Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Running of the Bulls

I am thankful for music and the way that I feel the Lord's spirit through music.  The office elders and APs came to dinner this week and they sang "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy."  This hymn is one of my more recent favorites because of a talk that President Packer gave in General Conference in October 2012.  It just goes to show that things mean more do us when we have some background knowledge.  You can listen to his talk here, as he explains the treacherous boat ride he had when someone did not "keep the lower light" burning. Christ is the light from the lighthouse, guiding us back to Him.  Perhaps we can be the lower light that can help someone see how to align their life with Christ's light, by teaching them about His gospel.  That is our purpose and desire as missionaries, and I appreciate these elders sharing this beautiful song with us this week.

Brightly beams our Father’s mercy
From His lighthouse evermore,
But to us He gives the keeping
Of the lights along the shore.
Let the lower lights be burning;
Send a gleam across the wave.
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.

Dark the night of sin has settled;
Loud the angry billows roar.
Eager eyes are watching, longing,
For the lights along the shore.
Let the lower lights be burning;
Send a gleam across the wave.
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.

Trim your feeble lamp, my brother;
Some poor sailor, tempest-tossed,
Trying now to make the harbor,
In the darkness may be lost.
Let the lower lights be burning;
Send a gleam across the wave.
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.

Monday, Elder Larsen was still regaining his energy, so we had a pretty quiet Pday. I did get my hair cut and we bought some groceries, but that was about it.  Tuesday was a busy day at the office, especially as Elder Larsen was trying to catch up from being gone so many days.  

Wednesday morning, I stayed home from the office to cook for the missionaries.  We had missed two Sundays in a row of not having them to dinner.  So, I decided to cook for the group at district meeting. 

We had barbecue chicken sandwiches, potato salad, baked beans, chips and chocolate cookies.

Everyone was happy!

Thursday morning, we decided to participate in a little bit of the culture of Spain.  Most everyone has heard of the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona.  But they actually have this event throughout Spain. We currently live in a suburb of Madrid, San Sebasti├ín de los Reyes, and this week was their big festivo.  They had a carnival that ran all week long.  They party until the wee hours of the morning. The elders and sisters apartments are closer to that area.  We are grateful to be a little further away. We were only bothered by the fireworks one night!

I do not understand why people are so fascinated with participating in this event.  Just this summer, 12 people have died by being gored by a bull.  That doesn't count all the ones who have been injured.
I was grateful that the most excitement I saw was a guy falling down on a turn, but he was way ahead of the bulls.

If you look at the railing in the second picture, I was across the street, but kneeling down, looking above the bottom slat.  these are the photos I took from that angle.  The bull was a little too close. 

Jonathon Pack took these photos.  He was sitting on top of the railing.  A balcony view would have been preferable.  

And within a few short seconds, it was all over!

Thursday afternoon, we went to the temple with Annie Torrez and Saray (Hermana) Caballero.  It is truly a blessing to be in the temple with people that we love.  Afterwards we went out to dinner.  

On Sunday, we taught our marriage class.  I also had a chance to share a few stories with the Primary children.  I did not know in advance that they were going to talk about President Monson.  But, as she shared some things about President Monson, I just felt like I needed to share the experiences that Sawyer and Cooper, two of my grandsons, had with President Monson when they lived in his ward. I know my Spanish wasn't perfect because I had not thought about it in advance.  But the children understood me and I believe they felt the love that President Monson has for all the little children.  I know if he had the opportunity, he would take each one of them on his lap and read them a story, just as he did with Cooper.  I was glad that I was able to share.

The elders came for dinner.  We had Grilled Chicken Pasta Salad, Jewish Sweet Bread, fresh fruit, and for the first time in Spain, I made Country Cream Cake.  It was delicious.  I had some coconut sent to me from home.  The coconut here is very different and just won't work in most of my recipes. The meal was delicious, and then we enjoyed the beautiful hymn by the elders.  They are great young men!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Transfer #12 and BYU Basketball

This week I am grateful for the good health that my husband and I usually enjoy.  I think it is easy to take for granted good health and energy.  As I will share later, a simple illness has helped us to be thankful for what we normally enjoy on a daily basis.

We started our week by heading to the government offices to finish the paperwork and get fingerprinted for our second residency card.  After leaving early, trying to anticipate the unexpected things that could go wrong, we found the building in plenty of time, but with no entrance into the parking lot.  We assumed you must enter from the other side.  After making a loop to the other side, which took about 10 minutes, we found that there was a huge ravine between the building and the street that we were on.  At times, our GPS is not our friend because one-way streets are so common here, and the GPS is no respecter of one-way streets.  As we were now late, we parked the car and started out on foot at a much faster pace than my shoes allowed.  When we arrived, we realized that we were not really late for the "cattle call," as there were people in line everywhere.  After standing in line in the hot sun, and then standing in line inside, we found out that we did not have the paper that we needed and that we would have to come back another day.  Aren't we looking forward to that!

After three wasted hours,  Elder Larsen dropped me off at the mission home to help with the food for the group of missionaries who were going home.  I had to make a quick run to the office to administer an English test and then headed back to help finish up the meal.  I can't believe that it is transfers again.  Hermana Pack, our Louisiana gal, made jambalaya.  She worked hard to find some "kind of" smoked sausage, and made a homemade variety of breakfast sausage, with a few other substitutes, and the finished product was some yummy Jambalaya, Spanish-style, as we say!

 It's hard to believe that it is time for this group of wonderful missionaries to go home.

 I feel privileged to get to hear the testimonies of these missionaries
 as they are leaving the mission field.

Because I had wanted to make Apple Cake for three of "my" missionaries who served with us on the Island, and it is best served hot, I had rushed into the kitchen to put it together after the meal.  I turned the oven on quickly to begin preheating, and only my sub-conscious was smelling the odd aroma in the kitchen.  It was not until Hermana Pack came in, that she realized what was going on.  Earlier, she told me that she had put the pork, the thawing meat for the next day's meal, into the oven because of space.  Obviously, I had forgotten and I had only melted a little bit of the plastic by the time she rescued the meat.

The apple cake, which was always Elder Dyer's favorite, was a hit with everyone.  

Elder Poulson spent the night with us.  We arrived home late, and rose very early to be at the temple before 6:00 a.m.  He was going to be at the sealing of a family that he had worked with.  Let's just say that things did not go as planned, and at 8:00, it looked like we would have to leave without him getting to see the sealing.  But, a miracle happened.  The sealing took place, and we got him to the airport on time.  It was sad to say goodbye to this great young man, but he has wonderful things ahead of him.

Elder Larsen dropped me off at the mission home, and Caroline and I began the preparations for the next meal, for our new missionaries.  We are very grateful for crockpots here.  I don't know any Spaniards who use them, but you can occasionally find them in the stores.  Hermana Pack started the pork the night before, and it was cooking nicely.  Caroline and I had vegetables to chop, fruit to cut, delicious Sweet Bell Pepper Rice to make, brownies to bake, etc, etc.  I am always so grateful to have Caroline in the kitchen with me.  What will I do when school starts?

Some of Our New Missionaries
Elder Forsberg and Elder Brady

       Hermana Charlesworth and Hermana Streibel                                Elder O'Boyle
                                                     Hermana Graff and Hermana Figueiredo

And what we would do without our great Assistants to the President?
You can also see my sweetheart washing dishes in the background.
Elder Schwenke and Elder Ruiz

Wednesday morning, I was back at the mission home to help the Packs unpack.  Their shipment from the States finally arrived and they were leaving to go up north for a week, so we had to work fast and furious.  I must say the smell of cardboard boxes and wrapping paper was a little too familiar with all of our moving.  It was nice to be there only as a helper.  We accomplished a lot, and got some good organizing done in the kitchen.  But President Pack had told us in advance that we would stop at 5:00 p.m. sharp, no matter how much we had done, because BYU was doing a tour of Spain and they were going to be playing in Madrid.  The missionaries were able to attend if they had an investigator, a new member, a someone they were reactivating.  We probably had 200 of us there.  It was a very fun night.  

                             Elder Larsen watching the two buses go up the very narrow street.

We were the Welcome Committee and we got to snap a few pictures.
Jonathon with Kyle Collingsworth

I know Gordon Rose from growing up in Houston.  The Packs met them several years ago at a Southern Mississippi basketball game.  President Pack was holding up a sign that said something like: 
My wife graduated from BYU,
My two daughters did too,
But I'm a Southern Miss fan, through and through.  
Gordon talked to him and said that his brother, Dave, Coach Rose, would like to meet them after the game.  Pretty funny!

 The Larsens, The Roses, and The Packs

As you can tell, President Pack is a serious sports fan.

Elder Larsen, another serious sports fan enjoyed the game with these two gentleman he he just met that night.  The man on the left is the team doctor, Kirt Kimball, and knows President Jackson very well, and his father, 92, is sitting next to Elder Larsen.  He is a major donor to BYU sports.

Afterwards, we took a picture of all of the missionaries with the team.

And then a few more photos!

Elder Larsen looks a little small next to Nate Austin.
 Cory Calvert played basketball in Parker, Colorado, when Colby was playing high school basketball.

This was the first time I talked to Dave Rose in almost 40 years.  Wow, we all must be getting old!

And it was a wonderful opportunity to see some of my favorite missionaries.  Hermana West will now be serving with us in San Sebastian de los Reyes.  I couldn't believe it! We are both very happy and I think she and Hermana Harper will make an awesome companionship.

I also got to see Hermana Rossberg for the first time.  She has been transferred to Madrid and will be serving with Hermana Staker.  They will make a great companionship as well!

Elder Rawlinson, on the left, was serving in Vecindario when we first got to the Island.  
And now he only has one transfer left.  Where has the time gone?

The Bakes were there.  

And Luis, who used to live in Vecindario was there.  He and his family are now living in Madrid.

On the way home from the game, Elder Larsen started having chills.  They lasted for quite awhile after we got home.  In the night, he broke out into sweats, and the awful stomach flu symptoms began.  It had the symptoms of a 24 hour flu, that lasted for more like 72 hours.  I have never seen him so weak from a flu bug.  And then his system wouldn't get working again.  He lost 10 lbs. in 4 days, and even by Sunday he had no energy.  He did go to church, but he had to sit to teach his class and his voice was so weak, that by the 3rd hour, it was barely a whisper.  Poor Elder Larsen!  We really have been thankful this week for good health.  It is sad that it sometimes takes feeling bad for us to realize what a blessing it is to feel good.  I guess that is why there is opposition in all things.  His energy is still not back to normal, and he is slowly trying to eat normal again and we are very grateful!

Saturday night I got to teach with these two sweet sisters.  They are just wonderful!  We rode the train over to the area where we taught because it is a long walk.  This was my first train ride since we have been on the mission.  But it was all underground, so it felt just like the subway.

We had an extra elder in the office this week.  Elder Saltzman had a surgery on his big toe because he has had terrible problems with an ingrown toenail.   He had to change the bloody bandage.  I will spare you and not share the picture that the elders took of his toe.  Elder Saltzman was supposed to do as little walking as possible, and keep his foot elevated.  He was a great help to me as I have been working on the packets for the 42 missionaries that we have coming at the end of September.
We had to cancel our dinner appointment with the elders this week because of Elder Larsen's illness.  

And, we were blessed to have Hermana Figueiredo be assigned to our ward.  She is from Portugal, but has lived in England for 18 years.  Her accent is just beautiful.  I love to listen to her talk!

So this week was hard for Elder Larsen to go through, and hard for me to watch him.  But we know that it was only a small trial compared to the trials of other, and we also know that it was only one of many that will come our way.  Elder Robert D. Hales once said, "If we are patient in our afflictions, endure them well, and wait upon the Lord to learn the lessons of mortality, the Lord will be with us to strengthen us unto the end of our days: “He that shall [faithfully] endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Mark 13:13) and return with honor to our Heavenly Father.  How thankful we are for a loving Heavenly Father and for the blessings that He pours out upon us each day!