Sunday, May 26, 2013

Little Miracles

When we were in the MTC, we were advised to record the miracles we experienced during our mission.  I haven't been doing that as I ought so I will include some this week.  Of course, for there to be miracles, there have to be trials.  You know, I don't know that I ever put those two thoughts together before, but I think it is true.  Hmmmm, I will have to ponder that.  Anyway,  for the trials...  Last weekend we had 3 missionaries in the hospital or at the doctor.  The first little miracle is that they are all feeling better now.  I didn't get them all to the 'right' hospitals, but the fact that their problems seem to be resolving is what is really important.  One Elder has labrynthitis which can be completely debilitating.  I was truly worried that he would have to go home.  He is still struggling to be able to move freely, but he is getting better, so that is a miracle.
We had another elder that lost his younger brother to cancer last week.  The miracle there is that we had the capacity with our Internet for him to record a  skype message that was used as part of the funeral.  This young Elder was able to share the plan of salvation with a couple hundred of his brother's fellow high school students, most nonmembers.  Not the sort of missionary experience you anticipate, or really want, but what a wonder to be able to turn that terrible sorrow into an opportunity to help others and share these wonderful, lifesaving truths with so many people, and at a time when they may be more open to learning them.  Another part of the miracle is that Rod was able to share with him that he had lost his step dad while he was on his mission  and then later lost his brother and therefore knew some of the feelings and struggles that our Elder is facing. He warned him that sorrow and 'being comforted' take lots of energy and that he would need to sleep more.  Our Elder would have just soldiered on and had a much harder time otherwise, I think. We are blessed that is isn't hard for us to take a day off to just help an Elder, and since President was out of town, we were able to be an extra hand for him and hopefully ease his burden.
Rod has organized a softball game with another zone as thanks for being our 'holding' area and keeping our new missionaries busy during our 'first wave' transfer.  Well the friendly 'trash talking' about who will win has turned out to be a welcome distraction for our bereaved Elder.  Not to mention that all the missionaries (including Rod) are excited to get together for some fun.
Another miracle,  one elder who had an ear infection, and  then damaged that ear 'cleaning it out', and consequently lost hearing in that ear for about a month, finally got to a specialist, who was able to 'suck out' the infection and his hearing returned! Since he is a musician, that was a special blessing.

Okay, one more.  I have felt very 'deficient' and ineffective after several of the problems we had the last few days, and was feeling quite down.  We fasted last Sunday for another Elder whose mother has cancer, and at the end of that fast, I asked Rod for a blessing.  During that blessing I felt much reassured, and had the thought that I needed to be getting more sleep.  My tendency is to stay up late, mentally processing stuff.  It was however, truly inspiration because I have felt so much better as I obeyed that impression.  I don't know why it is always the simple things I miss and have to be prompted to do.  They do make such a difference.
Other events of the week, we had zone training on Friday.  President Deere gave us the most amazing handout on rebirth.  I will have to include some of it the next time we have a slow week... okay, sooner than that.  We went to a baptism yesterday,  an 18 year old man whose mom and sister are members.  He has been investigating for almost 2 years... but he finally took the plunge. (yes that was on purpose)  We had a less active sister come to church today,  Yea!  Oh, and Saturday, we went to the feria (flea market, but it is huge)  and I found another nativity set.  It is supposed to be brass and it has 32 pieces, some of which don't match really but I just love it.  There are a turkey and a dog in it and the kings actually ride the camels.
Today we had munch and mingle, and everyone liked my food, the banana pudding was a particular hit, though that may be because there was only 1 other dessert.  I also gave the RS lesson on President Monson's talk on obedience.  That means I need to get to bed or I risk being a hypocrite! Take care! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

More photos. See the last post for explainations.

The botanical gardens in Malaga.
A smaller pond we saw had snakes, while another had huge lily pads with actual frogs on them!

I love how they do designs with pebbles in their walkways here.

These plants have heart shaped leaves and purple flowers.  Soo cool!
 I finally got some country side photos that I like this trip.  They give a feel for the rolling hills and fields.

These are from a moving car, but I love them.

Here are more photos from La Mezquita:

this covered a window


I repeated the arch photo so you could relate to this detail of the mosaics that make up the design. 

layers on layers of decoration
There is so much more.  Maybe I will put up some more photos tomorrow.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Two weeks later...

I really should not miss a week.  I can never remember that far back.  I know that we did the residency work for some of our new missionaries.  They are so cute, delighted to be able to speak English and be able to relax a bit after a week of putting their all into this work.  If you have ever tried to learn a language, you will remember the 'tried brain' feeling that comes from spending so much time so focused.  They are trying so very hard.  Every one is just delightful. It is good to be reminded how discouraging it is to begin with too.  It has been so much easier for me this time around just recognizing the stages of learning and knowing that the hard parts do pass.
 We had district meeting at the chapel and Rod did a very short time management lesson for them that really caught their attention.  I am rather amazed at how they are trying everything he suggests.  He is such a great teacher. We were able to spend a little time hopefully cheering up a member of our branch who is having a very tough time not having any work for way too long. We got to have 6 missionaries stay the night.
It is fuzzy but this little guy was in the kitchen so the Elders captured him for me and released him' into the wild' of the patio. Much nicer than a mouse in the house.

 I fixed them pancakes for breakfast but I am a little worried that they will start competing to stay here rather than the mission home so that may not happen in the future.  The Deeres just can't do big breakfasts for the huge groups they have, especially since they are feeding them dinner the night before, and often lunches on two days.  One other thing we did that week on one of our trips to Malaga was stop at a fabric store and buy material for a bed spread and headboard. I just hemmed the material for the bedspread.  We really like it.  It is kind of cool, they have lots of fabric that is 280 cm  (almost 3 yards) wide.  I almost never see that at home. 
Fri night we had our date night dinner at a restaurant near the bull ring. The food was wonderful, Rod said it was the best piece of meat he has had in Spain.  The elders ask now what our date night plans are.  I expect they will try to follow that tradition too after seeing it work for us.
Mine was delicious too, but I loved the presentation of the meat on the skewer. Yummy. The photos in the background are all of bull fights, bull fighters and their homes... all old.  It is a lost era now.

For our Pday on Sat. we went to the botanical gardens. We used to drive past the sign for it when we lived in Malaga and I always wanted to see it, so we went.  It was beautiful.  There are lots of photos.  I will post a few.
This is a type of yucca but super big as you can see.
We aren't used to such big trees.
You asked for more photos with me in them, so here you are.  I loved the view of the city of Malaga from here.
Roots fascinate me, especially huge ones like these.

This last week I made up packets for the new missionaries that are coming next month.  Rod is trying to get the baptism records caught up.  The forms  are often not complete  (Elders how can you mess up something so important?) and that means calls to get the rest of the info.  He has also been working on finding records for a couple of people whose records are lost or were never recorded.  One guy they have a photo, and contacted the missionary that did the baptism a couple of years ago.  The other was in the 1980s  in Peru.  She had been inactive but started back and wanted to go to the temple.  When they were trying to set that up they discovered there wasn't a record of her baptism.???  There is a process though.  What a church.  It has to be true or the missionaries would have ruined it long ago. 
I think it was Tue after 'work', we 'built' our headboard.  We got a piece of masonite and covered it with batting stapled on fabric, then mounted it on the hooks the landlord has in the wall already,  It looks good!
Thur we went to the post office in the afternoon.  The lines are usually much shorter in the afternoon, but that day we waited over 1/2 an hour.  We almost gave up as I was supposed to go help with a RS project but we waited, which was our minor miracle, because when we got back to the office, the elders were all gone but there was a lady waiting for the APs.  She is one of their investigators that they forgot was coming.  Since we were there, we got to teach her.  She is ready to be baptized, so we talked about that.  It was kind of exciting to get to teach.  I hope she makes it.  She works as a cook in a restaurant and has to work Sundays.  You know how hard that is.  Then when we got to the RS project, it turned out I had the wrong day, so it was good that we didn't skip the line at the post office and miss teaching our lesson. ( we have been praying for missionary experiences)
 Another thing I have been working on is getting  Elders seen by  doctors.  It is way harder than it should be to get things okayed by the insurance and paid for by them so we don't have the fuss of arranging payment directly but so far it is more work to have the insurance do it.
We had the Wilsons come in on Fri to finish their residency, then they stayed the night with us and then we left early Sat AM for Cordoba. 

Rod had seen an advert (that is British for advertisement) for these patio garden contests they have there and decided that the couples should all go see them  together.  Well the other 2 couples had health issues so we went with the Wilsons and had a wonderful time.  Pres. said we should see this place called La Mezquita (I am sure you can find it on the Internet) so we started with that and it was truly amazing.  It started out as a mosque, was added onto several times, then the Christians came and built a cathedral inside of it.  They figure it can hold 40.000 people and it could.  It is just huge.  The arches are fascinating and the mosaics are fabulous.  We loved it.  We ended up spending most of our time and energy looking at that.
You get a glimpse of the size here if you realize that these arches continue past the red square at least as far as you see in front of it.

These arches are famous
Notice the column's textures.  The red is alabaster (I think)

These arches facinated me.  Behind this one you see a mosaic.  The stone is carved into such amazing designs.

 The lines were long enough that we decided not to do the tour of the patios after all.  I did find energy to do some shopping and found a guessed it.... a new nativity. 

We had a wonderful time but were very tired when we got home.  That was bad in a way because over the weekend we had 3 missionaries in hospital or ERs, plus one whose brother died.  A long stressful weekend.  So far, everyone is doing better, and I did get some rest.  Ahhh!

I want to post lots more photos but I must get to bed. Maybe tomorrow?


Sunday, May 5, 2013

We made it!

We got through this past week and it went very smoothly.  Few of the missionaries even knew it was so much work.  You know what I mean?  It's like when you watch the Olympics, the athletes make everything look so easy, you think you could do it too, right?  Well, everyone did their part, and it looked fairly easy.  Then you say that President interviewed every new missionary (29 actually got here, the others are awaiting visas), every departing missionary (13, and those interviews take 45 min each), They all got here (tickets were bought and arrangements were made to transport them and their luggage), they all got fed and had a place to sleep, the trainers for the new missionaries likewise got transported, trained, and fed and housed, the traditional farewell dinner and testimony meeting was held with the departing missionaries at the mission home, and there were regular transfers going on at the same time ( more tickets bought and luggage moved).  One trainer missed her train and so didn't make it here to pick up her new comp (grrr).  Pres. still wanted to do the little ceremony they do, so we got her on skype and did it that way.    The office staff weren't able to keep mission rules regarding getting to bed on time (you have to wait to get the tickets till you know where people are going), and we were all pretty worn out by the end, but it went off, almost without a hitch. Thank you to Rod, Elder Mockler, and of course Heavenly Father! I really meant to get photos but that didn't happen.  Maybe next time.
As a reward/unwind activity, Rod surprised the office elders and APs with an outing on Sat.  They went to  a track and drove miniature race cars, and then played goofy golf. They got to be boys for a little while instead of just responsible adults.  They LOVED it.  That is my husband. He always knows what it needed.  Today we had the Hermanas over for dinner with us, which was good cause they hadn't gotten time to shop for food yet.  I finished laundry  ( lots of sheets had to be washed), ironed and cleaned the apt.  I love having everything back in order.  We love having them all here and love having them all gone too.

On a different note, you remember that we love this apt, it is close enough to walk to  the office, is spacious, has lots of light and is very quiet.  Of course there are always problems.  Here it is bugs.  I don't remember which night it was, maybe Fri,  I woke up to the fire alarm beeping.  I went in the kitchen and couldn't see or smell anything and the beeping had stopped, so I went back to bed.   A few minutes later it started again.  I picked  up the alarm, and behold, a roach was walking around in it.  Ugg!  We spoke to the landlord about it and he brought some stuff over that  he said would kill them, not right away, but works well.  Last night, I didn't hear a thing, but Rod heard it beeping again, got up and found a dozen roaches in the alarm where I had put the stuff.  Those are dead, but I hope the rest die soon.  We are very careful to keep all food in containers, and wash counters before we use them.  I have lids on all the pots and containers in the cupboard too.  This  is an older building so I expect there is no way around it. Hey, it is still better than Africa or somewhere, right?
In other quirks, when you take a trash bag off of a roll, the opening is usually on one side, not top or bottom.  Weird? I guess just different that I am used to.
 Oh I wanted to write about a funny thing we saw.  As we were walking back from the post office, we saw this young man walking in jeans made to sag.  The funny part was that it was actually 2 jeans.  One pair fit snug around his waist, the other came up outside the first , hung down  loosely, and had a loop that hooked in the back belt loop of the inner pair so they wouldn't fall down.  Soo odd. Is this a new style I have never heard of or his own invention?  no idea. They get tourists from everywhere here so it could be all the rage in Finland or somewhere.
We had another bumper crop of visitors at church today. You don't understand how amazing that was today.  We had trouble getting to church because of work that they are doing on the road.  Everything is blocked or one way so that we finally just parked and walked part way.  Them coming is so fun for us on fast Sundays because we get to hear from new people.  Rod always prays that we will get a pianist.  Today he played and did very well except, as is usual for him, he kept going so fast on the closing song that we couldn't keep up.  I think he is anxious for it to be done.  We are hoping we will get another pianist in the branch, maybe a missionary.  That would be wonderful.

I promised photos of Cadiz a couple of weeks ago, so here are a few. 

The Atlantic ocean and domes of churches and buildings in old Cadiz.

Someone was being clever.

Sister Todd gave me a sweater for which I was glad.

We ran into another wedding!

These were the musicians for the wedding. Aren't their costumes fun?

looking up at the church

inside the dome

We loved this Christ statue.

First we thought these were simply books, beautiful books.

But they are music. See the staff,  the notes are square.

We are at a Tapas Bar!
We dropped them off at the ferry and headed home.  We stopped on the way and visited some
Roman Ruins.  So strange to think that so long ago, the sea looked just the same to them as it does to us, though the coastline is probably very different.

The aqua duct

Guess what this is?

So Beautiful!

I love these colors

They are wind surfing and kite surfing off in the distance.  So beautiful. 
Well time for bed. 

Congratulations to Daughter # 2 on her beautiful new little boy.  Cant wait to meet him in person!