Thursday, August 6, 2015

Senior Couple Dinner and Temple Session

I am grateful that we are enjoying our time here in the mission.  We are very busy and time is just flying by.  It is a blessing to serve here in this beautiful country.  One thing that I love about Madrid is that there are trees everywhere.  The cities are very different here because almost everyone lives in apartments.  There are lots of multi-story buildings and lots of concrete.  But they plant trees everywhere.  I love green and I love trees and I am grateful they have so many here in Madrid.

Tuesday we had our office meeting.  Jonathon was at the office with us all day.  I had lots of jobs that he helped me with.  We have 42 missionaries coming in September.  He got a good start on putting their packets together.  Thank you Jonathon!  We also tried something new for lunch--papusas from El Salvador.  It was similar to the dough of an arape, with a meet and cheese filling cooked inside.  As you can see, we all enjoyed it!

Wednesday, Javier Benito, who is a church employee over technology, came to take a look at our phone system.  It is old, to say the least, and we have lots of problems with it.  The APs, Elder Ruiz and Elder Schwanke, use it for conference calls every Tuesday morning as they check in with all the zone leaders.  Frequently their calls will cross and they will hear each others calls.  Not a good thing! We are looking at getting a new phone system, but in the meantime, Javier was able to set up conference calling on their cell phones and they are both very grateful!

Elder Guerra spent a few days in the office with us because of a change that was made with his companion.  He has been serving on the island in Vecindario.  We enjoyed the time we spent working with him there, and it was fun to have him with us in the office for a few days.  His parents are Peruvian, but he was born in Sweden.  He speaks perfect Spanish, Swedish, and English, and a little French.  He is one of the most positive, hardworking young man I have ever met!  He also helped me with laminating and cutting some things for the 42 packets!

We had a good district meeting.  Elder Larsen went with Elder Schwanke to Leganes, and I went to our district meeting.  Our district leader, Elder Daniels, asked the companionships to share the First Vision of Joseph Smith in five minutes.  They had to tell it with their companion and they switched off every 10 seconds.  The elders went first and of course they did an amazing job.

The hermanas were not happy about doing it.  They said their Spanish was not good enough.  But, finally they got started and I was so impressed with them.  It was great to see them work together and I was very impressed with how well the hermanas are doing with their Spanish. 


Thursday, I went grocery shopping with Hermana Pack.  I just love her.  We have such a good time together.  We found some smoked ham lunch meat, and some braised turkey lunch meat in the deli at Al Campo.  It really has a good flavor.  And we managed to take a selfie at the deli counter! 
We almost had a catastrophe.  Because all of the grocery stores have underground parking, there are escalators to take the grocery carts to the other floors.  There are special wheels on the carts that magnetically lock onto the escalators.  Because we were talking, I went down both sets of escalators instead of just one.  When I figured out my mistake, we had to go back up the escalators with our grocery carts that were very full, and very heavy.  I was in front pushing my cart, and then there was her cart, and then her.  When we got to the top of the escalators, the front wheels of my basket would not go over the edge of the metal plate.  I was pushing with all my might, which isn't much, and I could not push it onto the metal plate and off of the escalator.  I was trying to get some traction, but everything was moving, including Hermana Pack and her cart.  Pretty soon I hear her saying, "Watch out! I'm coming!"  I suddenly realized that I was about to be smashed between two shopping carts. Blessings from heaven, the cart finally moved onto the plate and I was saved, literally!  I wish I had a video off it, or at least a picture.  I am sure we could have rivaled a scene on "I Love Lucy," with Lucy and Ethel.  We did have a good laugh!

Friday morning, Cody and I went to the temple with Bryan Peña.  He is headed to leeds England to serve his mission.  We were not able to get any pictures, but here is one from last May when he got his call.  Aida served in Leeds about 1 1/2 years ago.  We are so excited for Bryan.

When we got home, I fixed an Eclair Cake to take to the Packs for our senior couple dinner.  We had some delicious food.  She had bruschetta for appetizers and then lasagne, salad, bread, and cake.  It was all very delicious and the Packs served us!
                                                                    The Schwartz and the Browns

               The Larsens and the Guerreros
The Schwartz, Browns, and Bakes
We had a wonderful evening as everyone shared some of their missionary experiences.  The Schwartz and the Guerreros are serving Record Preservation missions.  The Bakes are doing Self-Reliance.  The Browns are serving in the North in Gijon and they are working with the young single adults and as support to the small branch.  Though our assignments are all very different, we all have one very important thing in common, we love the Lord and we are happy to be here in Spain serving Him.  That is the most important thing.

Elder Ruiz and Elder Schwanke arrived just as we were about to close with prayer.  President Pack asked if they had a musical number for us.  Elder Schwanke didn't have his ukulele with him, so we were able to persuade Elder Ruiz to play for us.  He played a beautiful arrangement of "Come Thou Fount," which happens to be my favorite hymn.  I was so grateful that he was willing to share his talent with us.

                                                     Come thou fount of every blessing,
                                                     Tune thy heart to sing thy grace.
                                                     Streams of mercy never ceasing,
                                                     Call for songs of loudest praise.
                                                     Teach me some melodious sonnet,
                                                     Sung by flaming tongues above.
                                                     Praise the mount, I'm fixed upon it,
                                                     Mount of thy redeeming love,
                                                     Here I raise my Ebenezer,
                                                     Hither by thy help I come.
                                                     And I hope by thy good pleasure, 
                                                     Safely to arrive at home.

                                                     Jesus sought me when a stranger,
                                                     Wondering from the fold of God.
                                                     He to rescue me from danger, 
                                                     Interposed his precious blood.

                                                     Oh, to grace how great a debtor,
                                                     Daily I'm constrained to be.
                                                     Let thy goodness like a fetter,
                                                     Bind my wandering heart to thee.
                                                     Prone to wander, Lord I feel it,
                                                     Prone to leave the God I love.
                                                     Here's my heart, oh, take and seal it,
                                                     Seal it for thy courts above.

I loved these last lines because my heart is "prone to wander," and I want to "seal" my heart to the Lord that I might be with Him in His "courts above."

Saturday morning, we attended a temple session with the senior couples and the Packs.  It was wonderful to be in the temple with these good people.  Then we spent the afternoon with the youth from the Las Palmas stake.  They had attended youth conference during the week, and then were at the temple to do baptisms for the dead.  Click here to read a simple explanation about this ordinance.
I was sad that we didn't get any pictures of these wonderful youth.  

Sunday, Elder Larsen and I started teaching a Marriage and Family Relationship Class for Sunday School.  I have taught this course many times, but in English.  It was a very daunting experience to teach in Spanish.  I had studied and practiced all week and I felt like it went pretty well.  Of course, Elder Larsen did a wonderful job, as usual.  

I had gone to the American Store with Hermana Pack and I bought this little treat for the hermanas. These packages were so tiny, and they were 1.50 euros or $1.65.  They must know that there are crazy Americans like me who will buy them.  It was worth it to see how excited the hermanas were.

We had the Elders for dinner.  Elder Guerra was very happy that his flight back to the Islands wasn't until later that day, and he was able to come and eat with us.  We had a repeat of last weeks meal, chicken bundles, rice, gravy, salad, fruit, with scotcheroos for dessert.  Chicken Bundles, which Elder Daniels calls Chicken Rollups, is his favorite dish at home, so he was particularly happy!
 Elder Schwanke and Elder Ruiz with happy smiles.

My favorite part of having them come to dinner is having them sing.  I actually recorded them last week, but I need a refresher course on how to upload the video.  Maybe next week.  Their voices are beautiful, and I feel blessed to have them fill our home with music.  

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