Friday, August 14, 2009

Yeah! An update from Spain!

Since everyone loves blogs for the pictures, and they haven't emailed any pictures from their mission - I'm going to start including a picture of them from the last year or so.

This is at the Alberta Canada Temple - 6-2008

August 9, 2009 (Delwyn)

I’m writing this today without having been able to read responses received during the past week. We don’t have an Internet connection here at the apartment and there are restrictions on being able to use the church’s wireless network at the office. I can share access to the Internet via an Ethernet line at the office but a few others use it as well so, between that consideration and the need to learn and get things done, there may be times when I can’t get on when I’d like to.

On Friday (7/31), we cleaned our room, laundered and packed our clothes, weighed the suitcases trying to ensure we weren’t over 50# with any of them and the MTC arranged a shuttle van to take us to SLC. The driver came to our dorm, we loaded our suitcases, checked out at the front desk where we ran into another instance of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. Our travel instructions told us to take our blue, plastic cards with us to the MTC in Madrid but the people at the front desk had no idea what for. I showed them the printed instruction, they swiped the cards, gave them back to me and we headed for SLC. Our driver was a BYU student from Darby, MT, who drives while he’s at school – we had a pleasant conversation as he drove. He delivered us to Gene’s driveway and helped us unload our bags, we dragged them into the house and visited with Lynda until Gene came home. We’d had a report earlier in the week about Rey’s bout with infection, hospitalization and a fall so we wanted to see him while the opportunity was available; Gene drove us to Tooele, we had some fast food supper and went to Rey’s. My mom and Brian were there when we arrived so we joined them on the back patio and had a pleasant visit there. Rey looked pretty good and moved around quite well considering what he’d been thru so we were glad to see that. We kept him up later than we should have then drove back to SLC and slept well.
Saturday - we apparently didn’t have enough stuff to haul with us so Flo went out to do some shopping – offset the extra space she’d use with clothes by buying a larger purse! Gene and I spent quite a bit of the day trying to get a form to print but finally had to go to his office to get it done – we just couldn’t seem to match media and formats to his computer with a printer. Gene & Lynda’s anniversary was this week so they proposed a visit to the Prairie Schooner in Ogden – it’s where the annual siblings’ dinner in December is staged. Gene drove us to Ogden, we picked up Mom at her apartment and met Brian (Jackie & kids were rafting the Snake River) at the restaurant. We had a great dinner (I ate so much fresh bread and mushrooms that I couldn’t finish my buffalo steak) and enjoyed the conversation, took Mom to her apartment and returned to SLC where Flo made a batch of cinnamon rolls, we visited till fairly late then checked the rolls to make sure they were edible before going to bed. Sunday we attended our church meetings then, to break our fast, Gene prepared a Dutch oven of chicken, potatoes & carrots, Lynda made more good stuff, Chris & Marci and Scott & Stacy made more contributions and we had a great dinner around a table under the tree in the back yard. There were even a few cinnamon rolls left to top things off. Had another pleasant evening of visiting with Gene & Lynda before going to bed.

In order to make the two hour buffer advised for international flights we figured we’d need to leave by 7:00 so we got out of bed at 5:30, showered and got ready, had a light breakfast, Gene loaded our bags into his (in-town) pickup again and drove us to the airport. We suddenly hit stopped traffic in front of the terminal so we got out, unloaded the suitcases into the street and tried to get things organized to take them inside. I don’t know if it’s a function of them being too full or what but they don’t want to stand up when left alone. So we were trying to move them to the sidewalk, hold them upright and stack one on the other (6 bags and a purse) and finally managed to get them inside. We picked a line and were there for a few minutes before someone pointed out that it was for infants and the disabled (we probably qualified there) so we moved to another line that turned out to be an automated agent. When it was our turn I stepped up there and very quickly got lost. Sensing our ignorance, an airline agent stepped in, ran tickets and passports thru the machine and asked for my credit card – it cost us $50/apiece to check a second bag (we’d been told differently several times). We made our way with our carryons to the boarding area and were greeted with a sign saying our 9:50 flight was delayed until 11:00 (it’s that kind of efficiency that results in $50/bag charges!). So we sat there until nearly 11:30 when they began boarding, we finally pushed off and went airborne at noon. They didn’t make up any time on the flight to Atlanta but we had nearly 4 hours of lay-over scheduled so we were okay – many others weren’t and missed connecting flights. The 6oz drink & ½ oz of peanuts they served on the plane had left us hungry so we found a Panda Express, ordered some food and found a place to eat it. When we finished we carried our stuff to the boarding area and were there only a few minutes before they started boarding the plane (apparently if Delta originates the flight in their home base, they’re able to get some of them off on time). As we neared the checkpoint we realized we had to again show our passports so we struggled to find, show and get them put away as we moved down the breezeway. We found our seats – this time in a B-767 with more room in the bins and seats – got our stuff into the overhead bins and settled in. Soon a young family came on board and put two children in the seats in front of us, the mom sat with a two-year old and 6-month old baby in the center seats and the dad sat on the aisle behind them. Seeing our name tags they began talking to us – they’re LDS and going from Texas to Spain for a two year assignment. The kids did very well on the flight even though we spent 8 hours in the plane. We took off on time and had a smooth flight up the east coast – first over land to New England then over water till we were past Newfoundland and there was no land left on the ‘moving map’ we could choose on the seat back in front of us. They fed us dinner which was partly good and partly bad, we tried without much success to sleep and landed about 9:30am in Madrid. We retrieved our bags and were greeted by two brothers & a sister from the Madrid MTC (it’s CCM here) with a sign letting us know who they were, they helped us get the bags in a VW bus and drove us to the MTC. They had cute little name signs on the door of the room we were assigned to – they told us to do some unpacking and resting – lunch would be at 1:30. We made the beds, unpacked things we’d need, explored the facilities and laid down to rest – I woke up about 12:45 so we hurried to get ourselves ready to go to the cafeteria. A couple of singular things in the bathroom here – to reach the TP from the toilet required either good planning or 5-6’ arms (I have no explanation why) and the TP itself has a rough side and a smooth side. Not a bad idea but either way you fold the stuff you’ve lost one affect or the other. Lunch, as it turns out, is ‘mediodía’ which is fairly early in the afternoon and is part of a 2-3 hour break from work, business or whatever and is the main meal of the day. We were served large portions of fish filet (Meno – not a fish that left me craving it) topped with a shrimp still owning its eyes on one plate, another large plate with vegetable lasagna (not sure what all was in it but it tasted good) and there were fruits and other things to choose – we couldn’t eat it all. Back in our room I broke out the kit I’d bought to convert 240V to 120V and discovered that it was good only for appliances using 500W to 1600W – that meant the hairdryer would work but nothing else. We slept most of the afternoon, had dinner (another large meal at the MTC), did some things to get ready for tomorrow and went to bed.

We got up and had breakfast, got ready to apply for Spanish residency cards and met a young attorney at the secretary’s desk about 9:00. They gave us money to buy subway tickets, we walked to one office (worked like a DMV office) near the MTC and the lawyer did something with an agent, put the papers in the folder and led us to the subway. We bought a 10-ride ticket, spent 20-30 minutes on the Metro with two transfers then walked a short distance to another government building. As we entered we could see long lines but he led us past them and upstairs, did some paperwork and had us sign it. We made a short stop outside a bank (something to do with taxes – I’m assuming on income we make here) and went back to the Metro for the return trip – took us a couple of hours and it has taken some missionaries days to do the same things. We returned the change and Metro ticket to the secretary who asked us to pack our bags and weigh them because their office pays excess baggage fees (anything above 23Kg) and it’s cheaper to do it online. We went to the temple (100’ from the MTC), met Pres. & Sister Moore (Gary Lines cousin), were witness couple in a session (those earphones are a little tricky at times) and made it thru okay. Pres. Hill (MTC Pres) took me to a nearby store to buy a different converter but the store was closed and we didn’t find another close by; after dinner Flo and I returned to the store (we’d assumed it was closed for mediodía as the sign said) but it was still closed. We found a couple more stores as we wandered around but we couldn’t find anyone who’d admit to speaking English that might help us and the stores we found didn’t have what we needed. We did our packing and weighed the suitcases to make sure we were within limits, gave the numbers to Sylvia and went to bed about 10:00 knowing that wake-up time was 4:30. I did not fall asleep all night and Flo didn’t do much better so the alarm wasn’t really unwelcome. We showered and got our stuff ready to go, put suitcases in the elevator and went to Pres. Hill’s door – he came out to tell us that our driver (Daniel) was making his way thru a police roadblock and would be late. When he came we loaded our stuff, drove to the airport, Pres. Hill & Daniel got us thru the lines and to the security checkpoints. They examined everything very carefully and found a small pair of scissors that Flo had forgotten to put in her checked bags – they threw it in the trash can. We put our stuff back together, found the gate we’d been assigned and waited nearly an hour for an agent to appear and start boarding. We flew Iberia Airlines to Bilbao (from what we could see from the air, it’s a beautiful place), claimed our luggage and were met by Pres. & Sister Clegg who helped us get the bags outside and into their VW bus. They drove us to the mission home (their residence) – it’s a nice home (not luxurious but comfortable) owned by the church with the one drawback being the distance to the mission offices. We visited with them for a while, Flo helped Sister Clegg fix lunch for those in the mission office, they showed us around their home then we took a load of stuff to the offices with a stop along the way to overlook part of the city – it’s truly beautiful. They have one underground parking spot associated with the office so we dragged the bags from there to the fourth floor offices (missionaries came down to help), we toured and were introduced, they finished lunch preparations and 9 of us gathered around a smallish table and had a really good lunch. We did some clean up (the rest was left for the elders to do this evening – they’ll eat there tonight) and they began teaching us our duties. But in a little while Sister Clegg and a couple of the elders helped us take our bags down to the street (we used the small elevator for the heavy stuff) and we pulled them to our apartment (which shall be henceforth known as our piso – it’s shorter). It’s not a big place but neither is it tiny – we have a living-eating-kitchen area, a bathroom and a bedroom each with its separate door. As we’ve been here we’ve discovered a lot of useful things that have been left here by other couples, we think we’ve solved the electricity conversion problems (our Reliv mixer failed and we’re not sure if we burned it up or not). The Cleggs had bought a few groceries for us and, after we left the office, we went to a small store nearby and got a few more things – we had a light supper and went to bed about 10:30. Flo woke me the next morning at 9:00 (even after that much sleep I still felt kind of tired), we got ready and spent the day in the office learning our duties (I’m supposed to manage the pisos and cars in the mission; Flo’s the receptionist) and trying to be useful. Our internet capability went down in the early afternoon and the technical elder spent much of the rest of the day on the phone with people trying to get it back up. The final word Friday night was that they hoped to have the parts we’d need by next Wednesday - we’ll send this as soon as we can. Here are a couple of addresses if you want to use snail mail:
Spain Bilbao Mission
C/ Bidearte, 6 - 4° dcha.
48930 Las Arenas, (Vizcaya)
That’s the mission office and is probably the best bet; put our name on it somewhere. (You can get the funny little ° from symbols in Microsoft but I’ve seen mail get here without it.)
Calle Gobela, 15 3° Dr
48930 Getxo, (Vizcaya)
That’s the address of the apartment and, although we’ve haven’t had any, we’re told they deliver mail here.

The gospel’s true, we’re happy to be here and look more and more forward to the day we can understand and speak the language – it’d sure be useful.

PS. The elders got the internet up over the weekend (just restarted everything) but we’ve been with Pres & Sister Clegg nearly all day yesterday and this morning helping get ready for Zone Leader Council and Zone conferences being held this week and next (Flo made her first batch of cinnamon rolls). Will fill you in later on details of this week.

1 comment:

heidi said...

i must say it was such a relief to finally hear from you! sorry i haven't emailed yet, i will soon, it's been craZy!