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