Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Gonna Miss This

I have noticed that lately most of my blogs are photos.  I expect that part of the reason is that I really like photos.  Also, they are easier in lots of ways, than writing.  I often don't feel I have that much to say, though I usually manage to come up with something.  Anyway, we have reached the end of May.  That means we only have 6 more months left.  The feeling has come to my mind lately, that as much as I am anxious to get home to family and usual pursuits, that much  and maybe more...I'm "gonna miss this" as the song says.  Therefore I wanted to record some of the delights of serving a mission, or rather serving This Mission.
First and foremost I will miss the people.  In any traveling we have done, jobs we've had or places we have lived, the most important part has always been the friends we have made.  In many cases, these relationships feel more like extended family than just friends.  I will miss the Correos lady who delivers our mail at the office, the neighbors we say hi to but seldom more that that, the ladies in the bakery, the street sweeper on our street (they have people with brooms and a wheeled trash can who sweep up their section of the sidewalks every day and we always say high to our guy), the flower sellers, our friend who mans the fruiteria in the afternoons (he has a new son) and the businessmen in the office next door to ours.  The Branch members... It breaks my heart to think of leaving them. They demonstrate such courage in the face of trials. 
Then there are the missionaries!  Those amazing young men and women feel almost like our children to us. One of the blessings of serving in the office is that we get to know almost all of the missionaries.  I tease my husband that he can make a 2 minute phone call (to get a missionaries supply order) last 1/2 an hour.  Right from the first he has used the phrase 'quierdo missionero de la mission Malaga' every time he greets a missionary and now they are starting to use it too.  He has started requiring anyone who wants a magnetic name badge to have their companion certify that they can do the 'magnetic chapa dance' with 'style and grace'.  He describes how you have to grab for the magnet whenever the front part gets knocked off (which happens a lot when he is around) then shimmy around to get the magnet out of your pants or skirt.  He usually has them rolling on the floor laughing by the end of the conversation.  I just groan.  A large number of the missionaries call him just to visit or for him to lift their spirits.  It is easy to see what amazing potential these young people have and that the Lord truly has raised up a Choice Generation to prepare the way for the 2nd coming.  It has been a great blessing for us to get to know  some of them.  I am so thankful for the electronic media that will make keeping in contact with them so much easier, especially those from other countries.
 I will actually miss living in a city,  having markets and shops steps away and seldom having to drive.  I will miss walking past little shops that sell just 1 type of thing.  Clothing shops  (I am surprised at how much more likely I am to buy new clothes just because I walk past the store windows every day) , shoe shops, 'complimentos' ( accessories), the pharmacy, the drougeria, herborista, bakeries, and candy shops  are examples.
I will miss the magic of 'chino' stores which sell anything and everything.... no two alike, with merchandise crammed into every nook and cranny.
I will miss living near the sea.  Even though we seldom actually go on the beach, I love seeing the sea in all it's different colors and moods, even when we just see it from the highway as we drive to Malaga. 
I will miss public transportation that is so easy to use and close by.
I will miss abrasos, the peck on each cheek that Spaniards use to greet everyone.
Historically important sites are just abundant here.  I will miss getting to see Roman ruins, buildings that are hundreds of years old, and seeing the exotic influence of the Moorish and Arab cultures in the architecture, designs and the names of places.  Even graffiti in Arabic looks artistic.
I will miss seeing couples holding hands, and since most residents walk everywhere they need to go, it is fairly common to be greeted on the street by members, shop keepers, even the man who walks the track in the mornings with Rod stopped us to say hello.  It is so fun to feel so connected to people here.
I will miss the smell of baking bread... I smell it often as we walk or when I open the window in the evenings.
I will miss public art... there are so often wonderful sculptures in the middle of the  'roundabouts'  in almost every city we have visited.  And the museums!!!
I will miss the roundabouts themselves.  They make so much more sense than stop signs and they help keep traffic slower but still moving.
I will miss wearing the name badge.  I have enjoyed the second looks we get when people are trying to read them.  I kind of like getting stopped in large stores and asked where things are by people who assume we are employees.
Well, I think that will do for now.  It seems I could still go on for a while.  We have too many blessings to count!!! You darling people who support us with your love, letters, prayers and comments are at the top of our list!  (of blessings)  We are praying for you too!  Thank you!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Andalucians.

I am so  lucky to be married to My husband.  He heard several months ago about the horse show in Jerez.  It features the Andalucian horses, ancestors of the Arab horse breed and several others.  Saturday we went to Jerez to see them perform.  There is a festival in their honor right now so we got the whole picture.  These are the fathers of the Limpizzan Stallions, the ones in that movie I saw when I was a girl, the white ones that dance and do the 'airs above ground'!  Due to wars and other upsets, the Spanish had to go to Austria to relearn the art of training the horses, which they did 50 years ago, but the horse breed was still here and that is essential.  Not all types of horses are strong enough in the hindquarters to do these  performances.  I was going to call them 'tricks'  but this is way more than tricks.  It is a whole art form.

We got to wander the grounds before we went in to the performance.  This horse was being exercised.  Notice there was no lead on the horse.  He just walks fast enough that the poles behind him don't hit him.  Then it stopped and started going the other way and so did he.  Don't want them to get used to just one direction.
I was interested that all the windows were round.

I brought my telephoto lens so I snuck a photo of the tack.

This guy was just getting some exercise and extra practice.

These horses hold their feet in the air for a beat or two when they are performing, and will extend their front feet in front as they trot which gives them the look of dancing.

They will also turn their heads to the side as they walk straight forward.  I think that was what he was working on with this horse.

These horses seem to carry their heads  this way naturally.  I was intrigued with the double rein too.  Wish I knew more about how they work.

There!  See how he has his foot in the air?  There is a little pause before he puts it down.  It looks so cool.

I kind of love the brand... with a crown!

I believe this is one of the riders we saw perform.  I love the long fringe on the boots. 

It says 'Andalusian Royal School of Equestrian Art'

This is the crew we brought with us.

Oops, someone is missing!

There he is.  He had to go ask about the lighting instruments and ask what kind of board they were using.  They offered to get him in the back with the horses but he told them there were 7 in our group and that would probably be too much.

 We weren't allowed to take photos during the performance.  That is probably a good thing.  Sometimes I spend so much time trying to get a good photo, I don't just appreciate the program.  This one I most certainly did.  (The seats were mostly full by show time.)
They had a single horse that performed with his rider carrying a long pole which he could rest on the ground and then put one end on the horse's neck as they did turns.  They do almost all of their performance at a collected trot, the horse's neck arched and every move carefully controlled.  This one did some fast gallops and sudden stops though, as part of his routine.  I loved it.
There was also a section done with teams of horses pulling carriages.  I was impressed at how often the horses feet were in sync.
The classic Andaluz Stalion is usually ( but not  always) white or grey, as were most of the ones doing the 'dancing'.  Most of the program was the horses doing complex patterns in their 'floating' trot, just changing leads (which foot comes out first in the trot) on the turns. (They are supposed to have the foot on the inside of the turn as the lead foot)  Sometimes they had them change leads every step.  It looks so cool.  Then they had them changing leads every 3rd step.  They look almost like they are skipping.  Amazing.  You really can't see any of the signals the riders give the horses when they change patterns or even when they turn.  This is all done in time to music.   For the final part of the performance  they have the horses on long leads without riders.  One horse kept that controlled canter or trot but without moving forward! The others  stood on hind legs, did hops on hind legs and then some did the leaps where all 4 feet are off the ground at once.  It is so impressive.  These are all done from a standing start and in perfect control.  The control of both the riders and the horses was what most impressed me, along with the strength and power these horses have.  I loved it.  I felt like I was 13 and 'horse crazy' all over again.  Soo Fun!

After watching those horses, we had to copy them....

The city loves their horses.  Several sculptures celebrate their heritage.

Several of the audience wore their gipsy outfits.

You know they love their horses when the horses pulling tourists around look like this!

I am sure this fair ground looks even cooler at night, but look at all the people parading up and down.  There must have been some sort of informal competition because many people were totally decked out!

The family that rides together...

Every day  people dancing flamenco.

The harnesses have tassels and bells.  Notice the braided tails and that front team is 3 horses...

Even the police have gorgeous Andalucian  horses

They stopped at the cantina for a drink....
We had so much fun.  I love these people.  I especially enjoyed getting to sit and visit with Sister Nielson who is our new office sister.  She is Great! 

Elder D has been wanting to practice driving a manual transmission vehicle so Rod didn't even have to drive. 
Win  Win!

 We love you all!  Thank you for the photos you post, the comments you leave, and the prayers you make on our behalf.  We feel your love and support every day in every thing we do.  You are making a difference for us and for many people here in Spain that you don't even know.  That is the beauty of this amazing church!  There is no limit to the love we share!


Sunday, May 4, 2014

International Festival

This week Fuengirola has an international cultural celebration.  The Fuengirola ward wanted to do their own version, so we had a ward international cultural celebration that lasted most of Thursday.  The missionaries were to do a USA display, the Mijas branch did their own table and the various members of the Fuengirola ward did displays from their mother countries.  It was lots of fun, but lasted way too long for American tastes.  My part was to teach a group of members to 'speak French'.  I taught them a couple of songs in French.  Rod was asked to teach a song in English.... maybe the 'hanky panky'.  Rod objected that we didn't want them to know any more about hanky panky than they already did, and did he mean the Hokey Pokey?  Brother Jimenez said 'Oh, hanky panky, hokey pokey.... what's the difference?'  Rod then explained in his inimitable way.  Brother Jiminez agreed that Hokey Pokey would be better. Our cute Sister Belinda taught the kids 'head shoulders knees and toes' in English.
We got to the church to set up at about noon, the party started about 2pm, the paella was served at about 3:15, and after everyone tried out the AMAZING desserts everyone had brought from their respective countries we had our language 'classes'.  Mine had better pronunciation, Rod's class had the most fun, and Sister Belinda's class learned the most.  Then we watched the ward dance for a while.  We finally headed home at about 6pm.  Here are some photos of the event.

Our very own 'Statue of Liberty'!  The sports equipment was thoroughly enjoyed!  Sister Deere made brownies and peanut butter sandwiches as the 'American Food'.

Since we have members from all over, we had treats from everywhere.  The yellow is a rice pudding from Iran with rose water, almonds and saffron.

The little wire car is made from coat hangers and brought from Zimbabwe which is where our branch president was born, even though he is a British citizen.

Waiting for the party to start.  Center is our new single sister Missionary.

A little home sick here.
The City had a huge feria (fair or festival).  We went on Sat. after a trip to the store with Sister Nielson so that she could get a few of the things necessary to get started here.
We weren't the only visitors...

As we arrived, they were having a parade with processions from many countries, most with music and or dancing and
 native costumes.

The Japanese had that drum and some lovely dancing by women in kimonos.

This princess got carried the whole way.

From India, she danced with this sword on her head!

The men from  India also danced.

I just missed the Polynesian Dance!

Those Norse  skiers were sweating.
Cuba ?

Sister Nielson had an intense introduction to the mission.  More paella!


I think this is Guatemala.
We had lots of fun.  We ate Uruguayan grilled meat, Chilean empanadas, Greek pastries, Mexican corn on the cob and I don't know what else.  It was fun. 
That evening, our office elders again invited us to dinner.  I ate way too much but it was delicious. I am so impressed that they cook!
What a blessing it is to be part of an international church.  We truly love and are beloved by people from all over the world. We are all brothers and Sisters!!!