Friday, December 11, 2009

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

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