Hola Familia y Amigos!
Another awesome week in Valladolid! It picked up a bit finally which is nice. I'm starting to get the hang of things too. Elder Peña and I become better friends each day and I can already tell another hard goodbye is coming, but I don't like to think about it. Okay so here's a little bit about my week...
Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday we ate with members which was awesome! We had food from Argentina, Peru, and Ecuador! Elder Peña went nuts when he found out we were having the Peruvian Dish haha. It's really nice to not have to cook for yourself every meal, and I always try to help clean up but they freak out and make you sit back down and eat more food haha. It's hilarious!! And they just keep bringing the food out. I couldn't believe it!!
On Wednesday, we had our District Conference in León, so I got to see Elder Galeano again!! I was so happy! He's seriously like my older brother, we talk on the phone a lot just about our experiences that we have and I love it. Also, President and Hermana Pack came so we had interviews which went awesome. President Pack is legitimately one of the coolest guys I have ever met. He delivered a letter to me that was sent to the mission home, little did I know it was from Brad Wilcox!! I was so excited! He just wished me luck and told me to love the Spanish people. Definitely a highlight of my week! Wednesday night we had a lesson with a guy from Russia who speaks like 5 languages. We gave him a Book of Mormon in Spanish and Russian and talked a little about it. He thinks all religions are equal, so we kinda agreed that he wouldn't progress. Plus, he was smoking the whole lesson and blowing it directly in my face, so that was awesome. He's an interesting looking guy too, long gray hair...haha.
Thursday, we passed-by an old reference of a lady named Beatriz. She was born and raised in San Francisco but has lived in Valladolid for 45+ years as an English teacher. She doesn't like to speak Spanish so we talked to her in English. She has a son who is now doing the same thing she did, kinda cool. Anyways, her husband committed suicide a few years ago and she does not think highly of him anymore. She kept saying "how selfish of him to leave us like this". She said if she didn't have a son who depended on her, she would have taken her own life too because she is so depressed all the time :( all I could do was testify that God loves every one of us and things happen for a reason. I shared Luke 1:37 with her (because she loves the bible) and reassured her that she could do it. Now every day I call her and see how she's doing! I want her to have someone she can trust and she loves me. Every time she answers, she says "Elder Smith, what is up?!" So yeah, she's one of the coolest people on the Earth. She's like a Grandma that I can't hug and she loves to smoke and drink! Haha so maybe Grandma isn't the right word... Nevertheless she's awesome. I've kinda come to the conclusion that maybe not everyone is ready for the Gospel yet, but I'm not going to let that stop me from being a friend!
Friday, holy cow Friday!! We took a 45 minute train ride to a little pueblo (town) outside of Valladolid called Matapozuel. We had an appointment scheduled with a man named Stefan, he is a recent convert so we were going to check in on him and his family. OF 18 PEOPLE. yes, you read it right. 18 PEOPLE LIVE IN THE SAME HOUSE. Stefan has 10 children, 5 boys and 5 girls. So they all live with him, plus all of his grandkids and daughter in-laws. I was blown away when I saw the house, no door just a shower curtain. There are beds all over the floor with blankets and pillows, with a concrete floor. They had a tiny little stove and a little TV on a dresser in the "family room". We went upstairs to his room to have our lesson, and he insisted that we have soda and cookies, so he pulled out a jar from his cabinet, dumped all his money out on his bed, and I kid you not it wasn't more than 10 euros in change. That's literally all the money he has, and he wouldn't take no for an answer, so his daughter went to the street vendor and brought us back snacks. I was speechless. All he wants is for his family to hear what the missionaries have to say, and maybe something will spark. I forgot to mention that they are from Romania, and only Stefan, his oldest son, and wife speak Spanish, the rest speak Romanian. So they had to translate for the other 15 people in the lesson. It's about 90 euros for Stefan to bring his whole family to church which obviously he can't afford, so he brings just 2 or 3 family members a week. His most prized possession is his Book of Mormon. When Elder Peña and I left, we both agreed we are going to do everything in our power to help this family. I wish we lived closer than a 45 minute train ride away because I would spend every single day there if I could! We've made plans to go back several times and I'm seriously so excited :) there's a special place in Heaven for Stefan.
I found out yesterday at church that in the Valladolid Branch, there are 435 members. Guess how many of them are active? 80!!! Needless to say, we have work to do :) Thank you everyone for all the hand written letters and emails!! I feel the prayers and support every single day and you'll never know just how much it helps. Missionary work is hard, tiring, and yet the most rewarding thing I've ever experienced. Once you meet the people you were sent to find and teach, you can't think about anything else!! Well, that's all for this week, sorry it's superrrrrr long again.
I love you all :)