Sunday, September 27, 2015

Busy, Busy Week!

I am so grateful for all the good missionaries that we work with in the office, and the APs, and the Packs.  It has certainly been a combined effort by all of us as we have worked through this week to be ready for the upcoming transfers.  I have always said that many hands make light work.  I know that in this case, it takes many hands, and brains to accomplish all that we have had to do to be ready for the 42 missionaries that will be joining us next week.  

On Monday, our Preparation Day, I had the hermanas over for lunch.  We had chicken salad, crescent rolls, and salad.  I have been so busy lately that I have not been able to spend much time with them. We had a great afternoon, just eating and visiting.  I love these girls.  

While we were eating delicious banana splits, we watched one of my favorite conference talks, that talks about Jim Drinkwater, a small crippled man who became an instrument in God's hands.  This talk and this phrase have continued to be in my mind and heart throughout my mission.  I pray to be like Jim Drinkwater.  You can watch his talk here.

We worked busily in the office all week getting ready for next weeks transfers.  Lots of long hours.

I did take a break to teach with Hermana West and Hermana Harper, but I only got a photo of Hermana Figueiredo and Hermana Olsen.

Thursday morning we attended the 8:00 a.m. session at the temple with our zone.  What a blessing it was to be in the temple with all of these wonderful missionaries! It was a real privilege for us.  We had to leave as soon as the session was over, but I was glad to get this photo of our four hermanas.   

I knew that there was no way I could feed the missionaries on Sunday, so I had them over on Friday. We had Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Burritos, Texas Caviar, Red Pepper Rice, and Chocolate Lush. Yummy!

We welcomed in a new Assistant to the President (AP).)  Elder Koeven will be taking Elder Schwanke's place.  He will be a great addition to our group.

I actually caught these two smiling!

We have been having choir practice before and after church.  The bishop asked me to direct a ward choir for Stake Conference.  Our talent is a little lacking, but we have willing people.  We will pray for the angels to attend us.

 Caroline Pack and Tomo Verbuken

Bayley Woodbury is the niece of Hermana Hunt who was serving in the North.  She is here as a nanny until December.  She is going to start attending our ward.  We had talked on the phone a few times, but it was fun to meet her today.

One last photo with Elder Schwanke before he heads North for his last six weeks!  
We will certainly miss him!

Sunday night we picked up the Hermanas  Hermana Clements flew in from the islands.  She goes home on Tuesday.  She had attended a family night with Hermana Figueiredo and Hermana Olsen.  It was so fun to visit with her.  What a good missionary she is!  We will miss her as well!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sick with a Cold!

This week I am grateful that I did not stay sick all week.  I started getting a cold on the weekend, and was wiped out by Monday morning.  Whenever I am sick, it always makes me appreciate even more that I am usually a very healthy person.  I am very grateful for that blessing.

Elder Larsen left early for the airport with Chace and Madison and I went back to bed for most of the day.  I HATE COLDS!  I was supposed to be at the Packs house, cooking and getting ready for the leadership council meeting and meal that would take place on Tuesday.  I am glad that the hermanas came over and helped Hermana Pack.  I was sad to miss the fun interaction with those sweet girls.  It was Hermana Packs birthday.  Their family went out to dinner at the restaurant that has a type of Avocado Eggrolls.  They aren't as good as the ones back home, but they are a close second.  Hermana Pack and Caroline were so sweet and brought me some to cheer me up.

I was not 100%, but I was back at the office on Thursday and it was Elder Ruiz's birthday.  I had made him a chocolate cake and then his mother had a cake and ballons delivered to the office.  She also sent two boxes of cupcakes! And everyone was in the party mode!

She also sent cookies to the Packs that had individual letters that spelled "GRACIAS," and balloons.  What thoughtful lady!

I have been asked to direct a ward choir for Stake Conference.  I am a little overwhelmed.  We don't have a lot of strong singers in the ward, and I am not the best choir director.  We don't have much time to practice.  We will need the angels to join us!  I found a song with a nice violin obligato. Elder Ruiz played it for me on the flutophone, so I could hear it with the hymn.  I hope this all comes together.

Elder Barlow's birthday was on Monday, but I was in no condition to prepare food.  So, I brought him some mint brownies on Saturday.  He was happy to receive them!

President and Hermana Pack left on Saturday morning to attend stake conference in the islands.  I would like to have folded up in the suitcase and gone with them.  But, we did the opportunity to stay with Jonathon and Caroline.  I made Jewish Sweet Bread for them, and they loved it, as you can see!

Elder Larsen and I have been teaching a Marriage and Family Relationship class at church.  I taught this class before, but I learn more each time I teach because of the truths of these principles.  I love this quote by President Hinckley:
Elder Gordon B. Hinckley counseled:
“I know of no single practice that will have a more salutary effect upon your lives than the practice of kneeling together as you begin and close each day. Somehow the little storms that seem to afflict every marriage are dissipated when, kneeling before the Lord, you thank him for one another, in the presence of one another, and then together invoke his blessings upon your lives, your home, your loved ones, and your dreams.  God then will be your partner, and your daily conversations with him will bring peace into your hearts and a joy into your lives that can come from no other source. Your companionship will sweeten through the years; your love will strengthen. Your appreciation for one another will grow.” 
How blessed I am to have a wonderful spouse to kneel in pray with everyday.  He is a great blessing in my life!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Visit from Chace and Madison

This week, I am thankful for families.  After almost 1 1/2 years, we had our first visitors here in Spain.  Our son, Chace, and his wife, Madison, came to visit us for a week.  We love them and appreciate the time and money that they spent to come and see us.
 After the long plane ride, Madison was not ready for photos.

After picking up Chace and Madison at the airport, we came back to the apartment for them to clean up, eat, and sleep a little.  Then we drove south to Granada where we spent the night.  The country side was covered with olive trees.  We were surprised by the cool temperatures and the rain.  

Monday morning dawned cloudy and rainy.  We were so grateful for the people selling umbrellas at the entrance to Alhambra.  Definitely money well spent!  The Islamic palace of Alhambra was built in the mid 11th century by the Moors.  It was converted into a royal palace in 1333.  Later it was conquered and was used by Catholic monarchs.  

 "<a href="">Alhambra evening panorama Mirador San Nicolas sRGB-1</a>" by <a href="//" title="User:Slaunger">Slaunger</a> - <span class="int-own-work" lang="en">Own work</span>. Licensed under <a href="" title="Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0">CC BY-SA 3.0</a> via <a href="">Commons</a>.Even though it was raining, we enjoyed the beautiful grounds.

The tile work was amazing!

I added more photos to my collection of beautiful ceilings!

And there were some amazing tiled floors as well!

The ornate detail on the buidlings is very impressive.

And it was extra special being with these two!

 Monday afternoon, we drove to Ronda. This beautiful little city that spans a gorge of over 300 feet deep.  The old bridge was built by the Romans.  But you can also cross the "new  bridge" that 
was built in 1793.  Madison took some pictures that I will have to post later.  Unfortunately, it was an absolute downpour when we had to walk to see the gorge.  Not the perfect travel day, but a beautiful sight.                                                     
We had paella for lunch.

We drove to Sevilla Monday evening and it had finally stopped raining.  We ate at the tables outside, at about 10:00 pm, just like true Spaniards.

Tuesday morning dawned bright and beautiful.  We enjoyed our bus ride, and walk through the old part of Sevilla.

And I saw my first flamenco dancer.

We visited the Alcázar of Sevilla, which is a royal palace that was orignally built by Moorish Muslim kings.  It is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe.  The construction began in 913.

Once again, the tile work was beautiful.


More ornate detail,

and gorgeous gardens.

 We enjoyed being together and I can't wait to get the photos from my photographer.

We had a delicious meal at a corner cafe.  I had a salad with the most delicious smoked salmon that I have ever had.

Wednesday we took a trip to Segovia.  I will have to get those photos from Madison as well.  On Thursday, Chace and Madison headed to Barcelona to for a couple of days.  We headed back to the office to try to catch up on our work.  Then that afternoon, I headed to the mission home to stay with Jonathon and Caroline.  The Packs had a Mission President conference in Vienna. We ate dinner and worked on homework.  Friday morning, Elder Larsen headed out early to take Elder Sarango to the airport.  He and Elder Martínez left on a half transfer so that they could start school.  We loved serving with Elder Sarango and will miss him here in the mission.  We worked again at the office, and then I was home for Jonathon and Caroline when they came home from school.  I had asked Jonathon what he would like for dinner and he had requested shrimp pasta.  I made a Spanish variety of my favorite shrimp pasta dish, and it really turned out delicious.

The Packs arrived home late and I got a quick photo of Elder Daniels and Elder Barlow.

Hermana Pack came bearing gifts of Austrian chocolates for everyone.

We picked up Chace and Madison at the train station and headed to Plaza del Sol, downtown.  We also when to the mercardo just for the experience.  

I missed not being with these Hermanas this week.
Hermanas Harper, Pack, and West

 Hermanas Olsen and Figeiredo

     Elder Schwanke, Abraham, Elder Ruiz

The Packs invited us over to visit and enjoy a delicious German Chocolate Cake that Hermana Pack had made for her birthday.  Then we drove to the temple.

Chace and Madison left early on Monday morning.  We are so grateful that they came to see visit. We love our family and it was wonderful to have Chace and Madison here with us.