Thursday, February 26, 2015

Feb 23, 2015

Hi all,

t seems to be that time of the week again to catch you up on the happenings here in Vigo. Today is P-day but it is also the beginning of the food making and baking for the week. I started the morning by mixing up a double batch of snickerdoodle dough and will start baking them soon for JAS tomorrow night and our Zone meeting in Santiago Wednesday morning. We did a little sight seeing jaunt with the sisters so they could take some photos for a school project for a younger brother.

Photo taken with iPhone
at TGIFridays
The main event last week was our trip to Madrid for the Mission Tour. Elder and Sister Dyches from the area presidency in Frankfurt, Germany came to conduct the meetings and teach us. We were very well taught by both of them as well as President and Sister Jackson. We left for Madrid Tuesday morning and arrived in Madrid about 4. We didn't do much that evening, in fact we ate dinner at the hotel because we were tired. Wednesday morning we attended a temple session and the spent the afternoon on the hunt for the nativities that were requested. The stores where I used to get them were all closed up (not sure if it was siesta or permanent) because stores all around them were open. I finally found a store with the figurines in the window but when I inquired inside the woman said they were all sold out from Christmas and they would be getting more the beginning of March. Finally we had given up and were leaving Plaza Mayor when I saw some figures in a storefront on a side street. There was a door and then stairs and at the top of the stairs a small counter with shelves behind it jammed full of souvenir type items. And that was it, that was the store. I wasn't too encouraged but when I asked the gentleman behind the counter he said that they had plenty but they came in sets and you had to buy a complete set. Well  that was actually great for me so I said I would like five. After seeing the sets and realizing there were no shepherds included I asked if he had shepherds and he did. He had to call upstairs to someone to bring all of the stuff down to get enough of everything so I assume there is more upstairs but I never looked because I was so happy to have found them after thinking I would have to try the previous store when we go in April with my family. After shopping and eating we went to see "The Lion King". It was amazing even in Spanish and in spite of missing the jokes. It is such a beautifully done musical production.

Percussion section El Rey León
We were up early to be at the stake center by 9a.m. to practice singing before the meeting started. We sang "We'll Bring the World His Truth" and other random hymns to welcome Elder and Sister Dyches. The meeting was 4 hours long and full of wonderful instruction and council. Sister Jackson spoke about bearing pure testimony. President Jackson talked about serving diligently with our motivation being love for the Savior. Sister Dyches encouraged us with the challenge to do "hard things". Elder Dyches covered the subjects of overcoming what may seem like obstructions until we understand the Lord's plan, Priesthood keys, and being master teachers through simplicity, love, patience, listening and without making assumptions. It was a long lovely day. We went back to the hotel and rested then took a taxi to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe. It was way too expensive but a nice little luxury to remind us of home. Actually I don't think we've ever eaten in a HRC in the states but it still feels and tastes like home. We arrived back in Vigo Friday around 4p.m. 

Mercado San Miquel
Photo by iPhone
 from PDF El Boletín
I was supposed to help the sisters with a lesson at 7  after we got home but the gentlemen never came. Which happens from time to time. I'm supposed to help them  today in 15 minutes (different man) with another lesson and I hope he comes. This guy usually does make it to his appointments. 

The above paragraphs were written a few days ago and never sent. So instead of continuing writing and updating I'll send the email or it will not make it.

You all take care. We love you.

Mom and Dad

Photo by iPhone
 from PDF El Boletín Madrid Skyline

Monday, February 23, 2015

Feb 13, 2015

It has been two weeks since my last email and I think that is the longest I have gone without writing something to all of you. Today was one of our slower days so I could catch up with cleaning, grocery shopping etc. We did go with the sisters to visit Mavick ,which we do a couple of times a week ,and while there we spend part of the time singing hymns with him. He says he really loves it and it gives him spiritual strength. He was able to come to church last week after weeks of not attending so he does seem to be improving. Larry picked him for up church along with the Elders and they also drove him home. Today while we were there in his apartment he said he didn't need Larry to pick him up Sunday because he was going to walk. He lives very close to the church, about a 6-7 minute walk. He is such a good man.

Our last three JAS activities have been fairly well attended considering how busy some of these kids are with school. They all seem to have classes at night. I think it is just normal here that they spend their day and evening at school. The University here is so far out of town but not all of them go to the University some go to other institutions. One week the sisters taught the kids how to make pancakes and then we just played games and socialized. The next week President Bamio (District President) came and talked about the Book of Mormon and gave a power point presentation about Lehi's journey from Jerusalem to the Americas and showed pictures of the actual places they traveled before crossing the ocean. We spent a wonderful hour with him learning so many things about this wonderful book and the incredible faith of Lehi and Nephi as they led the families to the Promised Land. We hope it helped to enthuse our young adults to accept the challenge to read the Book of Mormon before we leave at the end of June. This last Tuesday we had a birthday celebration for Jhosias and your dad. We decorated Valentine cookies, played ping pong, ate pizza, and had a quiz about "Who knows Elder Arnett the best." That brought a lot of laughs and the kids were surprised by some of the things they learned.

President and Sister Jackson were here last week for personal interviews with the young Elders and Sisters. They also sat in on our district meeting then took us all to lunch before flying back to Madrid. They had been up in the "north" visiting all the districts and doing interviews. It is always good to have them visit and give encouragement and counsel.

Last Friday Larry was asked to baptize a young girl in the branch who turned 8 named Maria. She is Andriv's younger sister (JAS missionary in Mexico) so we have gotten close to the family. Maria's mom asked me if I would make red velvet cakes for the refreshments after the baptism. They usually serve something to eat after baptisms here.  I was happy to do it for her. It took 4 cake mixes and tons of cream cheese for the frosting but everyone said it was so delicious. Everyone is always so fascinated by the red velvet cakes. They always think there is some amazing ingredient that is the reason for the color. I always hate to tell them it is just food coloring. Then they want the recipe and I have to admit it is a cake a mix. I have found recipes in spanish on the internet and given that to some of those that have asked.

Larry took the Elders and Sisters to Santiago this past p-day so they could visit the cathedral there in case some of them get transferred the next time. It's a must see if you get to this part of Spain because it is the 3rd most popular pilgrimage sight in the world and supposedly the Apostle James is buried there. It is a beautiful cathedral however, there are so many in Europe that are equally stunning, but don't have the notoriety of Santiago.

We had the young women JAS for Sunday dinner a couple of weeks ago and the next Sunday the guys came. I made two very different meals for each group. For the girls we had Italian chicken, pasta with roasted vegetables, spinach mango salad with orange dressing, and angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream. The girls loved it and they just oooed and aaahed over everything. For the guys we had bacon cheeseburgers, potato salad, chips and salsa, with chocolate chip cookies and ice cream for dessert. I had a hard time keeping up with the bacon for the burgers but they seemed to enjoy everything. We have too many JAS to have them all here for dinner at one time so we thought it would be fun to have guy and girl dinners and it seemed to give them a chance to really talk and spend time together. Totally different atmospheres at the two dinners.

I am getting ready to make some more valentine sugar cookies so the we along with the sisters can take plates around to some of the branch members tomorrow. I made about 5 dozen for our JAS activity Tuesday and will probably make about the same today. The difference is I'll be frosting and decorating these by myself. Luckily the dough is made and I just need to roll it out and bake them.

You all take care and know we love you and pray for you.

Mom and Dad

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Jan 30, 2015

One more week down and I really am not sure how many more to go. I'm not counting down just using a variation of a cliche to start this email. It has been a pretty average week for this time of year with a lot of rain that will continue on until next Wednesday when sunshine is projected. It is definitely rain boots and umbrella weather. I am making good use of my long Eddie Bauer rain coat that I bought at the last minute before we left. I gave my mom's snow boots to one of the Sisters because she has no rain boots and her shoes were constantly soaked. I haven't used them at all since being here plus they are actually too big for me. She seemed really happy to get them and they fit her perfectly. I told her they were pretty special boots because they were my mother's.

Larry and I have both been working with the young Elders and Sisters this past week more than we normally do. The sisters are teaching 3 men from Africa so I am usually included in all of those discussions and Larry has sat in on a couple. The Elders have needed him a few times also this past week or two and sometimes I go along. I have had to really focus more study time on  "Preach My Gospel" so that I can be more involved in the lessons. It is such an excellent book and when one studies it, it provides the means to teach the Gospel  more powerfully and clearly.

Vigo bay in the winter
We have both learned so much as we've spent time studying together and preparing lessons but we also realize we have so much more to learn and we need to be much more familiar with the scriptures so we can teach more effectively. I am so impressed with how well the young Sisters and Elders know the scriptures. Two and a half hours of daily study brings a wealth of scriptural knowledge.

We enjoy each day here and are so appreciative of this opportunity to serve the Lord in this little place in his kingdom. We are grateful to have the health and the financial means to be on a mission. We encourage you all to live the gospel and stay close to the Lord. Teach those little ones in your homes that you have been blessed with. We love all of you.

Mom and Dad