Sunday, December 13, 2015

Transfer #15

How grateful I am for the opportunity to have experiences serving a mission here in Spain!  I continue to be amazed at the wonderful people that we are able to interact with.  As we say goodbye to great missionaries, the very next day, we have more missionaries who are ready to begin their service.  They all have the common thread of loving the Lord and wanting to serve him.  It is a privilege to serve with these good people.

Monday, Hermana Pack and I were at the store once again, buying food for the Farewell Dinner for the December missionaries.  We made muffalottas and shrimp gumbo, yummy!  Muffalottas are my new favorite.  So glad that Hermana Pack introduced them to me.  And of course, Hermana Pack found another weird cut of meat to hand to me!

                 It was fun to have Caroline home on Monday and Tuesday to cook and visit with us.  

       It is always sad to say goodbye to these missionaries, but they have served well and it is time for them to move on with their lives.
Caroline, Hermanas Grenfell, Finch, The Packs, Hermana Shurtz, Seegmiller, Mattson

And just moments after the one group leaves, in walk the new missionaries.  I love seeing their happy, perhaps a little bit nervous faces.  They are starting out on their new adventure and they are ready to serve.  

I was very happy to have Hanna helping me again with the food.  She is a great cook and good company.  She leaves next week for home.  We will miss her.

After a day of training at the mission home, we drive all the missionaries over to Pavones to be given their new assignments and to meet their trainers.  It looks like the stress of the day got to Hermana Pack and Elder Dugan.  (Not sure where they found this very interesting glasses!)

It was dark when our meeting was over and we were able to enjoy the beautiful Christmas lights that adorn the Temple grounds.  

Elder Guerra is our new Assistant to the President. We love this young man.  We had the opportunity to serve with him on the island and he has to be the most positive, happy missionary that I have ever met. He is a humble young man who loves the Lord and wants to serve Him.  Welcome Elder Guerra!

Friday morning, we had two new senior couples fly in from the States, the Esmiols, who will be serving on Gran Canaria (I am trying not to be jealous that they are headed back to my island and my friends.  But seriously, they are amazing people and they will do a wonderful job serving in the Island,) and the Woodburys who will be in Gijon.  They had a long day of filling out paperwork for their residency cards, going to their fingerprinting appointments, and then joining us at the mission home for dinner.  

A funny side note.  I decided to try making Country Style Pork Ribs for this dinner, a recipe that has been a family favorite for years.  One of the main ingredients is homemade chili sauce, which of course I don't have with me in Spain.  Every summer I make several batches of chili sauce from the tomatoes that we grow in our garden.  The recipe calls for vinegar and several spices, which has to be cooked down for several hours.  Because the smell is very strong, for the past several years, I have cooked it outside so that the smell wasn't in the house.  I have always wondered if I could make the sauce with canned tomatoes, so I decided that I would try it.  After I had cooked it for several hours in our apartment, there was a knock on the door.  When Elder Larsen answered the door, a very pleasant man was standing there.  He said he lives on the 5th floor (we are on the 1st floor) and he was just checking to see if that was where the smell was coming from.  Apparently, when our apartment was being painted a couple of years ago, he had to sleep somewhere else for several nights because it was as if all the smells are vented directly to his apartment.  He said he smells everything that I cook.  He had checked with floors 2, 3, & 4 and apparently they don't smell anything.  I felt bad, so I turned off my chili sauce and opened up the windows to air out the apartment.  The next morning, I had to finish cooking it down, so I dressed warmly and opened up all the windows in the apartment.  We didn't receive anymore complaints.  Just one of the inconveniences of living in an apartment!  

So, the Bakes came down from the North, and the Schwartz, and the Guerreros joined us.  It is always a nice time to have all the senior couples together.  We also had Elder Paul Johnson, of the Quorum of the Seventy, and his wife join us.  They had flown in from Germany for a stake conference, and it was a pleasure to have them with us.  

Guerreros, Bakes, Schwartz, Larsen, Woodburys, Esmiols, Johnsons, Packs

The next morning we all met at the temple.  It is such a privilege to be together with these wonderful people in the Lord's house.  I love being with these people who are willing to leave their families to serve the Lord full-time.  

On Saturday night, we toured Madrid with the Bakes and saw the beautiful Christmas lights.  We enjoyed having them stay with us for the weekend.  They are good people who are doing a great work in Santiago.

We loved the nativity on the temple grounds.

Some of the Christmas lights of downtown Madrid.

Hermana Figueiredo has a new companion.  Welcome to Hermana Freestone.

The Pack's invited us over on Sunday night.  The Nickerls were there.  They came to tour Spain with Elder Nickerl.  They brought unbelievable amounts of Christmas candy, pudding mixes, brown sugar, shortening, etc.  Their generosity was truly amazing!  We enjoyed the opportunity to visit with them.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Valle de los Caídos and Segovia Again!

I am thankful for the beautiful Christmas season.  I love the holiday lights.  I love Christmas carols.  I love Christmas trees and decorations.  But mostly, I love the focus on the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  How grateful I am for the opportunity that we have to celebrate His birth and to share His love and peace with those around us.

Monday morning, Hermana Pack and I headed out on a shopping trip.  When we got out of the car at the mall at Plaza Norte, she looked down to see that she had two different black shoes on.  We did look for her some new matching shoes, but she had no luck.  I did find a cute, very comfortable pair of shoes, and they are made right here in Spain!  We also went to Costco.  We were trying to find the right color, the right size, and the right style of boots for Caroline.  We were very carefully moving the stacks of boxes, when over they went, all over the floor.  The employees at Costco are so friendly, and so helpful.  We were grateful for their help in cleaning up our disaster.  

I also snapped pictures of these marshmallow treats.  You can't buy just plain white marshmallows, but they love these crazy colors and designs.  They don't look appetizing to me!

Throughout the year, you can buy jamón serrano or jamón ibérico. But at Christmas time, the stores are full of them.  It is a type of dried ham that is a delicacy in Spain.  It looks disgusting hanging by the hoof.  It smells like a barnyard.  And, I personally don't care for the chewy texture, thought the flavor is not bad.  But, as of 2007, it has been imported into the United States, if you would like to buy some.

On Tuesday, we started the day out very early at the mission home, cooking for our Mission Leadership Council.  Hanna Evans has been a nanny for a family in our area for the past three months.  She served a mission in Chile, and this has been a good opportunity for her to work on her Spanish.  She loves to cook and was a great help in the kitchen.  She and Hermana West look like the got the matching memo!

These pictures that President Pack took show the great missionaries we have and how much they enjoy getting together for these meetings.

This is Elder Cotton who lives in our old ward in Olathe, Kansas.  It was also fun to see Elder Daniels. We have missed him in the office.

These elders and sisters are wonderful leaders and are a great example for our missionaries.

 Wednesday and Thursday we were busy in the office.  There always seems to be more work to do.

But on Friday, we had a wonderful P-day with Hanna.  She has not seen many of the wonderful places in Spain, so we took her to a few of our favorites.  We have been wanting to go back to Valle de los Caídos, or Valley of the Fallen.  It is a Catholic basilica and a monumental memorial built by the Spanish general Francisco Franco to honor those who had been killed in the Spanish Civil War. The fallen are buried in the valley outside of the basilica.  In 1975, Franco was buried inside the basilica.  There are 3,360 acres of beautifully treed land.  We couldn't have picked a more beautiful day to be there.

 El Escorial is located about 15 minutes away.  We took a few pictures outside, but no photos are allowed inside.  It is truly beautiful.  You can find some amazing pictures on the internet.

 And we enjoyed watching the children play in the courtyard.

Because we were short on time, we went through the Burger King drive thru.  I had to take a picture of the way they serve a water bottle.  It is rude to drink out of a bottle, so at a restaurant, they will bring you a bottle of water or pop and a cup as well.  I guess it is the same even at the drive thru.

 And then, we went to my favorite Segovia.  I thought our night visit would be our last time, but it we managed to make another one.  Elder Larsen says that this really is our last!

Then, we walked to the opposite side of the plaza, where we had never been before.  
The view was spectacular.  So glad we were able to enjoy it!
Another wonderful day of sightseeing in Spain!

Saturday, I spent the morning, and part of the afternoon in the office.  Then I went on a shopping spree with Hermana and Caroline Pack.  I was looking for a few Christmas presents to take home, and Caroline was shopping for some clothes and a gift for a friend.  We almost had a disaster when she couldn't find her purse.  But some good person turned it in and not a thing was missing!  There was a Star Wars display and Hermana and Caroline took pictures to show Jonathon.  And Caroline found these sassy boots.  Oh, to be young again!

About 7:30 p.m., I started cooking for the missionaries.  I went to bed way too late, but we did have a wonderful meal on Sunday.  The missionaries loved the honey lime enchiladas.  I have found a salsa verde that has a little bit of a kick that I can use to make my own green enchilada sauce.  We also had Texas Caviar and chips, fresh fruit, and Elder Ruiz requested Apple Cake for dessert.  Some of my very favorites!  

 Elder Ruiz and Elder Barlow are leaving us on this transfer.  We will miss them.  

Hermana Olsen is also leaving us.  It is always hard to see this missionaries move on.  
But, we are happy to have Elder Guerra as our new Assistant to the President.  

What a great group of missionaries!