All posts by Hermana Devereaux

Dear Sister Devereaux, You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the SPAIN MADRID mission (whoop whoop). It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months. You should report to the Spain Missionary Training Center on Tuesday, May 26, 2015.

11/7/16: 18 months later

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…

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Pumpkin carving…

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Punta de Hidalgo sure is pretty

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We brought the Relief Society President cookies for her birthday and this is how her pet bird thanks us..
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My first Spanish wedding!

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Pictures from last p day…

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10/31/16: FELIZ Halloween

So, this week was a pretty great one…as always!

Quote of the week: We were teaching one of our investigators the Ten Commandments and he was dead serious when he told us, “Santificar el día de los festivos es un mandamiento de Dios” (one of the commandments of God is to keep the party days holy).haha only in Spain where every other day is a holiday.

We went to visit our Lebanese friend in the mountains and IT WAS BEAUTIFUL!  The whole bus ride over we kept saying, “WOW, so beautiful.”  I think the people on the bus thought we were crazy but you gotta enjoy the nature!  The little town he lives in has about fifty people and looks like South America.  We even had to walk on this little path in the mountains to get to his house.  Definitely felt like a different mission for a minute!  Our Lebanese friend fed us some typical food from his country and we were able to teach him the restoration while looking out at the ocean.  It was like a dream day in the mission (there aren’t too many of those)!  Too bad he “broke up” with us later this week.  He said he isn’t quite ready to commit himself to our church.  We hope he comes back one day but for now he has the Book of Mormon and we hope that one day he will decide to accept it!

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We visited our Lebanese friend in his village in the mountains.
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It was absolutely beautiful there in Taborno!

We also had a BAPTISM this week!  Our dear Alexy finally was able to enter the waters of baptism and it was such a good day!!  We did learn that day that we should always have the elders fill up the baptismal font because when the Hermanas do it, we end up forgetting to plug it.  And just two hours before the baptism we have to start filling the font with buckets of water.  Yeah, fun stuff!  Also a member called an hour before telling us she wouldn’t make it to the baptism, so I was blessed to be able to give a little improv talk haha.  But the Spirit pulled through, and my talk was filled with a lot of beautiful things that I didn’t come up with.

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Alexy got baptized!!

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We also had intercambios once again.  I was with Hermana Vannucci from Idaho, this is her first transfer on the mission and I was her first intercambio!  I was so impressed with how focused she is so early on in the mission.  It was a good afternoon and the intercambio ended with breakfast on the roof.

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Hermana Vannucci and us up on the roof for breakfast during intercambios!

I also had the chance to have my last interview in the field with President.  I’ll say it again- I absolutely love the Packs!

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We had interviews this week with President and he announced our district leader, Elder Tullis, is going to the office so here’s our last district picture. And me and my companion’s matching boots 🙂

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Well all these “lasts” make you reflect a little.  One thing I was thinking about this week was 2 verbs I used to mix up all the time in the beginning of my mission when I was learning Spanish.  Pertenecer which means “to belong” and permanecer which means “to stay”.  Well I realized that those words go hand in hand.  I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ. And whether I’m a missionary or a college student or whatever else life has in store for me, I promise to also “permanecer” in the Gospel.  I’ve come to know that’s one thing that can never be put aside.  It’s the most important thing.  And I’m so grateful for the testimony I’m gaining of my Savior Jesus Christ and his restored church here on the mission.

Have a great week!

Love, Hermana Brooke Devereaux


Here are some pictures from p day!

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10/24/16: Barriguita llena, corazoncito feliz

Hello what a great week it was here!

Tuesday we did a little pueblo exploring.  We started with a prayer and saw lots of miracles.  We ended the day meeting with Alexy and finished up teaching the rest of the commandments before her baptism.

Wednesday morning, we went to the church a little early to work on a couple things before district meeting and the doorbell rings.  The doorbell never rings at the church.  So with a lot of hesitation, we go and answer it and a random man is there and wants to know more about the church.  This man is from Lebanon, he lives in the mountains, and he was on the bus to the city and felt like he needed to get off there and find out what church it is.  That was a long story short but the Lord really knows what he’s doing and guides us to where he needs us to be.

Thursday we had intercambios with the Vecindario hermanas- Hermana Contreras (my fellow Texan) and Hermana Robinson.  I was with Hermana Robinson and I was so impressed with all she has learned and accomplished in these past 4 months she’s been on the mission.  Me and Hermana Deeter tried to be all domestic and made them some good home-made food.  During intercambios we also had an awesome lesson with Lili, the friend of one of the YSA.  I’m so grateful for Kritsia and her example that she has given her- it’s made all the difference!  Lili is just soaking everything up.  It’s precious.

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The hermanas came in from the other island this week on a boat, so that means we get to go to the dock to pick ’em up!

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They have fun things at the dock.

Friday was Romina’s baby shower!  She is just superwoman.  She is 8 ½ months pregnant and still wears stilettos and is always out serving everyone.  She is already awesome and then I just look at her and think of my 2 cute pregnant sisters.  At her baby shower, another Hermana shared something that really touched me.  She said that since the time her kids were born, she taught them how to pray.  And the day that she walked into their bedroom and saw them praying by themselves was the most special thing.  I’m sure that’s how Heavenly Father feels about us.

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Romina’s baby shower!

Then Saturday Alexy had her baptismal interview!  She passed with flying colors and is all set for next Saturday the 29th.  She’s precious.

This past weekend the rain also hit.  Quite a lot of rain.  And this Hermana had not been to prepared with her sandals and lack of umbrella.  Imagine a bunch of missionaries huddling under a tree, waiting for the bus to come after church in pouring rain.  Good times!

Well I’m just soaking all the time in.  I love it here and have really come to understand that this is exactly what I have needed to learn and where I’ve needed to be the past 18 months.

I hope everyone has a great week!

Love, Hermana Brooke Devereaux

P.S.  Our ward mission leader always says every time we meet with him, “full tummy happy heart”.  But for whatever reason, it is much better in Spanish coming out of Paco’s mouth.

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We visited Paco and Mari at her cafe today for p day!

10/17/16: The traveling hermanas

What a week it was!

Tuesday we were down in Madrid for concilio (Sister Training Leader conference). It’s always a really powerful meeting. I have come to absolutely love the Packs. They have taught me so much, not just to be a better missionary, but a better servant of God. Then it was the start of the ‘realizing you’re going home moments’ and they had me share my testimony at the end of the meeting. A couple tears were shed.

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Freshman ward reunited

Then we flew back early Wednesday morning, did some planning with the zone leaders and just enjoyed being back in our area. It was a big Spanish festival that day, which means lots of parties and all the supermarkets being closed. But we did get to visit sweet little Libia in the hospital, she had surgery this week but is feeling a lot better.

Then Thursday was zone training. What an interesting experience it is having a conference with 15 or so missionaries on one island and another 15 or so on another. But it worked! We talked about flooding the islands with the Gospel. Which we often think just goes to the biggest busiest street in our area and talking to everyone. But president wants us to spend more times in little towns and in parts of the city we don’t go to as often. I’m excited for some adventures! And second ‘feeling old moment’ as I had to share my testimony once again.

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Zone training

We were able to put a little bit of that to practice with Hermana Duffin that afternoon on intercambios. We had the Santa Cruz hermanas stay the afternoon with us and we had a grand old time. She’s a younger misisonary and already a beast.

 

This past weekend we also had the opportunity to fast. We fasted for a couple things specifically, but especially just to find some new investigators. Sunday afternoon, we are still not sure how this happened, we had a couple lessons with new friends. And by the end of the night we had found 6 new investigators! One more testimony of fasting. God is so aware of us and our desires and needs.

Well now today we just went out to Puerto and did a little more hiking and exploring this beautiful island. I think I’ve said it a thousand times this week but it really is the best word to describe how I feel.  Blessed. I’m so so blessed for is wonderful experience to serve here in Spain.

I hope everyone has a great week! Tell my big sis haaappy birthday!

Love,

Hermana Brooke Devereaux


More pictures from last week…

A bunch of tonterias

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Hiking today on pday (Oct. 17, 2016)

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Bad intercambio picture

10/10/16: Everyday is Christmas

It’ll be a short one this week.  We have to catch our flight to Madrid for our leadership meeting.  But it was a great week here in the islands with my new companion Hermana Deeter!

The majority of the week was spent in meetings and preparing for Vairon’s baptism. We saw a little hidden miracle however. We were supposed to have our last visit with Vairon before his baptism, and
Hermano Bogado- who would baptize him- was coming with us.  Well we show up at their house and only Vairon’s dad Jon and his grandma are there because of some miscommunications.  My first thought was “oh my, Hermana Bogado came all the way out here for this and now we are going to have to cancel” and so forth.  Well in the end we were able to teach that lesson we had planned the next day with Vairon, and teach Jon who is also investigating the church, with the help of Hermano Bogado who helped him a ton!  He helped him resolve some doubts he had and we put a goal for Jon to prepare to be baptized on the 12th of November.  That was one more testimony to me to trust in God a little bit more, He knows exactly what he’s doing.

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Our last lesson we talked about missionary work and made him his chapa. He said he is deciding between serving in Texas or the Congo. haha

So Saturday was the day.  There were some great talks, and the primary did a little musical number, but the best part was Vairon’s smile coming up out of the water after being baptized.  Then the hug he gave his grandma after changing.  And the sweet testimony his grandma, Libia, shared afterward.  She said it is one more step to the promise she was given in her patriarchal blessing to having an eternal family united in the church.  I love this family!

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Vairon’s baptism

Well I thought I’d end with the vision we have for our zone this transfer – Joy! We loved the talk by President Nelson about joy this general conference.  Joy comes from Christ; there is no other source, and the scripture in 2 Nephi 2:25 that reads “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”  Our mission president has given us specific goals to be more diligent, obedient, and faithful.  We want to do these things, and do them joyously!  I loved this because that’s exactly what the mission has been for me, something joyous.

Love you.  Have an awesome week!

Hermana Devereaux


A few more pictures from this past week…

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This is Vairon’s father and Hermano Bogado who baptized him
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Remember those crazy district leader meetings from the north? Now try it from multiple islands.
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Our hallway continues to be obnoxiously long

 

10/3/16: Finishing with my torch lit

Halo everyone!

Well transfers are in and my sweet little hijita is leaving me 😢  She is heading back up to the peninsula in San Sebastián de Los Reyes.  I’m grateful for these 3 months with her, for making a new best friend.  It was about 10:30 Saturday morning, after President is usually already done with his transfer calls for leaders, and our phone rings.  Hermana Pack needs me back at leadership council to butter the pancakes for the breakfast so they’ve called me back as sister training leader for my last transfer, yes, last transfer.  It feels surreal.  But I’m excited for super awesome intercambios this transfer and to be with Hermana Deeter!  I met her my third transfer, and she’s the only Hermana I’ve met that likes to run, so I think this is one way God is saying I need to get back in shape this transfer.

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Mi hijita is all grown up!
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Hermana Tyler is leaving me, going to Madrid.

Before all the craziness that transfers always bring, we had one awesome week.  Also one very sick week.  We started the transfer with Hermana Tyler sick and ended with me.  I’m just grateful to be feelin better now.  I thank sweet Mari, who has become my Canarian grandmother for buying me medicine and my caring companion who has had me drink a couple liters of orange juice.

So one miracle this week was with our friend Felipe.  He is extremely religious, and as much food as he has seen as he has read the Book of Mormon and learned about our beliefs, he is super hesitant to any change.  This past week we gave him a little tour of the chapel. At first he was comparing. “Oh that’s similar to this” and so forth.  But I felt I just needed to keep testifying.  As we walked passed the baptismal font, I testified of the happiness I felt when I was baptized.  When we were in the chapel, I shared my testimony of the blessing of taking the sacrament each week.  Each time I felt the Spirit.  And I know he did also.  We ended kneeling in prayer and with sincere words Felipe prayed that God would show him the right path to follow.

Next miracle goes to our awesome Kritsia.  I just love her.  Awhile back we talked to her about member missionary work, and she has been praying for more opportunities to share the gospel and the courage to act.  Well this past week she invited all her college roommates to play volleyball with the missionaries.  How simple.  We had tons of fun and then after went into the chapel and showed a message about Christ.  Again, the chapel.  There is such a special spirit there and her friends felt it too.  One even came to General Conference this weekend!

And the last little miracle I’ll share for the week comes with Alexis.  She’s the mother of a recent convert that will be here visiting from Venezuela for the next 2 months.  She had told us she will be baptized next year when she comes to visit.  We accepted it, but not really knowing how extremely prepared this woman is.  She read the gospel principles book in her free time.  She’s ready!  But this week we talked with her about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We wrapped up 2 presents – the remission of her sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost.  We explained to her they were 2 gifts God gives us after developing faith, repenting, and being baptized.  Before we even invited her, she said with tears in her eyes she wants to be baptized before she leaves.  We are getting in touch with the missionaries down in Venezuela and set a date!  I’m grateful for member missionaries, Christ’s Church that is the exact same worldwide, and the Gospel Principles manual.

I’m grateful for a week where I really had to push myself when I had absolutely no energy and I could have stayed in bed.  I’m grateful to always be able to lean on my Savior.  And I’m so grateful for the big treat we had this week to hear from our prophet and all the leaders of the church.

Go watch or rewatch some conference talks.  Have an awesome week!

Love,

Hermana Brooke Devereaux


More pictures from this past week:

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This was our little act of service this week to the relief Scoiety president. Good thing she’s fluent in English because I’m not so clever in Spanish with creating words.
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Hermana Harper heads home this week. That does a sandwich hug!
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Alexy. This is the mom of recent convert Karen.
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Libia, Francisca, and lady
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Francisca and Kritsia
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Vairon
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Libia, Vairon’s grandmother
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This picture doesn’t do it justice, but I really like the bus ride on the way to Puerto at sunset.
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The wonderful Cozzolino family

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Today we went to loro parque! It’s basically sea world. The sea lion show was the best.
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Please notice our wet hair thanks to the orca show.
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We ran into a family that are members of the church that are here visiting from Ireland! They were incredibly nice, and bought us ice cream and a hat.

That’s all for now.  Have a great week!

9/26/16: Todo Bien

Hello friends

Good week here.  This week we spent p-day taking care of a sick Hermana in Saint Cruz and looking everywhere to find a 9 year of life boy a tie for his baptism.  Apparently those are hard to come across here.  But Vayron is so excited for his baptism it was worth it.

Welp, it seems we met with people from every scale of the spectrum this week.  Different beliefs, backgrounds, interests, cultures, hair colors, you name it.  It’s something so cool about the mission, you get to know a little bit of EVERYTHING.  But I have found that every single person has a couple things in common.  We all have things hard that we face. And we are all looking for something that gives us hope and happiness.

I won’t list every problem of every friend we visit, but it’s honestly almost gotten me down this week.  I have been studying the question of all questions this week – why do bad things happen to good people?  And each answer has renewed my testimony of the love God has for us.

But it was sitting at the end of sacrament meeting when it really hit me.  The whole congregation was singing hymn #17 (in Spanish that is).  We were singing the last words on the 3rd verse and maybe it was just me, but it seemed as if the whole congregation sang these lines with a little more thought and meaning, “oh está, todo bien”.  The whole last verse I just felt the strength of all the voices of the people that filled that room, people that I know would call family.  And felt so grateful that even with all the hardships, we have the knowledge of a God who loves us and a ward family full of support.

Then that feeling was quadrupled as we were able to watch the first session of General Conference on Sunday afternoon.  Everyone watch General Conference this weekend.  I literally can’t wait!

Well enough of my soapbox.  I hope everyone has an awesome week!

Love,

Hermana Devereaux

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This is what came up on my companions duolingo. They’re teaching her the right phrases in Spanish. haha
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Here’s us in the elevator. Notice my companions nice curly q in her hair.