Hello again to our dear loved ones. Another week has slipped by and I’ll try to report how we spent it.
On the near-consuming piso project – we went Monday across the river to Sestau to work with the Elders there to get that piso ready to vacate. It’s 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, large living room and 2-3 times larger kitchen than ours is and probably costs less to rent but it’s a lot farther from the office and we’re in a lease or I’d consider moving. They’d worked very hard trying to get it cleaned but trying to determine what to keep, what to discard and what had to be moved wasn’t easy. We repaired beds, drawers, door hinging, moved a lot of furniture (makes me wonder why missionaries have to move so much stuff) and cleaned a lot of floors, walls, mop boards and kitchen cupboards. It was nearly 2:00 when we finished the work (about 4.5 hours of cleaning & fixing), the Secretaries dropped us off at our piso and left to get themselves ready to go to the office. I showered & dressed while Flo worked on dinner - we had roast pork, potatoes & gravy, corn and fruit salad, did the dishes and went to the office for the rest of the day (that’s when we finally got the letters sent). The wireless internet system in the office has been down all week so anyone needing to have internet access had to use one of the two Ethernet lines that bypass the firewall that protects the church computers from outside access or contamination making competition pretty keen sometimes. I was just relinquishing my claim to one of the lines when Heidi called on Skype and we talked only long enough to set up a call for later in the day. I tried to get thru my Monday work and then we called her about 6:00. Many of you know the great news she had to share – they’re expecting a baby next August – and by now, a good part of Spain knows as well.
Tuesday started the missionary transfer movement – Elder Strickland, who arrived in the mission office the day before we did last August, left for León and the office was buzzing all that day and the next with calls about tickets and a few problems encountered during travels. On Wednesday, we got up at 6:00, got ready and left just after 7:00 for Pamplona. We drove in the dark thru heavy rain for much of the way and, although it was fully light when we arrived, we hadn’t been able to see much of the scenery that we’d hoped to see going thru the mountain range. The new GPS worked well but the Elder had entered the street name wrong and we ended up at an address different than the piso. Via the telephone, we got that fixed and made it to the piso with our tools and cleaning stuff. The piso is next to a plaza that someone said is the place they hold the bulls during the ‘running of the bulls’ in the summertime. The Elders there had done an excellent job of cleaning their piso. There were a number of things that required some repair work – a broken table leg, broken slats in a bed frame (requires replacement) and a baseboard pulling off. While trying to nail the baseboard back in place I nailed my middle finger with the hammer so it’s a mixture of purple & black in color and has been pretty sore but is improving. One of the Elders there had finished his mission time so we took him (and enough luggage to make some airline profitable) to the bus station for the trip to the mission home for his final night in the mission then we drove about two hours to Burgos with an Elders’ piso and a Hermanas’ piso. The transfer included moving the Hermanas out of their piso to other cities, moving the Elders to that piso and vacating the Elders’ piso – the Hermanas had left last night. We found the apartment okay but finding a parking space was another matter. With Elders Hansen & Anderson checking parking garages on foot and the Elders in the piso watching from their 7th story piso, we circled the block several times until we found an open spot and got into it. The parking situation is so bad there, we were told that cars can double park with the first row at & pointed toward the sidewalk and a second row parked behind them parallel to the street. Those parked behind must, by law, leave the car in neutral with no brake set so that, if an inside car wants to get out, he can push the car(s) behind him out of the way and back out – we saw that happening. The elders had done a lot of cleaning – except for the kitchen – in the visible areas. So Flo went to work, with some help, in the kitchen and I worked on the other areas. There were 15-20 spots of sticky-putty on the living room wall, bypass doors off the closets, bed frame damage, un-cleaned stains on the floor and lots of dirty lint wherever I’d move something. The living room sofa & chairs are totally trashed – I do not know how furniture can get to that condition. Each piece had 12-18” of torn/missing fabric along the front that allowed the cushions to pop open (like a popcorn kernel) and someone had put a few strips of duct tape at intervals along the front to keep it from being worse. The elders there said it had been stored in an extra room and they’d just moved it into the living room because that’s where it belonged as we vacate the piso (it ‘belongs’ in a landfill) – that’ll have to be negotiated with the landlord. As we’ve seen before, keeping the Elders on task isn’t simple but we finally had everything but the kitchen as clean and orderly as we could get it so we focused on that. Flo says the accumulation of filth in the kitchen rivaled that of San Se but, after about 4.5 hours of hard work, it was fit for habitation again. We moved to the Hermanas’ piso and were pleasantly surprised to find it very clean – we checked on a couple of reported problems, it’s missing several light bulbs and there are messages on the mirrors for the incoming Elders. The Elders’ move-in made it difficult to move any furniture to see if there’s hidden stuff but we were very happy that we weren’t facing another four hour cleaning task. While we still were cleaning they’d picked up a missionary coming to Burgos, loaded all of Elder Holmes (coming to the office to train as financial secretary) stuff into our van and we finally were ready to leave for home – another trip in the dark but without rain. So our tour of the mission - as this was labeled - has given us neither time nor opportunity to see any of the interesting stuff – we hope it changes for the better.
The rest of our week has been a mixture of routine and other – we’ve been hampered by the lack of internet on our computer systems but have been able to get most of our internet stuff done during the time we had an Ethernet line. Elder Hansen called us Friday night to tell us they’d gotten a new piece of hardware that allowed them to get the system working again so we think next week will be better. On Tuesday we put a load of laundry in the washer, started it and left for the office. When we got home it was not running but it hadn’t washed the clothes and Flo couldn’t get it to start. Since we were gone Wednesday, we couldn’t get a repairman to look at it and, when we got home Wednesday night, I played a little with the button and it finished washing our batch of clothes. The Elders had called our landlord about the problem and Thursday, while we were home for mediodía, we got a call saying the repairman would be by in 15 minutes. He came, we tried to give him a sense of our experience thru the problem, he worked on it and explained (I’m pretty sure that’s what he was doing) what had failed and that we should call again if we had any more problem with it. It was working then and it worked okay on Saturday when we washed a load of clothes so we’re hoping it’s fixed – when you wash 2-3 times a week there’s a dependency on the equipment.
When the repairman left I went back to the office to work but Flo stayed home to make cinnamon rolls and potato salad for the mission council meetings tomorrow – she worked till about 11:00 on that. And because of those meetings, we were the only ones in the office Friday until about 4:30 when the meetings finished – then there was a lot of activity. After we’d cleaned our piso Saturday we drove to the nearby mall to do some shopping – mostly for things we’ve found we need to clean and repair pisos. I’m getting a little smarter about looking up the Spanish words for things I need but usually forget something and then it’s an adventure trying to communicate what I want and what a sales person responds with.
Our weather has been several degrees warmer this week but we’ve still had a lot of rain – I don’t think we got to walk a single night. Our reading of the D&C is progressing pretty well – we’re in the low 50’s – and we’re doing okay with our assignment to read the BM – I’m a little ahead of schedule and Flo is nearly 100 pages ahead of me. Between the time we spend reading scriptures and our Spanish study time, it puts a strain on old brains - there are times when we’re more mentally than physically tired.
In Sacrament meeting today, they asked me to offer the opening prayer (hey, I still need prep time; but I gave them something) and, as they began presenting people to be sustained, we expected Flo’s name to be presented per the call she’d received last week to serve as a counselor in the YW Presidency – it didn’t happen. So after the meeting we asked the branch president and he explained that the person being released had not come today so they didn’t make the change – probably next week. I scheduled times with missionaries in Bilbao to go thru a couple of pisos tomorrow and we had a fairly typical Sunday – I love our Sundays.
Guess that’s enough narrative for one week. Please keep the country free while we’re gone. We love you all very much, appreciate your love and support for us and pray for God’s choicest blessings to always be with you. Love, E&H Belnap