Sunday, February 16, 2014

Departing dear ones

We are approaching another transfer, and in this case, the departure of 11 missionaries.  For some time, the challenge has been the mechanics of getting large groups of arriving missionaries here, fed, interviewed and off with their trainers to their new areas.  The missionaries going home  have been in small groups. Now we are facing  larger groups of missionaries who are returning home.  Argh!  It is the nature of the game, that the ones leaving are the ones we have known longer and who are the leaders of the mission. 
The missionaries have a tradition that they call the missionaries that they train their hijos (children), but they extend it on farther.  When your hijo trains, you become 'abuelo'  (grandparent) to their trainee.  You see the pattern. Also, when your comp returns home, you 'kill' him or her.  You can see that there could be some real misunderstandings if the uninitiated overheard these conversations.   Anyway, my point is that this is a pattern in real life too.  We start out young, inexperienced, falling down a lot and generally not feeling successful, but with lots of energy and desire to do well.  Through life, we gain skill and capacity but usually lose some of our energy and maybe our passion cools a little too.  We get tired, maybe a little jaded, but because of our experience, we can still do the job, maybe even better that some of those following us.  The Lord lets us lose some of our capacity so that we have to let the next generation take over.  Still there are lots of people looking up to us and following in our footsteps.  Finally, we get to go home, back to the parents who sent us out on this mission.  There are painful farewells to the ones we have taught and served here in this life, but there are joyful reunions with those at home. 
Yes, I have mixed up the metaphor, probably because it is mixed in my head.  One of the missionaries who is returning home has been our AP, meaning we have worked closely with him for a long time (by mission standards), and we know and love all of the others too.  It is likely that we won't ever see the ones who live in other countries again in this life (although you can't be too sure of that).  You can see how hard it is to let them go.  They are just now getting so good at their jobs too.  The mission is a microcosm of real life.  We don't want to lose them, but it is time for them to go.  Their Moms are waiting for them.  Okay, now I am crying.  I have been the one waiting for my child to come home too.  They are nervous to go home, having to choose careers, spouses, get on with life, just as they were nervous when they left for their missions.  The solution is to trust Heavenly Father in everything.  He knows all things.  He wants the best for us.  Just trust Him!
As Rod has been saying a lot lately when these dear kids go home and our hearts break a little, the answer is more love.  Love those who are near more fondly, broaden  and deepen the pool of those you love.  That is how to heal your heart. That, and he plays 'God be With You' in a minor key. (He uses 3 flats for a piece written in C and it sounds most somber.) 

That's enough of that!
I woke up on Valentines day to these beautiful flowers.
The only sad part is that my sweetie ended up spending the whole day and late into the night at the office, working on the transfer.  Lucky for me, every day is valentine's day.

Meanwhile the sisters and I made cookies for investigators.  Sister R and Sister N are leaving next week and Sister C will train.

 We had the Fuen Elders over for dinner last week.  I don't think I have ever had anyone more appreciative of a meal than Elder E.

This is the meme I made.  The caption is "Look to the source of life and light"
Back story: Rod surprised  me with these flowers, just cause I commented on how pretty they were.  He is so good at making me feel appreciated.  After a few days they wilted, except for one flower which held out strong and didn't wilt.  It made me think of how often the world directs all our attention toward the sad, depressing, dirty parts of life.  They weigh us down and we lose hope.  The Savior asks us to look to Him, and He will lift us and give us all we need for happiness.  While our feet may be anchored in the dirt, we can still look toward the light and live.  Look at that....  All philosophical and stuff.
In other Feb news, I went on a hike (she called it a walk... Those Brits) last Fri with a sister from our Fuen branch while Rod worked in the office.  We had a nice visit, saw some beautiful views, and I got sore knees.  I have some photos, but I can't find them on the computer, even though I down loaded them.  I will have to get one of the children to tell me where they are.  My knees recovered after a couple of days.  Thank you, Geneva for the exercises, they really are helping.  I am hoping to go on 'walks' with Sister Bruna on a regular basis.  It's a good plan.  We will see how it works.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

January jaunt and Febuary fun

I haven't yet anything written about our trip to Cordoba on the 25 of Jan. 
Firstly, we needed to get some info to a missionary pretty quick, then another missionary there got a concussion, and thirdly, our AP who is soon to finish his mission hadn't seen it, so we took a road trip.  It is about 2 hrs away, so not too hard to do.  We had a good time.  I love La Mesquita!

We are getting very good at parking here, but I am still amazed at the tight spaces we get into.

 Of course, these streets were originally meant for this mode of transportation.

On the grounds of this mosque I noticed this tree.  The trunk was completely hollow.

but life finds a way!!!  Olive trees are amazing!

I still enjoy my companion!!!  President better let us stay together for another transfer (or 7)!
 I wrote about La Mesquita after our last visit.  It was a huge mosque that the Moors built.  Then the Christians built a cathedral in the middle.  They claim that 40,000 people could fit into the mosque and these double arches with the alternating red and white brick are it's trademark.
Our APs, Elder K and Elder S.

As I understand, these arches were being developed about the same time as the Roman  keystone arches.  Correct me if I have that wrong.  Not only are the arches striking, but the pillars of all shapes and colors of stone are amazing as well. Even the roof has wonderful detail work.

The light fixtures, while cool, do little to illuminate this huge building.  I did get some good shots by bracing my camera against another of those columns while shooting.
I was trying to give a sense of the depth here.  Remember there are still about 15 feet between each set of the arches you can see on past the red flag.


I love the combination of Moorish decoration and Christian Saint or King.

How many different types of arches have you found?

The red and white brick on most of the arches have been painted, but here you can see some of the original brick work (and plaster work) and it's color also where some has broken and been restored.
 They have a cool display of the stone workers' "signatures ".  It's like 'where's waldo' searching for them in the stone carving on pillars and such.
More restoration in progress.  There is always some work being done on any cathedral.  Again you can see the original brick.
This detail is on the roof of the actual cathedral, and shows the beautiful organ.

This is a detail of the wood carving above the seats of the choir.  Stunning work.  Remember that in times past, most people couldn't read and so the art work was to teach the stories from the scriptures as well as to decorate.

As we left, these youth were performing. 
We met up with our missionaries and went to lunch.  Elder A was the one with the concussion which he got from running into a pole while trying to catch a bus.  Elder Castillo is trying to protect this pole from a like fate. 
Luckily, he was fine.

Errands done, we said goodbye to our Cordoba missionaries and headed home. 
There is a lot more to see in Cordoba, so we will have to go back another day.
 So far we have had more rain in Feb than any other month.  We have also had some very windy days which can lead to this sort of 'tragedy'.  Poor thing.  Actually, tonight the wind was so hard that a huge pine tree near the office blew over and our balcony doors were shoved open several times, even in spite of our shutters being closed.
We are always serious about our office work... as you can see.  This elder got a birthday card... on his birthday even, so that merited a special letter opening by our Sister M and her new elvish sword!

We want to send a special welcome to our newest Grandbaby.  Congratulations Todd and Sara, Nora and Annalise  on the arrival of Alaina Kahlan Castillo!  Thank you for the photos on face book.  I have already gotten oohs and aahas from our Mijas branch members and missionaries.  Does a grandma's heart good.  We miss you, but know you are receiving blessings because we are here.  Love you all


Sunday, February 2, 2014

January was a birthday month

This was the 'magic' birthday for Rod.  He was born in 57 and on Jan 14 he turned... 57!  We got to the office and found this!

It isn't really too surprising actually.  You see, he calls all the missionaries on their birthdays and wishes them happy birthday.  As you might guess, there is usually some teasing involved too.  Especially if other missionaries share the same birthday.  There have been some long drawn out stories of how his or her mom didn't want to tell, but there was a sibling separated at birth and they just happened to be sent to the same mission....  You get the idea.

Elder Castillo is deeply loved by all the missionaries. Elder S from Mexico left him this as he was returning home.  (We now have good reasons to go to the Mexico City temple)
The office elders even put this clock on the wall!

We had missionaries over for cake and ice cream.  We introduced  Elder P to carrot cake!  "Muy rico!"

The hats were lots of fun.

The sisters came over and brought surprises, including a 'popper' which spread glitter and confetti all over the light fixtures and everywhere.

Creativity from Elder G

A hand made card from Sister R! Very clever!

The whole branch went to Sister L's birthday party after Sacrament meeting.

That is Sister L in the orange jacket.  She made all the food for it too.  Guess what! I like Philippine food!
I don't remember mentioning my birthday on the blog.  I received texted birthday wishes from most every missionary in the mission.  (I think the APs started it)  I do admit it made me feel loved.

 Do any of our kids remember the days when you would regularly ask Dad which of 'his kids' he was referring to in various conversations, because he might mean 'his kids' from school or 'his kids' from church or he might mean you, the members of our immediate family?  Well, I hate to break it to you, but now that includes a large group of missionaries from all over the world.  They have grown so dear to us and apparently we to them too.  Seems to be how these things work.  The Lord loves these young people so much.  They work so very hard and want so badly to do everything perfectly.  They are just amazing!!!!!  To anyone who reads this blog, please pray for the missionaries daily, and invite them over to eat with you occasionally.  Even better,  invite someone else over to meet them, when you have them over for dinner.  You will make the missionaries' day!
We love you all, and are thankful for all your support!!! Keep up the good work!