So this is the last formal email I’ll be sending out. Next Sunday afternoon, I will be leaving the islands to travel to Madrid. Then Monday morning I will be turning in my tablet and spending the day there before catching my flight back to Texas on Tuesday morning.
I wanted to take this time to kind of tell the “story” of what I have been doing the last 18 months.
But really to do that, I have to go back to Fall of 2014. That’s when I decided I was sure I wanted to set schooling aside, my family, my friends, to go serve the Lord. I look back and realize I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But now I can say for sure, it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
I turned in my “papers” January of 2015 with a lot of anticipation of where the Lord would call me to serve.
2 weeks later, standing in line at Jamba Juice on BYU campus, I get a call to tell me they have arrived. The wait seemed unbearable, and the envelope was unsealed that same afternoon. Reading the words, “Sister Devereaux you are hereby called to serve in the Spain Madrid Mission” …speaking in the Spanish language. My heart skipped a beat and I immediately felt peace with where I would be going. Now I can confirm that once again, the Lord has put me here in Spain for many reasons that He continues to reveal to me.
After that, it was a lot of waiting and continuous preparing. Finally, on the 25th of May in 2015, I left from Houston, Texas to fly to Madrid, Spain. I arrived there with so much excitement! (Maybe because this chapter of my life had finally started or maybe because I was just excited to have my feet on the ground after a long flight). I was driven to the Missionary Training Center, right on temple grounds. And there, I met the MTC President and his wife, President and Sister Lovell. They are some of the most generous people I have ever met. I spent those 6 weeks learning the basics of Spanish (and when I say basic, I mean I learned more there than I did in the 3 years from high school classes) and what missionary life would really be life. Those 6 weeks wouldn’t be what they were without the incredible teachers and other missionaries learning along with me. I was able to meet people from all around the world- Ukraine, Russia, Portugal, England, and all over the States. I’m grateful for the assignment I had to be a “sister training leader” there and be able to grow closer with a lot of the Sister missionaries. But it was my 2 companions that made all the difference- Hermana Rollins and Hermana Eyring. And our other 2 Spanish learning roommates Hermana Smalley and Brown. At the end of the 6 weeks, there were some tough goodbyes and a fair share of tears- once again not knowing what would come next.
On Tuesday July 7th, 2015, I left the MTC to head to the mission home in San Sebastián de Los Reyes where I would be meeting President and Hermana Pack and find out where I would first be serving. Fun thing, the Packs had also just arrived in Spain. So we joked that day that we were all a little “green”. This is when I first learned how incredible and inspired this family is. I felt a connection with them the first time I met them, maybe because they too were from the south or that Hermana Pack and my mother could be sisters. Well, President announced that I would be going straight up the northern coast- to a port town in Galicia called La Coruña. My trainer would be Hermana Braun from California.
Once again, the nerves and excitement were high. I took a good length train ride up to my new area. (Which can I mention was absolutely beautiful!). My trainer was perfectly matched for me, and has become one of my very best friends. She had the same motto as I had come with on the mission to “work hard, be obedient, love the people, and have fun”. She helped me overcome my awful Spanish and the terrible gringo accent and showed me a little more of the missionary I wanted to become. After 2 transfers, my “greenie breaker”, Hermana Spencer from Parma, Idaho, joined me in La Coruña to get some work done. There is an old rumor in the mission that the north of Spain is the ‘refiners fire’. That its “hard”. But my trainer had me convinced it was the promised land and that’s where miracles happened. That excitement carried me through those transfers. I met some of the strongest members of the church there and some of the most powerful converts. Every time I walked up the street, the name “Ronda de Outeiro” is engraved in my heart.
So after about 4 ½ months there, I received news that I would be heading back down to Madrid to a little town called Azuqueca. The biggest shock would be that I would be serving with an Hermana from Ecuador! Looking back now, I am so grateful for the experience that
- I could really put my Spanish to use and learn a ton more
- It was so cool getting to know another culture that closely.
Azuqueca, I would say, is the little Utah of Madrid. It is basically a dormitory community- where there is good priced housing with easy access to the city. So when the temple was opened, a ton of members from the south of Spain moved to the city to work in the temple. This, and the other strong families, formed one strong ward. I say it was an answer to my mom’s prayers to have me in a good place where the members took good care of their missionaries for the holidays. After a transfer, President informed Hermana Romero and I that we would be training Hermana Butler- who lives in Madrid but is originally from Scotland. She was waiting for her visa before serving in the Provo Utah mission. It was my second “trio” but the only one in the mission field. We each came from different backgrounds but found unity and learned so much from one another.
The most shocking change was after just 2 transfers in Azuqueca, I received a call from President Pack to return to the north but this time to Gijón, Asturias where I would serve as sister training leader with Hermana Rossberg. That attitude of ‘miracles happen in the north’ had stayed with me, and I was ecstatic. Gijon is another place that has stolen my heart. The green mountains on the coast are one part of it, but like always, the members were one of a kind in this small branch. I’ll never forget Sunday dinner with the branch President and his family and whoever else they could fit in their home. I also made another best friend, my companion of 3 transfers. We literally could finish each other’s sentences by the end of those 4 ½ months. We became pro’s at the 6 hour train ride to Madrid for leadership meeting and set so many goals together that kept the work fun and challenging.
After 3 transfers, Hermana Rossberg left and in came Hermana Otto. She’s just great. She’s from Indiana and is a recent convert to the church. It was her 3rd transfer, and she jokes that she half served in Leon with all the intercambio exchanges and trips to Madrid that I continued doing. She helped me through some of my hardest days on the mission and I’m so grateful for that.
And my last transfer call. President called to tell me I would be heading to the islands! But this time it would be a little different, because I would go to Madrid and pick up my “baby” that was leaving the MTC so we could go “pink-wash” the La Laguna area. I joke that we followed Nephi when he said that he was “led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.” He sure did guide us. But I couldn’t have done it without my companion Hermana Tyler. She kept me laughing, tried her hardest to break through the “mission veil”, and filled me up with chuches (sweets) for a lifetime. She taught me that loving people is the most important. As happy as she was to “kill” her “mother” of the mission, she left after 2 transfers and Hermana Deeter came in for my last transfer. I think it was God’s was of saying I needed to get back in shape before coming home because she was also a cross country runner. It was an incredible last transfer where we were blessed to see some “fruits” of all the hard work. And not to mention the many adventures Hermana Deeter and I had!
And that brings me to today. Where all I can really say is how grateful I am for this experience and blessed I feel to have met these incredible people and see God’s work roll forth on the front line. If you have read all of this email, you’re a true friend. Sorry for the novel. I hope you understood all the weird “mission terms” and “spanglish” and bad grammar and have felt how much love I have for this place in Spain that has truly become sacred ground to me.
Mark 8:35 says “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.” I promise this is true and that God loves us and that His son Jesus Christ is our Savior.
See ya on the other side!
Con mucho cariño, Hermana Brooke Devereaux
A few more pictures…
Pictures from last p day…