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