Sunday, December 27, 2009

Few More Pictures

I was in checking out the Mission blog and found some cute pictures of Mom & Dad...

This was the Bilbao mission gift exchange. Dad is on the right...

Again - Dad on the left - mom is taking care of business in the back
Here is dad scoping out his gift picking options - gotta love it!
Aren't they cute!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

December 20, 2009 - Delwyn's weekly update

Well, it’s time for the weekly epistle to our family – it’s been another busy week but without earth-shattering experiences.
Our major project in the office has been the publication of recipe books – one for each of the missionaries to be given at the zone conferences. It was decided to do half last week for the two zones in the western part of the mission and the other half to be ready Monday morning. There was a lot of brute force work went into getting indexing and page layout done so an original could be printed then copied. The booklet is half-page size so the layout had to plan for cutting the pages in half and have the right pages back-to-back when it all went together. The Elders helped get that part done and Flo began making the copies on our copier. They ran into problems with the copier page feed function so she resorted to feeding it a page-at-a-time to get the 45 copies made for the first batch. She cut the pages and used a machine we have in the office that punches holes along the side and facilitates binding the booklet with a plastic-finger binding that allows a book to open flat (I no longer have a first language or I’d just give you a term that names what I’m talking about). She was so concerned about getting them ready on time that we took sandwiches for lunch on Tuesday so we wouldn’t have to leave to eat. Anyway, with a little help she got the first set put together in time for the President to take them Wednesday when they left for the first zone conference in León. While they’d been working on that set, I took a copy of the recipe file and experimented until I had a table of contents generated by MS Word and that reduced the number of pages by about 20%. We decided not to use that to avoid the repeat of the page layout problems (I didn’t even try to print a copy to see if we’d have problems) but to use the original masters and copy them for the second half of the edition. Problem n+1 then raised its ugly head: the copier ran out of toner. We called the servicing company that’s under contract – they didn’t answer the phone. We sent email and called the next morning – they told us they knew the situation and were scheduling service, should be done in no more than two days. We didn’t hear anything more so, Thursday evening we took the master to a copy shop and ordered 42 more copies, picked them up Friday morning and Flo and I spent a lot of our Friday doing the booklets – I cut and collated them while Flo bound them. We were very glad to have them finished and, by Friday evening, we still had not seen any service on our copier.
The zone conference in León was scheduled to begin at 10:00 and our mission secretary does all the scheduling and buying of tickets to get all the missionaries to the conference. We talked to Pte Clegg late Thursday morning and found that a major snowstorm had caused bus lines to cancel a lot of routes the missionaries needed for travel so they’d had to rebook onto trains and hadn’t been able to start the conference until 1:30 PM. After that things went well and the missionaries loved their new cookbooks. The zone conference in Vigo went off without hitch but the trip coming back to Bilbao was again a major snowstorm coming thru the mountain passes and they didn’t get in until 1:30 Saturday morning. Pte Clegg told me he thinks he has pneumonia so it was a difficult few days for him (I told you last week of efforts to get new tires but got nothing). Put into perspective, I guess it pales in comparison to the Willie & Martin Handcart companies but there’s still some stress in trying to get the Lord’s work done. I was shredding some old phone bills per the secretary’s request and our shredder jammed. I took it apart and cleaned it as much as I could but wasn’t able to get it clean enough to allow the paper to feed into the teeth – I gave up on it and tried to find a service company for the brand. I sent an email to the company I found but, as of the end of the week, I hadn’t heard anything back from them – seems like customer service here is not a high priority thing.
While we haven’t seen any snow here in Las Arenas, the weather has been pretty cold and nasty. It goes from sunny to rainy with wind and back again so we always wear our coats and carry an umbrella. I think it’s because of the high humidity that it feels as cold as it does because the temperature hasn’t been below freezing as far as we know. After office hours Friday we brought our stuff to the piso then went out walking – mostly to window shop along the streets fairly close to our piso. It’s different here in that there might be a block or two with lots of shops then a couple more blocks won’t have any stores at all. We just kept wandering to where we could see store lights but didn’t see anything that we liked for could afford. I think the number of gifts around our Christmas tree is going to be commensurate with the 18-20” size of our tree. And we’re just fine with that – if there are two things I never want to experience again it’s trying to get more stuff into a suitcase than fits then trying to get that suitcase schlepped halfway around the world. Just carry a backpack with a change of underwear and socks then take a shower when you get home!
I asked a week ago if Flo would trade sides of the bed with me, she agreed and this week I haven’t been nearly as cold and she hasn’t complained about being hot nearly as much. I didn’t really expect it to make a difference but maybe there’s more cold air coming off the windows on her side (now) than we know and she’s actually been more willing to snuggle a little. In any event, it seems to be helping me to sleep better thru the night so I may not have to find an electric blanket to survive here in the polar region.
We went one afternoon to Makro to get some things we needed for ourselves and for the office. While she was in the meat dept. Flo saw a small turkey – about 10 pounds – and decided to get it for Christmas. Neither price not cost was marked on the turkey so we didn’t know what to expect when we checked out. As she reviewed the register list as we walked out she thought they’d made some mistake when she saw the cost of the turkey – 9.80/Kg (a little over $60 for that dead bird). It didn’t bother me much since she’s the sole master of the food budget but she’s claiming it was an expensive lesson learned.
Went to Bilbao Saturday evening for a convert baptism in our branch – she’s a friend of the lady baptized a couple of weeks ago. They had a nice service and it was well attended – they nearly fill all the chairs in the chapel. After we returned to Las Arenas we attended the annual Christmas dinner for our branch. It wasn’t scheduled to start till 8:00 (which seems a little late to start a big meal) and was even later getting started – as course one, they had individual plates of appetizers set for each chair. Each plate consisted of breads, salmon (I think) spread, liverwurst, slice of hard-boiled egg, two rolls of ham, asparagus with a cheese sauce and 4 shrimp (cold, with eyes and everything else a shrimp comes out of the water with - shudder). Flo helped me out with the shrimp and there were extra plates of breads, spreads and shrimp – I was nearly full on appetizers. Some obviously love those beady-eyed little critters – I’m certain the lady across the table from me ate at least 25-30 of them. Course two was hot ham slices (ham tasted a little different than ours but not bad) and a slice of Spanish tortilla which has resemblance to a Mexican tortilla in name only. It’s a mixture of eggs, potatoes, peppers and onions prepared much like an omelet and tastes very good to me – there was more than enough to fill everyone. And finally they service each a plate of desserts – chocolate pastry, 3-flavor ice cream and a light cheesecake with berry topping and all (chocolate excepted) were very good. The Elders had to leave before desserts to keep the in-the-piso by 9:30 rule but we stayed till after 10:00 before going home – it was a nice evening for us.
That’s all I think of to tell you about for the week. Again this week we got some very nice letters telling of family and activities – we sure enjoy those. We’re enjoying our missions, continue to make some progress in learning Spanish and getting to know the good people around us. There are some pretty exciting things in the week ahead – we’re really looking forward to them. We love the work; we love you and appreciate your love and prayers in our behalf. The work of sharing the Gospel is important for our own and the welfare of those we’re sent to share it with. We love the Lord and pray his blessings on each of you in a special measure this Christmas season. Merry Christmas to all!
All our love, E&H Belnap

December 13, 2009 -- Delwyn's weekly update

Another week has swiftly passed by – it doesn’t seem fast in the moment but it sure seems like the weeks are flying by when we look back. We got some nice letters and promises of others and also got a few things done in the mission field. We got up Monday morning and I was doing my exercise routine when the phone rang. My phone rings only 3 times before dropping to message mode and about half the time when I get to it I hit the wrong button and miss the call. Well I missed the call and was trying to figure out who’d called when Flo’s phone rang – it was Hna Clegg asking me to meet them at a Volkswagen dealership so they could leave the van there for new tires. They’d taken one of our departing missionary sisters to the airport for her flight home so she could attend a large family reunion – they’d had an early start. I rushed thru showers and getting dressed, hurried to our car and drove to the dealership. The Cleggs were shopping the new cars in the showroom while waiting for the service dept to return. I waited with them ($60,000+ for a top-of-the-line VW!) and, when the service manager returned, they reported they’d replaced a headlamp but didn’t have any tires available – he’d call Wednesday (no tires at a dealership? And he didn’t call). We got our Monday morning duties mostly taken care of and, since there were only two Elders in the office for mediodía, Flo invited them to come with us – she fixed tomato soup and tuna melts. As we were ready to begin eating, Hna Clegg called that she was locked out of the office so Flo invited her over and we sat around our little table and ate what we had, they left, we did the dishes, took our shopping cart and drove to Makro for one of those marathon food shopping sessions. We spend half our time loading one of those non-motorized 1-ton trucks and a large shopping cart and spend the other half waiting in line and checking out. It’s reached the point where the people at the doors who check items vs. register slips (ala Costco) see us coming, grab a phone and pretend to talk while waving us thru the door (that’s my interpretation of the scene). We got caught on our way home in a slow line of traffic being channeled thru checkpoint-drunk but they weren’t stopping anyone when we went thru – just impeding traffic.
Flo, with help from others, has been working for some weeks now on a mission cookbook that’s a revised, enhanced edition of one that’s been here for a while (don’t know how long) and, periodically she calls my name to come and help her with some problem. It’s turned into a major consumer of our time and the intent is to have it ready to distribute to the missionaries at the upcoming zone conferences (this week & next). If we’d had more knowledge of MS Word and some of its publishing features we could have saved ourselves a lot of time. We’ve learned several things and discovered that they claim a lot more functionality than we can figure out how to use. We’re at the offices this afternoon/evening (Sunday) working with a couple of the Elders to get the initial copy printed so we’re set up to make and bind the copies in the next couple of days. Add the cookbook to the cooking she has to do to prepare for the conferences and perhaps it give some insight into why the time seems to be flying by.
This was a transfer week so we had quite a few missionaries moving, 8 missionaries went home and one of our Assistants went to Gijón for what’s probably his last city before his release next spring - he was replaced by Gene’s neighbor, Elder Dredge. I’ve tried in vain to get some support from our area to repair or replace our translation system – it’s a wireless microphone and has 20 headsets thru which a translation can be heard. The distribution center in Frankfurt, Germany, referred me to Madrid and I haven’t been able to get either phone or email response from people in Madrid.
I went Wednesday for my final visit to the dentist – he drilled out the temporary filling from the tooth and put in a permanent filling, I laid my plastic on the counter and, although the charges would feed some starving children for a while, I felt like the 240€ for a root canal could have been a lot worse. When I got out of the chair I was concerned that the filling might be a little high (it was the first point of contact when I closed my mouth) but, by the end of the day, it felt exactly right. They also implored me to get Elder Ashby back into their office to finish work for his root canal (at least that was my interpretation of what they wanted) so, when I saw him, I started pushing him to go back for the final session. The next morning he went by to make an appointment and they finished their work right then – it’s been an interesting experience with a dentist.
Even before we left the office Wednesday evening, I began having some queasiness in my stomach that got progressively worse thru the evening. That feeling evolved into half-time bathroom visits and the other half trying to get some sleep thru the night. By morning I didn’t have much need for the bathroom but I didn’t have much energy nor appetite (the latter’s a dead give-away that something’s wrong!). We went to the office, I went to a pharmacy, got some medication that Pte Clegg had taken and, 3 pills later, I was on the mend – I’m hoping I have it whipped.
Thru the Elders, one of the sisters in our branch had made arrangements to bring a group of 7&8-year-old girls on Friday to our piso for a cookie making activity with Flo. The girls (including the member girl) are in English class together and they want to do some friend-shipping so they’re comfortable inviting the others to their daughter’s baptism soon. There were 8 girls, 2 mothers and a father in the little piso so it was wall-to-wall people while they were there. The girls were fascinated by the Kitchen Aid that did the mixing of the dough, they loved being able to frost the cookies and try to write their names on the cookies (had a little trouble trying to squeeze a zip-lock bag to get a bead of frosting) but they especially loved adding the sprinkles at the end. They were there for about an hour and a half and seemed to have a fun time – the feedback has been positive.
The weather here was quite nice in the earlier part of the week and we were able to take our evening walks whenever we didn’t have schedule interference. But it’s been pretty wet and cold the last 2-3 days (not to mention my need for a nearby baño) so we haven’t done any walking – we miss it when we can’t walk but aren’t dedicated to the point we’re willing to walk in the rain and cold.
We can report that things are going well for us. It’s difficult to measure progress in learning Spanish but we’re pretty sure we’re making some (others may conclude differently). We’re confident that what we’re doing is helpful in the mission and love the work and associations we have with both missionaries and members. We see some things in the culture here that are different and difficult to understand but are trying hard to love the people as the Savior does – it’s probable that He has the same challenges with us. We thought about you yesterday for the annual gathering of the Belnap clan at the Prairie Schooner but, truthfully, didn’t dream of another opportunity to drive thru a blizzard. We love our family very much, appreciate all you do for us and pray always for God’s choicest blessings on each of you. Love, E&H Belnap

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Branch Christmas Party Dinner

We went to the Bilbao Ward Christmas Presentation. It was very good. We got a couple of pictures before they told us we couldn't take any pictures. This picture, however, is down town Bilbao. You can see a few of their Christmas lights. Not quite like home, but they were pretty.
Saturday night after our baptism, we went to the Branch Christmas Dinner. This is the first course. We had two rolls of ham, 2 asparagus (they are white here) a salmon spread, liverwurst, and 3-4 shrimps, with their eyes looking at us. I wish I would have gotten a closer view. Plus we had bread and hard slices of bread for the spreads. I liked it all. Dad, not so much for the shrimp. The second course was Spanish Tortilla and more ham. The Tortilla is made with potatoe, eggs, onions, garlic, salt and pepper. Cooked real slow. It is very good. For dessert, they had 3 different kind. One was a layered Chocolate cake, Something they call Cheese Cake. It was very good, but not our cheese cake, and ice cream. We were really full after it was over. They kept coming around asking if we wanted more. They drink Pepsi and Coke here a lot. You can see the Pepsi bottles on the tables.

You can see most of the people that were there. You can see dad and I in the back left. There must have been 80 people there. But they had a lot of food.

This is a table of the young adults. Some in the back are married. The three girls on the left are sisters. Really cute girls. Also, the girl that has a man between them, is also one of the sisters. The man is her husband. The second girl on the left went to Temple Square on her mission. The girl on the end is engaged to the man just across from her. Next to her is Paro (Peter) he went to New York on his mission. The Older couple next to him is our Branch President, President Costillon and his wife.

Elder Ashby and two recient converts, Very strong. The Man is really amazing. The Sister was just baptized just before the dinner. Her name is Annebell. She is from Equador. The mans name is Ronald.

Our table. Elder C. Hansen is our new Secretary in the office. He is the one on the left. Elder Ashby is one of the Assistance.

This is the tables for the young kids. They ate very well all by themselves.

Here is the table of the teenagers. They were having a great time and loved me taking their pictures.

Sunday Night we went to Bilbao for their Christmas Program. Here are a few more pictures before they told us to stop. It looks like I got this one in twice. I wanted the picture of all the young kids on the left. That is where the sheep are

More for Zone

This is Elder Leon, he is from Spain. He took this Santa Clause outfit from Elder Cepeda. It went around all it could and he ended up with it. He was having fun having his picture taken.

Zone Conference

We had Zone Conference yesterday. It was really great. All about setting goals for the mission. Our President is great. We have had some great success in our mission. We had our Christmas Party also. We had a white elephant gift exchange.
President Clegg was one of the first, and he got a little trinket that he kept trying to give away. I guess he just didn't need that right now. Eventually, a sweet Elder took it and President was able to get a sack of candy that he wanted. It just so happened, it was one of our gifts. We knew candy would be a hit.

Elder Cepeda stoll a pink hat with brades. He was so funny. The life of the party. He is from here in Spain.

After the party, we took a group Picture. Elder Woods and Ashby are on the floor. Me, Hermana Maquieira, President and Hermana Clegg, Hermana Stosich, She is from Taunya Belnap Childers Ward. Hermana Johns, from Blackfoot and Hermana Fitches. Next row from left, Elder Strickland, Hansen, & Anderson, our Secretaries. Elders, Gordon, Cepeda, B. Hanson, & Jackson (From Gilbert). Top, Dad, Elders Dredge, Leon, Nye and Farnsworth. Still in the party spirit.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Breakfast and cookies

We have a sweet lady in our Ward who's daughter is getting baptized in a month and she wants to invite her friends from School to the baptizm. So she asked the Elders if I would teach them to cook something in English. So we decided to do Sugar Cookies. I didn't want to take everything over to the church, so I had them come to my little piso. The 3 Elders in the back were my interpreters. However, they didn't get there until it was almost over. But we managed. The girls are taking some English in school. So between their English and my Spanish, we got the job done. I wish I knew their names. The Elders were Elder Strickland, C. Hanson, and Anderson.
Elder Anderson go there just before the other Elders. At first, we made the dough. Put it in the refrigerator and took out some that I had done the night before. The Man was one of the Fathers. I was impresses that he came to be with his girl.

They were very intent with the frosting. I make some red and green. First they put the red frosting on and then with the green they wrote their names.

After they had the frosting done, I gave them some sprinkles. They really loved that. My little piso was really full.

There was a mother there also, but I'm not sure why she wasn't in the picture. There were 8 girls and 2 adults.

One of the little girls was in the bathroom when this was taken. They were really well behaved. If I'd have had them from USA it would have been really hectic around there.

This was our breakfast for Elder Moore. He is the one on the right in the back with his head up. He has been one of the Assistance. He now finishes his mission in the field. Elder Dredge is the one with the (1987) T-shirt on. We really get close to these young men. The people are. President Clegg, Elder Strickland, Anderson, Dredge, Ashby, Moore, Hermana Clegg, and Delwyn. We had French Toast, potatoe and onions, cheesie eggs and bacon. We really enjoy those meals from home.

Friday, December 11, 2009

December 6, 2009 - Upday from Delwyn

As I sit to write the weekly letter it occurs to me that this is #20 and represents about the ¼-point in our missions (in spite of Heidi having us out here for six months). Each week seems to go by so quickly it’s over before we know it. We haven’t had anything momentous happen to us this week but it’s been another good week for us both in the office and in the piso. We received some very nice letters during the week – including one from our #4 daughter (not naming names here) – that we appreciate and enjoy very much. We get the sense that, while no one has money to give away, everyone is doing well and enjoyed their Thanksgiving activities. We had a very nice day and the leftovers stretched it out over another 2-3 days.
On Monday I discovered I’d lost the back on my cell phone so I searched the office, the car and our piso trying to find it – all to no avail. Tuesday morning, when Pte Clegg came to the office, he gave the back of a cell phone to E Anderson saying he’d found it on a table at his home and E Anderson brought it to me – I’d apparently dropped it when we were there on Saturday. And on Tuesday morning I went again to the dentist for another session of the root canal – he went down into the tooth again, did some filing with his tiny files and told me to make another appointment – that it’d be the last one. So this Wednesday I go to get the remaining work done – I assume some final cleaning and a permanent filling to plug the hole in the tooth - and find out what it’ll cost (I’m hoping it doesn’t take all your Christmas money!). After my trip to the dentist Pte Clegg and I spent most of an hour on the phone with the HELP desk in SLC trying to figure out why the password to the temple entry system was no longer valid. When we got past that hurdle and I was able to get into the system to activate a batch of temple recommends. A while later, Pte came into my office with his laptop and asked me to get him onto the office internet – I had no clue what was wrong. I worked with it for a while and E Anderson joined me in trying to solve the problem but we got nowhere. I finally hooked him to the internet with the Ethernet line and he was able to do some of the things he had to do. When he still couldn’t connect on Wednesday, I called the HELP desk again and had a marathon session with a guy there (about 2-3:00 AM). Eventually he connected to my computer remotely then did the same with Pte Clegg’s laptop and got us set up to again connect to the internet. I asked what he’d done and he told me he’d ‘changed a few settings’ – by then he probably was convinced he was dealing with an illiterate and it’d be a waste of time to try to explain. In my mind the mystery is how the settings got messed up – Pte Clegg is not one who’d go in and customize the internet settings on his laptop.
Elder Anderson (financial secretary) found a couple of different errors in our proselyting data reports that caused invalid results (not in baptism stats, just teaching data) so we had to go in and find those. It turned out that both of those had occurred before my time as the data enterer so he took responsibility for those but it’s only a matter of time before I mess up in a similar fashion. I think we’d be better off to simplify the spreadsheet than run the risks we do with the complex formulas and sheets in the workbook. Since the errors carried forward into subsequent sheets, it took me quite a while to go back thru 2-3 months of data to get them corrected – maybe that’s why they have couple missionaries.
Wednesday morning we got ready for the office (except I dressed in my sweats), took our shopping cart and went in. I loaded a set of tools and some materials into the cart, Flo and I caught the Metro and rode into Bilbao. We met Hnas Johns & Fitches at their Metro station and they led us to their piso to try to do something to reduce the cockroach traffic there. Their piso has a small patio off the kitchen and there’s a 10” opening into the wall for access of plumbing – the little door to close that hole was missing. I cut a board to fit (chair for workbench, backsaw for tool), mounted it to the hinges that still were there and sealed up the edges with tape – I think that’ll help. But I’d not understood the other part of the problem description: under the sink there’s open area leading to a hole in the wall so any bug in the wall can come thru the kitchen cupboard into the piso. I’m going to try to find some fiberglass insulation to stuff into the hole to plug that. The apartment business must be good here because we’ve pleaded in vain with the landlord to do something about the cockroach problem. He says they’re the only ones with a problem but the Hermanas tell us every neighbor they talk to has the same cockroach infestation. It’s a little humorous for us to hear the Hnas tell of these ‘huge’ cockroaches and hold their fingers 1/2 – 3/4” apart – that’s the WIDTH of an Arizona cockroach! They had to leave for an appointment before we were finished but we successfully made it back to the Metro station and to the office. We had early mediodía that day & worked in the office for the rest of the day.
Next week is transfer week again in the mission and Thursday, after the decisions had been made about who goes where, Pte Clegg made the calls to each of the affected missionaries. I’m pretty sure that triggers a lot of ringing phones throughout the mission and wonder if the news of the first calls spreads faster than he can make calls to the last ones.
We, the office missionaries, had been assigned to have a game prepared for a traditional ‘night of the branch’ social. We had talked about what to do and made a tentative decision but we reluctantly went to the church Friday night at 8:00. 20-25 minutes later they got started and, by then, had 20+ people there – including some investigators – for the evening. The Assistants taught a short lesson about Christmas, we had a closing prayer, played our game (Heads Down, Thumbs Up) for half an hour and they had refreshments. It turned out to be a good evening for us and a good opportunity to hear and practice our Spanish with (mostly) young people.
The Cleggs have started a tradition of having breakfast with the office missionaries on the Saturday before transfers – i.e. last week. We had to get up earlier than normal to be there by 8:00 and we helped in the preparation of French toast, fried potatoes, scrambled eggs, bacon and juice, the Elders came and the breakfast became sort of a going-away time for Elder Moore – he’s being transferred to Gijón and is being replaced by Elder Dredge (I think he’s from Cottonwood Heights) as an Assistant to Pte Clegg. Flo and I helped clean up, Flo got a hair trim job and we stopped at a grocery store on our way home. I went to the office to enter a baptism recommend from the preceding weekend and we had time to relax for a couple of hours then got ready and took the Metro to Bilbao for a baptismal service – an 8-year-old from the Bilbao Ward and a young women the Assistants have taught here in Las Arenas. They set up extra chairs and people still spilled into the overflow areas – it was a very nice service. The little girl was baptized first and was trembling as she entered the font and, wouldn’t you know it, had a foot come out of the water as she went under – she refused to be baptized again. So they baptized Neyla (a truly remarkable young woman), dropped the curtain on the font and persuaded the little girl to be baptized again. While they dressed we watched a couple of segments of ‘Reflections of Christ’ that created a very special spirit that most seemed to feel. There were several investigators there and most seemed to feel and be moved by the Spirit.
Today was another moving experience in our F&T meeting – the chapel was nearly full (more so than we’ve seen it before) and the meeting was filled with good testimonies (including Neyla). At the end, our branch president bore his testimony and totally broke down in tears – he’s a humble, quiet man and we aren’t sure what triggered the emotion but we felt his love for the Lord. Flo gave the closing prayer for the meeting (in Spanish) and did great. I’ve observed that our prayers in Spanish are either very short or have lots of mistakes (sometimes both) but we’re getting better. However, each time we think we’re making significant strides, someone speaks uninterrupted for a minute or two and we’re quickly lost. We’re not discouraged though, just wish that we were good enough to understand what’s being said and participate in a meaningful conversation.
We’re having a great experience here – it is so good to see the changes that come to people as they accept and strive to live the gospel. Being around so many who don’t have the gospel and knowing what it could do for them (so many people smoke and the amount of alcohol they consume is staggering) is motivation for working hard. And we see enough members who still are struggling that we know there’s a lot to do even within the church. We’re really thankful to be here and love and appreciate each of you so much for your emotional and spiritual support. Flo had found some Christmas decorations that appear to have been accumulated over time and she put those up in our piso yesterday so we’re getting into the Christmas spirit. Hope everything is going well for each of you – I’ve tried to hint that we love to get letters – and we send our love and best wishes to each of you again this week.
Love to all, E&H Belnap

November 29, 2009 - Update from Delwyn

Guess it’s time once again to give a report of the week’s experiences in Spain. First, we sure missed being with family for the Thanksgiving holiday – guess it’s been over forty years now since that’s been our lot. We got letters from a few of you and I infer from those that we’re not essential to a successful Thanksgiving – that’s great. It’s not a holiday in Spain so things were pretty much business as usual for the missionaries as well as the locals here. We had a couple of calls reporting Thanksgiving type things among the missionaries (like cooking a turkey breast) and one Elder called Flo asking for advice on making a pie crust but, for the most part, our day was much like any other in the mission field. But for Saturday (our usual P-day), we’d planned a Thanksgiving dinner for the missionaries based in the offices. And a week or so ago they decided to expand the circle to include the 8 missionaries serving in nearby Bilbao (includes Hna Johns from Rose, ID). Flo was assigned to make rolls, a banana split cake and an apple pie so Friday night, after our walk, she made the pie and cake and Saturday morning, after we’d cleaned the piso, she made a batch of rolls; we loaded those things and some other stuff (including Flat Stanley) into our car and drove (without error) to the mission home shortly after 1:00. They put the rolls into the over there – it’s a convection oven and they didn’t come out like they usually do. Flo says the convection oven isn’t very good for baking rolls – they’re done on the top before being cooked in the center. It had taken considerable time and effort to find a large turkey here – the stores stock them for Christmas and told us repeatedly that they get their turkeys in around the 1st of December. But Hna Clegg found a store that ordered one in on Friday and she roasted that for the dinner – sure tasted good. Some of the elders were late getting ready to come to the mission home and we brought the wrong stuff to make whipped cream so we went to a store to get the Nata we needed and everyone was ready to eat about 2:00 – 16 of us. A missionary mother had sent a recipe for a carrot dish in lieu of our traditional sweet potato/yam dish that was really good – I hope Flo gets the recipe. So we consumed a lot of mashed potatoes & gravy, turkey, dressing, carrots, tossed salad, rolls and cranberry before getting to the desserts. They were delayed a bit to give us some recovery time then we chose all or some of banana split cake, apple pie, pumpkin pie, berry pie or ice cream – ‘twas there that I went past the point of being full to being miserable. Some did cleanup while most of the missionaries went to the lawn to play Frisbee – I’m not sure how they moved but some could still run! Pte & Hna Clegg had to leave about 5:00 to drive to Ponferrada for an annual branch conference (we have a rough map of our mission that we’re trying to get into a computer so we could send it and you’d have a better idea of our mission area) so we were wrapped up and on our way home by 4:30 – we hauled a lot of leftovers home to take to the office on Monday for mediodía.
I guess I’ve mentioned parking in the mud so much that Danette asked if we always have mud puddles here. The answer is – almost always. In the summer it was less of a problem because it dried out between rainstorms. Now, puddles are sometimes reduced to little or no standing water but the ground is always wet. And where we usually have to park, the ruts and holes have gotten so deep it’s a mess at best and, during or after rain, it’s a nightmare. It’s difficult to explain how bad the parking situation is here (and wherever we’ve been), especially in the residential areas – there are simply more cars needing a parking space than there are spaces. When we’re parked, we debate whether or not to move the car if we can avoid it and try to time our trips to come back in the late afternoon when it seems our chances are best to find a spot.
We had a pretty slow week in the offices – Pte & Hna Clegg and the Assistants were on the road much of the week doing interviews and that always means there are few extra things they need done by us. We’ve used or sent out the last of our baptism recommend forms and, though we’ve been trying to get them for the last three months, the distribution center in Frankfurt, Germany, is out of forms and they don’t know, either, why we can’t get more thru the church channels. We’ve spent quite a bit of time on the phone trying to get the problem resolved. And somehow, earlier this month, the password we use to get into the system for activating temple recommends was reset so I haven’t been able to activate recommends and didn’t find out the problem until Friday. Pte Clegg has to call to get things reestablished in the system.
On Wednesday I went for my dental appointment at 11:00. I had to wait about 20 minutes then he put me in the chair, explained (I think) what he was going to do and asked if I understood. I said no so he explained via a picture that he planned to drill thru the crown of the tooth and clean out the infection. I said okay, he proceeded and I just waited for him to get thru the bone and hit nerve because he’d not done anything to deaden my jaw. But apparently, as he got close to nerve, he squirted an anesthetic with a hypodermic-like tool and I didn’t ever feel pain. After he’d drilled the hole he took tiny files (looked like stick pins of varying diameter) and began filing down thru the hole to do the cleaning, periodically putting more anesthetic on the tooth. In about 20 minutes he told me he was finished but that I’d need to return next week for another session of cleaning. I could feel the hole in the tooth with my tongue, asked if I’d be able to eat and he assured me that’d be okay. We set up an appointment for next Tuesday and, except for a little discomfort while we were walking that night, there hasn’t been any problem. Hope things go as well for the next session and that it’s a permanent solution to the problem. I felt well enough to go with Flo for one of those major grocery shopping trips in the afternoon (we love the new refrigerator/freezer!).
We had the Secretaries come to our piso for mediodía on Tuesday – Flo made a batch of corn chowder in the crock pot, we added fresh bread, concluded with apple pie #2 and had a great meal. The missionaries are very appreciative when they get fed and don’t have to do the cooking or the dishes so it’s fun to have them. But our piso is so small (and we have only 5 chairs) that it’s a little hard to have more than two at a time come here – guess we’ll just have to alternate between the four missionaries in the office. I went with the Assistants to a couple of teaching appointments this week – one in the rain and the investigator didn’t show up and the other for a good apostasy/restoration lesson. They push me to bear testimony in Spanish so it’s a growing experience for me.
Our sacrament meeting on Sunday was the annual Primary children’s presentation – 10 children, 3 teachers/leaders and two music people – and it was very well done. The children ranged from very young and shy to what must be an 11-year old and, those who are old enough to do it, had 2-3 parts where they recited scripture or sayings. The tiniest ones held up signs that told the basic message for a part of the program. We have one little girl whose father was baptized shortly after we arrived here but whose mother has not participated in any discussion with the missionaries nor attended any activities of the church. The little girl often attends now and is so shy I’ve never heard her say a word. Another little boy who has attended recently with his mother (an investigator) insisted to his mother this morning that he needed to be there for the ‘choir’ so she brought him even though she’d planned not to attend today. Those two were the principle sign holders and were so cute doing it that you have to love them. And even though there were only 8 children singing, they belted out those songs very well – we loved the whole thing and they got us out exactly on time. In the third hour our branch president led a discussion on strengthening families that resulted in some lively discussion. The principle of ‘when 2 or 3 are gathered’ there will be 3-4 opinions and all will need to be expressed simultaneously.
When the meeting concluded (if you start late, you can end late applies here) Elder Ashby turned to Flo and asked what we were doing for mediodía today (hint, hint). So we ended up having four missionaries to our piso for Sunday dinner. It did help solve the problem of trying to get the leftovers from Saturday to the office on Monday to have dinner there. But, in trying to heat the food, we again ran into the power limitation in our piso. With the oven and burners on the stove on and trying to heat some things in the microwave, we kept blowing the circuit breaker. So we had to reduce the number of power hogs and do things a little slower to get the food hot enough to eat, Flo augmented the gravy and our kitchen table served as the buffet counter. Limited by having 5 chairs and a small table, we moved to the smaller coffee table so we could sit on the couches and part of the chairs – we consumed most of the remaining food. The missionaries left for appointments, we did the dishes and sat for a few minutes then went for a walk with Flat Stanley while we had daylight. At one beach we stood for a while and watched surfers in wet suits then noticed a very dark cloud in the direction we had to go so we hurried home and were glad we hadn’t gotten rained on.
We finished reading 4th Nephi today and are confident we’re going to reach our goal of having completed reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish this year (thank you, Moroni, for Ch 1-6!). We’re still learning Spanish and are studying hard to build vocabulary (hoping that helps us understand others as well as to speak) and conjugate and use verbs. If this is an easy language to learn, I’m sure glad they didn’t send us someplace that has a difficult language. We love each of you, pray for you, appreciate your thoughts & prayers in our behalf and love to get your letters. We’re thankful for testimonies and the opportunity to be here helping with missionary work. May each of you be blessed with good things. Lots of love,

E&H Belnap