Sunday, January 4, 2015

Life Goes On

This week I am grateful for a knowledge that life goes on after death.  This beautiful lady, Tiffany Janis, passed away this week.  She was a dear friend of mine, who taught me so much by the way that she lived and the faith that she had.  She is the mother of five children, and the wife of an amazing man.  I know that she will be missed terribly by them.  But I also know that their knowledge that they have been sealed as a family for eternity will give them peace and comfort.  Throughout Tiffany's almost 1 1/2 year battle with cancer, she exhibited her great faith in her Savior.  These are the words from a talk she gave in church a few months ago, "I have a very strong testimony that turning to God and holding fast to our covenants, even if we don’t understand everything, is really the best way to live our life because the blessings that come from that are amazing."  She truly understood the words of 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:
       My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Tiffany was an angel in this life, and now she is an angel in heaven.  We love you Tiffany.

Monday we had a very enjoyable day off.  We spent the afternoon in Puerto Mogan with Hakan and Barbro Palm.

They are a Swedish couple who live here during the winter months.  We have been able to get to know them because they speak wonderful English.  We enjoyed sitting out by their pool and visiting, getting to know more about their family.  Then we enjoyed a lovely snack on their deck, and took some pictures of a beautiful sunset.  I have limited myself to just three of the many that we took.

Hakan has recently written a book, Surviving Hitler.  It is the story of his mother, a Jewish woman who survived Auschwitz-Birkenau,  and his father, who was an SS soldier.  He signed and gave me a copy of the book.  What an amazing story!  I was so grateful that because of the holidays, we had a slower week, because I couldn't put the book down.  This is a story of the faith and courage of two people and their willingness to forgive.  After reading a book like this, I tell myself that I will never complain again, because my life has been so easy.

After watching the sunset, we enjoyed a delicious dinner at a restaurant where the waitresses were dressed in typical Canarian Folk Dress.

 The food was delicious.  Elder Larsen made the best choice with his Rib eye steak.

Barbro and Hakan are a delightful couple. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting with them today and hope to have this opportunity again sometime soon.

On Tuesday night, Elder Priest was asked to direct the music for the opening song.  Let's just say that it was a little bit of a challenge for him, but he did it with a smile on his face.

 Here is a very serious-looking Las Palmas District.  Actually they were happy and  full of chicken pasta salad, Jewish sweet bread, and flourless chocolate cake, but they look quite stern here.
Hermana West, Elder Bybee, Hermana Trone, Elders Moreland, Priest, and Hansen

This situation looks a little dangerous, but I guess Elder Moreland likes having his back popped.  

New Year's is a very big deal here.  This is confetti that was strewn all over the floor in the grocery store as part of their decorations.  All of the workers were dressed up as well.  

Their celebrations and parties start at midnight, and they stay up all night long.  The dance at the church for families, started at midnight.  ¡Increible!  We chose not to participate in that activity.  We stayed home and ate twelve grapes at the stroke of midnight and drank some "Appletizer."  While we were at dinner with the Palms, they asked the waiter if they had Appletizers.  I was confused because their English is very good, and I could not imagine that they couldn't say appetizer.  Then we learned that Appletiser is a yummy sparking apple drink.  We found it at the grocery store and enjoyed it as part of our New Year's Celebration.

New Year's Day we had an activity with the young adults.  We had French Toast, bacon, fruit, and juice.  Then we had a Cellphone Scavenger Hunt.  We had two teams and they had 1 1/2 hours to take pictures of the team in twenty specific situations.  They had to carry their paddle ball racquet with them and show it in every picture.

Were we ever surprised when Team #2 showed up after one hour and they had gotten all of their photos.  But I think Team #1 was even more surprised when they showed up after 1 1/2 hours, without all of the photos, and found out that Team #2 had beat them.  I will say that Team #2 was a little creative with a couple.  Like this one of them in a boat.
You must admit, it is creative!

 The photo on the right is the group with a stranger holding out 50 euros.  
They must have looked honest.

The waddling ducks are very cute!

 This is a mailbox.

This definitely wins the award for the prettiest photo!

We had told the group that there would be prizes for the winning team.  I had some bags of M&Ms for them.  You can buy M&Ms here, but they are very expensive.  The bags weren't very big, so I was afraid that the kids would not be very happy with their prize.  I sent Elder Larsen to buy some Grenadier doughnuts that are beautiful and delicious.  Elder Larsen told me that they would want the M&Ms and he was right.  I let the winning team choose, and they all chose the M&Ms.  But none of the losing team was sad with their doughnuts.

Afterwards, Elder Larsen gave a short message about setting goals for the New Year, and we all shared a goal that we are going to work on.

 We enjoyed our afternoon with these great young people.

This morning we had a meeting with these two wonderful missionaries, Elder Sarango and Elder Nash.  We are grateful for their happy smiles, good attitudes, and their desire to serve.

As we start off a new year, we are grateful to spend this entire year as full-time missionaries.  We love our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We are grateful for the opportunity to share this message with others. We pray that we all might draw closer to our Savior during this coming year.  

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