We’ve had a pretty busy week in the office (especially the early days) – we’re getting ready for transfers, most of the piso inspection forms have come back so I’ve been entering that data into a spreadsheet that we track problems with, I made it thru the process of entering data from the proselyting reports and we had baptisms last weekend that had to be processed. We had quite a few emails after our letters last week and sure appreciate hearing from you – it’s something we really look forward to and hope you don’t forget us.
Flo made a batch of oatmeal-raisin-nut cookies early in the week that turned out good – she took a box to the office and they quickly disappeared but she kept enough at the piso that I had cookies to munch on thru most of the week. And we received a care package from Lynda Belnap – that was an exciting event. When any of the missionaries in the office gets a package it’s cause for celebration and we’re no different. Flo was so excited to try her new stuff, we had pancakes for mediodía the next day so she could try the buttermilk mix and the maple flavoring - they really were good. Thanks so much Lynda!
We want you to know that you’re in our prayers. I’m quite certain there’s nothing special about a prayer in broken Spanish that makes it more effectual than one offered in intelligible words but we’re trusting that the Lord hears them all.
Since we’re preparing for the next round of conferences – leaders council & zone conferences – Flo has spent a lot of time with Hna Clegg planning menus and the baking needs to accompany them. Friday they went to the Makro to do a lot of the shopping necessary to have the needed food and, per plan, I got our car and met them there to push the cart (Pte Clegg had to leave town for a district training meeting in Santiago). One of the things I wanted to check was the status of our order for a refrigerator. They were to call us when their supply of the sale model arrived and they hadn’t called nor given us much specific about when we can expect something. So we had another ad for a sale that starts next week and we wanted to see the model going on sale – customer service at that store (and a lot of others here, according to the missionaries) leaves much to be desired. When we asked about the new ad, a lady pointed out that it didn’t start until next week and how dare we be asking about it already. But we returned to the appliance area to look at what was there (I’d only briefly looked at them when I got into the store) and found one that has the same specs as the one in the ad but has a fancier exterior and I think, if we can get one of those, it’ll be a better deal than what we’d tried to get before. So our plan is to meet the Cleggs at Makro on Wednesday morning (start of sale) and hope we can buy a refrigerator that they actually have – they’re supposed to deliver as part of the sale. Guess the bottom line is we still have a tiny refrigerator but have more hope that the situation is going to improve. On our way home (our shorter, simpler route) we missed our exit from the round-about and had to do another trip around it to get on our road but at least we knew and could see where we wanted to go. I didn’t recognize it at the time but it was a sign of things to come for us.
Saturday morning we were scheduled to meet at the mission home for a 5th Saturday (that’s mission talk related to the transfer cycle) breakfast – even breakfast burritos. Flo had boiled potatoes and made salsa for the event so we got ready, carried our stuff to the car (our open air garage was about 10 minutes away this morning) and left hoping to get there in time to make most of the preparations before the Elders arrived. It didn’t take long to realize we’d missed the first exit to transition from one freeway to another so we tried to turn around and make the recovery. Let me just say that the streets and interchange system here are sufficient to make one murmur. The more turns we made to get back onto the freeway, the more lost we became. Flo kept saying “we’re downtown” and I’d say “yeah but what town?” I kept looking to her for help and she had none to offer. Eventually we saw a city bus with Bilbao on it so we assumed we were in Bilbao. Flo kept calling Hna Clegg but it’s hard to give directions to your house if you don’t know where your guest is. Finally we spotted the Guggenheim which gave her a reference and she told us to take the freeway next to it (we could see it but were 40-50 feet below it) and follow signs to Mungia. With absolutely no interchanges visible to us we kept driving (much of the time that’s all we could do – the streets are one way and very narrow) and finally found a small street going up the hill – we took it. That might not have been the only thing to do but it was one of them – we found a freeway entrance! That took us thru a long tunnel (expected), we paid the 1.15€ toll and eventually got to familiar territory and were only 30-45 minutes late. As they finished making the burrito mix Flo suddenly realized we’d forgotten to bring the salsa – we ate without it and it still tasted very good. After clean up, we watched a video of Elder Bruce R McConkie’s final conference address – it’s inspiring – and left for home. Early in the ride we had one more miscue but were able to recover quickly and get back on track. We stopped at Carrefour to do a little shopping – found a sweater and a couple of things for Flo – and made it home without further incident. I’ve got to figure out a way to solve this ‘tour mode’ syndrome but, the last time we used our GPS it seemed to be more confused than we were (don’t laugh – it’s possible).
Spain went off Daylight Savings Time this morning so we got an extra hour to sleep-in and do some studying before going to church. When we got to the chapel, the outside door was locked (our chapel is a rented facility on the second floor) so we didn’t know what was going on. While we waited a woman came to us begging for money but we had none with us so were relieved of making a decision about giving or not (we see beggars on the street nearly every day). Soon a member came who had a key to the door, opened it and we were met by a member from inside who fixed the lock so the door wouldn’t close all the way. We had good meetings (they nearly always have four speakers, at least three of whom are adults and the meetings still are often short), are understanding more that’s said and like to be around the members to hear the Spanish and who are kind and helpful to us.
We only got to walk about three nights this last week because of schedule and rainy weather. It was quite cold early in the week then warmed up again and has been quite pleasant. We don’t know what lies ahead for us but plugging the wind tunnels into our piso has made it a lot more comfortable in here for us. We’re kind of anticipating spending our first winter here to see if a couple of old people accustomed to Arizona winters will be able to survive – stand by on that one.
We might have mentioned it before but we want each of you to know that we hold our family very dear to our hearts. We pray for your well-being – may the Lord be with each of you in your lives. We know the gospel is true, our Savior atoned for all on condition of repentance and we’re happy to be involved in sharing the message with the people of Spain.
Love, E&H Belnap