Sunday, September 28, 2014

Zone Training


I am so thankful that many years ago, my dear friend Kamian Christensen shared not only some delicious cinnamon rolls with me, but also the recipe for these cinnamon rolls.  And now as the smell of cinnamon fills my kitchen, every time I bake these cinnamon rolls early in the morning, after they have raised all night, I always think of my sweet friend.  Thanks Kamian!  

Much of my time is being spent teaching piano lessons.  I am so excited to have these students who are excited to develop this skill that can bless them and others.  I caught these five students together at their young women activity. (Julia was there with her mother.)  Don't you love their sweet smiles?!
Julia, Paola, Hermana Larsen, Eli, Denisse, Teresa

Elder Tanner and Elder Hansen had a great object lesson for our home evening lesson.  They talked about how Christ's gospel can be a protection to us from all the sin and temptations of the world. How blessed we are to have this knowledge and we need to make sure and apply it in our lives!

Luis, one of my English students was helping with the demonstration.

Afterwards, we played a silly game where you had to sing a song and do a dance if you lost a round. 

Here are a few fun pictures of the missionaries. 

At our zone training meeting this week, we saw a video of a talk that Pres. Uchtdorf gave to a group of mission presidents.  It was so inspiring.  He told us that we have the Lord's living water.  And then he asked if we are going to drink of the living water through a pinched straw, or are we going to drink deeply of those waters.  I love that thought and plan to drink more deeply to improve my life.  He also shared the words to one of my favorite hymns, "How Firm a Foundation," which are taken from Isaiah 41:10.
Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.  

And, of course, afterwards I fed them.  We had barbecue chicken sandwiches, potato salad, baked beans, chips, and chocolate cake.  One of the missionaries said, "This is the greatest.  It is so American!"  I love giving them a piece of home.  
Elders Maxfield, Dyer, Bybee, Wiltbank, Hansen, Tanner, Thunell, 
Hermanas Irigoyen, Trone, Elders Sarango, Vallejos, and a headless Elder Larsen

 Elder Maxfield and Elder Dyer

 Elder Hansen and Elder Tanner

Hermana Irigoyen and Hermana Trone

Saturday we had an Indexing activity with the young single adults from Vecindario.  We were so pleased to have 6 young people in attendance who were happy to give of their time on a Saturday morning.

 Dario, Enzo, Hermana Larsen, Ruth, (Fabio, not pictured)

John(from Las Palmas) Kimberly

They worked hard for several hours and then enjoyed a good lunch.  We had chicken pasta salad, Jewish Sweet Bread, and chocolate chip cookies.  I am so glad that Jewish Sweet Bread bakes up as easily here as it does at home, and that it is liked by people of all nationalities.

We attended church in Vecindario today and we were able to hear Fabio and Elder Sarango speak. They both did a great job.  

This evening, we were able to watch the General Women's Conference.  Hermana Trone and I watched it in English and it was wonderful!  Since I was able to sing in the choir last March, I was so much more aware of all the preparations that takes place for one of these meetings.  That was an experience I will always treasure.  I enjoyed hearing the music tonight and seeing the sweet little Primary girls singing with their mothers.  

The talks were very inspirational.  I am motivated to examine my life and make improvements.  And of course I loved Pres. Uchtdorf's message:

 “Heavenly Father is constantly raining blessings upon us, but it is our fear, doubt, and sin that, like an umbrella, block these blessings from reaching us.”

After the meeting, we had a going away activity for Sarinhaah.  She is leaving for her mission to Brazil on October 8th.  We will miss her sweet, smiling face in Las Palmas, but what a blessing she will be to the people she serves in Brazil.  
Elder Larsen had a concentration game with the apostles and some fun facts about their lives.  And we had the delicious cinnamon rolls that I had baked this morning.

 Josué, John, Hermana Larsen, Omar, Eli, Denisse, Sara
Kimberly, Ruth Paola, Sarinhaah, Noemí, Aida, Xiomara

Sara, Aida, Sarinhaah, Noemí

I didn't take any pictures at our Institute classes, but we had some very good lessons this week.  Elder Larsen is a wonderful teacher.  He loves the scriptures and he is able to share his enthusiasm with the class members.  It is very rewarding to study the scriptures as a class and to learn from each other.  

Another very busy week for us, but we are grateful to be busy.  We love working with the missionaries and the young adults.  Hopefully, they are keeping us young.  We love serving the Lord. We are blessed to have this time to serve together!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fun at the Park

I am so grateful for the modern technology that keeps us connected to our family back home.  It is such a miracle that we can use Skype or Facetime and see and hear our family members who are so far away.  It has been so fun to see little Avery as she goes through the many stages of development that happen in that first year of life.  I love hearing the stories that the older grandchildren share with us.  I know we feel more connected to our grandchild when we can see their cute, smiling faces.  We hope they will feel connected to us as well and we will not be strangers to them when we return after two years of being away.

Monday was spent making trips back and forth to the airport for missionary transfers.  It is a much simpler process in other missions where missionaries do not have to fly to their new assignments. We drove the hermanas to the airport and had to say a tearful goodbye to Hermana Grover, who has been such a wonderful missionary in Las Palmas.  She arrived about two weeks after we got here, so it feels like she belongs.  We were very sad to see her go.  Also, Elder Gentry was serving in Vecindario when we got here.  He was the last of the original missionaries who were here when we arrived.  He is a great missionary and has served faithfully in this area.  Vecindario will seem very different without him.

Hermana Irigoyen and Hermana Grover saying goodbye.

Elder Shwanke (from Lanzarote), Elder Gentry and Hermana Grover off to new adventures.

But, we can't be sad for long, because after taking Hermana Irigoyen home with us to grab a bite to eat, we headed back to the airport to pick up three new missionaries.  Elder Sarango, who is originally from Quito, Equador, but whose family now lives in  Southern Spain, will serve in Vecindario with Elder Thunell.  Elder Hansen is moving from Telde to Las Palmas and Elder Tanner, from Las Vegas, is his new companion.  Hermana Trone, from Portland will be Hermana Irigoyen's new companion.  They all arrived with smiling faces and they are ready to work.
Elder Sarango, Thunell, Tanner, Hansen, Hermanas Trone, Irigoyen, Larsen, and Elder Larsen

This week we started our new schedule for piano students.  I now have twelve students and teach lessons on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons.  All my students seem to be excited about learning and I am grateful for the opportunity to teach them.  Piano accompaniment is a wonderful addition to any meeting, and can help bring the Lord's spirit.  If they are diligent about practicing, they can learn a lot in the next 1 1/2 years.  

Wednesday we had our district meeting in Telde.  Now that we have more missionaries, we are back to two districts, and we will rotate every other week where we attend.  Elder Larsen made one last trip to the airport to pick up Elder Maxfield, who is from Holladay, Utah.  He is a brand new missionary and will be trained by Elder Dyer.  They will be serving in Telde.  I really enjoyed our meeting.  Elder Sarango has a great spirit about him.  I felt his love for the Lord and for this work as he shared his testimony with us. We look forward to serving with him and getting to know him.  

 Elders Maxfield, Dyer, Sarango, Thunell

Elder Maxfield showed up with a smile on his face and is ready to get to work.

Wednesday night we were in Vecindario for Institute.  Elder Larsen gave a wonderful lesson and there was a quote that he used that has continued to run through my head all week, "If the Lord gives a command, DO IT!"  What simple but profound advice!  What a better place our world would be if people just lived the Ten Commandments!  The Lord created this world and gave us the laws that we need to follow to have peace and happiness.  It is up for us to follow those laws.   
Elder Larsen, Ruth, Kimberly, Fabio, Dario
We love these young people.  
They come ready to learn and share.
We are blessed every week by being with them.  

It was very different not to be with all of our missionaries this week.  So, I had to grab a picture of these good missionaries after English class.  The hermanas were so busy teaching lessons that they were not able to attend English class.  We missed not being with them this week for District meeting.  
Elders Bybee, Wiltbank, Tanner, Hansen

We had two good adult classes of Institute that were well attended this week.  It is wonderful to have people come who want to learn and a share insights about the scriptures.  

Hermano Guerra is teaching the Institute in Las Palmas on Friday nights, so we attend and bring refreshments.  He is a good teacher and brings out some different insights from the lesson material than what we share. There is always so much material to cover and something has to be left out.  I enjoyed hearing his presentation of the material.  At the end of class he had these two share their testimonies.  They are leaving for missions in just a few weeks.  The photo isn't the best, but I wanted to remember this special time for these two wonderful young people.
Sara- Brazil, Teresina Mission                   Omar-España, Madrid Mission

Saturday morning was absolutely amazing, making it a picture perfect "Eternal Spring" day, as the islands are nicknamed. We could not have ordered up a more beautiful day for our activity with the young adults from Vecindario.  Dario was in charge of our activity, a gincana, with a variety of games, mostly including running, which was a challenge for Elder Larsen and me.  But we gave it our all and had lots of laughs.
 Kimberly, John, Yasmina, Dario, Hermana Larsen, Ruth, Fabio
We were at a beautiful park 
that has to be the greenest spot in Vecindario.

I wish I had a photo of Elder Larsen
when he outwitted Fabio.
Seeing that Fabio is as fast as lightning, 
Elder Larsen knew that he could never out run him,
so instead, he carefully calculated when to fake reaching for the ball,
and Fabio stopped so fast that his feet slipped out from under him, 
and over the line he went.
We all laughed and laughed, including Fabio.

 You can tell that Elder Larsen was really getting into it!

 Somehow we managed to win at tug-of-war, but we landed in a heap.

 Dario was sure he could beat any pair, but Fabio and Elder Larsen managed to pull him over!

I was worn out by this game of tag where each person who was caught, 
had to join the chain to catch the remainder of the group.  
We definitely got a workout.

 Afterwards, we enjoyed a picnic lunch.  
So glad they like good old-fashioned potato salad,
and banana bread.

Saturday evening, we attended a baptism in Vecindario for Andrea.  There was such a good group of members there to support her in this special event.
Elder Sarango, Marcos de la Guardia, Andrea, Elder Thunell

Elder Larsen attended a Bishopric meeting this morning in Vecindario, so we were up and gone early. We attended our meetings in Vecindario. 

Elder Thunell has been promoted to translator 
for the Herheims, the Norwegian couple, 
now that Elder Gentry is gone.

After Sunday School, we drove to Las Palmas to drop off a keyboard to one of my piano students. The main road to the church was blocked off, so we had to go a different way.  And look at the unusual blossoms we were able to see on this tree!  What a variety of vegetation there is here in the Canary Islands!

I was glad to see these two hermanas.
Their smiles make me happy!

I have been studying the conference talks of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.  The words of his talk, "This Do in Remembrance of Me" have continued to run through my mind this week.  He quoted the Apostle Paul, when he said we were "bought with a price" (1 Cor. 6:20).  Then Elder Holland said, "What an expensive price and what a merciful purchase!"  It is my prayer that we all realize the price that our Savior paid for each one of us and how merciful He is to us.  We are grateful to be serving a mission and for the opportunity to share this message with others.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Transfer #4

My mother had her birthday this week.  I am so thankful for this wonderful woman.  She has spent her life in the service of others, always sacrificing for her children.  She has been my example to follow throughout my lifetime and I love and appreciate her more each day.

Elder Larsen had an assignment to work with the ward in Vecindario.  Most Sunday mornings, we are driving to Vecindario, and we have seen some beautiful sunrises over the ocean.  This is one I captured this week.

I am grateful that there is a sewing machine here in the mission home.  I have had to mend a couple of my things already, and I was able to mend Elder Thunell's pants for him.

Monday, we had the best Pday (preparation day) ever.  My sweetheart, who does not like the beach, took me to the beach and even pretended like he enjoyed himself.  It was a beautiful day, very little wind and a nice temperature.

We rented two lounge chairs and an umbrella, and relaxed!

 I can hardly wait for the next time!

 The bougainvillea are so beautiful!

Tuesday the missionaries were on splits, so Elder Wiltbank and Elder Hansen taught my English class while we watched a satellite broadcast of a meeting held in Germany, that was for all of the women of Europe.  Elder Bednar and Elder Ballard spoke, along with some other church leaders.  I happened to have my Ipad with me, and at the beginning of the meeting, which was being translated into Spanish, I started searching and found a live feed in English.  Hermana Grover and I went to another room and listened to the meeting.  We got so much more out of hearing it in English.  The messages were wonderful.  I needed that spiritual feast.  I liked a thought that Sister Kearon shared.  She talked about putting sheets on a bed, particularly on a top bunk bed.  She used to hate to put the sheets on that bed.  (If you have had bunk beds, you will be able to relate to this analogy.)  It took her a long time to realize that if you start putting the fitted sheet on at the corner that is closest to you, and leave the furtherest, hardest corner for last, it is almost impossible to get the sheet on.  But, if she started with the hardest corner first, she had enough sheet to pull and work with, to get it on the closest, easiest corner.  She encouraged us to face the hardest things first, to tackle our problems head on with the Lord's help, and that we could come off conquerors.  I love the scripture that says, "Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work."  A great thought for the next time that you are putting sheets on the bed!
Luis, Elder Wiltbank, and Elder Hansen

Wednesday, we had our last district meeting before transfers, and we forgot to take a picture of everyone together.  Here are our four Las Palmas missionaries who were still around when I remembered pictures.  
 Elder Bybee, Elder Wiltbank, Hermana Irigoyen and Hermana Grover

I grabbed a photo of Elder Gentry and Elder Thunell Wednesday night while we were in Vecindario for Institute class.  They found an amazing sale on ties and have had fun wearing their matching ties.

Kimberly, Abinadi, Ricardo, Dario, and Fabio were all in attendance for our first Institute class. Elder Larsen gave us a wonderful lesson.  We love these young people.

In my English classes, we start off our lesson talking about Texas, because I am a proud Texan, and it gives us some new vocabulary words to go over.  Someone had posted a Texas food pyramid on Facebook, and it had some of my favorite things on it, one being pecan pie.  I had shown it to my class and they wanted me to make them a pecan pie.  Ever since we got here, I have been on a search for pecans.  You cannot find them here.  At first, everyone thought I meant walnuts, but when I showed them a picture of pecans, they realized that stores do not carry them.  There are a few kinds of ice cream that have pecans in it, and we have found one brand of cereal that has pecans, but it would take a lot of boxes of cereal to get a cup of pecans for a pie.  So every time we go into a store, I look for pecans, and this week it happened.  In a bin, marked as Californian nuts, there were some pecans.  We bought a few, came home and shelled them to make sure they were good, and then went back to get more pecans.  Unfortunately, there were not very many left, but we bought all they had. As promised, I made a pie for my class.  I did not tell them in advance, and wouldn't you know it, we had our biggest turnout in forever.  We each only got a tiny sliver of a piece and everyone wants some more, especially me.  Funny how we come to appreciate things more when we can't have them.

 It just may have been the best pecan pie ever!
 A happy class!

This week we started two Adult Institute classes.  One is on Thursday morning, and one on Thursday night.  I didn't think to take a picture at the morning class, but this was our night class.  Elder Larsen did a great job of teaching and we had some good discussion.

We also had an Institute class on Friday night, but I didn't get a picture of our young adults.  We had nine people there, so we were pleased with the turnout.  Elder Larsen taught, but only as a substitute for Hermana Guerra who was out of town.

Saturday, we drove to Port Mogan to visit a retired Norwegian couple who lives here 9 months out of the year.  They speak some English and no Spanish.  When we asked them how many children they have and he said what sounded like 17, we thought his English was off.  But no, they are the parents of 17 children.  Unbelievable!  We had a very nice visit with them and they served us Norwegian waffles that were delicious.  Here are the views from their home.

 I can see why they chose to retire here to get away from the cold.  They regularly have family members who come to visit and friends from Norway who spend the winter months here as well.

Port Mogan is on the southern end of the island.  As you can see from the pictures, it is very dry. There is seldom a cloud in the sky and it never rains, which makes it perfect for all the resorts.  It is mostly volcanic rock, with very little green.  I am very thankful that we live in the mountains on the northern end of the island where we have some green.

Elder Larsen had leadership meetings Saturday afternoon and then we both attended the evening session of conference.  It was a great meeting with wonderful messages.  We are grateful for the technology that they use that allows people from all of the islands to view the conference at the same time.  This conference took place in Tenerife, but there were some speakers from here as well.

After the meeting, the missionaries gathered around Elder Larsen's computer to get their new assignments for this next transfer.  Elder Gentry is headed to Madrid. It was no surprise since he has been here since before we got here.  We will be sad to see him go.  Elder Hansen will move from Telde to Las Palmas with a new companion.  Elder Dyer will stay in Telde and train a new missionary.  Elder Thunell will have a new companion in Vecindario and Hermana Grover is headed to Madrid as well.  She arrived 1 1/2 weeks after we got here.  I have grown very close to her, and will miss her smiling face.  Her family plans to come for a visit in May, so we will look forward to a happy reunion then!  Have I mentioned before that I don't like transfers?!

It will be very different without Hermana Grover. 
 Tomorrow we meet Hermana Irigoyen's new companion.