It’s been another fast week for us here – it’s warmed up a little and we’ve had a couple of days with very little rain during the day so we even got to take a walk one evening. I did a little searching with Google Earth to find our elevation – on the street at our piso it says we’re 7-meters, at the office we’re 15-meters and out at the mission home where we experienced the snow first hand, it’s 102-meters. With all that climbing necessary to get from our piso to the office twice a day, it’s no wonder we’re tired at night, huh?
The project to clean and repair stuff in the pisos of the mission appears to be taking on a life of its own. Hna Clegg has planned the secretaries into the crews and they’re all excited because they’ll get to visit (and maybe stay overnight in) cities where they’ve served as missionaries. We’ve had three secretaries (one in training) for the last six weeks and will have three for the next six weeks so, if we get into serious cleaning situations, we’ll have a little more manpower. On Wednesday Pte & Hna Clegg took Flo & me to a Chinese buffet for mediodía to discuss a proposed schedule (he describes it as an opportunity to tour the mission; when I tour I don’t want it to be in the dead of winter), the new travel secretary got involved that afternoon and proposed some major schedule changes and soon was calling missionaries telling them to have their pisos clean when we come (i.e. pass the Hna Belnap ‘white glove’ test) or they’d be sent home (hopefully that was just in fun). We went Tuesday to the piso here in Las Arenas that houses the Assistants and secretaries as our first inhabited piso. The visit had been planned so they’d spent a good amount of time the preceding Saturday trying to get their place ready for our visit and they’d done a pretty good job. Flo managed a small crew in the kitchen – the big job was cleaning the refrigerator - and got that looking good. I went thru the rest of the piso with Elders and we cleaned floors (that’s entire floors, not just the middle), walls, listed burned out lights, a toilet seat that must be replaced and some things in the bathrooms that have to be cleaned. The 7 of us worked pretty hard for a couple of hours and all agreed that it’s a much nicer place to live than it was. Next week we’ve got another piso close to us but across the river then a trip to cover three more – in Pamplona (bulls aren’t running now) and Burgos (we’re vacating a piso there) – and will tell you how that goes.
It’s transfer time again in our mission so this was the most exciting week for the missionaries – they got the telephone calls Thursday telling them where they’ll be and who new companions are. We have two missionaries going home and two of our best elders (one of whom extended his mission by 6-weeks to fill the assignment) are being given a special assignment to be ‘traveling trainers’. They’ll spend 2-3 days at a time in each city working with the missionaries to try to help them be more effective in their work – I guess it’s a bit like the zone leaders we had in my German mission who had a car and purported to work with the elders throughout the zone. Anyway it’ll be a busy week next week for some who have to get ready to move to a new city but have to thoroughly clean a piso before they go.
And it was another week of working issues with our translation system. After a couple of phone conversations with the church purchasing agent in Madrid, she found a source for the batteries we need and asked us to determine if there are problems other than the batteries, identify those headsets and she’ll take them for repair in the next few weeks. So I went thru each of the 20 headsets, cleaned the batteries where needed (several of them were badly corroded) and cleaned the terminals for the charger positions and finally got all but one (no battery in that one) to show light as if the battery were charging. I left it plugged in (per instructions) for the weekend to see if we can get a good charge on the batteries, determine which sets are functional with good batteries and proceed from there. If I get some of that stuff to work I may count it as a ‘confirmation’ if not a baptism.
We got the final car in our 5-car fleet cycled thru the dealer service shop for an annual maintenance inspection and service. Only Pte Clegg’s van gets enough miles on it each year to meet the mileage requirement for 15K-KM service intervals – the others we take for service as per the church policy for vehicle maintenance. And I assume it’s symptomatic of new bishops in our stake coming up to speed that they’ve sent, via the missionaries, requests for lists of the convert baptisms in their wards during the last year+. It hasn’t been too bad but I’ve had to go back thru records that I didn’t keep and find the names of those in a given area. I’m hoping it serves a good purpose and we can keep new converts progressing or re-activate them if they’d dropped off the radar screen.
Saturday we went out to the mission home for a farewell breakfast for Elder Strickland (Kearns Elder that Carla knows), had a nice meal around French toast, did some clean up and I went thru the offering of tools in their garage and a closet looking for help with repairs – it’s pretty grim. We then did a major shopping stop at Makro (mostly food) and to Carrefour where we got a new GPS system that we hope will guide us from home to pisos and back. We got our piso cleaned for the week, Flo baked a batch of bread and we studied and rested during what little time was left in the day. After our meeting block, our former branch president asked me if we’d like to come home with them for dinner today. Flo was with a branch counselor receiving a call to serve as 2nd counselor in the YW presidency so, when she came out, we had a very short discussion and accepted the invitation. It’s the same family that had invited us 2-3 months ago for paella so I was a little apprehensive that we might see more of those bug-eyed critters from the ocean. We rode the Metro to their stop, went to their 6th floor piso (the elevator installation has been completed so we didn’t have to walk this time), had vegetable soup, meatballs in a sauce that I liked very much and fresh fruit for course #3 – it was excellent. Since they speak virtually no English and the gift of tongues was not present, we spent most of the time trying to determine what the others were saying. When they spoke slowly (Hno Hidalgo has almost no teeth so he’s especially hard for us to understand) we got the gist of what they were saying (there were still some words that we don’t know and we’d get lost) and, with their help in guessing what we wanted to say, there were a lot of questions and answers – it was a delightful time for us. We came home to write letters and study then made some preparations for the cleaning trip tomorrow morning – we expect a busy week ahead.
We love each of you and truly want you to know how we appreciate your love and support. This work called life is not always easy but hopefully each of us gets enough of it done to qualify ourselves to return to our Father in Heaven. We pray for the Lord’s choicest blessings always to be with you.
Love, E&H Belnap