Friday, March 26, 2010

March 21, 2010 - from Delwyn

21 March 2010 Dear family & friends,
I perceive that the time is passing quickly because it seems like only a few days ago that I sat down to write my last letter to you. And from the frequency of responses we receive, it’s apparent that the same swift passage of time affects most of you. Thanks so much to those of you who take time to send us news and thoughts from your world.
As was the case for our last letter, much of our time and focus has been on our project of visiting, cleaning and repairing in each of the pisos in our mission. To date, we’ve been to 26 of the 30 pisos and, overall, the experience has been good. The best part has been to have the opportunity to meet and get acquainted with all the missionaries, some of whom had never been thru the offices in the months we’ve been here so we’d not had an opportunity to meet them let alone get acquainted. The pisos in the coastal cities in the west end of our mission meant trips where we’d drive to one city Sunday afternoon/evening (5 to 6.5 hours of driving), stay in a hotel that night, clean a couple of pisos on Monday, stay in another city Monday night, clean two more pisos Tuesday and drive home – sometimes, about midnight. Virtually all the missionaries have been fun to work with, have been very cooperative in helping and have indicated they didn’t know how much cleaning needed to be done, especially in the kitchens. Pte Clegg has told us the missionaries have been very appreciative and have asked if they could have us live with them to help keep things clean – guess there are a couple of ways that could be taken. For each of the pisos we visit, I call in advance to ask if there are things that need to be fixed so I can try to prepare to make repairs if possible. Some things are beyond both my abilities and willingness to try but we’ve been able to make a lot of toilets work, repair heating system connections and valves, fix some Persianas and repair a lot of stripped out screw holes for door hinges. We’ve made a few electrical repairs but my experience and the tools I have to work with make me rather reluctant to do much with 240V terminating at my fingertips – call the electrician! We’ve seen water damage to both tile & wood floors – both from roof leaks and floods – and quite a bit of damage to walls and ceilings from leaking water. The mystery to me is why the landlords won’t go to the pisos and make repairs in a timely manner to protect their investments. We have some who have been responsive, others who take a very long time to respond and a third group that says they’ll do something but never get it done.
For each of the cleaning adventures we’ve taken one or more of the secretaries from the office and on our trip to Ferrol/La Coruña/Santiago, we took Elder Holmes from Littleton, CO. Elder Holmes drove us to Ferrol and entertained as we went. We’d decided to take the northern route (just because it’s 150KM shorter than the southern route) which parallels the coast line – on the map it looks like freeway almost all the way but there are large sections that were closed so we were on secondary roads. It came up that I’m from Idaho and Elder Holmes had a companion whose family has a large dairy operation someplace in Idaho where they milk cows nearly 24-7. Flo asked him how many times they milked a cow each day and he responded ‘it depends’. I asked what it depended on and he replied that he wasn’t sure, maybe only the females get milked twice a day – I just couldn’t stop laughing (silently, or near so – of course). After a little thought he didn’t want to talk about milking cows anymore. But then we were off on a discussion about genetic altering of corn, what constitutes a corn seed and how corn pollinates - it was a lot of fun. In Santiago we wanted very much to visit the famous cathedral – I’ve described something of the trails the come from near & far to lead people to visit the place named as the site of St. James burial. We didn’t have much time to visit but we were able to take a few pictures and see some of the surroundings before leaving to make the long drive home. I just can’t get over how they were able to build such ornate, intricate yet massive structures in so many of the cities here in Spain without any of the modern day tools we have to work with.
Early this month we were able to make the trip to the Madrid temple with members of our Las Arenas branch and some from Bilbao. On Friday evening we didn’t go to bed – just tried to get ready to start Saturday shortly after midnight. We were ready and left about 12:45 to walk to the bus stop, left about 1:00 for a short drive to Bilbao where we picked up 25 or so from that ward and headed for Madrid. I was sleeping when the bus made a stop somewhere for a half hour break – it was a hostel where there were trucks everywhere we looked. Most of our group got off the bus for the restrooms and snacks but Flo & I just tried to stay warm in the bus – from there it was another 1.5 hours to the temple. There were 2-4” of snow on the ground outside the city and the parked cars had snow covering in town but the snow (which continued to fall) was melting on the ground. We were led to a cafeteria area inside the complex housing the CCM, we ate some of what we’d brought for breakfast, left the rest in a refrigerator and walked the short distance to the temple. We got clothing, went to dressing rooms and, while Flo prepared for the 8:00 session, I accepted a family name from a patron there and someone took me to the initiatory area. They had me dress for initiatory work then discovered the name I had was initiatory complete so they had me spend an hour doing initiatory work. As I waited for the 9:00 session to begin, a young man sat next to me and introduced himself as Elder Chávez – he’d served in our mission and been released in December. I’d only met him as he went thru the offices at his release so I didn’t recognize him but we had a nice quiet conversation as we waited. I used the headset with one ear on and one off so I could hear the Spanish and English – I enjoyed it. But when we finished at 11:00 I had no idea where Flo was or what her plans for the afternoon were. I conveyed greetings from Pte Clegg to temple Pte Garry Moore and from Gary Lines to Sister Moore, talked to others in the waiting area who also wondered where their spouses were (some had been involved with our youth doing baptisms) and shortly after noon Flo appeared – she’d attended two overflow sessions. We had lunch in the cafeteria, attended the 2:00 session (apparently English speaking temple workers weren’t in abundance that day – we did our part in English, they did their part in Spanish) and went about trying to get our food from the refrigerator. On weekends, it takes a key to operate the elevator and we could not find a way to walk stairs or open the right doors to get us there. Finally, Elder Ford (short term temple worker) recognized our plight and used his key to get us where we needed to be to access the refrigerator – the bus left for home at 5:00. We had one stop at Hotel Alisa about 7:00 (we got off the bus to examine the souvenirs), another in Bilbao and were in Las Arenas just after 10:00 – we didn’t dally in getting home and in bed.
There’ve not been many new developments for us in making the transition to the Barcelona Mission at the end of July. (BTW Weezy, how’d you swing this deal?) We’d discussed with Pte Clegg the possibility of using one of the mission cars to help us move our piso content and, in a phone conversation with the vehicle coordinator for Spain, I asked him if that might be possible. He asked me to send an email with the request and the answer came back that Pte Clegg would make that decision – Pte Clegg told us to plan on it. Now we have to figure out how to get a place in Barcelona to move to but we’ve still got over four months to work out something.
Most of the work in the offices has become fairly routine for us and last Saturday we had opportunity to take a little trip to see some sights within an hour’s drive of here. Flo had a meeting until shortly after noon then we packed some lunch and, together with Elders Holmes & Hansen, went into Basque country. We drove thru Bakio to the coastline, parked the car and walked some very steep trails to visit a ‘chapel on the rock’ (San Juan de Gaztelugatxe). A large rock sticks up out of the ocean with a narrow ridge of rock leading from the mainland to the rock. They’ve built road down to the shoreline (but have the road closed to the public) and a rock pathway complete with walls along each side which crosses from shore to rock and climbs up to the chapel. It’s a small chapel with the interior closed to the public (we were told it’s for rent for weddings), has a bell with the rope accessible from the outside and has a small rock shelter nearby. We took a bunch of pictures so I’m sure some will make it to the blog for you to see. We went back down and up to the car – my guess is it’s only about a mile each way but the steepness of the trails makes it a real workout to get there and back. Whoever teaches trail-building to the Spaniards needs to become familiar with the term switchback. We drove to Bermeo and to Mundako - which is supposed to have one of the longest surf curls in the world – where we ate our lunch. The waves weren’t very large or long while we were there but it was interesting to see the wind surfers across the bay from us. We drove from there to Gernika-Lumo where we visited the stump of a famous tree. If I understand the story correctly, during WW-2 there was unrest among the Basques toward Gen. Franco. He secretly invited Hitler to bomb Gernika, the Germans obliged and, in the end, only a single tree was left alive in the town. The tree died in 2005 so there’s only a stump that remains (it’s encircled by pillars now and covered with a roof) but they’ve planted a new tree to keep alive the memory. A museum and city chambers sit at the site and has some exhibits and descriptions, some beautiful stained glass windows and is located next to a convent and well maintained park – it was an interesting visit for us. We drove home and, in just a few short minutes, were able to get all the body parts out of the car and up our piso elevator where we collapsed on the couches.
I’m thinking that’s enough report for this month. We appreciate your love and friendship, wish each of you the very best and wish more of you would send reports to us. Hope all’s well.
Love, E&H Belnap

Our new missionaries

We are excited to receive 3 great missionaries. They are all from Spain, so they didn't have to spend to much time in the CCM or the MTC here in Spain. Their name are: Elder Bajana, Hermana Marin, and Hermana Gonzales. They were really excited to get in the field.
Elder Ashby is no longer in the office. So Elder Bajana is his new companion. Elder Bajana will be happy to learn everything that Elder Ashby is ready to give him. He has a lot of experience and is a great missionary
We needed a picture of Elder Ashby before he left us.
Elder Holmes has this great tripot and timer, however, when he came running back, he tried to fall off the mountain right here. But we saved him. All is great and well.
Another pose of the four of us over the cove on the ocean.
We are on our way back down the mountain and Elder Holmes go a great picture of us.
We are almost all the way down. Then we had to climb up another mountain to get to our car. We got our exercise that day. I need to do that every day and it would be great.
We are almost to the top. Elder Hansen parked the car clear to the end of the parking area. But I made it. I had to give him a bad time.

Sigh seeing with Elders Holmes and C. Hansen

Last Saturday, our Office Secretaries invited us to go with them to see some sights around close here in Spain. Our first stop was at the Chapel of San Juan de Gastelugatxe. Or the Chapel on the Rock is what the Missionaries all call it. It was no short walk but very fun.
This is a picture of a cove by the Chapel that we walked by. There are so many pretty places here. How grateful we are that the missionaries take such good care of us.
We are starting our walk to the Chapel on the Rock.
If you look close, you can see the stairs up to the Chapel. Delwyn said they need to learn what switch backs are for. It was a really steep climb. I made it without any problems.
I took this picture to show you how the water has formed these rocks. You can't see very well, but the rocks have been formed with layers. Kind of a slate looking thing. It was very interesting. May be if you make it bigger you can see what I am talking about.
Here are our great Elders. Elder Holmes in the blue and Elder C. Hansen on the left. You can see the trail a little from this view. That is where we had just come from.
This is a better view of the trail. It doesn't look very steep, but it was. Especially after you crossed the part that looks like a bridge. Then the climb really started.
We made it to the top. The wind was really blowing hard up there. This was a quick picture of Delwyn on the top.
You can't see the bell on the top, but I am pulling the rope and ringing the bell. I guess you can rent this little chapel out for weddings. I don't know how many guests would appreciate the climb up to the chapel. But here they either dress very formal or not at all for that kind of a thing. But mostly they dress very formal. I sure wouldn't want to climb in nice shoes.
Another picture just off to the side.
They have a picture of the man that built the Chapel. San Juan Gaztelugatxe. That makes our names really easy.
Our next stop was Mundaka. They do a lot of surfing here. This is known for the long curl wave in the ocean by the beach there. In the back if you look really close you can see them doing wind surfing. Also, someone was fishing. When we do our nightly walk, people are always fishing. We've even seen a couple fish brought in.
Our last stop was Guernica. The Basque spell it Gernika. This is a very famous spot here in Spain. Franco allowed Hitler to practice bombing here because he wanted to solve the Basque problem they were having. Sweet man don't you think. The tree you see in the cage is the only living thing that was left after it was all over. It died a few years back so they took the tree and put it here to preserve it and they planted another in its place to keep the memory open.
We have to get our great Elders in front of the famous tree. Elders, Hansen and Holmes.
They build this museum here with many beautiful glass windows telling the story of what happened. It looks like a government building
This looks kinda like where the important people sat during their meetings.
Here is the ceiling. Huge glass window. See the tree in the back. That tree is very special here.
This is a very pretty office in one of the rooms. I'd like to have one in my house like this.
We took this picture to show you some of the trees here. This is right outside of the museum, but they have them all over down here. They prune them so they are hooked together. It is one continues tree, but many trees together.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Office, Stake Conference Trip

Our busy Secretaries, Elder Hansen noticed I was taking pictures, so he gave me a big smile. Elder Anderson is busy on the phone and Elder Holmes on the other phone.
Here is Elder Holmes looking on the computer. They are always busy. I tell them to give me things to do when I'm not busy. They do when I can do it. So much is on the phone speaking Spanish.
Here is Dad hard working. His nice chair broke right after we got here so he just gets a plan old chair. But he never complains.
This is one of two real Chapels in our Mission. The other one is in Gigon. This is a picture of most of the members in our Branch in Las Arenas. The man in the front on the right is President Castillon. We are behind him on the right. The Secretaries are right behind us. The Sister standing behing our President is Loly. She taught me how to make Paella. It is a very truditional dish here in Spain. The one with shrimp with eyes looking at you plus their legs still on. With shell fish, chicken and rice. It is really good. Dad doesn't like the fish looking at him when he is eating. But it is really a pretty dish.
I wanted a picture of the Chapel from a distance.
Hi Del. We are all getting ready to get on the bus to head home.
Her are two of my mutual girls. The one on the left is Melissa and the one on the right is Jocelyn. Not the right spelling. Paula is in the middle. She is older. Paula would love to got to school at BYU. The darling little girl is Naiyala. Her dad was baptized right after we got here. He is on past blogs. His name is Ronald.
Here we are. Jenny is sneeking in behind us.
Here is Jenny. She is the Activities Chairman. She has asked me to make the refreshments for the Rama parties at the end of each month. She is really a nice lady. They have 5 children and her husband is 1st Counselor in the Branch Presidency.
We are on our way home. More pretty senery.
Not sure what I was taking this picture for. May by just the trees. Who knows
Wouldn't this be a pretty place to live? The homes are way different than ours.

Santander and Sansebastian Trip

This is a picture of Elder Holmes on the right, Elder C. Hansen, the tall one and me and Delwyn at the very front of the entrance to the Christ Statue. I'll tell you more latter. I got this picture from Elder Holmes after I had entered my pictures. We were tired after hiking for about an hour. But it was sure fun and worth the work. It was such a perfect day for hiking.
On our trip to Madrid to the temple, we stopped on our way home at this hotel so everyone including the driver could have a break. I had to get a picture of it just for Alisa. It was dark, so you can't see much except the name.
Here is the picture of the Hotel Alisa, If you make this bigger, you can see the name better. But, Alisa, I did this just for you. Our family will appreciate it. Now you know for sure your name is Spanish.
Fun picture of the group at our Bilbao Zone Conference. We were finished and tired.
This missionaries are in the Bilbao District. Elders B. Hanson, Roldan, the Zone leaders, Harmana Patten, Sandoval and Elders Cepeda and Araya.
Here we are in the Las Arenas District: Elder Woods, Ashby, Delwyn, Flo, Elder Dredge our Assistance, Elder Ashby will be leaving us this next week, and Elder Holmes our Financial Secretary and Elder C. Hansen our (Show Man) Secretary. I'm not sure what that means. But that is what he said was his title. He actually does a lot with the residency cards, plus much more. They both work really hard and do such a great job.
Of Course, I have to get the Hermanas: Sandoval, Patten, Belnap, Clegg, Johns and Miskin. They are my sweethearts.
We are here on our Trip to Santander. We cleaned 2 pisos there. But I saw this flag of Spain and I needed a picture of it. The wind was blowing great so you can see the flag. This place is called Magdalena because that mean muffin. The land is a little peninsula that look like a muffin. They have many fun things on it.

Here are the seals. They were having a lot of fun. When every they would jump out, I'd try to get a picture, but it never worked. But I got all five of them in one picture here.
These 3 ships were something but we weren't sure so we called them the Pinta, Nina and the Santa Maria. Don't quote me on this. We were having fun.

Just a pretty picture of the ocean. It was pretty windy so there were some nice waves.

By the 3 sail boats, there was a Spanish House Boat. I'm sure it was a few years old though. Maybe 100 plus years. Pretty quaint.
As we climbed to the top of the hill we found this gorgeous Castle where the King of Spain and his family lived many years ago. I don't know what is in it now. This is the back of it. This must be the servants entrance.
The front, isn't this beautiful. I would have loved to know the history of this. This is another draw back in not knowing the language. At least they keep this looking very pretty. We could house all our family and their families and never see each other for a week.
Just off the coast there on the hill.
As we were driving home, we saw this light house so we had to get a picture of us in front of it.

Now we are in San Sebastian. We are only about 25 miles from France. This is a very beautiful Cathedral in San Sebastian. There is a parking garage under it, so we see it every time we go to San Sebastian. The parking here in Spain is next to nothing. So we take advantage of what ever parking we can find.
The famous Christ Statue in San Sebastian. This was a fun hike to the top. I did get my exercise that day. Which I needed.
San Sebastian is one of the most pretty cities here in Spain. It also has more to see than most of them. A beach in town.
As we were walking, I took this picture of this island. How would you like to live up on the top of that. I think if that was my house, I'd have made it much bigger. Maybe after the island, that was all they could afford. Actually, I don't even know if that is a house or not.
We are now on the top by the Statue of Christ. I took this picture because I thought it was so pretty. If you look real close, you can see the Cathedral where we left the car and walked up here. Not a small hike for this old lady. In the very middle you can see a black pointy building. That is the Cathedral.
More pictures of San Sebastian. You can see the Cathedral better here. I think the city is so pretty and clean. More modern than some of the cities.

We climbed up through the bottom of the Statue in a Chapel. It is more of a museum now.
If you can read this, you will know what this is all about. Someday, I'll be able to read this and I'll know too. That is why I took this picture.
That plaque was by this cannon so I think maybe it had to do with it in some way. There were many cannons around so this must have been some battle ground or fort of some sort. Wish I could tell you more.
Just more pictures to show you the city

Looking over the ocean.
I had to get this picture of Delwyn.

Here we are in front at the top of the Statue of Christ.
As we were walking down, the Elders locked us up. I'm glad they were able to get us out of there.
After we had come down from the hill, we passed by this Catholic Chapel. I just wanted you to see the detail that they put in these old Building. I think they are so amazing.
The front door and more detail.