Thursday, January 22, 2015

Jan 22, 2015

Well as of two days ago we have been on our mission one year. We entered the MTC January 20th of 2014. We have just six months to go and it feels like the time is slipping away too fast and this wonderful experience will end before we know it. 

Sunday was pretty typical with church, our Sunday School class, visiting, and the pancake night for investigators. We didn't have too many there but sometimes that is nice because it gives us a more of a chance to talk one on one and get to know people better.

The elders have had two miracles in a row. A man walked into the church building one Saturday night off the street and the elders happen to be there in the foyer and he told them he has been searching for God and he agreed to have a lesson right then. The next day he came to church and they have been teaching him regularly since then. Then the next week ,on Sunday night, another gentleman walked in off the street and the elders happened to be the ones to talk to him. Now he is having the lessons and has been to a few of our activities but so far hasn't attended church. Both events are certainly unusual and not at all the norm.

There is this lady of a different religion here in Vigo that is committed to setting the missionaries straight about the false church they belong to. She has been leaving letters, since we've been here, and  for quite a while before that, in front of the church doors, that talk about how the church is wrong and we're misguided and her church is right. I have actually never read one of the letters but they show up every so often. One day a lady came into the church when all six of us missionaries were there and she asked for a Doctrine and Covenants saying she had read the Book of Mormon and now wanted to read the Doctrine and Covenants. We were unable to give her one but she agreed to meet for a lesson with the elders. Well it turns out she is the Crazy lady that leaves the letters and the meeting was pretty much her just dissing the church. Then the next day she came to the church and the sisters were there giving a lesson and she just came in and sat down and wouldn't let up about how wrong the church was. She actually got a little hostile and insulting so the sisters had to firmly tell her she needed to leave. The sisters said they saw her on the street the other day and she waved and was friendly and told them they were good people but wrong. I guess the world is full of interesting people.

Monday started with making chicken soup and applesauce for two of our JAS that are sick and delivering that to them. They are brother and sister and their parents are in Peru for a month. There grandmother and grandfather live nearby so they aren't completely abandoned. After that we took the young missionaries to our favorite restaurant, Foster's Hollywood, for lunch then the sisters came home with us so I could alter some skirts for sister Bennett and they did all their e-mailing while they were here. I also did some mending for Elder McFarland who only had one pair of pants that wasn't ripped out in various places. I was able to borrow the Relief Society sewing machine or I couldn't have altered the skirts and the pants would have been a nightmare to repair.

We have a new district leader and one new missionary in our zone as of this past transfer. We were affected very little by the transfers. The next one I think there will be a change or two here in Vigo but you never know.

We went with the sisters to visit Mavick, a member of our branch from Angola that is very ill with kidney failure. We took him some soup and had a nice chat with him. We spent the last half hour of our visit just singing hymns with him which was such a sweet experience for all of us. He is a good man and I know he has a place in the Celestial Kingdom waiting for him. He is always at the train station to say goodbye whenever any Vigo missionary leaves for a new assignment or for home. He loves the missionaries.

We had the JAS olympics for our activity Tuesday night. We talked about the word of wisdom and listened to an excerpt from a conference talk about the importance of physical fitness as it relate to spiritual well being. Then we had several "olympic events" and awards for gold, silver, and bronze for each event. The kids had a riot and we loved watching their enthusiastic participation. We then had fruit skewers and apple oatmeal muffins for refreshments. It was a great evening. 

Today we caught up on laundry, cleaning, and grocery shopping. Once I get this e-mail sent I will consider it a good day. I hope all of you are well and happy. You are in our prayers and we love you.

Mom and Dad

Jan 16, 2015

I can't sleep so it's email time instead.  The weather has changed as of two days ago. We had a couple of rainstorms in October and then it has been sunny and dry up until recently, which is not at all normal for Vigo winters. It usually rains about 70% of the time during the fall and winter months. It has been so beautiful, cool to almost cold but with sunshine. We've been able to do lots of walking during the last months without worrying if it will rain. It looks like the rain has arrived and if it is anything like last year it will be steady until the end of March and then it will be less and less until mid June. I have thoroughly enjoyed the winter months so far and I still have a love for rain in my heart, after growing up in the desert where it was a rare event, so I actually don't mind the rain that much.The women of Vigo have been able to don their fur coats this winter where last winter I never noticed anyone in fur, I assume because of the last year's wetter weather. I have seen some gorgeous furs. 

There are camelia trees lining many Vigo streets and they have begun blossoming and it is a beautiful sight to behold as one travels the city. They brighten the city with their lovely colors and it is such a wonder to have trees flowering in January. They were all in bloom last year when we arrived and it was impressive to arrive at a city in February that was so colorful. In December they planted poinsettias all over the city in the street planter boxes, meridians, and roundabouts.. It was such a festive sight. Most of all them have being switched out now for shade flowers. Vigo does an excellent job keeping their streets groomed and full of colorful trees and flowers.

One of the Africana gentlemen the sisters and I have been teaching, well I've been at two of the discussions, committed to baptism and a date was set for it. He is so enthusiastic about the gospel and says he feels so happy to have found the church. The other African man we have been teaching is progressing but says he has not received an answer to his prayers about the Book of Mormon and baptism. I personally think he has but doesn't recognize that he has. He seems to want a more definite experience. The sisters gave an excellent lesson tonight about baptism and recognizing the subtleties of the spirit. He is very quiet and thoughtful so it may take him a bit longer to make his decision. He came to church Sunday and really liked all the meetings and that is great progress.
Just regular routine stuff going on. Monday and Tuesday I baked. We had JAS game night, district meeting, english class, FHE, and various visits and discussions with the young elders and sisters. One of the elders is sick with stomach flu so yesterday I made him chicken soup and applesauce. He didn't actually eat any until today and it was after your dad went to the pharmacy and got him some medication the mission president's wife recommended. He was at the church this evening, when I was there for a discussion, pale but unwilling to go home early and go back to bed. I hope none of the rest of us get what he had since he seemed pretty miserable for two days.

Wow I wrote this and never got it sent. That was Thursday and now it's Saturday. Not much new just a big district meeting here this morning from 11-1. The employment specialist for the church in all of Spain came to explain the new Self Sufficiency program to the district leaders and auxiliary heads. Larry was invited but I taught english instead and helped the sisters with a lesson they gave to a Chinese woman that is a recent contact.  Then we had lunch with the sisters and later drove them to a part of Vigo I had never seen to have a lesson with some less active members. Since then we have been home doing this and that and getting our Sunday School lesson ready for tomorrow.

Love to you all,

Mom and Dad

Jan 9, 2015

It's been a pretty typical and enjoyable week and this email is long overdue. We missed the branch New Years Ever party mainly because it didn't start until 11:30 and Larry was fast asleep by then and I was tired. And the fact that it lasted until 5 in the morning was just not something we were up for. As I have talked to various members of the branch they have said the party was fun and they danced and danced. Oh to be able to dance like a Latin. They definitely have a natural rhythm and the limberest of hips.

I have been able to help the sisters teach a gentleman from Ghana 4 discussions. It has been such a pleasure for me to be included in the teaching of this humble man that is searching for the truth. I hope he will listen to the spirit as he reads the Book of Mormon and prays.

Sunday Larry and I gave a Sunday School lesson to the JAS about the Book of Mormon and elaborated on the ideas that it is the keystone of our religion. Larry has been giving the Sunday lessons pretty much himself but we decided I need to help him so that the kids hear from me and know that I have a testimony of all that is being taught. We challenged them to read the Book of Mormon everyday this year. They need the power of the Book in their lives ,as we all do, but some of them have so many challenges besetting them.

Tuesday was Dia de los Magos here in Spain which is an equal, if not more celebrated, day as Christmas. All stores and businesses are closed and families give gifts again and have a big dinner. This time the gifts are from the three Kings instead of Santa. We could here our little neighbor boys open the door in the morning and excitedly yell "regalos regalos." Apparently the gifts are left outside the door since the tradition is to put straw in shoes and leave them outside and the the king's camels can eat the straw.

We had a JAS activity Tuesday night because it had been two weeks since having one and we didn't want to wait another week to get together. We only had about 4 people come because of the holiday. Although in addition we did have the sister missionaries there. It's so good to have them come because it really adds to the activity and they are setting a great example for our young adults.

Wednesday was zone conference in Santiago. Another great meeting taught by Elder Hendrix and Elder McFarland. The mainly talked about the need to avoid competing, comparing, and categorizing. A good reminder for everyone. Also we were reminded of the need to plan carefully to set and achieve goals, use our agendas effectively, and review our progress everyday. It was a helpful meeting, taught by two faithful missionaries, and we came away with some good practical ideas for being better servants of the Lord.

Our english class attendance has been less because of the holidays in fact twice there has only been one person in attendance. She got some good six on one attention. This past Wednesday the numbers were back up and we divided into two groups again.

Yesterday we went to a hospital to visit a branch member that has been very ill for a couple of weeks. He has actually had to be on kidney dialysis. He is one of the kindest men, so willing to serve, and devoted to the gospel. He is from Angola and has been here in Spain for a few years. He had actually been discharged from the hospital so we were unable to see him. After that we went to a hair salon owned by a Brazilian woman in our branch who is moving back to her country. The elders and sisters have been helping her pack up her entire salon to ship overseas to Brazil. We went to help with loading it into the truck but they had finished when we got there so we followed them to the shipping docks to help unload and reload into a shipping crate. When we got arrived the shipping crate she had scheduled was too small so she had to arrange for a larger one so instead her items were unloaded into a warehouse. Most of it was unloaded by forklift but the smaller items and the awkwardly shaped items we helped unload by hand. It was interesting to get so close to the shipping docks and see all that goes on there. I am so glad this young woman (she's in her early 30's) is moving back to Brazil where the church is so much larger there. She joined here about a year ago and has been very faithful but she wants to get married and have a family and there just isn't much opportunity here. I think it's such a smart move on her part.

Today has been kind of slow so we went for a long walk and took Larry's suit to the tailor to have new buttons put on the cuffs. We discovered after several broken buttons that as we closed the closet doors, because the closest aren't deep enough, the sleeves were getting hit by the doors and breaking the buttons on the suit sleeves. We had his other suit fixed a while back and just haven't bothered to take this one in. He wears his suits so seldom that one has been enough. But we might as well get it fixed especially since the tailor shop will do it for free. Easier than buying new buttons and me doing it. We came home and studied for a while and we'll go to get groceries in a while. We did run into a branch member while we were walking, that had just left the Doctor's office and was waiting for the bus. She has been in a lot of pain because of shoulder problems, an ongoing malady. She said a member of the Branch Presidency was coming to her house in the afternoon to give her a blessing. Larry offered to come and help if he didn't have anyone to assist. We'll see if he gets a call. 

I'll end for now and say goodbye until next week. You all take care. 


Mom and Dad