Thursday, October 29, 2009

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Look, 3 angels walked into the office today, where might they be going? HOME!!! The first thing on the agenda for the 6 departing missionaries is an exit interview with the Presidente. Since Presidente Clegg was interviewing the Elders, the sisters went......
SHOPPING! Actually we just went for a little walk to pick up some pictures and we couldn't pass by the pastry shop without looking in. Time to get back to the office.
One fun activity while the missionaries are waiting for their interview is looking at the blog. Our missionaries don't see the blog so this is a fun thing to do. Are we on there yet?
Elder Olds is getting a bite to eat in the kitchen. Missionaries need to be feed!
A little fanta anyone? Do you think Elder Bartholomew is excited to go home?
Done with interviews and off to the Vista! 3 great missionaries who have served valiantly. All have been Zone Leaders and Elder Bartholomew an ayudante, but if you were to ask any of them the best part of there mission was probably just being a missionary. They are all great teachers and they will be missed.
A little bit of advice from the Presidente for Elder Bartholomew. Maybe Elder Bartholomew is sharing with the Presidente a bit of his wisdom.
A picture in front of the big thumb print. Hna Johnson felt like a thumb print was a very vivid analogy of our mission. We have to put our thumb prints on all the residency work, we use our thumbs on the timbres (door-bells for entrances into the tall pisos), and most definitely they are leaving their thumbprint on the face of Spain in bringing the world the Truth!
What a great group. L. to R. Elders Rodriquez, Bartholomew,Olds, Presidente & Hna Clegg, Hnas Johnson, Fraga, and Garcia.
The Hermanas truly give all they have. What beautiful angels among us.
Back to the mission home and what a beautiful day. We sat outside and did all our little mementos. We are putting together a mission quilt that they are all going to be a part of. It allows us to let them display their creativity and this group was a very creative bunch.
Family Picture Time. It is hard to let go of our children. We are sending them now on their life mission, and it fills our hearts with deep emotions. A very special testimony meeting was experienced.
Early Thursday morning at the airport. 5 of the group won't be home until after this is posted. Hna Garcia is already home, only a 1 hour flight to Madrid. Hola Hna Garcia, how is the temple? We miss being able to attend the temple. That was what she had planned for today.
The Elders are such a band of brothers. They develop so much love for each other. Saying good-bye becomes hard, but the love for each other will remain in their hearts forever.
Hna Garcia seems to be saying, "I don't know what to do, I am so nervous." What an incredible Hna. If I could choose, Hna Garcia would have been an ayudanta for me? (I guess we can't do that) She was an incredible example for all the missionaries as well as was Hna Fraga and Johnson. What a strong group that left us today. Their shoes will need to be filled by the new ones that just came. The standard has been set, the bar is high in the Spain Bilbao Mission.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Not So "Wicked" Show?

The day before the arriving missionaries come, there is a lot of preparation going on. Because these arriving missionaries were coming near Halloween, Elder Strickland nicked-named it the "Wicked Show" Then he felt bad but we thought he was being cleaver. There isn't too much Halloween in Spain, so it reminded us of the time of year. Here Elders Ashby and Moore are coming to my car bringing an empanada de bacalao for the snack tomorrow. (Thanks Diane for the help on the spelling) These two are great at helping with anything, thanks Elders.
The next day we are at the airport, but is this a new ayudante? I don't think after 3 weeks in the mission Elder Leon would be an auydante. He is a great Elder, but actually, he had to have some follow up tests done and spent the night at the mission home. He spent the evening talking to me while I was working getting food and things ready for today. He is a native Spaniard and if I could have him with me constantly for a month my Spanish would be soooo much better. Muchas Gracias Elder Leon. He will be returning to his area after we take the new missionaries to the mission home. All is well with him.
The plane was 10 minutes late so Elder Ashby and El Presidente had a little time to chat and chill.
They have arrived! 5 wonderful missionaries looking through the glass. They are so excited and so are we.
Elder Leon took our picture, what a good looking group. Ready to be orientated and getting to work.
They probably won't remember much of what was taught to them today, but hopefully they will remember the food. Navajo Taco's and Brownies were on the menu. Here are Elders Howard and Ryser, both from Salt Lake. Great looking Elders with great language skills and lots of enthusiasm.
We are so excited to get 3 new Hermanas. They are from l. to r., Hnas Huntsman, Roerig and Sieverts. Super Hermanas with wonderful personalities to match their beauty.
Up at the vista, an absolutely gorgeous day to see Bilbao and to start a mission. These 5 were so excited and incredible teachers. They were fantastic through out the morning. We are getting some of the best missionaries the church has to offer, we are sure.
When the Presidente reads to them from the scriptures they are ready to go out and baptized everyone. The day of their mission is now!
Elder Ashby is explaining something to the Hermanas, while we all enjoyed the crisp fall air. It is so beautiful in Spain right now.
Elder Ryser with the Presidente. He is going to be great, he is an Olympus Titan. YEA!!! (That's my high school too, he was trying to remember me, but I had to remind him he was in heaven when I was there)
Over to the office to get the low down from Elder Strickland.
Elder Moore is announcing the trainers. Oh notice Elder Anderson on the right. He had to play a little "Trick" on the greenies. He is from Mississippi, but he doesn't have a southern drawl. He decided to put it on for the show. We all had a great time listening to him. He does a right good job of it. We all tried to keep a straight face, but at times, it was hard. Finally he told them that wasn't his true voice, it was a little bit of fun to ease any nervousness of the missionaries.
The Hermanas were enjoying the action. They all had their assignments now, so they could relax.
Look mom, this is my trainer. We so wish we could bring in the trainers, but it just doesn't happen here. Tomorrow Elder Ryser has to travel 9 hours to get to his city, but don't worry mom, there are other Elders moving and he has a missionary with him all the way. And no, Elder Moore did not grow a foot, he is just on top of a chair as to not miss being seen in the picture.
Time to get out of the office and on to their assignments. Hauling the suitcases and loading the van, all in a days work of the show.
Hermanas Huntsman and Roerig are ready to leave. We love our new missionaries, and they are ready to go to work.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

End of Another Translada

It's the end of another 6 weeks. Boy the time flies by so quickly. We all know what that means, breakfast at the mission home for the office staff after all the work that goes into keeping things going and getting all the transfers done. Here Elders Anderson and Strickland serve up their breakfast. Breakfast Burritos this time.
We all sat down to start. We almost didn't have the Belnaps because whoops, they got lost again. But after a few phone calls we got them to the home. But wait, where is the Presidente? He actually left the day before to go to Santiago for a District Meeting and I couldn't go because I had a quilt presentation in the Bilbao Ward Saturday night. Kind of different to be without my companion. But we survived.
Here I am with the sisters of the Bilbao Ward. I brought with me to Spain a few of the quilts that I had made and also that my grandmother and aunt and granddaughter had made. We talked about gathering and being united. Even though we are all different, when we come together like the pieces of a quilt, we can make something beautiful. The sisters shared some wonderful feelings. It was a special night to bond together and just enjoy each other.
Some great sisters of La Sociedad de Socorro en Bilbao including their wonderful presidenta. Such happy faces all enjoying the quilts and apples
Each sister in Bilbao display true love for each other. Here Hna Cabrehas is sharing some emotional thoughts. She is holding her Visiting Teaching assignment. She has 7 sisters to visit. These women give so much to keep the church alive and strong in Spain.
We had to do another picture holding our apples. One of the quilts was called "The Apple Core" so I brought them all apples to eat. They have such a zest for life, they are great to be with. As I look at all their faces I love to see the light of the gospel radiating from within. I am growing so fond of all the members in Spain. The more I get to know them, the more dear they become to me.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Daily Happenings in Bilbao

Hola Hna Belnap. You are busy working away on updating our mission cookbook and in walk two good-looking Elders. They seem to make her smile.
You would smile too if you saw these two great Elders. On the left is Elder Leon from Alicante, Spain who is one of the newest Elders in the mission having arrived just 3 weeks ago. On the right is his Trainer, Elder Nelson from Arlington, Va. They are preparing for their second baptism in two weeks. They are excited and so are we.
That next night in Bilbao was a wonderful baptism of Jose Alfredo. He was baptized by Elder Nelson and it was a sweet experience. The ward in Bilbao truly embraced him and there were many there to support him You see pictured our wonderful Bilbao Elders from l. to r., Elder Gordon, Elder Alvarez, Elder Rowley, Pres. Clegg, Jose Alfredo, Elder Nelson, Elder Leon and Elder Castellon. Elders Leon and Castellon are from the same ward in southern Spain.
Pres Clegg chastised Jose Alfredo for not smiling in the last picture so he made us take another one. You can't not smile in a picture with the Presidente!
Hna's Garcia and Fitches are at the baptism to support the Elders. Hna Garcia goes home in one week and we are all so sad. Hna Fitches has just arrived in Bilbao to take Hna Garcia's place. Two wonderful sisters who work very hard, I know because I have been out with both of them Such a great joy.
I just couldn't resist taking a picture of the twins in the office? Well, actually Elder Anderson on the left is a twin with his brother serving in the Philippines but Elder Strickland is just his twin in the work. We had just finished a great medio dia prepared by Elders Ashby and Moore.
You'll have to look closely at Elder Ashby's shirt. He isn't too happy. He kept his tie clean, but splattered big time on his shirt. These Elders sometimes are just big boys in suites and ties.
The office crew, working hard and enjoying each other. They are great Elders as are all of the Spain, Bilbao Elders and Hermanas are. We do love them and pray for them every day. The work here is great but it is work and all these wonderful young people need our prayers daily.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ponferrada Baptism Blessings

Yes, you are looking at angels. This was a special day in Ponferrada. Pte. Garnelo is baptizing his wife after 10 years of being in the church and praying for her to accept the gospel. It was such a special evening we felt privileged to be a part of.
This sweet sister on the left, Luz Maria is from Ecuador and was married to a member. She too decided to be baptized and they shared this night together.
Two couples becoming united in the gospel. After the baptism Pte. Garnelo spoke of the day, in a year, when both couples can go together to the temple to be sealed. It was a glorious night filled with many smiles and many tears of joy.
These wonderful missionaries, l. to r. Elder Woods and Hansen, the Garnelo Family, Me and Pte. Clegg and Elder Rodriquez. I am sure there are many missionaries out there who know Esther and I hope they can share in the joy of this special day.
Finally, after the baptism, I just couldn't resist a picture of the children's curiosity about the "big blue whale" that is used in our small capillas. It takes all afternoon for the missionaries to get ready. This branch is filled with children, some from Ecuador, Dominican Republic and Spain to mention a few. A dear rama that is filled with much love and joy at the baptism of two precious daughters of God.