Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Segovia by Night

This week I am grateful for the good people that we have met while living here in Spain.  We are so grateful for the friendship of Jonathon and Gaby.  They were two of our JAS on the Island and now they are a married couple.  We are so proud of these two and the love they have for the Lord and the desire they have to serve Him. It was fun to have them with us.

Monday morning Jonathon and Gaby started out early to get Gaby's passport papers taken care of. There was a little bit of a chill and the air, and that was too much for these islanders. Gaby started out the day thinking that it would be so fun to live in Madrid.  When  they returned in the evening, there was no talk of wanting live in Madrid.  They hated the metro (subway), they hated the hustle and bustle of the crowds, and they hated the brusqueness of the people.  They were happy that they would be heading back to the Islands on Tuesday morning.  

We were at the office for a few hours on Monday, and we celebrated Elder Weiss's birthday with a big batch of mint brownies.

We decided to go to Foster's Hollywood again.  I had my usual avocado eggrolls, Gaby had steak tacos, and the men enjoyed large, juicy hamburgers.  Gaby was in charge of the selfie.

Afterwards, we drove by the temple.  They had hoped to see it during the day, but some of their metro problems kept them from getting to the temple.  They were very happy to see it, and it is so beautiful at night.

Tuesday, we had office meeting.  I decided to make taco soup for our after meeting meal.  The missionaries were very appreciative of the simple meal.  And Hermana Pack baked a cake for Elder Weiss's birthday, so he got a second day of celebration!

And afterward, Hermana Pack and I started planning for upcoming events.  It seems there is always something else on the calendar.  We appreciate the Packs and their service.  They work hard and sacrifice so much to serve this mission.

Here we have our financieros sorting and counting the petty cash, not their favorite activity.  

Because the weather has turned a little chilly at night, we have heard from missionaries that they need blankets in their apartments.  We found out that we had about a dozen blankets in Segovia.  They needed to be picked up so that we could distribute them to the other missionaries.  So we volunteered to go pick them up.  We have been to Segovia several times, but we had not been to Segovia at night when we could see the cathedral, the aqueduct, and the alcazar lit up.  We were not disappointed.  We got the blankets and we saw the lights.

And we had some roasted chestnuts.  It was the first time I ever had them.  I was surprised that they taste starchy like a potato and not like a nut.  Elder Larsen reminisced about when he was a young missionary and they would buy the chestnuts so that they could keep their hands warm.  

On Saturday, I rode to Leganes with the Packs.  Pres. Pack was doing interviews and we enjoyed the time we had to visit with these two good missionaries.  They are very different in size, but their hearts are united in serving the Lord.  
 Elder Alacama and Elder Douglas

After the interviews, we drove over to the new Costco.  They have had one in the Sevilla for about a year, and now there is one in Madrid.  It was actually the opening day, and there were hundreds of people there.  We only had about an hour, and there was not enough time for us to purchase anything and stand in the very long lines to pay.  So, Pres. Pack stood in line to get some pizza and Hermana Pack and I went through the store to see what they had.  We will be going back next week, so I will share more about the wonderful products they carry.  We all enjoyed a little piece of home!


We were impressed with the store, but we were even more impressed with the parking lot.  Just look at this space.  This is an American parking lot in Spain!

We were back on our Sunday eating schedule with these good elders and Jonathon.  We had chicken bundles, rice and gravy, salad, and apple cake.  It is such a pleasure to work with these good elders.

I have given this statement much thought this week.  I feel like as missionaries we are all seeing this happen on a daily basis.  It doesn't matter if we are a senior couple missionary, or if we are one of these fine young missionaries.  We each have times when we feel inadequate and we don't feel like we have what it takes to do what needs to be done.  But, what a blessing it is to know that God is there for us.  We can turn to Him.  He will make more of us than we ever imagined.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Choir for Stake Conference

I am very thankful for my mother and sister and for the time that they spent with us.  I love my family and I am so thankful for the love that we share together.

Monday was our last day of sightseeing.  Most attractions are closed on Monday, but not the Almudena Cathedral and the Royal Palace.  Unfortunately, we didn't realize that we would not be able to tour the palace because it was October 12th, Hispanic Day.  Hispanic Day is a national holiday in Spain, where they celebrate Columbus discovering America.  There was a big celebration at the palace and there were many Spaniards outside of the palace hoping to get a glimpse of the king and queen.  

 So this was all we got to see of the Royal Palace.

The Almudena Cathedral was started in 1892, but the construction was abandoned during the Spanish Civil War.  The construction began again in 1950 and was finished in 1993.  It has an unusual interior with some very unusual contemporary styles.  

I'm not sure if I will be adding these to my collection of beautiful ceilings!

There is a real mix of traditional and contemporary styles.

Our next stop was Retiro Park, where we enjoyed a beautiful fall day.

We enjoyed going into the Crystal Palace.  It is made mostly of glass on an iron framework.  It was built 1887, for plant exhibitions from the Philippines.  Supposedly it was built so that it could be transported, but has always remained in Retiro Park.  

It has an unusual exhibit of hanging mammoth bones and a crucifix.  
I couldn't find any information explaining this exhibit.  

As beautiful as all the park was, we definitely found our favorite spot in the rose gardens.  My mother has grown some beautiful roses in her time, and she really enjoyed seeing these! As you can tell from all the photos, we loved the roses.  I will restrain myself and only share a few of them many photos that we took.

What a very patient husband I have who would sit for so long while we adored the roses!
My sister got these silly pictures of me trying to get a got shot of the water fountain through the trees. Maybe too many photos for one day!

Mom wanted to take us out for dinner.  There is one problem.  Most of the restaurants are closed from 4 to 8 p.m. or after.  We finally got an ice cream cone to tie us over, and then ate at Forster's Hollywood at 8:00.  Much later than we would like for dinner, but the food was very good.  They have the avocado eggrolls that are almost as good as The Cheesecake Factory.  Yummy!

We took them to the airport on Tuesday morning, and started a very busy week of trying to catch up on all of the work that piled up while we were playing.  

You can tell that the weather has changed because we had an onslaught of sweaters in the office. Poor Elder Barlow was the odd man out.

And, Elder Koeven won the good elder award.  In our office meeting, I brought up the need for keeping our office tidy, especially in the kitchen area.  Something had spilled in the refrigerator and no one had cleaned it up for several days.  Elder Koeven graciously volunteered to clean it up, even though it wasn't his mess.  I wish I would have taken a picture of the finished product.  It was spotless.  His mother taught him well.
Elder Maxfield spent the day in the office with us because they were doing exchanges.  He offered to do some work for me.  He is always pleasant to have around.

I made scoctheroos for our district meeting and they always bring a smile!

                  Elder Maxfield, Regehr and Barlow                                    Elder Weiss

Matching Sweaters!

I had my mom bring Halloween candy for our office candy jar.  It was going fast, so I decided to take a picture before it was all gone.

Even though we are having some cool nights, I saw this beautiful weed flower on our walk.  I can pretend that winter in not around the corner.

We had a choir practice on Friday night.  It looked like I had color coordinated with Hermana Figueredo and Hermana West.

And so happy to have these two cuties support the choir!

Knowing we would be busy on Sunday, I decided to feed the hermanas on Saturday.  We had clam chowder, homemade bread sticks, and flourless chocolate cake.  It was very good.  

And I always enjoy visiting with these hermanas.

Sunday morning, we finally had our stake conference.  I was very nervous about directing the choir. I love singing in a choir, but not directing it.  But everything actually went very well.  I wish I had a picture of the choir.  They sang so well and I think everyone felt really good about our performance. I was also very excited to see Hermana Osorio, Irenis' mother.  Her family moved to Madrid back in the Spring.  I couldn't believe how much Gabriela has grown.  She even let me hold her for a minute.

This young woman was asked to share some thoughts about her mission.  Afterwards I got to talk to her for a minute.  Because she served in Barcelona, I asked her if she knows Irenis.  They were actually very good friends.  She is very excited for Irenis to return in February.

And there was another surprise as well.  Jonathon and Sherry Hulmes were visiting from Houston.  I must admit, when I first walked in and saw them in the congregation, I was not happy to see them. They are two of the most musically talented people that I know.  All I could think was that they needed to be doing the music, not me.  But, it was very fun to visit with them afterwards.  They both served their missions in Spain in the early 1970s.  She was the 100th missionary to enter into Spain. After they married, he went to medical school, and came to Houston to do his residency when I was in high school.  They lived in our ward and have been close friends to my parents for all these years. She sang and he played for my dad's funeral.  They are such good people.  They have had a home in the Madrid area, Alcalá, for some years.

And I was so pleased with Hermana Harper's violin performance for "I Need Thee Every Hour."

The Packs were doing interviews with the missionaries after the meetings. Hermana Pack had made raisin oatmeal cookies, which my husband calls maggot cookies because he hates cooked raisins.  She gave me my own bag of cookies and labeled them appropriately!  She is too funny!

We were happy to come home and crash for a few hours until it was time to pick up Gabby and Jonathon.  They flew in from Las Palmas to get her passport paper work taken care of.  

A busy week, but it was good to be back to work again.