Monday, May 25, 2015

Transfer #10

I wanted to share a couple of photos of something for which we are very grateful.  We have a parking space in the parking garage, right by the exit door.  If you will look closely, you can see that we have a very large parking space.  The painted white rectangle would be a normal space, and we get all the extra as well.  That is a big deal in Spain! And something to be grateful for everyday! 

I had to share this parking space.  I would hate to pull into that one with that van!

This week we went to the Taste of America store.  They were out of Karo Syrup, which they do usually carry.  I snapped a picture of this 7 oz. bag of coconut, which would be over $6.  The coconut here is very different.  It is like little tiny, dehydrated pieces.  I haven't been making any recipes that call for coconut.

This week the mission Ipads finally arrived.  The elders stacked the boxes up like the temple.  They even put a box at the bottom for the entrance.
 Elders Nielsen, Hendricks, and Daniels

There is a meat market a couple blocks away from the office that specializes in selling jamón serrano, which is a traditional meat here in Spain.  It is covered in salt for two weeks, and then it hangs to dry for six months.  Then it is put in a dry, cool place for another six to eighteen months.  The drying sheds are usually built at higher elevations in the mountains.  I don't care for jamón serrano.  It is too chewy for me, but they also sell bocadillos, (sandwiches served on fresh, crusty bread.)  They have turkey and cheese, or regular ham and cheese, and a drink for $2.  It is the best deal around, and it is quite the experience going in to get our sandwiches.  

Tuesday morning we went to the Spain MTC with Elder Hendricks, to sign papers and show our passports to renew our residency cards for living in Madrid.  We were able to visit with President and Sister Lovell.  Elder Larsen and President Lovell grew up together in Bartlesville and they even roomed together at BYU.  We were very impressed with their new sign.

Wednesday night, I had another opportunity to teach with Hermana Clements and Her Bingham. They taught a great lesson about priorities.  They showed the object lesson of sand, or rice, representing all the little things we do in our lives, and larger rocks that represent the most important things that we need to do, like our prayers, scripture study, church attendance, and service.  If you put in the small items into the jar first, there is no room for the larger items.  But if we put the larger items in first, and we do these important things first in our day, as our priority, we can still fit in all of the smaller items as well.  Then Hermana Clements challenged them to set a goal of something they could improve on.  This is always a good reminder.

This is the elevator that we rode down in.  It was more than scrunchy with the three of us in there.

Saturday afternoon Elder Larsen and I attended the temple again.  We are grateful to have a temple close by and love the peace that we feel when we are there.  We attended a baptism that evening for Caren and her son David.  The building in Alcobendas, where we attend church does not have a baptismal font.  They have to drive to the larger building by the temple for baptisms, except for in the summer.  The bishop of the ward has a pool in his backyard, and they use the pool for the baptisms. They had just filled the pool this week, and we have had a couple of cool nights, so the water was pretty chilly, but the Spirit was strong.
 Hermanas Bingham and Clements, Caren, David, Alison, and Elder Gentry

Elder Ridd and Hermana Clements sang a beautiful duet, with Elder Ridd on the ukulele.  
They are both very talented.

Our four sisters serving in Alcobendas.
 Hermanas Bingham, Clements, Staker, and Pavez

 Elders Ridd and Daniels

 Elders Hendricks, Nielsen, and Ecklund

After the baptism, the Jacksons invited us over to visit with the elders from the office who are being transferred or are going home.  The Jacksons live right next door to the bishop.  Hermana Jackson made a delicious Chocolate Eclair Cake.  It was yummy and I will have to try making it.  

On Sunday we enjoyed a delicious dinner of Sweet Pork Burritos, Cilantro Rice, Texas Caviar, and Apple Cake, with these great missionaries.  The kitchen is tiny, but I am managing to cook in it.  This week I baked banana bread for the office elders, scotcheroos for Elder Ecklund's birthday, and chocolate cookies for the baptism.  

Hermana Pavez is being transferred to another ward in Madrid.  Hermana Staker will get her new companion on Wednesday, a new missionary from the CCM.  Elder Ecklund is going to the island of Tenerife, and Elder Bohne (and Elder Nielsen pictured above) fly home on Tuesday.  Always changes!

In my scripture studies this week, I read 1 Timothy 4:12:

Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

I love this message.  I hope that I can live by these words.  I want my example to show my love for my Savior, Jesus Christ.  I hope that the things that I say will be a reflection of Christ's teaching.  As our little children sing in Primary, "I'm Trying to be Like Jesus."

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Zone Conference #5

I am so grateful for the blessings of technology.  Because of the internet, we have the scriptures available at our fingertips, anytime, anywhere, on laptops, or mobile devices.  We also have the talks from the semi-annual general conferences available on the internet.  These are talks given by apostles and prophets of the Lord.  They always give inspired messages that help me want to be and do better.  I love listening to the conference talks in the morning while I am getting ready.  I have listened repeatedly to this talk by President Uchtdorf, "The Gift of Grace."  (Click here to listen.)
In Romans 3:23 we are told:

  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

President Uchtdorf said, "We cannot earn our way into heaven; the demands of justice stand as a barrier, which we are powerless to overcome on our own. . But all is not lost.  The grace of God is our great and everlasting hope. Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the plan of mercy appeases the demands of justice:

 “and [brings] about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.”  Alma 34:15

Monday was a busy day as we unpacked and tried to get organized.  We spent several hours at the store looking for things that we needed for the apartment.  It was a busy day, we were able to accomplish a lot.  

We have a decent-size grocery store one block away.  We made our first trip and took the little pull cart that the Hermanas had given to Hermana Chapple.  The pull cart worked great, but we bought more items than it could carry.  We will have to do a better job of planning what we will buy on our walking trips.

We had felt like we were going to be "thrown into the fire," this week since the Chapple's flew back to the States on Monday.  It literally felt like "the fire," because Madrid had record-breaking temperatures the first part of the week, getting to 100°, and the air conditioner was broken at the office.  We were miserable.  There is no air conditioning in our apartment, but by pulling down the outside blinds during the days, we were surprised that it wasn't unbearable at night.  The temperature cooled off on Friday and Sautrday, so we were very grateful.  

Friday, we had a Zone Conference with the five zones that are in the Madrid area.  It was fun to see some of our missionaries again.  Last week, I wasn't able to visit with Hermana Irigoyen, so it was fun to visit with her.  She left the island in October.  She is such a sweet girl and a wonderful missionary.   

 And it was good to visit with Hermana West again.  Both of these girls stayed in the island for 6 months and I have really missed them.

Afterwards, we ate pizza and some of the missionaries had packages and letters from home.

Here we have some of the missionaries who challenged President Jackson to do push-ups.  
He stayed  in almost to the bitter end.

Not quite the cozy group of just 30+ missionaries that we had on the islands.

After the meetings, we attended a temple session with the Bakes.  The building where meeting was held and the temple are located in the same complex.  I have seen posters of the complex, and the sky looked too blue to be real.  That's how it was on Friday.  My picture doesn't do it justice.

 Afterwards, we were going to go out to dinner.  We took the Metro to an area where there were several restaurants.  Unfortunately, because it was a holiday, they were all closed.  Our only available choice was Burger King.  Oh well!  We enjoyed visiting with the Bakes and look forward to spending more time with them.  Their office is at the complex and their apartment is right across the street.

Saturday night, Hermana Clements and Hermana Bingham asked me to go to a lesson with them. They are sweet girls and I enjoyed being part of their lesson.  They asked me to share my feelings about the Sabbath day.  It is such a blessing to me and I am so grateful for the opportunity to partake of the sacrament every Sunday, ask for forgiveness of my sins, and covenant again with my Savior to take His name upon me, to lift the burden of others, and to remember Him always.  It is a spiritual renewal that prepares me for the week ahead.

 Hermanas Clements, Larsen, and Bingham

I thoroughly enjoyed watching this little one during Sunday School class today.  
She was just precious.  It did make me very homesick for my little grandchildren.

We wanted to have the missionaries over for dinner today.  Because we have 11 missionaries in our ward, and we have a small apartment, we had to only have half of them come today, and half will come next week.  I forgot to take a picture until they had left the building, so we snapped this shot through the kitchen window.  We work with these elders in the office and they are a great group of young men.
Elders Gentry and Ridd are the APs-Assistants to the President, Elder Hendricks is the mission secretary, Elder Nielsen is over finances.  He finishes his mission next week and he is training Elder Daniels as his replacement.

I made barbecue chicken sandwiches, potato salad, baked beans, and chocolate lush for dessert. We had to buy a few more plates, and more silverware to serve 7 people.  I only have two pots, and I had to use both of them to cook my potatoes.  Then I didn't have anything large enough to mix the potato salad in.  It was quite the feat to prepare the meal in the tiny kitchen.  Years ago, Elder Larsen's sister moved into a house with a very small kitchen.  She called it a "Barbie" kitchen, because it was small enough to be in a Barbie Doll house.  For years now, we have been using that phrase.  And now, I truly have a Barbie Kitchen.  It is cute, but so tiny.  When we got back from our big grocery shopping trip (in the car,) there was no room on the cabinets for all the sacks, so Elder Larsen sat them on the floor.  Then there was no room to open the refrigerator doors or cabinet doors.

And who thought this tiny sink was going to work for washing dishes.  It's only been a week, and I have soaked myself three times already.  This kitchen is definitely going to be a challenge!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Week #1 in Madrid

I am so thankful for the opportunity that we had to serve in Gran Canaria for the past year.  We arrived on May 2nd, and we left on May 4th.  It was a wonderful opportunity to work with the missionaries and Young Single Adults.  We are very sad to leave behind the wonderful people from Las Palmas, Telde and Vecindario.  We have made many friendships that we will cherish forever. My happiest memories are of the activities that we had at the old mission home, when it was filled with these wonderful young people.  The house looked sad as we left it empty on Monday morning. 

Where are all the hungry people that ate at this table?

A sad, empty kitchen!
How many meals were cooked, cookies baked, and brownies iced?

Elder Larsen locking the door one last time.

This is the view of the drive down to the bottom of our street.

 And here we are with all of our luggage.

We appreciated President Deniz driving us to the airport.  He is a wonderful, dedicated servant of the Lord.  We enjoyed getting to know him and his family.

The skies were cloudy, so this was my last view of the island.

President Jackson picked us up at the airport.  We had dinner at the Jackson's with the Chapples.  We spent the week at the En Casa Hotel where we stayed when we got to Madrid last year.  They usually have internet in the lobby, but it was only working one of the nights that we were there.   

Tuesday morning, we started our training with the Elder and Hermana Chapple.  There is a lot to remember, and I was glad to have such a sweet, patient teacher.  I had worried about working in the office because I remember it being a mass of tan walls and cabinets.  But, I had forgotten that Hermana Chapple sits right by a huge window that has a very nice view out into a courtyard.  I love to see the green trees.

Elder and Hermana Lopez came up to the office on Wednesday to say goodbye to the Chapples. They have been over the missionary apartments for the past year.  Elder Lopez has been quite ill, so they have not been able to work for awhile.  Hermana Lopez gave Hermana Chapple these cute aprons. . . a flamenco dancer and a recipe for paella.

On Wednesday night, all 50 of the missionaries from the North and the Islands stayed in our hotel. We had the assignment to purchase and hand out food for their breakfast the next morning.  There are small kitchens in the hotel rooms, so we gave them sweet rolls, cereal bars, yogurt, a ham and cheese sandwich, fruit, and juice.  It was fun to see some of our missionaries that have been gone from the Islands for a very long time.

We had a wonderful training meeting with the entire mission.  This was the first time since 2011, when the Canary Islands became part of the the Spain, Madrid Mission, that the entire mission had been together at the same time.  Elder Dyches, from the Presidency of the Area, and Elder Allen, the Managing Director of the Missionary Department for the church, did the training.  The missionaries in our mission have been chosen as one of the test groups for using Ipads.  The meeting focused on the tools that the missionaries have to use in their work, and this will be one more tool.  They also talked about the importance of being obedient, and the blessings that come from obedience.

Afterwards we took a picture with a picture with all 200+ missionaries in front of the temple.

The Jacksons will be leaving in less than two months.  We will really miss them.

We really enjoyed seeing our missionaries.  
 Elder Poulson

Elder Bybee

                        Elder Wiltbank                                               Elders Guerra and Nash
                          Elders Rawson and Ruiz                                                 Elder Beuden
 Elders Mower, Dyer, Maxfield, Priest, and Hansen
 Elders McWhorter and Porritt
 Hermanas Marsh, Rossberg, and West

Las Palmas Missionaries with Elder Roka

We met Hermana and Elder Bake.  They have been here for two weeks.  They are serving at the Self-Reliance Center.  They are from Fruitland, Idaho.  He was the Ward Mission Leader there when Colby was living in Payette and serving in Payette and Fruitland.  Small world!

 We walked in the evenings in a huge park that was only a couple of blocks from our hotel. 
I just love this beautiful flower that grows in all of the fields. 

We checked out of our hotel on Sunday morning.  It was about a 30-40 minute drive from Alcobendas, where we will live and work, so we were happy to make that drive for the last time.  We went to church at the Alcobendas Ward.  Everyone was very friendly.  During the meeting, they asked us if we would share our testimonies.  How very different that experience was from my first time to do that a year ago in the Telde Branch.  I still have a lot to learn, but I certainly have improved.  Here we are with the Chapples and 8 of the 10 missionaries who serve in Alcobendas. We look forward to getting to know them better.
 Hermanas Larsen, Pavez, Staker, Chapple, Bingham, Clements,
Elders Ridd, Bohne, Larsen, Ecklund, Gentry, and Chapple

We spent the afternoon at the office and used the internet to talk to our children and their families and our parents.  It was nice to talk to our mothers on their special day.  We took a short break from phone calls and enjoyed chocolate cake and ice cream to celebrate Elder Chapple's birthday.  They spent their last night at the mission home, and we spent our first night in our new apartment.  A new chapter of our mission has officially begun!

Someone shared this scripture this week, and I have continued to think about it, Joshua 3:5,

And Joshua said unto the people,  "Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you."

I pray that will be the case as we embark on this new assignment.