Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dearest family and friends,
How are all of you?! I received some letters from most of you this week and it was the greatest! It was so good to hear that you are all still alive and doing well! I miss and love you all. Everything here is good! I love my companion, teachers, and district. I don´t always love the food haha but I am surviving. I actually feel like I might be getting fatter just because we eat and sit all day. I am really excited to get out into the field so I can walk every day and choose most of my food!  This past week has been really great. The highlight of my week would definitely have to be proselyting in the Parque de Retiro. The night before I was really nervous just because the week before wasn´t very successful. So I said a prayer and asked Heavenly Father for one miracle. I just wanted one person to be interested in our message. We started off in the park and I was feeling good and excited. And guess what? So many people listened to us and we were able to place many Book of Mormons! We saw many great miracles throughout our day but the one that stands out most in my mind was with a young woman from Brazil. We were walking when I noticed her reading on a bench and I felt like we needed to go talk to her. We quickly found out that she did not speak Spanish but Portuguese and luckily some pretty good English! We introduced ourselves and then found out that she was on her way home to Brazil from Greece and was just waiting in Madrid for a connecting flight. And she said she saw many missionaries in Brazil and even had a church right down her street.   She then told us that she had always been curious about our church! Golden. It was so awesome to be able to answer her questions and bear testimony to her. What an answer to my prayers! It was truly a miracle that she was put right in our path. I know that Heavenly Father answers our prayers if we go forward in faith.
Last Thursday we had the best P day ever! We went to Sol, Madrid to go shopping! One of my favorite teachers took us to some of her favorite clothing stores. She is very fashionable so it was really fun. And  I ended up finding a couple of cute shirts! But that´s not even the best part of the day… We then went to the most famous chocolate y churros shop! Oh man it was amazing.  It´s charming little place, surrounded by old beautiful roads and architecture. So they give you this really thick dark hot chocolate (made with olive oil) along with these deep fried churro things (nothing like churros in America.. way better) and you dip the churros in the chocolate. YUMMM. Haha I was in heaven but it was so semi sick after because it was so rich! It is for sure a one time deal because if you ate those often you would be very large. If we go tour around Spain someday I will take you there!
Sundays here are quite the marathon but I love it. We had a wonderful fireside done a couple who were some of the first missionaries in Spain! We have only been able to preach the gospel in Spain for about 40 years. Before then Spain had a bad dictator and everyone was pretty much forced to be Catholic. But it seems like our church is really growing here! This couple told us that they couldn´t have even imagined a stake here let alone a temple. The Madrid temple was built in 1999 I think. The temple here is beautiful and I love it! It is such a blessing to have the opportunity to go every week. I will miss it once I leave for Barcelona! Speaking of Barcelona… I leave in on the 30th! YAY. Well I hope everyone is still doing good! Te quiero mucho!

Hermana Brooke Benson

Familia y amigos,
Hola! ¿Cómo estás? How is everyone? I miss you all! Time is really starting to fly here in Madrid. The first two weeks were slow, but now here I am with only 2 weeks left in the MTC. Mia Madre! Haha that´s an expression one of our teachers told us to use. It´s similar to like oh my goodness, etc. I miss the good old Salt Lake but I am really loving it here. I really love my companion Hermana Ashley Hopkins! She is great and we are already bueno friends. Really all the sisters here in the CCM (what we call the mtc in español) are really great. We recently were given the calling of Coordinating Sisters… Haha yep.  Our main responsibility is to check on the girls each night before they go to bed (really make sure they are in bed haha). It´s kind of fun! I´m really tempted to do some interpretive dancing while my companion sings for them… Idk we need to work on it. Haha just kidding. It gives us the opportunity to branch out and get to know all of these great Hermanas.
Last weekend was wonderful because it was filled with a lot of conference and a little bit of tracting! Two of my favorite things. I have never enjoyed or gotten so much out of conference before. I think it has something to do with the fact that I´m a missionary haha. My favorite part of conference was the general young women´s meeting. I´m not in young women´s anymore but I still felt like it was perfect for me! If you haven´t watched or listened to any of the talks I would challenge you to do so. The spirit was so strong during this meeting. It  was kind of bitter sweet because it made me miss my favorite sisters and mom mucho! But as I listened the spirit really testified to me of the love that the Savior has for women. He loves us so much. And we as women have such an important role not only on earth but throughout all eternity! I would not trade being a daughter of God for anything. What did you think of conference? Did you have a favorite talk?
 Ok tracting… We went to the Calle de Goya this time. Downtown Madrid. Lots of people. Big buildings. Weird smells. This time was a little more rough than I have been used to! The Lord has blessed me with many great experiences during previous weeks. We did hand out a lot of pass along cards but people were not super interested. They would talk to cute, friendly American girls just to be nice haha. But we did have one pretty good experience. As we were walking down the street trying to let the spirit guide us to someone. And then it came… We heard some English! YAY, what an answer to our prayers.  We stopped these two guys and introduced our selves. Like this: Hola!! Como estás? Haha. Where are you guys from? They ended up being from Scottland. Pretty cool. I know they speak English there but they were semi hard to understand haha. One of them was Catholic and the other was Protestant. So they shared our belief in Jesus Christ! Perfect. We had the chance to share with them a little bit about the gospel. They were mostly interested in why we were on missions and what we did. It was fun to share my testimony with them and talk about why I was on a mission. They didn´t seem to be very interested in learning more which was a downer but I really felt like we left them with a good impression of Mormons and missionaries! And they promised they would be nice to the guys who knocked on their doors back home haha.
I don´t have much else to say other than I know that this gospel is true! And I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and he died and suffered for us so that we can repent and live with him, our Heavenly Father, and our families again! I can´t wait to share this with the people of Barcelona! The world needs the gospel. And I am so grateful to be part of this great work! I love and miss you all! I would love to hear from all of you! I hope and pray you are all doing good!

Hermana Brooke Benson

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Dear family and friends,
Hola everyone! Can you believe it´s my third week here at the Madrid MTC? I can´t! The days seem like weeks and the weeks seem like days. Everything is going pretty well besides the fact that I got a cold this week and I miss you all! But my Spanish slowing but surely improving. I love my district and my teachers! They are all great. I have a teacher from Spain, Peru, and Argentina, it´s really great to learn and hear different accents. I am learning to speak in the Spanish accent… The best one! You pronounce all the c´s and z´s with a thhh sound. And no it doesn´t sound weird! I absolutely love it. The hardest challenge with the language is teaching a lesson in Spanish. Rough. But I am getting so much better at it! I´m actually getting pretty good at talking about gospel related things but talking about regular every day things is another story.  
Happy late Easter! I hope you had a wonderful day! It was weird to not be at home eating yummy candy. But I still had a great and spiritual day. We had a church marathon… Wait we have a church marathon everyday haha but I love it. We woke up, studied, went to relief society, sacrament meeting, Sunday school with our districts, lunch, devotional, studied (we do a lot of that), dinner and then a fireside! My favorite thing by far was the Easter devotional. We went through the Easter story in the scriptures and watched some video clips of the story. I also had the chance to be apart of the choir. The spirit was so strong! I could feel the Savior´s love. And my testimony was strengthened. I´m so grateful for Jesucristo and his atonement.  I love Spain because they have what´s called Santa Semana or Holy Week.  They actually celebrate Christ not the Easter Bunny! They have large processions commemorating Jesus Christ´s atonement. 
So as you know every Saturday we get a chance to proselyte in Madrid! It is always the highlight of my week.  Last Saturday we proselyted at the Parque de Retirlo ( I think that´s how you spell it!) It is the most famous park in Spain! And it is full of people! People from all over the world come to see this park. It reminded me of the gardens at Versailles in France. Beautiful.  My companion and I had a few great experiences. We got regected quite a few times haha but that´s just how it is. We did run into a man named Peter from Ghana who spoke a little bit of english and a little bit of spanish so it was perfect! He was a golden contact. He had a testimony of Jesus Christ and said that he wanted to change his life. So we took down his contact informantion so hopefully he will be contacted soon by some other missionaries. After we were finished proselyting we sang as group infront of a pretty fountain in the park. And it was my job to go talk to people while they listened to us. It was a little scary but great!
Today is P day so we had the opportunity to go to the Museo del Prado! You all know how much I love art history so it was basically the best thing ever. I saw some of the most famous paintings in the world!! Las Meninas by Velaquez, The third of May by Goya, a Rembrandt painting. You should look them up so you know what i´m talking about. It was so great. I feel so lucky to be a missionary in Spain! I am so grateful for this opportunity I have to share the gosple with these beautiful people. I find a lot of comfort in knowing that this is exactly what Heavenly Father wants me to be doing right now. I feel as though it is already blessing my life and I can´t wait until I can go to Barcelona and really teach! Yay. I love and miss you all so much! I would love to hear from you via email or letters!
Mucho amor,
Hermana Brooke Benson xo