Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sweet Hermanas!

This week I am just grateful to be a missionary.  With our time quickly approaching to leave our mission life behind us, I am more grateful than ever for the privilege that we have had to serve this mission.  We talk a lot as missionaries about the privilege it is to wear our "chapas" (the Spanish word for name tag.) 

As I look at my chapa, I always think about the fact that there are two names on the tag, mine and the name of Jesus Christ (Jesucristo.)  I am grateful for the opportunity that I have to represent Jesus Christ. I am grateful to share the knowledge I have of His gospel and of His atoning sacrifice.  I am grateful to have this time to spend working with the wonderful people in this mission, as we work together to share a message of joy and happiness with the people of Spain.  Our time is growing short, but what a wonderful experience it has been to serve in our callings!

I am not quite sure where the week went to.  With the few pictures I took, it doesn't look like we did too much.  There were many hours spent at the office, doing that all important work.

I did spend my Pday with two of my favorite hermanas, Hermana Marsh and Hermana West.  We wanted to play together one more time before Hermana West leaves us.  We ate with the elders at a yummy Greek cafe in downtown Madrid.  Too bad it isn't close to us.

We did a little bit of shopping.  I found a pretty Madrid apron for Caroline. 
And we had to enjoy Llao Llao Yogurt one more time.

Elder Larsen picked me up in time to meet at the Packs. Caroline was out of school for the day, so she had her friend birthday party.  If you have been counting, this is the 3rd time she has blown out birthday candles.  I guess you have to party big when it is your 16th birthday, and you are in Spain, and you can't get a driver's license!

Earlier that day, Hermana Pack was able to get pick the Hermanas up from the hospital.  We were all glad to have Hermana Figueiredo doing better.  They spent the next couple of nights at the mission home.

Then we went with the Packs to meet the Esmiols and the Woodburys downtown to get a bite to eat. The Esmiols are serving in Gran Canaria and the Woodburys are serving in Oviedo. They had to come back to Madrid to get their residency cards.  They had enjoyed an afternoon at the Prado Museum. The Esmiols spent the night with us.  We talked for quite awhile about our Young Single Adults on the Islands.  It made me homesick.  They are planning a conference and have gotten permission to use the old mission home.  The Esmiols are just wonderful. They are so full of enthusiasm and I know they will be a great blessing the young adults.

It was a little bit of a sad week as we realized that everything we did with Elder Koeven would be his last time, as he is going home on this next transfer.  He is a great young man and we have loved serving with him.

Saturday night, we found out that Hermana Figueiredo was being transferred from our ward.  I just love these two hermanas.  After our hospital event, I have grown especially close to them.  She won't be far away, but we will miss seeing her on a regular basis.  It is so good to see the sparkle back in her eyes!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Unexpected Hospital Time!

Just let me say that I am thankful for music?  Have you heard me say that before?

While I was home, I sat with 3-year-old Sophie in Junior Primary.  They sang a beautiful song that I had never heard before, "Gethsemane."  I was so overcome by the words of the song, that tears were streaming done my face.  I could feel the love of our Savior as I thought about what He did for each of us at Gethsemane.  I found the song on the internet and have continued to enjoy listening to it and contemplating the gift our Savior has given us. You can hear the song here.

by Roger and Melanie Hoffman

Jesus climbed the hill
To the garden still
His steps were heavy and slow
Love and a prayer
Took Him there
To the place only He could go.

Jesus loves me.
So He went willingly
To Gethsemane.

He felt all that was sad, wicked or bad
All the pain we would ever know
While His friends were asleep
He fought to keep
His promise made long ago.

Jesus loves me.
So He went willingly
To Gethsemane.

The hardest thing that ever was done
The greatest pain that ever was known
The biggest battle that ever was won
This was done by Jesus.
The fight was won by Jesus.

Jesus loves me.
So he gave His gift to me
In Gethsemane

Jesus loves me.
So he gives His gift to me

From Gethsemane.

Monday was a crazy day at the Mission Home.  The Packs had gotten a new bed for Caroline on Saturday. Her 16th birthday was on Monday, and they wanted to surprise her by having the bed set up when she got home from school.  Her other bed was a king size and this one is a double, so Hermana Pack asked me to cut down her comforter to fit the new bed.  I was grateful that it went fairly smoothly.  They also had invited about a dozen missionaries to spend their Pday at the house. They had their interviews with President and enjoyed grilled hamburgers and hot dogs.

Later in the afternoon, we inspected the apartments of the Assistants to the President, Elder Koeven and Elder Guerra.  I am surprised that they managed to smile for the photo because they did not do well.  Let's just say they have some more cleaning to do.

Then we inspected the apartment of the office elders, Elder Regehr, Elder Veiss, and Elder Dugan. They had worked really hard on their cleaning and only had one shower that needed some extra attention.  This is a photo of them later in the week when they all had their residency cards.  

That evening, the Packs invited us over for dinner to celebrate Caroline's birthday.  We enjoyed yummy Chicken Artichoke soup.  

Afterwards, the missionaries and the Vierbuchens joined us for cake and ice cream.  Happy 16th Birthday to this wonderful young lady.

Tuesday morning we had a few extra missionaries in the office for interviews.  We love these missionaries and it is always nice to have a chance to visit with them.
Hermanas Staker, Ross, Elders Priest, Voss, Hermanas Valverde and Griffin

Tuesday, Caroline was supposed to shadow someone at work, so she came to work with me all day.  I had lots of jobs for her to help me with and it was a very productive and fun day.

Elder Larsen showed his mega-chart to President Pack.  Elder Larsen is trying to device a system that will better track all the information concerning our 98 apartments.  It has been a little overwhelming and he feels like he is racing the calendar to get it finished before we go home.

And here we have our fine APs modeling the matching gray sweaters that someone gave to them.

Thursday, started out very positive with an inspection of the Hermanas apartment.  As you can imagine, they put the apartments of the Elders to shame.  So, clean, so organized, and so creative. They have on the wall of their study room a chart of the ward and drawings of the missionaries who have served in this area.  Hermana Clements had started the drawings and Hermana Freestone has continued the tradition.  So creative!

But the fun day quickly came to an end when we received a phone call from Hermana Freestone that Hermana Figueiredo needed immediate medical assistance.  She called for an ambulance, but we got to the apartment before they did.  After determining that we could safely take her to the hospital ourselves, we canceled the ambulance and were on her way.  We took her to the closest hospital and were seen fairly quickly, but then the waiting started.  We were at the hospital until late that night. Elder Larsen drove me to their apartment so that I could get some things for the Hermanas. Heremana Figueiredo became very upset when she was told that Hermana Freestone could not spend the night with her.  After much insistence, they allowed Hermana Freestone to sit in a hard chair that was placed in between two beds.  What a long night for these sweet missionaries!  We were spending the night at the mission home because the Packs were up north.  Let's just say there were numerous phone calls back and forth on Thursday and Friday!  

Dr. Borras has worked with the missionaries in the Madrid Mission for the past 20 years.  He recommended a specialist at a different hospital, so we moved her there on Friday.  We were much happier with the facility and the staff.  They continued running more tests.  I stayed at the hospital with Hermana Figueiredo until about 9:00 p.m. Friday night, so that Hermana Freestone could shower and get a little sleep at the Vierbuchens.  They are always so helpful! We just love them.  

Saturday and Sunday we were just waiting for test results.  We were sad that they were not able to join us for our Sunday meal after church.  But we had a room full of elders.

Elders Larsen, Veiss, Koeven, Waisath, Nash, Regher
Elders Guerra and Dugan

After dinner, we drove up to the hospital to see the Hermanas.  We brought them some roast, carrots, potatoes, and gravy, with some ice cream bars.  The elders brought Hermana Figueiredo her crown and she allowed me to take a picture of her.  She was the Queen of England in a skit that the missionaries did at a ward activity last year.  It was nice to see her smiling again.  We are anxious to have another test run on Monday and hopefully we can receive some test results as well. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Back in Spain

I am very grateful that I do not have to travel internationally on a regular basis.  Let's just say that the jet lag has been rough on both ends.

I arrived home on Thursday and tried to get back into a routine by working shorter days at the office.
Sunday we had the missionaries over for dinner.  I can't believe I forgot to take a picture of the group.

But I did get a photo of these two missionaries Elder Regehr and Hermana Freestone, who actually knew each other before the mission.  Hermana Freestone is friends with Elder Regehr's older sister.  I said that we were having pumpkin cookies and hot cocoa, and they asked if they needed to sing the Hot Cup of Cocoa song.  Little did they know, that I actually know that song.  Hermana Freestones mother was the amazing choir director for years at the elementary school.  My oldest son, Chad, was in an amazing elementary school choir, where he learned that song, and I have loved it ever since. l It was so fun to hear them sing it as we enjoyed our cookies and cocoa.

Hermana Freestone also shared the spiritual message.  She talked about the Provo Tabernacle that burned down several years ago, leaving just the outside walls.  She talked about how the Lord allowed that to happen because now he has made something better from it, a beautiful temple.  (Go here to see videos about the completion of this temple. ) Then she talked about how recently she has felt like the Lord is doing the same thing with her.  She looks the same on the outside, but the Lord is changing her on the inside.  Sometimes the process is painful, but we will always become a better self if we allow Him to work within us.  I look forward to going to this temple when we get home. 

Monday I shopped with Hermana Pack and we cooked the rest of the day.  We made chili for the Mission Leadership Council the next day.  It was just 8 batches.  The Packs also had some missionaries over for interviews and President Pack grilled hamburgers and hot dogs.  We made an early birthday cake for Caroline. Her birthday is on the 18th, but Hermana Pack wanted to surprise her with a cake while the Hermanas were spending the night for the MLC the next day.  

We started at 7:15 Tuesday morning making pancakes for 40.  I am always so grateful for the Hermanas and how willing they are to help in the kitchen.  It was nice having the chili already made, and then I made 7 batches of peach crisp.  Of course, we served it with ice cream and the missionaries loved it.  I even had help from the office elders with cleaning up the kitchen.  Then we headed to the office for a different kind of work.

Thursday morning, I attended District Meeting.  We were spiritually fed with a wonderful message by Elder Dugan and I physically fed us with scotcheroos, always a favorite.  
Hermanas Figueiredo, Freestone, Elders Weiss, Guerra, Koeven, Regehr, and Dugan

I have gotten out of the picture taking mode.  I took very few pictures this week, but here is one of Elder Regehr and Elder Koeven.

I didn't get a photo of Elder Dugan with his Christmas package.  It was a little late after they had held it at the post office, but he was happy to open it.

On Thursday, we found out that Elder Larsen past the written exam for his driver's license.  He took a class back in October, studied and studied, and missed one too many questions on his first attempt. He studied even harder and passed it the second time.  We were so excited that we decided to go out to eat to celebrate.  It was our first time to eat at Ribs.  It was okay.  I need to share a barbecue sauce recipe with them, but, at least it was open before 8 p.m.  We have not become Spaniards and we do not like to eat that late at night.  Now he has to have driving classes before he can take the driving test!  Amazing!

Saturday we went to the temple.  I always feel such a spirit of love and peace when I am there.  I can focus on our Savior, Jesus Christ and all the things that He has done and continues to do for me. I am grateful that the temple is so close to us and that we have this opportunity to attend regularly.  

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Christmas 2015

I am so very thankful for my family.  Because my daughter, Cascia, was having her fourth baby, President Pack allowed me to go home to help her.  I flew home on December 15th and flew back to Spain on January 6th.  The only thing that could have made the visit better, would have been to have Elder Larsen with me.  He had to stay in Spain to keep the office running.  It was our first Christmas apart, after 35 years of marriage.

This is the newest addition to our family, Canon Parker Lutes, who was born on December 22.  He is a precious baby boy and we are so blessed to have him join our family.

I want to share in pictures some of the wonderful times we had together over the holidays.

We enjoyed a delicious meal at my favorite Mexican food restaurant, Los Cucos.  And I still love that green salsa.

I got home on Tuesday night, and we surprised Cascia with a baby shower on Thursday night.
Thanks to everyone for a wonderful evening!

Friday night, I was able to go with these two wonderful boys, Cooper and Sawyer, and their mother to see a BYU basketball game.  I love our seats and look forward to using them all season next year. 

I was so glad to have a chance to visit with (Hermana) Kristin Trone.  We talked non-stop for two hours, and didn't even come close to catching up.  I just love this girl!

Monday night, Sawyer, Cooper, and Sophie came for our first sleep-over.  Cascia was scheduled to be induced on Tuesday morning, but as it turned out, she went into labor on her own and had Canon on Tuesday morning.  Tuesday afternoon we were able to go up and visit this little one.  There is nothing as precious as a newborn baby.

 We most definitely had White Christmas this year!

The grandkids enjoyed their presents from Spain! The cutest SeƱoritas!

 I was so glad that my mom was able to join us for Christmas!

I just love these people.

This is little Gracie, who was born in October.  So glad I was able to spend some time with her.
She is such a little cutie!

I also was able to spend time getting to know Avery who was only a few months old when we left for our mission.  Sure do love this busy, little girl.  

We had fun with our 2nd Annual White Elephant Gift Exchange.  Chad thought that his teenage dream of a giant candy bar had finally come true, but Cale ended up with the massive amount of chocolate.  And I am the keeper of the white elephant for the coming year, for giving the most coveted gift.

The grandkids enjoyed a couple of trips to the Curiosity Museum.

And I was there for my baby boy's birthday!  Happy 24th to Colby!

We also had another wonderful event during the holidays, in our extended family. My sweet niece, Chelsea Hendrickson, gave birth on December 21st, just hours before Canon was born.  Bodie weighed 3 lbs. 9 oz, and Harper weighed 4 lbs. 15 oz. How grateful we are that they are both strong and healthy and they were able to go home from the hospital on Christmas Day!  They make Canon at 7 lbs 6 oz, look like a giant.  We are so excited to see these little cousins grow up together.

It was hard to say goodbye to these little cuties, but I will be back in 2 months.  
Nothing like the love of grandkids!