Monday, June 30, 2014

Cody's New Calling

This week I am grateful for my oldest son.  Thirty-three years ago, on Friday, I became a mother to a very determined baby boy.  We always knew that we needed to help him direct this determination for good.  It was not always a smooth ride, but what a fantastic husband, father, son, and brother this man is today.  We are so proud of him and all the good that he does!  I am very grateful for this oldest son of mine and love him with all my heart.

Because we had tranfers this week, Elder Larsen drove the taxi service.  He took Elder Beuden and Elder Brewer to the airport on Monday.  I wish I would have sent the camera with him as it must have been quite the sight watching two elders trying to get their bags down to the weight limit.  Elder Larsen came home with 25 lbs. of things that belonged to Elder Beuden.  We were charged with its safe keeping until someone heads to the peninsula.  

Elder Larsen also picked up Elder Thunell who will be Elder McWhorter's new companion.  He is from Arvada, Colorado.  (pictured below)

Tuesday, I started two new piano students who have pianos at their homes.  That makes it so much better for practicing and making progress, Denisse Roka Valido, who has been playing for a year and David Marquez who also has taken previously.  He is a young adult and wants to learn to play the hymns.  I also teach his younger sister, Paola Muñoz, on Tuesdays as well.  I love working with these young people because they are practicing and want to get better at the piano.  It was a holiday here in Las Palmas, so our English class was smaller than usual.  We also were surprised to find all the grocery stores were closed.  That did not help with our food planning and preparation.

Wednesday was busy as always.  We cooked in the morning, preparing a meal for the Las Palmas district meeting.  Elder Larsen dropped me off with the food, and then headed to the airport to pick up Elder Wiltbank, who is a new missionary from Wisconsin, and Elder Shumway will be his trainer.  We also had Elder Thunell with us for the first time at a district meeting.
Elder Wiltbank and Elder Thunell

Heremanas Irigoyen and Grover, Elders Thunell, McWhorter, Wiltbank, and Shumway

I wish I had words to describe how much I love these young people.
They are amazing!
They love the Lord and they want to serve Him.
Every time I see them, 
they have smiles on their faces.
They don't complain.  They are my heroes.  
I am grateful for the opportunity 
to serve with them.

Thursday was fairly routine.  I taught two piano lessons and English class.  Both of my students had practiced a lot during the week and were prepared for their lessons.  That always makes a piano teacher happy.  We played a game of Bingo in English Class.  Playing games makes learning more fun no matter what the age.

In a previous post, "Our First Trip to the Beach,"  I included pictures of the walk that we take up the mountain, almost everyday.  Almost at the top of the mountain, there are two large potato fields.  And almost everyday, Javier is out working in the fields.  He is usually moving the irrigation pipes.  Elder Larsen, in his very friendly way, has visited with Javier every time we see him. 
 We had noticed this week that the plants were beginning to yellow and new that it would soon be time for them to be harvested. (This picture was taken several weeks ago.)

 This is what the fields looked like on Friday morning.
(Javier is on the far right with the ball cap on.)
 This 78 year old gentleman, must be the owner of the fields
because he is the one 
who did the negotiating and set the price
when we asked to buy potatoes.

He told Cody it would be 8 euros for 28 lbs, 
but that we could always pay him a tip.
When we came back with the car and the money,
Cody tipped him 2 euros 
and they gave us about 15, big beautiful red potatoes.
The old man laughed and said,
"See what you get for paying a tip."

Friday was cooking day once again.  I made a big pot of pasta chicken salad and Jewish Sweet Bread.  
Because I can't get Italian Dressing here, I went online and found a recipe that is delicious.  Of course, it is not fat free, but with olive oil I can tell myself that it is healthy.  It does give a delicious flavor to the pasta.  We had a good group and Elder Larsen reviewed Elder Holland's talk from April Conference, "The Cost and Blessings of Discipleship."  He did a great job and we had a good discussion.

Omar, Fran, David, Sara, Brian, Hermana Larsen, Elder Larsen, Aida, Christian, and Josué

Everyone enjoyed the food and they loved the snickerdoodles as usual.  
Here they are with their mouths literally stuffed with snickerdoodles!

A fun night with the Las Palmas Young Single Adults.

And we always enjoy a visit with the missionaries.

We actually had another Saturday without any meetings.  We were able to get some things done around the house.  We spent some more time cleaning the carpet and had the fans going to dry the carpet when
a man from church came by to measure the house to give the church a bid on how much it would cost
to replace part of the carpet with tile.  Even though I had just spent hours cleaning the carpet, it wouldn't hurt my feelings if they pulled it up.  We doubt anything will be done, but the idea of new tile that I could actually keep clean sounds wonderful.  We will see!

We attended church today in Vecindario.  There was a lady there from Norway.  She has lived in Australia and the United States and she speaks very good English.  She was very happy to speak with us.  Elder Gentry spoke in sacrament meeting and of course his message was about missionary work. He shared an experience with us that he had when he was a teenager.  He has such a great attitude and is full of enthusiasm.  It was a great talk.  
Elder Gentry and Elder Rawlinson are our only missionaries in Vecindario.

Irenis Morillo is from the Vecindario Ward and she is leaving for the Barcelona Mission on July 22nd.

Tonight they had a Stake Priesthood meeting and Elder Larsen was sustained as a High Councilman. The stake was just organized in September.  Since we will be here for two years and Elder Larsen speaks Spanish fairly well, the Stake President felt like he could be a help to the stake.  We are waiting to find out exactly what his assignments will be.

It was also a special night for Fabio, one of our young adults. He was set apart as an Elder.

I have a story to share that happened one of the first weeks that we were here on the island.  It was either the first or second time that we had gone out for a walk.  There are many places where we walk that have rock walls like this.  As we walked along, I was closest to the wall, when all of the sudden from about 7 feet high, a lizard fell from the rocks, right in front of me, and hit its fat belly with a sickening thud on the pavement below, while his two friends scampered across the side of the walls and into some holes between the rocks.  The fall did not seem to faze the lizard as he quickly scampered off to continue his game of hide-and-seek with his friends.  Meanwhile, I was recuperating from the heart attack that I had just had.  When we got home, I went on line to find out about these lizards that I had seen.
It has taken some patience and lots of looking to finally get a picture of one of these lizards.
We see them all the time, but they scurry away very quickly.
They seem to be more afraid of me 
than I am of them.
And that's not a bad thing.

This lizard, Gallotia stehlini, is the largest species of lizard in the Canary Islands, and can grow to just over 30 inches.  I am grateful that the ones we have seen playing among the rocks have not been that big.  Our first day walking up to the white house, we took a wrong road and wound up hiking through the wilderness for about 20 minutes.  If you look back at the picture of the potato field, at the center of the picture, at the top of the hill, is where we took the dirt path to the left of the dirt road.  As we walked through some wilder areas, the entire time, I told myself not to think about lizards.  Elder Larsen was a wise man and did not point out the very large lizard that he saw while leading the way!

Sunday, June 22, 2014


This week, I am thankful that Friday and Saturday, the weather and our schedules worked out so that we could take our walk.  We have so many beautiful sights on our walk and I truly love seeing the Lord's creations.  I feel so invigorated from walking outside and soaking in some of nature.

A vine that beautifies a rather drab backyard with its vibrant colors.

 An unusual wild thistle that we saw for the first time on Sautrday.
Just a few of many wild poppies that grow on the edge of the roads and out in the fields.

I have never been much of a
cactus fan,
but I have loved watching these bloom.
They grow wild all over the place.

We had a busy, busy Monday, since we invited the missionaries to come and join us for their P-day. We plan to do this once a month.  This time, since we have three functioning cars on the island, we were able to have the 7 missionaries from Las Palmas, and the 6 elders from Vecindario and Telde. Everyone started arriving around noon.  It was a busy, fun household.

Emails were written.
Elder Gentry and Elder Rawlinson

 Elder Antezana and Elder Echegaray
We found out yesterday that Elder Antezana will be transferred to Madrid
and Elder Echegaray is headed to Tenerife.

Elder Poulson and Elder McWhorter

Ping pong was played.
Elder Gentry and Elder Rawlinson

There was a game or two of soccer.

Elders Antezana, Lopez, Echegaray, Brewer

A few card games were played.

 Elder Poulson, Hermana Grover, and Hermana Irigoyen
 Hermana Larsen and Hermana Grover

A little time was spent relaxing.

And of course, there was plenty of food to be had.
This third attempt at enchiladas was definitely the best so far.

 Elders Gentry, Brewer, Poulson and Rawlinson back for seconds.

These two dedicated missionaries had to leave early,
so we put their chocolate lush on disposable plates,
and they ate it while walking to the bus stop.

We just got a picture of Elder Larsen's lush before he finished it off.  Yum!

We really do love these missionaries!

Tuesday we did our grocery shopping for the week.  I actually stocked up on several items, hoping to beat an increase in prices like we saw last week.  I started a new piano student and met with another girl I will start next week.  They both have pianos at home.  They have musical talent and they are very motivated to practice.  Then we had English Class and we learned how to tell time in Spanish.  I felt like it went very well.  (More to come on that subject.)

Wednesday was crazy as usual.  I hit the kitchen bright and early.  We had done a lot of chopping and slicing the night before, so I didn't think things would be quite so busy, but, somehow when we fix and transport meals for two groups, it just makes for a busy day.

For the district meeting, I made chicken pasta salad, homemade Jewish Sweet Bread, and Texas Sheetcake Cookies.  I had seen the recipe on line, and finally decided that I would give up 1/2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips to try the recipe.  I did read a few comments about the recipe and added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.  Absolutely delicious.

Texas Sheetcake Cookies

Definitely worth the use of the chocolate chips.   

Our meeting was wonderful.  These six missionaries love the Lord and want to share the message of Jesus Christ with the people here on the island.  It was a little bit sad knowing that Elder Lopez would be leaving us this Sunday as he will have completed his two years and is headed back home to Mexico. I enjoyed hearing him share his testimony and his love for his Savior.  And of course they loved the food.
 Elder Lopez

Elders Echegaray, Poulson, Rawlinson, Antezana, Lopez, Gentry, Hermana Larsen and Elder Larsen

For our meal on Wednesday night for the Young Single Adults, I made barbecue sandwiches cole slaw, carrot sticks, chips, and almond puff.  Elder Larsen prepared a great lesson.  We made one mistake.  We forgot to check the schedule for the World Cup games.  Elder Larsen thought that Spain played on Thursday night, but it was actually Wednesday night during our class time.  We only had three people show up for class.  One of them, Luis, had not come before and he really enjoyed himself. He said that he would definitely come back again next week, so maybe that was why we needed to have class.  It did seem like a lot of work for a few people, but at least I can freeze the barbecue chicken.  

I had a hard time deciding what to put as my introductory thing that I am thankful for.  Definitely a tie for first place is this flour.  I think I mentioned last week that I had found some very inexpensive flour that comes in a 5 kg bag (11 lbs).  Well, I have baked with it throughout this week, and it really is very similar to the flour in the United States. Thursday was Hermana Grover's birthday.  She wanted us all to go out to eat for her birthday.  I asked her what I could bake for her for dessert and she requested an apple pie. This crust was so much better than the one I made a few weeks ago.  

 Hermana Grover holding the very random gift that
Elder Beuden and Shumway gave her.
I believe they found this laying around their apartment.
It was good for a few laughs.

We have very diverse cultural experiences as we were at a Chinese Buffet in, Spain, eating apple pie.
It was all very yummy!
We were able to watch, on television,
 part of the coronation ceremony
for the new King and Queen of Spain.

Thursday night, I had two piano lessons before English class.  One of the guys I am teaching knows English very well and wants to speak English, so it is a very easy lesson for me.  For English class, I had planned to review telling time and move on to something new.  Needless to say, my plans did not work out.  For some reason, saying "a quarter 'til 'the hour'" and "a quarter past 'the hour'" is a very difficult concept, even though they use a very similar construction in Spanish.  I did not feel like a very successful teacher that night, but at least most of my students were trying hard to make sense of it and they want to learn.  I will have to decide how much more time we should spend on that concept.

We had a really good lesson for Family Night.  Elder McWhorter and Elder Brewer taught the lesson, and centered it on the story of The Good Samaritan.  I have no idea how many times I have read that story in the New Testament, but it always touches me.  Are we like the thief, "What's yours is mine," or like the priest, "What's mine is mine, and you can't have it,"  or like the host at the inn,  "What's mine is yours if you can pay for it," or like the good Samaritan, "What's mine is yours if you need it?"  I truly pray that I can be like the good Samaritan and have a Christ-like love towards my fellowmen.  

And you guessed it,
We played a silly group game afterwards.
(Aren't you glad you have great silly game ideas in this blog.)
In this game, a person chooses a category: colors, animals, fruits, etc.
The person secretly writes down a thing that fits that category.
He or she has a very, very small amount of water in a cup.
(Amazing how not small the amount seems when it hits you in the face.)
The person goes around the circle, standing in front of each seated person.
They say a thing from the chosen category, hoping it is not the one that the person wrote down.
If it is, they get the water in the face.

Rafa got Elder McWhorter.

Hermana Irigoyen thought she was going to get it.

But Elder McWhorter traveled all the way around the circle to finally get

Felix is in the blue shirt.
He was very surprised,
but a good sport.
He's the one who got me!

Friday morning, when we headed out for our walk, I took a picture of the house across the street from us that is under construction.  Elder Larsen had met the owner before, and she said that the house should have already been finished, but as you can see, it has a very long way to go.  
 The right side of the house is one enormous two-story solid glass wall.

I also took pictures of the house next door to us.
Someone had told us that it was an existing home that had been gutted
and was being rebuilt.
The only work we had seen done on it in two months
was painting the outside concrete white.

On the way home, we walked down the hill, past our street, and as we came back up, I took a picture of the house next to us from down below.

Little did I know that when we got back to our street, both owners of the two houses were there.  Elder Larsen introduced me to Diana who will live across the street and she introduced us to Antonio, who will live next door.  He is a contractor by trade.  His house is a new construction, not a rebuild.  He has been working on in for six years.  He drew up the floor plan himself.  He is a very creative, artistic builder.  He showed us pictures of some mansions that he is remodeling down on the south end of the island.  He said that he just works on his house as he has the time and money.  He is very proud of his home and took us on a tour.  From our balcony, we can just barely see the edge of the ocean.  It had never occurred to me that the house next door would have a full view.

This picture does not do it justice.
This is the view from the kitchen sink.
The water was so blue
off in the distance.

This is the view from the living room.  
It will be solid glass walls.
And yes, that is an
infinity pool 
that you see in blue. 
Absolutely incredible!

We have heard that the views from the house across the street are phenomenal, but we haven't had a chance to see them yet.  I am sure there will be some great photos for another post.

Yummy Cinnamon Rolls
Aida Cruz, one of our young adults in Las Palmas, served her mission in England and she asked me to make cinnamon rolls.  So that was our dessert for Friday night.  

We had the same main course as Wednesday night and everyone seemed to enjoy it.  
We even invited the missionaries to stop by for some cinnamon rolls.
They enjoyed leftover barbecue sandwiches as well.

On Wednesday, we drove by Leroy Merlin's on our way home from Telde and we bought a wet vac. After the experience a couple of weeks ago with the carpet not drying, we decided that a wet vac was a necessity.  We can only clean a small area of carpet at a time because we only have two fans, and one is quite small.  Elder Larsen cleaned Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon.  I worked on a couple of places in our bedroom on Saturday afternoon.  The water that we sucked up out of the carpet is absolutely black.  This is a perfect example of what happens when you don't have a good vacuum cleaner.  (And my boys always wondered why we needed to vacuum.)  

Transfers are tomorrow.  We knew that Elder Lopez and Hermana Caballero would be leaving the island, because they are going home.  Elder Larsen took them both to the airport today.  I was able to talk to Hermana Caballero for a few minutes on Friday night.  We shed a few tears then, so today I was able to keep a smile on my face.  She is a wonderful young woman and she has an amazing testimony. I have felt the Spirt so strongly every time she shares her testimony of Jesus Christ.  She has been a wonderful missionary and we will truly miss her.
Elder Larsen, Hermana Larsen,
Irigoyen, Caballero, and Grover

Elder Lopez

 Elder Beuden, Rafa, and Luciano (one of my piano students.)
Elder Shumway as the photographer.
(Apparently this tablet has no back camera.)

This is one part of the mission that I am not going to like.
We are so sad to see these two elders go.
Elder Beuden is headed to Pontevedra and Elder Brewer to Segovia.

Elder McWhorter will be getting a new companion.