Monday, October 31, 2016

Week 62: Breaking the Sound Barrier, Climbing a 15th Century Wall, and Gypsie Tales!

Hola Family!

It's been a pretty ridiculous week to be honest. I feel like that's the first line to most of my letters, but really, there not a better way to describe it. We did finish the week off in a pretty tranquilo way by visiting San Juan de Gasteluxate (Scaling its cliffs and wall from the era of the Black Plague), and Butron Castle with the very best Papa Manolo (who drives us around in his speedy 6 speed Ford through the windy coastal highways of Pais Vasco), and brings the very best goat cheese and Spanish sausage. You can't beat that. In other news, Joel didn't get baptized this week, he's gotten cold feet, and getting trucked (run into) during soccer and storming off, we’re working on picking up the pieces so he can get baptized. We've been fasting for him so hopefully he'll pick things up again. Other than that, Joanna had the stomach flu making a visit nearly impossible as she was sitting on standby by the bathroom when we passed by, so haven't had much progress with her. Overall we've had some great success with the less active here, and finding some interesting people in the streets and knocking doors.

Fun story. It's 8 pm, Elder Kimball and I are on an intercambio in my area, and we're knocking doors in the building of a member. After having little to no success with the people in the preceding floors, we had the welcome surprise of finding this old humble looking Romanian woman crack the door open to see who was there. Realizing that this could be our chance, barely a syllable came out of our mouths before she slammed the door at speeds I didn't think mahogany could go, especially from an old woman. Ears ringing, we left laughing at how ridiculously sad that was haha. But we did find a great Basque woman after so it was worth it! 

Special report, we had another gypsie encounter this week! We were in a town called Erandio contacting in the plaza when I had this strange feeling to go and talk to this gypsie woman. When all she wanted was 50 euros from us, I thought all hope was lost, until this middle aged gypsie man with bulgy eyes, and this beard that could hold 30 pencils named Abram came up. After 10 minutes, he went from disgracing the Book of Mormon to getting his friend excited to dress up like us and share the book too. Also cultural fact, you can never talk to just one gypsie. There will always be more, especially true this time since we finished teaching 6 in total with more coming from across the plaza. While we're still in the process of finding him, I'm grateful for the power of the Book of Mormon, because there is so much power in that book!

Elder Perry’s the best! We've had good times taking mate, falling several times a day, and singing Follow the Prophet randomly because we can. So yea, good times here.

If there’s anything I've learned this week, and have applied from the President Nelson Conference is that we should never " go beyond the mark". From Elder Kearon blatantly telling our mission to stop being so anxious to this quote I found from Bruce R McConkie. "We don't need to go beyond the mark to fulfill our purpose here! Just be obedient to the commandments, valiantly testify, and serve always”. And "You're calling and election is made sure". I've found that a lot of stress can be taken out of our lives if we just fulfill the calling, joyfully, and just do what's required! I promise you that after applying that this week, life will be just that much better!

I love and miss you all, with two week left here I'm getting antsy with how little time I have left, but with a new piso tomorrow this looks to be an amazing two weeks!

Love and miss you all! 

🇪🇸🌴Elder Taylor Moulton🌲🇪🇸
 San Juan de Gasteluxate

 Visited San Juan with Manolo today

 Butron Castle

New piso...and carpet!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Week 61: Shaking hands with President Russell M. Nelson, and other stories!

Hola Family!
As you've seen one the mission blog, and other sources, President Russell M. Nelson visited our mission this week, along with his wife, and Elder Patrick Kearon and his wife also. All I can say is that it was probably one of the most spiritually uplifting and powerful experiences I've had in my life. Just to be there with 200 missionaries, and an Apostle, it was ridiculous the spirit felt in that chapel! Our journey there was a story in its own. After having 6 other missionaries in our piso Wednesday night, we left at 4:30 in the morning by taxi to the airport along with the other 40 missionaries from the north. We all hopped on the plane together (that was fun, lots of suits and funny looks), and arrived just as the sun rose in Barcelona. Elder Perry and I went on splits for the day in Hospitalet with the zone leaders there (finding some fun people, and a crazy girlfriend), before going to the stake center for the evening for the general meeting with President Nelson.  That meeting was crazy, almost 900 people crammed into the building, including 75 missionaries in the back so that the members and investigators could sit down. All four of them spoke, ending with President Nelson telling his translator to sit down so that he could full "gift or tongues" it by finishing his talk and testifying all in pretty fluent Spanish (the room went silent since the spirit was so powerful). The members were so excited to meet an apostle, the first one to visit here in many years too, and are probably still talking about it today.
The next day was the missionary conference, we arrived at 11 to say hello to all the missionaries of the mission (only the second time in the missions history that the whole mission’s been together), and to prepare for the picture. Once we all got in position, and knew that he was coming down from his brunch upstairs, all 200 of us began to hum “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet”, President Nelson sat down to take the picture with us, and in complete silence we each shook hands with the four of them. President Nelson has a firm grip for a 92 year old man, and the most intense eyes. I think he saw my soul haha, kidding but still an amazing experience. We then had the conference, with the four of them testifying and teaching on the resurrección, the importance of missionary work, the sacrifice our family's make for us to be here, family history, Joseph Smith, and President Nelson’s part being almost an hour of him teaching us. He finished by giving an apostolic blessing to the mission, and with us standing in silence they all four left.  From their teachings, and the spirit I felt in this meeting, I know that the Lord calls modern day apostles to do his work, that the spirit of revelation is real (every one of my questions was answered), and that this is Christ's full church on the Earth today! Where else can you feel this spirit, and have all of these truths that we know?! It was a memorable moment for the entire mission, and one I'll hopefully never forget.
Back to Las Arenas (we were gone three days so that was strange), the work’s progressing, Joel's getting baptized next week probably, and miracles are happening everywhere! A miracle I saw this week happened in this small pueblo in our area called lutxana, a station on the metro line that we'd never visited. We contacted almost every door in the town (there were like 15 small buildings), and found nothing. That is until the very last building on the top floor, where we found this young woman named Ester, who had seen the missionaries in the past in Bilbao, already had a Book of Mormon, and was completely open to reading the book again and starting with us! For a long morning of little success, this little miracle helped make the day for me, and show me that there are people prepared in even the smallest of towns in our areas!
This week, while made amazing by the mission conference by President Nelson, was also made good by some of the good people and progress we had this week! Joanna, the friend of a member named Miriam who came to church two weeks ago was able to come to a Noche de Hogar, another lesson, and to church this Sunday with her, and the family of Alicia our recent convert coming to another noche de Hogar tonight. She's very promising, and we're planning to invite her to be baptized in the next few days. What makes it better is her support that she has from Miriam and the family of Alicia, which is where she's living at the moment. Thankfully she doesn't need to be reminded to attend church.
It was also Elder Perry’s birthday today so we spent the day walking around Bilbao, eating at a Chinese buffet, and now we're here writing! It's been a crazy week, along with us moving this week, it's going to be nuts. Hopefully this new piso helps us forward the work here even more!
I love and miss you all!
🇪🇸🌴Elder Taylor Moulton🌲🇪🇸
 Tiny octopuses!
 My crawfish friend!

 Birthday lunch for Elder Perry at the Wok Buffet!

The Barcelona Mission with President Russell M. Nelson! (Taylor is 4 rows from the back, 3 over on the right from the basketball hoop)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Week 60: Prayer Rugs, Dead Birds, and Singed Tongues!

Hola familia!

¿Que tal están? This week has been hard, a little tedious, and filled with crazy stories. A big improvement on the week before for sure. Once my companion returned from Barcelona on Tuesday, we started the week by touring a piso that we might move into this week(the negotiations are under way at the moment so we're praying for that to work out!), because this new piso is soooo much better. Ours at the moment has a broken washer door, several broken doors, a smell of mildew and mold, furniture from the era of Grease and large mustaches, and all of this after scrubbing the piso the week before. Other than that the works been good, found some great new investigators, and a less active family we found came back to church for the first time in a year, and Joel will hopefully be baptized next week. The big event this week is the huge full mission conference with President Nelson in Barcelona on Friday. We're leaving Thursday on a plane and not getting back until Saturday so it's kinda a mini vacation, but we're so pumped to see an apostle!!!

Ok miracles.  Two weeks ago we felt impressed to go to this one part Eng complex in a town called Erandio. While a subtle impression, we still followed through on it. We went and came back in vain, except for a contact with this woman named Maraje from Romania who accepted our number and went off in a hurry. Fast forward to Friday after interviews, we were door knocking in the same complex when we arrived at this one building whose door was unlocked. Jumping at the opportunity we went in, took the elevator to the top, knocked the first door and talked to a Muslim man named Mustafa. We had a good conversation, and he invited us in to pray and drink some water (also his prayer rugs were plush, I kinda wanted to take a nap after seeing them there). All of the sudden, right after the prayer, the door unlocks and in comes Maraje, who, looking surprised that we were there in her house(we didn't have either her address or phone number), sat down for us to teach them a bit of lesson one. The Lord works in mysterious ways, and I know for a fact that because of that one impression to work in that apartment complex two weeks ago, that we are now teaching this couple!

We also had some great lessons with some of our less-actives like Tatiana and her daughter from Bolivia, and Odamis this super energetic and fun Cuban woman who came to the barbecue activity this week too! And surprise we had this less active family come back to church for the first time in a year so that made our day! But in between the days of contacting and passing by houses, we had some great successes with the less active folk.

Lesson learned, don't take mate (matay) hot, it really burns. You'll probably see the video somewhere but wow I singed my tongue. I mean, I guess that's what I get for sipping boiling water that had been sitting in the equivalent of cut up grass for a while(but it's so good!). Try it though - you'll get a great Argentinian cultural experience out of it!

We also had our interviews with President Dayton his week (they're always the best!)! Mine went pretty well, I got some delicious chocolate chip cookies, and we talked about focusing on personal study and improving our reactions to discouragement. It helped me to realize that while we look to teach people in their houses and have progressing investigators, sometimes the Lord has other plans for us in our areas. The most important thing to do, quoting Gandalf, " is what you do with the time that has been given to you". So while I might feel down one day, or if a whole building just denied us and an old man just loudly blurted " No No No....!", in the door, it's all ok! We just need to make sure we avoid the "hot tub of self-pity" and press on!

Other than that, a good week spiritually, and I, so glad we finished it off with a fun day on top of the Arboleda next to Bilbao exploring a sculpture park and chasing ducks. Might sound simple but it was fun(and Papa Manolo came, yay!).

I love and miss you all! Las arenas is the best, missionary work is fun, and mate is hazardous to one’s health!

🇪🇸🌴Elder Taylor Moulton🌲🇪🇸

 Trip to the Arboleda with some of the Bilbao missionaries
 Elder Kimball and the bird
 Elder Jacobson and the bird

 When you find a dead bird.....

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Week 59: Racist Dragons, Wisdom Teeth Miracles, and Steamy Fudge!

Hola Family!

Pretty normal week, not much to report other than my companion’s gone in Barcelona for a day or two for residency, I ate an ice cream cone filled with caramel inside today, and well, we had pretty a fun Sunday. We had several less actives we've been working on come back to sacrament meeting, and a friend of a member(Miriam, my Bolivian grandma here who helped us baptism Alicia's family, is the friend). And well, she basically got a high speed restoration lesson from our gospel principles teacher, and accepted a Book of Mormon! Her names Joana, and well we're praying that she wants to meet more because she had to take in quite a bit for her first day at the chapel(not our fault but still, faith!). Joel didn't make it to church because, well we think he was fishing so we're going to have to find him and sort out his priorities haha! Other than that, lessons and contacting Atheist Spaniards.

Except for Percy! On following the prompting that Elder Perry received after talking to an old Spanish man on a bench about shellfish for a while, we punched the timbre of this reference and found this 20 something year old joven inside! He only let us in at first because we offered a prayer for his sore teeth, as in he had just gotten his dientes del juicio(wisdom teeth) out and couldn't talk much. But he listened, and is going to meet with us again this week! No matter what, it's listening to those little promptings that gets us to where the lord wants us to be, when we need to be there! 

I also tried some delicious things this week! One was some more subway cookies(raspberry cheesecake...yum....!). The other was melted chocolate in a mug, dipping cookies and Churros into in covered in cinnamon sugar, and yea, pretty amazing! Goofy members though, an older couple that have lived here since the dawn of the church here in Spain. But you've got to help out the members fulfill their missionary purpose somehow!

The talks that I studied from this last general conference were the ones by Quentin L. Cook, and Dven Cornich, the first one on stumbling blocks on the way to happiness and salvation(lesson learned, if your goal isn't Jesus Christ or becoming better, you missed the point of this life). Especially here in the mission, where we're only here two very short years(now that I'm on the downhill I'm freaking out), we can't waste our time and energy on things that won't bring others to Christ! Just like Elder Cornich says, we need to stop wasting our time comparing ourselves needlessly to others, but rather we need to compare ourselves to who we were before, and to who we want to be! Not to those around you! Better, ask Him what He thinks of You! It'll probably be a lot better than your opinion of yourself at the moment! Just repent daily, smile, sip some mate, eat some fuet and cheese, and all will come out ok(and preach the gospel, that always works out good!)!

Also if anyone's wondering why I put racist dragons in the title, it's from a song that's stuck in my head about a racist dragon and this little kid that annoys him. This is what happens when missionaries talk in our piso at night.

I love and miss you all, I love these members, investigators, friends and all the people I've met here in Spain, and I'm grateful to be part of the work of the Lord in bringing some of these people to Christ! I'm also grateful for a modern day prophet, and modern apostles who are here to teach and help all of us come into Christ, and especially for Joseph Smith. Because without him, none of these things I've been doing these last 14 months would be possible! 


🇪🇸🌴Elder Taylor Moulton🌲🇪🇸
 Sending off my companion yesterday to do some residency stuff in Barcelona
 Las Arenas district meetings
 Churros and chocolate at the Hidalgos

 Preparation Day fun!


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Week 58: "I'm so glad this happened...", Father/Son Piggy Backs, and Looring the Profeta!

Hola Family!

This week was fantastic, long, and really interesting. An odd mix of words but you get what I mean in a sec. Joel, our long time investigator accepted a baptismal date for the 22nd of October, and we've found some great new investigators(and we're still working to get the other ones going, lots of flojos), but through it all, just grateful for what we've got! We're beginning to teach the girlfriend of an old investigator of ours, named Maria,(her boyfriends the one with the drug issues from a few weeks back), but while the word of wisdom will be a bit interesting, she's super prepared to learn about the gospel! Within 10 minutes she accepted to read the Book of Mormon that night, come to conference and have other lessons with us! She may have not been able to attend, but we’re meeting with her later this week. 

My son, Elder Perry's, been using crutches all week, slowing down our pace but not our desire to teach! So we shuffled around, contacting anyone on a bench or near a bench so that he could sit down, and making the most of it. At one point I offered to carry him up a hill we had to climb to get to an appointment, but he bravely passed and climbed the mountain anyways(she wasn't even there, so we ended up coming down empty handed.). Later that night however after our successful lesson with Joel, he accepted that offer for a piggy back, resulting in us piggybacking joyously across Areeta plaza at 10:30 with all the teenagers and old folk looking at us with confused expressions. Fun times in Las Arenas!

On Saturday, we took the trip to Bidezebal to play baseball with some investigators and the other elders. After making the 2 km walk(with crutches mind you), we find out that he and them weren't going to be there. When the elders found out and were telling us, all I hear in the phone with a hint of sarcasm from Elder Kimball is " I'm so glad this happened...". We rested for a sec on the bench before hiking across the fields of Getxo to the metro. But hey fun times as the Las Arenas district.

This weekend was made even more amazing by several things. We found a very enthusiastic Cuban man named René, who slammed mine and Elder Perry’s heads to his as he gave us what I call the sumo hug(my face got road rash from his fuzzy hair haha!). But it also was amazing because we were able to loor the Profeta and dar gracias(Praise to the Man and We thank thee oh God for a prophet in Spanglish) by watching conference! There were so many talks that I loved -  the main ones being Elder Yamashitu on being ambitious for Christ, and Russell M Nelson's talk on finding joy in our lives. But the biggest blessing of the missions that every talk seems to apply to something in the missionary work, so even if they may not apply to us all the way, each talk was super interesting to me. But yea, conference is the best!

Also our mission president surprised us this week by telling us the President Russell M Nelson will be speaking to the whole mission in Barcelona in two weeks! We're pretty excited, and we're going on a three day road trip to do it as a zone since we live clear up in Pais Basco. But yea we're pretty excited!

I love and miss you all, missionary work’s fun, but hard here, but having the faith of an amazing trainee like Elder Perry’s made it all worth it!

🇪🇸🌴Elder Taylor Moulton🌲🇪🇸

 Probably the saddest picture ever but it sums up our week pretty well!

 The Guggenheim Museum