Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 4, 2009 - Weekly email from Delwyn

Delwyn & Flo are front left -- with their mission district. So fun! Our beautiful hard working missionaries. Love them!

From Delwyn: For whatever reasons, we had very light attendance at our meetings in the branch last Sunday but we’re getting more comfortable as we become better acquainted with the members. After our dinner we studied for a while then decided to take another walk so we set out on a new course and walked thru most of the residential area in a SW direction and ended up next to the Metro track. We followed that for a while thinking it’d eventually get us to the river but we went quite a ways and still couldn’t see water so we turned and were soon in familiar territory – it was a very pleasant evening and we had an enjoyable time.

On Monday we had someone from the church come to the office to meet with Pres. Clegg about the mission finances and no one was released when he left so I guess it went okay. President did say we are over budget in some areas but under-budget overall – I guess the accountants will know how to deal with it. When we came home for mediodía, Flo made a tuna casserole and a batch of cookies – mostly to see if new baking soda would help the cookies to have more cookie than tortilla appearance. The first batch that came from the oven wasn’t a rousing success – they were white-chocolate chip with nuts and, although they tasted great to me, they had the tortilla appearance, about as tall as a melted chocolate chip. But by holding my hand flat, sliding a cookie onto it and biting around the edges they were pretty easy to eat (I think it would have worked just as well to slide it off the edge of the table). The next two batches came out of the oven looking great (good enough to take to the office for the Elders to consume!) so maybe the tortilla syndrome has been whipped.

On Tuesday we got ready a little earlier than usual, met the Elders at the Metro station and rode nearly to Bilbao where we got off to go to a government office for residency processing. When we arrived there were ropes set up to make four lines – two coming from each direction, all were off the sidewalk in the street – and we were directed to the long line (but of course). We stood in the line (monitored by a pair of armed guards) for about half an hour, were directed inside where we stood against a wall until called to come to a desk. The purpose of our visit was to make an appointment to take the penultimate step in getting our residency cards (can’t be done over the telephone; has to be done in person). A stern-faced lady glanced over the paperwork and told us we could come back the next day between 9:00 am and 1:30 pm – we made immediate plans to be on time! We walked around the corner to a bank, paid 15€ each for some kind of tax (took a little while because, as we arrived, the teller had pulled a cable from the back of her computer with her foot and had to crawl under the desk to get it plugged in). She didn’t say anything to us until after she’d disappeared toward the floor and came back somewhat apologetic. We needed passport photos for the next day so we stopped at a little booth but didn’t have the correct change to operate the machine. We returned to Las Arenas knowing there was a similar machine near our Metro station but when we got there, it was out of order – decided we’d get change and get them the next morning. We worked on our end-of-month processing thru the rest of the day and I tried to figure out how to find and pay the property taxes on our house. Wed. morning we met the Elders (we only need Elder Strickland but can’t leave Elder Anderson without a companion) at the Metro again, rode to the exit station and went to the booth to get photos – the power was off. While we stood there discussing what to do a man walked up and told us the power would be back in 30 minutes so we decided to wait – it came back in about 5. We got our mug shots, went to the government offices and were sent to a short line. The wait outside was relatively short, we got numbers and the wait inside was just as long as outside then Elder Anderson took Flo to one desk and Elder Strickland took me to another as they put up our numbers. Flo was thru pretty quickly but our processor wanted an extra copy of some document so Elder Strickland had to find a copier and get a copy made (the two packets had exactly the same documents in them for processing). They fingerprinted us, had us sign a couple of documents and, once they’d stamped the papers, they have to be sent to church people in Madrid for checking, they’re sent to the government and they issue residency cards. The visas in our passports expire this month (they’re good for only 90 days) so we’ll be happy to have the cards and not have to carry our passports or the full sheet of paper we’ve been given. As we’ve gone thru this process I’ve thought more than once that it’s probably very much like this trying to this with immigration offices in the US.

We continued to work on the month-end stuff at the mission offices, we got our rent paid again and I began having problems with my PC when I got to the office on Thursday. But when I’d finally gotten it running, it worked okay thru the rest of the day – that was good because I needed it for a lot of stuff I was working. But when I went in Friday morning, it was locked up again so I recycled the power and finally got it up again but it wasn’t long before it locked up. I worked with it for a while, we swapped keyboards and the mouse but nothing we did seemed to help it. We got the church’s tech support guy (he’s in Madrid and speaks English) involved, he set up a conference call with Dell Support center for Spain (no English there) and we tried several things seeking to determine the problem. In the end the Dell CSR committed to send a tech on Monday prepared to replace the mother-board and I sure hope he/she solves the problems. After the failure Pres Clegg asked me for a report related to convert baptisms and I had to go thru the paper stack to get the information – it’s all readily available in files on my PC.

On Saturday we didn’t get up to see the sunrise but had pancakes for breakfast - about normal height this time but they have a different taste that might be related to the ‘milk’ we use. It seems to me that when you strip milk of all its useful properties and inject a taste that’s beyond bad, you shouldn’t be allowed to call it milk. Anyway, we cleaned our piso and Flo went with a less-active member to Bilbao to see/hear the Women’s Conference from a week ago. I joined her at 6:00 and we watched a broadcast of the Saturday morning session of conference (we’re eight hours ahead of SLC time). They had a Spanish version going in the chapel and an English version going in the Relief Society room so we listened in English so we’d understand more of it. Our member friend speaks enough English that she wanted to hear English so, for a change, we did a little interpreting. On Sunday morning we returned to Bilbao for a recorded version (over the internet) of the Saturday afternoon session, came back to our piso for lunch and I went back at 4:00 for a recording of the Priesthood session then Flo joined me for the Sunday morning session at 6:00. We’ll have to either find the Sunday afternoon session on the internet or wait till it comes in the Ensign/Liahona.

In Spain they use the currency of the European Union (EU) called the euro (not all EU countries do). I’m not sure how large the bills get in denomination but we’ve seen 5, 10, 20 and 50 euro bills and they have 2, 1, .50, .20, .10, .05, .02 and .01 coins. They don’t seem to deal much with the .01 coin – even the post office will charge .01 more or less to avoid using them. And even though we need 800+ Euros in cash for our rent, the ATM just pumps it out in 50’s and smaller bills. The banks and a lot of stores use machines and wands (sort of an electronic pen) to check for counterfeit bills (I guess that’s what they’re doing when they take our money). We’ve taken a pretty good walk nearly every night this week – we usually go out a paved path on our side of the river that juts out into the bay. It’s not very long so we lap it a few times then go the other way till the walkway runs out – by then we’re tired enough to quit so we do. We’re still studying pretty hard to learn Spanish and are finding it’s a slow process but are encouraged by the progress we’re making. We had the digital picture frame at the office for a few days but brought it home and are enjoying it at mediodía and in the evenings. We have to learn how to use it to get more pictures loaded and probably extend the time each picture is shown.

I need to wrap up so we can read our scriptures together – it’s been a good week for us. We enjoy very much hearing from those of you who write to us. We love all of you, appreciate your love and concern in our behalf and remind you of the importance of staying close to the Lord and the church. May He bless each of you.

Lots of love,

E&H Belnap

1 comment:

Teresa said...

What a wonderful busy week- love all the details.
Glad things are going well. How wonderful to be able to walk together in the evenings-
Blessings and Hugs-