Hermana Pack and I started bright and early on Monday morning with a full day of cooking. We started with 9 large jelly roll pans of chocolate chip cookie bars. These are for the upcoming mission tour. We also made a large batch of guacamole, salsa, and mango salsa, yum! It makes me hungry just looking at the picture!
This was a photo that a snapped before the "real" one. What a fun group!
Elder Peterson is our new AP. We first met Elder Peterson when we visited Lanzaroate over a year ago. He was a brand new missionary who did know a lot of Spanish, and was just learning how to be a missionary. But even then, we could tell he had a strong testimony and a desire to share the gospel message with the people of Spain. He now speaks very good Spanish and is a very good missionary, and he has that same desire to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone who will listen. He will be a great leader for the mission. Welcome Elder Peterson!
Tuesday morning, we were back at the mission home by 7:45 to say goodbye to the missionaries and to start the cooking for the new group of missionaries coming in. We welcomed in seven new missionaries. They are ready to learn and to serve. They had a wonderful training meeting, and then we served them our "traditional" welcome meal of Cafe Rio Sweet Pork with all the fixings. It was yummy as usual. We also served chocolate chip cookie bars hot out of the oven with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Hermana Whiting's parents came in later in the day on Tuesday to pick her up, so she was my helper in the kitchen. I enjoyed her help and the opportunity to get to know her a little bit better.
We headed to Pavones for the trainers to be assigned to their new missionaries. We ran into these three great hermanas.
Hermanas Braun, Figueiredo, and Freestone
and Hermanas Mendez, Harper and Milne.
I also had the opportunity to meet Hermana Whiting's parents.
And this is Hermana Freestone's new companion, Hermana Snyder. She will be in our ward, so we will have a chance to work with her for our last transfer.
Wednesday morning we were back at Pavones early for a meeting with Elder Moreira from Portugal, who is an Area Seventy. He and his wife are wonderful people and have had many amazing experiences. All the zones in the Madrid area met together and we were well instructed by the Moreiras and the Packs. Afterwards we had a simple meal of pizza and we served 130 chocolate chip cooke bars.
And I was happy to visit with Hermana Marsh.
Saturday morning, Elder Larsen and I drove 3 1/2 hours north to Ponferrada. We inspected the missionaries apartment and then we toured the castle. The first building on this site was in the 12th century. The castle was added on to during the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. This is one of the larger castles that we have seen. It has been very interesting to see how different each castle is.
And we enjoyed the old church and the view of the valley.
Then we drove to Benavente, where we inspected another apartment. Elder Ruiz and Elder Robertson live there. We just love Elder Ruiz. He goes home on this next transfer. He is such a good missionary and is wonderful young man. We feel blessed to have had this opportunity to get to know him. The missionaries live in the heart of the old town. I loved this old church.
Then we drove to Valladolid. By the time we inspected two more apartments, it was dark and the GPS was not our friend. We were very grateful to finally found our hotel.
The photo on the left is Elder Larsen in front of the small building where they used to meet for church. The store front is the width of the building. It had been a Butcher Shop previously. One of his assignments as the Branch President was to find a larger location for them to meet in, where they could finish off the interior as a church. The photo on the right is the front of the location that Elder Larsen found, that they are still meeting in. It looked so small from the front, but inside was a large chapel, and many classrooms.
We also enjoyed visiting with Nicol. She leaves on a mission to Manchester England next week. We enjoyed hearing her sweet testimony as she shared her love for the Lord and her desire to serve Him.
But the highlight of our trip was getting to visit with Geni and her family. She was a 14 year-old girl when Elder Larsen was serving there. She and her siblings had just joined the church and they were eager to learn. She shared with us her memories of Elder Larsen teaching a seminary class and how overwhelmed she was the first time that he challenged them to begin memorizing scriptures. She did not think that was possible. But, then shared with us the first scripture that she had memorized.
"And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: Iwill go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."
It was wonderful to visit with this family. We met their daughter who has just served a mission to Barcelona. Her sister is living in Utah, and we are excited to visit with her when we return from our mission. These are the highlights of our mission, when we have the opportunity to rub shoulders with good people who love the Lord and want to serve Him.