Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mexico by Way of Santander

We traveled to Santander on the Sunday, November 22nd and were privileged to witness Pres. Salgado become Bishop Salgado. His wonderful wife Ophelia invited us to come over and have a REAL Mexican meal. She is from Mexico. How many ways can we say WONDERFUL! It was incredible and I will have to admit, we stuffed ourselves. They were also so kind to invite the 4 missionaries that are serving in Santander. Pictured from l. to r. is Presidente Clegg, Elder Farnsworth and Elder Nye. Then there are the two daughters, Lenore and Denise who are both beautiful and fun. Following around the picture you see Hna Maquieira and Hna Stosich. The last one is Rosa who is married to their son Serigo. He was sustained as the 2nd Counselor in the Bishopbric today. It is time to dig in.
Oh wait, we can't start without the chef! Ophelia is a wonderful and loving person. She makes us feel so welcomed! Thank-you for the feast!
Rosa is showing us the little taco. We ate enchiladas and tacos that were the best. This was definitely not American Mexican Food. This was the real deal. Everything was homemade.
Here we have the whole crew of very happy and very well fed people. This is a family that is filled with love for the people that they serve in Santander. They have remarkable stories of their conversions to the gospel. They are committed in every way. We left with full stomachs and warm hearts at the hospitality shown to us. When do we get to go back to Santander again?

Relief Society in the Vitoria Stake

On November 21st the Vitoria Stake had a Stake Relief Society night. It was all about talents and how sharing our talents can help to fellowship each other. It was a wonderful event held in the Vitoria Chapel. The display you see was done by the Stake Relief Society Presidency. Then down the middle of the chapel area they set up tables where each ward or branch could display what they wanted to.
This is the Logrono Ward display. Such talent these wonderful sisters shared.
This was done by the Bilbao Sisters. They talked a lot about healthy eating and living. They also shared their talents on the guitar that you will see later on in this post.
The Pamplona Ward shared some wonderful handwork.
You can see in this picture Burgos on the left and just a small part from Las Arenas. Santander was unable to attend. The dresses laying on the table where all made by the sister on the left. Very beautiful work!
San Sebastian had some beautiful crochet work and knitting to display.
Here are the beautiful sisters from San Sebastian. They look happy to be here.
Vitoria had a wonderful display of a variety of things. All the women that came enjoyed looking at everything.
Here are the wonderful talented sisters of the Bilbao Ward. They played a guitar number. Most of them had just learned this past year how to play the guitar.
These are the wonderful sisters of the Stake Relief Society Presidency. They had the faith to ask me to speak to all the sisters this night. I hope that all of them came away feeling the spirit and felt the time was well spent. I sure enjoyed seeing the Relief Society flourishing in Spain.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What We Are Thankful For, Part 2

We started our second swing of interviews in the beautiful city of Santander where we have 4 wonderful missionaries. Now remember parents everyone of them are thankful for their family and the mission. I promised them I would say that, so don't forget that as you read their words. Hna Stosich is thankful for rejections so that she can appreciate the good while Hna Maquieira is thankful por su madre. Elder Farnsworth is thankful for dryers, carpet, WalMart and all the wonderful things waiting for him in America. Elder Nye is thankful that he was born speaking English. (His Spanish is great by the way)
Our wonderful office Elders are thankful for many things as they all know that they are very blessed. Elder Moore is thankful for his parents and for being a missionary while his companion, Elder Ashby is thankful for all his good examples that he had growing up, being a missionary and his mom and dad who raised him. Elder Anderson is thankful for music and Elder Strickland is for a loving Heavenly Father. And I want to say these 4 are the best. They work so hard at keeping the mission going and are so patient with us. Thanks Elders!
Here are the good looking Santiago Elders. Elder Sayaz is thankful for su familia y la oportunidad de ser misionaro while Elder Nestvogel is thankful for days without rain and that his companion gets up every day to play sports with him. (They have some keys to a gym so they can do it every morning. They love it.)
We visited the Santiago District meeting where we were able to catch these great missionaries. Elder Jackson is thankful for his family and being a missionary in Spain. Elder Zamora, one of our newest missionaries is grateful for el apoyo que recibe de algien muy especial y por la "chapa." Elder Stevens is thankful for Los Belnaps! Hna Calderon is thankful for la taza y por la mongui while Hna Sandoval is thankful for su familia y por salud. Elder Driggs is thankful for shoes dryers and Elder McClanahan is thankful that his brother is safely home from his mission and his family.
I just had to include the Santiago District Christmas photo. Find the District Leader! (hint, he is the one in the green tie, que guapo!)
On to Aviles where we found our other new missionary, Elder Saune doing an exchange with Elder Barber. Elder Saune is thankful "ser misionaro y mi nuevo companero"! Our dear Elder Barber is thankful for the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and for Primary Teachers.
We found some very happy missionaries in Gijon with a variety of things they are thankful for. Hna Roerig is thankful for her companion while her companion, Hna Bell is thankful for tender mercies of the Lord that they see every day. Elder Araya is thankful por Elder Flory, mi companero while Elder Probst is thankful for his family and for Elder Flory. Elder Flory is thankful for his family and for Elder Probst. Finally Elder Sanchez is thankful for hallarnos al servicio de los demas.
On to Oviedo in the morning where we find some happy Elders. Elder Skidmore isn't here, he just left to go to Pamplona. He moved early to accomodate space and get a head-start on his new area in Pamplona. He is thankful for family, mission and Elder Hanson. Elder Hanson is thankful for family members here and for Elder Skidmore. Elder Castellon esta agradecido por las manos divinas de Hna Clegg y Hna Belnap. Elder Aston is thankful for postres, canas and napolitanas de Eroski and the amazing rama with Pres. Silvester Gonzalez. Elder Pederson is thankful for the wife of his mission president and for his family, especially his mother!
The next day we went to Bilbao where we have a wonderful district of great missionaries. Elder Gordon is grateful for the spice of his mom, the fun from his dad and the inspiration from everyone. His companion is Elder Cepeda who is thankful for la mision Bilbao y por la gente que son integran. Elder Nelson is thankful for his Christmas package that he got today. Last year it came late, so good job mom! Hna Fitches is thankful for her Christmas presents while Hna Johns is thankful for golden oreos from Elder Gordon and her family. Elder Rowley is thankful for homemade bread while his companion, Elder Woods is thankful for mom, dad, Sandra, Ty, Ally, Ryan, MaKenna, Jeremy and Maddie (hope they are all spelled right) And finally Elder Leon is thankful por mi companero, Elder Nelson.
The San Sebastian Elders are so thankful for a new piso and it is wonderful. Elder Crocker is thankful for family, especially his grandmother. Elder Blazian is thankful for such a great district! Elder Nielsen is thankful for his father for his example to him and all he has taught him and for the power of prayer. Elder Howard is thankful for the persians because they invented chess and his family.
Here we have the wonderful Belnaps. Hna Belnap is thankful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ as her Savior, while Elder Belnap is thankful for his eternal companion. The entire mission is thankful for the wonderful bread they get to enjoy that Hna Belnap so willingly made.
And finally, it is our turn. We are so thankful for this wonderful opportunity to be on a mission and especially here in the great Spain Bilbao Mission. We are in the best mission in the church with the best missionaries and members. We love the parents of our missionaries. Thank-you for raising such wonderful young men and women, they are fantastic! We have been overwhelmed at the welcome and love we have felt every day since we arrived on July 1st, almost 5 months now. We love our family back home. They give us so much support and we are so proud of them and their choices. We are thankful for this wonderful Gospel of Jesus Christ and that we have the opportunity as a mission to invite everyone to come unto Christ and repent and be baptized! This is his church which has been restored on earth. Our message is simple to the world. Come, enter the gate of baptism and enjoy the blessings that will come into your life for your choice. The vision of this mission is "Thru faith, we don't hesitate to baptize." In Spanish, "Por medio de la fe, no basilamos en bautizar." This is our purpose and this is our message. As our faith grows we will see this come to pass in the lives of the elect here in Spain! Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Friday, November 20, 2009

What We Are Thankful For, Part 1

We began our interview trip in Vitoria. We decided to take every missionary a small loaf of homemade bread to wish them all a little Happy Thanksgiving, American Style. Muchas Gracias to Hna Belnap. I talked to her about my idea and she said, I'll make them. Yes, 80 little loaves of bread have been filling up the freezer in the mission home. Well our commentary for the rest of this blog and the next one will be what our missionaries are thankful for. I told them that I would say that everyone is thankful for their family and the mission, so if they wanted to come up with something else they could. So here comes all the thoughts from our missionaries. Elder Frank is thankful for his family, of course and Elder Renshaw said the bread! Hna Sieverts said her family while Hna Miskin said she was thankful for the Brigham City Temple to come and for progression!
Our two Zone Leaders of Vitoria seem to be happy about the bread. Elder Smith is thankful for his Dad and his family and Elder Griffith is thankful for his momma!
On to Pamplona with the Guapo Elders are showing their poses with their bread! Elder Chavez is thankful para mi familia while Elder Moya is thankful for mi novia Paula y por servir en la mision. Elder Fowers is thankful for his mom and dad while Elder Griotti is thankful for mi mama y mis 5 hermanas.
The Logrono missionaries are so happy this thanksgiving time. The only piso in the mission with 4 hermanas, wow. Hna Arzola is thankful para mi familia, her cute new haircut and uno cards. Hna Rudder is thankful for 8 full hours of sleep and Salsa Brava. Hna Truscott is thankful for comfortable shoes, a good laugh, prayer and enlightenment while Hna Huntsman is thankful for the Lord's hand in her life and warm showers! (their hot water has been out but is getting fixed) In the rear Elder Harris is thankful for bowls of cereal, good dreams, clean clothes, awesome goals and yoyo's, while Elder Southwick is thankful for family and gospel and a full mailbox. (He might have said cereal too!)
What is this? The Hermana's surprised me with a rose and some chocolate from Switzerland. (This is Hna Arzola's home) What cute sisters. The Presidente and I are definitely thankful for wonderful and adorable Hermanas! (O.K. Elders, better step it up!)
On we went to Burgos, with 4 very happy missionaries. Elder Esteves-Garcia is thankful por la catedral en Leon, Elder Holmes is thankful for his family and his Mission Presidente!!(Hey Elder Holmes, you are making the Elders look good!) Hermana Moraza is thankful for Hna Sanchez y el frio en Burgos while Hna Sanchez is thankful for Hna Moraza, su familia y muchos milagros.
These Leon Elders look like they are happy for their bread. Elder Roldan is thankful to tiene que ser mas osado, while Elder Ciccio is thankful por mi familia y mi novia. Elder Quinn is thankful for his family, especially his brother and the example of his parents while Elder Corbridge is thankful for his calling as a missionary.
The hard working Benavente Elders know they are going to enjoy the bread. Elder Alvarez is thankful for early mornings for running and Elder Bingham is thankful for scarves (It is getting chilly in Benavente)
Our happy Ponferrada Elders are always happy and thankful. Elder Hansen is thankful for his butterfinger desert that he served us as we visited them. Actually they fed us a lunch of baked chicken with green beans, garlic bread and the desert. Who said that missionaries can't cook? Elder Gerber is thankful for eggwhites. (His chicken was fantastic)
Our Vigo missionaries are working extra hard. I think they have had 4 baptisms this past month. Hna Abellan and Hna Patten are thankful for Hna Clegg to be able to come on visits with them and take two buses around Vigo as we got lost and to run and run and run to get to an investigators house before it was too late. Wow, we had such a wild, wonderful night. And yes, they are both thankful for their families and the fact that Hna Abellan is learning English from Hna Patten and Hna Patten is learning spanish from Hna Abellan. Elder Johnstun is thankful for his loaf of bread while Elder Carins is thankful for Elder Dredge. Elder Dredge is thankful for Elder Carins (now wait a minute, didn't we get this in Burgos) and his mom! And Elder Anderson is thankful for hammocks on a sunny day. Hmn, is he going home in 3 weeks?
Oh, the delightful Elders in Pontevedra are bright and cheery for an 8:30 a.m. interview. Elder Garcia is thankful for water-proof shoes and his district while Elder Hansen is thankful for his family, of course, and for croissants, nice and warm!
And finally for this half of the mission, the Ourense Telitubby missionaries (I got it from an unnamed source they were the 4 telitubbies for a branch Halloween party. If I get a hold of a picture, I will have to share it. Elder Webb is thankful for frosted circus animal cookies with the sprinkles on top, Elder Oscanoa is thankful to estar aqui en la mision y muchas milagros. Elder Kofe is thankful for Spanish Bread while Elder Ryser is thankful for Branca, an angel of a member. That will do it for now but we will continue this after we visit the other half of the mission this coming Sunday through Thursday. So stay tuned for "the rest of the story!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Show, South America Style

Today was a great day. We received two wonderful new missionaries. Both of them are from Barcelona but Elder Saune is from Peru and Elder Zamora is from Bolivia. Both of them had a lot to talk to the Presidente about. It is amazing how much you have such an immediate love for the new missionaries and these are no exception. They look great and are ready to go to work.
Oh "Ye Elders of Israel", what a joy to have them in the fold. Just such a great looking group I just had to get this shot.
We have to have our group shot. These are great Elders. The spirit they brought into the mission home was fantastic. They have so much enthusiasm. Receiving new missionaries is really one of the best of days. We love it. Elder Zamora is next to Presidente Clegg and Elder Saune is next to me.
The orientation was fantastic, probably one of the best. Here is the time that the assignments and trainers are going to be announced.
Elder Zamora seems to be saying, "Hey, is that my trainer?" I know they are very nervous and are hoping for someone they will love and who will train them well. This is such an important part of missionary work.
They show him the picture of his companion. It is Elder Stevens. Some of you might wonder why the companion isn't there. Well, Elder Stevens is 12 hours away by train. Elder Zamora will leave the next day to get to his companion. Elder Saune only has to take a 5 hour bus ride to get to his companion. Elder Zamora is going to Ferrol and Elder Saune is going to Oviedo and his companion is Elder Castellon.
Small miracles happen every day. Today was a rainy day, but for only about 5 minutes, the clouds lifted and we could see Bilbao. Then, as quickly as they lifted, they came down. It didn't dampen our spirits as the moment of commencing their mission is now!
Umbrellas and all, I think we can still see the smiles of joy and excitement. This is also a special time as this will be the last show Elder Moore will be a part of. He is moving next transfer, but where? Only the Presidente knows, and he isn't telling anyone yet!

Leon District Conference, Wow!

The weekend District Conference started on Saturday afternoon. Since the Presidente had meetings with Elder Weidmann and others I went out with Elder Corbridge and Elder Quinn. We went to visit Cilene who is confined to a wheel chair. She loves the Book of Mormon and has been reading it. She is a sweet woman who has many challenges in her life but has a wonderful smile and a cheerful heart. I enjoyed meeting her and talking to her about Gratitude. It was a special lesson.
The main two sessions were held on Sunday. The first at 9:30 and the second one at noon. It was a wonderful conference. Here Presidente and I are with the District Presidente, Pres. Martinez. He is holding his son. He is a fantastic man with a giant spirit. The two darling girls are sisters and they live in the Ponferrada Rama.
Two wonderful, happy sisters who enjoyed the sessions of conference.
It is so great to see the Elders and Sisters there. Elder Flory and Elder Pederson came on the bus with the 3 branches from Oviedo, Aviles and Gijon. They are great members who sacrifice a lot to come to conference.
Elder Quinn and Elder Roldan are currently working in Leon, where the conference was held. Elder Roldan is the Branch President of the Leon Branch and Elder Quinn is one of the Zone Leaders. They are working hard to build the kingdom in Leon.
Elder Hansen and Elder Gerber are two very hard working Elders from Ponferrada. This is such a wonderful town with a wonderful branch. They love it there.
Couldn't go without seeing Elder Barber. He is giving it his all in Aviles with his companion Elder Pederson
Elder Bingham is currently in Benevente along with Sheila, a recently returned missionary both agreed the conference was great. Elder Wiedmann brought the spirit and challenged us all to grow the church here to create a Stake.
The 3 presiding authorities, Presedente Clegg of the Spain Bilbao Mission, Elder Weidmann, an Area Seventy and Presidente Marinez, the District Presidente. All 3 great men who have a wonderful vision of service and love. Elder Weidmann is from Bern, Switzerland and we sure hope we see him again. He has a real sensitivity to the spirit.
My two friends from Gijon, Rosa and Marisa. They are so wonderful. I feel like we have been friends for years. They have opened up their hearts and let me in. We were having fun setting up this picture. I think we tried it 3 times, looks good!
Elder Bingham and Elder Alvarez were the translators for the conference. This is tough duty. They did a wonderful job and were very appreciated by all. Many of the members came up to me and told me that they did such a great job. Way to go Elders! They loved translating for Elder Weidmann. They said that he testified so often it helped them feel the spirit constantly. What a great example to all.
After the Conference everyone heads over to the small Leon Capilla. It was fun to gather and share food and talk to everyone. Such a wonderful spirit of love. Looks like Elder Roldan is welcoming everyone. I am sure he wishes he had this many people in church each week.
The Elders have to be fed too. They brought their own food and enjoyed catching up with each other. Great Elders. From l. to r. Elders Pederson, Aston, Skidmore, Probst, Hanson, Gerber and Hansen. Whew!
Hermana Bell with this darling young man Benjamin enjoying some nurishment.
Elders Flory and Barber are sharing with me a wonderful empenada. It is good.
Another great family, enjoying the day.
This is a wonderful sister, Tamera, who just got her mission call to Malaga, Spain. Her nationality is Chilean. She is excited to go on her mission. She will be fantastic. She has been out with our Hermanas a lot and they love her.
Elder Skidmore posing with some of the great members
Looks like Elder Araya is leading the charge out of the capilla. Where are they all going?
All those who are going back to Asturias are getting on the bus. Here we have Hna Elena waving goodbye. What a wonderful day of uplighting talks and testimony. We all left full of the spirit and enthusiasm to continue in the work.