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