Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Segovia still doesn't get relief from me . . . . . . . . Mwah-ha-ha!!

Yes, you heard me right. I'm still here in Segovia, as is my companion, Elder Zollinger. Going 3 transfers with the same companion is apparently quite uncommon: this turn of events has made me the companion that Elder Zollinger has had for the longest. And, from what information we've been able to gather, there has been an eldritch stillness when it comes to transfers this time around, with only 5 changes in the entire mission! We suppose this is part of Presidente Watkins's plan for the mission, leaving us in one area for an extended period of time. I'm personally glad about this: I've gotten to be friends with the members here and I think moving is such a hassle!

Going this long with the same companion is starting to yield strange results, however. The other day while walking some empty streets, we discovered that we might be developing a telepathic link. We decided that this is how it works: At 3 transfers together, you develop a mind link with your companion. At 4 transfers, you begin to physically resemble one another. At 5 transfers, you start to call yourself by your companion's name and vice versa, beginning to lose your distinct identity. We decided that at this point, being transferred out of the area and away from your companion could result in severe withdrawals, a lot of blankly-staring-into-space, and possible coma. At 6 transfers, neither you or your companion can speak a complete sentence without having the other interrupt and finish the sentence in exactly the way they were going to, much like the agents in The Matrix. And, at 7 transfers together, they need to transfer a new elder into the area because the fabric of space-time has blurred and you and your companion have fused into one individual human, with the combined attributes and characteristics of both. But, thankfully, that's never happened in the Spain Madrid Mission.

General Conference was awesome!!! I've never, ever gotten so much out of one. We got to travel to Madrid and watch it in English with the other missionaries. We didn't, however, get to see the Sunday Afternoon Session and that was a big bummer because we didn't get to hear Elder Holland give his talk!! :( I've always loved Elder Holland's talks, so I guess I'll just have to wait for it to come out in the Liahona.

Elder Ogden was there and I spent a lot of time talking and singing with him. He had his tape recorder and I trust he'll send that tape to his family. You can ask Sister Ogden to borrow it when it shows up and Dad can rip the music to GarageBand or whatever he's been doing to get it on the Internet. I took a few pictures of us together. He seems to be doing great!

Alright, now down to a quick report of the area. Alfredo continues to be one of the most dedicated, honest and humble people I've ever met, and he's still right on track for his baptismal date on the 17th of October. Not much more than that to say about him. Our lessons usually go something like this: we teach, and then we ask him "Will you pray to your Heavenly Father every morning and night?" and then he just kind of looks at us incredulously and says "Yes...I've been doing that my whole life." Teaching him is a joy and I'm so grateful to be the missionary who gets to do it!

We taught a very good lesson to some of the boys here in the branch last Wednesday. I based it off of a lesson that I was once taught in Priesthood class. The boys are Clayton and Kenneth Guzman, 8 and 9 years old, both sons of the first counselor here in Segovia, Patricio, who was also there with us. We started off by cutting a green apple in half and offering them each a half. They happily ate them up while we chatted with Patricio for a minute or so. When they had finished we asked them how they'd enjoyed the apple and then pulled out two palmeras, which are a kind of flaky, crispy Spanish pastry covered in chocolate. The boys, of course, really wanted them, but we wouldn't give them to them, saying "You ate the apple. No one who's eaten an apple can have a palmera, I'm sorry. That's just the rule." They were sad and despairing because they wouldn't get to eat the palmeras. Finally, we said "Well, there is one way you can get these palmeras..." We pulled out a whole onion. "Someone has to eat this onion. All of it. Then you can have the palmeras." Clayton didn't want anything to do with the onion, but Kenneth said he'd try, so we cut him off a small slice and he popped it in his mouth and started chewing. He soon tasted the bitter, burning taste and ran to the bathroom to spit it out, the rest of us laughing. When he returned, we reminded them of the obstacle they faced and they once again despaired. Finally, I piped up. "I'll tell you what," I told the boys, "I want you to be able to eat these delicious palmeras, so I'll eat the onion for you." So, skinning off the first flaky layer and cutting off the very ends, I ate the onion. After the first few bites, the boys fell completely silent and all that could be heard was the sound of me chewing and swallowing the layers of that terrible onion. The juice of the onion started dripping, so Kenneth rushed to get me a napkin to wipe it up. After half of the onion, my entire face, mouth and throat were burning, my nose running, my eyes watering so much that I almost couldn't see. Clayton ran to get me a bottle of water to try and take away the sting, but after a few swigs I realized that it was futile and only made the burning worse. Kenneth asked if Elder Zollinger could eat the rest of it. "No," he replied, "He has to eat it all, alone." As I choked down the last few bites of the onion, the boys were covering their eyes, unable to watch. I was somehow able to force down the rest of the onion and finish it, and the boys were allowed to eat their palmeras. Clayton ate his right away, but Kenneth couldn't take it. We then explained that I had already paid the price for the palmera and it was his whether he decided to eat it or not. He eventually took it and ate it. It was a lesson on the Atonement, as you've probably realized, and I don't think they'll ever forget it, so it was worth it. The smell of the onion, however, was on my breath for the next 3 days.

Well, I've got to get going. I love you all! I got 3 packages and 8 letters at Conference! They must have all just been waiting for me in the mission office all this time. Thank you and please send more!

-Elder Knorr