Monday, May 31, 2010

Some Must Leave

It's lunch time at the office and we seem to have a few extra people there to partake! Yes, it is the day of the departing which comes with mixed emotions. This is a group with a lot of variety. We have Elder Plaskett who is new and being trained by Elder Woods and then the 3 departing, Elders Smith, Sayaz and Nestvogel. Actually Elder Hansen who is in the office was supposed to go home with this group but he was extended to help with the dividing of the mission. It was a day a little different for him to see his group go home, but his turn will be in a short 4 weeks. They all look ready to eat, so dig in Elders!
Here are our 3 departing. Elder Smith is going home to Utah, Elder Nestvogel is going home to Germany and Elder Sayaz is going home to Barcelona. It is amazing to think of the different lives they all had before and now they share an incredible journey that they all loved. These were wonderful missionaries who were great leaders and great workers.
"Please come home with me Elder Hansen" Elder Smith seems to be saying. Elder Hansen is giving him some comfort, or is it the other way around. It was an absolutely beautiful day in Bilbao. We enjoyed ourselves at the lookout.
Here they are again, just soaking it in. None of them had ever been up here, even Elder Smith who served in Bilbao for 5 transfers, so they were having a great time.
Emotions run high on this day. Elder Nestvogel is the one to comfort Elder Smith now. He just doesn't want to fly home by himself. You are just going to have to do it Elder Smith!
A group shot that is one of our best. Wow what a beautiful city Bilbao is! Oh yes, and so are the Elders!!
O.K. Elder Hansen, it just isn't your style! I think Elder Holmes agrees with me!
We decided to do a pose on the playground. Watch out Elder Smith, don't fall.
They all sat around and chilled with the Presidente before dinner.
Our testimony meeting was very special. We had a wonderful testimony meeting with these three Elders. It was a very special night filled with a few surprises! We said good-bye at the airport in the morning, again a little sad to see them leave. They all served so valiantly and were such incredible workers.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

6 Incredible New Elders!

6 new Elders arrived today, May 25th, looking happy and eager and ready to go to work!
There is always so much excitement when new missionaries come and getting a group of 6 was so much fun. 5 from Utah and 1 from Idaho made up this remarkable group.
We came to the mission home and immediately started signing quilt squares and getting settled and relaxing a little bit.
We know that they come hungry so we had 2 empanadas and some juice to start the morning. Pictured from r to l. is Elder Hadley from West Haven, Utah, Elder Blatter from Ammon, Idaho, and Elder Reist from BOUNTIFUL, Utah. This is the first Elder we have had from our home town. So much fun to see a fellow Brave!! Elder Dredge is happy with the group.
El Presidente and Elder Plaskett from Sandy, Utah are enjoying a little relaxation time before we get the orientation going.
Isn't this a great looking group? We sure think so and are we ever impressed by them. We are sad that we can't take them all to Malaga with us. The front row is Elder Woolsey from Morgan, Utah along with Elder Hadley and Elder Blatter. The back row from l. to r. is Elder Plaskett, Elder Stock from Provo, Utah and Elder Reist.
Orientation is done and it is time to eat. Desert is always the favorite part. Ice cream sandwiches were a hit today!
"The Field is White All Ready to Harvest"
They were very impressed by the sites of Bilbao. It was a beautiful, breezy summer-like day hence no jackets.
A fun group indeed. We already love each one of them and know they are all going to be fine, hard working missionaries.
The Ayudantes wanted to be pictured with this group because Elder Woods is going to be one of the trainers. We won't tell you who it is yet, but the excitement was starting to build as to where they would go and who would be their trainers. This also will mean which mission they will go with when the mission is divided. The tension is mounting.
Getting to the office means learning the details of how the mission functions. This is very important information and they all look like they are listening very intently to Elder Holmes.
Elder Hansen wants to make sure they understand it all too. Don't forget your pin numbers Elders!
The suspense is killing me so let's begin. Elder Blatter, middle elder, was the first one to find out his destination. Aviles with Elder Jackson. Elder Hadley, on the right, gets to go to Santander with Elder Griotti, a native which made Elder Hadley excited. Elder Plaskett, well he doesn't know yet, so just wait a minute.
Elders Stock, Reist and Woolsey are listenng intently as the ayudantes decide to tell Elder Stock next.
Wow, Ourense with Elder Esteves-Garcia, another native. He is excited and will love Ourense. The members love the missionaries and feed them always. Who will be joining him on the party train?
No, it isn't Elder Plaskett, he gets to stay in Las Arenas and be trained by Elder Woods. He was really excited as well as Elder Woods. It was fun to see his surprised face when he found out the news.
Elder Woolsey is excited to be able to go to Vigo. He is going to be trained by our dear wonderful Elder Quinn. He will love it in Vigo. He is the second Elder to be going on the party train. Who is left?
Oh, it is Elder Reist. Where can he be going. He gets to go to.........Ponferrada to be with Elder Driggs. He was so excited. Ponferrada is an incredible place with 3 incredible misisonaries there. They have 7 baptismal dates set, so Elder Reist is going to be working hard the minute he gets there. Party train here he comes!
One final look at a fantastic group of missionaries. Elders Stock, Reist, Woolsey and Blatter will all be in the Madrid mission in about 5 weeks and Elders Hadley and Plaskett will be going to the Barcelona mission. Oh we wish we could take them with us, they are so great. But the Lord knows where they need to be.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Last Part of Interviews, Part 3

No, this isn't the new mission home in Malaga. While we were doing interviews we did take some time to go see a few other sites in Northern Spain. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting San Millan de la Cogolla. This is where it is said to have been the origins of the Spanish language, or at least some of the 1st writings in Spanish.
The monastery is situated at the base of these mountains in the area of La Rioja. It is really a beautiful setting to behold. This monastery wasn't the first thing here. There were two other places up in the hillside.
This is the 2nd location of the monks. This was a much more quaint sized place.
Here it is from the other side. But before this one, the 1st monk here, lived in some caves called suso up the mountain another 40 minutes. They started living here in the early 500's. The name of the first monk was Emiliano, or Millan, hence where this place derives it's name We didn't go there because of time, but the setting is so beautiful.
This is the view looking down to the valley. If you look closely you can see the steeple from the large monastery.
On the way out we also passed this typical Spanish monastery in the town of Canas. The entire countryside was full of places like this. It was a lovely afternoon.
But hey, then it is on to Leon. The missionaries here have been seeing miracle after miracle. Leon is a special city where so many people have been prepared to accept the gospel. Elder Pederson from UTAH, Elder Cairns, from Scotland, Elder Strickland from UTAH (and his mother is from Spain) and Elder Ciccio from Italy are a great looking group. Their faith and work has been a shinning example to the entire mission. They are baptizing their second entire family this coming weekend. The attendance in the Leon branch is now consistently around 50! It is wonderful to see.
Elder Flory from UTAH, Elder Driggs from UTAH, and Elder Nielson from UTAH are having incredible success in Ponferrada also. It must be the UTAH connection. Ponferrada is also seeing incredible growth. For that matter, the Leon District is being very blessed at this time.
I just had to put this picture in. As we were having a little meeting during the time the Presidente was interviewing we started with a song. We enjoyed it so much, we sang another one. I love hearing happy missionaries sing. They sing with such a special spirit. It was electrifying.
And we can't forget Elder Smith from UTAH and Elder Farnsworth from California. They are working hard in Benavente and had another baptism there. We are going to miss Elder Smith's happy smile.
The guapo Elders of Vigo are making a pose. Elder Quinn from Arizona, Elder Howard from UTAH is giving us the thumbs up, Elder Nelson from Virginia and Elder Aston from Idaho are all enjoying Vigo. We missed the Ourense missionaries before we were able to arrive so they will be interviewed later and I will have pictures of them too. Vigo is a wonderful city and these Elders are climbing the hills and finding people all the time to teach.
Vigo is also blessed with Hermanas. Hermana Fitches from California and Hermana Hunstman from North Carolina are doing great. They seem to have even more hills to climb, but they love it.
Hey, what's up with these two?
Elder Frank isn't quite sure because he isn't with his own companion. Elder Frank from UTAH and Elder Nye from UTAH are having an exchange with the Elders of Santiago. Pontevedra has seen several baptisms and are looking forward to another one soon.
Here is your companion Elder Frank. Elder Pyne from California and Elder Moya from Valencia, Spain are posing in front of the Santiago Capilla.
Now Elder Moya, that isn't a face a missionary should make! He likes to ham it up for the camera. Elder Pyne is getting a great laugh out of it. Happy missionaries are hard working.
Finally, we return to Bilbao to get this awesome group of missionaries. Elder Roldan from Dos Hermanas, Spain, Hermana Sandoval from Hospitalet, Spain, Hermana Patten from California and Elder Gerber from West Point, Virginia. Hard working is an understatement for all of them. They are perfect examples of missionaries with a purpose. We love our missionaries and know that whichever mission they go to, they will be loved and cared for by their new mission president and wife!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Last Round of Interviews, Part 2

Hello from Pamplona. This week of interviews we went out to different places and then back to the mission home each day. We found Elder Hansen from UTAH and Elder Ashby from Arizona as happy as can be. They are enjoying Pamplona and the great ward there.
Since we are leaving the mission before many of the missionaries we are having all of them sign a quilt square for a mission quilt. We also have a tablecloth that I call our "Graffiti cloth." It is fun to see the creativity of all of them. It will be fun to look at it over the years to come. We are in the new piso in Pamplona. It is nice and in a very central location in town.
El Presidente is taking a little rest while the missionaries finish up their signing and then it is back home to the mission home.
Another morning it was off to Logrono where we found Elder Crocker from UTAH and Castellon from Elche, Spain. Two happy and hard working missionaries. Since Elder Castellon has arrived they have reactivated 10 young people in the ward. They also have a baptism set for next week. Great work!
We went on to Burgos that day where Elder Dredge and Elder Sayaz got a little creative with the blackboard.
Now Elder Woods had to get in the act.
Finally Elder Bajana, the artist, showed them all how to do it. I think Elder Sayaz's patience was about gone!
Elder Sayaz is from Barcelona but originally Argentina and Elder Bajana is from Madrid but originally from Ecuador are a great companionship in Burgos. We leave them happy and working well together.
A few days later we took off for church obligations in Ferrol but stopped to take a few pictures of a few lighthouses on the northern coast of Spain. This area is called Cabo de Vidio.
The views were lovely. We stopped and had a small picnic here.
The next stop was at Cabo de Estaca de Bares. This lighthouse is on the most northern tip of Spain. All the yellow flowers of spring were out and it was magnificent.
We were wondering if this was going to be the new mission home in Malaga?
No, but it is hard to beat this view. The rocks appear to be whales swimming to shore.
These are the most northern rocks of Spain.
And we are sitting on the last place you can go. We propped out camera on a rock and snapped the picture. We can say we are as far north as we could possible go.
After the wonderful views on the way out we noticed this little town called Porto de Bares. It was a little cold to lay on the beach but I bet on a nice summer day this would be a sweet retreat for peace and quiet.
Oh my, has the dress standard of missionaries changed? Are they bringing back mustaches for missionaries? This is what we walked into in the chapel at Ferrol. Elder Skidmore who is from Idaho and Elder Blazian who is from Northern California were having a little fun. They know how to get a special spot on the blog.
Yes, out front of the church looking dapper are these two. They actually made me a wonderful mother's day card. It is a keeper that I will treasure. You've got to love these missionaries. They are doing great in Ferrol with a baptism set for a few weeks from now.
We drove up and saw our wonderful missionaries in A Coruna. Hna Moraza is from Huercal de Almeria, Spain, Hna Seiverts is from UTAH, Elder Sanchez is from Sabadell, Spain, and Elder Araya is from Tarragona, Spain, but originally from Chile. They are all relatively young missionaries who came out at the same time which hasn't been a year yet. But they are loving A Coruna and doing wonderful work here. We are so proud of them and their great efforts. We raced off to return to the mission home with one more swing to see all the missionaries.