Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 21, 2010 - Report from Delwyn

Dear family & friends,
This is edition nine of our monthly newsletters – we’re at the halfway point and still having new experiences and learning new things. The language we’d hoped to have good capability in by now is still one of those areas where we’re learning – it’s a struggle for both of us. Thanks to those of you who’ve taken time to write to us during the last month – we appreciate and enjoy them a lot.
Unless we’re assigned a similar duty when we move to Barcelona, we’ve completed the chapter on cleaning pisos thru our mission. And as we neared the finish we got a little better control of our schedule and were able to see some attractions along the routes we were driving and the missionaries were preparing better for our visits so it was more enjoyable. For our final piso-cleaning trip, Elder Hansen was driving us to Avilés and, about two-thirds of the way there, we were stopped at a police road-trap and given a citation for not having a current ITV inspection sticker & stamp for the car. I’d thought that we had all the vehicles current so I had no explanation for why our documentation in the car didn’t reflect that. Some might recall that we took our little car last fall to a station and had the inspection done and in my communication with the vehicle coordinator (Miguel) then, I’d gotten an understanding that everything was current. When we got back to the mission offices I did research thru the notes & records and sent email to Miguel (he was out for a 5-day holiday) and came to the conclusion that the car had never been inspected. The citation gave us 10 days to get it inspected so, per an appointment, we took our piso-tour car to get the ITV inspection done. I wasn’t driving so I’m unwilling to shoulder total responsibility for getting us lost on the way but I was trying to navigate and couldn’t figure out where to tell the Elder to drive. After recognizing that we had to be lost we again called the station, they gave us better instructions this time and we found the shop. This was a different shop than we’d been to before but I expected the same kind of testing. After checking in at the office we got into our assigned line and it didn’t take long to establish that we were in the slowest moving line of three. We spent an hour creeping forward until our turn came and they began the testing. For me there were a couple of noticeable differences in the test – they didn’t shake this car nearly as violently as they’d shaken our car last fall. But they went thru the same checks (even Elder Holmes had to ask a couple of times what the tester was asking for – the daily missionary vocabulary doesn’t include fog lights and ‘punto muerto’) and their final check wasn’t something we’d seen before. We drove over an open pit below the floor, the tester went down a flight of stairs and inspected the car from below. After a couple of minutes he called Elder Holmes down the stairs and showed him a significant bulge on the inside sidewall of a front tire. Because of that, we failed the test and were given a month to correct the problem and return for signoff. We got the front tires replaced, returned to the test station and got our stamps and sticker.
When we’d finished cleaning the pisos in Avilés, Oviedo and Gijón (we worked till 10:30 one night so we’d have some time the next day), we decided to drive to Covadonga and Los Lagos to see the sights. Our GPS took us on the shortest route which turned out to be a very winding road up and down the mountain range between the freeway and the site – we should have chosen the fast route. Covadonga (apparently named after someone who’d had a visitation of Mary) has a cathedral on a hill and a small chapel built into the mouth of a cave with a memorial built outside the chapel. Tourists are not allowed in the chapel but can visit the memorial (access either thru a cave or up a steep stairway) and take pictures from a short distance away. I continue to be amazed by the construction of these elaborate buildings, some in remote areas like that one, that has been done with manual labor and hand tools. The entire area is in a steep mountain valley and is a very popular tourist spot – there’s even bus service to it. We drove from there further up into mountains to see a couple of glacial lakes sitting near the tops of the mountain range. We drove past Lake Ercina and the road ended at a small lake where a trail leading to Lake Enol begins – we walked partway out the trail but it was rainy and we had neither time nor energy to hike to the lake. Flo has put pictures and some info on the blog if you have interest in seeing it (
Our daughter had sent some tax documents that I needed to prepare my income tax return (a mere 12 days between postmark and delivery) so one evening I spent about 4 hours working thru our tax returns (used TurboTax Online). There didn’t seem to be any convenient place to stop so I kept plugging along until I was done. One of the most difficult problems I had was trying to fix an obvious error but couldn’t figure out how to get back to the place where I’d misread the question and entered the wrong data – it could be evidence of ‘you get what you pay for’. Our circumstances – old, low-income, missionaries – resulted in a relatively low income tax liability and the bottom line said the Feds owe us some money. And we look so poor on the state return we might be eligible for county or state assistance in Arizona. If I hadn’t just finished paying my property taxes to the county, I might feel a little guilty about doing my share to support government employees
In one of our weekly grocery shopping trips, Flo’s debit card was rejected when she tried to check out at Makro so she had some email exchanges with our credit union and they could find no reason for that. She began wondering if she’d gotten her card mixed up with one she has on my account that had been terminated because of a Visa report that the data might have been compromised. We don’t have records here that would tell us which account any of the cards are assigned to so she made a trial cash withdrawal using what she thought was her card and it gave her the money - she cut up the card that had been rejected. The next day I discovered that the cash withdrawal had come out of my credit union savings account even though her request had been from checking. It took more email exchanges to learn that, in addition to the cards that had been blocked and replaced on my account, they’d also replaced the debit card on Flo’s account. There are one or two questions that we didn’t get answered but we don’t have to go thru the hassle of getting a replacement for the card the landfill now owns.
Via the internet we got to see live all the sessions of General Conference except Priesthood meeting. I went to the office Sunday morning and watched a recorded version of that – it was a great conference. It’s easy for me to see why these men have been called to the assignments that they have – they’re talented teachers.
One afternoon this month when only Flo and I were in the offices, a member called and asked to talk to the missionaries. After his second call I conveyed (we don’t really talk in the usual sense of the word) that we’d ask the missionaries to call as soon as they returned. When they did come back to the office we asked them to call, they did and the member told them that, somewhat circuitously, they been told that ‘two Mormons’ had been hit in the street by a car in San Sebastián and were hospitalized in critical condition. Except for missionaries, who would ever be identified as ‘two Mormons’? We began trying to call the elders there but got no response – no busy signal, no answer, no drop to message mode – so we began to be worried. We called members of the stake presidency for the bishop’s phone number, talked to him, talked to their district leader (who’s in Pamplona) and continued to call the elders’ phone. After an hour or so of frantically trying to get information, the San Se elders called the office – they were okay. They’d been in a visit with the phone turned off and, when they left the visit, had 26 missed calls on their phone – everyone from Pte Clegg to most of the missionaries who’d been told of the situation. The bishop had called the police and been told they had no reports of car-pedestrian accidents that day so we may have been set up by someone.
Pte Clegg had been in and out of the office a lot last week as he prepared to take the written tests for a Spain driving license. He’d signed up in a nearby driving school, had lots of materials to study and they highly recommended to him that he come to take practice tests before taking the test for credit. So he’d been going in nearly every day to take practice tests and says he’s been doing quite well on the practices. One day when he’d gone to take a practice test, we got a call from UPS telling us they had a delivery for him but wanted to confirm that he would pay the duty of 92€ when they delivered the package. Since the package was addressed to him personally, Flo wasn’t willing to commit to the duty payment and we finally got a message to Pte on the issue. At a break, he came into the office, identified the package as 6 short-sleeved white shirts they’d bought on the internet in preparation for their move to Málaga where they apparently have Phoenix-like temperatures in the summertime. Having already paid for the shirts, they were between a rock and a hard place so he made arrangements to pay the duty. I don’t know what the shirts cost but that much duty adds between $20-25 to the cost of each shirt – be careful in Spain what you order off the internet!
Once again, that’s probably enough report for a month. We appreciate your love and friendship, wish each of you the very best and are very happy to hear from any of you. Hope all’s well. Love, E&H Belnap

Friday, April 16, 2010

Our missionaries leaving

Power. This might not look like too much, but here are some of the best Elders you would ever want on a mission. From left: Elder Corbridge, Elder Rowley, Elder Moore, Elder Webb, Elder Stevens and Elder B. Hanson. Elder Corbridge and Moore were the two traveling Elders this past 6 weeks. They were teaching all the Elders great ways to contact people. In fact, Elder Corbridge wanted to do contacts all night long the night before he left. President said the Holy Ghost went to bed at midnight. I think they ended up contacting until then. We are very sad to lose these missionaries, but realize this is just the beginning of a great life for each of them. My sweet Hermana Rudder. We bonded from the first. Her Grandfather was President Washburn of the Phoenix Mission when Jace was an Elder in Phoenix.
Two of our Spain Hermanas ready to go home: Hermana Calderon and Hermana Sanchez. Hermana Calderon's Father works in the Madrid Temple. We would talk on the phone once in a while.
Hermana Miskin. What a darling missionary. We got to know each other while she was in Bilbao.
Here they all are for their final picture with President and Hermana Clegg. This was a very tender moment for them.
The final meal in the Mission Home for these missionaries. We realized we didn't have a dessert for this meal, so I made some Strawberry Short Cake. It was mighty fine if I say so myself. Probably my most favorite dessert. Strawberries are in season now, so why not?

If you remember the Hermana that could touch her nose with her tongue. Here she is again, Hermana Rudder. She is fun in everything she does. I love her.
I took this picture from the missionary lookout. You are viewing Las Arenas from on top of the lookout. This is where we live. Can't see our place because it is on the left behind the hill. But I think you would appreciate seeing Las Arenas.
On the lookout there is a play area. They love to get on the things and have fun. Here are my Hermanas. For one of the last times.
This is Elder Webb. He is from Gilbert, AZ. He is personality plus. We love to be around him. Also, one great missionary. He is supposed to call Chad when he gets home, for me.

The last line up. How very sad to see so many leave at once. This is their last memory of the Spain Bilbao Mission. That is why President likes to take them up here on the mountain.

A picture of Bilbao. Bilbao is just over the mountain from Las Arenas. You can see a park in the middle on the right. We have walked across that many of times. That is another favorite place for the people to do their daily walk. If you look close, right in the middle there is a white road. The high brown building right left of it, is where the Bilbao Hermanas live.
Another picture of Bilbao. In the middle bottom you can see one of the famous bridges here in Spain. They have very interesting bridges. It is red. To the right of the bridge is the famous Guggenheim Museum. We went there with Russ and Jen Perkins while they were here.
The day before all the Missionaries leave, President interviews each one. It was lunch time, so as always, we eat. Famous past time here. Thus, the weight gain. From left: Elders B Hanson, C. Hansen, & Webb. The Hermanas, Rudder and Miskin.
Elder Holmes our Financial Secretary getting his plate ready. Also Elder Stevens, Elder Rowley and Elder Hansen, our Executive Sec. with the big smile.
You have heard me mention the Pan here in Spain. These pieces have been cut in 3rds so you can tell how long they are. The Elders love to make sandwiches out of them. I'm not sure who's plate you can see. But he is getting it loaded up. Hermana Calderon in the back watching the Elders.
They are all hanging out waiting their turn for their interview with the President. Left: Harmana Sanchez, Elder Holmes hiding. Elders Rowley and B. Hanson. Sitting: Elder C. Hansen and crazy Elder Webb. Elder Stevens and Hermana Miskin and Rudder. The office was not quiet that day. Loved it and took out my hearing aids.
Mean while, Delwyn in his office working as usual. Does this remind you of home? Always working.
Monday the 12th Elder Moores father came in and surprised him. So the Elders made lunch for most everyone. Left: Elders Dredge and Woods our Assistance. Hermana Roerig who has been with Hermana Clegg because she can't walk on her foot much because of Tendinitis. Then our own Elder C. Hansen.

The other table had President Clegg, Hermana Clegg, Elder Corbridge and Elder Moore our Traveling Trainers, then Br. Moore. We went home for our lunch.
Another Day: We had another going away breakfast, which we have every transfer. We didn't lose anyone from the office, but we were losing our Traveling Elders. So anything for a good time to eat. Left: Elder Holmes, Elder Corbridge, and President. We were having Breakfast Burritos.
Elder Moore and Elder Woods getting ready to enjoy.
Everyone was hungry because they had to clean all the mission cars before they could eat. They were all so dirty. We don't have a good place to clean them here. So we took advantage of the Mission Home with all the cars. You can see the filling for the burritos.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Aviles cleaning and trip home

Looks like I got my pictures backwards. But that's ok because I'll just tell you what they are. On our way home we went by Covadonga. This is a cathedral up in the high mountains here in Spain. Lots of windy roads getting there. Thought I'd lose my lunch. But I was just fine.
This first picture is Lago de la Ercina (Lago is lake) on the mountain. It seems pretty small to me, but maybe they don't have a lot of lakes here or just because it is up high in the mountain.
Here is Lago Enol. It is a little bigger and a very pretty drive.
Here is the Covadonga Cathedral on the mountain. It was raining and a bit cold. Delwyn looks like he is freezing.
Our sweet guides on all our trips lately, Elder Hansen and Elder Holmes in front of the Covadonga Chapel that is across from the Covadonga Cathedral. They take such good care of us. To get up to this little chapel, you have to walk through kinds of a cave and they won't let you take pictures or talk. We took these from the outside.
This is a fountain of good luck. One lady went down there and drank from every spout that was on it. There are about 10 of them.. I guess she wanted some good luck. It is right under the little chapel.
This is a close up of the little chapel.
Across the street from it.
Here is St. Pelavo. Someone told me they build these cathedrals where ever a St. sees the Holly Mary. I'm not sure. Or they become a St. after they see her. I wish I knew my history better.
HHere is the Covadonga Cathedral from the front. We went inside and walked around a bit. It was really cold. Maybe in the summer it would be warmer.
I like this view better. You can see the sides and it is very pretty and interesting. Not as much detail as some that we have seen.
On our trip up, we took this gorgeous view.
About a fourth the way up the mountain we looked at this beautiful view looking toward the ocean. There is a small Pueblo on the top left. (Small town)
We are in Aviles cleaning Elder Jackson and Elder Southwick's piso. On our walk there, I saw this building. I really think it was pretty. Not all building are this pretty. Lots of detail.
We ate at McDonalds again. This is a family that met us for lunch so they could see Elder Holmes. They really love him. What a great family. The girl between Me and Delwyn is Panky. She is 26 and she wants to come to the States and met Travis. There just aren't many men here that are very active. A lot more women. Certainly not enough to go around. Therefore, they marry out of the Church and quite a few go inactive. We need more Priesthood here in Spain.
Here we are in McDonalds. Elder Southwick, Panky, Elders Holmes and Hansen. The next two are Panky's little sisters. 1st on is Pierina and the next is Joselyn. Mari Sol is their mother. Elder Jackson and me. That is one bad picture.

Madrid Temple

I didn't realize I hadn't put the Madrid Temple on our blog. So I am repenting and putting it on now. Went to Madrid from Provo to do residency papers. We pretty much slept the first day and the second day we did our papers. The above picture if from our window where we stayed. This is the garden right next to the temple. It is beautiful like all the other gardens by the temples. All the walk ways and flower beds are made of white marble. Every day or so, the missionaries that are in the CCM or MTC in Madrid have to clean them. It is a big job. They have a lot of pigeons here, also. They do this for their service project. How would you like that job?

Here is the beautiful Madrid Temple. With the small garden in the front of it. We went to the temple the first part of March, but it rained all the time we were there. The bus we were on, drove us to the parking lot under the CCM and we got out and walked over to the temple. After it was over, we had to hurry fast to get on the bus before it left. So no time for pictures and these pictures were better any way because the sun was out and it was beautiful.

This is the building that houses the CCM and the Temple President and his wife. The CCM President and his wife. Plus many other couples that are there in the temple and CCM. The missionaries are also housed here. This is where we got to stay while we were there doing our residency things. If I remember right, we were on the 4th floor. The CCM take up 2 floors.