Our week is coming to a close and it’s been a pretty quiet week for us. Pres Clegg had scheduled interviews on Monday with office missionaries but, as he explained to me, his time with us is more a visit than an interview. He wants to know if we have enough to do, if we’re enjoying our mission and we discussed a couple of issues facing us – primarily what to do about getting Spanish driver licenses. It appears we’re going to have to do that and he’s proposing that we pay 100€ toward the cost and that the mission picks up the difference. I suggested we see if there’s a church member who is certified to do that training so we have more assurance that we don’t get failed in testing just so they can generate more income. Early the next day he and Hna Clegg hit the road for the interview circuit and took the Assistants with them so the office was pretty quiet to Friday – there’s always a lot more activity when the President is here than when he’s not. With their departure our hope of getting a larger refrigerator this week left too.
My guess is that Pte Clegg sensed from his conversations with us that we could handle more work (and that’s a very valid observation) because Elder Anderson asked me if I could record the weekly proselyting numbers that come from districts via the zone leaders and he asked Flo to process data for expenses that missionaries submit for reimbursement. He took a part of one day to give me initial training in handling the proselyting numbers. Either someone developed or the system has evolved into a fairly complex spreadsheet with a bunch of inter-connected sheets that have to be treated cautiously so as not to mess up formulas that propagate across the sheets but I’ve used those before and think I’ll be okay with it.
The washing machine in the Las Arenas Elder’s piso had quit so we agreed to let them bring laundry to our piso and use our washer. Because the thing has such a small tub, we can’t put many clothes in it and still have them come out clean. We did a comprehensive job of studying the manual we have and concluded that what we’d been doing might be improved if we made changes to the setup. We tried that with a batch Monday morning and found that the cycle hadn’t finished when we returned to the piso 5 hours later. Thru experimentation we discovered that when the manual says ‘press this button’, it’s the opposite of what we guessed (you press the button to turn it on and press the button to turn it off!). Anyway, we learned some things that probably helped get the Elders clothes done better. And they were grateful – when they came to pick up the laundry they brought us a small bag of candy (an expensive commodity in Spain).
Wednesday morning before we left for the office, Flo made a pot full of beef stew and left it in the crock pot to simmer. There was a lot of stew so she invited the Elders to come to the piso for mediodía – they came and brought a couple of loaves of bread. We got everyone around our little table and took care of most of that stew – it was very tasty.
We’ve been able to take a walk (about an hour) each night this week and we nearly always go to the walkways along the river and bay. There are a lot of people that walk or sit along the walks but not many of them seem to be there for exercise. A lot of them look old (even older than we feel) so they saunter along at the speed of dark, there are a few runners, quite a few couples and lots of mothers and/or dads pushing strollers with small children. If there are 3 or 4 of them together it seems like they’re all talking at the same time and don’t care much if anyone is listening. We just thread our way thru them and keep going. The weather has been pretty nice this week but it went from being quite warm to being quite cold – even Hna Belnap put on some long sleeves Friday evening. She took her camera and snapped pictures as we went along so, if she gets them on the blog, it’ll give you a flavor for what we see as we walk.
Friday morning I was awakened at 5:00 by a ringing/buzzing sound that I couldn’t identify – I thought it must be someone on the street ringing our buzzer to be let in the door. I didn’t want to get out of bed for that but when Flo heard it she got up to investigate and came back saying it was my telephone. It had stopped beeping by then but in 5 minutes it started again so I got up and played with the phone long enough to find a way to turn off the alarm before going back to bed. We have no idea how the alarm got set – apparently sometime Friday.
Some observations on living in Spain: there is no handle on the outside of the doors we see – they have to be opened from the outside with a key. There’s a large, fixed knob near the center of the door that can be used to pull the door closed from the outside. And the locking doors I’ve seen have a deadbolt system integrated with the door latch. We insert the key, turn it one full turn and three deadbolts (top, middle, bottom) engage into the doorjamb; turn it another full turn and the deadbolts extend further into the doorjamb. And there are metal plates rabbeted into both the door and doorjamb thru which the deadbolts extend – I can’t imagine a casual thief breaking in thru one of these doors. The keys for those locks are unlike any I’ve seen before – they look like a straight key blank with small pocks of varying depth drilled in a random pattern on both sides. I’d love it if it didn’t sound like a prison door going closed and take so long to lock and unlock the doors – it’s two full turns to disengage the deadbolt and another half turn to open the latch. In the living room of our piso we have two vents – one near the ceiling and one straight below it near the floor. No one has been able to tell us what they’re for and, when it’s light outside, we can see the sky thru the top one. I think that’s the main contributor to how cold it gets at night (and probably how hot it is during the summer) so I resolved to do something about it. After our breakfast Saturday, I found a piece of cardboard, pulled screws from a vent and cut a piece of the cardboard to cover the hole thru the wall. When I reinstalled the screws to hold the vent in place it shut off nearly all the cold air pouring into our piso so I repeated the process for the top vent and think it’s made a difference already in the comfort of the place. We hit a couple of store for grocery shopping on Saturday – one is new to us and I liked it pretty well – and Flo bought sweat pants and sweat shirt for her walks at the other. We looked for jackets but couldn’t find anything that seemed appropriate for wearing with Sunday clothes on our walk to & from the office. Maybe we’ll just zip out the liners of our overcoats and wear them even though that might be a little overkill right now.
We went to the offices Sunday afternoon so she’d have access to the internet and Flo worked on her blog so, if you have time, you might go to it and see pictures she’s posted (assuming she’s successful). We’re still working hard on our Spanish and are understanding a lot of words we hear – especially at church – but when we hear something we don’t know the meaning of, we get lost and it’s hard to follow the thoughts understanding only part of the words. We love our family very much, appreciate all you do to support us out here and pray always for you. Continue to keep us up to date on your families – that’s very special to us. The gospel is true and we’re very happy to be part of sharing it with the world.
Love, E&H Belnap