Monday, January 25, 2010

Consejo for All

There is so much that goes into training new staff in the office. It is a time of a lot of counsel and advice that must be passed on. Elder Anderson is starting the task of bringing Elder Holmes up to speed on so many financial details of a mission office.
At the same time, Elder Hansen, who is now comfortable in his duties can give and receive counsel from the Presidente. They need to always be in good communication on all matters of scheduling, residency and transfers. Elder Hansen has a very matter of fact style and is a very organized missionary, a real necessity for the office.
Now comes the real difficult counsel, do we like Elder Dredge's haircut or should we counsel him otherwise? We are all gathered in the kitchen at the first of Zone Leader Counsel where we enjoy the homemade cinnamon rolls of Hna Belnap before we partake of the spiritual counsel and planning that goes on once every 6 weeks.
These young men have a responsibility for all the Elders and Hermanas of their Zone and this is the time where they can give and receive counsel.
We had a great morning filled with great thoughts and counsel. Just so you don't think that all we do is eat. But pulled pork sandwiches are on the menu today. We made it like a picnic including the checked tablecloths. I don't think any of the Elders really put that together, but it is fun for me to mix it up a bit. All the Elders on the left side of the table came to the mission together, quite a great group of missionaries.
This side has a few new Elders in the mix. Elder Nelson 2nd Elder down and Elder Hanson, 5th Elder down are new to the counsel this time. Welcome!
After lunch we all gathered our scriptures for words on Spirituality. The Presidente taught us a a lot and gave us many things to think about.
A very good looking group. Back Row, l. to r. Elders Smith, Anderson, Cairns, Nielsen, Flory, Garcia, Nelson, Hanson and Woods. Front row is l. to r. Elders Hansen, Ashby, me, Presidente, Elders Dredge and Holmes. We all went away uplifted and excited for what lies ahead this transfer.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Introducing the Traveling Trainers

"Hey mom, I'm home!" seems to be what Elder Moore is saying as he walks into the office on Wednesday morning. But he was in Gijon doing great missionary work with Elder Araya. So what is the big deal? Just after he walked in with Elder Ashby, the following two Elders walked in.
"We're ready for duty" are the words from Elder Dredge and Elder "Captain" Corbridge. O.K., so let us explain what is really going on. In our mission we will be loosing over half of our Elders and Hermanas over the next 6-7 months. For some reason the way they send us missionaries makes things very lopsided during the year. Presidente Clegg noticed this and was trying to figure out a way to help the rest of our mission, full of young and very good missionaries "grow up" a little faster and become the leaders we know they can all be. He developed a plan and then talked with the Area Presidency and received permission to extend Elder Corbridge's mission by a transfer and designate him and Elder Moore as the "Traveling Trainers." For the next 2 transfers they will be traveling around the mission, staying 5 days with each companionship and work with them on their contacting and teaching, helping them to build their confidence more and to give them some intense training.
But to make this work successful, we need the hard work of our ayudantes to help with all the physical arrangements and to prepare the other missionaries for their coming. A lot of coordination has gone into planning where they go and when. These two Elders are incredible workers and have found a lot of success in the mission and we are hoping that they can pass on some of their knowledge to the other missionaries. We brought them in to first have a day of preparation and training and going over all the details to make sure everything was ready. Don't you think they look like the 4 sons of Mosiah or something like that as they ready themselves to listen to Presidente Clegg.
The next day we started with breakfast at the mission home. While Elder Moore and Corbridge were finishing the last of their planning, the ayudantes and I made breakfast burritos, a mission home favorite.
We had Elder Dredge's favorite spice cake for a desert. This was sent to him from home and he was saving it for a special day. Today seemed fitting. Afterwards we had a very special teaching/testimony meeting that filled our hearts and mind with the spirit and with the vision of what we hope will be accomplished. All the missionaries are very excited for The Traveling Trainers or T.T.'s to come to their city. They even have planned a very special District Meeting to help the Hermanas where ever they are working.
We hope you don't think that all we do is eat, but missionaries will be missionaries. One of the favorite places for any missionary who has served in Bilbao is this Chinese Buffet. It is real reasonable and the missionaries can eat till their heart's content. They are full and ready to get started.
Presidente was trying to see what it would be like to be taller than Elder Corbridge. Nice try!
We found a nice Spanish woman to take a picture of all of us. But now it is time for work and the schedule is tight.
We were getting the car out of the parking garage when we noticed that Elder Corbridge didn't have to stretch to touch the ceiling. I just hope it isn't too dirty up there Elder Corbridge.
We drove them to their first city, Santander, where Elders Griotti and Farnsworth were waiting and ready. Elder Farnsworth is a great district leader in Santander and just received Elder Griotti two days earlier in the transfers. They were both excited to have the Elders for a few days to work and learn from each other. We think this will be a wonderful experience for every elder. They can all learn from each other and feel the excitement of working together for a united reason, to invite everyone to Come unto Christ and be baptized by someone with the proper authority. This is the purpose of a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Presidente Clegg is leaving his last words of advice as we ready ourselves to return home. We love our missionaries and hope that all of them can feel of this love and also the love of their Heavenly Father. They are hard workers who want so much to do what is right and be the best that they can. We have so much confidence in all of them and wish Elders Corbridge and Moore good health as they start on this exciting journey through the mission.

Do We Have to Say Good-bye?

This week we didn't receive any new missionaries but we were saying good-bye to two wonderful missionaries. Hna Macquieira is sharing some of her food with Elder Ashby. Looks like he won't share with Elder Dredge. She has been such a sweet, dear, wonderful missionary. A great example to all of us and everyone is going to miss her. She lives in the Barcelona area but her nationality is Uruguayan.
Elder Corbridge is giving Hna Maquieira a "legal?" missionary hug. Hey wait a minute, why is Elder Corbridge in the office? Isn't he the Zone Leader in Leon? Something must be going on? Hna Maquieira and Elder Corbridge served in Vitoria and Bilbao at the same time. Half of her mission was spent in the same cities as Elder Corbridge. They are dear friends.
After the exit interviews we always go up to a vista point in Bilbao. This is a great place to see all the city. Elder Fowers never served here so this was his first time seeing the city. I think he is saying "wow" as we are taking this picture on a very windy day.
The playground is super up there and of course the Ayudantes have to get into the act! Don't fall off anyone of you or I will have to call Elder "Dr." Dye!
We had a sweet, personal dinner and testimony meeting. The departing dinner is always a little surreal for the leaving missionaries.
The Ayudantes come to take Elder Fowers back to their piso to spend the night. Wait, Elder Moore isn't an ayudante anymore, what is he doing here? Hmm?, we have got some Elders traveling around, this isn't suppose to be happening is it?
The next morning, bright and early we are sending them off. A day that comes after 2 years or 18 months of service to the Lord and his people. Life is a journey and it is such an honor to send these missionaries home to start their new journey for the rest of their lives. Tears are the tears of satisfaction of a job well done mixed with a little fear of what is ahead. We are sure these two will do just great! Until we see you again, much love from all of us in the Spain Bilbao Mission.
After leaving them at the airport these 3 Elders showed up at our door wanting breakfast. We decided to do a Secretary orientation. You are seeing a new face in the office. On the left is Elder Holmes from Littleton, Colorado. He will be replacing Elder (Inspector Cluso)Anderson. Elder Anderson found this coat in the piso which was left by another Elder. Parents, don't buy your son's this type of coat, they don't wear them. Anyway, Elder Holmes is a great elder who knows and understands how to use mac computers. I am SO excited as I am the only mac user here and he is going to be helping me a lot. (that isn't why he is here, but I hope to benefit from his presence.) The 3 of these Elders are great and we had a nice breakfast of crepes along with a nice little orientation and welcome to the office. The secretaries provide such a needed and wonderful service to the mission. We couldn't function without them. They are examples to the rest of the mission in their work and attitudes. They also have 3 baptismal fechas set for next month. They are proselyting missionaries first and office elders second.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Visiting Vigo for Lunch!

This past weekend we spent a wonderful day in Vigo. The District President, Presidente Hernandez who is pictured here with Presidente Clegg were changing the Branch President. Currently it was Presidente Duke who did a wonderful job. Now the calling has come to Presidente Fraguas. He was a member of the District Presidency before. A very special day in Vigo.
Here I am with Irene Martinez. We spent a lot of time talking and getting aquainted. She has a sister who is married and lives in the United States. What a dear, wonderful member in Vigo.
Here we see Hna Abellan with from l. to r. Vilma, Jessica and Vimar. They are sad to see Hna Abellan leave. She is leaving for Gijon but has loved her time in Vigo and we know that the members love her too.
Here we have Vilma again with Hna Barbosa. More love being shown in Vigo.
Here we have Jose Maria Palacios and his darling family. Lots of children in the Vigo branch.
The new Branch President is Presidente Fraguas. His wife is pictured here with one of their 3 children along with Loli and another faithful Hermana.
This is the Avila family. Hermano Avila is in the Branch Presidency and his cute wife Helen is the Relief Society President. They have two children and the other two darling girls are members of the huge Primary of Vigo.
Elder Cairns and Elder Nielsen are pictured with Arturo and Alex who were just baptized this week. Elder Cairns was also leaving Vigo to go to Leon. It was a big day with two missionaries leaving and a Branch Presidency change.
Alison on the left with her sister Monica are giving their love to Hna Abellan.
A visit to Vigo wouldn't be complete without seeing some of the Bamio family. Hno Bamio is the fantastic branch mission leader and his cute daughter Tairi speaks perfect english. Hna Patten is also sad to see Hna Abellan leave. They have been a perfect companionship together.
After church we were invited to the Elders piso for lunch. Hna Patten isn't sure about this. What are they going to feed us?
Elder Quinn, with his apron on is presenting the main course. Elder Nielsen and Cairns are ready to eat. Elder Quinn also made my homemade french soup and it was delicious. After a wonderful meal we had to push off to get home to Mungia. What a wonderful day in Vigo.

Farewell Again

It is the last Saturday in the transfer cycle and this time we are saying good-bye to Elder Strickland. Elder Strickland was the first Elder called into the office by Presidente. He has done a fantastic job. His request for breakfast was "french toast." Here all 3 of the secretaries are ready to dig in.
We all enjoyed a hearty breakfast including bacon with eggs and a fresh fruit salad and juice. There were no leftovers!
Hermana Belnap is right in there to help with the clean up. Elder Anderson and Strickland are right there to help her as well. This brings me to the point to introduce you to our new team.
Fearsome looking Elder Anderson is one of the 5 members of "Operation White Glove." The Belnaps along with one or more of the secretaries are going to be touring the mission to check on every piso. Each Monday they will be in a different location. The Elders and Hermanas are being asked the week before to deep clean and throw out the junk that is lying around in the pisos. When the Belnaps show up to inspect them, they will help them with any additional work or repair. After they are finished with everyone they are going to award one piso of Elders and one piso of Hermanas the "Cleanest Piso Award." This should be great. We want our pisos to be pisos of order!
Looks like Elder Hansen is already checking on the Mission Home. I hope we pass!
All the Elders gathered around the Presidente in his den where he shared a few stories from some of his favorite books. It is always great to talk about people in the gospel and learn from their lives.
Elder Anderson discovered my violin and now he is hooked. I just don't know if I can listen to his squeaky sounds. This might be an after mission project!
Elder Dredge and Elder Anderson are sporting matching t-shirts. I think they got them cheap at the Eroski Center when they bought a certain amount of food. They look good, but I don't think anyone is going to think Elder Dredge is Elder Anderson's twin brother. Besides, his twin brother is in the Philippines on a mission right now. We had a great morning, then all left to finish their p-day activities and get ready for another day of missionary work.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

White Days in Bilbao

Many times in the mission field when you talk about having a white day, people are talking about a baptism. Surely we baptize here in the Spain Bilbao Mission. Matter of fact, the mission for 2009 was up 81% over 2008. That is a significant increase and we attribute that to the hard work and dedication of our missionaries and the Spirit of the Lord resting on people and preparing them to hear the words of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Here we have our ayudantes Elders Ashby and Dredge with their last baptism, a wonderful man by the name of Aingeru. He is very close friends with the Martin family of Las Arenas. This was a wonderful baptism and the spirit of the Lord was present. He had requested his baptism to be on Friday, and so it left Saturday open for.....
Another wonderful baptism. This time it was a very dear man from Columbia named Wber. He was taught by several of the Hermanas but was finally ready to be one of the first baptized in the new year. Here we have Hna Johns and Hna Fitches along with the Ward Mission Leader Rene Robles on the far left. Wber's son, Wber Jr. is on the right.
Elder Woods was practicing a song to be played for the baptism. Mikel and Wber Jr, two sons of Wber are watching. The Hermanas are teaching Wber Jr. and hopefully he will be baptized soon by his father. That is the gospel in action. But after Saturday, we were awakened to a white.....
Snowstorm in Bilbao. This is the road out from the mission home in Mungia. This was quite a storm for this part of the world. In Utah, this is your normal winter storm, but for here, this was incredible. I wish I had taken a picture, but the next day a bus slid sideways on a road coming into the subdivision and blocked the road for the morning. They do have snowplows for the main freeways, but not for the neighborhoods. They were closing roads all around us. We had to go out a back way in order to get to church. We were going to Gijon this morning but turned around when we were 20 miles out of Bilbao and realized the roads were iced over. We later found out the road to Gijon had been closed.
The skies cleared and so we invited the Belnaps and the Secretaries over for lunch. Elders Hansen and Anderson thought it would be fun to run barefoot in the snow. Elder Anderson drove home for the first time on snow. Such new adventures everyday.
3 days later all the snow is gone and life is back to normal. Actually the snow was mostly gone by Monday and the temperatures warmed back up to somewhere close to the 50's. This evening I went out teaching with the great Hermanas in Bilbao. If you enlarge the picture you will see the Guggenheim in the background. Bilbao is such a beautiful city, we love it here.