Saturday, February 27, 2010

We Love Our Visits From Home

We had a wonderful visit of a few days this past week with our youngest daughter, Ally and her husband John Poulton. They live in Allen, Texas with their two darling sons and a baby girl on the way. They came to us by way of Paris. They took a train down which proved to be a fun and enjoyable thing to do. We picked them up at the Irun train station just outside of San Sebastian and for the next 2 1/2 days we were on the run.
The day was nice enough to go up to the mountains for a view of the Pyrennes and then it was off to beautiful San Sebastian.
What a beautiful late winter day. The temperature was very mild and we enjoyed our promenade on the beach followed by a late lunch.
I just thought everyone should see this beautiful beach. The only way to know that this is winter is the lack of leaves on some of the trees and the lack of people at the beach. This is a beautiful city that is enjoyed by many people from all over the world.
We had on a map a circle around a must see cathedral. We put in the name on our g.p.s. and off we went . We were surprised at the "must see" place. We were up a small road at the end of the road. We decided that it wasn't so must see, although the drive was beautiful. On the way down back to the mission home we came upon.....
This! This was the must see cathedral. This is the basilica in Loiola. Or in English, Loyola. This is where St Ignatious, the founder of the Jesuit order in the Catholic Church, lived and is buried. He lived from 1491-1556. There is a school here for men to become Jesuit Priests. It was beautiful!
We took a picture in front of the massive doors. There were priests singing in the distance. It was a "must see" cathedral for sure.
The next day we took a p-day and went to the Picos de Europa. It was sunny in Bilbao but when we went to a place called Fuente De, it was windy and a little cloudy, but we were able to see the snow capped peaks. Ally and John are trying to see where the gondola would take us up the mountain. I think John has found it.
If you look on the top left side, you will see a small shack where the gondola goes to. It wasn't running this day due to the wind. We are sure the view would be fantastic, but at least we could see the top.
On our way down we snapped this picture. These are beautiful mountains.
This quaint village was just below the stop for the Gondola.
We stopped to eat in Potes. This was a quaint town with lots of charm. Ally liked the view.
The small charming streets ran throughout the little town. We enjoyed a nice lunch and drove back to Mungia.
Our last day was spent in Las Arenas and Bilbao. We went to the mission office to have everyone meet Ally and John. This is the Puente Colgante which crosses traffic from Las Arenas to Portugalete. Notice how the ferry doesn't touch the water. It is all supported by the bridge. For a fee, you can walk across the top, or for 1/2 a Euro, you can ride it across. It is constantly crossing all day.
Portugalete is a beautiful city across from Las Arenas.
The ayudantes caught up with us and we walked a little further along the pier. It was a mild February day.
A fun thing that is found in a lot of parks in Spain are workout sections. These permanent pieces of equipment are there for the public to use. We had fun trying them out. This one was for twisting and strenghtening the core muscles.
Presidente and Elder Dredge are testing their flexibility. "Look mom, no hands!"
We took off to see the Guggenheim. It is definitely a different and unique museum. You will find all sorts of modern art inside. The building itself is spectacular. We had to take a picture of our pregnant Ally under the spider who's egg sack is also full of baby spiders!
This is a symbol of Bilbao and we love to walk around it. It was a mild day again, so we enjoyed seeing the sights.
For the last part of our time together we went to Gernica. This is a city with a lot of history. The tree stump you see behind the fence has a lot of significance to the Basque people. It is petrified now but for centuries the leaders of the Basque people met here under the oak tree. It symbolizes the ancient roots of the Basque people. It is over 400 years old.
This repilca of Pablo Picasso's "Gernica" was originally painted by the artist as an anti-war piece of art. Gernica was bombed during the Civil War in Spain in 1937. Franco allowed Hiltler's Lutfwafle Condor Legion and the Italian Fascist Aviazione Legionaria to bomb the town for practice and at the same time inflict damage to the Basque people. We enjoyed visiting the town and learning more about the Basque culture. They are an amazing group of people. Our visit was too short, but also we were so thankful to be able to see them for a few days. Quedense nuestros hijos!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Pontevedra Baptisms

It was a beautiful day as we came into Galicia. This is a picture taken from the car as we were entering Vigo. We dropped off the ayudantes to do their exchange with the Zone Leaders in Vigo then we drove to Pontevedra.
We arrived in time to be at the baptisms of Ben Koffi pictured here and Erika Sineiro, the daughter of the Branch President. Elder Frank and Elder Aston are our two hard working Elders in Pontevedra. It is a wonderful branch that we always love to visit. We wish we were closer to be able to come more often, as it is it takes 7 hours to get there, but the drive is worth it, especially when we get to be part of a baptism.
Pictured here is Erika with her brother and mother. She was baptized by her father and her brother bore his testimony. They are a wonderful family and what a sweet spirit attended the baptism.
Little Sophia is the youngest sister in the Pereiras family. She loves to lead the singing and goes up in front of the branch and will hold the hymn book and try to lead everyone. She is adorable. We love little children, they are what the Savior wants us to be more like.
These are Sophia's two older sisters, Camille and Candela. Their entire family lived in Utah for a few years and both of these beautiful girls speak wonderful English. I feel like they could be my daughters and would love to take them home with me. It's friendships that we make when we are serving in the church throughout the world that are always so dear and will be hard to leave. We left Sunday after the Branch Conference where we enjoyed a wonderful spirit with the faithful saints in Pontevedra.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Interviews and Dinners

We love going around the mission during interview time. Our two Elders in Burgos, Elders Sayaz and Esteves-Garcia are two happy campers in Burgos. They are best friends from their home in Barcelona and were ecstatic to be able to work together. They are working so hard and have seen many miracles in Burgos. They are standing in front of the bulletin board done by Elder Esteves-Garcia and his former companion, Elder Holmes. This has the branch mission plan on it. Great things are definitely coming out of Burgos.
Interviews are a great time to get closer to the missionaries and to do our best to help and motivate them in their work. We take the ayudantes along to do mini district meetings and to provide another time to practice and perfect their skills. We review the principles taught at Zone Conference or those brought to us by our visiting authority, Elder Causse, to raise the level of missionary work in the mission. Here in Gijon they are all over it. They are great missionaries who are seeing a lot of success. They have 4 baptismal fechas and teaching as many as 15-20 lessons every week. They are incredible.
We found the missionaries in Aviles doing fantastic. They have 2 baptismal dates and are working so hard with the Branch President to activate many members. Elder Southwick had to bring out his Real Salt Lake Championship t-shirt. Yea for Real Salt Lake as they won the MLS Soccer Championship. Don't be jealous Elder Ashby, just because you don't come from Salt Lake.
Being fit is a part of missionary work but Elders Frank, Ashby and Dredge are taking it a little to the extreme in Pontevedra! Ballet is actually a wonderful form of exercise, and the turn-out on these young men is to be envied, but they need to work on their grace! (It is amazing what Elders will do for a picture on the blog)
We found the Santiago Elders working so hard. Elder Nestvogel is a machine and Elder Nye is doing his best to keep up. You can tell by Elder Nestvogel's shoes that he is a missionary in the field! We always enjoy our visit to Santiago, including this one!
The beautiful smiles of the Hermanas in A Coruna. Hna's Moraza and Calderon light up the room when we see them. We had a wonderful lunch in A Coruna furnished by the Elders and the Hermanas. They also performed a little skit for us, written by the Hermanas. It was to help us feel the spirit of Carnival! Well, missionary style is pretty tame, but the dancing of Elders Driggs and McClanahan was the show stopper.
We are getting ready to eat. We had the famous "Chaws" lunch. The missionaries affectionately call it heart attack on a plate. It is very rich but good. Then with the Hermanas making cheese cake, needless to say we were full. The Presidente will always interview the missionaries either before or after lunch. It is a wonderful way to spend a few hours with these dear missionaries.
We found Ourense very engaged in their missionary work and willing to learn. We are working on teaching with unity and switching off between companions more often. Elder Holland taught us in the MTC that missionaries need to be changing more often allowing for the Holy Ghost to be more present in the lessons. Missionaries aren't to be teaching just a presentation, there needs to be lot's of questions and switching every 2-3 minutes with their companion in a lesson. This takes practice but the missionaries are doing great with it and finding that when they don't put limits of the spirit, they both feel the spirit more in their teaching.
Hey, who are these hombres on the board? They look like some of the top 10 most wanted. They are actually the 4 missionaries in characature. They are having a Rama activity and the creativity of these Elders is evident. But hmn, I think that is just a pencil in Elder Ryser's mouth, isn't it?
Ah, we knock on the door in San Sebastian and find ourselves in a very not so authentic french restaurant. We are ready for anything when we knock on the door of Elder Webb.
Oui, Oui, says the waiter, Elder WEEEEbb. Oh what a character! We love Elder Webb. He lead us through the candle lit hallway to the restaurant Chez ??? Anyway, we were seated down to a wonderful meal, but first, the peasants?
The ayudantes were sent to the bathroom for their lunch when they were jumped by Elder Zamora from the shower and ordered to put their hands up. Elder Howard, who was the master chef, aided in the show!
Two young, hard working missionaries, Elder Zamora and Elder Howard are doing their best to keep up with Elder Webb. They had a baptism last week and have another baptismal fecha set, so don't let the fun and games fool you, these are 3 hard working missionaries who are giving it their all in San Sebastian. But there is a time for fun, and this was a great little event. Elders, are those squirt guns loaded?
Baked chicken with vegetables. We don't get this good looking of meal too often. Way to go Elder Howard.
After lunch during our practice, they enjoy their cookies and rice krispie treats as their Valentine treat from me and the Presidente. A great lunch in San Sebastian with 3 wonderful missionaries.
We drove up to the capilla in Logorno to find Elders Crocker and Harris contacting someone on the street as they were coming for their interviews. You can't see the investigator, but I wanted a "real action shot." They are living the principal of contacting everyone. We are so proud of our missionaries.
"Whew" says Hna Rudder as we are taking note of Elder Crocker's tie. In probably all missions, there are ties that are passed down, or represent something. Elder Crocker was given the Pocahontas tie from Elder Moore. Elder Ashby spied it on Elder Crocker. The Traveling Trainers had been in Logrono the week before and Elder Moore was so impressed with Elder Crocker, that he passed on this tie. That's an honor for you Elder Crocker.
This is the backside of the tie with the names of the missionaries on the back who have owned the tie. The hard thing to decide is what to do with the tie now that the mission will be closed the end of June? We will let Elder Crocker make that decision.
Hna's Rudder and Huntsman are a little sad that they didn't get to go shopping and bowling with me last week. I would have loved to have them along, but we will have to try to find another time. They are working very hard in Logrono.
We went on to Leon on this day where we found Chef Ciccio, cooking us real Italian pizza. He is the Branch President in Leon and doing a wonderful job. He set the goal to have 60 people attending church in the rama. When he came there were probably around 25-30 coming. Last Sunday they had 48 in church, with 14 of them being investigators. They have two baptisms this week, and a few more in the weeks to come. The Zone Leaders also live and work here and they are part of this great success that they are seeing in Leon. The missionaries have to have the vision and the faith to find, and the Lord does bless them. We are seeing this in Leon. In the Leon Zone every companionship has at least one baptismal fecha, many have more than one. They are leading the mission in baptisms right now. Way to go Leon Zone.
We can't get this pizza down fast enough. Elder Strickland, in the glasses, is Elder Ciccio's companion and the District Leader and Elder Cairns, on the right, is one of the Zone Leaders. Elder Ashby with Presidente Clegg are also enjoying the food. We were well fed and left the ayudantes there to do exchanges while we pushed on to Benevente.
Elders Alvarez and Pederson are giving us the thumbs up as Elder Strickland is interviewing one of their baptismal candidates. She passed and will be baptized this weekend. They have two more, but they aren't ready yet, but hopefully soon. They have been working very hard in Benevente and it shows in their enthusiasm and energy. We weren't able to put all the missionaries on the blog but let me say we are so pleased with all of them. They are working hard, eager to learn more, and excited to share the gospel. We love our missionaries! We also love all the parents for raising these great young men and women and for supporting them on their missions. They do love mail and packages from home.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

When the President's Away

Presidente Clegg left for two days to go to Germany for the mid-year conference of Mission Presidents. The wives were not invited to this conference, so I stayed home. I have a dear friend, Hna Ofelia from Santander who has been the best member missionary. She has a friend that she introduced to the missionaries to teach and she wanted me to meet her. Since I was alone Friday, I decided to go up to Santander. We participated in a wonderful lesson taught by Elders Griotti and Farnsworth. Afterwards she invited me to come with the Ward Leaders to dinner at a Chinese Restaurant. Why not!! It was a wonderful night. Ofelia is the one with the grey hair about half way down the table. I am sitting across from her son Sergio who's wife Rosa was tired and so she didn't come. It is fun to just socialize once in a while with the wonderful saints in Spain. Santander has incredible members.
The next day I had 5 office Elders, a little down because it was rainy and cold in Bilbao and they didn't know what to do for their p-day. They asked me what I was doing. I said what any good woman would say, "I'm go shopping, want to come?"
They decided it was o.k. to go to the mall with "mom." Hmn, 50% off on everything in this store! It is rebajas time, that means sales!
No Elder Hansen, that is not a missionary approved shirt. Yes, this was really in the men's department. And no, Elder Hansen didn't buy it.
Elders seem to loose all their fashion sense. Elder Ashby, this isn't cool. Maybe next year!
Elder Anderson, you aren't looking at jewelry? Actually, this was a bunch of guitar picks. But without a guitar, they aren't very useful.
It didn't take too long for 5 Elders to become bored. So what does a mom do with this group?
We went bowling! This mall had a huge bowling lane, so game on. It was Elders Ashby, Holmes and me against Elders Dredge, Hansen and Anderson. It wasn't a serious competition, but it was fun.
They better not be laughing at my gutter balls! Actually, I didn't make too many. Elders Holmes and Ashby were quite the bowlers. The others seemed a little rusty, but we were having a great time.
Now just so you don't think I am kidding, here are the scores of the team on the right. Elders Hansen, Anderson and Dredge. Not too bad for 3 rusty Elders. But alas, they were not the winners.
Yes, here are the scores of Elders Holmes, Ashby and Hna Clegg!!! I had 3 strikes in a row while Elder Ashby had 4 in a row. We did play two games and in the first game Elder Holmes bowled 197. That is some serious stuff. I just thought it should be known that even though I don't throw it hard, I throw it straight! We returned home after a fun day, and the Elders all went out to work that night. I went home and picked up my sweetie at the airport. He was so inspired after two days in Germany. Look out mission, more great work ahead!