Friday, December 25, 2009

A Mission Home Christmas

The Christmas Belens (or Creches) are so beautiful in Bilbao. We enjoyed an evening walking around and visiting them in the different places around Bilbao. Pres. DeMolino and his lovely wife took us around for the evening. This was a choice experience to walk the streets of Bilbao with all the hustle of Christmas in the air.
We also had a small open house in the Mission Office for the Las Arenas Branch. We had a few visitors such as Pilar and Carmen who are lovely Hermanas in the Gospel.
Christmas Eve we had the office Elders and the Belnaps for a late Christmas Eve Dinner. We have a Christmas tradition in our home in Utah to start a new puzzle for Christmas. The Elders are getting it started.
Hermana and Elder Belnap are there to help get all the things ready and to enjoy Christmas together. What a wonderful couple and we all love them dearly.
After dinner we all got ready for bed. Elder Dredge and the Presidente both enjoy getting comfortable in their pyjamas.
Our Ayudantes are filled with the Christmas spirit. We enjoyed a special Christmas Eve reading from the scriptures and a wonderful surprise number from the office staff. I will try to download it separately as it is a video. It is a classic that we will treasure forever.
We joined together for a Christmas Eve photo, all of us missing our families a bit, yet enjoying the wonderful true meaning of Christmas and the privilege of bearing the Savior's name daily.
The next morning we had a wonderful Christmas Breakfast with the Bilbao District. We love all our Elders and Hermanas and hoped they were all enjoying a wonderful morning. We know all were looking forward to their call from home. That was to happen later in the day for most of them.
Looks like Elder Woods was excited about Christmas or is it the Breakfast Burritos, not sure.
Elder Cepeda and Elder Dredge are happy about breakfast. It was a wonderful day filled with joy and excitement.

We just want to wish everyone a Feliz Navidad, Joyeux Noelle, or Merry Christmas and a very happy new year. We are so happy to be able to serve here in The Spain Bilbao Mission. It is an honor and a privilege to work with the wonderful Hermanas and Elders and members of the church in Northern Spain. What a joy to be a part of the work "to bring the world it's truth."

Christmas in Bilbao

The Ward in Bilbao prepared a wonderful depiction of the Christmas story. They dressed everyone so authentically, read the words from the scriptures and sang many beautiful songs of Christmas.
The children were darling and the singing was lovely.
Hey if I wasn't mistaken these are the Elders of the Bilbao District. They look great as shepherds and they sang well too. Elder Woods sang a solo. l. to r. Elders Leon, Woods, Rowley, Hanson, Jackson and Cepeda
Look at the wonderful family who played the Christ child and Mary and Joseph.
Is that such a beautiful baby.
Bro. Lizeralde and his wonderful wife, Hna Cabrehas enjoyed the evening. Bro. Lizeralde is the first Patriarch of the Vitoria Stake. We are all so excited to have him in Northern Spain. Everyone had to go to Madrid to get a blessing, but now they can come to Bilbao. What a great blessing for the saints in Northern Spain.
Hna Fitches looked pretty in her costume. She also sang a little solo. She has a wonderful voice.
I found Hna Johns after she had changed from her costume along with Elders Jackson, Cepeda and Leon who had also changed. It was a beautiful night that helped us all feel the wonderful Christmas spirit.

Christmas in Las Arenas

We did experience a little snow one day in Mungia, but is melted quickly. Still the spirit of Christmas was alive and well in the Branch at Las Arenas.
They had a Christmas branch dinner and it was a great event. Nothing like gathering together to eat and enjoy each others company.
The Capilla was filled with the many members of the branch with delicious food being served.
The little children were given their own tables to enjoy.
Many wonderful families came to enjoy each other. The Las Arenas Branch is growing and growing.
They hung stars to create a festive atmosphere.
This is an example of the appetizers which was followed by Spanish Tortillas and Cheese cake. Very typical Spanish and very good.
Elder Dredge isn't sure he could eat this whole plate of shrimp. But they were delicious.
It had been a special day. Annabelle, standing, was just baptized early in the day. She was baptized by Ronald, sitting next to Elder Ashby. Ronald was baptized about 4 months ago. Great people with firm testimonies of the gospel. It was a great evening enjoyed by all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Celebration in Vitoria

Here we go again, with the 4th and final game. Vitoria is ready to go. Elder Ashby is giving the instructions and we are excited to see what is in these packages.
Elder Fowers starts with a bang. He actually got two fun toys to start the fun.
Elder Ashby was excited to get a cutting board and a lighter. No Elder Ashby, it isn't a gun. Some days do we feel sorry for Elder Dredge? (never Elder Ashby)
Elder Smith probably got the award for the most different gift. An empty box with some pictures. Mm, I don't think anyone is going to take that one from you Elder Smith.
Presidente got the coveted prize. He even ended up getting to take it home! Yea for us!
Elder Skidmore thought he had been punked when he opened his box with an I.O.U. in it. After a few minutes of suffering, Hna Rudder told him to calm down as she gave him a bag of candy. Real clever Hna Rudder, way to go.
This is a little blury, but Hna Moraza got a bag full of balls and toys. She really cleaned up.
Boy Elder Esteves-Garcia nobody better mess with you! This is definitely a hit.
You can take the boy out of the country but you can't take the country out of the boy. Way to go Elder Flory, that hat does a man proud! Elder Flory is the new Zone Leader with Elder Smith. They did a terrific job.
Elder Howard is wondering why nobody wants his hat. It looks pretty good on you Elder Howard. Just give us a little song and dance now. Actually, Elder Howard played us a violin number that was beautiful.
Hna Sieverts got a magnetic dart board. Looks like the Hna's will be having some fun in their piso.
What a great looking bunch of missionaries. They was a lot of participation and enthusiasm. We are going to see great things coming out of Vitoria.
Merry Christmas to all in a very zaney way.
Elder Fowers, are you crying? We know you aren't but this is his last Zone Conference and we will miss Elder Fowers. Time in the mission goes fast. Elder Blazian is doing his best to offer condolences. But it is time to go on because Christmas is coming to Spain.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Little Ho Ho Ho in Bilbao!

Same game, different missionaries, interesting results.
Hna Johns and Hna Fitches are excited to get started with the game. We had another great conference in Bilbao and truly felt the spirit. The whole theme was on Faith, and how we can all do so much more with faith.
Looks like the Elders are anxious for the go ahead to start. Elder Belnap is planning his strategy.
Elder Dredge starts out by trying to tempt me with his gift. Could it be candy?
Presidente received a basque Santa, but alas, it was taken later on.
Elder Woods is excited about the small basketball hoop. Sorry Elder Woods, that is a hot item. It didn't take much time to move it along.
Elder Hansen is liking his Santa Suit. Hey, didn't we see that in Santiago. Mmm, re-gifting is going on here. Bro. Belnap is doing some scouting before he makes his choice.
Hna Fitches got some little Indians I think. Hey Elder Strickland you be careful with that pistol. Weren't these suppose to be missionary appropriate?
Elder Leon, pink hair? Just say it isn't so!
Elder Cepeda thought he would look better in pink. I think Hna Johns agrees with this assessment.
What, Elder Leon is now Santa? I don't think Hna Stosich can believe it. Elder Leon, you definitely need to gain some weight to be a Santa.
Elder Jackson decided to end the game by taking the last gift. It was a soccer playing bull. Hey, not bad for a souvenir of Spain. Hna Maquieira seems to approve.

Great looking Zone. After the fun we enjoyed a wonderful video on Christ and then passed out the small gifts from us. We gave them each a Book of Mormon with the challenge to read and underline in the book every time it speaks of Christ. It truly is another testament of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Oh yea, time for fun!
Hna Maquieira is a wonderful Hna that will be leaving us in January. She bore a powerful testimony as a departing missionary. She has been such a wonderful, hard working, loving Hermana. We all love her and will miss her dearly.