Tuesday, February 10, 2015

La Palma

This week I am thankful for Elder and Hermana Hatch.  These two wonderful people started their missions on the same day as us, at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.  This is actually their third mission.  They served a two-year mission in Fort Worth, Texas, an eighteen-month mission in New Jersey, and now they are about to complete their one-year mission in Spain.  They were first serving on the island of Tenerife, and now they are serving on the island of La Palma. They are my heroes.  They are the most kind, sweet, thoughtful people.  They love the Lord and have willingly sacrificed these years away from their families in order to serve the Lord.  They will be going home the middle of April.  Even though we did not get to see each other very often, we will truly miss them when they are gone.  We were able to spend a wonderful weekend with them. (More about that later.)

Last Tuesday, we had our busy afternoon and evening with piano lessons, English classes, and Family Home Evening at the church.  The hermanas gave us a good lesson about Approaching the throne of God with confidence.  They used some quotes from a talk that was given in general conference this past October by Elder Klebingat. 

"By applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ, 
you can begin increasing your spiritual confidence today 
if you are willing to listen and act."

I know that there are things that we can change in our lives, through the power of Christ's atonement, that will help us to be more like Him.  I was grateful for the reminder of this talk and its powerful message.

I also practiced the piano.  We are having a musical devotional and I have spent hours online, looking for music, and practicing the songs that I will accompany.  I am so grateful for Elder Bartholomew, who plays the piano.  He is accompanying several of the songs as well.  

We had district meetings with the Las Palmas missionaries.  Elder Moreland asked us to share something that we appreciated or had learned from our companion.  I shared how grateful I am for my husband who helps me in the kitchen.  After just having spent 4 1/2 hours preparing our meal for after that meeting, it was fresh on my mind how grateful I am for all the dishes he washes, vegetables he peels and chops, and pots he stirs.  He is a blessing to me in so many ways.  The elders and sisters shared how they appreciated their companions positive attitudes, or desires to learn, or sensitivity they have to the Spirit.  These were the fun photos I took while they were sharing.

And this is just a fun photo of Elder Priest with a very cheesy smile!

After the meeting, we enjoyed a delicious meal of Jewish sweet bread, crockpot steak and gravy, mashed potatoes, salad, and andes mint cookies.  I had some andes mints sent over to make these for Christmas, but didn't get to it.  Everyone loved them.

We get our hair cut at a place less than a block away from the church, so we went there after the meetings.  Ping cuts our hair and he has a darling little girl.  The family lives in an apartment above the beauty shop.  We often see Ping, his wife, and little girl on the sidewalk.  During the day, the grandmother sometimes brings his little girl down to see him.  They were just leaving the shop as we got there.  The grandmother told her to tell us goodbye, and she blows kisses if she says goodbye. Because she is close to the same age as my little granddaughter, Avery, she just melted my heart, and made me very homesick for my little ones.  I was happy that she said we could take a picture of her.

Because we would be in La Palma for church on Sunday, we had to change our Institute class back to Wednesday night.  I also had my piano lesson, and then I practiced the piano during Cody's lesson. Since we do not have a piano in our home, I have to take advantage of a piano whenever I get the chance.  

I was glad I thought to get a picture of these two wonderful elders.  Seeing them both in sweaters, it is a reminder of how much colder it has been in Vecindario.  That night it was only 61° F.  I wish I had a picture of some of the natives here.  They were wearing heavy, thick coats, big scarves, gloves, and something over their mouths.  

Here are our wonderful JAS from Las Palmas.  I made mint cookies for them as well, and they really liked them.  They commented that the mint and chocolate was an unusual combination, but they like them.  Hermano Guerra told me that he had been thinking that they needed Elder Larsen's skills for the office in Madrid, but that I could stay in Las Palmas and continue to cook for them.  
Hermano Guerra, Aida, Josué, Kimberly, Sara, Fran

Saturday morning, we left earlier for the airport to fly to the island of La Palma.  We flew into Santa Cruz which is on the east side of the island.  The Hatches picked us up at the airport, and then showed us the island. The island is a little smaller than Gran Canaria, but only has 80,000 people.  Gran Canaria has almost 900,000 people.  So, this island is very tranquil and peaceful.  It is the greenest of the islands and the mountains go straight up from the coast.  

Even though it was cool and cloudy, we still saw some beautiful sites. This was my favorite.  I could not get over the color of the water

This is a replica of one of the ships that Columbus sailed to La Palma.  We had hoped to go inside and tour the museum, but it was "medio día" and everything was closed.  It still surprises me when we come across places that are closed at the middle of the day. This is their custom, but I just can't get used to it.  

I love the vibrant colors of the bougainvilleas

They took as to a delicious lunch at Chipi Chipi, which is pronounced cheapy, cheapy.  I overheard Elder Larsen and Elder Hatch talking, and I thought that my husband was describing himself when he was saying cheapy, cheapy.  Instead it was the name of a nice restaurant in a beautiful location.  

This is grilled goat cheese with green mojo sauce.  Delicious!

After our delicious meal, we drove to the other side of the mountain.  The mountain peak is almost 8,000 ft, and we drove back and forth on hairpin turns until we got almost to the top, where there is a very long tunnel to the other side.  The Hatches live in Los Llanos, which is on the west side of the mountain.  We drove down to the beach, enjoyed an ice cream and the sounds of the waves crashing in.  

These are ancient cave swellings on the side of the mountain.

The Hatches said they have seen some beautiful sunsets, but we had a few too many clouds.

They grow bananas all over the island.

The Hatches live in an old, very small apartment, but she has made it cozy.  They have a beautiful view of  one of the mountains out their window.

We took a walk down the quiet streets of Los Llanos.  It is a very pretty little town. These are  blossoms from one of the trees that grows along the street. 

And I love these big trees!

The church group in La Palma is very small.   They usually have between 12 and 15 people.  Some of the people make the drive over from the other side of the mountain.  They rent a room at a hotel that is not far from the Hatches apartment.  We walked over early to help them set up.

 The Hatches made this podium so that the speaker, and whomever is conducting has a place to put their papers.  Elder Larsen and I both spoke.  It was my first talk in Spanish.  I wrote it out and then practiced reading it all week.  I felt like it went well, and of course Elder Larsen did well as always.
Though our numbers were very small, we were able to partake of the sacrament and renew our covenants.  I am always impressed that the size of the congregation does not matter.  This is a sacred ordinance and the Spirit is always present.  They only have a two hour block of meetings, so afterwards we had a wonderful Sunday School lesson about John 4. I love the story of the Samaritan woman at the well who learns of the living water that only Christ can give.

This precious little one is Davíd.  He is a almost 18 months old.  He let me hold him and he laid his little head on my shoulder.  Then when they were leaving, he leaned forward for me to give him a little kiss on the cheek.  What a precious little boy!  Once again I was really missing my grandbabies, so I was thrilled to love on Davíd.

Hermana Hatch outdid herself for lunch.  We had crusted salmon, two salads, and the most heavenly scalloped potatoes.  So yummy!  Then we drove back over the mountain, to the airport,to fly home.  It was a wonderful weekend and we are so grateful that we were able to to spend time with Elder and Sister Hatch.  

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