Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mother's Day and Transfers

I have decided to start each off each post with that I am thankful for.

I am thankful that this rooster, and all of his many friends, live a few ridges over from where we live. Everyday, no matter what time we take our walk, he and his friends have the loudest chorus going. They never stop.  It would be so annoying if I had to listen to them all of the time.  They run wild in a deep ravine.  One day, we saw a man feeding them with big sacks of grain.  We can't figure out why he would feed them and let them run wild.  Yesterday we saw some darling baby chicks as well.  A nice thing to enjoy from a distance.  

Late last Saturday night, we found out which of the young missionaries would be transferred, or moved to a new area to serve.  Every six weeks, transfers occur.  It is probably most common to serve for two or three transfers in one area, but they can serve as short as one transfer and perhaps as long as four. This transfer, Elder Nielsen and Sister Smith were leaving.

They had both been in the area about 6 months. They will now be serving on the peninsula of Spain. We enjoyed working with them for the past week and they are both very dedicated missionaries.  We were sad to see them go.

Elder Nielsen had been serving as the district leader and now Elder McWhorter will have that responsibility.  Elder Shumway, from Enterprise, Utah, is the new elder and he will be serving as the Zone Leader, which also includes the missionaries on the island of Tenerife.   Because of a sister coming from the MTC in Provo, we did not get the new sisters until Wednesday. This caused some major planning to make everything happen.  Because it was Mother's Day and that is one of the two days during the year that the missionaries get to call home, and they can Skype, we had to plan carefully to get everyone taken care of.  We drove Elder Nielsen to his apartment to so that he could pack his suitcase.  The apartment was very large and missionaries have lived there for many years, even back to the time when the Islands were their own mission.  We took Elder Nielson to our house after church and he used my computer to Skype with his family.  We had written to his family on Saturday to set up a time to Skype.  There were several emails back and forth, trying to coordinate times, and then that all changed because of transfers.  We fed him a quick meal and headed back to Las Palmas to pick up Hermana Smith.  I stayed at the apartment with Hermana Caballero while Cody took the missionaries to the airport.  Normally, the missionaries fly out on Monday, but because Elder Nielsen was going to be serving in the far north of Spain, and had an 8 hour train ride on Monday, the missionaries flew out Sunday evening.  The Corsa that we have been driving is very small and with luggage, there is only room for 3 people.  Also, Hermana Caballero could not be left alone, so I was her companion.  She is from Spain and speaks very little English, but we were able to communicate with my poor Spanish and a dictionary.  Cody picked us up after his airport run, and Hermana Caballero stayed at our house with us until Wednesday.  She is a wonderful young woman and such a dedicated missionary.  She only has one transfer left before she goes home.

I had a wonderful Mother's Day.  Between Saturday night and Sunday night, we were able to Skype or Facetime with all of our children, grandchildren, and parents.  We love getting to see them when we talk to them.  I hope this will help us keep a relationship going with the grandchildren while we are away.  Monday was not much of a P-day, preparation day, because Cody had to pick up Elder Shumway at the airport and I needed to make a batch of cookies for a Family Home Evening, FHE, that we were attending that night.  Let me take this opportunity to share some of my baking woes. Because a can of Crisco that is this size
costs $10.50 (if the specialty store has any) it has been necessary to convert my cookie recipes that were half butter and half Crisco to all butter.  That sounds simple enough, except that butter comes in a 250 gram slab.  One cup of butter is 227 grams.  So, I try to cut off 23 grams, and divide up the remainder into 1/2 cup or 1/4 cup sections.  This week I made a Chocolate Crinkle cookie which is delicious with peanut butter chips, but we had them plain.  I did sprinkle some powdered sugar on the top of them. Powdered sugar comes in containers that are about 250 g (a little over a cup) for $1.26.  Not nearly as expensive as Crisco, but where is my 4 lb sack from Costco?  For all of my friends who have lived, or do live now overseas,  I have a greater appreciation of the things that you have gone without.  I did see my first sack of Hershey's semi-sweet chocolate chips at El Corte Inglés (a very expensive grocery store with some American products) and they were over $10 for 12 oz.  I brought a stash with me that I haven't gotten into yet.  

The Fish Counter at El Corte Inglés

While I am on the topic of grocery stores, all of the stores have very large fish sections.  There are a wide variety of types of fish that you can purchase, including squid and octopus.  On the front side of the counter to the right, there is a blue area with live goldfish.  I asked Cody if they eat them here, and he said no, that he thought they are just for decoration.  Weird!  There is one major problem...the smell. It is so strong in some of the stores that it is hard to take while shopping for my groceries.  

Cured Pork Hind Quarters
This was a very fancy display of the hide quarters where they carve the cured meat right off of the leg.  If you look closely, you can see the hoof in full display.  (Somehow meet wrapped neatly in plastic is easier for me to take.)

Back to our P-day, we went out to eat with the seven young missionaries to a Chinese Buffet.  The food was actually very good.  The best part was choosing meat and vegetables that they grilled for us. They also had some delicious seafood.  I would have preferred my shrimp with the heads off!  It was amazing to see how much these young people can eat.  

We attended an FHE in Vecindario Monday night.  Fabio is in our Young Adult group.  One of his sisters is a member of the church, but he has another sister who is 14 and she is planning to get baptized in a couple of weeks.  The missionaries are also teaching his step-brother.  They were a great group of young people and they had a desire to learn about Jesus Christ.  We played another fun, but silly group game.  The person in the center was blind-folded and had to hold a book and touch someone's knee and snort like a pig.  The person they touched had to respond by snorting.  Then the person who was blind-folded had to guess who they had picked.  It was hilarious to hear everyone snorting or sometimes trying to snort.  Very funny!

Victor, Luciano, and Desire

I am now teaching piano lessons on Tuesday and Thursday, before our English class.  We found a music store and they had Bastien Piano Books.  For a primer level book it was $19.  The price in the States is $5.50.  Crazy!!  Also, for any piano teachers out there, can you give me a good reason why I should teach the notes as Do RE Mi Fa So La Si instead of A B C D E F G.  It just seems like knowing the order of the alphabet already is easier than starting over with 7 syllables.  It is also very interesting that in Spanish, the names of the notes, quarter, half, whole, etc, have no mathematical meaning.  They are negra-black, blanca-white, and redonda-round.  

I'm sure you noticed that I have three students at the piano.  Fran was taking the picture and he plays a little by ear, but would like to read music, so he was looking on.  That was not planned, but they have a desire to learn.  We will see how this goes.  There was not a lot of practicing done between Tuesday and Thursday.  I will hope for more practice before next Tuesday.  

Wednesday morning I cooked for District Meeting and also started the meal for the Vecindario young adults.  Hermana Caballero was good to help with the dishes and Cody is always good to help as well.  
Cody dropped us off for the District Meeting, and then headed to the airport to get the other two sisters. Normally there are only two missionaries in a companionship, but there was a problem with this transfer.  Because there is an MTC in Provo and in Madrid, missionaries can be trained in either location.  President Jackson had been told that he was getting a missionary from the Provo MTC who had been trained for 6 weeks.  At the very last minute, they figured out that she was coming from the States, but that she had not had any training yet, and was coming to Madrid for her training.  Because a sister had gone home from her mission this transfer, that left an odd number of sisters.  So we now have Hermana Caballero, Hermana Grover from Florida, and Hermana Irigoyen from Argentina.  Hermana Irigoyen speaks very good English and enjoys visiting with us in English.  

Once again I was inspired by these missionaries.  They have such a desire to teach people about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Elder Shumway and Elder McWhorter shared talks and then Elder Beuden had us play a game.  The game was similar to $10,000 pyramid.  One person explained a principle of the gospel while the other person had to guess the principle.  I was with Hermana Caballero and I just knew I would be so embarrassed because my Spanish is not very good.  But I actually did quite well, getting 8 principles.  The winners got 16, but the other companionship only got 4.  

 Playing $10,000 Pyramid

Wednesday night, Cody gave a very good spiritual message to the young adults.  He talked about faith and that having faith in Jesus Christ is not enough.  He shared with them from Alma 32 about how we have to exercise our faith by doing things that will bring us closer to our Savior.  We had a good discussion with these young people.  
And then the Disaster

After Cody's message, I went into the kitchen to get the dinner ready to serve.  I was looking for something to put the baked potatoes in.  When I pulled a pan down from the top shelf, I realized too late that it was full of oil.  Needless to say, it drenched me.  My skirt was literally dripping with oil.  From the smell, the oil was old which made it even worse.  It was quite the feat to clean up the shiny tile floor in the kitchen so that no one fell down.  Then another feat when I got home to get the oil out of my clothes.  

I fixed pork chops with apple slices, baked potatoes, broccoli, and bread.  After everyone had gotten a plate and had started eating, we noticed that they had no idea what to do with the potato.  Some of them were just rolling them around while some had unwrapped them from the foil and were cutting off slices from the ends.  Cody asked them if they had ever had a baked potato and they all said no.  He then demonstrated how to cut, mash, add butter, cheese, salt and pepper, etc.  They all loved the meal and everything was eaten.  

Minute-to-Win-it- Sticky Situation

After eating we played a great Minute-to-Win-it game.  If you haven't ever tried this one, I think you would enjoy it.  You get a point for each ping pong ball that you can bounce onto a piece of bread spread with peanut butter.  I had to do some pleading to get Cody to let me use a spread of precious peanut butter (another expensive item) onto a piece of bread for our game.
José, Fabio, Dario, Inzo, Wendy, Ruth, and Cody
We had three young adults join us who were not there last week.  

Thursday night we had piano lessons and English class.  We were very frustrated because we had both spent several hours working on our lessons for class.  We had typed up worksheets and when Cody went to print them, the printer quit working.  He tried everything, even buying a new cord.  Nothing worked, so we had to go to class without our papers.   Our students were very understanding and they just had to copy things off of the board.  Our classes are growing, so that is a good sign.  After class, we had FHE.  Here is a picture of us playing another group game where we had to remember the signs of everyone in the group.  The purpose of the game was to pass our sign to another person without the person in the middle seeing us. 

It became quite hilarious the faster that we were passing signs.  I love seeing how much fun a group of people at various ages can have playing such simple games.

Friday we bought a new printer.  Cody is so proud of himself that he was able to get the new one connected and it even works wirelessly!  And it was only a little more than it would have been in the States.

Who knows what countries would use these phone adapters? Very interesting!

Friday night we had FHE with the young adults in Las Palmas.  We watched the CES Devotional that Elder Ballard gave a couple of weeks ago.  We can't watch it live because of the time difference.  It was an excellent talk and we had a good discussion afterwards.  We were very impressed with the thoughts that the young adults shared.  Afterwards, Cody did the baked potato demonstration before we served up the plates.  Aida was the only one who had had a baked potato.  She served her mission in England and she said that there they put baked beans on there baked potatoes.  Interesting!  Everyone loved the potatoes and most had seconds.  This is a very easy thing to prepare, transport, and keep hot.  

Elder Beuden, Joe from Ghana, Elder Shumway

We attended a baptism for Joe on Saturday night.  He is one of the happiest people I have ever met.  He is always smiling.  He had a very interesting conversion story.  He is a mechanic on a boat that sails between here and Ghana.  The first time that he came to the Island, a friend of his gave him a book, Jesus the Christ, and said that since Joe loved to read, that he would enjoy this book.  He read the entire book and really enjoyed it.  He said that the book had different ideas, but that he felt good about them. Over a year later, he was on the Island and was walking around when he saw the missionaries.  He waved them down and asked them if they were part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They were both from the United States, so they could speak to him because he speaks English.  He told them that he had read their book and of course they thought he meant the Book of Mormon.  But then he let them know that he had read Jesus the Christ.  He loves the message of the gospel and says that he feels peace and joy with all of the things that he has learned.  He is excited to participate in the church in Ghana.  I shared another batch of chocolate cookies for refreshments.  

Here is the view from our back deck.

We've now been here a full two weeks.  We are fairly comfortable in our routine and can get back and forth to the places we need to be.  I still struggle with some people's accents and it is hard to see any progress with my Spanish, though Cody says I am getting better.  Please pray for me.  I know that I will be able to form better relationships with these people if I can communicate with them.  


  1. I love reading your blog Cheryl! It sounds like you guys are doing some amazing work for the young adults! Hopefully I can talk Chace into visiting soon. :p

    1. You are welcome any time!

    2. Now that we know there's 4 other bedrooms available we should make that visit a group event :-)

    3. Sounds like a fun family reunion.

  2. I love reading your blog too! You sound like you are adapting so quickly and so well. I will pray for your Spanish, but it sounds like you are doing amazingly well for having been there for two weeks!! That spilled oil story made me cringe. What a mess!! You are and continue to be my hero!!


    1. I look forward to hearing your mission experiences soon!

  3. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Our son (Elder Beuden) is serving with you and it's great seeing pictures of him. He loves it there and keeps telling us that things are getting better and better every day. Thank you for watching over him.

    1. We love your son. He is a great missionary and is fun to work with. We received your package today and delivered it to Elder Beuden tonight. The grin on his face was from ear to ear. Nothing like a package from home.