Monday, August 31, 2009

A Surprise Visit to the Office

What is this, Elders in the office with p-day clothes on?  Well when your preparation day is Monday, that is what you might have on.  Presidente Clegg had asked the sister missionaries who are native Spaniards to come and look over his talks for the new stake to be formed this weekend.  This will be the first stake in this mission.  There is so much excitement in all the ramas, it is amazing.  Anyway, the district planned an outing to see the bridge here in Las Arenas after helping the presidente out.  Elders Stevens in the red shirt and Elder Alvarez are the Zone Leaders of the Bilbao zone.    But Elder Moore on the right and Elder Anderson still look a little puzzled.  The office p-day is on Saturday, so hence the regulation clothing.  
Oh, there are two of the greatest Hermanas in the church.  Hnas Garcia and Calderon are both from Madrid.  They are in the office kitchen making a few corrections on the talks of the Presidente's.  They are great workers and I am excited because on Wednesday of this week I am spending my entire afternoon and evening working with them.  They told me that we are doing contacting, teaching and a missionary meeting with the branch mission leader.  I am very excited and a little nervous.  My Spanish is coming, but I will be praying for the gift of tongues for sure. 
Here Hna Calderon in working on my mac where my talk is.  I have to also speak and she and Hna Garcia are helping me with my errors.  Elder Alvarez is looking on.  Elder Alvarez is from New Jersey but grew up in a home that spoke Spanish all the time so he is fluent too.  He is an elder with a lot of life and we know that his enthusiasm rubs off on everyone.  
Elders Barber and Anderson have to come in to see what is going on in mine and the auydantes office.  The best part about being with the missionaries is to see how much they enjoy each other and love to be able to catch up.  They may have worked with each other in other areas and it is always nice to re-acquaint.
Translating is done it is time to see new family photos.  
I think Elder Alvarez took a movie of everyone in the office and it must be a little humorous.  I will have to ask Elder Barber what was on it.
Time to leave, but what a fun visit.  We don't usually see our missionaries on their preparation day and this was a fun treat for us.  The Bilbao zone is tremendous and they work hard.  They will all be a part of the formation of the new stake this weekend.  I will probably not post until after this marvelous event.  I will try to capture it the best I can and watch for next Monday for my post.  It is a day very anticipated by so many wonderful people.  It will be a great day in Spain this September 6Th, and we are humbled and excited to be here to witness it.  

Baptism in San Sebastian

This is the family of Naomi, she is the older daughter on your right, with glasses.  The other adults are her Grandmother and Grandfather and her parents.  They are all in the church.  It was such a sweet baptism.  As a family they had been inactive.  The missionaries taught them and re-activated them.  Her father performed the baptism.  They all bore their testimonies after with much emotion and tenderness.  Elders Ciccio and Blazian are on the left as well as the Presidente and I.  We had time to drive up to San Sebastian and we were glad we did.
I made a comment on the nice ties the Elders and Presidente had on so of course, we had to take a picture.  You be the judge, but I think the Presidente has the best one, with Elder Crocker, second in on the right,  coming in second and then it is a tie for 3rd place.  All in good fun.  After the baptism off the Elders went to more teaching appointments.  That has been a wonderful joy to see that all of our missionaries are working all the time to find, teach and bring others unto Christ.  It is a great work.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

P-day morning in Ribadeo

No, I haven't shrunk, but boy these two people are tall.  After interviewing missionaries all day we drove about 2 hours before we stopped for the night.  We stayed in a little town called Ribadeo.  It is right on the border of Asturias and Galicia.  We got up early in the morning to go for a walk and even though it was overcast and drizzling, it was still beautiful.  
This building was once the home of the major of Ribadeo.  It has been renovated and just across the street is a beautiful park.  Ghee, who is that little guy in front of the house?
Wow, the Presidente in shorts?  We don't get too much time to get out and exercise but we do like to take walks when we have the time.  Rick had to stop in and say hi, you know he is the friendly type.
I love how they color the stucco and use all sorts of colors.  Usually the yellow, red and green are the most common.  We were on a walk down this road to find the inlet of water from the ocean.  We are right on the north atlantic.
We found it.  Can you see the tower down the way.  That is actually across the bay.  Notice the little bit of water you can see.  We had to hurry back to the hotel and get dressed and on our way to Aviles for more interviews.  But this morning gave us a little bit of time to enjoy a little different scenery in a beautiful little spanish pueblo in Northern Spain.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Entrevistas and Pisos

This past week has been full of interviews all over the mission. We are in Logrono with Elders Bartholomew, Southwick, and Hna Bell.  They were just finishing the district meeting as we arrived.  Always a need to practice and work on our missionary skills.
Is this a new Elder?  No, a returned missionary, Alexis Lamino, a student of many languages.  He speaks wonderful English, and yes girls, he is still single!  We enjoyed a great time conversing about languages and life. 
We were on to Ponferrada where we did our interviews in the Piso.  Yea, we get to see more pisos.  We did this because the elders have a busy teaching schedule and this would work better for them.   Elders Rodriguez, on the left from El Paso, Texas, Elder Hansen, from Bluffdale, Utah and Elder Woods from Sammamish, Washington were kind enough to pose in front of their map of Europe.  Elder Hansen doesn't work here, but his companion is in Bilbao doing his residency update, and so Elder Hansen came to Ponferrada to work.  The Elders are doing great and the next day after we left they set a baptismal date for one of their investigators.  We have around 40 baptismal dates in the mission so September and October are looking like a wonderful harvest of souls!
Hey what have we got here?  Wow, interviews over lunch?  Actually Elder Cepeda from Chiclana, Spain and Elder Cairns from Dumbarton, Scotland called a few days before we came and invited us to have our medio dia with them.  Their interviews were set for just before, and so it worked out great in our schedule.  We enjoyed homemade vegetable soup made by Elder Cairns and a pasta dish made with choriso by Elder Cepeda.  Who said missionaries can't cook.  Not in our mission.  This was a great meal. 
I saved this piso interview for last because of it's uniqueness.  This is apartment building #12.  It doesn't look like too much with the garbage cans out front.  But wait till you see what is inside.  But first, a few scenery shots of this town, it is called Orense and it is one of the hottest cities in Spain.  That's what they tell me.  Hey, but even though the weather is hot, we have some great missionaries that were good sports about this piso interview.  Lets just say, it was sort of by surprise.  Let me explain.
Orense is known for being a city with a lot of bridges.  I didn't get a chance to get a picture of the millennium bridge.  It is so cool and one day I will get it, but I liked the old bridge in the background.  They are all over the town.
This picture was taken in the morning, with the sun coming over the mountains.  But let me get back to the piso story.  We were planning to do our interviews at the capilla, but for some reason our GPS couldn't find the church street at all.  So about 45 minutes before we arrived there, we called the elders and told them that we would have to do our interviews at their piso, since it would be too hard to find the capilla.  They were very calm on the phone, but I am sure that the contacting was cut a little short to get home and "freshen up."
And voila!  They were ready, waiting for us on their orphan beds!  They call it that because all the beds of the piso were lined up together as if in an orphanage.  Here you see Elders Johnstun from St. Helens, Oregon, Elder Moya from Valencia, Spain, and Elder Webb from Gilbert, Arizona.  Such innocent young men,  you just can't see the sweat running down their faces after working so fast to clean up.  Actually we had such a wonderful time sharing photos, laughing and sharing stories about their work.  And then I was lucky enough to get serenaded.
Here I am with Elder Moya and Elder Pedersen from Hyde Park, Utah.  You got to love these Elders.
Here is Elders Pederson and Webb are serenading me to the sounds of Newsies.  It is an old movie, about 15 years ago or so with great songs.  These two really have beautiful voices.  They were including a few actions.  It was great.  
Here they are in the Kitchen.  Elder Pedersen, Moya, the Presidente, Johnstun and Webb.  Don't they look great.  Their piso was VERY clean.  Their is nothing like saying the Presidente is on his way to get a little elbow grease going and cleaning of the countertops done.  All in all, we had some great interviews with all the missionaries.  They are such hard working missionaries.  40 baptismal dates, it is exciting!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Jolly Old England, Preston Style

An old church tower in the beautiful town of Preston, England.  You are probably wondering why here?  We have a once a year mission president seminar with our Europe Area.  It was held in Preston, England with Elder L. Tom Perry presiding along with Elder Rasband.  Also our wonderful Area Presidency.
We all took an afternoon to tour the historic church sites in Preston.  It was in 1839 that the first missionaries of the church came to Europe.  This was also where the Cleggs joined the church.  It was a special 3 days and we were instructed and edified.
This is the historic River Ribble where the first baptisms took place.  This was where the first converts raced to see who would be the first people to be baptized with thousands watching.  We always thought Henry Clegg was the old man who lost the race, but with some new information, we don't think it was Henry.   But this is where the Cleggs came into the church, so it doesn't matter. 
We shared a special moment with Presidente Clark and Kathleen Hinckley in front of the home that his father was in during his mission.  This is where President Gordon B. Hinckley was told by his father to "Forget himself and go to work."  Kathleen and I have become as close as if we were sisters from the day we first met.  They are serving as President of the Spain-Barcelona Mission and are fabulous people.  This was a very special moment for all of us!
You can't go to England and not take a picture of the countryside.  We are on our way to Downham, England where Heber C. Kimball baptized many people into the church.  It is a town that has been bought and preserved by the Assheton family of England.  It is just how it was in the days that Heber C. Kimball walked the streets.  
This is the pub in the center of town.  It is so charming with all the flowers and benches. 
The sign on the building says 1839.  This was the year the missionaries landed in Liverpool.  Wouldn't it be great if walls could talk?
All the stone buildings are as they were over 180 years ago.
You say England, you say flowers!
The next day we all did a session in the Preston Temple.  This was a very emotional day for Rick as he pondered the fact that he was sitting in a temple, on ground that was walked on by his ancestors many years ago.  It was on this ground, this land called England that the gospel came to his family.  Here we are with Dave and Julie Colton.   Dave is the legal counsel for the church in Europe.  Julie, his wife, has been a special friend for a few years and a dear friend of our mutual friends,  Mike and  Barbara Spuhler.
We had the privilege of being in the session with Elder and Sister Teixiera.  They are in our area presidency.  What wonderful, spiritual and delightful people.  We are honored to be with them and learn so much from them.
Pictured here is Melodee and Terry Clegg.  The are currently serving as the MTC President of the Preston, England MTC.  He is a cousin to Rick.  They are so adorable and wonderful to be around.  We enjoyed so much being with them.  They taught us and are such special people.  They served many years ago as President of the Manchester, England Mission. 
Finally, at the end of the conference, we joined together the 4 Mission Presidents and their wives and one of our area seventy's, Elder Carmargo.  We couldn't locate Elder Lopez, the other area seventy.  These 4 mission presidents are leading the mission work in this beautiful country of Spain.  We all love it here and feel honored to serve.  The Mellors, on the far left are over the Malaga mission.  They only have one year left.  Next to them are the Hinckleys in Barcelona, then of course, the Cleggs and to our right are the Watkins who preside over the Madrid mission and finally Elder Carmargo.  This association is already so special.  I know we will be friends forever as we share this same bond of serving full time and putting our hearts and souls into this wonderful missionary work.  We are honored to serve our missionaries and our members in Spain.  We returned home edified and excited to be back to the work.  

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunny San Sebastian

Did you think we just flew to Equador?  Look at this beautiful 3 generation photo.  This is a lovely family that we met in San Sebastian.  I don't have their names, but next time I will get it from them.  The mother/grandmother on the left first came on her own 5 years ago to work.  Since then, she was telling me, her brother and sister have come.  (I hope I understood it correctly)  This is her daughter and beautiful granddaughter.  They came to church in their native clothing from Equador.  Such beautiful people.  This rama is very diverse.  I met so many wonderful people and enjoyed so much our visit this Sunday.  I have a few pictures of other new friends, but didn't get one of my new English friend, Diane Waddington this time.  We will meet again and I will put her on the blog.  She was wonderful and very friendly towards me. 
Please meet Evelyn Brand, she is the wife of the Branch President, Presidente Jose Diego Cabeza.   See, they don't share the same last name.  In Spain, the wife doesn't take her husband's name.  At times it gets very confusing, so most of the time people just tell you their first name.  She is wonderful and we enjoyed visiting after the meetings outside.  She is a counselor in the District Relief Society Presidency.  A wonderful woman and so caring.  It is so great to meet the members.  I hope over the 3 years we have many wonderful experiences with them.
Can't come to San Sebastian without a missionary picture.  Here are Elders Crocker  from Salt Lake, Elder Blazian from Redding, California, and Elder  Nielsen from Wallsburg, Utah enjoying some reeces pieces.  You can't get them here and these missionaries were savoring them.  Thanks to my daughters for sending me a few bags.  I think these beat homemade cookies.   I also think they finished them before Elder Ciccio came out from his interview with the Presidente.  Lo siento!
This adorable sister is named Ingrid and she and her husband Havier were baptized this past year.  They have a darling almost 2 year old Viviana they call vivi.  It is so cute in Spanish because they say their v's like b's.  So it is bibi.  They are working on going to the temple after it has been a year.  She was so friendly and has such a love of life.  What a great family to come into the church.  We had a great day visiting this beautiful city.  The real beauty truly comes from the wonderful people who have chosen to follow the Savior and be members in his true church. 

Ferrol is Fantastic

The rama in Ferrol is fantastic lead by Presidente Hector Sanchez.  He is flanked by two fantastic "sons of Helaman", Elders Rowley from Santaquin, Utah and Elder Jackson from Gilbert, Arizona.  We were there to do temple recommend interviews and then go on two teaching visits with the Elders.  This rama is bursting at the seams, a good problem to have in Spain.  
We first went to the home of Igor, from Brazil.  This man has a strong testimony of the gospel, and has almost finished the Book of Mormon. He needs to find employment.  He asked the Elders to fast with him and hopefully this next week he has a job.  He has a strong lead and we are all praying for him.  The spirit was very strong during his lesson and we immediately felt a connection to him.  He hopes to be baptized soon.   
This is another family, who are in the rama.   Fernando, the father hasn't been baptized yet, but he has made so many changes in his life, he is almost ready. The rest of the family had been inactive, but they are very committed and Maria, the mom is a gem.   They are a very loving family and this night was very special for us to be there.  Presidente Clegg shared some special thoughts with the family and Elders Jackson and Rowley did a fabulous job of teaching.   Notice the cute little dog.  I held the little dog all through the lesson.  
Here we have Presidente Clegg saying good-bye to Elders Rowley and Jackson.  He was leaving them with a little bit of advice.  These two Elders are working so hard.  Elder Rowley has been Elder Jackson's trainer.  Elder Rowley is truly one of our best Elder who just loves the work and Elder Jackson has been amazing with his language ability and willingness to learn.  We actually met Elder Jackson in the MTC in Provo.  We consider him and the other 3 our first Elders.  They arrived in the mission 1 week before us.  They are a great group.  Always hard to say good-bye, but leaving Ferrol in such good hands feels so great. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Happy Birthday to the Presidente

The Presidente's birthday is the 18th of August.  But at the end of the Zone Conference yesterday I told the Vigo Zone it was his birthday the next day so they all came running out to sing Happy Birthday.  He was anxious to get on the road so we could get home before it was too late.  As I came walking out he was telling me to hurry to get in the car as it was time to leave.  I just turned around and smiled as the Elders came rushing out to sing.
They were singing with such gusto, I think everyone around had to stop and see what was going on.
Of course the Presidente said something funny to them.  He always has a good come back.
This picture says it all.  Aren't they great!  Now after seeing this you know why we love our missionaries.
Today at the office the Elders all came into the Presidente's office and sang him the Primary Birthday song.  He loved it.  Happy Birthday Dear, we all love you.