Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dec 30, 2014

At the fortress in Baiona, where the pinta
returned from the Americas and informed
the old world about the new world.
The narrow streets of Valenca Portugal
Today your dad is taking all 4 of the young missionaries here in Vigo on his Portugal tour. He has it down to a science now and is pretty much in "Travel Larry" mode before and during said trip. He has it timed and the stops sequenced and well you know how it goes. It's actually kind of sweet that he insists on doing this for all new missionaries that are assigned here. So I am home alone doing my thing which isn't particularly glamorous but I enjoy the time doing homey things and just reading and whatever else I may fancy doing.

Last week was so busy starting with a Zone devotional in Santiago. We drove up in the afternoon and returned home around 9:30. The elders asked me to make refreshments so I brought banana bread, cinnamon rolls, and sugar cookies. That seemed to make them all very happy. The devotional was awesome. President Bamio, our District President, spoke about the Book of Mormon which the entire mission had just finished reading also the main reason for the devotional. One fascinating point he spoke about was examples of Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon and in the Bible. Chiasmus being the order of words in a first clause being inverted in the second. Alma Chapter 30  is a great example. Just another testimony the the Book of Mormon is an inspired Book written by prophets of old and translated through divine guidance by Joseph Smith.

JAS Christmas party
Tuesday we had our JAS Christmas party so the main activity was getting ready for that. I did get a chance to teach a lesson with the sisters to an African gentleman and then they came and rolled out and frosted sugar cookies for me. I made more food some of which had been made ahead and frozen.  Later some of the JAS came to the church and we decorated and set tables for eating and serving and made everything very festive for the party. We had a great turn out with 5 nonmembers in attendance. We ate pizza and typical dishes of countries the kids are from, that they brought to share. We sang, watched a Christmas video, played games, and danced. We finished about 11:00 and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

Christmas eve day was devoted to pie making and preparing for dinner the next day and dinner that evening.
Christmas Eve group photo
Around 8 the elders and sisters came over to spend Christmas eve with us. We had soup, cheesy bread, and treats. We watched several Christmas videos produced by the church including a nativity. We gave the missionaries their santa bags we had filled with some gifts from the American import store that they seemed happy with and Larry drove them home. It was a fun, quiet in some respects, compared to family get togethers, Christmas eve celebration.

Gifts from the Sisters.
Christmas day dinner
Christmas day was a typical turkey dinner around one o'clock with the elders and sisters. Another fun day of eating, watching Ephraim's rescue and playing Jenga and 42. The elders and sisters each called home while at our house so the two that weren't talking to family played 42 and then we switched. One sister got hooked real fast and didn't want to quit. She also loved bidding and had no fear of failure. Fun day. The young missionaries had until about 6:30 in the evening then it was business as usual for them. Larry and I collapsed and fell asleep for a while. I think I was actually the one who said We would call after the missionaries left so your dad is off the hook. I just fell asleep and forgot. My apologies.

Today has been quiet, (it is now Tuesday) the young missionaries haven't needed us so we are catching up on studies and going out for a walk soon. Love to all of you and we know this new year will be full of happiness and blessings for all.


Mom and Dad

Friday, December 19, 2014

Dec 19, 2014

Hey all,

We are in Madrid right now. We arrived last night and will leave in the morning. We came to pick up all the Christmas packages for the missionaries in our zone in the north since they wouldn't have received them for two more weeks. We did that this afternoon and then went to the temple to see the Christmas lights and the nativities. While we were there we ran into some missionaries that had been in the north previously and a sister that is from a branch in our district who is serving in Madrid. She has some health and family challenges so they are keeping her in this mission. She looked great and seemed so happy.

Christmas lights in Madrid
Christmas lights in Madrid
Last night we went downtown Madrid to see the Christmas lights which did not disappoint. However there does seem to be a fondness for the color blue as a major part of the Christmas decor. Some of the lights seem more of a patriotic genre  than Christmas but they are lovely here in Madrid and Vigo.

We did some shopping at the store, A Taste of America, and spent a lot of money on unnecessary items (except the brown sugar) but sometimes you just have to have a few things from home. What's ironic is I'll use most of what I bought to make food for the JAS but they rave about all the food I make so it's worth buying the overpriced American items. I was so excited to find candy canes and bought a couple of packages. There is no peppermint anything in all of Spain that I have been able to find. You need peppermint at Christmas.

We have been busy with all the usual things. I've been able to go on a few splits with the sisters and of course we make our weekly trip to G's(lady from Brazil) house outside of Vigo with the sisters. She did decide to move back to Brazil and leave her partner. I hope she will keep seeing the missionaries when she gets there. I doubt she'll be ready for baptism before she leaves. But maybe I need to be more positive.

Christmas party in English
Christmas party in English
You saw pictures of our Christmas party with our english class. It actually was fun (Cameron). I think everyone had a good time. Three of our beginning students are muslim so that was interesting. They told us some things about the Savior's birth that I was unaware of. We said to them that the Bible didn't mention those facts and they said well that the Koran did. Hmmmmmm.

Parque Castro in the middle of
Parque Castro in the middle of
Monday Larry took all four missionaries to see some of the sights in Vigo and then to lunch. I started my bake-a-thon to prepare for all the Christmas events. I made pumpkin bread, banana bread, ginger snickerdoodles, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls and cupcakes with peppermint frosting (found some Hershey's peppermint bars at our American food store). Everything is in the freezer except the cupcakes and they were for the english class party and FHE right after. They got rave reviews. I still have some cheeseballs to make for zone devotional Monday and pretzels to dip and maybe some sugar cookies if I can find time before now and Christmas eve. Not to mention the rest of the food for Christmas eve and Christmas day.

The internet connection here (in our hotel room) is terrible. By the time I had finished writing this last night I had lost the connection so when I tried to send this email I couldn't. You all take care and we'll talk to you on Christmas day if not sooner. Love to all.

Mom and Dad

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dec 10, 2014

I have really neglected my writing and let almost three weeks slip by. I'm not sure I can remember all that we've done but I'll catch up as best I can.

Thanksgiving day 2014 Vigo Spain
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with all the trimmings. We picked up the turkey the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and it was so big. We gave an approximate weight when we ordered it and it was bigger than we asked for but turkeys are not sold like in the states so we were glad to have it. I brined it and roasted it without an oven bag which I haven't done in years. It turned out absolutely delicious. It took me three days to get ready for Thanksgiving. Since I was making everything and given the size of my kitchen oven etc. I did a lot ahead of time. One day I spent making rolls and froze them. We only needed a couple of dozen so I used the rest of the dough for cinnamon rolls for district meeting and JAS treats. The next day I made pies although the sisters did come and help peel and slice the apples for 1 of the pies. I made four different pies because we love a varied pie selection. I also made the sweet potatoes and green beans the night before to be heated up while the turkey was resting. And yes I found Stove Top stuffing at the import store and use that instead of making stuffing from scratch.The young elders and sisters here in Vigo shared the day with us and we had a wonderful time. They were only allowed their regular two hour lunch time so it wasn't really the whole day.

There was a young man baptized a couple of weeks ago that is JAS age and we are so thrilled to have him as part of our group. He was friends with Andriv the young man that went to Mexico on a mission in Sept. He came to Andriv's goodbye FHE party and said he loved how he felt when he was there. After that the missionaries started teaching him. He immediately felt good about what he was being taught but felt like he should wait to join the church until he had finished at the university and wasn't so busy. The elders continued working with him and he kept coming to meetings and finally decided to be baptized. He is a Spaniard which is unusual because the majority of the members in Spain are Latin American so it is good to have a native Spaniard join the church.

We went with the sisters again to see the lady from the cruise ship that I previously incorrectly said was Portuguese. She is actually from Brazil. She is struggling in her life especially with her living situation and at one point was going to quit having the lessons so she could figure out what to do. One of the members here met with her along with the sisters and talked to her about how the gospel has helped her through many difficult times in her life and how the power of prayer has helped her  resolve problems and making decisions. So she met with us again and we read the book of Enos with her and talked a lot about prayer and receiving guidance from the Lord for our life choices. She seemed troubled but hopeful.

There was a big family history fair here in Vigo last Saturday. The FH reps for all of Spain came and brought their equipment and we met and had time to learn indexing, utilizing Family Search and other pertinent things. The JAS were in charge of a display about memories. We basically had old family photos displayed in some large antiqued frames we made and other photos clothes pinned to jute around the room. Then we made a really large frame that people could stand behind to take photos of them holding a heart with D&C 110:15 and the name of family member past or present they cared about. I think everyone really enjoyed our room as just a nice place to see photos and chat.

Sister Nydegger and Elder Daniels prior to Departure
This past weekend was transfers. One sister left to go home and an elder was transferred. Their train left just an hour and a half after the block on Sunday so they said their goodbyes at the branch came here to eat a quick lunch and then we took them to the train. The remaining elder went to Pontevedre until his companion arrived yesterday and sister Bennett came and stayed with us. Everyone arrived in Vigo Monday around 1:30 and came here for lunch and emailing since it was a holiday and all the stores with computers for public use were closed. We finally got them all delivered to their apts. around 5:30.

Sister Hillman (in green) and Elder McFarland (in the Sweater)
are the new arrivals. The holdovers are Sister Bennett and
Elder Rawson.
Yesterday was pretty much our P-day and we just grocery shopped and went to the import store to get items for the missionaries Christmas stockings. I also did some baking for the week. And we just studied and did odds and ends. It was nice to have a quiet day.

Our district has shrunk once again as they closed the city of Ourense and we lost two more elders. When we first arrived we had fourteen missionaries in our district and now we are down to eight. Two cities have been closed Vilagarcia and Ourense as mentioned before and the sisters taken from Pontevedre. I miss having the larger group of missionaries to meet with once a week and really miss having two more sisters in our district. Such is missionary life I am finding out.

David Archuleta is coming to Madrid the 21st to give a Christmas concert for the missionaries and some of their investigators. Unfortunately it is only for the missionaries in or near Madrid so we will miss out but I know I will survive although it would have been a nice evening. The rumor is the mission President in Paris knows him and got him to come and do at least two concerts in the Europe area that we have heard about. Madrid and Paris.

JAS Gratitude night
Our last few JAS activities have been well attended. Some come every week and others when they can but we are getting fairly large groups consistently and feel like we are helping to build some camaraderie among these kids and hopefully helping their testimonies of the gospel grow stronger. We love them so much and just want the very best for them. They are great kids with so much potential. Being able to teach them each week in Sunday School has been a real blessing for us and them. We get to talk about gospel subjects in greater depth than we could at a weekly activity.

Well I had better send this off so I'll say good bye for now.

Love to you all.

Mom and Dad

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Nov 20, 2014

Hello dear family,

It's Thursday evening and another week in the mission  has come and gone. It's been a good week as always. I was sick for a couple of days but other than that it has been business as usual. We did miss a few visiting appointments because I was out of commission for a bit. Of course the greatest news of the week is the birth of our 11th grandchild Cruze. How we love each new member of our family and welcome each addition. I know Devry, Quinn, Asher and Beckham are even more excited to have this new brother in their home. Life is good.

Last Friday we and the sisters met with G again (Portuguese lady) and had a good lesson with her. She said she had been praying but hadn't felt anything spiritual. We read the introduction to the Book of Mormon with her and talked about the importance of reading and praying sincerely everyday so that the Lord knows we have a true desire to know the truth. She had said she was busy and didn't have time to read. The sister's reminded her that we have to make an effort to  receive the blessings or answers we're looking for. We talked for a while and she was willing to pray at the end of the meeting after I prayed first as an example. She then gave a really beautiful prayer. She agreed to come to church, read, and pray. She didn't make it to church but we see her again tomorrow so we'll see about the rest.

Not something the Priesthood
 brethren would do.

Saturday I was home all day sick while Larry went to teach english. He pretty much was home with me the rest of the day. I was determined to go to church Sunday since it was the Primary Program and I am glad I did. The program was wonderful, the kids sang so beautifully, said their parts so sweetly, and in general presented a program to be proud of. The Primary leaders had obviously worked with them and it showed. They had little red, yellow, and blue pom poms they would hold up and shake during the song "Our Primary Colors".  Along the hallway that leads into the chapel pictures the children had drawn, about families, were hung. That was a nice touch. Christ had a special love for little children and every year when I see the Primary Sacrament Meeting presentation I feel a small portion of what his great love must be for the little ones of the world.

At Monte Alba - Missionaries love photos of themselves
while they jump in the air.  Senior Missionaries not so much.
Monday I stayed home trying to get over my stomach troubles. Larry took the young elders and sisters to lunch for P-day then drove them outside of town to Monte Alba. From this mountain there are amazing views of Vigo, the Bay, the islands and the beaches. We had been up there in March soon after we got here so Larry thought the missionaries would like it and they did.

I baked all day Tuesday for district meeting, FHE and our JAS activity. Wed was a great district meeting focusing on being diligent as missionaries. It was a good reminder of the  need for consistency in all aspects of our lives but especially as missionaries doing this great work. Since arriving in Vigo there have been about 35 different elders and sisters in this zone of 10 and I can honestly say I have found them all to be diligent, hardworking, willing and just great missionaries. I have enjoyed knowing each of these young men and women so much.
Pizza dough

JAS origami
We had our JAS activity tonight
(Thu. instead of Tue.) trying to include three people that can't come Tuesday. One came for about 15 minutes and then left for work because they have changed his schedule and the other two didn't show up but we still had a pretty good turn out with two nonmembers there. One of them has a baptismal date so that is exciting. The sister missionaries taught  how to make pizza dough and then we later made pizzas and another girl taught some Origami and that was fun. It was a great  night with good conversation and shared talents. I feel like I've know these kids forever and love being with them and watching them interact, grow stronger in the gospel, make good choices and live their lives and prepare for the future. We can get a little frustrated now and then but we are all just doing the best we can and they're young and we have been around the block so we hopefully can be understanding and encouraging when they need it.

Love to you all,

Mom and Dad

Friday, November 14, 2014

Nov 14, 2014

Hey Family.

It's that time of the again to write an email about this past week in the mission. The main activity this week was zone 
conference in A Coruña yesterday. We drove up Tuesday with the sisters and spent a fun afternoon at a huge mall. We mostly had lunch and then frozen yogurt and walked around. We don't have any amazing malls in Vigo so it's fun to go to see a really big mall. There was a bowling area, go cart racing, carousel, video games, tons of restaurants and stores. We checked the sisters into their hotel and then went to ours to rest until the devotional at 8. President, Sister Jackson, and the assistants were driving in from Oviedo where they had a zone conference there that day and didn't arrive until around 7:30. The zone leaders planned the devotional and had gone to a lot of work to have a meaningful experience. The messages were about the Savior and his atonement, then role playing about repentance, baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Our meeting started Wed morning at 9 and ended at 1 and then we ate pizza and left for Vigo along with Pres. and Sister Jackson and the assistants who flew back to Madrid. Most of the Elders that were headed south had to wait for a 5 o'clock train to get back to their various cities. Sister Jackson talked about listening and the importance it plays as the investigators are being taught the gospel. She emphasized the need for silence and letting the Spirit work during the silent times. President Jackson gave a 10 minute instruction about leading music. The poor missionary who was asked to lead the music was so awkward and nervous that Pres. decided right then to give an impromptu course. He handled it very tactfully and the missionary was a good sport about it. We are constantly teaching our JAS how to lead music and giving them practice time to get comfortable doing it. Always a good skill to know. President Jackson also talked about the importance of teaching about the apostasy in more depth so investigators will understand the need for a restoration. He said there are 70 scriptures in the Bible that talk about the apostasy.

We got home and collapsed until english class and FHE. Larry and I are teaching the advanced conversational class now and we have about 3 students. It takes some planning to come with ideas to make the class interesting, fun, and give everyone a chance to talk as much as possible. Luckily there are lots of online sights that help us with ideas. 

Last Friday we had a chance to go again with  the sisters to teach the Portuguese lady from the cruise ship that lives in a tiny town about 30 minutes from Vigo. She lives there with her partner of some years and his two kids. The kids however don't like country living so they have apts. in Vigo. She is sincerely looking for something and knows that she shouldn't be living together with a man outside of marriage because she has mentioned it a couple of times to us. He won't marry her because it would affect their income. (must be taxes or govt. subsidies) They have a really great house and it is filled with lots of items indicative of their various talents. He draws she sews to name a couple of things. He wants nothing to do with the missionaries or religion but is fine if she wants to explore different religions. She invited us to return and said she would pray.

Sunday we were invited to dinner along with the sisters and elders to have dinner with a Brazilian member in the branch. I had always assumed she was single and childless because she was always alone at church. We found out she has a husband in Brazil and two grown children and they have been sealed as a family. The kids when they turned 18 told their parents they were done with the church for a while but they would come back someday. They are JAS age and live here in Vigo with their mom. We met them for the first time at dinner. We didn't know they existed until a couple of weeks ago. They are really personable young adults and we had a great time talking to them and getting to know them. The elders told them about our JAS activities and the son said he might start coming. The daughter didn't say much but she was so friendly and talked freely about the gospel. They would be such a wonderful addition to our group plus they need the gospel back in their lives and sooner rather than later.

Sunday was branch conference and our little chapel was filled to capacity along with the Primary overflow room. We need a bigger building. They have land for a building but problems with various neighbors in the area where the sight is located. We had a great meeting. Our branch President, President Rey, gave such a good talk about the progress the branch has made and areas where improvement is needed. Then the district president, President Bamio, spoke and I honestly don't remember much about his talk. But that is my problem not an indicator of the value of what he said.

The institute teacher was sick Sunday so she asked Larry to substitute for her. He did a great job talking about the challenges the Lord gives us in our lives and how we respond is the key to if we progress in this life and go on to live our lives dedicated to the service of the Lord. He was a bit nervous which is unusual for your dad.

Monday I made a meal for the institute teacher and her family and went to her house to take the food and visit for a bit. She is such a good teacher and I love talking to her. He youngest son was born the day after Griffin so I am always interested to see him and what he is doing. He is a darling little boy with a mop of black hair. I asked her if he'd lost any hair since he was born (like most babies do) and she said yes because he has had two haircuts. That is one way to look at it.

Well the sisters are coming over in a few minutes to burn a CD so I'll say goodbye for now. Take care. We love you all!

Mom and Dad

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Nov 6, 2014

Hi all,

We feel like two wonderfully blessed people this week. It was good to have the 10th grandchild arrive safe and sound and miraculously at the hospital. We are glad Stacey is fine and their little family has grown once again. Life is also very grand in Vigo as we go about our missionary duties. 

Saturday we went with a few families from the branch to Ponte de Lima in Portugal. We took a nonmember single mother and her seven year old daughter with us. We attended an annual flea market that is held on All Saints Day. It was huge and all set up in a big open field. There were mostly booths of clothing and shoes, with some furniture, crafts, baked goods, plants, and lots of birds for sale. Many many places to eat were available with meat grilled over wood fires being one of the most popular selections. We just followed the lead of the branch members and wandered the booths for a couple of hours. I think they bought mostly clothing items. I did buy some boots that were inexpensive and a little unusual but I'll probably only wear them with tucked in jeans. After shopping we were pretty hungry and I was looking forward to eating some of the grilled meat etc. but they decided it was too crowded there so we all drove to a restaurant which was also crowded. They eventually got all 17 of us seated but we had to wait forever for our food. We did have a lot of fun just talking and laughing while we waited and the food was actually pretty good. We got home in time for Larry to drive to Pontevedre and pick up the  Vigo elders that had an intercambio and needed to change back but because of the holiday the buses weren't running on their normal schedule so the elders couldn't get back.

After SundaySSchool I saw Tomasa (85 year old convert) walking down the hall and asked her how she was. She said she was feeling dizzy and sick and was going home to rest. She has no car so I knew that meant waiting to catch the bus and then a long bus ride to her home so I offered to take her home. She was so relieved so Larry went to get the car while we waited. As we were waiting a branch member suggested she get a blessing. So I went to find the Elders and they went into a vacant room with a member of the Branch Pres. and administered to her. I stayed in the foyer watching for Larry because he would have to double park and wait. We got her to her building and as I was walking her in she said as we were driving that her dizziness and sickness left her and that she felt so much better. She then said how the Lord always blesses her and that when she trusts in him and has faith her prayers are answered. This faithful dear lady does have so much faith and she is so humble and so grateful for the gospel in her life. She is a wonderful example to me to stay humble and faithful to the end, to love the Lord, and trust in his care and love for us. I did tell her she still needed to go up to her apt. and rest which she said she intended to do. Later that night we had pancakes for members and investigators at the church. The lady and daughter whom we had taken to Portugal were there and we had fun talking about our adventures at the flea market. This lady loves to socialize with the branch members and comes to different activities but she has taken the missionary lessons and just doesn't feel like she needs to be baptized again and any church is fine. We'll just keep loving her and being her friend and hope someday she feels differently.

Monday it was pouring rain and the young elders and sisters invited us to have lunch altogether. We went to Foster's Hollywood in the Mall which is our old standby and the missionaries love it. We had to pick everyone up and take them to various locals after lunch because of the hard downpour of rain. Still a fun way to spend part of P-day. I baked pumpkin bread later for zone training meeting which was yesterday in Santiago. 

Friday we headed out to a small pueblo an hour from Vigo with the sisters to teach a Portuguese lady that is probably 50ish. She met an LDS woman from the south of Spain while she was on a cruise and spent a lot of time with the member lady talking about the church. When they ported in Vigo the member from the ship brought this woman to the church and all of us missionaries were there finishing up district meeting. They asked if someone could meet with them right then and have a lesson which the sisters did. This happened a few weeks ago and the sisters were finally able to have another lesson with her Friday morning. She seems like a good lady and says she has been seeking for the truth for years. She has been with the JW's for about 3 years but has never felt good about being baptized into their church. She made an interesting comment and wondered why we didn't get together with the Jehovah's Witnesses and talk because we are all good people and have some of the same beliefs. It just doesn't work that way.

We had lunch with a member family and the young missionaries. The dad is a fisherman and goes to sea for a few months and then is home for about 3 months. When we first got here I assumed the mom was single until he showed up about 2 months ago then I figured it out. He leaves again in January and his ship goes to Canadian fishing grounds where they fish for halibut. 

Tuesday  evening we watched the movie "Wait Until Dark" with the JAS. I think they were a little bored at first but eventually got into it. It was a simple night and not a lot of work so after the Halloween bash the week before it was good to low key it a bit. They did love the cookies and cream popcorn I made for a treat. We had 3 nonmembers at the activity which was good although one young man left about 1/2 hour into the movie. Maybe he was bored who knows but he was at FHE last night.

We had a great zone training meeting yesterday. The focus was on setting goals and taking specific steps to obtain the results we desire. We also watched Elder Lynn Robins talk from October Conference when his subject was which way do you face as in towards Christ and his leaders here on earth. Later that evening we had english class and then FHE so a long busy day.

It's been a fairly calm and routine week but again we have enjoyed every moment. You all take care. We love you.

Mom and Dad

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Oct 30, 2014

Hello to all,

I need to get this week's email  done before I forget what has been happening. The days just fly by and sometimes I feel like I don't get enough written that I want to say about our time here.  Saturday was a pretty normal Saturday with the RS actiivity taking place at 5:30. We made gratitude jars and learned how to make madelenas and a main dish with eggs, peas, and ham. The RS president wanted to send a plate home to Larry but I had to tell her that for as long as I had known my husband I had yet to see him eat peas so I declined. We helped clean up and drove sister missionaries and the RS presidency home and were back in our apt by 10:30

Sunday we left at 9:00  to attend church an hour away in Ourense. Larry was the visiting district council member and one of the speakers. We had been to church there once before shortly after we got here and there were twice as many people attending than before so there has been some significant growth in the branch. We talked to a young family in the branch after sacrament meeting. The husband is American and his wife is Chilean plus they have three little boys. The wife is a Dr. of Radiology and is doing a 4 year residency there. Her brother and his family have also moved there for the same reason. The brother is the Dr. So those two families have added a lot to the strength to the branch. 

Elder Rawson on the left upon his arrival
from Leon
Sister Braithwaite in yellow with Sister Nydegger
Later Sunday night after Pancakes at the building it was the start of the weekend transfers. We put Sister Braithwaite on an overnight train to Madrid. She finished her mission and flew home Tuesday morning. Larry took Elder McAllister to the bus station at 10PM to go to Madrid where he would catch a flight to the Canary islands. He has been in Vigo for almost 5 months so we will really miss him. I met his parents when I was home in July. Great people from Pleasant Grove. Sister Nydegger the other sister here in Vigo came home with us to spend the night until her companion arrived the next day. 
Elder MacAllister in the suit with Elder Beudin

Sister Bennett on the right - the newest
Sister in Vigo
Monday morning at 7 Larry took elder Beudin from Pontevedre, also the district leader, to the train for his next assignment in Madrid. Later that day around two we picked up the new sister and elder coming in from
Madrid. We brought them all to the house for lunch and then Larry delivered elders and luggage to their apts. The sisters stayed until 6 and did their emailing then we delivered them and the luggage to their apt. It was a long busy day. I'm glad I am not in charge of transfers for the entire mission, what a logistical nightmare that has to be, every six weeks. This transfer every companionship in our district has one new member. 

Later that night we went shopping for all the things we needed for the JAS halloween party the next evening. We went to the large Asian import store for decorations, face painting supplies and other game items. Then to the grocery store for refreshment items. I took it easy and just made a carmel cake and hot spiced cider and two of the JAS brought the rest of the food. We went over Tuesday at 6 with a couple of the JAS to decorate and set everything up. It was a lot of work to pull it together but we had great attendance (three nonmembers) and most of the JAS in the branch. The party was a lot of fun and the kids really enjoyed themselves. We started at 7:30 and finished at 10:00. There was pumpkin carving, face painting, donut eating from strings, mummy races and more. Simple but fun. Most of them had never carved pumpkins but they actually got the hang of it and were pretty creative. It was a challenge getting them into the face painting but by the end everyone was doing it, if not on their faces then their hands and arms. We just love working with these kids and have grown so attached to them. We just want to see them make good choices so they can have happy lives as active strong members of the Church. 

Wednesday was district meeting with Elder Rawson, the new elder in Vigo, as the new leader of this district. He did a good job at the meeting and we discussed many ways of improving our work and then discussed specific needs here in the district and set some goals for improving our effectiveness. I am always so impressed with these young elders and their abilities to lead and guide a district, not to mention the other missionaries in the district and their sincere dedication and desire to serve the Lord with all that they have. They inspire me every week to do better while I am serving here.

Today we decided to dress in casual clothing and have a real P-Day. We went to an Italian restaurant one of our english students recommended and it was well worth the visit. We had a delicious lunch and then went to Samil beach and walked on the boardwalk for a while and just enjoyed the sound of the waves, the warm sun, and smell of the ocean. There were people on the beach but nothing like during the summer months. The weather is so warm that it feels like summer again and the skies are clear and blue although there is rain predicted for tomorrow. Larry just got back from a lesson with the elders so we are going to have our study now since we skipped it this morning and slept in. We both had terrible nights last night.  Anyway, bye for now and you all take care.


Mom and Dad

Friday, October 24, 2014

Oct 23, 2014

Dearest Family,

As of Monday of this week we are  half way through the mission. It has sped by at an unbelievable pace. We have had nine 
months of such joy in service, seeing a beautiful part of the world, meeting amazing people from all different areas of the globe, and learning, learning, learning. What a fabulous opportunity it has been to study /The Book of Mormon/, and /Preach My Gospel/ together everyday and share our thoughts with each other. We actually were asked at the end of August to read the /Book of Mormon/, as a mission, from start to finish by Dec. 23rd so we started from the beginning again but have caught back up to where we left off and are once again studying with the book  /Verse by Verse in the Book of Mormon/.

Saturday there was a branch baptism for two investigators. The sweet lady that struggled with smoking was baptized and a young girl of 16 whose parents are members but she and her older sister aren't. She made the decision to be baptized over a week ago but told only the missionaries and branch leaders so the Sunday before, when the baptism was announced, and they read her name her parents had no idea until then. They were so surprised and thrilled with her decision. Since it was Fast and Testimony meeting both of them bore such sweet testimonies of their love for her and happiness with her decision. Her sister is JAS age and comes to church all the time now and even came to our JAS activity for the first time this past Tuesday. It would be so joyful to have the whole family baptized and the daughters sealed. I didn't make it to the  baptism because I was having terrible back pain for three days and just stayed home and rested. I was able to lend the other lady my temple dress for her baptism. She is so tiny and short so the sister missionaries bought a white ribbon and tied it around her waist and pulled the top of the dress over the ribbon a couple of inches so it wasn't too long on her. Can you imagine being that much shorter than me!

We'll be saying goodbye to one of our sister missionaries this Sunday night and the other sister will stay with us until her companion gets here either Monday, or Wednesday if it a new sister just out of the MTC. The branch always holds a special FHE farewell when a missionary is leaving the mission from Vigo to go home. We had that  last night for hermana Braithwait. There was a great crowd, good food, wonderful lesson and games, so it was a nice send off for her. They always give the missionaries a Spanish flag and a Galician flag and everyone signs it that wants to. It was a fun night. Sunday is transfers so there could be a lot more changes coming  in our district. We took pictures after district meeting Wednesday because it is the last time we'll be together as this particular group. Changes are good and it's always great to meet more young missionaries but it is also hard to say goodbye.

We had a torrential rain storm with high winds last week. At times it looked like the rain was falling horizontally. We had to drive in it to get missionaries to and from some places in the city and the traffic was a nightmare. A normal 10 minute drive took an hour. There was flooding throughout the city but I only saw pictures on facebook since it wasn't anywhere near us. These kind of rainstorms are very typical during the winter months here in northern Spain so we are told. What has been really surprising is since then we have had clear blue skies and warm temperatures. I don't look forward to more storms like that but we aren't out in it like the young missionaries. They have it much tougher.

We had a great JAS activity Tuesday night. We met at Monte Castro, an old celtic ruin  that is a park on a hill in the middle of Vigo. It is beautiful with gardens, fountains, monuments, trails and gorgeous views once you make it to the top. We enjoyed the park a while and were supposed to play games but it got dark so we went to a little cafeteria at the bottom of the hill, ordered drinks and snacks for everyone and celebrated one of our JAS  girlfriend's birthday. She comes to our activities quite often so we know her quite well and everyone really likes her. I had made cupcakes and brought candles and the restaurant manager said it would be fine to sing Happy Birthday so we had a little party. She came up to me after and kissed me on the cheek and thanked me. I get kissed a lot on the cheek here and hugged all the time. Fun night!!!

We're just living the mission dream and counting our blessings everyday to be having this wonderful experience. Love to all of you.

Mom and Dad

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Oct 15, 2014

Dear Family,

We had district meeting today and the focus was on investigators. The idea being that everything missionaries do is for the benefit of those being taught the gospel. All the study and routine of a missionary's day is in place so that the gospel can be brought more effectively to more people. As missionaries the goal is to bring souls to Christ and those are the investigators. I love our district meetings and learn so much during the time we spend together but our as focus as a senior couple is so different that it would be nice to have a meeting regularly with other senior couples that work with the JAS like we do. We do love the young missionaries and try to work closely with them and help in their work also since we have the time. We are all on the same team!

We have been visiting with the less actives with the sisters a lot and really enjoy that. It helps us get to know people we normally wouldn't see very often. We left some cookies at one home last Friday with a teenage son that was the only one home. Sunday the mother came up to me and thanked me so kindly for the cookies. I had never met her before and she is such a lovely person. The sisters said they had never seen her stay for all three meetings so maybe a little progress was made because of our visit.

Sunday we invited a family over for dinner and enjoyed getting to know them better. They are from Peru and have had a hard time adjusting to Spain. The dad can't work because of an injury but luckily his wife has found work. They have two kids, one studying at a university in Lima and a 17 year old daughter here. The daughter is going to Provo soon to spend three months with relatives. She is trying to learn english and that is the main reason for the trip to the US. 

The sisters and I made applesauce and chicken soup Monday for an investigator and a lady in the ward that has been sick The investigator is the lady I mentioned before that was trying to quit smoking. She loves applesauce so we thought she would appreciate homemade. The sisters invited us to have lunch with them and this sweet lady yesterday. She has done really well not smoking and was interviewed for baptism today and will be baptized Saturday. We picked her up and brought her to english class today and she stayed for FHE and loved it. 

We have been focusing on Family History in our sunday school class with the JAS, trying to get them excited about it and understanding the importance of the work. Larry showed them some of our family pictures he put on the Family search website and that seemed to grab their attention.

One of the young women in our group told us she has decided to serve a mission. We are so excited for her. She speaks english and will be a wonderful missionary wherever she serves. The two young men that seemed so excited about serving a mission haven't really progressed much as far as getting the ball rolling. We have been told not to pressure one of them because it really bothers him when branch members bring it up to him. We haven't ever said much of anything except to offer our help if it is needed. I'm sure the thought of a mission can seem overwhelming and even frightening to some of these kids.

We had a great activity last night with the JAS. It was "Skills Night #2." They seem to really enjoy teaching and learning from each other. They wanted to do it again so we did. We'll continue until everyone has had a turn. Two of the young men talked about fitness and weight training. Another taught us to make a pasta dish typical of the Dominican Republic where he is from. He eventually wants to study to become a chef. One of the young women who is studying early childhood ed. talked about the physical development of newborn children to 2 years of age. Another young woman offered to bring the refreshments and brought an amazing Peruvian chicken and rice dish. We ate really well last night!

President and Sister Jackson came to Vigo Saturday evening. We had no idea they were coming until the sisters told us at english class Sat. morning. By the time they got here we were busy with the young missionaries. Larry went to teach with the elders and after that we were going visiting with the sisters. They did manage to interview both sets of young missionaries Sat night. We only saw them for a few minutes after fast and testimony meeting Sunday before they left. Actually Larry saw Pres. Jackson Sun. evening at a district Priesthood meeting in Santiago.

We hope all is well you you and yours. We love you.

Mom and Dad

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Oct 7, 2014

Hi family!

We had over a week of gorgeous crystal clear blue skies after a several days of rain but as of yesterday we are back to clouds and rain. We are learning to appreciate cloudless skies and take advantage of no rain to spend time out in the fresh air walking. I absolutely love walking around the city  for fun, shopping, eating at restaurants, or visiting  people. It's something, aside from visiting nearby neighbors, we don't have opportunity to do at home. Admittedly the hills can be overwhelming and cause us to resort to the car, the same with distance. We went on a walk yesterday and it started to sprinkle but we kept going and finally the rain came in earnest however, we were able to duck into an ice cream parlor and have a treat as we watched the rain and waited for it to pass.

We watched the Sat afternoon session of conference with the elders and sisters yesterday and fed them lunch. We're doing the same today during their lunch break so we can watch the Sunday afternoon session. I made tomato soup and peanut butter cookies and we're ordering pizza to complete the meal. It was a good conference weekend, different than in Utah but still so enjoyable. We were able to get most of the JAS to come to the Saturday morning session which aired at 6 pm here. We followed the session with a lasagna dinner and had about 20 in attendance. We invited the Branch President and his family and a few single members to join us. Larry got a good discussion about conference going during the meal and several people shared things said during the session that meaningful to them. It is good to hear from our leaders twice a year and be uplifted, counseled, and guided. I always feel so confident after Conference weekend that all will be well in the end. We have much to be grateful for.

We were again in charge of the english sessions of conference as far as setting up the computer and getting the signal. Larry saved the spanish Priesthood session by letting them use our computer and cords because they were missing the right cord for the they had computer and the sisters were watching the women's session in the chapel. The young sisters and I watched in spanish so some African gentlemen with less spanish skills could use the ipad for english Priesthood.

We just got back from taking one of the sisters' investigators to the doctor. She is a sweet lady that is trying to quit smoking and having a lot of anxiety and she hopes the doctor can help her with her problem. She goes back tomorrow at 9 for a more thorough exam.

Well this letter is being written in stages. We just got home from our JAS activity. We divided into two groups and went to visit two older women in the branch. We are  disappointed at the lack of attendance we got tonight. We only had 2 girls come with us to visit Tomasa and Tairi (JAS leader) was by herself visiting another lady. I haven't talked to Tairi but we had a wonderful time during our visit. Tomasa told us her conversion story and some of the miracles that have happened to her since joining the church. She takes her Book of Mormon wherever she goes and talks to everyone about the gospel. She is truly an angel. We asked her how old she was and she said "You mean without lying?" She is 85, only been a member for 7 months, and so faithful.  She absolutely raved on and on about how much she enjoyed General Conference. Somehow she missed it in April so this was her first time to ever watch it. Some of our JAS needed the experience of serving others and missed out big time tonight.

Well this is short and hopefully sweet. You all take care. Love you so much

Mom and Dad

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Oct 2, 2014

Hi guys,

So it's been a good week of wonderful activities. Wed. after zone meeting in Santiago we took the sisters and went to see the famous pilgrimage cathedral and the surrounding area. It was such a perfect day clear and cool so we just took our time and strolled around. In a plaza behind the cathedral your dad was in heaven because there was a jazz guitarist playing and he was amazing. We actually talked to him for a while and he played "Girl from Ipanema" per Larry's request. I'm not a guitar expert but I loved listening to him. Later we went back to eat at a crepe restaurant, near where he had been playing, in hopes of hearing more of his great music, but he was gone. 

Last Thursday afternoon I spent with the sisters and Larry spent with the elders. We visited and taught an investigator and an then spent some time with an elderly lady in the branchWe sang with her and read the Book Of Mormon. The darling lady honestly cannot sing, which she admits, but loves the hymns and sings with gusto. We would sing for a while and then just burst into giggles  because she was so hilarious and then we'd get control and continue singing. Larry went and taught a lesson with the elders to an eight year old boy that was baptized Sunday night. 

Saturday was the  monthly RS meeting, the one that was enrichment and now has no name so when it's being announced no one knows what to call it. I went over in the morning to set up while Larry and the elders and sisters taught english. We learned to cook some wonderful appetizers and then we were able to sample them and have a fun time eating and talking. After that the YW had a fashion show which was their activity weekly activity (a small scheduling problem) and most of the women stayed for that. The YW did a really great job and to be honest it was a much better activity than I thought it would be. They were very creative and it was well planned. The clothes were also very darling. They used their own clothes and all of them modeled about 5 outfits for different occasions or types for activities. Their parent were the best cheering section but everyone was rah rahing. 

Sunday was the normal busy but with an added evening baptism followed by Institute, pancake night, and driving sisters and an elderly investigator home. We had a late night.

Monday Larry took the elders and sisters on the 3 in 1 tour, as he has started calling it. It includes the beach town of Biaona, the  Celtic ruins of SantaTecla, and the Portugese city of Valenca which is a small town built within a Roman Wall. I've writtien about it before. Larry has made that trip 5 times to my 3. It is a great trip but I passed and stayed home and did other things. Plus there wasn't room in the car for me. One of the sisters got sick on the trip so Larry brought them back to the apt. to rest and do their e-mailing. We went and got groceries for them and took them home later that night. They were both sick the next day so we took them some food to tide them over.

Wednesday night at english class one of our students, who is from Mozambique, and is here working on a doctorate in marine biology asked Larry and I to proof read her dissertation which she is writing in english. Wow that was an english grammar, vocabulary workout for our brains. She is coming again tonight so we can help her with more of it. It is a time consuming task.

After FHE we went with the sisters to one of our JAS homes to take her a birthday card and gift. We had gone earlier and only the dad was home so he invited us back for cake later that night with the family. We got there around 9:30 and could only stay for about 45 minutes because of the sister's 10:30 curfew. This young lady is actually not a member. Her parents are but she and her sister (16) were never baptized however they both attend all the meetings. She actually never comes to our JAS activities but she is there on Sunday and now and again at other branch activities. We finally got her to come into our Sunday School class and now we are working on getting her there for our weekly activities. She's a sharp girl but doesn't seem to want to be baptized.

We are so blessed to be here having such wonderful associations with the members here in Vigo, and all of the missionaries. What a marvelous work is being done in this part of the Lord's vineyard and we know the same kind of efforts are being made all over the world. What a great gift we have been given as a people to have the gospel plan in our lives and a living prophet guiding us through troubled times. We are so excited for General Conference. I hope you can all make time to watch it and hear the important timely messages our leaders have prepared for us.

Take care. We love you.

Mom and Dad

Sep 23, 2014

Hello dearest family,

If you've been on facebook today you know we started the day going to the fish market to buy swordfish. Angie, one of our JAS from Peru is teaching everyone how to make ceviche tonight at our activity and I told her we would get the fish. It wasn't as easy as I thought. We went to a few places and they all said "we usually have swordfish but not today" however at  last we found a little shop that had one piece and it was enough for our project. After that we came home and I started baking, oatmeal scotchies and brownies for tonight and zone meeting in Santiago tomorrow. I still have to make a stuffed baguette but I'm tired of the kitchen and taking a break. Meanwhile your dad is driving to Pontevedre to meet the owner of the former sister's apt. and close that down. I assume that means no more sisters there. So sad I love having sisters in our zone but now it's just the two in Vigo. After that he's meeting the sisters and taking them and their investigator to the Doctor. She is trying to quit smoking and apparently having a lot of anxiety. I feel for her and I know she really wants to stop so she can be baptized. I hope he can make it back in time for our "Sharing Skills Night" JAS activity.

We had a temple missionary couple come from Madrid come and spend the weekend with us. They are the Grieves from Springville where they have retired after having raised their family in Sacramento, CA. This is their third mission and they are such great people. We had a wonderful time showing them some of the beautiful sights between here and Portugal and then of course we went into Portugal to see Valenca the city surrounded by Romanesque walls. We also did some sight seeing around Vigo and ate at this wonderful Uruguayan restaurant. The Grieves had spent part of one of their missions in Uruguay and wanted to find a restaurant and eat some of their favorite foods from there so we found one and we loved what we ordered. We have a Uruguayan gentleman in our branch that told us two of his favorite restaurants with Uruguayan food.

Larry started getting sick last week at our JAS pizza night (which had a record attendance of 15) and woke up Wed. feeling terrible. After District meeting and getting all the elders back to their buses he pretty much hit the bed for the next two days with a terrible cold. Finally Saturday he felt well enough to help teach english class. After that we were also able to go with the sisters, to one of the families we've been asked to work with, to get to know them and leave a spiritual message. We talked a lot about the temple, obedience and the blessings they both bring into our lives. They seemed happy to have us there and when the mother gave the closing prayer she asked the Lord to help them get to church the next day. I thought for sure we would see them at church but no such luck. They rarely come so we'll just keep trying to build a relationship with them and help them any way we can.

We spent part of P-day showing the Grieves more of Vigo before they left around 11. We took them to this little church on a hill above Vigo that has amazing 360 degree views of the city, harbor, ocean and the islands off the coast. When we got their there was a tour bus there and the church was open. We had never seen it open before or even anyone on the grounds. For a Euro we climbed the bell tower of the church and were able to see even more breathtaking views. Later the sisters came to lunch and after that we went to the store to buy some things I needed for the food tonight and tomorrow. It was a fun easygoing day spent with wonderful people.

Love you all.

Mom and Dad