Thursday, May 29, 2014

May 29, 2014

Hi family,

It was so fun to found out Devry is having another little boy to add to our growing gang of grandsons. Sadie will just remain the best and favorite granddaughter  for a while anyway. Count your blessing...and we have so many to count and for which to be grateful. We are so grateful for each member of our family and glad to be able to stay in such close contact with all of you and feel like we are part of the happenings back home.

We were invited about a month ago to start attending branch council meeting. So we've gone to the last three. It is nice to be able to know the details about what is going on in the branch and who is in need etc. They are held Friday night at 8 'o clock. That would never fly in a lot of places but it seems to work really well here. The first week we went the turn out was sparse but I think it was a holiday, since then everyone has been there. They usually let us and the young missionaries leave at 9 if it goes longer. This last week there was choir practice for District Conference after so they quit at 9 for the practice. Larry and I are singing in the choir. He is one of the four base singers. We are badly in need of more men to sing. 

We made it to Lugo on Saturday for Reymos baptism. He seemed so happy and a little nervous before the baptism and just radiant after. There was a good group of people there to support him. The other JAS had brought drinks and I brought brownies so we had some light refreshments after and talked and got to know people.

Sunday we had Catarina, Sandra, and the hermanas over for dinner after church. Catarina was baptized a few weeks ago and Sandra less than a year. They are both from Brazil and met at Sandra's hair salon. Catarina is struggling through a divorce right now and it has been really hard on her. She found a job a few days after her baptism so that has been a blessing. We had a really nice lunch and loved getting to know these two lovely young ladies better.

Monday we went with the young missionaries to the Vigo Zoo. It is a really nice little zoo that is well kept and beautifully landscaped. I think we saw about six other visitors while we were at the zoo. School is out this week so I'm sure business will pick up during the summer months. There was also a big lookout near the zoo where you could see the harbor, islands, and all around Vigo. It was just gorgeous and we spent a long while just enjoying the beautiful views that surround us. I am constantly amazed at how absolutely green and lovely this part of the world is. We have read that the north of Spain is a relatively undiscovered tourist destination. It is true. There was a cruise ship docked in the harbor that brought back a lot of happy memories.

Tuesday was our weekly JAS activity. We were so thrilled to get a few more kids to attend. Our numbers are growing slowly but surely. Larry talked to the kids about their future and the need to start thinking about schooling and future employment. Paco Serrano, who is over education and employment for the church in Spain is doing two workshops here this Saturday, one in Vigo the other in A Caruna, so Larry really encouraged the kids to attend the workshop to help increase their skills and add to their knowledge to help them as they go out into the world. We then had "minute to win it" play offs with prizes. We made parfaits for refreshments and then just sat around and played xbox and chatted until we had to drive the hermanas home at 9:45.

Yesterday was district meeting and the zone leaders came and visited and also to do a companion exchange. We had a good meeting mostly discussing what was learned and impressed us at the zone conference with President Jackson. After zone conference we all went to lunch at Tommy Mel's Diner to celebrate elder McCallister's birthday. 

Last night who should show up at branch family home evening but our favorite African investigator that we hadn't seen for at least two weeks. The sisters had finally gotten him on the phone and asked him if he would prefer to have them quit calling him. He said "yes, but call me tomorrow." English isn't his first language so sister Seastrand thought he hadn't understood. I'm not sure all that happened after that but we were all so surprised and happy when he showed up last night. Part of the lesson was for everyone to share a "tender mercy" they had received from the Lord. He said he was blessed that the missionaries found him and that he could keep learning the truth from them. We have a lesson with him tonight so who knows but we have high hopes for this sweet man.

Larry did a split with the missionaries a couple of evenings ago and I think he really enjoyed having that teaching experience. They taught a young man that said he had read the New Testament and never had a confirmation of its truth. They gave him a book of Mormon and told him this is a different book with a promise and of course read Moroni 10:4-5 with him. He seemed really skeptical but agreed to read it. We'll see.

Good luck with all the moving Dana, Stacey and families. Lots of changes happening for the better. Take care all of you.

Mom and Dad

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

May 21, 2014

Hi everyone!

It's been good to talk to you all off and on throughout the past week and keep up with the latest happenings of the family. This week has been fast and furious although this morning has been quiet and a bit lazy. Your dad isn't feeling so hot because he caught a cold so he's resting and I'm puttering around the apt. doing homey tasks. 

I did a lot of food prep last week for the Monday afternoon lunch to kick off the zone conference here in Vigo. Pres. and sister Jackson came along with the two APs for the bi-annual zone conference. Ours was the first in the mission but they go on from here for the next week to all the zones in the mission and hold a conference. I made several dozen cookies and baked and shredded chicken for enchiladas for 30 people. After shopping and cooking it turned out to be more work than it sounds like, but the lunch went off well, everything tasted good and the missionaries got enough to eat so I call it a success. The elders and hermanas helped set up tables etc. Sunday night to avoid a last minute rushon Monday morning. The hermanas came over the next morning and help roll enchiladas and cut up veggies for green salad and they and the elders were invaluable helping us pull everything off in time. All the missionaries started arriving about 11:30 am and we were eating by 1pm so it worked out well. Then everyone took the bus to Biona a lovely beach town near Vigo and spent the afternoon (P-Day) there.

Tuesday morning we assembled at the church at 9 am to study before the meeting started at 9:30. It's kind of the thing in this mission to arrive early for meetings to study and be prepared spiritually for the meetings. The meeting lasted until 2 pm (I know but it went surprisingly fast) with a brief 15 minute brake at noon. Then we all had Dominoe's Pizza for lunch. Sister Jackson had make some chocolate chip cookies for dessert. It was good to eat a home baked cookie that I hadn't had to make.

The meeting was so wonderfully inspiring. I think everyone felt so uplifted and ready to go forward and work with more love and dedication in our callings as missionaries. President Jackson talked about having faith that the Lord has people prepared for us here in the Santiago district. He emphasized the need to listen to the spirit and be humble so that we can be guided to those we can teach. The zone leaders talked about being willing to serve those around us and how that helps build relationships that can lead to people willing to listen to the gospel message. The APs talked about the importance of loving those we work with and having a deep love for the Savior that induces us to give all that we have to our work here in the mission. Sister Jackson talked about teaching by  asking open ended questions and really listening to better understand the person being taught. So much more was said that just lifted my heart and helped give me ideas how to be a better missionary and work more effectively. 

Last Saturday night was the ward talent show that turned out to be a fun night full of wonderful talent. The JAS sang "Besame Mucho" and the crowd went wild and by the end people were singing along with the performers. Larry was great on the guitar accompanying and singing along. I watched and cheered from the sidelines. The primary kids did a cute chicken dance dressed up as chickens in yellow garbage bags. The YM YW did an awesome synchronized dance. There were a couple of readings. Some singing, piano numbers and a darling older lady danced and sang a flamenco style song. She was the hit of the night. She did a couple of encores. 

Sunday we went to the branch in Lugo two hours north of here to just get to know the members. There are three JAS in the branch but two young men JAS age are being taught by the missionaries. The branch is small (about 15 at sacrament meeting) and it's a struggle but no complaining from the members. There were four of us in RS. We are going back up this Saturday to the baptism of one of the young men mentioned above.

We had a JAS activity yesterday evening at 7pm, after zone conference. It was a birthday party for Jessica, one of our JAS and elder Mcallister. We had a game night at the church. We rigged up a pingpong table and that was a hit and we also played Dominoes and Uno. Jessica's family came, mom, grandma, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, and a cousin so it was an interesting mix of people but we had fun.  I made a cake and finger sandwiches and we had chips, drinks and Jessica's boyfriend brought another delicious cake. We didn't finish until after 10 so it was a long day.

The African gentleman I have been helping the sisters teach is not answering their phone calls. They think he's upset with them because they were late to meet him one night for a lesson. He is usually at least an hour late every time I've met with him and them but this one night he arrived on time and they were 20 minutes late. I hope they can make peace with him and we can start teaching him again. 

The elders met a lady in the street and talked to her about the gospel and she agreed to let them come to her home and teach her. When they went and taught her a lesson they found out she was already a member. She came to church the next Sunday but not after that. They went by her house and her husband was there with her and he isn't a member but was willing to listen to their message. Saturday they both came to english class so we are all very encourage by that. We'll see. We are mainly involved because of english class. We have offered to have dinners here in our piso if the elders or hermanas think it will be helpful to an investigator.  We are having a dinner here on Sunday for a recent convert and her friend that has been coming to church with her. The friend is a strong Catholic but likes coming to our branch because we "know" each other and are like family. She says when she goes to mass she rarely knows anyone there. 

Guess I'll say good bye for now. You all take care. We love you all so much.

Mom and Dad

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May 14, 2014

Hello to all,

It's that time of the week again, time to write some of the goings on of our mission here in Vigo. We had a conversation with Quinn and Devry early this morning and Quinn asked what beach we were going to visit today. I know it looks like we're on vacation because everything around us is so picturesque and we have been able to see a lot of wonderful places thanks to our P-Days. We feel very lucky to be here in Vigo working with the Young Single Adults and having the experiences we're having.

Today was district meeting and our district was divided into two so instead of 14 we only have 8 now and the two elders from Ourense didn't come because they are both new to Ourense and won't arrive in Ourense until this afternoon. So it was just the 6 of us from Vigo at the meeting. It was still a great meeting but I prefer the larger group because I love seeing all the missionaries from the other cities. It seemed kind of lonely. Elder Bennett ( UT) was transfered and elder McAllister (UT/PG) arrived Monday afternoon to take his place. I was a big Elder Bennett fan and I will really miss his folksy, outgoing personality. I think most of you have said hi to him at some point when we've been face timing. He really livened up any gathering. Elder McAllister is great and quite an accomplished pianist. He is just in time for the branch talent show this Sat. Elder Bennett had signed the missionaries up to perform, because he was pretty sure he was leaving, as kind of a joke on those left behind. But alas they will have a great talent to share in Elder McAllister. I asked him if he could play at district meeting this morning so he played the hymns for us and  I could tell by the way he played he knew what he was doing. After district meeting when we were talking about the talent show I said to him that it seemed like he was a good pianist was there anything he could play for the talent show? He kind of hesitated and then went right to the piano and played "Dancing on the Berlin Wall" like a master. Lucky us.

Yesterday I spent part of the day baking for some up coming events like district meeting, FHE with the branch and our zone conference next week. It takes a lot of food to have a good mission. I made banana bread, and lemon bars. I still have  to bake chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter cookies. The best thing about yesterday was getting another refrigerator for our piso. We have had it with the tiny fridge in this apt and bought a bigger one and set it out on the porch/laundry area. By US standards the new fridge is pretty small but it's like heaven to me to have more space. Our other fridge is so small and freezes thing that are on the bottom or near the back. I have thrown so much ruined produce and dairy products away. 

Last night was our JAS FHE and we had a great night. Our attendance is still not what we want it to be so that is a little discouraging. But we talked a lot about with the kids and they seemed to agree that we all have the responsibility to fellowship. A few of our active JAS just have conflicts as far as attending. Work, school and life is just busy for so many of them. A couple of the young men agreed to go with us to visit some of the less actives and see what we can do to help animate them about the gospel. Andriv the young man who just received his mission call to Mexico gave a lesson about being sons and daughters of God and that our actions should always be in harmony with who we are eternally. Afterwards we took the kids to get frozen yogurt and we met the elders there. A fun night.

We went to seminary and institute graduation this past Saturday in Santiago and were able to see so many JAS from all over the district. That was a real benefit because we had time to really talk to them. We had four kids from Vigo get institute certificates and not sure about seminary. Our mixers for the dance didn't go as well as planned because it was a large room and there was no microphone and the kids wouldn't come in from the other room where the food was.  We finally got a a group of them dancing but it just felt like they really didn't want to.If I had it to do over I would have had some get to know you games first and then the  mixers but live and learn.
We rushed home from the graduation to a attend a baptism of a young woman from Brazil. I was playing the piano and we were a few minutes late but no worries so was the baptism. It went really well and was one of the most reverent baptisms I've been to here. Sometimes they get a little loud waiting for the person baptized to change but the hermanas showed some Mormon Messages and that seemed to work really well at maintaining reverence.

The elders and hermanas came for dinner Sunday since we knew it was elder Bennett's last Sunday here in Vigo. They all also made their Mother's day calls from here so it made for a long afternoon. Enjoyable but long. Both Elder Sargent and Elder Bennet invited us to talk to their families for a few minutes. That was fun in an slightly awkward way. Both sets of parents thanked us profusely for all we have done for their sons which was nice to hear. If we didn't have the young missionaries to associate with it would be really lonely here so it's a win win for all of us.

It's getting late and close to time for english class and then branch FHE so I'll say good bye for now. I hope everyone is well and happy. Stay in touch and we love you.

Mom and Dad

Thursday, May 8, 2014

May 8, 2014

Hey family,

One more week has passed faster that imaginable. I can't even remember what we've been doing because the days just seem to run together. We had a really fun "girls night in" last Thursday and ate delicious crepes then the girls wanted to see our wedding photos which led to looking at family photos and such. I think some were pretty surprised at how much we have changed over the years. It is a fact that time takes it's toll on our appearances. We have such a darling group of girls in our branch that are so busy and it's hard to get them together so last week was a real treat for all of us.

All six of us missionaries gave the last hour lesson during the block this past Sunday. We spoke about the importance of branch members and missionaries working together. We showed the video "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go"  then the elders and sisters gave some good ideas of ways members can share the gospel with family and friends. Larry spoke about following up quoting Elder Ballard's conference talk. I basically just bore my testimony of the many small miracles that happen as branch members and missionaries work together to bring others to the gospel. It went well but we went a little over time which to me is a big no no in my book. 

The elders came for dinner after church because they had no where else to go and Larry felt sorry for them. I had planned on just grilling some chicken for us but didn't have enough for us and two hungry elders so we had scrambled eggs, bacon, muffins, pineapple and ice cream. Not the most elegant or healthy lunch but the elders seemed just fine with it.

We had our last institute class Sunday night for the year. This branch has such a wonderful dedicated teacher that is two months from having her third baby so this was good timing for everyone involved. I'm not sure if she'll continue in the fall. I hope so because her lessons are really well thought out and she does a good job just getting down to the teaching of gospel principles. This Saturday is seminary and institute graduation in Santiago. We're driving kids up from the branch and then helping with some mixers at the party after the graduation. 

Monday Larry drove the elders and sisters to Valenca Portugal which is only 18 miles away. They all wanted to go  to Portugal before transfers this next Monday because there is a chance that some or all might leave this area. So I told Larry to just take them all and I stayed home since our car only seats five. We had planned on taking the hermanas one week and the elders another but we just ran out of time. They had a great time and it was beautiful from the pictures I saw and of course they were shared on Facebook.

We had a great FHE with the JAS here at out apt. Tuesday night. We watched some I'm a mormon videos and played a scripture game. After that Larry practiced with the kids for the branch talent show. He is playing Besa me Mucho on the guitar and they are singing. They were a little hesitant at first but then they really got into it and are planning costumes and props. They actually sounded pretty good after a few times going through the song. One of the young men brought his guitar so Larry gave him his first guitar lesson. I made lemon cupcakes and chips and salsa for treats. I have found Rotel here so I bought all the cans in the American Food Store. I wasn't sure the kids would like the salsa but they really loved it and ate three bags of chips along with it. 

One of our young men, Andriv, received his mission call to Mexico city North. He opened his letter last night at ten o'clock at the church. There was a big group of JAS there, his family and other branch members. He waited so late because that's what time his sister got out of her classes in Madrid and they wanted her to Skype with them when he read his call. It was such a sweet, exciting moment for everyone when he read Mexico, a big cheer went up. He is such a great kid, articulate, funny,  faithful, and he'll be a great missionary. We will miss having him as part of our JAS group. Happily for us he won't leave until mid September.

The sisters and I had a meeting with Teo, our African investigator at 8 this evening. Finally at 8:45 when he still hadn't shown up we called him and he said he had walked too much today, his leg was hurting, and he needed to treat it so he wasn't coming. We set up another appt. for 7 tomorrow which he'll hopefully make. He is a really kind and humble guy with  not a lot going for him as far as the world's standards. Life is so hard for some people in ways that are hard to even relate to because it is a completely different experience than what I have been exposed to. 

We went out to lunch with the elders and hermanas today because it was Elder Sargent's birthday. We went to a Chinese restaurant with a pretty decent buffet. When we were all serving ourselves at the buffet a gentleman (the only other person in the restaurant except us) jumped up from his chair and walked towards the buffet pointing at the elders and Larry  yelling "There are one, two, three of you!" and a few other things I didn't understand. (all in spanish) Then he sat down and continued to talk loudly giving us all dirty looks. Finally the server went to his table and told him he needed to settle down which he did but would still give us ugly looks when any of us would go back to the buffet. That was the first time I had seen any kind of negative reaction from someone towards missionaries. The elders say it happens to them a lot. The sisters not so much.

We are enjoying our mission so much and feel so blessed to be having such a wonderful experience serving here in Vigo. We love the branch, the JAS, and the young missionaries we serve with. We love you all so very much and you are in our prayers constantly. We appreciated that you keep in touch with us and abreast of all that is going on in your lives. Take care.

Mom and Dad

Friday, May 2, 2014

May 1, 2014

Dear Family,

We have a girls night JAS activity planned for tonight. Since the guys all got together last Saturday afternoon to play Xbox the girls felt like they deserved a night of girl fun only. We're making crepes and I'm not sure what else since they are in charge of planning the activities. Laura is in charge of crepes and I am helping by getting some fillings and toppings ready. It starts in an hour and a half so no pressure. Larry is going with the elders to teach a lesson so he won't be here and I think he's glad to have something else to keep him busy. The hermanas are coming to our activity and bringing a young girl who is JAS age. Her mother is a member and apparently this girls comes to church all the time with her mother. 

Today is international workers day so everything is closed except a few restaurants and I did see one small store open. Larry and I just got back from a walk since it is the first sunny day we've had in a while, and we just had to get out and enjoy the sunshine. The streets are very quiet and I think lots of people go to the beach this time of year so I'm sure that's where all the action is. It still feels so novel to be so near the ocean, while walking we caught glimpses of the water and I just can't get enough of it. It is so blue, calm, and beautiful today.

Yesterday we had zone meeting in Santiago. It was the first meeting with out new zone leaders Elder Bassett (Texas)and Elder Faucett (St. George). They both did an awesome job of planning and teaching. I'm sure it takes a lot to pull off a good hour and a half meeting that teaches and inspires these young adults to go back out and teach the gospel every day. They always have a zone leader meeting with President Jackson the day before and come back well prepared to pass along instruction from him to us. The main message from the meeting yesterday was the importance of scripture study and a strong knowledge and testimony of these books. This is the most powerful tool we have. We were reminded to go the scriptures for answers to questions of those we teach and work with. 

After the meeting we took some time to visit the Cathedral in the city. It is the 2nd largest pilgrimage destination in Europe with the Vatican being first. We saw a few people making their way toward the Cathedral with the their back packs and walking sticks. I had visited here when I was here as a student in 73 but I'll be honest nothing looked familiar to me at all. Supposedly the Apostle James is buried here and we were able to see the casket that is on display inside the Cathedral.

After arriving home I made a mad dash to the store to get the items for our activity tonight since all the stores were going to be closed today. Larry went to teach english while I shopped. After that we had branch family home evening. Our numbers were few because of the holiday and the district temple trip that started yesterday. They left on a bus here in Vigo last night at midnight. I'm not sure how many were going from our branch but the bus was for the entire district. It picked up the first group in Ferrol 2 hours north of here and made it's way towards Vigo picking members up in some of the towns along the way. Some of our JAS made the trip!

I've been able to sit in on a few lessons with the sisters as they teach a young man from Africa. He is very humble and teachable. He seems to understand what is being taught and believe the message but he still has doubts and hasn't come to church yet. He's hurt his foot so he has to wear athletic shoes for comfort so he says it's not respectful to attend church in those shoes and he can't wear his dress shoes because they hurt so he won't come. We've tried to reassure him that the athletic shoes are fine and it's more important to come to church but with no success. 

The JAS had FHE here Tuesday. We had such a good lesson with everyone sharing one scripture about the Savior or a scripture that was a quote from him. These kids are surprisingly thoughtful for being so young. One young man that was pretty much not interested in being part of JAS when we got here is coming regularly now and participating and has even begun going to institute. Seeing the gradual change in him has really been rewarding for us. We hope to be able to encourage him to serve a mission.  

It's been good to talk to you all throughout this past week we love getting facetime calls whenever and wherever. We love you all and pray for you and the grands everyday. Hope all is well. Love to each of you.

Mom and Dad