we've been pretty good not
mentioning missionaries as "Americans", even if 90 percent of the
mission is American. Best quote of the week happened as we ate some
insanely hot and unhealthy fufu at an Africans house, and he, not
haven eaten fufu before(why scriptural language!!!??), set his mouth
on fire and had to eat it all to be polite. He ended up walking by us
and saying "you're a bunch of fetchers" in his pretty on point British
accent, we couldn't stop laughing after that haha!

We also found a new way to deliver book of Mormons to the hermanas,
which is to attach one, wrapped in bubble wrap for protection, to a
Mercadona bag and send it as a parachute down to the side walk from
our top floor piso. Not the most dependable way to deliver them, but
it got down to them pretty fast since they were in a hurry.

On Saturday we had sports day at Parque Oeste near our piso, and as
you all may know, I am not the most coordinated of missionaries. But
the good news is that the people there don't know that, so I always
get first picked in basketball! But I found that while I might have
some skills in basketball, I'm still a work in progress with soccer. I
kicked a ball TWICE into the side poles of the goal, from point break
range, and even then couldn't get the ball in haha. But hey I'm hoping
that by the end of the mission I'll be able to at least kick a ball in
a straight line!

It's been rough this week for investigators, but through all the small
little miracles like a less active we have making it to a sacrament
for the first time in years, to getting a call from a lady named Lola
last night setting up a visit with us, even if she was from the Elder
Mcarthur era, I've gained a super strong testimony on the love that
Christ has for everyone, and also the ability we have to see miracles
in everything we do. It took me 19 years to see it, but there's truly
a miracle in our lives every day (try it out, there seriously is).

Love and miss you all!

Elder Taylor Moulton

 Cien Montaditos sandwiches! 1 euro for everything on the menu!
 The average breakfast/lunch for me (there's a lot of time between meals so you have to eat fairly large!)
 Churro Planet!

 This is what happens when someone buys foam spray at a chino....
 Things that you find in piso...Captain America challenging us to baptize!
 One of the many cathedrals in Valencia
 Saw this in the back alleys of Valencia looking for members - there's some crazy good graffiti here!
 That's a bagel donut pizza I ate today!
 Our Christmas wall decorations
 Our piso Christmas tree!
We made crepes for some Ecuadorean less actives to help them get to church (we're getting there!  Thanks Dad!!)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Week 16: Hutanos, Stinking Dirty Yogurt, the Firing of the Camaroonites, and the Clapping Game

Hola Family!

Wow this week has been weird but super fun nonetheless. Elder Turner
and I, and a few other missionaries from the Provo MTC group that I
came with went this last week to Barcelona to apply for residency. We
also ate kabobs at a shawarma joint(avengers anyone?), which was pretty
great. One thing that we focused on during our zone Enfoque this week
was goals, so I made it one of my goals to do three acts of random
service each day. I definitely put that to use as we ate at a menos
activas house, and after eating a bite of the yogurt, I found it to be
very chunky and not so fresh haha. So, knowing that they weren't the
wealthiest people ever, I ate it to be polite, but after seeing my
shivering after the first bite, elder Turner was a little reluctant.
So I quietly grabbed his yogurt and downed that to avoid the taste.
Definitely not the best thing to do for my health, but we do anything
out here to show that we love the members and investigators, even
eating dirty yogurt haha.

Another cool service thing we did this week was helping an 86 year old
Spaniard man with one leg to decorate his Christmas tree. This guy is
super old, so he only talks loudly, and sounds like Yoda since he
grunts wherever he goes. But it was a super fun and spiritual
experience since we sang him Christmas hymns and ate some steak he
made(he was a professional cook before so it was pretty good)

On a quick note, hutanos, aka gypsies, are weird and scary, as Elder
Heymeyer found out on splits. They stare at and follow you out of
their neighborhood, even if you're just walking through... So yea
avoid the gypsies.

This week has been a little bit of an emotional roller coaster with our
investigators. The main miracle and story that happened with our
investigators was with the three Camaroonian sisters that we found a
few weeks ago. We had invited them all to read the Book of Mormon,
in their respective languages of French or English, they all had
accepted baptismal fechas, and we even were able to bring one of them
to church last Sunday. But last night, we were hit with the hard news
when one of them handed us the Books of Mormon that we had given them.
That's when Maria, one of the ladies explained that because they live
with a charity group that helps African refugees, they can't have
personal items, like Books of Mormon. But the cool thing is that they
explained that they had been trying to find places to hide the books
outside of their apartment, like in an African store right by where
they live. Eventually though they were told that because of health and
safety reasons that they could only leave at certain times of the day,
and now they can't make it to any lessons or Church meetings, leaving
them no choice but to fire us. But the miracle of the situation was
that even though we wouldn't be able to teach them anymore, which
they were really sad about, Maria accepted a blessing of health as she
goes though the procedures at the hospital, which for a fairly new
investigator who's never seen one is pretty great! She left the
blessing, crying a bit, and we know that even though we won't be able
to meet with them anymore, we still made an impact on them with the
restoration and the part of the Book of Mormon that they read. We’ll
still call and check up on them to make sure they're good though, so
we haven't forgotten about them yet.

I also found out that I can be pretty crazy when it comes to dancing.
At a stake activity on Wednesday with investigators, we did a game
where a person who was not in the room, has to come into a circle of
people, and present their talents to make the circle clap, who copy
everything the person does. It's really easy if you think about it,
since you just need to clap to win... But I had some fun doing the
frog, the dinosaur(I literally made dinosaur noises and ran around),
which got everyone laughing so hard they could barely copy me haha. I
even made this old man almost fall over with laughter haha. Definitely
a fun game, and the investigators had a pretty good time haha.

Overall a fun and busy week, and Elder Turner and I have had some
pretty great lessons with some of our investigators. All we are
focusing on now is getting our news to progress... Which in Spain is
hard haha, but we'll get there!

Love and miss you all!

Elder Taylor Moulton

 On the train to Barcelona to do residency applications
 Goal of 3 baptisms this month
 Our rooms Christmas stockings and decorations
 Pics of the dry river beds or Torrent

 On the train to Torrent
 Vincent, the 86 year-old one legged Spaniard we helped to decorate his Christmas tree
 Not a good pic, but a churro from Churro Planet
 Llaollao yogurt after stake conference
 Even Ronny the member gets tired haha!
 Said goodbye to Elder Islas today as he heads to Barcelona
 Elder Pedosh
 Our zone
 Our district after zone enfoque
 Usual zone enfoque for Valencia with our zone leaders
 Ate at a shawarma joint in Barcelona
 Last pic of our district before we split
A passed out Elder Heymeyer on intercambios

Monday, November 30, 2015

Week 15: Attack of the Romanians, New Traditions, and Teaching the Africans

Hola family!!!!

This week has been weird but great! We had a delicious dinner provided
by the American couples in our ward going to graduate school here at
Berkeley, so we had all the thanksgiving foods (even sweet potatoes!).
We had all the Valentian missionaries there too so it was a party of a
meal, kinda like the Moulton family thanksgivings back at home.
Overall we were just happy to be fed food, and it was great to have
the day to be thankful here in the field celebrating with friends!

One thing that we struggled with this week was that absolutely no one
was answering their phones! We always sit on park benches for a few
minutes between contacting to call about appointments, but this week,
out of like 100 calls, we only had like 6 that was sort of
depressing. But the good news is that we had some amazing lessons with
the African women from last Sunday, and we also brought one of them to
church yesterday! She couldn't have come to a stranger day of
church (primary program, fifth Sunday lessons, Sunday school on the
gathering of Israel... It was pretty different!), but she loved the
sacrament and wants to invite more of her friends to church next week,
so we're pumped for that!

One thing that Elder Turner and I have started doing is making new
traditions. One of them is Sunday night crepes, which are delicious,
and we are always thinking of new toppings for them(ice creams the
bomb). Another tradition that we started last night was the monthly
burning of the planners. It's so great to see each of those things go
up, which has been used for a full month of contacting and planning,
and it's a cool thing we hope to keep doing(don't worry about me
forgetting about daily things though, I've kept a pretty good journal
so far).

In addition to the lessons we had this week with an atheist Spaniard
who loves the Book of Mormon, recent converts and a lot of street
lessons, we also had a crazy encounter with one of our contacts from a
few weeks ago. We had met this Romanian with Akim, one of our members,
during Elder Turner’s first week here. We gave him a Book of Mormon,
our number, and we were on our merry way. That is, until we suddenly
found this Romanian, with a name I can't pronounce, with his friend
on a street in the other elders area (long story with that too). We
recognized him, and were about to ask him when we could stop by since
we were on our way to an appointment when he quickly invited us to his
piso, and in order for him to show us where he lived, rather than
giving an address (he had to be drunk, his friend too), he grabbed
Elder Turner over the shoulder and literally dragged/walked him down
the street. Since we thought he was being friendly, we played it off,
trying to tell him in simple Spanish that we couldn't meet right
now, until I watched the man reach his free hand to his back pocket
slowly. Freaking out, I got up right next to him and was relieved to
see that he was only grabbing keys, not anything that could possibly
harm Elder Turner or I (his friend kept staring at me too so that was
unsettling). When Elder Turner was finally set free from his arm he
pointed out his floor and window and suddenly turned to grab Elder
Turner again by the arm, only to have me slide in front of him, and us
saying more firmly that we couldn't meet. After a while of still
trying to pull us inside (he was quite strong) and have us talk with
him, he finally agreed to another day. So we shook their hands and
quickly ran the other way. That is, after he let go of mine, which he
wouldn't let go of since his friend and him were trying to pronounce
my name. Anyways, sorta a scary and weird experience, but now we know
that we need to be super duper firm when telling someone we don't want
to meet. He also appeared during another lesson too later that week
so that was annoying.

Overall it was a fun, weird and interesting week, and even though we
learned about the touchiness of the Romanian people, it's been an
awesome experience working with the people of Spain, and from all the
other countries around here.

Love and miss you all!

Elder Taylor Moulton

 Our Thanksgiving feast!

 P-day with fries and delicious sauces from the Frietshop
Christmas decorations