Hello again to our dear loved ones. We’re healthy and reasonably happy (we wish we could be thin, have boundless energy and more money than we could give away) – there have been others who’ve observed that getting old has its downside. We had a couple of fun Skype calls Tuesday evening – one with Angela and one with Kay. Email is great for communication but there’s something special about being able to hold a conversation with someone and not have to wait days for answers to questions.
I guess I was premature last week to make statements about the improving temperatures and weather – it’s gotten nasty again here. As I worked in the office one day I could see thru the window that we had rain, wind, hail, snow, sunshine, lightning and thunder thru much of the day so I was glad not to be out in it. A major snowstorm hit northern Spain Thursday and left lots of snow and very cold weather in a wide-spread area.
We went early Saturday afternoon to Hidalgo’s where Flo had made an appointment to learn how to make paella. Their piso doesn’t have central heating so they move portable heaters from room to room depending on where they are. The heaters in the kitchen and living room where we spent most of the time kept us warm enough to be fairly comfortable. But as we left we went to a spare bedroom for our coats and it was cold as a meat locker – we couldn’t get our coats on fast enough. We asked how this winter compares to a normal winter and they told us it’s been quite a while since they had a ‘normal’ winter but that this year is unusually cold – certainly not what we’ve trained for in Arizona.
We drove Monday morning to Logroño as part of the piso cleaning campaign. The Hermanas had done a good job of cleaning theirs so it didn’t take Flo long to do the checking and touch a few things that could use some help. E Anderson and I worked on repairs that were needed – the plastic mounting brackets at the ends of an L-shaped shower curtain rod both were broken (in different ways) so we jury-rigged a couple of fixes for those. We won’t be applying for patents on them but they’re a lot more solid and, hopefully durable, than the duct tape we replaced. And we didn’t have a way to splice a broken chain that supports the corner of the rod but we made a major improvement to the aesthetics of that as well. As do most pisos, their piso has Persianas – rolling shutters – on all the windows and one of the spring-loaded reels had fallen off the mounting bracket. I straightened some parts, found new screws and remounted the reel but had no way to install the plastic shield that’s supposed to cover it.
Elder Anderson assured us that the Elders’ piso was five minutes away so we grabbed our buckets, tools and boxes and headed up the street – we couldn’t have driven there in five minutes much less walk and it was raining all the time we walked. With a box in each hand and another under my arm I could barely hang onto my umbrella let alone use it to shield me from falling water. But we finally arrived and they showed us thru the place assuring us they’d worked pretty hard to get it cleaned up. I’m glad we didn’t get to see it prior to their work – the place was so cluttered we couldn’t really see any dirt. They’d had a water pipe in the wall rupture and soak the wall board in the main hall and a living room wall opposite it – lots of mold growing there. We send out instructions every 6-weeks telling the missionaries how to kill mold so I instructed him to get a spray bottle and get to work on it right away. He did and in 20-30 minutes, nearly all the dark spots were gone. On the living room wall the mold was even worse and we moved a wall unit to unveil still more so they treated it and promised to stay on it until it’s cleaned up. As is pretty common, the doors were off the closet unit and standing against the wall – most of the screw holes for hinges were stripped out. We did repairs to the holes and I moved a pair of doors to check for problems there – they were okay but the dirt & lint behind them was pretty deep. I got a broom and swept that bedroom without moving the beds to show them a sample of what they’d missed – the dustpan was almost full. Flo and two elders worked in the kitchen for the more than three hours we were there so the kitchen is clean and would be a pleasant place to be if they had more than a 5-watt globe in the light – most of the piso is like being in a cave (until we urge them to do so, none of the missionaries seems willing to spend 50-cents to buy a light bulb). The other elder and I did more cleaning and repairing thru the piso but there is still a lot of work to do to get it clean and orderly. We took our cleaning stuff to the car, had lunch at a restaurant and made the two hour drive home. Sunday/Monday we go to Ponferrada, Benavente and León so we spend one night on the road and half expect a nightmare in León.
After we got home Monday and finished some work we had to get done in the office we went to see our friend Marcelo in the fruit stand close to us. We were too late and the business has been taken over by another, younger man and (we think) his wife. We visited (I use the term loosely) for a few minutes and went back Friday to buy some things – they were patient and helpful to us.
In a phone conversation we proposed to the Cleggs that, as they close the mission and specifically the office, that they let us stay here thru July and then use one of the cars to help us move to Barcelona and it was favorably received. But that was before Pte Clegg spent Friday & Saturday in Germany with the Area Presidency and other mission presidents to try to define a plan to get the logistics of the mission changes worked out. We haven’t had a chance to talk with him so it’ll be at least Tuesday before we can talk with him about it.
Flo spent some time this week working on the blog – she ran into some problem that left us unknowing as to whether or not the changes actually are there or not. If they’re not there or someone can’t fix the problems for her I guess she’ll have to redo the additions – I’m worthless at trying to help her. We still have periods of slack time but, for the most part, we have plenty to do and hope what we do helps others. It appears, by the number of investigators with baptism dates, that the missionaries still are working hard and being effective. I think it’ll take a little while to know whether the impending changes affect the dedication that the missionaries have had.
That’s all I think of to report this week. It’s apparent to me that Haiti and the Haiti rescuers need the gospel – just like the rest of the world. We love you all very much, appreciate your love & support for us and pray for God’s choicest blessings to always be with you. Love, E&H Belnap