Sunday, July 27, 2014

Worldwide Indexing

This week I am grateful for the Mormon Pioneers who sacrificed so much to settle in the Utah Valley, and allow the church to grow.  I am grateful for their love for the Lord, their desire to follow the counsel of a living prophet, and their willingness to sacrifice everything for the Lord.  July 24th wasn't a big celebration day here, of course, but we had a nice message from the missionaries at our Family Home Evening.  Though it has been 167 year since the first groups arrival in the Utah Valley, it is always good to remember the example of those who have gone before us.

We wanted to share a little with you about the the town that we drive through to get to our house.  The two lane highway winds through a little town, Monte Lentiscal.  The roads are so narrow, and there are no easement restrictions.

Here is the front of this home.

Elder Larsen is now standing at the front door.
We have come by many times at night 
when someone is standing in the street,
trying to unlock their door.

He was grateful that this truck was not coming by as he was standing there.

And here is the bus stop right at the end of our hill.  
Not quite sure where you are supposed to stand while you are waiting for the bus.

We started off our week with a wonderful activity with our young adults in Las Palmas.  Four of them came to the church and spent four hours, including a quick lunch break with sandwiches and of course a batch of snickerdoodles, participating in the Worldwide Indexing Event.  Indexing is transcribing information from historical documents to make it searchable online.  Once a record has been indexed by two volunteers, an arbitrator checks them before the records are live online. The previous one-day record set in 2012 was 49,025 contributors.  Monday, there were 66,500 participants, and we were proud of our group for their hard work. 
Sara, Elder Larsen, Fran

Omar, Hermana Larsen, Josué

Josué and I committed to each other that we would continue to index two batches of names a week. We are hoping that some of the other young adults, and Elder Larsen will join us in our commitment.

We had a wonderful district meeting with the elders from Vecindario and Telde on Wednesday.  I am always very inspired by the testimonies of the wonderful young men.  Elder Larsen gave us a wonderful message from a talk by Elder Bednar, "Converted to the Lord," about the difference between having a testimony of Christ and truly being converted to Christ.  I will share just one line from that talk.  "Conversion is an offering of self, of love, and of loyalty we give to God in gratitude for the gift of testimony."  I think we were all very inspired by Elder Larsen's message.  

And after the spiritual feast, we had a temporal feast of apple pork chops, baked potatoes (from the potatoes that we bought from the local farmer), green beans, and a favorite, Jewish Sweet Bread, topped off with chocolate cake.  I love these missionaries!
Elders Dyer, Gentry, Rawlinson, and Poulson
These happy missionaries are holding their portion of the leftover Jewish Sweet Bread.
Elder Poulson is holding some vanilla extract that he asked for.

We had a good group of young adults for our Institute meeting in Vecindario.  Cody gave an excellent lesson about faith, and then they feasted on spaghetti.  It amazes me how much some of these guys can eat.
This seems to be the only picture I took that night.
Elder Gentry and Dario

We had piano lessons Thursday night and then English class.  I had a wonderful surprise.  Elder Wiltbank's mother sent him a package for his birthday, and in it, she included a package of chocolate chips for me.  What a wonderful present!  Thank you, thank you Sister Wiltbank.

 Elder Shumway and Elder Wiltbank giving us a lesson about the Pioneers.

Hermana Grover and Hermana Irigoyen explaining our "Signs" game.

Rafa with his friendly smile.

Elder McWhorter was "It" for a very long time.

Thursday was Elder McWhorter's Hump Day.  
He has been out one year.  
I found out minutes before we left for piano lessons,
so he got the one piece of leftover chocolate cake.
He ate it so fast,
that I didn't even get a picture of it.
But, here he is, happy with Elder Thunell.

Friday night, we had a first, and it was not a good first.  We only had two young adults who came to Intsitute and I had food for fifteen.  So, Friday night, these two young adults became my favorites!  We were truly, truly grateful that they came.  We had a wonderful lesson, and Elder Shumway and Elder Thunell joined us with their investigator, José, to eat.  There was more than enough food for everyone. I had been inspired to bring plastic containers with me, so we gave leftovers to the three sets of missionaries.  
 Josué and Sara

We had a wonderful day on Saturday.  Elder Poulson and Elder Dyer, from Telde, had asked us if we could meet with an investigator couple, Maria and Ignacio.  A couple of weeks ago, when we were with the elders, everyone was speculating as to who would be transferred next.  Elder Poulson has been here a long time, and I am very sure he will leave us on the next transfer.  He doesn't want to leave, so he made a friendly wager.  He heard that I had made an apple pie for Hermana Grover's birthday, and he asked if I would make one for him if he stays.  If he gets transferred, he is going to send me something valuable from the States, when he gets home, (something precious like brown sugar, chocolate chips, or some cans of green chiles!)   Anyway, I had offered to bring a dessert to the investigator's house and decided I could make an apple pie and that way Elder Poulson could have some, even though he is most likely going to be transferred.   Was I ever surprised when we pulled up to the church in Telde and Elder Dyer walked out with Elder Gentry!  Elder Poulson had to go to Vecindario to give an interview to an investigator.  

We had a wonderful visit with Maria and Ignacio.  They are such a friendly couple, even though Ignacio does not appear friendly on first sight because of his size.  Maria had fixed a huge pot of paella, and we also enjoyed her homemade mojo sauce.  It was all delicious.  Afterwards, we enjoyed some watermelon, and then somehow found room for the apple pie.  Elder Poulson was lucky that there was a piece left to send home for him.

Elder Dyer attempted to stand up to more than his full height.

We got home just in time to bake a batch of cookies and head to Vecindario for Cris' baptism, where I had been asked to play the piano.  He was baptized by Luis, his cousin and another one of our young adults.  We are very excited for Cris.

We attended church in Vecindario today.  I played the piano for Sacrament Meeting.  Cody taught the Young Adult Sunday School class while I attended the class with an investigator, Dominga.  It is nice to be getting to know these people better.  My Spanish is improving some, but it still has a long way to go.  We did get to visit with a couple from Denmark who is here for vacation.  They were happy to speak English with us.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sending out a Missionary

I am thankful for the opportunity to live in the "Old Mission Home."  It does have its problems, and we are praying that it will hold together until we finish our mission in March 2016.  But, it does provide us with the space to have big groups of people here.

This week, we had all the missionaries on the island to the house for P-day.  It is always a wonderful day when they are here with us.  I didn't take any pictures of the food, but we had Cafe Rio Sweet Pulled pork, Black Beans, and Cilantro Lime Rice thanks to my friend Karissa Gille Dodds who has a wonderful blog,  We also enjoyed Texas Caviar, and a disappointing batch of mint brownies.  It was my first attempt here and they were overcooked and dry.  The missionaries ate them, but they were very subpar.  Next time should be better.

Here are some pictures from the day.

Hopefully you can tell that Gran Canaria is in good hands with these wonderful missionaries.

As usual, our week was filled with piano lessons, English classes, Institute, and lots of cooking.  But we did have an unusual event.  We got a call from the elders late on Monday night.  They had locked their keys in their car, including their spare key.  They were in La Playa de Inglés which is about 45 minutes from here and 25 minutes from their apartment.  They took the bus home and first thing the next morning, Elder Larsen started searching on the internet for the best way to break into a Opel Corsa.  He was testing out the clothes hanger method on our car, since all the missionary cars are the same.  He was able to get into ours, and headed to the missionaries with some hope.  After 1 1/2 hours of diligent, but futile efforts, they had to go for plan B.  They had already priced the cost to replace the cars small, stationary window, and it was by far cheaper than paying for a locksmith, which would have been $200.  I can only imagine the looks as Elder Larsen was beating the window.  I am just sorry that I didn't think to send the camera with him, until after he had left, so you will have to use your imagination for this one.  By the end of the day, the window was replaced and the spare key was in a safe place.  

We had our best turn out ever for Vecindario, with eleven young adults at the Institute Class.  Elder Larsen gave a wonderful lesson and we had our Cafe Rio meal.  It was a little funny to see one person show another person how to fold a burrito, but then they started eating it from the folded end.  For some of them, it is a bit of a learning curve with American foods.  
Sonny,Martin, Inzo, Dario, Fabio, Elder Larsen, Kimberly Irenis, Ruth, Luis, Inma 
(Cris not pictured)

Our schedule was a little different this week because we had a Zone Training meeting on Thursday, instead of our usual meeting on Wednesday.  We had all the missionaries from the island at the meeting and Elder Labaugh from Tenirife who is the other Zone Leader.  

Elder Labaugh and Elder Gentry

Elder Labaugh and Elder Gentry gave us some wonderful training.  Sometimes when I step back an realize that these are 19 and 20 year olds who are so focused and so mature in their daily work, it is truly amazing to me what a wonderful job these missionaries are doing.

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

 Elders Poulson, Dyer, and Rawlinson

 Elder Shumway had an opportunity to share his testimony 
since he will be going home on the next transfer.
He is a wonderful missionary who has served faithfully.
We will miss him.

 It was Elder Wiltbank's birthday.  When I asked him what he would like for a birthday dessert, he requested cheesecake.  I have not conquered that yet, and our busy schedule did not allow for any time for experimenting.  They had a box mix that I made.  It was a far cry from a homemade cheesecake, but I did find some canned cherries at the British/American store.  I hope it wasn't too much of a disappointment for Elder Wiltbank.

This cupid has become the traveling birthday gift.  It was found in one of the elder's apartments.  They gave it to Hermana Grover last month for her birthday.  She passed it on to Elder Wiltbank (who was not here for Hermana Grover's birthday.)  He looks a little confused about his precious gift!

Josué, one of our young adults, came to English class.  He always has a great smile.

Elder McWhorter and Elder Thunell gave a good lesson for our Home Evening.  I love to hear them teach.  I feel the strength of their testimonies as they testify of Jesus Christ.  They shared a video with us that I really enjoyed.  It compares Satan to a fly fisherman.  I'm not exactly sure what that means for my son and husband who love to fly fish, but it is a good analogy of the tools that Satan uses to lure us into temptation.

This video is less than 3 minutes long,
 and is great food for thought.  
I hope you will take the time to watch.

And of course, afterwards we played a group game.  This time was just good old-fashioned musical chairs. 

I would say that Elder Shumway and Josué gave it their all.
(I was at the piano playing the music, and Elder Larsen conveniently lost an early round.)

Part of Friday and Saturday, Elder Larsen worked on cleaning off the roof.  These tile roofs are the perfect places for dirt to collect and for plants to grow.  We are hoping that getting all the vegetation off the roof might fix the situation of water running down the walls of the house during the rainy season. There is a part of the roof that has a thirty foot drop to the ground.  Elder Larsen will be hiring someone to clean off that part.

These were a few of the larger items that he found.

Elder Larsen had to quit his fun job early enough for us to be at Institute.  He gave another great lessons with some good discussion from our wonderful young adults.
 I never found out why David and Andres had a pirate costume with them.  

 I caught Jonathon and Gabriela with their mouths full.  I think they enjoyed the burritos.

And, Fran in an unuusal moment without a full smile on his face!

Saturday night, we were back in Vecindario for a Surprise Going Away Party for Irenis.
She leaves for her mission to Barcelona, Spain on Tuesday.  

 Irenis with her baby sister and beautiful mother.

 Precious little Gabriela!

 Fabio, Jenni, Kimberly, Irenis, Inzo
A great group of our young adults!

 Elder Rawlisnson, Fabio, Elder Gentry
With Fabio as the new ward mission leader,
there is no stopping the missionary work in Vecidario!

We attended church in Vecindario today.  We will be there most of the time now with Elder Larsen's new assignment as the high councilman for that ward.
Hermana Larsen and Irenis.

It is hard to describe how close I have grown to this wonderful young woman
 in such a short time.  
I admire her for her strength,
her faith,
and for her desire to serve the Lord.
Tears were shed as we said goodbye,
but she will return right before our mission is complete.
Her exciting adventure begins Tuesday morning!