Thursday, February 26, 2015

Week 6

Family and Friends!! I can't format my email again, sorry.  This week was pretty typical - lots of classes, studying, teaching, devotionals, etc.  All really great.  We had Elder Bennett of the Seventy here last week.  He spoke on being a consecrated missionary - being fully focused, exhausted myself, and that my righteous posterity starts with my decisions to be a consecrated missionary NOW.  It was a really great, inspiring devotional.  We also had two devotionals on the Atonement this week - one from the MTC President and one from the MTC director.  They were both amazing.  I love that President Lovell made the Atonement so personally, it's hard to explain, but it was amazing.  I learned that it is important to get to know Christ, even if I don't fully understand every aspect about the Atonement.  I decided to read just one chapter a day from the New Testament.  I am loving it so far, and figured it is a great way for me to get to know Christ better.  Hermana Handy and I had our last lesson with Antonia.  She made AMAZING progress.  She had prayed in a Catholic church for peace and didn't feel like her prayers were answered so turned to mediation for peace.  We talked to her about prayers often being answered through other people and she now knows hers was answered through a friend.  We taught her the Plan of Salvation and the Spirit was definitely helping Hermana Handy and I.  It was a wonderful last lesson.  She said she believes in God and the Book of Mormon and she is doing great.  We teach our last lesson to Ana tomorrow.  My park experience last week was much harder than my first week.  Not many wanted to listen to us.  One man was very interested in knowing more about Mormons, but not in actually reading the BOM.  We spoke to an Atheist, many devote Catholics, and a few others that just were not as receptive.  But even though it was difficult, I learned a lot about being positive on hard days and learning from the bad days as well.  Spain is great.  I am excited to leave to the field on Tuesday.  I am not sure what area I will be in yet, but I will let you all know!  I love you all lots! Love, Hermana Bingham
I didn't have a p-day since last emailing because of schedule changes so this is the only pic from the week.  It is from my classroom window.  We love watching the sun rise.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

February 19, 2015

Hola Family and Friends!!!
So first off, I am on a computer that I can't format, so I will try to put lots of spaces between my paragraphs.  haha.  Also, many people have wanted to hear about Spain, p-days, culture, food, differences of MTCs, spiritual learning, investigators, etc... so I'll try to cover as much as possible.  This may be a novel email.
So first off, I am not allowed to take pictures in the MTC until the last week, so you will get some from p-days but can't show you anything from in the MTC yet.
Also, every Thursday we have p-day.  We get to go to the temple in the morning.  The session is in English, not Spanish, so that is really nice.  It is a small temple, fits 40 people in each session.  After emailing and studying, we get to choose between two or three p-day activities. We have a member of the 70 coming today so we did our p-day activity Tuesday.  So I have two to tell you about.
Last Thursday, I went to a modern Cathedral and an Egyptian temple.  Both were really cool.  So different from LDS temples, but still beautiful.  It was also nice because I was able to walk through downtown Madrid a little bit.  We take the metro, and on our way back a few of us missionaries started talking to these two adorable kids that were learning English at their school but wanted us to practice our Spanish with them.  Apparently they could tell we needed help.  haha.  But we were able to talk a little about Christ as well in the short time we had.  It was cool.
The second p-day activity I had this week was on Tuesday.  I went to the Prado Museum.  A lot of really cool artwork - paintings and sculptures.  After the Prado we went in a Cathedral behind it.  Hermana Suarez also walked with a few of us and showed us the area and few buildings that are left from the palace that use to be there.  I have a pic of one I will try to send if the internet lets me.
On Saturdays, we go to a park in Madrid.  It is HUGE.  And really pretty.  We are paired with a companion other than our own and we go and proselyte.  Beforehand, we set goals of how many contacts, Bood of Mormons, pamphlets, and referrals we want.  The goals really help when it gets hard.  My companion was Hermana Hansen.  She was great and taught me lots.  At first, it was super hard.  We got on the metro and right away starting talking to people.  After Hermana Hansen took initiative on the first few, she looked at me and said "your turn".  And after contacting a few people it was way easier.  We were at the park proselyting for about an hour to an hour and a half.  In that time, we placed 7 Book of Mormons and got 3 referrals for the missionaries.  It was a really exciting experience, it makes me even more exciting to leave the MTC and get to do that more!  I had a really neat experience with one girl we talked to, I could just see in her face that she truly had the desire to learn more.  We got her info so I hope she has a great experience with the missionaries.
The MTC here in Madrid is much different than the one in Provo.  Mainly because there are only about 40-50 missionaries so we are able to do everything (eat, sports, p-day, temple, etc) all together.  Most teachers here have 6 month contracts, but a few are full time.  The food here is actually pretty similar, nothing too weird.  Mostly it is just seasoned differently.  Lots of meat and veggies, pasta, soups, etc.  I was able to try the paella and churros with hot cocoa, both dishes I had heard lots about.  Both were great.  They have delicious rolls about every lunch and dinner, and nutella..which is even better than US nutella and we go through it so fast.  The bread with nutella is definitely my current struggle.  haha.  But in general the food seems to be fairly healthy, and fresh.  I'm still not sure if the food will be the same outside of the MTC because it seems to be pretty americanized.  I guess I will find out.  Also, their lunch is the main meal so we get a whole hour for lunch.  During that time we are allowed to go to the little Chineese shop across the street.  It is basically a mini Walmart with a little of everything and packed.  It's nice to get a little down time in the middle of the day.
This week in Sacrament meeting, I learned that being obedient is taking the choice to allow the Atonement to be applied in my life.  I like the idea of thinking of obedience this way.. even more that just a choice.  I also learned that it is important for me to push myself when I most want to resist - that is when Satan is really trying and I will learn and grow the most from those experiences.
As far as my teaching is going, it is improving.  I currently have two investigators (both teachers).  We are trying to focus on increasing Antonia's faith - she believes she doesn't need God or BOM or Christ or prayer because her meditation keeps her perfectly happy.  And Ana was taking the lessons to learn more about Christ for her art exhibit, but this last lesson she started asking questions about the importance of our message in her life and making it more of a personal thing so that was a great turn.
Well, I hope I answered questions.  And didn't ramble too much.  I know this church is true and I am soooo grateful to be serving a mission and sharing the gospel.
Love you all lots!!!
Hermana Bingham
Hermana Bingham at Madrid MTC
Madrid MTC District
Downtown madrid.  if you look close, there is a McDonalds in the center of pic
One of the buildings of old palace
Hermana Handy and I

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Week 4ish

Family and Friends,
Hola!  Well I made it to Madrid.  I have had a great week.  First I'll tell you about my last few weeks in Provo.  On Sunday, Sacrament meeting was on faith in Christ.  The main thing I learned is that faith leads to action and comes from righteousness.  In our district meeting, Hermanas Tuaira, Dexter, and I taught the lesson on the Book of Mormon.  It went well.  The Sunday evening devotional was really interesting.  Kathy and Kelly Mills (who operated the 14 international Mission Training Centers) spoke.  They had great personalities and were really good speakers.  I learned that my success as a missionary will not be determined by my talents, experiences, wisdom, etc but on my willingness.  I also learned that the best way I can find happiness here on my mission is by forgetting about myself and focusing on others.
Monday morning I had my service and gym time in Provo then was off to the airport.  I traveled with one other Elder also transferring to the Madrid MTC.  We took the frontrunner to the airport.  I was able to call home from the airport which was really nice,  It was great talking to you family!  On my flight to Paris I had a whole row to myself.  I tried to sleep..did for a few hours.  Toward the end I started talking with a lady across the aisle from me.  She was from Paris and visiting her son in the states.  We talked about our religions and believes (she is 7 day evangelist) and talked about similarities and differences.  It was an interesting conversation.  She was also really amazed that they had Mormons in Spain.  Haha.  My flight from Paris to Madrid I was also on a row myself, and couldn't tell you anything about because I slept the whole time.  When I arrived in Madrid, tow teachers from the MTC picked us up and took us here.  I met with the MTC President and his wife.  They are great.  I then ate, had class, unpacked a lithe, and went to bed.  The time change is hard, but I'm surviving.  I just wake up about every hour from like 2 in the morning.
The Madrid MTC has been great so far, and also really different from the Provo one.  Classes are set up a little different so I'm trying to adjust.  We covered material in a different order as well so I'm getting double of some and missing other grammar lessons, but I think it will work out just fine.  My district in Provo was advanced in Spanish for beginners and now coming to an actual beginning level district I'm feeling great about my Spanish.  It really is coming along.  I taught two lessons yesterday with Hermana Handy - yes, we are companions again!  One with Ana and one with Antonia.  Ana works at the art museum and is doing an exhibit on Christ right now so wanted to learn more about other religions.  She is wonderful.  Antonia doesn't believe in God, but believes meditation is all she needs to be happy and find peace.  She agreed to meet with the missionaries to help them practice their Spanish.  So both investigators are different than any others I've taught but I am excited for the things I will learn.  The lessons yesterday went well.  One more thing with Spanish is that I was challenged by my branch president at the Provo MTC to read from the Book of Mormon out loud for 15-20 min a day.  Simply for pronunciation, not understanding necessarily.  So I have been doing that.  It takes me forever so I was only in 1 Nephi 15 this morning but I realized as I was reading it that I could totally follow the story!!  Definitely some words I didn't understand but it was amazing.  I was able to go to the Madrid temple this morning.  It's beautiful.  I love the temple.  Madrid is pretty, the little I've seen.  Every P-day we get to pick an activity in the city to do.  Today I am going to a Cathedral so I will get to explore the city a little more.  I'm excited.
I have been so blessed with my teachers, leaders, companions, and learning Spanish.  I am very grateful for it.  
Love you all!
Hermana Bingham
Not sure what order pics will attach but they are me with branch press Swenson and wife in provo
my creative shot at temple
me telling Hermanas Tuaira and Dexter bye
Madrid temple
and view from my window at the Madrid MTC.. I can see the temple and city!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Made it to Madrid!‏

Hello Friends and Family!  I just arrived at the Madrid MTC!  My flights both went well, slept for part of them and studied some Spanish. I had an entire row to my self both times.  From the little I've seen so far of Madrid, it is beautiful.  I just found out we get to go tracking at the park here and we get to go downtown for Pday so I'm excited for those.  I have Pday Thursday now so will email you then, just wanted you to know I made it safely!  Love you all!  Hermana Bingham (as you can tell, I can't figure out how to enter to a new line...haha)  

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Week 3 - I'm going to Madrid!‏

Dear Family and Friends,

Well my big news for the week is... My visa was approved and I'm leaving to the Madrid MTC on Monday! I was so excited and a little sad to leave here. I met with the Spain Consulate yesterday to get my visa and he also told me and the other Elder I'm traveling with a little about the culture, people, food, religion, etc in Spain. It made me even that much more exciting to go! I can't wait to get there. I did realize that I'm a little sad to leave here because of my companions, district, zone, teachers and investigators. Some of my teaching lesson practice comes from teaching my teachers or members of the church who volunteer to come to the MTC for that. Although they aren't necessarily real investigators, I find myself really wanting that person to progress and come closer to Christ. We have a TRC investigator (don't know if she is a real investigator or member), Hely. I think I mentioned her last week. She is from Guatemala. She is progressing and has some great, and difficult, questions for us. I'm really going to miss her. Each time we teach her, I understand more of what she is saying (actually quite a bit now) and grow to love her more. It's amazing how quickly and easily I can have a strong desire for those I'm teaching to draw closer to Christ.

We had a missionary conference last Sunday since it was fast Sunday. It was wonderful, as every meeting here is. I will highlight a few of my favorite things I learned. Mckinley Oswald said that faith is not about everything being okay, it is about being okay no matter what happens. I love this. Our attitude and perspective in life have a huge impact. No matter how righteous we are, there will always being trials in our life, even if it comes from bad choices others have made. We need to learn to have faith and be okay and have a positive attitude no matter what happens. Annette Burgess, the MTC president's wife, talked about testimonies. I loved it. I am currently striving to strengthen my testimony even more and trying to do so with the perspective of helping investigators realize that they are gaining a testimony. I learned testimonies start with a righteous, sincere desire, they will come through the quiet influence of the HG, they will gradually grow through experiences, and they will increase as we share them. I'm already finding these true from the past 3 weeks.

For the Tuesday night devotional this week Jo Ann and Gregory Schwitzer (of the Seventy) spoke. Gregory Schwitzer spoke about commitments leading to covenants. In order to help investigators come unto Christ, they must make commitments (such as reading/praying about Book of Mormon, coming to church, etc) in order to be ready to keep covenants (such as baptism).

At the beginning of the week, my class practiced doing a 5 min street contact. We focused on really being able to connect with the person and make them think you want to be their best friend. And then relating what they need in their life to a gospel principle. I'm not going to lie, this was really hard for me. I realized my Spanish is really coming along.. in gospel talking. But the everyday words and get to know you conversations need improvement. In my language study I practiced coming up with questions and have been continually trying to use my Spanish dictionary for random words as I'm talking with Hermana Tuaira and Hermana Dexter. Although I have a long way to go, the Spanish is continually getting easier and better.

Sorry I kinda rambled in this email... just had a lot of stuff I wanted to get out. I've loved my experience here at the Provo MTC, but am also ready and excited to go to the Madrid MTC. Here is my address for the Madrid MTC. I think I'll be there 3 more weeks.

Hermana Hilary Bingham
Spain MTC
4a. Planta
Calle del Templo No 2
Madrid 28030

Thank you all for emails/letters/packages, I love them all!

Love you all lots!

Hermana Bingham

1. Me with Hermana Dexter and Hermana Tuaira
2. All the hermanas in my zone at our temple trip