Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Best 18 Months

Family and Friends,

I'm going to give a short summary of the week. It was a good one. One highlight was visiting a less active going through a lot of trials. She was crying using half a box of tissues that day. Not the highlight. But when we came back two days later she had change 180 degrees. She was smiling. And happy. And hopeful admits what appeared to be the worse thing that could happen to her. What made the difference? She had spent the entire day reading in the Book of Mormon and listening to general conference talks, the words of modern day prophets. Another testimony builder of the importance of the little things. Also, we are visiting with a part member family with a 7-year-old who wants to get baptized when he turns 8. He got up yesterday to bear his testimony. He simply said that he'd read the Book of Mormon completely (kid version) and knows it is true by the way he feels and is grateful for what he is learning and is so excited for his baptism at the end of the month. It brought such a sweet spirit to the meeting. I have learned so much from that kid, Leo. He is a great example. We also taught quite a few lessons with new people that I'm grateful for.

So this will be my last email. Next week on Monday I will be visiting some people and going to the mission home for my last night here in Spain. I have had many mixed emotions recently. I served a mission to serve the Lord and help others come unto Christ through the restored gospel. I've realized that although that was my main purpose in coming, I have had countless blessings for myself while being here. As I have taught others that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored with all the necessary ordinances, I have come to know that for myself with more surety. As I have taught and seen in others lives how living the gospel and keeping all the commandments really brings us happiness, that families can literally be together forever, that our Savior has felt everything we have and knows how to help us in whatever circumstance, that the little things we do such as reading our scriptures, praying, and coming to church make all the difference, that missionary work is one of the most important things we can do, that service brings us to Christ, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God who translated the Book of Mormon, and so much more, my testimony has truly been strengthened. I can't be more grateful for these 18 months and all I've learned that I know will truly bless me forever. I love Spain and my mission and every single experience I've had here that has helped me become a better person. Thanks for all your love and support. I can't imagine leaving here but am also excited to see you next week.

Hermana Bingham

Happy 4th of July!

They have some cool artwork here.

City of Madrid.  If you look real close you can kind of tell those are all small pictures of people from here.

Happy Week and Sleepover with Caroline

Family and Friends,

I can't believe how fast time is going. Almost to July. Like many of you said, yes, I have many mixed feelings right now. This week had a few failed days - those days that are planned out so well with many lessons, even new people we were all excited for, and then not a single lesson happens. Yet the week wasn't long and I was grateful for other finding activities that happened during that time. We have been finding so many cool people in the streets. We pray they will become progressing investigators. We had the opportunity to meet with some of the relief society presidency and they gave us a great list of some less actives in the ward to work with. We also had a great lesson with a friend, Carmela, of a couple in the ward. The message of the Restoration of the church of Jesus Christ just made sense to her. She was so happy to hear it, things seemed to actually really 'click' for her. I love when that happens. We also ate with the couple after. The wife, Nancy, is blind from an accident years ago in her life. Yet she is always smiling and happy. That is what the gospel and a positive attitude can do. No matter what trials we face, we can be happy and continue with life by really applying the atonement in our lives. She is a great example.

Friday Hermana Barlow and I got to take a recent convert, Jenny, to the temple. As missionaries in this mission we now have the opportunity to go for baptisms with recent converts once a transfer. It was a great experience, Jenny's second time at the temple. I saw some of my other converts as well. It was wonderful being in the temple with so many missionaries and recent converts. The Packs (mission president and his family) were also there. Our wonderful mission president and his wife let their daughter Caroline come back with us and stay the night. Caroline is awesome. I'm going to miss her. She was there basically just for the night, studies in the morning, and one lesson before her dad came and picked her up but I was happy to hang out with her before I leave.

I love you all!

Hermana Bingham

Temple with Jenny

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

17 months today.

Family and Friends,

I feel so blessed to be a missionary. I love it. Let me tell you of just a few experiences this week that help me feel that way. We met one lady, Margarita, with her daughter in the street last week. When we called to set up an appointment, she said she would like a blessing for her health (turns out her sister in NJ is a member). We went to her home Saturday and the elders gave her a blessing. It was a beautiful experience and the spirit was strong. She immediately felt more calm for her surgery and already recognizes the power of the priesthood that has been restored. Her and her daughter came to church yesterday as well. They are both very excited and prepared to accept the message of the gospel. Saturday we had another great experience.
Last minute we ended up visiting a member who hasn't been to church in many years. As we talked, I felt a strong impression to invite her boldly and directly then and there to come to church the next morning. She kinda chuckled, but said, "yes, I need to be there, I know it." We stopped by her house on the way to church Sunday and she was ready and anxious. Old church friends were so happy to see her. And she bore a beautiful testimony during relief society. I didn't do a thing, yet her Heavenly Father knew what she needed to hear. Being willing to follow that inspiration is key in missionary work. Our recent convert, Eloisa, also made a cute comment in relief society. She said when she was baptized and looked at herself in those white clothes she thought, "wow, I'm beautiful" and looked younger (she's 73) and more vibrant. Another lady related that to how we are literally more beautiful when we have the Spirit with us. It's true. Anyway, it's been a great week for me.  Hope yours has been as well!

Love you all!
Hermana Bingham

Sorry, only photo this week is of our lunch. I'll try to get a better one next week.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Finding Miracles.

Family and Friends,

Hola! The weeks are flying. This week we had a low number of lessons, but Hermana Barlow and I still had fun. Even days when we were out in the heat a lot of the day we came home feeling accomplished and as if we'd done our best. We keep seeing the finding miracles as we talk to everyone. We have received more numbers of people to go visit than I have in a long time this week. We also were teaching a new investigator when her friend stopped by and wanted to listen as well so we get to share the gospel with both of them. When we passed by for an inactive member, she had already moved back to her country but her daughter wanted us to visit her. The very last person we talked to the other night had good memories of the missionaries when they visited her husband a long time ago and invited us to visit the whole family.  I actually had an interesting conversation with Hermana Olsen when I was with her this week about how we see miracles daily - it doesn't always mean the people we are teaching recognize these miracles and change, but it seems to be just what we need as missionaries to keep going some days. Not sure if that makes sense how I said it even, but I feel very blessed to recognize 'little' miracles daily.

On Thursday Hermana Barlow and I were in Barrio 3 (Carabanchel) with our sister training leaders for the day for exchanges. I got to be companions with Hermana Olsen - we served together a year ago. It was super fun being together, sharing fun mission stories, and seeing how much we have both changed in a year. Good times. Hermana Barlow and I stayed with Hermanas Olsen and Graff for the night then we all went to zone conference on Friday. We talked about a lot of basics there, but a good review. We also are having a few changes in the mission.  Nothing too drastic, just good opportunities to help us stay focused on our purpose and see miracles.  We have a tradition in this mission where all the missionaries going home bear their testimonies at their last zone conference - which was this one for me. It was strange. Last zone conference. I don't like those moments when I realize how close to the end I really am. But I'm grateful for every moment I have here!

Love you all!

Hermana Bingham
There is crazy, fun art work in the center of about every round about here. I think I'll start taking pictures of more.

That's not snow.  Just crazy pollen that collects and makes allergy season not so fun for the people of Madrid.
Hermana Barlow trying to stay entertained during calls.

Last transfer. Training Hermana Barlow.

Family and Friends,

What a great week! For Monday night and Tuesday morning I stayed with Hermanas Duffin and Campillo in Alcorcón until my companion came Tuesday. I had a great time with them! I got to meet more awesome people here in Spain. Then on Tuesday I met my new companion Hermana Barlow. She's great! She is from Las Vegas. I'm so blessed to train her. In fact, our mission president, President Pack, said how clear it was this transfer with who the companionships would be between the trainers and the trainees- that we all had something to give and learn. I've figured out what I needed to learn from Hermana Barlow already, hopefully she learns something from me.

We are still focusing a lot on finding more people to teach. There is a mission-wide challenge to attempt at sharing the gospel with at least 25 people a day for each missionary. Doesn't seem like too many but with busy days or meeting days we have to literally talk to everyone. And it's been so fun. I love coming home at the end of a day and feeling that I've really put all my effort in sharing the gospel with as many as I can. And as we do it with prayer, we have been led to some great people. Yesterday we weren't having much success and had about 10 minutes until a lesson but stopped and prayed to be led to someone who was prepared to listen and know what to say. The second person we talked to is from Columbia, has friends from our church there, and was interested and wanted to meet again. I know the Lord helps us in His work.

We met with a really great new lady this week. She lives in very humble circumstances and is searching for exactly what the gospel can give her. We had a good lesson that led us all to tears as we felt the spirit so strong. I love experiences like that. With another lady, we had been debating if we really should keep visiting her now or if she needed a little time because she hadn't been progressing- she loves our visits but hadn't read in the Book of Mormon or been to church in a long time. Hermana Barlow had a great idea to help her and as we shared it, the lady opened up about her doubts. We talked about a few things and read from the Book of Mormon with her. Two days later she showed up at church. It was a wonderful 'surprise' to see her there.

I love the mission. Working full-time for the Lord is the best job ever.

Hermana Bingham

Hermana Barlow and I.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Baptism and transfers.

Family and Friends,

I feel like I just wrote since it was Wednesday, but the last few days have been great. Saturday Eloisa was baptized. Her sister and a few other family members are members of the church and live in the south of Spain. They came for the baptism as well as a good amount of members. The ward is great for support. It was a beautiful baptism.  Eloisa was so happy.

We also have transfers today. My companion, Hermana Smith, is going home. It's pretty weird having her go, but I get to train for my last transfer! I'm so excited. When I was in Santiago I prayed to be able to end my mission training if possible, but figured it wouldn't happen when I was STL again. Heavenly Father is so aware of me and knows what is best for me. I will meet my new companion tomorrow so I'll have to let know next week who she is.

Love you all! Have a fantastic week!

Hermana Bingham

(Sorry the email is short, it's transfer day and not sure if I'll have wifi again)


James and Liliana

Thursday, May 26, 2016

16 months

Family and Friends,

I can't believe it's been another week! This transfer already end this week. It's flown. Anyway, I am still doing well. It's been a pretty normal, but good, week. We have eaten with more members, and even investigators, than any other. It's been great getting to know them on a more personal level. We also had great lessons with less actives. We had a great experience with one as she explained to us how her life has changed recently since we've come to visit. I have come to realize that the Lord does not only prepare people who aren't members to accept the gospel, but also those who have fallen away to return. That was the case with this lady - she was prepared and ready to come back, just needed a small nudge.

I got to go to the temple today! With being in the north and the way transfers worked, it had been about 6 months. I had an overwhelming feeling of peace going in. I'm so happy I'm in a mission with a temple I get to attend. I'm even more grateful for the priesthood that has been restored and the ability to make covenants with our Heavenly Father that will allow us to return to His presence.

I love you all lots! Thanks for all the love and support!


Hermana Bingham

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Elder Bednar visit

Family and Friends,

What a great week it has been to be a missionary here in Madrid. I have been privileged to be in many amazing meetings, be very aware of the Spirit helping me daily, and receive tender mercies that confirm to me my Heavenly Father is aware of me personally. On Wednesday we had interviews with our mission president. He always helps me out and has great things to say. Him and Hermana Pack stayed for our district meeting. We talked a lot about the importance of using and studying the Book of Mormon in our personal lives as well as all those we are in contact with. On Friday to Saturday morning the hermanas from Alcorcón were with us for intercambios. I had the opportunity to work with Hermana Duffin, who has been out for 3 weeks. I related to her a lot and we had an awesome day together. She's a great example of service, diligence, and giving our all. We didn't have any planned lessons for the morning but decided it would be good to pass by for a few members. The visit to a young, new mom was just what she needed and after building more confidence she openly shared with us about a friend she's been trying to share the gospel with. In the evening we taught the little boy, Leo, and once he understood we were talking about tithing (in Spanish DIEZmo) and not the 10 commandments (DIEZ mandamientos) and the slightly advanced math for him, he offered to give us his money on the spot. Haha. How great would it be if everyone was so willing to keep all the commandments so willingly?

Between Saturday and Sunday I was able to attend 3 meetings with Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles - one with the missionaries, one with the stake, and one with the youth and young single adults. It was an amazing experience. During the meeting with the stake Elder Bednar specifically addressed those who aren't members of our church and basically taught the Restoration of the church of
Jesus Christ in the most powerful way I've heard it. Amazing. The meeting with the missionaries and youth/YSA was more of a discussion with Elder Bednar. And lots of question and answer time. I learned a ton, way too much to write here. Some of my favorite things were talking about our personal conversion - it comes little by little. And how we should take our questions into the Book of Mormon. I'm grateful for all I learned from him and all the impressions I personally received.

Another highlight of the week was getting to have an old companion visit me. Hermana Maza, who I trained, went home (south of Spain) for knee surgery. She got permission to come to Madrid for the meetings with Elder Bednar and... To stay in our piso Saturday night!! It was awesome talking to her and seeing how she was doing. It basically was the best weekend I've had in the mission between that and Elder Bednar.

Love you all!
Hermana Bingham

Hermana Maza

Hermana Smith

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Concilio and Mother's Day week

Family and Friends,

On Tuesday we had concilio in the mission home. It was a great experience as always.  We talked a lot about the importance of reviewing the basics and watched parts of a worldwide missionary training again. I was reminded of not only the important of teaching people how to repent and really be converts themselves but also what the atonement means in my personal life. The mission presidents wife made a comment that I loved. She talked about how the atonement is all about change and becoming better. She also mentioned how Christ died even just so that we can have better, happier lives. I am so grateful for every aspect of the atonement.

Thursday to Friday we had intercambios. We were here in Leganés and I was with Hermana Karlen. We had some great experiences together as we followed the Spirit and were able to realize we were in the right place at the right time because of it. She's a new missionary but I still learned so much from her. One of my favorite parts of being STL is getting to work with many other Hermanas and learn from them.

I also had a tender mercy/answer to prayer this week. It has nothing to do with missionary work, but it reminding me that my Heavenly Father cares about everything in my life. I was pretty sick this week, with the worse sore throat I remember having. It was really hurting Wednesday evening. I knew we were going to visit someone who always gave us a snack, and I prayed it'd be something to help my throat feel better. After the lesson she brought in big glasses of fruit smoothies. Seems like a little thing but I was so grateful for the daily blessings I receive that show how much Heavenly Father really cares about me individually.

I hope you all have a fantastic week. Love you!

Hermana Bingham

Had a great time skyping the family yesterday!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Here in Leganés

Family and Friends,

I've had a good first week in Leganés. The people here are very kind.  
In fact, at church, many people were anxious to introduce themselves
 to me. I know I'm going to love it here.


I've met a lot of new people this week, I'll tell you about a few of 
them. Our most progressing investigator is Eloisa, a cute 73-year-old
Spanish lady. She already believes everything is true. Although she
 has trials in her life she truly recognizes the peace the gospel
 brings her and loves studying the scriptures. She has a great desire 
to learn more. She's preparing well for her baptism at the end of the
 month. We are also teaching a genius 7-year-old boy (mom's just coming back to church and dad isn't a member). He's amazing. The other
 Hermanas gave him a children's version of the Book of Mormon two days 
before and he had already read almost the entire book and could tell 
us his favorite stories with names and details I surely didn't know at
7. He's teaching me a lot, doesn't even need us. His example of
 patience with his younger brother is also amazing. He already is an
 amazing little missionary and will continue to bless the church. I
 also met a lady from Portugal who was baptized here a few weeks ago.  
Her story of finding the church is long but basically the missionaries
 were completely led by the spirit to find her. She has lung cancer and
 has been given 3 months max to live. It was a blessing to hear the way
 she spoke of how grateful she is to have found the gospel. Jenny is 
another recent convert here in Leganés. A recent returned missionary 
gave her number to the missionaries a few months ago. She acts like
s he's been a member her whole life (she's 17) and has been a great
 blessing already to this ward. I know the Lord has hastened His work 
here recently and will continue to do so.  

I'm excited to work in Leganés! And to talk to my family Sunday! Love you all!


Hermana Bingham

What happens when you play soccer without shoes

Love the colorful wall art here

Monday, April 25, 2016

Me voy a Leganés‏

Family and friends, 
I don't even know exactly where to start, but it seems like a lot has
happened this week. It started as a pretty normal week- some pretty
rough times and miracles all in the same day. Hermana Hill and I spent
lots of time trying to find some new investigators that would
progress. Our most creative activity was using her artistic talent and
using chalk in the park to draw superman and Christ and strike up
conversations with people then ask what superheroes and Christ have in
common. Some had to really think and some immediately said they both
save people. It was a fun activity. We also taught the special sabbath
day devotional to a few other members and I felt the spirit strong. I
think two of those lessons were some of my spiritual highlights from
the whole week. 
On Friday we had an awesome 1st annual Styrofoam Derby activity with
the branch. It took quite a bit of preparation, but was completely
worth it. There was a great turn out and the branch had a blast. 
Everyone took good care of me on my bday Saturday. Hermana Hill woke
up in the middle of the night to decorate the piso with balloons and
birthday signs. Members called. The Bakes made dinner and a birthday
cake for me. And after dinner we found out about transfers. Everyone
stayed, but me. I'm headed to Leganés, a small town to the southwest
of Madrid. My new companion will be Hermana Smith. I already miss
Santiago and the people. A short 12 weeks didn't seem like enough. And
to realize I have my 11 more weeks in Leganés then home is even more
crazy. I'm excited to get to know and love more people here in Spain! 
I hope you all have a wonderful week. Love you! 
Hermana Bingham 
Umbrellas don't help too much when the rain comes at a 90 degree angle
Susi, Gabriella, and Laura with their styrofoam derby cupcake car
What do superman and Christ have in common?
Do I dress for the black stormy side or sunny blue side?  haha that's Santiago
Birthday cake
1st Annual Santiago Styrofoam Derby

Monday, April 18, 2016

Visit to farm and James grave‏

Dear Family and Friends, 
This week was good. We had some good lessons with a few of our
investigators and members. Hermana Hill and I were talking about all
the people we visit and the privilege it is. Literally about 2/3 of
the people we teach are special in their own way- psychological
problems, depression, addictions, etc. We could easily look at it as
how hard it is, but we feel honored that the Lord trusts us to take
care of these children of His. Each one of them literally has a need
for the gospel and the healing effects of the Atonement of Jesus
Christ and we get to be the messengers of the wonderful news. 
On Tuesday night we went out and visited the branch president,
President Goyes, and his family who live out about and hour in the
country on a farm. We had a little family home evening. After, Hermana
Goyes asked if we wanted some fresh milk and eggs. We said yes, then
realized a few minutes later she had left to go get it right off the
farm. President Goyes invited us to go look and gave us a small tour.
It was pretty cool. And I found out I like fresh milk. 
This week I also had the opportunity to meet a less active member who
was the first man baptized in Santiago. Him and his wife are so sweet
and kind, great people. It breaks my heart when the rush of life keeps
people from making it to church and enjoy all the blessings of living
the gospel. He had some amazing experiences to share. It was also his
simple testimony to a friend years ago that converted the biggest
active family - kids/grandkids- of our branch here. We never know what
the affect of sharing a simple testimony could be. 
Yesterday in church we talked a lot about love. I have seen how
important love in missionary work is. Two great blessings came from
showing this love. Hermana Hill and I have been trying to get ahold of
two members and haven't been able to for quite awhile and were sad we
couldn't. We went to both of their houses about two weeks ago and left
them a little nice note with our number. Yesterday one of them called
us to let us know her phone had been stolen and the only way she could
get ahold of us is from that note which had our number. The other has
just been really busy but found the note in the back of her mailbox
and just helped her remember we're here and love her and sent us a
text to be able to come visit her. I know as we show little acts of
kindness it really softens people's hearts. 
For pday today we went to the cathedral here and visited where the
apostle James is supposedly buried. Also, the Bakes went to Madrid
this weekend and there's a Costco there now so they brought us some
delicious treats. And I keep forgetting to mention this, but they
speak Gallego here. Almost everyone speaks Spanish as well, but I'm
getting to learn some Gallego - very little. All the signs are in
Gallego so I learn random phrases. It's a Spanish and Portuguese mix.
I think that's about it for the week. Hope you all have a great one! 
Love you! 
Hermana Bingham

Goyes farm
Our friend Jose
James grave
My building! (Quimica=chemical) There is a university here.