Friday, July 31, 2009

Oh Oviedo!

This post is an attempt to take pictures of this wonderful scenery in the car.  We left Ponferrada around 10:40 and decided to go to Oviedo to attend a district meeting of elders there.  We knew we would only get there at the end, but since we were in the neighborhood, we wanted to see them.  You go through a long tunnel or two and then come onto some beautiful scenery.  No time to stop today, but with the clear blue sky, I had to try.
We just love how little towns are nestled on the hillsides.  So picturesque and charming.
Oh look at this great group.  The elders in Oviedo and Avilles were in Oviedo for their district meeting.  The elders from left to right are Elder Harris from Sacramento, California, Elder Holmes from Littleton, Colorado, Elder Blazian from Redding California, Presidente Clegg, Elder Kofe from Portland, Oregon, Elder Esteves-Garcia from Barcelona, Spain and Elder Hanson from Cottonwood Heights, Utah.  They are all standing in front of a mall.  Yes, that amazing building which you can't get an appreciation for is a mall designed by a famous Spanish Architect, Santiago Calatrava.  The also amazing thing is this man designed a bridge that is in Redding, California, the same place Elder Blazian is from.  The president got to the district meeting in time to share a few scriptures with his Elders and to share a medio dia lunch with them.  Some of these Elders won't be here next week as  the transfers have gone out.  But I am not telling, I will leave that up to the missionaries to tell their families first.
Finally on the way back to Bilbao, I took a picture of the Picos de Europo.  Actually, this is only a little bit.  There is a national park here and one day we hope to take a p-day and go visit them.  On the road home to a teaching appointment with our auydantes tonight as the days never end, and that is o.k., because we are enlivened by the good work of the Lord.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ponferrada is a Precious City

This beautiful statue is at a rotunda. (round about) This beautiful city is situated in the southwest area of our mission, but it isn't on the coast.  It is not far from Portugal and is nestled in some beautiful green hills.  Almost every rotunda has a fountain, a statue or a clock tower.  It is very charming with an old medieval castle that we hope to see one day.  It is a little less than 5 hours to get here from the mission home.  Presidente had to meet with the District President of the Leon District at 8 a.m. on Friday, so we decided to come Thursday afternoon and get with our two elders here to go on a teaching appointment.  It was a great decision!
Here you see Elder Woods on the left, from Sammamish, Washington and Elder Rodriguez from El Paso, Texas.  I don't pose these pictures as I use my zoom to catch them as they come to meet us.  Those smiles are genuine and these two Elders are very special and love their work. The rama that is here in Ponferrada is strong with a lot of leadership in it.  Although it isn't real big, around 50-60 people, they have a wonderful branch president who has a ward mission plan that is text book perfect and they implement it.  The missionaries love it here.
Here we are at Jaime's apartment.  He is the fellow in the blue shirt.  The other gentleman is the Elders quorum president, Felix, who as you can see has come as a member present for the lesson.  This is so vital to help investigators.  Felix welcomed Jaime the first time at church.  Jaime is from Columbia who has lived in Spain for 10 years and has been a "golden" investigator.  He keeps every commitment, even answering all the questions in the pamphlets, because he wants to learn everything.  He asked me to give the opening prayer, and of course, this was all in Spanish.  The spirit was present as these dear missionaries taught Jaime about fasting and some of the principles of the gospel.  You see, this Sunday is fast Sunday, and they wanted Jaime to be prepared for this Sabbath day.  These are missionaries who teach the person, not the lesson.  Preach My Gospel has really helped these missionaries to become master teachers.  Jaime has a baptismal date that he is working toward.  He is intelligent and diligent and I can't fully convey the spirit in his apartment.  Later that night Elder Rodriguez called me to share another incredible experience.  They are teaching a man from the Dominican Republic who when they got their told the missionaries that he had taken the challenge of the promise.  He wanted to know after he repented and was baptized, what was next!  The joy in Elder Rodriguez's voice brings tears to my eyes.  These missionaries who have the spirit of this work are so happy doing this work.  Missions are wonderful.

Piso Check in San Sebastian

This picture was taken on the run as we passed through a toll booth.  The rugged mountain passes are beautiful as you can somewhat see.  We are on our way to San Sebastian.  The Elder's piso has some problems and we needed to address them with the Landlord, so off we go. The Elder's had made us aware of some problems when we were there interviewing last week.  And to their surprise, Presidente Clegg sent me to see the piso.  Needless to say, beside repairs to be done, the elders were told to "Clean It Up".
All went well with the Landlord and he agreed to make some changes.  Here is Elder Ciccio from Italy by way of Argentina on the left and Elder Griotti from Spain, originally from Uruguay.  To great Elders who have real fun personalities.  They have been working hard in San Sebastian and they had a baptism last week.  
All 4 of the Elders escorted Presidente Clegg back to the car.  ( The car pictured is not our van) It is 9:15 at night and still light.   They said they were his body guards.  They are a wonderful group of elders and get along well.   Elder Alvarez on the left is from Guttenberg, New Jersey and Elder Nielsen is from Wallsburg, Utah.  You know where the other two are from.  Boy you love these elders and sisters fast.  We just gained 83 new family members and we love it!
Finally, upon getting ready to leave, Elder Ciccio had to show off one of his breakdance moves.  He is a talented breakdancer and he loves to show his talents.  Notice the big smile as he makes his move.  I think I did a good job of catching the moment. 

Monday, July 27, 2009

Interviews are Great

This beautiful little city in between Pamplona and Logrono is typical of this area in the mission.  It is much drier and more mediterranean feeling.  We just had to stop to take a picture
Elder Bartholemew is such a great elder.  He was a former assistant and is now training Elder Southwick.  He will be going home in a few transfers.  I wonder what is on his mind?!?  Notice what is left of the spanish tortilla the sisters made for us.  Mmm, it was good.
These are the two sisters responsible for the tortilla.  Hermana's Truscott and Bell, two wonderful hard working sisters.  Hermana Truscott was a spanish major and I have to say I covet her spanish speaking ability.  Hermana Bell is so good and willing to work.  They fill our lamps to be with them.
Here I am with Hermana's Patten, Miskin and McConkie in Vitoria.  It isn't always easy to be 3 together, but they love it and are working real hard.  They have some very progressing investigators and as you can see from their beautiful smiles, they love this work.  What a joy to be with them.  They are working in the city that will be the center of the 1st stake.  How joyous for all.

A Sunday Visiting Pamplona

The morning mist of Mungia.  We had to leave early to get to Pamplona and interview the elders before church and then attend church.  It looks like water out their but it is just a sea of mist.  It was a beautiful morning that led to a wonderful day meeting members and seeing our missionaries.  A perfect beginning to the Sabbath.  And yes, this is the famous city where the running of the bulls takes place.
The outside of this chapel is rather small, but inside it is lovely, probably the best one we have seen.  Here we have one of our Zone Leaders, Elder Chavez by the door, ready to greet the members.  Elders Barber and McMclanahan are talking with President Rodriguez. He is the 1st counselor in the District Presidency, soon to be the 1st Stake in northern Spain.  There is so much excitement about this event.  It will take place September 5th and 6th.   Today I might make mention that Elder Bingham, one of our assistants stayed home with Elders Flory and Strickland because the assistants had so many investigators coming to church, they wanted to have one of them there.  All of our office staff are teaching.  Their days are full with things for the running of the mission, but nothing can top missionary work.
This is a picture of the senior primary in Pamplona.  There were probably 1o or more on vacation.  They all look very South American, and many are.  But as you can see the Primary President is standing by her son.  Her husband is French and they speak French, Spanish and English perfectly.  The branch in Pamplona has many native Spaniards as well as immigrants.  The beauty of it all is that all of them are children of our loving Heavenly Father and they all live in Spain where the missionaries were led to find them, or they were led to find the missionaries.  This branch had around 120-130 in attendance today, with many on vacation.  They taught the lesson on Zion's Camp.  This is a great church that has the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
Is there ever a day that the missionaries don't like to eat?  We brought them some homemade snickerdoodles, and they ate them up.  Elder's Moore, Chavez, Oscanoa, McClanahan, Webb, and Barber are enjoying a few before we leave.  Elders and Sisters are such happy people.  They shine and radiate so much love.  It is a great time in their lives.  So now we are off to Logrono and Vitoria for more interviews. 

Saturday, July 25, 2009


This building is our mission office  This is where everyone sends their packages and letters to.  We are up on the fourth floor. Yes the top corner windows.  The one on the corner and the rounded one on your left.  This is where the office work is done and many plans are made.  Our elevator carry's 4 people at a time, that is if you don't care about personal space.  It is a very nice office with a kitchen, bathroom, storage room, entry way, secretaries office, assistants and Hermana Clegg's office and the Presidents office.  Come inside and see.
Here you see Elder Barber on the left and Elder's Strickland and Flory.  Elder Flory is training Elder Strickland to take over for him.  Hmm, I wonder where Elder Flory is going next transfer, that is up to where the Lord wants him.  
Here we have our two able assistants working on lesson plans for their investigators.  They actually really were, and can you see 'Preach My Gospel" in Elder Bingham's hand and Elder Moore is taking notes?  I don't know for sure what Elder Moore was doing but what you can't see is my desk that is right to the left of Elder Moore.  I keep them in line if they need it which they don't, they are great examples to all of us.  And they are the ones who have saved us these first few weeks
Here is President Clegg's office.  He has the transfer board just left of this picture.  I am sure a lot of Elders and Sisters would like to see that right now.  Transfers are in 10 days.  The mission revolves around the transfer cycle.
Finally, the secretaries were bringing in some travel plans and other budget questions.  They didn't want to look at me, but you can see their smiles.  From left to right, Elder Barber, Strickland and Flory.  We enjoy our office elders, they work hard and still manage to do missionary work.  

Beautiful Bilbao Has Hard Working Missionaries

Some of you might recognized this beautiful modern building with the wonderful red bridge.  This is the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.  We found ourselves 1 hour early to the President's interview of the Bilbao District.  It was a beautiful day and the plaza surrounding this museum is fantastic.  It sit's right on the river and that incredible bridge next to it.  We haven't had time to go in but some day.....
In front of the museum sits the puppy.  It is totally done up in flowers.  In the winter time it is just covered in greenery, but in the summer, it is the best flower garden around.  Hey the Rose Parade is going to have to take a look at this.
Here they come, two very hard working missionaries and one of their investigators, Jorge, who has a baptismal date for next week.  This is Elder's Castellon and Smith.  Elder Castellon shared with me their approach to people and how they find and teach.  They are incredible as they find and teach the 1st part of the first lesson and get a new contact to pray.  He did a complete role play with me and he even slowed down his spanish so I could understand.  It was a very powerful experience.  They are such a great companionship.  Elder Castellon is from Alicante, Spain and Elder Smith is from Taylorsville, Utah.  Their smiles are great and their love for the work is incredible. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

On to Asturias and then home to Bilbao

Leaving Santiago we went on a beautiful ride through the hills of Galicia.  This is by a little town called Mondonedo.  The picture doesn't capture all the beauty, but for us, it was breath taking.  We had to stop the car and take a picture. You can see the little areas of homes and farmland.  It reminds me a lot of the hills in England that we saw with Dave and Anne Seamons.  The greens here are so lush and rich.  And we haven't even gotten to the Picos de Europa mountains.  They are a lot like the alps, only greener and more rocky.  Well I don't know how to compare, but we will get a picture of them another day.  All we can say here is wow!
This picture was taken out the back of our hotel in Gijon.  We are now in Asturias and the homes here are so colorful and quaint.  Notice all the different colors that are shown.  We pulled in here around 9:30 p.m. and had enough light to take the picture.  
This is the wonderful Leon Zone.  Elder's Griffith and Quinn are the Zone leaders here.  They are fantastic teachers.  We did a little demonstration in all our zones to help them teach the Joseph Smith story more effectively.  Elder's Griffith and Quinn are two elders who live close to the spirit.  We actually also had the ayudantes teach after them with an emphasis on slowing down and praying for your companion.  The spirit filled the room and it was very  special for all of us in all our zones.
Well enough of the serious stuff.  We just want you all to know that the Bilbao mission is in good hands and we are all ready to go out and work.  This was a fun idea from Hermana Briggs.  She is the one holding Presidente Clegg's tie.  She is going home in a few weeks and we are really sad to have her for such a short time.  She lights up the room where ever she goes.  She works hard and she along with Hermana Rudder had two baptisms a week ago and they might have another before she goes home.  Way to go Hermana's.  Actually Hermana Goodman is also with them now and so watch out Gijon, the sisters are triple the work.  After our hugs and handshakes to say good-bye, off we went to get home to Bilbao.  A great three days packed with missionaries, testimonies and teaching.  Not a bad way to spend a few days.

Galicia is beautiful as the road trip continues

These are some of the beautiful rooftops of Santiago de Compostella.  This is a beautiful city, but no time to really see it.  We took this picture from our balcony of the hotel.  We interviewed the elders in Ferrol after A Coruna and arrived in Santiago around 8:30 p.m. Sunday night.  But rise in the morning we did to start the day with interviews, zone conference and interviews and then a drive to Gijon, just another day in the Spain-Bilbao Mission.
Here we have elders arriving at the church for Zone Conference.  Elders Anderson and Hansen are leading the way with Elders Moore, Cairns, Garcia and Anderson not far behind.  This just makes me want to start singing "Called to Serve."  It is so fun to be around the missionaries.  They not only have such pure hearts, they are full of laughs and stories to tell. 
In this zone we have 5 Hermana's, Hmna Abellan, Maquieira, Clegg, Fitches, and Nielson.  Hermana's Fitches and Nielson are the ones who saved us with the bread the day before.  Both Hermana's Abellan and Maquieira don't speak very much english, so today is a real spanish day for me.  I actually did most of my presentation in Spanish, with a lot of help from the other native spanish elders.  They are good sports to be patient as I learn better spanish.  Presidente Clegg did all of his in Spanish, and he did great.  It was a wonderful answer to prayers for the gift of tongues and for the interpretation of tongues.   
What a great looking zone.  Elder's Ashby and Sayaz are the zone leaders and they did a fantastic job with their zone.  As in every zone, this zone's numbers were way up over last year and they are all so positive and hardworking.  This is also our biggest zone and it showed in the amount of food they put away.  This was a very spiritual zone conference that truly lifted us all. After the zone conference was over, many of them went to the candy store and brought back some great sweets.  Spain has a lot of great things to eat.  We hated to say good-bye, but on to the next city, Gijon for tomorrows zone conference. 

Mission Road Trip continued

Not much time to stop for lunch, and two much money to be spent in a restaurant, so what does any good european do, stop at a road stop, break out the bread and meats, and have lunch.  Notice the hot sauce in Elder Moore's hand.  A staple for every meal.  We enjoy a few minutes for lunch, stretch the legs, and then continue on with our journey.  Our g.p.s., alias tom-tom, Hermana York or Lizzie, keeps us on the right roads.  No time to get lost.
Here sits Elders Ashby and Moore in the entry of the Vigo Chapel.  We spoke here the week before.  Elder Ashby is the zone leader and is from Arizona.  His parents served as mission presidents in Uruguay when he was growing up.  His spanish is great and his work is terrific.  A fun elder who loves being a missionary. 
This isn't the best picture, but I took it as we were leaving Vigo.  This is the view all day, riding in the car, crossing amazing bridges and water.  I hope to get some great bridge pictures.  We are on the way to spend the night in A Coruna.  We are tired, but seeing the missionaries always seems to give us more energy.  We will interview tomorrow in A Coruna. 
We spent the night in A Coruna, spoke in church and then Presidente Clegg interviewed Elder's Evans and Skidmore and Hermana Fitches and Nielson.  Found out that Elder Evans does a little sleep walking and the ayudantes had a funny night.  The Hermana's saved our day as we forgot to get some bread before nightfall.  They gave us a loaf and we took 1/2 hour to eat at the end of the harbor of A Coruna.  It has the longest boardwalk in all of Europe.  The light house you see in this picture is the Tower of Hercules.  It is the oldest working roman lighthouse.  And at the other end of this ocean is New York.  Oh, too far to swim!

Mission Road Trip for Interviews and Zone Conferences

This is a beautiful little city called Mungia.  The mission home is on the outskirts of this little Basque town.  We had to go here to do a part of our residency paper work.  Our office secretary, Elder Flory came with us with all our papers from Madrid.  We had to now apply to live in Mungia.  The woman was very nice to us and she didn't find any fault with our paperwork.  (yea)  As we were about done, she started talking with someone else.  We couldn't understand a word, when we decided to ask "Was that basque?"  She smiled and said yes.  That was fun, and we left with an "agur".  That is basque for see you later.

Here we have Elder's Moore and Bingham, up bright and early packing the van for our trip.  They have it down to a science.  We had to leave early, 7:00 a.m., so the ayudantes stayed over at the mission home so they wouldn't be out at an hour they weren't suppose to be.  We are leaving for 3 days of 40 interviews and 2 zone conferences.  Our distances are so long, that we can't come home between them, so this is a typical road trip.  We are off to Burgos, Leon, Vigo, Ferrol, A Coruna and Gijon.  Oh, and did I remember to say, speak in church in A Coruna. Whew, this is fun.  Who has the treats? 

Here are two of our wonderful Hermana's.  Hmna Johnson and Sanchez.  They were running to get to the chapel by 9:00 a.m. for their first official interview with Presidente Clegg.  Do you notice the gold sign  by the white roll down door at the left side of the picture just above the man walking?  That is the capilla in Burgos.  It is a nice little chapel and this is where the interviews are taking place this morning with the Hermana's and Elder's Gordon and Driggs.  Yea for the sister's, they are on time just as we are driving up.  Two hard working Hermana's. 

Next stop is in Leon.  This picture is outside the capilla with Elder Nestvogel showing off his soccer skills to Elder Bingham and to a member of the branch in Leon.  Elder Nestvogel is our only missionary from Germany, and he is a good friend of the Paul Hess family from our home ward in Bountiful. We even met Elder Nestvogel when he came to stay when he was 15 years old.  What a small world this becomes with the church.  Elder Nestvogel is the District Leader along with his companion Elder Roldan, who is the Branch President of  the Leon Rama.  After these interviews we are off to Vigo, a 5 hour drive!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

First two Zone Conferences, Pamplona and Bilbao

This was our first zone conference and we loved it.  The Zone Leaders, Elders Webb and Chavez did a great job.  The message was centered around our purpose as a missionary, "To bring others unto Christ"  This is the Pamploma Zone.  Yes, that is where they hold the running of the bulls, but zone conference was actually held in Vitoria where the first stake in this mission will be organized the first week of September.  Everyone is so excited.  It is historic!
The next conference was in Bilbao.  This is a zone that is on fire.  They have had so many baptisms lately and everyone is excited. Elder's Corbridge and Steven's led the way here.  This was also a great conference and I only wish I had been able to a take a picture of Elder's Barber, Flory, Bingham, Moore and Strickland as they sang, "I Hope They Call Me On A Mission"  I know their mothers would have loved that but I just couldn't disrupt the meeting.  But as a mother myself, they brought tears to my eyes.  The next post will have some of our road trip to interview missionaries and the next zone conferences.  I am trying to get some pictures of the scenery and more action of the missionaries, but Pres. Clegg and the assistants have us on such a tight schedule, there is no time for stopping.  I will insist this week!

Come see our home

We thought you might like to see the mission home.  It sits in a wonderful community that is in basically a forest.  We have a gated entry and it is really quiet.  Sometimes too quiet as we have to drive about 15 minutes to the mission office.  But when we have some elders over, it is great.  We are working on having a few more things at the house, but distances are an issue.  Needless to say, it is a nice home that we are grateful for.
This shows the fenced back yard.  We back up to a forest and everything is so green, no watering here.
The windows are great on this house, they open wide, or slant out at the top.  I wish I could have these windows at my home in Bountiful, Utah.  As you might be able to see this is a twin home.  Look to the left of the photo and see the fence, the other side is the house next door.  Very nice neighbors. 
This is a patio off the kitchen and to the right is the front door.  And can you see the flowers.  They are so beautiful here in northern Spain.  Me encanta espana!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Our First New Sister

O.K., so this isn't our new sister, but we had to put on the blog our wonderful office elders.  They are unbelievable and never seem flustered or short tempered with our constant  asking of questions.  Elder Bingham and Elder Moore are our assistants, and Elder Barber and Elder Flury are our office secretaries. 
Our newest Hermana arrived today.  Her name is Hermana Abellan.  She is from Barcelona and she is absolutely wonderful.  Her testimony is sound and she is so excited to get to work.  She is leaving tomorrow for Vigo, a great city with a fabulous branch.