Monday, July 27, 2015

Pioneer Day

I am grateful that President Pack challenged us to read a wonderful talk that was given in 1995, by Elder Neal A. Maxwell, entitled "Swallowed up in the Will of the Father."  I have read and listened to this talk several times this week.  I have written down numerous quotes that have impressed me, and I continue to write down things that I can do to be more willing to submit to the Lord's will.  I know that our true source of happiness is to submit to the Lord's will.  It seems so simple that we would be happiest if we obeyed, God, our Father.  But somehow, putting it into practice can be difficult.  Here is the video and talk.  I wanted to share a few of my favorite quotes:
     *Some of us are so busy checking on our own temperatures that we do not notice the burning
       fevers of others.
     *Consecration is not shoulder-shrugging acceptance, but, instead, shoulder-squaring to better
       bear the yoke.
     *The submission of one's will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God's         altar.
Monday, Elder Larsen worked some at the office, but I stayed home and worked out, did laundry, cleaned the apartment, and baked cinnamon rolls. I wanted to make some cinnamon rolls on Saturday to take to a barbecue, but I wanted to try them out since I had not made them since we had been here in Madrid.  They turned out pretty good, but I just can't get them to rise the way they do at home.  I did some reading on line, and apparently bread floor has more gluten and that helps dough to rise more.  Maybe this flour has less gluten!  I took some over to the Packs and the Verbukens and they thought the cinnamon rolls were wonderful.

Tuesday we had a zone leader and sister trainer leader meeting at the mission home.  I got there at 8:00 a.m. to help with making pancakes for breakfast.  Hermana Pack had 3 boxes of pancake mix from the American store.  They were yummy pancakes, and of course, the pricey maple syrup was a hit.  The syrup is produced in the USA, but we don't understand Mississippi Belle, and Minnesota. Kind of funny!

After breakfast, they started the meeting.  Caroline was my trusty helper again.  We have a great time together in the kitchen!  Hermana Pack had started pork in the crockpot the night before.  When it was tender, we shredded it for sandwiches. She also had an enormous batch of pasta salad.  I added some ingredients and salad dressing for that.  Caroline and I made 3 batches of banana pudding and we cut up watermelon for the crowd of 40.  We had the snacks out and ready at the break and then we had the meal ready to eat at 2:00.  By 3:30 we were cleaned up and headed to the office.  We worked at the office until 9:30.  Needless to say, we were more than exhausted when we headed home that night.  

I didn't think about taking pictures until we were ready to leave, so I only got these two quick shots. These are good missionaries who are our leaders.  They inspire me with their desire to serve.  

On Wednesday, our APs, Elder Schwenke and Elder Ruiz came to the office with matching ties. Apparently, they bought them for 2 euros and were happy to be matching.  They are a great team!

We had our office meeting, and then Hermana Pack drove President Pack to the airport.  We had bocadillos from the little shop close to the office.  The sandwich and a can of pop is only 2 euros (about $2.) The bread is fresh and the bocadillos have lots of meat and cheese. They are yummy! What a deal!  Jonathon was pleased.  Then we got some great work out of him.  Elder Larsen had him inventory some of our supplies, and then he helped me with getting packets ready for the 41 missionaries that we have coming in September. We got the packets started, and I am hoping he will be available to help me some more this next week.  Thank you Jonathon!

On Friday, we met Aida Cruz at the temple.  Aida is one of our young adults from Las Palmas.  She is going to be a counselor for youth conference this week.  We ate at an Italian restaurant, and we enjoyed visiting with her.

We love this photo Aida took of the temple.  

Saturday I made banana bread for the office elders, and two pans of cinnamon rolls.  Saturday night, we headed over to the Pioneer Day celebration with the temple missionaries.  We appreciate the Duffins who are so good about organizing these get togethers.  We had pulled pork sandwiches, salads, watermelon, chips, and desserts.  Lots of good food and fun conversation.  Afterwards, we watched, "Meet the Mormons."  It was a very nice evening.

And we always love the opportunity to see the temple at night.  
Beautiful temples inspire me to seek for the things of the Lord.  

These good men all have smiles on their faces, but it was not really a happy occasion.  Elder Schwenke swiped a car as he was parallel parking.  Elder Larsen is holding the accident report.  Glad they all could smile about it.

Elder Barlow and Elder Daniels are probably smiling because they weren't involved.  

The hermanas came for dinner.  Elder Larsen surprised them with letters and Hermana Olsen had a package.  As you can see by the look on Hermana Bingham's face, she did not get a package or a letter.  Poor thing!

I tried something for the first time here in Spain.  I made Chicken Bundles.  At home, I make them with crescent roll dough, you know, the kind you can buy in the refrigerator section.  They do not sell that here.  I did find some prepared dough at the German grocery store.  It wasn't the same, but pretty close.  So, we enjoyed Spain Chicken Bundles, rice, gravy, salad with honey-garlic dressing, and fresh fruit.

We thought we were surprising the girls with root beer floats.  But as soon as we said we were having something different for dessert, they grinned and asked if it was the same thing that the elders had the week before.  They were very excited.  And the floats were yummy!

We have four awesome missionaries!  These girls are the best!  I always enjoy the opportunity to visit with them.  They have such positive attitudes and they want to work hard to share the message of Jesus Christ with as many people as possible.  

We also had another great thing finally happen this week, the big 9-seater van that was ordered a year ago, finally arrived.  We were just sad that the Jacksons never got to see this happy day.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Zone Conference #6

Last Monday night, we were invited to dinner at Bishop Verbuken's house.  They are from Germany, but they have lived in several different countries, Canada, Japan and Italy to name a few.  They all speak wonderful English.  I am amazed by their ability to speak so many different languages.  We had a delicious summer dinner with grilled pork and several types of vegetables.  We also enjoyed a delicious berry dessert. We enjoyed getting to know Tomo and Teresa.  Their son, Tim, is out of town.  Tomo shared a home evening lesson with us about faith in Jesus Christ.  We enjoyed the spiritual message and the opportunity to get to know this great family.

Tuesday morning, we were at the temple to attend the sealing of Victor and Cynthia,
our good friends from the Islands.
We were also in the temple with Airam Betancor, for his first time.  He has been a member for a little over a year.  I love to hear him share how things have changed since he has put Christ as the center of his life.  He is a wonderful example to me and we loved seeing the joy on his face while he was in the temple.  We got a picture of him with Hermano Marcos, but we did not get pictures of Sara, Fran, and Hermana Marcos.  

 Here is a cute picture of Sara y Airam together!
As we were leaving the temple, I was so excited to see Denise Roka.  She is such a sweet girl.  I miss our visits that we had along with her piano lessons.  She always brightened my day with her beautiful smile.

Hermana and Elder Frost were in the same session in the temple with us.  We met them at the conference in Toledo.  They are serving in the Malaga Mission.  They were in the same temple session for two of their young adults, and then they attended the sealing of this couple.  Always a happy occasion.  Afterwards, we went to a Chinese restaurant for lunch.  The Frosts came to our apartment to spend the night.  I had started doing some baking for the Zone meeting the next day when a stomach bug hit me.  I was just miserable, and was sad that I was not able to spend more time with the Frosts.  My sweetheart took good care of them fixing them a chicken salad for dinner and a nice breakfast.  Hermana Frost brought us a yummy loaf of zucchini bread and some delicious homemade apricot jam.  

I felt very sad that I was sick on our zone conference day.  And Elder Larsen was too busy with mail and serving pizza to remember to take pictures.  Here are the packages stacked and ready to go for the missionaries.

And here is the group shot.

 The Pack's are the sweetest people. Hermana Pack found "Sonic Ice" or a close second at one of the grocery stores in our area.  They brought we a sack of ice and some pop on their way home from their very long day after the zone conference and interviews.  They are so thoughtful!

Thursday night, I a made a run to the grocery store with Hermana Pack, Caroline, and Jonathon. Jonathon tried to tempt us with this deliacacy, "Pig Ear."  I just don't understand some of the things they sell here!

Here we have Elders Daniels, Schwenke, Barlow, and Larsen perplexed over one of the computer programs we use.  Computers...they are so wonderful when they work correctly, but when they don't...

Elder Ruiz was much happier with the project he was working on!

On Sundays, I played piano for Primary, our children's meeting.  I love hearing these little ones sing.  Sometimes they sing a song in English and it sounds so sweet.

I was supposed to teach with Hermana Bingham and Olsen Wednesday night, but had to cancel because of being sick.  I missed not getting to spend time with them this week.

I also was supposed to teach with Hermana Staker and Harper on Saturday, but their investigator canceled on them.  I didn't get to spend time with any of the sisters this week.

We gave Caroline and Jonathon a ride home from church.  It was a great time to take a picture of this beautiful park.  I just love these trees and I thought Caroline looked beautiful standing there as well.

We had a delicious dinner with the elders.  I fixed crockpot steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, salad, fruit, and finally, some really good Jewish Sweet Bread.  I think I finally figured out the oven. Afterwards, we had a great all-American favorite, Root Beer Floats.  They had root beer at the American store, so we decided it would be a great treat for the elders.  It is just so funny the things we have come to appreciate.

And, afterwards, the elders treated us to another beautiful song.  
I am so glad we started this tradition!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Lunch with the Bybees

How blessed I feel!  I am very thankful for the opportunity we have to serve with the Packs.  They literally have hit the ground running, with so many things to do with transfers this week.  The Packs are here to serve.  We have already seen their love for the Lord and their love for the missionaries.

Monday, we had 28 missionaries come to the mission home for the their farewell dinner and testimony meeting.  I had the privilege of helping Caroline and Hermana Pack with the food.  We make a great team.  

Five of the missionaries who were going home had served on Gran Canaria with us.  These are wonderful young men, and I am grateful for the time we had to serve together.
   Elders McWhorter, Stevenson, Gentry, Hansen, and Bybee

What a beautiful experience to hear this room full of missionaries sing "Called to Serve" in Spanish!  The music was beautiful and the spirit was so strong.  

Elder Ward accompanied them on the piano.  He is such an amazing pianist.  It was always a privilege to hear him play.  He is somewhat of a celebrity in our mission.  He was the new elder that was on his way to his first area, on the train that was going too fast, and went off the tracks.  He fractured a vertebrae.  So grateful that he survived the train crash and he has now finished his two years of service.

It was a wonderful experience to hear these missionaries share their testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They expressed how their love for the Savior has grown over the past two years.  They expressed the joy that they have felt from sharing the beautiful message of Christ's gospel with the people of Spain.  They expressed their gratitude for the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ and how they better understand this beautiful gift that He has given us.  They expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve.

We had 27 elders and just one hermana.
 Hermana Pack, Caroline, Hermana Costagliola

What an amazing group of missionaries!

We finished up at the mission home about 11:30 pm and then spent 30 minutes driving around in circles, trying to get to the Hermanas Staker's and Harper's apartment, where Hermana Costagliola would spend the night.  There are so many one-way streets here and GPS always wants us to "enter" the "do not enter."  We finally were about a block away, and the hermanas walked out to meet us. They had their usual bright smiles on their face, even at that time of night.  Sure do love these girls.

Tuesday morning, we were up early to pick up Hermana Costagliola, see the other missionaries off on the bus, and then drive Hermana Costagliola to the airport.  She was flying home out of a different terminal to Italy.  I was back at the mission home to help with the food for the incoming group of missionaries.  I love working in the kitchen with Caroline. It was nice to have this small group of 5. They are excited to head to their new areas and begin their service as missionaries.
Hermanas Devereaux, Shaw, Pack, Pres. Pack and Elders Wither, Trantham, and Malolo

After working at the office for a few hours, we had to drop something off for the Packs at the mission home.  The APs were there and we were blessed with a beautiful song.  It is so nice to be around these talented young men.

Wednesday morning. we had our office meeting, and then rode to the airport with the office elders and the Packs.  The Packs and the APs flew to Vigo for a zone conference.  I was really wishing I could have stowed away in a suitcase and gone with them.  We drove the Packs car back from the airport.  Then we had lunch downtown with Elder Bybee and his parents.  They came to tour Spain with him on his way home from the mission.  We have communicated with his parents by Facebook and it was fun to finally meet them.  What wonderful people and wonderful parents!  It was a pleasure getting to visit with them.  And we loved spending some time with Elder Bybee.  He is an amazing young man!
Delicious Food!

And, they came bearing presents.  They gave me 2 big bags of precious pecans and 8 packets of Ranch Dressing mix.  Who would have known that these items would be such a precious commodity? Thank you, Bybees for the gifts, and for the wonderful afternoon!

Thursday morning, we drove about 45 minutes to Leganes.  They have had two separate water issues in their apartment.  The damage done to this wall was from hair in the bathroom drain.  (Let me just say that the drain systems are very different here.)  The other damage was done to the wood floor from a broken hot water heater.  The landlord wanted to meet with someone in charge.  Currently, that would be Elder Larsen, as we are now over apartments, as well as our office responsibilities, until they can find another couple to take over the apartments.  (We are praying that will be soon!)

I was happy for the opportunity to see Hermana West and visit with her for a few minutes.  I baked them some cookies, and she gave me some homemade maple syrup!  Not quite as good as the real maple syrup she received in a package from home, while she was on the Island, but it is still delicious.  Another one of the "precious commodities" that remind us of home!

These missionaries were happy that I had some cookies for them as well. 
 Always a nice ending to a district meeting.
Hermanas Olsen (She took Hermana Clements place who is now serving on the Island in Telde.) Harper, Staker, and Bingham, Elders Daniels and Barlow

I taught with these hermanas on Friday and Elder Larsen surprised us with a chocolate muffin.

I always love their happy smiling faces

We had the hermanas over for dinner on Sunday.  

Grilled Chicken Pasta Salad, Jewish Sweet Bread, and Fresh Fruit, with Chocolate Eclair Cake for dessert (no photo, but it was yummy!)

So blessed to work with these great missionaries!