Sunday, August 31, 2014

Aug 31, 2014

Hi one and all,

It has been a busy but wonderful Sunday. After church a recent convert needed a ride home because her son's car had a flat. She lives in another city across the bay so it took some time to get there and back. We didn't get home from church until 3. Then at 6 we met with the elderly lady I talked about in a previous email. We try to visit her every Sunday and take a spiritual message. After that your dad was on splits at 7:30 with the elders then pancake night is at 8. It's10:20 and we just got home from taking the sisters to their apartment. Love Sundays!

Yesterday there was a branch party at Samil beach here in Vigo and what a fun time everyone had. We secured a place with grass and shade for eating and playing games and then the beach was just a minute walk away. The YSA were in charge of all the games and they did a great job planning and following through. We were in Madrid when they planned it so we were really happy how smoothly everything went.

The sisters came for lunch Friday and also to make brownies. Later in the evening we went to  a birthday party for a single sister in the ward who was celebrating  her big 50. It was at the RS president's house. Janet the birthday girl is from the Philippines so she, her siste,r and brother in law had prepared fried rice, noodles with chicken and veggies, egg rolls, and some kind of a meat loaf. Then everyone else filled in with sides and desserts. I  made lemon bars because Janet loves them. We had to take the sisters home from the party at 10:15 for their curfew and about 35 people were at the party. Amanda (RS Pres.) told me this morning that there were 60 people there by the end of the party which was around 1:30. Amanda said last year when she had her B-day party there was a large crowd and one of her neighbors called the police because of the noise. The police came and were surprised to find a group of clean cut people, no alcohol, and mostly women. They were very kind and laughed and told them to keep the noise down. But I think Amanda was a little worried last night there would be too much noise again and the neighbors might get upset. No complaints to the police thank goodness.

Tuesday we drove Andriv and his sister to Madrid and another gentleman in the ward drove their mom, little sister and grandmother. Andriv was receiving his endowment before his mission and we really wanted to be there with him. We got to Madrid and went straight to temple square (that's what they call it) so we could go to distribution and Andriv could get the things he needed for the next day and some things for his mission. We all went out to lunch and then to the apt. hotel where we stayed when we first came to Spain. Larry and I went to find a store called Taste of America so I  could buy brown sugar because our store here in Vigo is out. The store in Madrid only had one package left so I was not too happy. There are a few more of the same import store in the city but we ran out of time and never made it to another one.

Wed we were at the temple by 9 for the 10 0'clock session. The other gentleman that drove was Andriv's escort. He is a long time family friend. It was a wonderful day and we were able to do two sessions with lunch in between. Later that night Andriv's family prepared dinner for us in their apt. hotel. They really wanted to do something nice for us because of the support we were to them. We had a nice dinner and a lot of fun conversation.

We left Thursday around  3 after another stop at distribution, which didn't open until one, then lunch and back to Vigo. I hope we get to make many more trips to see  young men or women with a mission calls go to the temple to receive their endowment.

We actually did meet with Teo last Friday before branch council. He had a friend with him and she wants to take the lessons. I don't know what will happen with Teo but his friend is really interested. Maybe that's why the sisters felt so strongly to keep trying with him because of her. When investigators don't progress after a while the missionaries sometimes drop them and he has been months with no progress.

Our JAS sunday school class is official. They have even given us a room (not the Branch Pres office which was usually occupied so we were relegated to the foyer)and we are having great attendance. We had a wonderful discussion today about the signs of the second coming. It is such an important time in these young people's lives and there are so many things going on in this world that would be very discouraging to a young person without the gospel in their lives. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of hope and we know that good will triumph. What a blessing to have this knowledge and to be able to feel inner peace when the world is in such turmoil.

You all take care.

We love you,

Mom and Dad

Friday, August 22, 2014

Aug 22, 2014

Hello dear family,

We hope all is well with you and yours and those of you with school age kids are back in the swing. We have 5 grandkids in school which is hard to even comprehend, one of which is in middle school. Even harder to comprehend. Oh and we can't forget about Beckham who will soon be starting preschool. 

Monday morning we left for A Caruna with the Jacksons to attend zone conference. After arriving checking in etc. the Jacksons met up with the elders at the chapel and took a bus with them out to the Torre de Hercules. We drove instead of taking the bus. The tower is the oldest functioning lighthouse in the world and Is quite majestic as it stands at the tip of a peninsula on the Atlantic ocean. We all had lunch together at a restaurant near the tower which was so so. Then all the elders played soccer at a soccer field they had reserved for an hour and a half. The Hermanas, Jacksons, Dad and I just watched the soccer game and chatted. Those elders really enjoyed their game time and played hard. Later on in the evening we went back to the church together and watched the movie "Ephraim's Rescue." Everyone enjoyed the movie and the treats that went along with it.

Next morning we were up early to be at the church by 9:30 for zone conference at 10. Zone conferences are one of my favorite mission events. There is a real spirit of unity when we meet all together and are taught by Pres. and Sister Jackson and the assistants. The messages were wonderful, timely and as always so up lifting.  We said goodbye to all the missionaries and the Jacksons after a lunch of pizza. The Jacksons and the assistants flew back to Madrid and the rest of the elders dispersed on trains back to their respective cities. We drove the hermanas home with us so they would be on time for an appointment they had set up.

Later that night we had our JAS activity which was well attended and a lot of fun. We talked about ways we could improve after solving a scripture puzzle about qualites we need in our lives. We played a game of clues and pantomime guessing famous people. We made some plans for a going away party for Andriv  who will leave on his mission the 16th of Sept. I don't know if I mentioned our trip to Madrid with him and Joshua, another JAS so he could get his visa for Mexico. We got him there with every document they had told him to bring but they weren't satisfied and wanted the identification papers of the person in the legal department for the church in Mexico that had arranged everything. We hope he can get everything settled with them this next week when he is in Madrid to receive his endowment. We are going to Madrid to attend his endowment session.

The sisters made contact with Teo (african gentleman) again. These are new sisters that haven't worked with him before. We had an appointment to meet with him last night but he didn't show. When they called him before the appt. to see if he was coming he said he would be there. Well an hour past so they called again and this time he said he couldn't meet with them until tomorrow. So supposedly we are meeting him tonight at 7. 

President and sister Bamio (district Pres.) had us and the elders over for lunch today. We had a delicious lunch of lasagna and great conversation. They are a family from Venezuela although Pres. Bamio's parents were born in Spain and migrated to Venezuela. (I think that's the story) We have met so many wonderful people here in this mission and that has been such a blessing to us to have new and rewarding friendships. It's funny how important all these people have become to us in 7 short months. We didn't know any of them before that. We make the sacfrifice of leaving family and friends behind and the Lord blesses us with an abundance of more new friends than we would ever have met staying put in Orem.

I better get ready just in case Teo does come to meet with us tonight (I need more faith) and after that is branch council so our day isn't over yet. 

Take care everyone and know we love you.

Mom and Dad

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Aug 17, 2014

Hello to everyone,

We hope everyone is doing well, especially Liam since his surgery today. Sure hope the tubes help him overcome his ear infections. We miss you all and love talking to you via facetime. Thanks for keeping in touch.

Today was the first day of our Senior couples seminar, or as Larry named it "the retreat from the heat" since all the couples are coming from Madrid or other hot parts of Spain. We met together at 9 for some presentations, one by your dad about using the buildings as a missionary tool, and then from the Lopezes who are the couple in charge of housing for the mission. We also watched a video about the purpose of temples. We played a getting to know you game then had district meeting with the young missionaries when they arrived at 11:15. The Pontevedre Elders, Beuden and  Johnson  missed their bus to Vigo and since Elder Beuden is the district leader and in charge of the meeting he was a little panicked. They arrived at the bus stop a little early but the bus had already left or it didn't come at all because today is a national holiday and the bus schedules can change. Elder Beuden called your dad while he was just finishing the presentation and for some reason he handed me the phone to answer. After hearing the Elders plight and a plea for a ride I reassured them he'd come right away to pick them up. It's a twenty minute drive one way and they were only a half an hour late instead of hours if they'd had to wait for the next bus. We had an excellent meeting conducted by Elder Beuden with all of the young missionaries participating. Then we had a lunch of Dominoe's pizza, salad, and desserts.

Larry and I were in charge of setting everything up for the meeting since we live here. We went over to the church last night and with the help of the Lopezes, who are staying with us, we got the tables set for lunch and chairs arranged for the meeting. Then we went and bought drinks and put them in the fridge at the church to be cold for lunch today. I came home and made salad dressing and cut up all the veggies for the salad.

Well it is now Sunday night and all of the Seniors have returned back to Madrid and other locals. Our Saturday meeting was  enriching and light hearted. The Arjonas from Madrid gave training for the JAS program and lots of good ideas, inspiration , and encouragement. They are over all of the JAS for all of Spain so they go train to all three missions. It was good to have some real direction and help with what can be less well defined than other church programs. They are both amazing people with some very good insights. President and Sister Jackson gave praise and instruction that was needed and helpful. After that was a talent show. Now that was fun and relaxing. Such cute ideas some of these couples came up with. Your dad had all the men come up and sing "Besame Mucho" to all the wives and it was a show stopper. At the end of the song all the wives ran up and kissed their husbands. I know cheesy but fun. President Jackson played the accordion and of course "Lady of Spain" was the chosen number. Great fun.

The afternoons and evenings of Friday and Saturday were free time so all the couples took advantage of seeing some of the beautiful sights in this area.  Some went to Portugal and others to SantiagoFridaySaturday everyone went to La Toja, an island north of Vigo with a famous luxury hotel on it. A pretty exclusive island to be sure. Many wealthy Madrilenos go there to spend their vacations and escape the heat of Madrid. I do think one couple went to the beach here in Vigo rather than the island.

All the senior couples came to Church today and the people in the branch were so welcoming and glad to have all of them there. One couple sang a beautiful arrangement of "If the Savior Stood Beside Me", part in spanish and part in english. Both of them were Tabernacle choir members so that tells you the quality of their singing. Some couples left after sacrament meeting and others right after the block. The Jacksons stayed behind for zone conference Tuesday so we had them over for dinner. 

We visited a lovely elderly Cuban lady today along with the hermanas. She's pretty much homebound and the sisters have been working on arranging for priesthood brethren to bring her the sacrament. She's been in Spain for 20 years but lived in Cuba before that. She talked a lot about the devastation in her country and the hardships the people face because of the corrupt government and dictatorship of Fidel Castro. Never a day goes by here in our mission that I don't stop and realize all the blessings that I have enjoyed my entire life when so many others face such difficult hardships and challenges. We have been given much and it is our responsibility and blessing to give back.

There is so much more I could say but I am so exhausted that I am going to end now. We love you all and could use a few more facetime calls.


Mom and Dad

Friday, August 8, 2014

Aug 8, 2014

Dearest family,

Hello to all of you and we hope everyone is doing well. We started the day today after study etc. by going over to the church and setting up everything the way we want it to look for the open house next Tue. We actually were figuring out the most practical and appealing way to have everything situated so the day of the open house we know what we're doing. One of our JAS guys came and helped us because his mom has a library key and all of our stuff was in the library. It took longer than I thought it would but was well worth the time spent to be better prepared for Tuesday morning. We are hoping to have a lot of support from the branch, the JAS, and young missionaries. The open house has been talked about and announced quite a bit so we just need to have faith in the members and our prayers for the Lord's help. We treated Andriv (JAS) to lunch (lunch here is at 3), after he spent a few hours helping us.

Later this evening the hermanas came over with one of the YW and another girl whose parents are members but she isn't; however, she attends all the meetings and lives a "mormon" lifestyle. We watched the Joseph Smith Video and then the hermanas gave her a lesson about gaining a testimony and feeling the spirit. We had a wonderful discussion and shared personal experiences of gaining a testimony and the blessings of the gospel in our lives. I think she has a testimony already but just doesn't realize it yet. This young girl has an older sister JAS age, not a member either, that comes to Sacrament Meeting sometimes but rarely anything else. We have invited her many times to JAS activities with no luck whatsoever. 

We had the most amazing Fast and Testimony meeting Sunday. It was the best meeting I've attended since being in Vigo. There were three babies blessed by their fathers and all three families are strong and active. One of the Fathers asked Larry to stand in the circle and help bless the baby. There hasn't been one single baby blessing since we arrived here in Vigo and then to have three precious little infants born so close together and blessed the same day was such a happy sweet event for this branch. There is another strong young family expecting a baby in 5 months so the branch is growing in more ways than just convert baptisms. There was such a feeling of joyousness Sunday at our meetings.

Speaking of convert baptisms, the hermanas had a sister baptized this past Saturday whom they had taught. This lady is a good friends with one of the women in our ward, which is always helpful when a member is involved in the teaching and fellowshipping. All of the new sister's children came to her baptism, which was exciting that she had so much support from her family. They also came Sunday to see her confirmation. The husband died a while back so it's just the mom and her kids who are all young adults. We took her home from church last week and had such a fun time talking on the ride  to  her home across the bay. She is from Venezuela and just full of the joy of life. Normally she takes a ferry to get to Vigo but they don't run on Sundays so we gave her a ride. It's 15 minutes by ferry and about 40 by car. Of course you have to get to and from the ferry.

Monday was transfers and elder Elder Hendrix, who was only here one transfer, was moved to A Caruna and is now one of our zone leaders. In his place came elder Daniels from ID just out of the Madrid MTC. His companion, Elder McAllister will be training him for the next six weeks.Larry was up early getting elders to the train station. Then around three we went to the bus station and picked up hermana Braithwait. Our hermana's companionship is now a trio with the addition of hermana Braithwait from ID. Sister Shouwman is going home mid transfer thus the trio for now, We lost both of our sisters in Pontevedre and they won't be replaced because a huge group of hermanas are going home and not as many are coming in so there is a shortage. Elder Beuden the elder from AZ is our new district leader and he did a great job with his first district meeting Wednesday. Larry likes him because he nixed wearing suits to district meeting.  

We had all of the elders and hermanas over for lunch Saturday not knowing elder Hendrix would be leaving so I am glad we all got to spend that time together. We had a request from a couple of our JAS to come to lunch on Sunday and bring a nonmember friend that is interested in the church. The girl interested in the church is from the Philipines and is here in Spain as a nanny to a Spanish family. I was a little panicked because I didn't see the message asking to have lunch with us the next day until after 9 Saturday night and by then all the stores were closed. Luckily I was able to come up with a fairly decent meal from what I had on hand but I was up pretty late getting things ready for lunch after our meetings the next day. Thank goodness for cake mixes that make an easy, quick, yummy dessert

It's been a good week and we are ever grateful to be here working with all the wonderful people we cross paths with. We learn so much each day and enjoy such glorious blessings being able to serve and have the influence of the spirit in our lives each day.We encourage all of you to live the best you can and take care of those wonderful grandkids of ours. You are all so blessed with wonderful children and meeting their needs and teaching them the gospel is your greatest responsibility. It's not an easy task and sometimes requires strength we may not have but when we bring children into the world it is up to us as their parents to see they get all that they need to grow and become happy functioning individuals.

Take care. We love you all so much. You are always in our prayers.

Mom and Dad