As with past weeks, this one has passed rapidly – a noteworthy experience for us has been the change in the weather. The entire week has been cold and rainy but Friday, Mother Nature got pretty serious with showing us what winter can be like. It was cold to be outside and it rained or hailed most of the day. We had to make a trip to the car dealership to pick up a car we had there for service (not the gas-infected van; we’d already gotten that). When we left the office it was not raining and appeared to be clearing but in the five minutes it took to get to the parking area, the hail blew in, we were caught without umbrellas and paid the price. It hailed enough in a very short time to cover the ground and make the roads a little slick. I’d already committed to one of the elders that he could drive so there was some pay-close-attention time for our short trip, he did a parallel parking job that looked more like he’d run off the road and left it there than actually tried to park it - I mentioned to him in a very tactful way that he might want to work on those skills. The forecast for Friday night was 0°C and, with the wind blowing, it very much felt like it’d freeze. Saturday morning we could again see the snow in the hills just off the river but hadn’t seen any snow in town where our piso is. On Saturday morning as we cleaned the piso we could see rain, hail and finally snow out the window. The snow, however, was a lot like Phoenix snow - it melted as soon as it hit the ground so we didn’t have any accumulation at all. This morning (Sunday), we got a call about 9:45 from Pte Clegg inviting us to come for dinner at their house this afternoon. They were scheduled to attend and speak in Gijón so they’d left about 6:00 this morning and within an hour the roads were so bad they could tell there was no way they’d reach Gijón in time for the meetings so they called the Elders to fill their speaking assignments, turned around and came home. A member of the stake presidency was in our branch to speak and told us that most of the members in Burgos and Logroño were snowed in so they couldn’t get to church today. Our branch president lives in mountains an hour away from here and his train was canceled for snow so he wasn’t in the branch today. Blair has asked about our elevation here – when we walk the 2-3 blocks from our piso to the waterfront, we’re 10-15 feet above the water level and the water level changes with the ocean tides. As the tide comes in, the water in the river runs upstream and as the tide goes out, so does the water in the river. The latitude here is just slightly north of Blackfoot so I guess it’s our low elevation and the effects the ocean has on the climate that keeps it from being even colder than it is. We went to a mall yesterday and did some shopping for sweaters, scarves and gloves – we’re determined to survive (maybe that’s why we had blizzards the last two winters we’ve been to Utah, sort of a prep schooling). We did a little ‘touring’ on our way home – I’d followed the tow truck on the road earlier this week and thought we’d taken a road that’d get us back to where we wanted to go but it didn’t (“…all these things shall give thee experience”).
Along with our usual office work we’ve been doing the things necessary to move to a new month and a new year. Virtually all the files I have for tracking convert baptisms, piso inspections, proselyting indicators and vehicle records are done on a monthly basis in files covering a year. So I’ve been making files for this year and have been changing some of them to try to make them easier to keep and use. As we were getting ready to leave the office Friday evening, I was extracting some data for Pte Clegg and the power went off leaving us in the dark – something had blown our main breaker. When we discovered and reset the breaker, things seemed to be back to normal and I finished getting the needed data. But yesterday, the elders reported that our wireless internet system at the office is down and I don’t know if there’s a relationship between the power outage and that problem – I’m hoping it is back up tomorrow.
We’ve done some planning this past week for Flo & I to make a scheduled visit to each of the pisos in the mission and work with the missionaries to get things cleaned up, repaired and in the condition we think the Lord expects. Our first stop is to be Tuesday at the piso for the missionaries here in Las Arenas – the secretaries and Assistants live there. As Elders arrive and leave the mission and as they come for conferences or other assignments, they usually stay at that piso so it’s big and has a lot of extra mattresses. The permanent missionaries don’t cook very much there and our sense has been that they don’t get very concerned about how well they keep up the piso. When we announced last week that they’d be our first visit, they immediately scheduled their Saturday P-day as a major cleaning day and are telling us today that they have the place looking good – we’ll see. But if the announcement has the affect of motivating missionaries to clean their pisos, that’s great – it’ll make our task a lot easier and more enjoyable.
Many of the things we do have now become quite routine – we still study a lot of Spanish (and I assure you we’re making progress, just not very fast), spend a lot of time reading scripture (we’re ahead of schedule with our BM reading) and the Lord may sigh when he sees us fall to our knees (he knows he’s in for a pretty lengthy session and may need to listen carefully to know what we’re thankful for and what we’re asking for – maybe that’s why Spaniards talk so fast). Although we greatly miss family and friends, we’re grateful to be here and considered worthy to serve missions. We sure hope things went well for Kason and Blair’s family as he entered the MTC. Send us his email address and we’ll plan to send a periodic note to him. We love and appreciate each of you and the many things you do for us – we could not have better families. May the Lord’s choicest blessings be with you always.
Love, E&H Belnap