Sunday, March 24, 2013

Another Week Flies By

I am running late.  I really want to try to get to bed on  time.  It doesn't look good for that goal right now.  Maybe I can write a shorter post??  We will see. 

Remember our big purchase from last week?

This is our piano.  We both love it and I am even practicing Easter hymns
This past week we had new missionaries come in, sent out missionaries who had finished their missions and  even had our own 'native speaker' as a companion for 4 days.
One of our APs 'died' so we had a farewell dinner for him Monday night. 

He is the one with the red tie.
We had such a great time.  The two across from me are our office elders. We bought a charcoal grill so that we could cook steak for this dinner.  We have all the comforts of home.

Two sets of new missionaries stayed Tue night with us since there wasn't room for everyone in the mission home.  That was fun, they just chatter like anything. ( I was going to say girls but it didn't seem pc.)  We had everything ready for the new missionaries, but had forgotten the packets for the departing missionaries so we had to hustle to get those fixed up in time.  Whew again.
The photos of our native comp are on the other camera so that will come next week.  He is from Paraguay and had his passport stolen, so we worked with him and the consulate to get that replaced.  Then he went home Thur.  Whew!  These squirts get into your heart so fast.  It was hard to say goodbye to them. As part of our recovery we did some retail therapy at Ikea on the way home from the airport.  We bought plates so that we can match when we feed 8.  We also bought some new towels to match the rug in his bathroom.  You do know my husband right?
Don't the plates look good with the place mats?
Since I liked how our pizza looked on them, I got out the camera and took photos of them.  While I was at it I got some of the rest of the apt too.  You can see the sofa in the background of the dinner photo.  Rod has disliked that since he first saw it, so we found some bedspreads that he liked at our 'chino' and he figured out how to tuck them in and around so they look like slip covers.  They are clean, and a more modern look which we both love.  We are making this apt our own.

This is half of our living room.  We keep the computer on the first desk.  The second will be my sewing desk when I have projects.  Rod wants to recover the chair cushions in beige.
Here is a close up with the arm rest so you can see what they used to look like.
I had to take this photo in the day time.  I love the light in this apt.  I also love that it has heating and cooling.

One (Rod's) bathroom. Mine still needs new towels.
Our 2nd bedroom.  There is one more  but I didn't take that photo yet.

Washing dishes is more fun when they match.
This truly is a galley  kitchen, almost too narrow for 2 people to pass, but lots of cupboards.

We have balcony outside all our windows, but it is only about 3 feet deep.  See our grill?
We are on the 4th floor here but there are only 5.  Next time I will show you the entry and courtyard.
Oh, we got potting soil and some planters.  Maybe by next week I will have window gardens started.  Rod just wants flowers.  I of course want herbs and produce.  Compromise??
Well I am finished, and not as late as I thought.  We love you and this work. Keep praying for us and the missionaries.  Love you all.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A week in the mission


This week, the big event was we bought a piano. Well... a keyboard actually, but it has almost as many keys as a real piano, similar looking and feeling keys, a sustain pedal, and the force you hit the keys with does determine the volume to some extent. It also has some of the electric piano advantages. We can make it sound like an organ, harpsichord or vibraphone. It has a built in metronome too. Very cool. We walked half a block up the street to a music store, bought it and carried it home. I love how that works here. Of course, we had been there a couple of times to check different types of 'teclas' out. You see, Rod is now the pianist for the branch, and the sisters wanted to sing a special number for RS birthday, so he needed to practice and going to the building is inconvenient and, and, and. We finally decided that we have saved for this mission so that we could serve and this keyboard will make that easier, so that is what we did. The special number went quite well, I thought. I have been surprised at how nervous Rod gets about playing. I thought he felt more comfortable than I do, apparently not. I am practicing too. Maybe I will take some of the burden sometimes.
Here is a summary of our week. 
Monday was a regular day, which is to say, we didn't have something special to do or somewhere to go, but those days are actually rather rare so 'regular' maybe isn't the best word. Anyway, Tue we did our usual office stuff but left early, picked up Justin (the Deere's youngest) at the bus stop and went to their house to get food started for the missionaries that were coming in to do residency work. The Deeres were at a 'parent teacher conference' for their daughter in high school.
Wed, we transported some of them to Benalmadena to do the residency work, and took them back to the Police station to get their cards. Oh, did I tell you that I couldn't get mine? Remember that no fingerprints thing that I have had for a long time that was made even worse doing ceramics? Well, the computer has to recognize your fingerprint in order for them to issue your card and it couldn't recognize mine after about 1/2 hr of trying to get it to work, so they resubmitted it. I may never get one. How about that? Glad Rod has his. Anyway, whenever missionaries come in, it is hectic in the office because they are always in a hurry to catch their train or bus and there is mail, 'orders' and such to get into bags for them to take back. Part of our job is to have all that stuff ready to go, but even when we do, there are always things they discover that they need. Hectic but fun. We also have to have the orders (B of M, pamphlets, videos ect) that have been ordered by the 'far away' zones for Pres. to haul with him when he goes to zone conference. Rod types and sends letters for new and 'going home' missionaries, and missionaries with new calls. You wouldn't believe all the letters we send. We manage the cars, I manage the health records and file insurance claims, check up on the phone use, help with the reimbursements for missionaries (they get back $ for medicine, travel, apt items, ect.) and what ever else they need. Yes, they keep us busy.
Wed. evening we had a treat. Rod's brother in law, Scott and nephew Blake went out to eat with us. They are here in Spain on a trip with the Spanish classes to absorb Spanish Culture, so they called while they were near us, we went to pick them up and went out to dinner. It was so fun to see them and 'hang out'.
  We were trying to find a restaurant for dinner at about 7 pm, but nothing was open yet, so we ended up going to our little 'English Pub'. Have to have fish and chips since they were in Spain, right? Anyway, while we were walking to the pub, this guy approached us. He seemed rather um... drunk, had tattoos, his rum and coke in hand, told us he was an 'elder' and that he wanted to talk to Rod. He wanted his phone number, not the mission number. Well, we got a call tonight that he wanted to talk to us. Rod had another appointment so he sent the Elders. They didn't get to see him, but when they told the hotel they wanted to leave him a book, he wasn't in the room he tried to sent them too. A suspicious character all they way around. We have to be more specific when we pray for missionary experiences.
Thur??? I have no memory of Thru. Oh wait, that was the morning I hurt my knee doing my exercises.
Fri we bought our piano, and worked and had a missionary over, we were his comp while his comp was traveling, then we fed the Sisters too. They had stopped to use the bathroom.
Sat. morning we got up early and drove to Sevilla, well really Alcala. We went to look at apartments for the new couple that is supposed to be here in a week. Yup, we are hurrying. There was a member that was supposed to show us around, but he had something come up so we were on our own and actually did pretty well with the help of TomTom (our GPS). We also visited a couple of elders in Ultrea and took them to lunch.
They have these huge bull silhouettes scattered around the country side.

See the olive trees?  This goes on for miles and miles, far as the eye can see.  ( from a moving car)
We really enjoyed our lunch with these guys.
When we got home, we ate, practiced piano, then I rearranged some more kitchen, Rod rearranged the 3rd bedroom and made beds, and we threw out some more junk. We will house (really just provide a place to sleep) some of the new missionaries that are coming in this tue.night. There isn't room in the mission home for everyone. You need a program just to keep up. Things won't slow down for quite a while yet. We are at about 110 missionaries right now and expect to be at almost 200 by the end of the year. We will have to get good at this finding apartments thing.
Well, that about covers our week. Hope you are all well and happy. Rod pointed out that compared to Ammon and Aaron's mission, our missionaries have it easy, no prision, starvation, bonds, or swords are involved. Still this work is hard and we are all so grateful for your prayers. My knee was swollen and hurt to walk on thur. Today, the swelling is almost gone and I can walk without pain. When this has happened before, it took at least a week to get better, and often more. And I am older! See I told you, your prayers are working! Especially keep all mission Presidents in your prayers. They have such a hard job. It isn't just the missionaries, they are also over branches and members in some of their areas. We sure do love you all. Take good care and keep us updated on yourselves. You are in our prayers too.
Love Rod and Jeanene
PS.  Here are some of the photos from our Temple trip.

This was just before the sun came up.  See the moon?
I love the slightly Moorish touches.

The red building is where the temple workers live and patrons can stay the night.
The bus we rode.
We so enjoyed our trip to Madrid to the temple.  Next time though, we will take a train.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

The New Bed!

It has been a quiet week.  NOT.  I did want to write that just to see how it would be.  Maybe one day I will mean it. I also wanted to post the photo of the hail we had 2 weeks ago, just before we left Malaga.  It was rather amazing.  You can see it on the grass and in the gutter.  This was the storm that caused the accident with the mission van.

 We had zone leader training on Tue so that means that all the mail, packages, and orders for BofM, pamphlets, etc had to be ready for them to dash in, grab and go. That preparation was done Mon.  As the Zone leaders came, they also wanted a few more things some of which have to be recorded to we can charge for them, and they left their reimbursment requests in stacks too.  It was hectic but so fun. We love to see these great missionaries and in Rod's case put faces to names.  I still don't remember names.  It was a very rainy day too.  That night I got a call that an Elder who had been having diarrhea for 4 days, had started back with a fever.  I felt that he needed to see a doctor, so after consulting with Sister Deere, we headed off to get him.  This was extra hard because the rain was so heavy that it was difficult to see well enough to drive, let alone find our way.  Our GPS was in the other car and we didn't know where they lived. We were on the phone with the Elders and they had a map but signs with the names of roads here are on the sides of buildings and quite small which makes it hard to navigate even in the daytime.  Soooo the miracle(s) of the week: we found them, found the hospital, found the pharmacy, and got them back again without accident and in a timely way.  Our insurance would have worked if the authorization letter had come but after our 3 hour visit, the fax still hadn't made it.  We were glad that we have a good credit card.  The hospital may have charged a little more than the insurance pays state side, but it is a 'for profit' hospital so it could have been worse too.  Our Elder was dehydriated and had a serious infection so he got lab, IV fluids and IV antibiotics, all done in about 3 hours.  That is the impressive part.  At home it would have taken twice that amount of time on a good night.  It did the trick and he was feeling much better afterwards.  I was pleased that I could understand the doctor pretty well, especially as she spoke very quickly. After taking them home, we stopped at the old apt and picked up some more of our stuff.  It only took 15 minutes to load it up but we felt like thieves.  I guess because it was late at night and we were trying to be quiet.  How odd.  We got home about 2:30 AM. 
The next morning we helped transport missionaries to Benalmadena ( 20 min drive) to do some residency work.  Without the van, we had to caravan with Sister Deere to get all the missionarys there.  (I posted on face book about that accident.  A manhole cover 'exploded' into the bottom of the van as the missionaries were coming home from taking the Stevens to the airport.  They were unhurt but the underside of the van was torn to pieces, and we still don't know if it will be replaced or repaired and if we get a rental in the mean time.)  By the time we got done with that Rod and I were pretty beat, so we went home to eat and sleep.When we got up it was late enough that we decided not to go back to the office.
 Instead we went to Ikea and bought a bed.  Now we have spent a lot of time looking and trying beds.  We will be here for 2 years.  That is long enough that we felt it was worth buying something we really liked.  The Stevens slept on a double bed size foam matress that I couldn't stand.  I expect it is mostly in my mind but I hate sleeping on foam rubber.  Is it enough like latex that I am alergic?  Maybe, either way, I have been on a twin in the spare room.   Rod's feet and half of his calves hang off if he stretches out.  We tried to order one we liked last week,but the store was closed the day we went and it would have been 3-4 weeks till it was delivered.  Wed we decided to get the Ikea one..., well really two. 
Here, beds are sold by cm size.  Rod is 194cm so we wanted the 200 cm length.  The bed in Malaga is 150cm wide, almost queen size.  What we finally bought was a pair of 90cm wide beds and the bases  (and sheets).  That ends up nearly King size.  Rod didn't much like the crack in the middle, but with these we could transport them ourselves in our car.  We had to take off the cardboard but we got the matresses and bases in the car, took them home and set up The Bed!  We were even able to get them in the elevator (one at a time).  We are on the 4th floor so that was a big plus.  It is sooooo nice to stretch out, not have to worry about bumping when you turn over, and it is clean and new.  Love it.  We strapped the frames together so they don't slide apart. 
The BED!

Yes, I still get in comfortable clothes after church on a Sunday evening.
Thursday evening we went to the church.  I did our branch 'cleaning assignment' this week, while Rod started the job of cleaning up the branch records that had been dumped in a drawer.  Remember he is the branch clerk.  I have spent some of my time at home working on cleaning out and sorting the stuff in the cupboards, which really, only I can do to my liking.  I was kind of glad to let him do his version of the same thing at the church and just straight clean.  Friday night we wanted to eat out.  there are cafeterias everywhere, but they serve mostly just snacks and sandwiches.  We started walking down a street we didn't know and found a restaurant we really liked, food was cheap and fast.  We weren't sure where we were afterwards, but walked back Sat afternoon and found it right away.  It is kind of fun to get lost and then find yourself again.We also looked at keyboards.  We will probably buy one of those too as Rod is now the pianist for church.  Maybe I can reclaim enough skill to help out once in a while.  Sat. while I worked in the kitchen, Rod scrubbed 'his' bathroom.  It is nice to really clean out the hard water scale and gunge.  That way the hair in the corner is your own and not someone elses.  After I finished in the kitchen, I spent a couple of hours on 'my' bathroom.  I really wanted to get the tub cleaned so that I could calk around the surround.  It has been leaking and I hope that now it won't leave puddles on the floor.  There is still a lot to do, but we are making progress. 
Tonight, I finally made a full dinner.  It looked so pretty to me that I had to take photos.  Just so you know, we took off an old style lace table cloth and bought the place mats (on Fri) to make our table look a bit more modern. 

It was so tasty that we invited the sisters over to have some too.  They were sharing a scripture with us and showed us where a dog ate their planner...have you heard that one before teachers?
We are having a wonderful time.  Love you all. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

We made it to Madrid

It has been a long and busy week.  We have said goodbye to the Stevens who were our 'trainers'. We have gotten Rod mostly over his cold, though he is still doing some coughing.  That has been a blessing.  We started our move into the Fuengirola apartment.  We love the 10 minute walk to the office and the extra space.  We miss our big bed and are working on buying one.  Since we will be here for 21 more months it is worth it to sleep comfortably.  We have tried out beds at several stores.  If one store had been open last Fri, we would have ordered from them.  They were closed though.  Thur was Andalucia Day (Antonio Banderas got an award.  We saw it on TV) so everything was closed that day and lots of businesses were closed the next too.  Now we are thinking we may go for the Ikea set.  Easier to transport and available now instead of in 2-4 weeks.  Friday night we went on the Temple excursion with wards from Fuengirola and Malaga.  They chartered 2 buses and nearly filled them.  There were lots of youth plus adults.  We left at 10:30 pm....though the bus was late so it was more like 11:30, drove all night, got to the Madrid temple at 7:30 or so in the morning, went through a session, did sealings,ate, visited with a sister we met in the MTC, dozed in the foyer for an hour and had a snack.  Then we got back on the bus at 4 pm and arrived in Fuengirola at about midnight.  We were glad to get home even if it is full of boxes.  The Madrid temple was wonderful to see.  I wanted to get a photo as we drove up.  It was still dark enough that the Temple just glowed, but I didn't get that photo.  I will post the photos I did get later.  I am too tired now.  We did get to see the plains of Spain.. you know,  the ones where the rain mainly stays.  They were really beautiful.  The country we drove through on our tour with the Merrils was mainly mountainous or hilly.  This part was miles or rather kilometers and kilometers of flat plains most filled with a patchwork of green fields.  Reminds me of the Midwest US though I don't think these were generally the huge commercial farms like we have. I could be wrong.

We have started to unpack.  This is more complicated than the first time.  We have to clear out everything the church owns out of the Malaga apt, bring it here, sort what is here and decide what to trash, what is still good, what we have too much of that the couple arriving in March might be able to use and what other missionaries might use.  Some of the stuff here belongs to the landlord so we can't get rid of it even if we don't want it.  There were pans from 3 sets of cookware, dishes from 4 different sets, way more than I will ever use and I cook quite a lot.  This apt has a stove built in.  The Malaga one didn't, so the Massaros bought one, so that came here even though we won't need it.... probably.  A bunch of pencils went to the ward building.  If you come, don't bring  a transformer or converter, we have at least a dozen.  You get the idea.  This will be a long term project.  I find myself uncomfortable with excesses of stuff we won't use but you know how hard it is for me to toss usable things.  Maybe that is why we had to come here.  They needed someone to clean things out.  The Stevens already did a huge amount of that at the office, but we will do still more there too.  We will probably have to find new apts for missionaries in a few months.  Some stuff will just get boxed up till then.  Well time for this one to go to bed.  Love you All!