Monday, September 28, 2009

Leon and Vigo, Here We Come!

We love the Leon Zone and all it's enthusiasm.  Elders Corbridge and Quinn are two very good leaders and they were ready to lead the charge!
The Oveido District did a special number, "The Army of Helaman."  When these young men sing these wonderful primary songs I have a hard time holding back the tears.  L. to R. are Elders Harris, Barber, Pederson, Skidmore and Hanson
What, the President said I am going where?  Elder Probst is surprised about something.  Elder Hanson is looking on in all seriousness but I don't think that Elder Moore looks too riled.  I am thinking they set this photo up for my benefit.  Well they made the blog, didn't they.
"Hey",  Branch President Roldan seems to be saying as a group of great Elders give me some smiles.  L. to R. are Elders Roldan, Barber, Smith, Bingham, Hanson, and Skidmore.  They so enjoy gathering together and learning from each other.
This looks like Elder Pederson is striking a GQ pose!  He is a hard working missionary and he also loves to sing.  We had fun back in Orense I seem to remember!
We took the time to reminisce and take a picture of the first office staff we had when we arrived in the mission 3 months ago.  Now only Elder Moore on the far left is still with us in the office.  Elders Bingham, Flory and Barber are all working hard in the Leon Zone and they are making a difference.  But no time to waste, after Leon it is off for another 3 1/2 hour ride to Santiago where we will hold our last zone conference.
Oh, the Vigo Zone that meets in Santiago.  Santiago is more centrally located so we meet there.  We always feel such a sweet spirit when we walk in, it must be these wonderful Elders and Sisters.  
The Santiago District provided a special number.  Hermana Fitches sounded like an angel when she sang with the Elders.  They sang "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" and it was wonderful.
Hermana Maquieira was having a birthday and I couldn't get the Elders to stop telling all the great things about this wonderful sister from Tarragona, Spain.  We love this Hermana
The Orense Elders sang also and they were great.  Now is this not international, Tonga, Spain and Arizona are where Elders Kofe, Moya and Webb are from.  
I didn't show too much food this time but you just can't beat the Spanish bread.  It is wonderful.  I also taught from the Attributes of Christ and how each of our missionaries need to "Match the Message."  I had an apple and M & M's in this basket for a mid morning snack.  They loved it.  The crazy thing was that only one missionary could tell me what m & m stood for, it was Elder Moore.  Do you know?  (Hint, Melt in your Mouth not in your hands, remember?)
At the end of the day, the missionaries get their mail.  Hna Abellan is reading hers and Elder Johnstun looks like maybe he didn't get any.  Oh, and who is that Elder running out the door?  None other than Elder Moore, leaving as soon as he could to do an exchange with Elder Sayaz in Santiago.  Elder Moore started here at the first of his mission and he was so eager to go out.  Can't hold these missionaries down.
Hermana Maquieira must have gotten great news from home, she looks happy.
Elders Stevens and Jackson are ready to go back to Ferrol, and I don't know what Hermana Fitches is laughing about, but it must be funny.  A great conference and now we will be on the road shortly. 
Oh Elder Ashby, the first round of Zone Conferences for a very hard working new assistant just took it all out of him.  Elder Moore and I couldn't resist taking this one.  We love Elder Ashby and he is trying so hard to do everything right and be on his toes.  He is and he deserves a little snooze as we have all worked hard on our Zone Conferences this time.  We talked about working with members and reminded the Elders and Sisters to not hesitate and keep on extending and inviting the people to accept the gospel and be baptized.  In the last conference Elder Ashby was so moved as he was bearing his testimony of how this has changed his mission that he started to get a little emotional.  He is so engaged in his work and loves being a missionary so much.  After the conference he came to me and told me he was sorry that he had lost it for a moment.  I looked at him and said "Elder Ashby, you won my heart, don't every apologize for loving the Lord."  He is certainly becoming qualified for the work.

Zone Conferences in Vitoria and Bilbao

Thought I would start with the group shot first.  Zone Conference week is so fun because that is when in a matter of 4 days we see the entire mission.  We love it.  Starting in Vitoria is the plan and we are greeted with eager, excited missionaries.  This is a great Zone lead by Elders Griffith and Olds
We always recognize those that have had birthdays over the past 6 weeks since that last transfer.  Hna Sanchez and Elders Bartholomew, Renshaw and Frank all had a birthday.  We sing a spanish happy birthday song which is always done with a lot of pizazz.
After singing the song we like to ask any of the missionaries to tell us a few things they admire about each missionary.  Always good things to say because we have great missionaries.
Cute Hermana's don't know that Elders Southwick and Driggs are smiling in the background.  Hna Truscott, Johnson, Miskin and Patten are all darling and hard working.
Wow, what Hermana's.  Everyone always loves to mug for the camera.  Hna Truscott, Arizola, Johnson, Sanchez, Patten, and Miskin ham it up a bit.  They are quite international with Hna Arizola from Switzerland and Hna Sanchez from Spain, while the other 4 are from Washington, California and Utah. 
Hna Johnson is going home at the end of this transfer and Hna Arizola is a little sad at the thought.  The missionaries truly become friends in their work and don't like to say good-bye.
Three departing missionaries who bore such wonderful heartfelt testimonies.  They all shared their thoughts on their love for the people, how they have all changed and how fast it has gone.  That is how it always is.  3 missionaries who can return home with honor.  After this conference we returned home to get ready for tomorrow's conference.
Who is this group?  Why it is the Bilbao Zone.  The next day we are in Bilbao, enjoying another round of great missionaries.   This Zone is lead by Elder Alvarez and Rowley, two fine leaders.
Hmn, Elder Ashby, the newest assistant is enjoying lunch with a few sisters?   Homemade stew, bread and homemade cookies were the lunch of the day.  It was filling and good.  Thanks to Hna Belnap's help, we got the food all cooked and ready to go.   
Fed Elders are happy Elders.  From r. are Elders Gordon, Farnsworth, Blazian, Nye, Ciccio, Alvarez, Nielson, Crocker.  But who is that hiding behind Elder Crocker?
Yes Elder Nielsen, that is Elder Anderson.  He is our super office Secretary and today we are going to celebrate his birthday.  
Happy Birthday Elder Anderson.  He has a twin brother serving in the Philippines.  What different missions each one of them are serving.
The Bilbao District did a special number.  Red must have been the color of the day.  l. to r. are Elder Nelson, Alvarez,  Hna Garcia and Johns, Elder Gordon and Castellon with Elder Rowley on the piano.
We sisters have to stick together.  L. to r. Hna's Fragga, Clegg, Belnap Stosich, Garcia and Johns  Hna's Stosich and Johns are new to the mission and we are so happy to have them here.
All these Elders pictured here came out at the same time.  Great Elders everyone of them.  L. to R. are Elders Nielsen, Ashby, Ciccio, Castellon, Blazian and Anderson.  This group is international too with Elder Ciccio from Italy and Elder Castellon from Spain.  Then we have them from Utah, Arizona, California and Mississippi.  Whew, all over!
These two incredible sisters, Hna Fragga and Garcia also bore their last testimonies.  It can't be possible that they are going home.  They both begged to stay, but the answer is always the same, even though we wish we could keep them.  One from Utah and one from Spain.  We finished the day invigorated and ready to drive on.  We actually left this zone conference and drove the 3 1/2 hours to Leon for tomorrow's conference.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Benavente the Beautiful

What have we here, two Elders, actually the Zone Leaders of the Leon Zone, Elders Quinn and Corbridge who are going with me to Benevente during the medio dia part of the day.  Presidente Clegg has opened a new city in the mission, Benavente and the Zone Leaders are helping me move in a few things.
This is Benavente!  Actually, this city had been opened, but for the last 6 years there haven't been full time missionaries there.  There is a small branch there that has hung on and been functioning with about 12-14 people in attendance.
This is just one of the typical streets of the city.   This one is by the capilla.
Here are the Elders unloading the van.  These great Elders are from l. to r. , Elders Quinn, Roldan, Bingham, Smith and Corbridge.  Elders Bingham and Smith are the two lucky Elders that get this opportunity to open the city.  I know there are many Elders that would love this challenge.  Elder Corbridge would love it for sure, as well as many more.  Elder Roldan is the Branch President in Leon.  His companion, Elder Nestvogel is in Ponferrada doing a baptismal interview, so Elder Roldan got to come with us. 
As Elder Quinn was working on lunch, Elder Bingham is all smiles about the city.  Their first report was for only 4 days and in those 4 days they taught 11 lessons, have 15 new investigators and 1 investigator who came to church with them.  Not a bad start!  
Lunch is ready!
No time to waste.  Just enough to take a quick group shot.  5 incredible Elders who are all outstanding leaders and workers in the mission.  We love our missionaries.
Elders Bingham and Smith say good-bye, and back to Leon for us to get to work.
Just a little more about Benavente.  This is the Capilla.  Presidente Clegg is with the Colina family.   This family consists of the Branch President, the District Relief Society President, and their son who just left to serve a mission in the Spain Barcelona Mission.  A great family.
We were in attendance on Sunday for the branch conference and afterwards, the Colina family invited everyone to her sisters house about 12 km outside of Benavente to eat.   Beautiful scenic little town on the way.
Here is a view of the spread.  We were 30 people for medio dia.  We ate everything that the family makes.  The one brother owns a cheese factory, hence, homemade cheese.  Another sister's husband owns a sheep farm and so we ate lamb.  Also, they make their own choriso, so homemade choriso.  Another sister made the bread.  We also had a wonderful salad put together from the garden.  It was a great feast.
This is the District President, Presidente Martinez and his adorable family.  They live in Ponferrada and were in Benavente for the branch conference.  He is so enthusiastic about the work.  We enjoy working with them.  The only problem is he talks so fast, I can't read as fast as he talks.  We laughed about it and he promised to try to slow down when he talks to me.
Another view of the table.  I spy Presidente Clegg in the middle.  He was asked to say the blessing on the food and he offered a wonderful prayer with a blessing on the members and the work that is to go forth in Benavente.  There is so much excitement here.
Here are 4 missionaries.  Well one of them just got released.  Elders Bingham and Smith flank Elder Colina, (Robert) who had just been set apart by Presidente Clegg.  Next to him is his cousin, Sheila (I don't think I spelled it right) who had just returned on the Thursday before from serving a mission in Chile.  She was released by Presidente Clegg on this day.  This tiny branch has sent out two missionaries, bien hecho!
Here we are with the wonderful Colina family.  Their hospitality was tremendous, but their commitment to the gospel is incredible.  They have quietly lead and we all hope that Benavente will be blessed with many new members in the near future.  I didn't mention that day at church, the missionaries brought an investigator.  Things are on the move in Benavente.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Priesthood Leaders Assemble

It is time again for Zone Leader Counsel.  What a choice meeting with so much teaching and counseling that goes on.  Pictured here are 4 missionaries who came into the mission together.  From L. to R. are Elder Anderson, mission finance secretary, Elder Dredge, one of the Zone Leaders from Vigo, Elder Ashby, the newest auydante, and Elder Quinn, one of the Zone Leaders from Leon.  All these Elders came into the mission at the same time.  They are all excellent leaders and good friends.  The missionaries always enjoy seeing each other.
This is what the Elders affectionately call a "Father-Son" picture.  The Elders standing, Elder Corbridge on the left and Elder Griffith on the right trained the Elders seated in front of them, Elder Cairns on the left and Elder Dredge on the right.  Often times with the vast size of our mission, once a missionary is transfered, he never sees his trainer again.  This is a great meeting where the Zone Leaders come prepared to report how their Zone did during the past 6 weeks and inform the Presidente and all the others of what their focus for the next 6 weeks will be.  These young Elders are excellent in their leadership and their insight to the needs of their Zones.  It is a very inspirational and wonderful meeting filled with great counsel. 
Elder Quinn, third from the left is pictured with all of his companions.  Wow, he has had some wonderful companions, Elder Rowley, Elder Giffith and then Elder Corbridge.  Elder Quinn is a very talented violin player and as I had brought my violin, I asked him to share with us a special number.  Elder Rowley accompanied him.  These two Elders never practiced the number but were so willing to do it.  It really brought the spirit into the meeting.
After the morning of hearing from all the Zones and learning from the  Auydantes their teaching for the upcoming Zone Conferences, it was time for lunch.  Chicken enchiladas were on the menu.  Starting left going counter clockwise you see Elders Olds, Strickland, Anderson, Ashby, Moore, Dredge, Griffith, Alvarez, Quinn, and Rowley.  Their plates are plied high and they are ready to eat.
Here is the other side of the table starting with Presidente Clegg, Elders Cairns, Corbridge, Alvarez, Quinn, Rowley, Olds, Strickland, Ashby, Moore, Dredge, and Griffith.  It is amazing how much food these 12 young men can eat.  But, I think we really filled them up.
"Oh, Hermana Clegg, we don't think we can move."  Well they better wake up, it is time for the Presidente to teach and they don't want to be found sleeping through his teachings.  He taught them from D. & C. 121:33-45.  It was a very inspiring discussion as the Presidente stood up and quoted the entire 14 verses by memory.  He memorize it as a young missionary and has loved the teachings from it ever since. 
Wow, don't you like where I am sitting, surrounded by 12 "sons" and a husband who all honor their Priesthood.  Their is such power that comes from righteous sons of God.  These wonderful missionaries left ready to work and inspire the rest of the mission.  There is a lot of trust placed on their shoulders to lead.  And the great thing about this, there are so many more of our missionaries in the field who could do the same thing, and they will with time.  One constant of the mission is change.