Monday, June 2, 2014

Our First Zone Conference

This week I am thankful for two clothes dryers.  They are not a common item here and I have two of them.  My washing machine is from the States and does a large load, but it is only plumbed for cold water.  If I split the loads between the two dryers, they dry things beautifully.  This week, it has been particularly humid.  I thought the humidity wouldn't bother me since I grew up in Houston, but I didn't realize that without central heat and air, it is as humid inside the house as it is outside.  This week, every piece of paper we have is wet. I had about eight items that needed to be line dried and it has been several days and the clothes still feel damp.  I can't imagine if I was having to line dry everything.  Thus, this week I am very thankful for two dryers!

Sunday morning, we attended church with the Vecindario Ward.  We had good meetings and I tried to meet lots of people and I am trying to remember their names.  It is a huge task since we rotate going to church between three congregations.  During our last hour of church, the ladies and men have separate meetings.  Before the meeting started, I was feeling a little lonely.  The women had been friendly and had introduced themselves, but I still am not that comfortable carrying on conversations because of my lack of ability with Spanish.  The words to the opening song just seemed to speak to me.  The song was "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go Dear Lord."  I have sung that song hundreds of times throughout my life.  One of the lines of the chorus is, "I'll go where you want me to go dear Lord, Over mountains, or plains, or seas.  In Spanish, the direct translation would be,  "Over mountains or islands of the sea." I felt as if I had just been given a warm hug from my loving Heavenly Father.  I am on one of those islands of the sea.  I have come here willing to serve Him and His children and I felt His love that morning.

Monday morning we started our day very early as we had to get up at 4:30 to get to the port in time for our ferry departure.  Because we were driving our car over, we had to be at the port an hour early for our 7:30 departure.  We had lots of unknowns about our departure, so we were very relieved when we actually were on the ferry and on our way.  Elder Larsen snapped a photo of this beautiful sunrise at the beginning of our 2 1/2 hour ferry ride.

We feel very blessed to be able to associate with these 13 great missionaries.

The island of Tenerife seems to be more green than Gran Canaria.  It also has very large mountains that are right at the coast.

After we all met at the chapel, (about 35 of us), we went to an outdoor sports park.  It was fun to watch the missionaries enjoy a little free time.

 Hermana Caballero and Hermana Irigoyen are great soccer players.

They even convinced Hermana Grover to play and she looks good dribbling the basketball.

President Jackson, the mission president, got out and enjoyed himself as well.

Elder Larsen, Rawlinson, Beuden, Shumway, and Gentry
Afterwards, while the rest of the group was at McDonalds, we found a Subway.  Unlike the hamburger places we have tried, this actually was fresh, good, and tasted like home.  
 While we were walking around, we saw this store that sells Apple products.  Interesting!

We spent the night with Elder and Sister Hatch.  We enjoyed our time with them.  They took us to a Chinese Restaurant to celebrate his birthday.
I'm not sure why it seems so strange to see Chinese Restaurants in Spain and to see Chinese people speaking Spanish.  

We arrived for our Zone Conference a little before 9:00.  Zone Conferences are held every 3 months.  It gives the mission president and his wife an opportunity to be with the missionaries from that zone. They both spoke, as well as the Zone Leaders and the Assistants to the President.  The conference was from 9:30 to 2:30.  Pres. Jackson asked for the missionaries to be in their seats at 9:00. It was a wonderful sight to see these young people studying their scriptures and preparing themselves spiritually for the meeting.

I accompanied the three sisters from our district.

I love these young women.  They are great examples to me.

I also accompanied Hermana Mathers and Hermana King.  Their voices blended together so well and their song was beautiful.  

President Jackson used an analogy about juggling.  Cale would have been great for this demonstration.

We did have pizza, but they could use some lessons in crust making.  We heard no complaints from the missionaries.

 Elder McWhorter, Lopez, Echegaráy, Antezana, Beuden, Lopez, and Shumway
 We loved our opportunity to spend time with Elder and Sister Hatch.  We wish we were on the same island so that we could be with each other more often.

After we took a group picture with everyone, which I have not received, the hermanas took a picture of the elders.

 And I took a picture of the hermanas.  It looked like they were taking pictures of some famous people.  Pretty funny!

 Just another interesting blossom on a ground covering growing outside of the church.

Our ferry ride back was at 7:45p.m., so we had to be in line at 6:45 p.m.  I was able to get a picture of the boat we were on.  

 Left-Elder Brewer Center- Elder Poulson
The smiles on everyone's faces do not tell the story of how seasick people were.  The water was choppy and most of us felt pretty miserable.   I had a good discussion with this group of missionaries. The main theme was that we need to be ready to do the Lord's will even when it is not what we have planned for ourselves.  I continue to be impressed with these young people.  By the time we dropped off the hermanas, picked up Elder Gentry and Elder Rawlinson at the bus station, drove to our house, and got ready for bed, it was 1:00 a.m.   A good, but very long day.  

Elder Gentry and Elder Rawlinson spent the night with us so that we could drive them over to meet President Deniz and get our car that was supposed to be fixed.  It's not.  It is not idling fast enough and dies constantly.  When we tried to park at Vecindario for FHE, it probably died 15 times while Cody was trying to parallel park.  Not good!  

I felt sick from our ferry trip most of the day on Wednesday.  After getting our car, we went to a new store, CarreFour and compared prices and bought groceries for the Wednesday night dinner.  I decided to try making enchiladas.  I found a recipe for homemade enchilada sauce and then had to find a recipe for chili powder.  Several substitutions later I had some decent enchiladas, mexican rice that was a little gummy, and refried beans.  The kids in Vecindario really liked it.  I did manage to serve the meal without ruining my clothes.  We did have two dessert fiascos.  I made a totally tasteless paste that was supposed to be lemon bars.  The flour here is so fine that no recipes seems to come out right.  Then we sacrificed a cup of peanut butter for a batch of No Bake Chocolate Cookies.  They didn't set up.  So, we passed out some little candy bars as part of the games we played after dinner.  

 Even with great concentration, Elder Echegaráy and José Sanchez were not able to stack up three golfballs.

 Fabio, Martín, Elder Larsen
Can you tell that Martín was getting into the game?

Kimberly, Yení, Martín, José, and the Larsens (Fabio was our photographer.)

Thursday morning we made our fourth trip to the city center of Santa Brígida, to register for our residency card.  The first time, we arrived just after 2:00 to find out that they close then for the day. Many businesses have "medio día," but then they open again around 4:30.  This government office does not.  The next day, we get a not-so-friendly lady who does not like the paperwork that we have. She does not know what to do with our contract that has the church as the owner of this house.  She said we would have to come back when her co-worker was there because she knew more about our type of situation.  We made a trip back to the house and found a signed letter that said that President Jackson was authorized to act in behalf of the church.  We went back to the office the co-worker was there.  She said that we had all the paper work that we needed, but that we would have to have a President Jackson sign the form that she gave us.  We were glad that we had gone last week and had the paperwork to take with us the Tenerife for Pres. Jackson to sign.  On our fourth trip, we turned in all of our papers and the lady said that we could come back on Tuesday and get our residency cards.  It will be nice to have them and not to have to carry our passports with us all the time.  

Thursday night we had piano lessons, English class, and FHE.  It is rewarding to hear our students trying to say the correct vowel sounds.  Elder Larsen and I have both been working on the short vowel sounds and saying the "ssssss" sound for a word starting with the letter "s, " instead of saying "es" at the beginning of a word.  For example, "special" instead of "especial."  Our students are trying hard to work on this.  

We had another fun time with FHE.  The elders shared a short video that so beautifully illustrates the Savior's purpose here on the earth.  It lasts less than 3 minutes and is worth watching.

Afterwards, Hermana Caballero had us play the silly game that we learned when she was with us in Vecindario a couple of weeks ago.  I'm not sure why it is so funny to snort like a pig, but I think you can tell from the pictures that we were having a good time.


Because of my dessert fiasco on Wednesday afternoon, I made a chocolate cake first thing on Friday morning.  It is a recipe that Hermana Anderson shared with us.  The Andersons were the previous couple on the island of Tenerife, and she said that it was a favorite among the missionaries and young adults.  Perfection!  There are so many items that they don't have here for cooking, but I need to give a thumbs up for Valor cocoa.  It has the richest, most delicious chocolate flavor.  Yum!  And then with chocolate frosting using more Valor cocoa.  Yum Yum!

I made enchiladas again, for our Las Palmas group.  I learned a few things from Wednesday and the enchiladas, rice, and homemade refried beans were superb if I do say so myself.  The young adults loved them.  Before we ate, we decorated for the dance that was to be held on Saturday night after the Seminary and Institute graduation.

Denisse Roka is one of the teenagers in the ward.  She had set a goal for one of her Young Women projects to be in charge of the decorations for the dance.  She came with all the supplies and ideas and put us to work.  I was impressed with how willing the guys were to fold crepe paper strips.  They are a great group of young people.

Saturday became a very busy day for us.  José Miguel Morales, the CES coordinator for Southern Spain and Stake President of Cadiz, wanted to have a meeting with us, Elder and Sister Hatch, and Pres. Santana of the stake presidency.  We picked up the Hatches at 8:30 at the airport and headed to Las Palmas for our meeting.  I was so impressed with Hermano Morales.  He is an amazing man.  He taught us from Luke 19, the story of Zacchaeus.  He taught with the Spirit and wonderful insights in those eleven verses.  I was so touched by the Christlike love that he exhibited.  We talked about the Institute classes for this summer, and they asked us to teach in Las Palmas and Vecindario and Hatches will teach in Tenerife. We had a good discussion about these young people and about what we can do to help them in their lives, both temporally and spiritually. 

We had just enough time to drive up to our house with the Hatches and give them a quick tour of the house.  We warmed up leftover mexican food, ate quickly and headed back to the airport.  We picked up white pants from the elders in Telde, and headed home so I could make a batch of rice krispie treats for the baptism.  I played the piano for the baptism and accompanied the hermanas on the same song that they sang earlier in the week.  Desiré sang with them and has a very pretty voice.  

Brother Morales baptized his nephew, Airam Morales.  Willie Peña.

 Desireé Sosa is a new member and she completed her first year of Seminary.

Mosiah and Sara

Kimberly, Mosiah, Irenis and Jhon

Fran, Abinadi and Ricardo

Bryan, Joán, Josué and Jhon

 Aida Cruz

 Omar Roka

                    Sara Marcos just completed 4 years of Institute.  She will be graduating in July                                                                      with a degree in Social Work.

This morning we went to church at the branch in Telde.  Of course, Elder Larsen had his special tie on and I had on my special pin, since it was the first Sunday of the month.  When we walked, in two ladies, Pino and Mari, were wearing crocheted flower pins.  When I asked them if their was a reason for wearing them, Pino said that there was no reason.  She just liked to make them for the women in Relief Society because they are her friends.  Then I explained to them our tradition and that by all wearing them on the same day that it helps us feel more united as a family while we are away. They both thought that was just a great idea and they said that they will be wearing their pins on
the first Sunday of the month in honor of us.  Two really wonderful ladies.
 Pino and Mari

 This is Cascia's family and Colby from last month.

 Chace and Madison with tie and pin.
Avery, Katie, and Cale-Avery seems very happy about wearing her special hair clip.

These are the teenagers who finished their year of seminary and received their certificates.  Cristi is their teacher and she also teaches the Sunday School class for the adults.  She is an excellent teacher.  


  1. I love Carrefore! I first shopped in it in France and then in Bulgaria!

  2. Such a fun update! A couple things:

    1. Congrats on no mishaps for Wednesday night! Is there any way we can ship some enchilades leftovers?? :-) jk
    2. LOVED seeing everyone with their pins.
    3. I'm glad you were able to be comforted on Sunday. Before you know it you'll be fluent and chatting away with the ladies.
    4. I'll make sure Cale sees the juggling picture.

    We love you guys!

  3. I simply love reading your blog. You two are on the go! Still, in every picture you are smiling. I know you are being blessed for your service. As for Spanish... it will come. Right now it probably seems overwhelming but the good people in your area will be patient with you and will love you for this "weakness". It makes you more human in their eyes. Sent you an email with a couple of recipes in metric (using non US ingredients). They may or may not help you. xx

  4. Please give our love to Hna Irigoyen. She was such a blessing here at the MTC and we miss her very much. Thanks for sharing your mission.