Saturday, September 5, 2009

August 30, 2009 - from Delwyn

It’s been a fast but good week for us – not much out of the ordinary as we continue to learn our jobs at the office, study and practice Spanish and be more comfortable walking around to see more of the part of Las Arenas we live in. We haven’t been very lost but we haven’t driven anywhere either – we’ve been able to walk everywhere we wanted to go. The weather has been a bit rainier than we’ve seen previously – it rains more at night and is overcast during the day so it doesn’t get as hot and uncomfortable. I assume our weather is largely determined by the closeness to the ocean – three blocks away at the end of our street is a waterway that opens into the Bay of Biscay which is part of the Atlantic Ocean. Friday evening after we got home from the office we changed clothes and took a walk along the river – it was cool, there were no mosquitoes to bother us and we had a pleasant stroll. We’ve had several reports from family (including a great letter from Mom via Brian) telling us how things are going – that’s certainly a highlight for us and we appreciate your taking time to send your news. We got email this week from our friends, Lloyd & Donise Price, who finish their mission (Lloyd was the director there for the latter part of his mission) and leave this week for home from Adam-ondi-Ahman. Our mission Pres & Sister Clegg have been traveling most of this week to do interviews (they do that every six weeks) with the missionaries so the day before they left they interviewed all the missionaries in our office – it was our first in-field interviews and we apparently passed because they’re letting us stay. One evening they came by the piso and gave me temple recommends that needed to be activated so the next morning Elder Strickland taught me how to use the computer and optical reader to activate temple recommends. We ran into a problem with a couple of the membership numbers being illegible or wrong but made some fortuitous guesses and found the right names. One of my jobs this week was to prepare and mail the forms that our district leaders use to inspect the pisos once each transfer cycle (6 weeks). I got them ready, checked with the Elder who is training me and we fired them off to the printer – 56 of them. We have to print both sides of the paper and, after we’d run them thru for the second time, I started folding them and stuffing the envelopes to mail them out. It was then I discovered that the area of the spreadsheet that I’d entered for the last round of piso reports was missing from all the reports. I decided that, rather than reprint everything, I’d send a note of explanation and invite them to call me if they needed something from the last set of reports. So I composed a short note, apologized for the blunder, added it to the envelopes, sealed and mailed them that way. We continue to be fascinated with some of the things we see here. For example, across the street from the mission office is an auto garage right next door to a Chic Bambini that just went out of business. There’s a 12’ roll-up door at the street then the shop goes around the back of the other store (haven’t been in there so I don’t know how far around it goes) but there’s just no rhyme nor reason to the stores we see next to each other and they’re all on the ground floor with pisos or condos above them. During mediodía and at night, they ALL have rolling shutters or metal grates that close to keep the places secure. The area doesn’t look at all like it’s run-down or crime-ridden it’s just that all windows and exterior doors have shutters or grates (our piso does). We had a guy ring our bell one morning before we left for the office so I took a look at him (there’s a video camera that shows us in the piso who’s ringing – like a caller-id screen), he asked to be let in, I told him we didn’t speak Spanish so he tried in English and told me he needed to get in to check the water. I had no idea what that meant so I told him I couldn’t let him in – he eventually went away. He was not wearing a uniform and didn’t show any ID so I had no idea if he was honest or not. But Friday afternoon only Flo and I were in the office and someone rang to come in. There’s no video system there so we always push the button to let them in and soon a guy was in the office. It happened that the Elders came at the same time so they could talk to him – it was someone needing to read the water meter and I’m pretty sure it was the same guy who’d rung our bell – a very affable man. Maybe when we get a little mileage under our belts we’ll be able to deal with the situations more positively. One night this week we took a little walk down our street in the opposite direction that we normally go and ended up in a little grocery store a 1-minute walk from our front door. We bought a few things including some cookies – most of the things that are sweet seem to be very expensive (like $1 for a raised donut) – that weren’t as pricey and took them home to try. They’re pretty plain when it comes to cookies but they taste good and were a pleasant surprise for us. We used the last of our skim ‘milk’ and moved on to the 2% stuff - I can’t tell that there’s any difference in the taste and awful is the best word I can think of to describe it. They have juices in the same 1-liter cartons and it’s only a little bit more expensive than the ‘milk’ so I’m thinking ‘milk’ on my cereal and juice for drinking – the expiration on a carton of juice we have is August 2010 so whatever preservative they use should keep us alive till the end of our mission. Saturday morning we had a mixture of oatmeal and most other grains known to man for our cereal and, for the first time, the taste of that ‘milk’ was masked enough that I couldn’t taste it. We’ve tried for the month we’ve been here to find out how to pay our tithing and it now appears that sending it home is the answer. They don’t have our membership records in the branch, we haven’t tried but don’t think we could write a check in Euros and the branch doesn’t know what to do with a check in dollars – President Clegg’s advice was to send it to our ward so that’s what we’re trying. If that doesn’t work out we might have to call on the family to pay tithing for us and we’ll keep you on our Christmas list for being so thoughtful! Saturday, after we’d cleaned the piso, we went to the office so Flo could work on her blog. Trisha (I think) had given us key-by-key instructions about how to do it but she left out the part about a window of Spanish that pops up right after sign-in. We finally got past that (I truly hope this blog doesn’t lead to either divorce or suicide) but Flo says that, in the end, she had pictures and a column of text 3 characters wide so we gave up for the day. Someone with blogging skills and a recovery plan might be seen by us and any other blog visitor as a genius. Sunday morning we got up with the alarms, got ready for church and Pres. & Sis. Clegg picked us up and drove us to Santander (a little over an hour with Sunday morning traffic) with the ocean on our right and green, mountainous terrain on the left – much of it was like the pictures we see of Switzerland. In Santander we attended the meetings of that branch - the people were very friendly to us and we understood a little more of what was being said. They’ll be a ward in the new stake being formed next week and there’s a marked contrast in the number of Melchizedek holders there compared to our branch here in Las Arenas – this branch just isn’t ready yet. After the meeting, Pres Clegg finished his round of interviews with the 4 missionaries there then we found a nice park area overlooking the ocean and beach, sat on a bench and had our lunch of sandwiches, potato salad and carrot sticks – it was great. From there we could see a peninsula across the bay with a golf course and light house so we drove out there and walked around to a vantage point – it really was beautiful. Flo took a few pictures so, when she gets them on the blog, you’re get a glimpse of a bit of our mission. I guess that’s about enough for one week. Hope all’s well with each of you. We pray a lot for you and appreciate your prayers and thoughts of us. The gospel is true – may God be with each of you. E & H Belnap

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