Sunday, April 28, 2013

The wave is almost here!

We have finished up the week before the wave starts here.  The wave is the 'wave of new missionaries' mostly younger and arriving in large groups.  There has been intense planning a preparation all week.  We will be losing the office 'Secretary' who is our computer guru and excel man. He is going home. :(   We are hoping the planning they have done can be tweaked for the next few groups.  Sis Deere mentioned that they had talked with the Madrid mission president's wife who was wondering how they would handle their group of new missionaries, and Sis Deere said she had to work not to be smug, cause she had Elder Castillo and Elder Mockler.  We emailed them copies of our rough drafts of schedules as a point of departure.  There is a pun there....   Anyway, we are almost to the toboggan ride part where you just have to push off, go with the flow and adjust as you can.  Not only will we receive 32 new missionaries, send home 13, and open 10 new areas, almost 3/4 of the missionaries are being transferred.  Nearly everyone qualified, will become a trainer.  Crazy!  The whole week has been focused on arranging this, with a zone conference thrown in on Wed.  We also did the school 'drop off' and 'pick up' for the Deeres' kids while Pres and Sis Deere were in another part of the mission for another Zone conference. Rod put up "the Thing" a week ago.  It is a huge bulletin board with a heavy oak frame that was in our Malaga apt.  I wanted to toss it.  It was a headache (and back ache) to move, impossible to get on the elevator, and hard to store and hang, but now it is up in the office right over Rod's desk. and will be very helpful.  It has a big calendar on it with sticky notes of what happens when and where.  They need to be movable because so much changes.  Saturday we went like mad from 8 AM to late in the night to do as much of the prep as we could.  Sorry I didn't call Mom!
Today we had Mijas Branch 'munch and mingle' at our apartment for the first time, at least since it was 'ours'.  We came to one here when the Stevens were here but that doesn't count.  The exciting part of that was that we more than doubled our usual attendance at church today with visitors.  We had a wonderful time with them though and invited them all to come even though there was some concern about enough food as it is pot luck.  I made a huge salad  and a pot of spaghetti in addition to the other dishes (chicken tortilla casserole and blondies) I had prepared.   Oh I also made mystery bars with marias ( crisp, not very sweet cookies they give their kids for breakfast and snacks). They turned out okay.  We had plenty of food, lots of fun and got to make new friends with some wonderful people.  Two of the couples visiting, were from Murry Ut, didn't know each other but figured that their kids did.  They live just a few minutes away from each other. So funny how things work. This is part of why they keep this branch going.  Most of the members understand enough Spanish to attend that ward, but this way there are services in English for travelers who need it. I also gave the RS lesson today.  I was very glad I prepared it early in the week.  I usually do the 'writing' the day before but I wouldn't have had time yesterday.  I was planning to post some Cadiz photos but I don't have the energy tonight.  We will see if they show up later in the week.  Don't hold your breath though.  We thank you for your prayers.  I gouged my heel on a door jamb and was worried that I would be lame, but so far it has been healing well and not causing problems, and I am sure that your prayers have had a lot to do with that blessing.  We enjoy a strong feeling of purpose and are finding joy in this work! We love our missionaries, President and family, and the dear Mijas members. We are so very thankful for all of you.  You are in our prayers too.  Love ya

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Castillos in Cadiz

It was a long week in the office this week.  I learned another few steps in dealing with insurance to pay for missionary needs.  I may get the hang of this by the end of the mission.  Of course they will likely change things by then.  My companion, (I never know if I should call him Elder Castillo or Rod. I am trying to remember to say Elder Castillo when I talk to the Elders but it is hard.) Anyway, he has been working on getting the referal manager to work for us, plus we have started recieving names of missionaries coming in Oct.  Then we got our order of supplies but there was a mistake.  We got 450 copies of 1 DVD when we ordered 200, and didn't get any of 2 others that we ordered, plus we are missing 2 boxes of copies of the bible and triples that were marked sent.  ???  Still, I guess when you think of all the stuff they send out, it is amazing more errors don't happen.  That may be why we have cases of pamphlets in Russian??   We will eventually use all of the DVDs, but the russian stuff may get 'lost'....  It is too expensive to ship back and we just have to have the space. Know anyone in need of Russian pamphlets?  Rod has also been working on President's interview schedual and temporary housing arrangements for when we get 32 new missionaries at once, plus send 13 home. (Don't forget, each new missionary has a trainer that comes to get his or her comp.)  President will be BEAT after interviewing all of them. (This is in 2 weeks) The other fly in the ointment is that the day after the new ones get here is a bank holiday, all the government offices that we need for our residency work are closed.  Sing with me...."We will over come...some daaaay".  We will be working this week to get the new apartments their supplies and safety equipment.  Sooo glad it isn't like in England.  Here almost all the apartments come fully furnished, including kitchen ware.  There they must buy everything.  Of course here we have to keep track of what is ours and what belongs to landlords.  All my trials Lord. (that is from a song too, for you youngsters) We also cleaned our part of the chapel, Rod prepared his talk for sacrament meeting, which he was conducting, and practiced the songs he could play, though Sister Spainhower came so he was off the hook for playing piano.  Yea.  He did a nice job on his talk by the way.
Well, for a break in the month and to promote Senior Couple Sanity  friendships (they invited us to come visit 3-4 times), we took a trip to Rota (on the atlantic coast) to visit the Todds.  They are the church liason couple for the American military base there.  We got to see their beautiful little town and then spent Saturday with them showing us  around Cadiz.  That one will be on your maps people.  It is right where the Mediteranean runs into the Atlantic. It is an ancient town, inhabited for over 3,000 years, with layers of buildings, one on top of the ruins of another in some areas, going back to Roman times.
I will start with photos of the drive there, then photos of Rota

This is hilly country and as you can see, windy.  I loved the purple sheen on the hills.

The Land of Don Quixote!

I think it is a sort of clover
It takes me a long time to load photos onto the blog so, even though I wrote this on Sunday, I am still trying to finishe it on Wed.

We drove for 2 1/2 hours, and arrived to find this view across the street from the Todds' apartment.  Tough life huh?
After a delicious dinner that Sister Todd made for us, they took us on a walk around 'their' town.

That is sister Todd with the camera.

This is the bell tower. 

We wandered over to see their 'town center' and came across a wedding just finishing.

They shoot off these tubes filled with confetti.  It looked so cool!

She was so beautiful.
The wedding was in their town hall which used to be the 'palace' of the Duque (Duke).
 I was so impressed with this ceiling

This is the courtyard.

I love the arches looking up a stairway.
We loved this painting, especially the horse.

They are artists with ceramic tile here.  This comemorates the visit of the King and Queen.  Look at the name of the castle.
That courtyard at sunset.
A door through the city wall.

I have a dozen photos of this sunset.  So gorgeous!

Sister Todd

Elder Allan Todd.  We sure smiled when we learned his first name.

This piece of sandstone is on their 'board walk'.  The Todds saw  flaminco dancers being filmed during one of their walks.  A member found the film on Youtube.

Well, the computer doesn't want to add any more photos.  Maybe that is a sign that I should save the Cadiz photos for another post.  These have all been in Rota.  I hope we get to go again, maybe when we are allowed to swim and sit on the beach. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Spring is sprung

I am being repentant.  I just didn't feel like writing a post last week.  Sorry.  I even had time. After watching conference I think  I was just tired of looking at the computer.  Whatever the reason, I am back.  I shouldn't skip a week though.  It is hard enough remembering the week just past, the one before that is impossible.  What I do know is that spring is here.  Rod has always wanted to grow geraniums, and we have planted them often, but they never last very long in AZ.  Maybe he has unrealistic expectations.  He is determined to get them to grow here though, which we should be able to do cause we see them everywhere.

This roundabout near our apt is Rod's favorite.  We risked trafic and a fine to get this photo.  It is on a hill which is why he looks tipped.

He loves all the different colors of geraniums!

I took some photos of the outside areas of our you can feel like you are here with us?? Okay, cause I think it is cool.

This is our courtyard and one entrance.  Yes, those are sour orange trees.  I had Sister Wilson taste one and she was surprised.  I was delighted not to miss out on the smell of orange blossoms.
The entrance to our apt is in the corner of the next to the top floor.

Here you are looking down on our courtyard from the walkway to our apt.  You can see the driveway and in the upper rt corner the entrance to our parking garage.

 Here is "our car" parked in said garage. I have to get out before Rod backs in.  The back of the car is  6 inches or less from the wall  to give other cars room to manuver.

Here is the walkway to our apt.  The door you see is our neighbors.  Ours is in the left had wall, just behind the white chair.
This was taken today and the reason for the title of this weeks post.  I have plants growing!!! Rod has been working on flowers and I have been trying to grow produce.  I don't know if they will have enough root room or sun.  We will see. Still exciting.
Rod framed the temple photo this week and also painted the chair black to match the piano.

He put these up last night.  Thanks to Geneva, we got emails of older family photos, had them printed and framed them all on Friday.  The miracles of modern technology.  There are plans for the empty frame but you will have to wait to see it.

Here are 2 of the plants he potted for in the house.

This is one of the flowers he bought for outside our front door.

He borrowed a pot from Sister Deere for the office balcony. They were out of town, you wouldn't believe how much traveling they do, so we 'broke in' and got it ourselves.

The flower 'shops' are getting to recognize us.
Begins the photos of office elders who have become so dear to us already.

Our travel and computer guru.  He will 'die' in the office in a couple of weeks.

This is heading to the parking garage at the office.  You see fewer than usual vehicles here.  We turn right between the last two cars you can see, and enter through a sliding 'garage door'.  We have to stop on the way down the ramp to turn on the light and if we aren't quick, we will be left to find our way out in the dark.  That is more of a problem for Rod as he has to avoid  the duct work on the way to the elevator.  I bought a flashlight.

 Well, that is enough for this week. Hope you are all well and happy.  Thank you for the Easter posts and photos.  We love you all. 


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Yes, we are having Fun!

I talked to #1 son Sunday and he commented that it looked like we were having such a good time, he wished he could retire early and go on a Church 'vacation' too.  I thought about that for a while, it could have been several minutes.  You see, I noticed when I was a sub, that my 'neutral' relaxed face seems to have a frown look to it.  I decided then to try to actively smile so that students would know that I was happy.  When we put on our name tags as missionaries, I decided that people needed to know that this gospel brings happiness and joy, so I make even a more concerted effort to smile and be cheerful.  It also helps people try to communicate when you use humor to let them know that you are aware you are making errors but that you are trying.  The funny thing about all this is...  the act of 'putting on a happy face' increases my feelings of happiness and satisfaction.  Sooo there you are.  We are having a great time.  I get along wonderfully with my companion, I am very busy and needed, and we are having an adventure. How can it not be fun.  Well I admit that learning to drive here was Not Fun.  It was stressful, difficult, and scary.  I felt responsible if I didn't know where we were supposed to go. I also felt responsible for Rod's stress and anxiety. I finally had to go back to what I learned in the MTC.  This is the Lord's work.  He knows he is working with flawed tools.  He is still Able to do His Work! All I have to do is keep trying and relax.  Success is assured with patience and time.  Satan loses! We win! Simple.  Not easy sometimes but still, Simple!
Well, enough deep thinking for tonight.  I promised photos of our 'native speaker" comp.

At the airport

Elder Rojas and Elder Castillo
We had a special dinner with our Mijas sisters to celebrate the Relief Society's Birthday.
Aren't they beautiful?

Between courses, we had to share a talent.  I taught them Heimlich maneuver.

See the dark blue spot on the horizon to the left?  That is Africa peaking out over the clouds! Gibraltar is on the right!
I don't know what they are called here but on my mission these cars were called Deuchevaux.  US won't let them in.  Too flimsy and dangerous.  Rod says one hit him during his mission.  Totaled the car but he was fine.
Scott.  This is at the restaurant we wanted to take you to.  Pricy but very delicious! Even the garnish!
In other news for the week, we had roomies for most of the week.  The new senior couple came on Tue.  Their luggage however didn't make it.  They were troopers though.  We got them 'used' to driving a little, got them a GPS, got their residency done, and washed out their clothes a few times.  We even had a dinner with the Spainhowers, the Malaga senior couple.We finally picked up 3 of their 4 suitcases on Friday, packed the van and drove to Alcala, with them following.  The ointment still had flies though.  The duena didn't hear her phone, so we waited for 45 minutes for her to come.  When they got into the apt,  the water heater didn't work ( the native Elder got it going right away tho), the washer leaked, ect.  Still, it is a nice place and once they get things fixed up it will be perfect.  We had a nice dinner with another senior couple, the Todds, and then drove the 2 hrs back home.  A long day.  Sat we closed our Malaga apt and turned in the keys.

Olive trees....Miles and miles of them!

Wild flowers that smelled heavenly!

I caught the end of the highway under construction.  The red is a framework that they move along from pylon to pylon as they finish one section and build the next, may even be the form to pour the concrete?


Above you see how I spent some of my Sat.  We found table cloths but not napkins so I turned one table cloth into 9 of them.

Of course Rod took them to another level.  To celebrate Easter, we had the office elders and Fuen sisters over for a traditional Easter dinner. 

Worth the work!

These are judias.  Super size green beans, very tender and delicious.
 We had ham, cheesy potatoes, zucchini, beans and salad with lemon muffins and strawberries for dessert.  The missionaries were appropriately impressed!  (Now you know why I didn't post anything on Sunday)

We had such fun.  They are great missionaries.   ( the sisters got there late but they were teaching so that is good)  Easter in Spain is preceded by Semana Santa, a week off from work, lots of stores are closed, and they have processions all over where people carry figures of the Virgin Mary.  They dress in KKK costumes or rather the KKK copied these costumes.  It is a very hard week for missionary work so we were proud of them for all they did.  We sure do love you all and thanks for your support.  Keep up the good work!    
 Show the world how happy the Gospel makes you!