This week, I am grateful that we were able to tell people about our upcoming change of assignment. We have known for several weeks that we will be moving to Madrid in May, to be the office couple. We have accepted this new assignment with mixed feelings. We enjoy our work here, and have gotten to know lots of wonderful people. It has been a great experience to be involved in so many different activities here on the island. But, we are needed in Madrid, because the Chapples, the current couple, are going home in May, and there is no one being sent to replace them. There are things that we will enjoy in Madrid, such as the opportunity to attend the temple on a regular basis. We will also get to see the missionaries that we have gotten to know while they were serving here on the island. Of course, we will miss our young adults, our institute and English class members, and my piano students. I am hoping that my piano students will work extra hard these next few months and make as much progress as possible before we leave. It is always hard to say goodbye to people that we love, but we are willing to serve where we are needed.
Last Saturday was Hermana West's birthday. She wanted to celebrate on Monday, and chose to come to our house and have pancakes with her "Real Canadian Maple Syrup." If you look at the center picture you can see her precious bottles. In the background, you can see the syrup we made with maple flavoring. Not nearly as good! We also splurged on real Oscar Meyer Bacon. Expensive, but worth it!
Afterwards we made peanut butters cookies for Hermana West.
While we were there, we saw a beautiful Belén, which is a Spanish Nativity. I saw several this year, but this was the first time that I had my camera with me. Spanish Nativities are amazing. They are very large and include the entire town of Bethlehem. Besides the usual manager scene, there are caves, houses, temples, rocks, cliffs, streams, and mountains. In one scene you might see Joseph and Mary entering into Bethlehem.
There is always a manger scene and there is one of the wise men in the foreground.
There are scenes that depict daily life.
And there are Roman soldiers, sometimes with their swords drawn, in search of the baby Jesus.
I love these Spanish Nativities and the reminder of the real reason we celebrate Christmas.
After our shopping, we ended Hermana West's birthday celebration with one of her favorite things, ice cream, which is always a good thing.
As we were leaving, I saw these little ones sliding down this concrete embankment. Having just seen pictures of my grandchildren sledding, from a distance, this white concrete looked like snow. Here on the island, with 65°F, this is about as close as children can get to sledding.
Día de los Reyes, January 6th, is another Spanish Christmas tradition. On the evening of December 5th, there is a parade with the Three Wise Men. Apparently on our island, the wise men arrived by boat and then paraded through the streets. There are bands, floats, and the wise men on camels. The young children can give their letters to the wise men, because they are the ones who bring the gifts. Some people have incorporated Santa Claus, or Papa Noel, for Christmas Eve, but their big gift-giving is on January 6th. Every town has their own parade. And then the next morning, the Three Wise Men drive in convertibles, up and down the streets. As families hear the horns honking, the children to look out the windows and thank the wise men for their gifts. We did not attend the parade this year, but I plan to have this cultural experience next year.
This is a picture the hermanas took on the way to an appointment.
Wednesday, all the holidays were over and we were back to our regular schedule. We had a zone training and enjoyed being together with all the missionaries. We had honey-lime enchiladas, with ingredients that were shipped from the United States. Yummy!
And with marshmallow brownies for dessert, the missionaries were happy.
Hermana West, Elders Maxfield and Priest, Hermana Trone, Elder Hansen
Elder Bybee, Elder Nash, Elder Norrell
This was only part of our group who attended on Institute on Friday night. The missionaries were happy to join us for a piece of chocolate cake.
Elder Bybee, Josué, Kimberly, Elder Moreland, Fran
Saturday we had a young adult activity with our Las Palmas group. We watched a devotional talk by Elder Hallstrom about having a firm foundation in Christ. He shared the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing one of my favorite hymns, "How Firm a Foundation." I have included the words to the 3rd and 7th verses:
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
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake.
I want to always make sure that I have my foundation in my Savior, Jesus Christ. Sheri Dew gave a talk at BYU Women's Conference in May. I am inspired by these words:
If we constantly immerse ourselves in a fallen world, how far can we really expect to progress in
this life? Now I am not suggesting that there aren’t fun and even inspiring opportunities all
around us. I love ballgames, including a whole lot of ballgames played right here, and 4-wheelers
and travel and snowshoeing, and Broadway plays with the best of them. But mortality is a shortterm
proposition. None of us are going to stay here very long. Doesn’t it make sense to devote
as much energy as possible to things we can actually take with us into the eternities? To
covenants, eternal relationships, our knowledge of truth, and to the blessings that come from devotion to the Lord?
Today, Elder Larsen gave a talk at the Telde Branch. He did a great job and his Spanish has really improved since the talk he gave there 8 months ago. Elder Maxfield also gave a talk and his Spanish has improved so much in the time that he has been here. This is his first area and he has picked up the language so quickly. If only I could remember things the way I did when I was 18. My Spanish is better, but I have a long, long way to go.
Elder Norrell and Elder Maxfield