Thursday, January 31, 2013

First post from Spain!

Hello Everyone! 
I have Internet at home, at least for tonight.  Here is the update I promised.  We have been in Spain for ONE week.  We 'moved into' our apartment, though we may move again after the current office couple (Stevens) go home. Ours is on the 3rd floor of a high rise, 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, living room, kitchen, and tiny balcony. The Stevens' apartment is a short walk from the office instead of a 20 minute drive.  Yes I said drive.  We have been driving our 'own' car for 3 days, a faith promoting experience.  Parking it is a nightmare.  More on that later. We have had our first 'house guests', 2 elders stayed with us last night so they could be here for Zone Conference.  We got turned around last night on the way to pick them up and were nervous for about 8 minutes but got back on track and made it home safe and sound.  (Thank you Sir!) We helped buy groceries for said conference, and then today, we attended our first Zone Conference.  It was Fabulous!  We had Elder Texeira and his wife speak to us.  He is our area president.  They speak Portuguese, Spanish, French, English and German.  Rod and I both have been gaining a completely new idea about what repentance entails, and it is just amazing.  They both shared their conversion stories and offered wonderful ideas on how we can increase our investigators geometrically.  I enjoyed it way more than I expected to.  I am already working with some 'sick' missionaries.  We have plenty to do.  That is a good thing. I made snickerdoodles for the missionaries and they were pleased with a taste from home.  They taste good to me too. 
I understand the missionarys' Spanish, and some of the native speakers too, others not so much.  I can usually say what I want but I have a long way to go.  People seem to want to help us in stores and such.  They are good about slowing down and using gestures to help us.  On the bus the other day, when someone overheard that we wanted the train station, she got the bus driver to stop and let us off  even though we weren't at a stop. 

These photos are from our first couple of days

Our arrival at the Malaga airport with President and sister Deere
Dinner at the Deere's home.  The couple across from Rod are the Stevens.


The view from the balcony where we ate.


The almond trees are in bloom right now.  They have a sweet scent and the trees are everywhere, even wild. They sell almonds from little tiny stands everywhere.

We got to visit a couple of the 'sights' here a couple of days ago.  I will do a post of those photos later.  There is so much to say but I need to study, so goodnight.

Thank you, every one of you for your prayers! We feel their power and your faith on our behalf.  Our Savior really is in charge of this work and He helps us with every effort we make to keep His commandments and share His message.  We love you all so very much. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The MTC Experience

At the Mission Training Center

The MTC is a fascinating institution.  Being there is a study in contrasts.  There are so many changes from ‘normal’ life: schedule, rules, food, weather, roommates and more.  It is a spiritual high point for most of the missionaries, everyone is tightly focused on learning the Preach My Gospel and language, and almost everyone I saw was smiling, but everyone is equally anxious to leave.  What contrasts.  One universal is the love of MAIL!  I was surprised that we received as much as we did, but the photo worthy event was a package from our kids with birthday wishes for Rod and thoughtful gifts for us both.  The best part were the ‘ hugs’!


Our cute kids traced eachother's outline to send us 'hugs' in the mail!  We sure felt loved.
Dinner our first day does not bode well for our waist lines.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Plan

Last night Rod told me of his idea for today when we make our daily trek to the travel office.  He was going to ask the lady if today was Wednesday.  She would say yes.  Is today the 16th of January? Yes.  Oh good. I just wanted to be sure you knew that word.  His plan was to lighten the mood because we know it is hard for them to tell us no so often.
We implemented that plan at the noon break today. 
He asked, "Is today Wednesday?"
"Is today January 16th?"
"Okay, now that you are in practice with that answer, have our visas come?"
She said "Yes!"
Whoooeee!!!!  Finally!!!
After our wonderful devotional last night, Rod said he had finally 'let go'  and let the Lord run His church His way and on His own time schedule.  Maybe that was part of what we needed to learn.
The travel lady said we (and some of the 50 others whose Spanish visas came today) would meet with the Consul this coming Tuesday morning and that we would get our travel plans after that.  Rejoice with us!

Tuesday evening Devotional

 Written Tuesday, Jan 15
Tonight we went to the Tuesday Evening Devotional.  We were tempted not to go, even though we had heard that Brother Holland was to speak.  We get up at 6:00am to get to class on time, and don’t get to do much besides sit and study the whole day.  While we were staying ‘on campus’, we could go back to the room to stretch out and rest after meals and such.  Not so now that we have been moved to the Marriott. It is about 3 miles from the MTC so we have to take the shuttle back and forth.  To reduce their costs, the shuttle is only available 7-7:30am. and 6-7pm This makes for very long days.  We were ‘good’ though and stayed for the devotional.  Well, it was worth it.   I know you are so surprised.
First a little back story.  Some of you know we were scheduled to fly out yesterday.  Of course that didn’t happen.  In addition, yesterday was Rod’s birthday.  We are both sentimental, and had thought what a cool birthday surprise it would have been to get our visas that day.  I felt more disappointed than I had expected.  You see, because of my anxiety regarding my coming assignment, I haven’t really minded waiting to take it on, especially when we are busy learning new and interesting things.  Still, I have felt how anxious the mission President and his wife are to have us there, and Rod has been very anxious to get out and get to work, so his birthday seemed the perfect day for the visas to come.  As one daughter would say, the Lord has something better in mind.  (That is what His ‘no’ means.)
This devotional was one of the’ better things’.
Before Bro Holland spoke, a choir of missionaries sang a song called ‘Precious Savior’.  It was a song I hadn’t heard before; the music was copied (maybe original?). It was just beautiful!  Music has been a sure route to our tear ducts already.  Sunday, a zone headed to Polynesia somewhere sang a song in Samoan (I think)as a special number in Sacrament meeting.  It was in their hymn books, but one unique to them, and that got us both crying.  There is such spirit in music.  The other part of this I should let Rod tell about.  I will just say that during his first MTC experience they dedicated this MTC complex and he was in the choir that performed.  He has described the power he felt then, and this music, though more gentle, brought that to mind.  Bro Holland started out talking of the unprecedented surge in the number of missionaries, that we are part of historic days.  In previous dispensations, the great missionaries knew that they would ‘fail’ in that apostasy would follow sooner or later.  Bro Holland felt that what kept them going was the knowledge that our day would come.   We will not fail.  We will prepare a people ready to receive the Savior. Apparently, he is often asked when the 2nd coming will be.  He said that it has already started. Wow! I can’t recount the whole talk of course but he was so impassioned he was shaking as he told us he just couldn’t bear that returned missionaries went inactive.  He made us laugh when he said he wanted to revoke free agency and then asked if the podium was grounded, but he just couldn’t stand that any missionary would teach and bear testimony of gospel principles that are the root of all that he most cherishes in his whole life and then just drop out.  Preach My Gospel ‘s purpose is to produce converted missionaries and then turn them loose, with the Spirit, to convert the world.  He pointed out that obedience is the only way to teach with ‘great power and authority’.  He  explained that the church has almost 200 years of experience in missionary work so missionaries needn’t think they know better.  Helaman 5:17-19 and Mosiah 27:11-18 demonstrate teaching with great power and authority.  He tenderly mentioned missionary questions he received, so often wondering how to know if they were successful.  He said that if a missionary was converted himself, was obedient, and seeking the Spirit, then he was succeeding, regardless of everything else.
Then Bro Holland told us that 3 MTC buildings which have been newly renovated, would be rededicated in this meeting.  The buildings are named after early missionaries, Mathew Cowley, Dan Jones and Anson Pratt.  He told us a little about these men.  Amazing.  Then he pronounced the dedicatory prayer.  It was so specific; materials were blessed in detail, and their purposes, and the missionaries that would be taught there.  It will be a place of safety for this work.   No weapon or malice will be allowed to harm the missionaries.  There is wonderful power in an apostolic blessing.  The icing on the evening was Rod recognizing the symmetry.  He witnessed a dedication during both MTC experiences.  
Okay, Lord.  We will stay where you want us to stay. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

First week

We have survived our first week at the MTC.  The weather continues very cold, so we are glad that we don't have to spend much time outside. We have already grown close to a couple in our group, the Abrahams.  They invited us out with them for their 'last supper' on Friday.  They are headed to South Africa, (Botswana), where they were instructed not to eat anything they didn't cook, so we enjoyed our dinner at Texas Roadhouse, and dessert at the Creamery to the fullest. It is amazing how quickly we have bonded.  They left this morning.  
A big thanks to nephew Matt who provided transportation for our outing to Wally World on Saturday.  We were able to buy a few supplies and very much enjoyed a change of scenery. The stops at an office supply store and a Ross were icing on the cake.
Sunday was Fast Sunday which was a special treat.  I love the energy and passion of these young missionaries. 
This week we started the medical officer training.  Most of it is in SLC which means we (Rod) are driving on roads that still have some ice. So Fun! There was even a light flurry of snow when we got to the church office building this morning.  The trip took about 1/2 hr longer than expected so we were a bit late.  What can you do? The training was long which, added to the drive, made for a tiring day. When we got 'home' we were delighted to find a package from our kids.  Alicia, Geneva, Elena, and little ones had made 'hugs' on long strips of paper for us, plus they sent his favorite animal cookies for Rod, blush for me and real photos. Thank you all so much.  So Thoughtful!  The one sad part of the day was when Rod called the travel office, hoping for news of our visas.  No luck. Keep praying for us.

I can't get the photos to load tonight.  Maybe next time


Wednesday, January 2, 2013


We Finally Made It!  We are here at the MTC and our mission has officially begun.
Our flight was uneventful, though we are not used to having so much luggage to haul.  (You will remember that we have been getting rid of our stuff for over 6 months now)   We still have too much stuff.  When we had finally gathered it all up and exited the airport we noticed a strange phenomenon.

Yes boys and girls that is snow on my suitcase!

Rod has never been out in the falling snow before.  We thought we were experienced!

We were very glad for lunch, and enjoyed the bustle of all those young missionaries. The rest of our day was filled with meetings and training.  We are learning and practicing teaching according to the Preach My Gospel manual.  It is challenging and inspiring. It continued a light snow off and on through the day.  We loved those misty mountains.


Now you know Rod, right?  Well arriving on New Year's Eve just couldn't go unnoticed so he snuck in some supplies and threw a little party.  Given the age of the celebrants we started at 9 pm and were done at 10 but we still had a great time with some of the single sisters on our floor.  We had invited some of the other couples but they must have had better offers.

Sisters Fryer, Smally, and Miyasuiro.  These are some great ladies!

The view from our room our first night.

The mountains were tinged with pink that next morning, tho the photo doesn't show it.  I am so glad that senior missionaries get to keep their cameras with them.  As Rod says, we have half the rules and twice the fun.

Many are cold but few are frozen!

We are learning a lot, though we get awfully sleepy in the afternoon sometimes.  Yes everyone, I am going to bed by 11pm and up by 6:30 am.  See,  I am obedient.  Thank you for your prayers.  They make all the difference, so please keep them coming.  Stay tuned.