Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Going to see the evening lights

As we were walking, we saw this street with thousands of banners over it. Then we realized it was the opening game of Soccer here in Spain. Soccer is huge here. Even young kids are kicking the soccer ball around. They don't catch a ball with their hands, they use their feet and they are all very good at it.
A few weeks back I had a picture of the Arc of Triumph, but this is a better picture. This is where we watched the lights come on.
Before it got dark, this is what it looked like. See the walk way on the left, thousands of people must have walked, jogged, rode bikes, skate boards or whatever they wanted down this. It was fun to watch the people too.
It is getting darker and this is looking down at the Arc towards the city.
Looking the other way with the lights on. You can also see the moon. It was a full moon Saturday night.
Sunday, President and Hermana Hinckley invited us over to celebrate Hermana Hadley's birthday. We had fruit with 7up in it. It was really good. Elder Hadley had just had a really bad gull stone attack and she wanted something that he could eat. I thought it was great. We are in the Mission Home. Behind the President, you can see President and Sister Hinckley on the wall. The Mission Office is right under their place. The view out the window reminds me of Arizona.

Our missionaries and Archie our friend

Archie is a very good friend in the Ward. He is so good to the missionaries. He fed us last Saturday at the Church. No one has ever seen his piso that I know of. He fed us rice, chicken and the best dish of noodles I've ever tasted. For dessert he served cut up fruit with a sweet milk juice on it. I loved it. That would be a good dessert to serve with company.
Here is Archie and Elder Bower. Archie is quite a ham. Everyone loves him. He showed us an article in the Church News about him and all that he does for the missionaries. The article was many years old. He was a convert about 25 years ago. He is from the Philippines.

Our group. The back left: Elder Parry, (Spelled right) Elder Bawers, Hermana and Elder Lund, Archie on the left Hermana Hadley behind me. Elder Southwick, Elder Raben. Archie calls Elder Southwick, Elder Northwick.
We cleaned Hermana Oliphant and Hermana Roerig's piso. Hermana Oliphant is from Utah and Hermana Roerig is from Oregon. We helped spring clean their kitchen but everything else was really clean. The kitchen was too, it just needed cupboards, and other areas wiped down.
Two very cute and fun Elders, Elder Naseath and Elder Keller. Elder Naseath is from Texas but came out from California. Elder Keller is from Salt Lake. They are in Lleida. The had cleaned their piso really great. I was able to help them in the kitchen and Delwyn did some repairs for them.

Seu Vella of Lleida

Some of the History of the Cathedral. I believe it was built in 1714.
We drove up most of the way to this huge place. We weren't sure at first where we were going, but we saw it as we drove into Lleida. It is a big Cathedral that was taken over by the army and turned into barracks and what ever else they needed it for. They did not take care of it while they were there and they destroyed many things. This is the entrance to the Cathedral.

I made Delwyn and Hermana Lund turn around so I could take a picture of them as we were walking in.
Looking back to see Elder Lund entering into the grounds.
The place was massive. It is built on a hill and you can see all around when you are up there.

I guess that is why the army took it over.
This is the bell tower. We walked up to the top and it was very high. There was only stairs in a small area to climb and the higher you got the narrower the stairs got. Just before you got to the top, there was only room for one person. However, on our way down, we met people coming up and we had to share the space because you certainly didn't want to turn around and start over. It was around 250 steps to the top. That might not seem like much, but I can tell you, it is a lot. When we got down, my legs would shake every once in a while. We thought we wouldn't be able to walk the next day, but we weren't even stiff.
This is a smaller city but a very pretty one. There are many fruit orchards out in the country.
The Elders told us it is the fruit capital of Spain.
On the left side of the building, this was one of the entrances but it was all closed up.

Some of the history. I like this so I can come back and remind myself of where we have been.
More of the beautiful city of Lleida.
Looking down from the tower to see how the building is set up. You can see the many different levels that were probably used for defense. You certainly could see who and what ever came near the place.
Delwyn on the very top. This is where we ended up after climbing up the many many stairs.
A hall in the Cathedral. On your left, there is a beautiful garden in the middle. I don't know why I didn't take pictures of it.

Hermana Lund is in the garden. In side the building right infront of us, there were around 18-19 huge rugs of tapestry. They were beautiful. Many of them were of the Biblical times. We couldn't take pictures of them, but I have a brochure with them all in there. They had a book showing how they were made. They were weaved and because of the intricate details, it surly took them years to complete just one.
As we were leaving the city, we wanted to see the Cathedral and how it stands out as you go into the City.

Monday, August 23, 2010

August 23, 2010 from Delwyn

Dear family & friends,
And, once again, I didn’t get my letter done by the 20th per my goal – this past month passed by very quickly. Thanks to those of you who sent messages to us – we really enjoy them. Our second month in Barcelona has been full of experiences that will be memorable for us. Flo and I share an office with the printer/copier and use our laptops for our computer work so we have to transport them to and from the office each day – it’s about a 25 minute walk up the hill in the morning and a little less than that at night. We’re into a routine to visit, clean and do repairs to a couple of pisos each week then do our other work on the days we’re around the office. Flo’s broken shoulder bone has healed well – she’s still doing some rehab exercises to increase strength and range of motion but no longer has restrictions and has been released by the doctor. We spend some time each day studying Spanish and think we’re gradually improving but recognize that there’s so much we don’t know that we won’t be described as Spanish speakers anytime soon. It seems like everyone here speaks Spanish but the primary language on virtually all the signs is Catalan and that complicates the learning for us – we’d like for everyone to speak Spanish here. We’ve done more ‘touring’ than I like but have been able to see several of the touristy things here.
There have been a number of questions posed in recent letters – I’ll try to address them. Our mission president is Clark Hinckley – one of Pres. Gordon B Hinckley’s sons. They came to the mission July 1st last year (the same time that Pte Clegg came to Spain) and we’ve found them to be very warm and kind. There’s a marked difference in the way Pte Hinckley does things compared to what we experienced with Pte Clegg but both seem to be very effective leaders. We are the fourth couple currently serving in this mission – the Hadleys (came last September) were called as CES missionaries and serve at the institute for the stake; the Lunds (came last December) are in the office as financial secretary and administrator; the Thompsons (came about the same time as the Lunds) are on the island of Mallorca in the Mediterranean Sea (we haven’t met them) to help both members and missionaries serving there. Another couple was scheduled to arrive in the mission in mid-June but are having problems getting visas to enter the country and are now scheduled to come about the 1st of December. On shrimp: I don’t like the taste of shrimp – I’ve tried but never been able to enjoy them. Having those eyes looking at me just makes it more disgusting as I try to be polite in settings where they’re served. About our bathroom drain – they’ve worked on it until the drain now works – slowly. We weren’t in our piso when it happened but they’d told us they wanted to dry it out and pour boiling water down it – maybe that worked. The design & function of bathrooms here might explain the frequent sightings of people using the great outdoors to meet basic needs even if it’s a busy street or sidewalk. All bathrooms seem to be designed without thought for usability or convenience.
We’ve made three car trips to the Sabadell area to clean pisos and help the missionaries move into a new one. And each time we’ve been there, we’ve had problems with the GPS providing directions. I don’t know what happened the first time - the GPS seemed to know where it was taking us but we began to doubt that we were taking a sane route and haven’t been convinced otherwise. It eventually led us to the piso but it took 1:15 whereas Google says it’s a 30 minute drive. As we finished our work there it began to rain lightly and we were glad because it helped cool the air but it soon turned into a downpour and we had a problem with one of the wiper blades. I don’t know the history but one blade was missing on the VW van (we’d bought a new one but hadn’t installed it) – it was in the office. By pulling the arm away from the windshield (as if to wash it), that wiper arm just wiggled and we could use the driver-side wiper. That saved us because we have not seen it rain in Spain like it did during our drive back to the office – the freeways had standing water (as in 3”-6” of water) in some places. Traffic crawled along much of the way and we still made it home (totally dependent on the GPS) in less time than it took to drive out there in dry weather. The other couple of trips were problematic in trying to get back to town – work crews closed a portion of the freeway that we needed and we couldn’t get on it. We followed the detour signs for Barcelona but missed one (or something) and got lost – the GPS took us back to the freeway. We finally told it to avoid toll roads and, the first time, that worked pretty well and we got past the freeway closures and back to the office. But the last time, when we couldn’t get on the freeway, we told it no toll roads and tried to follow the detour signs again but soon lost the detour. The GPS took us up the side of a mountain on a road that was very narrow, had been but could no longer be described as paved, and reached a point where it told us “at the end of the road, turn right”. But before we reached what it said was the end of the road, we were in some family’s yard with our only option being to turn around (very little space to do so) and go back down. We found detour signs again and by following those we eventually got close enough to Barcelona that we could re-enter the freeway and get into town. We still had one adventure with the route it directed to get us to the office but we finally ignored it and took a route I knew – we’d spent an hour and a half for a 30 minute trip. At one point on the side of the mountain Flo observed that we were in a very pretty area – I almost wish I knew where we were. I think being lost three times in a week is a new record for me so I’m hoping things get better not worse.
Having been thwarted by a power failure the first time, we went a second time to try to ride the aerial tram from the Mediterranean beach area to the side of Montjuïc. They packed 18 people into a cable car – there are no seats and not all 18 people can stand next to a window to see – and it took about 10 minutes from start to finish. It does afford a good view of the harbor/beach area as well as much of the city of Barcelona but I felt it was over-priced for what it gave us. There are a number of interesting and pretty things to see there on that part of Montjuïc so we walked and looked for a while then found the start of a second aerial tram that took us to the top of the mountain (it’s sort of a green version of Camelback Mountain in size) - that gave us some really good views of the city and the mountain itself. At the top they appear to be restoring the castle/fort that’s been there for a very long time and have flower gardens, lots of trails thru the woods and some nice overlooks in most directions. We then walked down trails to a Funicular (a rail tram that came straight down the mountain to a metro stop for our line; I think it’s called a cog rail) and came home – we were tired but it was an enjoyable day for us. When we got to our building, our key wouldn’t go into the keyhole of the exterior door – it was as if another key was already in the hole. I tried it on the other door and it went in okay but that door, on the weekends, is dead bolted at the bottom and can’t be opened with our key. We started ringing each of the pisos – 2 per floor – and were to the seventh floor before anyone answered our ring. Elder Lund was with us and he explained the situation to the guy and thought he told us he’d come down. When he hadn’t come in 5 minutes I asked a passing lady from the neighboring building if she had any suggestions. She talked to the 7th floor guy, persuaded him to come down and he seemed very surprised that his key wouldn’t go in the lock. But that gave us access to our piso so we went there assuming he’d notify the right people. We hadn’t had any problem for a couple of weeks but this past Saturday when we came home we ran into the same problem. It happened that another resident came to the door but he wouldn’t let us in, closed the door and proceeded to show us that his key wouldn’t go in either - he was totally surprised. He left but, a minute later, my key worked to give us access – go figure; we have no clue what’s happening. We’ve explained the problem to the porter but he doesn’t understand the problem either.
One day the Hinckleys invited us to go downtown with them – we needed some cards for luggage tags Flo is working on and they offered to show us around a little bit. We took the metro, found the store where they’d gotten a first supply and spent some time looking at the things available in the ‘paper goods’ store – paper that I’d never imagined, 500€ pens, etc. I had a conversation with a Japanese lady (appeared to be a supervisor) about the church and our calls as missionaries here and, as we left, she gave us her name & number for contact by the missionaries – that was fun. Hinckleys led us around downtown, told us of some historical events and showed us where they happened (e.g. Columbus reporting to Ferdinand & Isabel with his six Indian guests after he’d discovered America. Pte Hinckley is very well read, seems to remember everything he’s read or been told and was fascinating to be with. After we’d toured for an hour or so we stopped at a restaurant and had lunch followed by ice cream then returned to the office via the metro – it was a delightful, informative three hours for us.
That’s all we have to tell about for this month. Don’t know when it’ll happen there but keep your eye on the blog to see pictures of some of our experiences. We’re reading our scriptures, studying Spanish, trying to stay healthy and are enjoying most of our experiences. We agonize with you over health problems (especially our dear LRP) – some far more serious than we’ve had. We love you all very much, appreciate your love, friendship and support for us and pray for God’s choicest blessings upon you. Love, E&H Belnap

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

July 23, 2010 Letter from Delwyn

I apologize that I forgot to post this letter from Dad. Enjoy - there will be another one in the next few weeks :-)

Also found this cute picture of mom working in the kitchen - now in Barcelona! (from the Barcelona Mission web site http://thespainbarcelonamission.blogspot.com/)

23 July 2010 Dear family & friends,
This letter represents the 12th edition of our monthly letter – time seems to be passing swiftly. I’m a little late with our letter this month primarily because our schedule has been pretty hectic. One item of news I should report at the outset is that Flo has a small fracture in her right arm. As we walked to the office on Monday the 12th, she caught her toe on a raised tile in the sidewalk and caught foot #2 on foot #1. With her body moving but not her feet, the result was quite predictable – she fell on the sidewalk. She broke the fall with her right hand, we quickly got her up but she had pain in the right shoulder – especially when she tried to raise her arm. We were still 5-10 minutes from the office so we finished our walk, talked to the missionaries a bit about the available medical facilities, we gave her a blessing, and, when the other adults came into the office (about the same time), they both advised going to a private clinic 2-3 blocks away. Pte Hinckley asked Elder Morales to accompany us for language assistance, we went to the emergency room where they ordered and took an x-ray. We took the x-ray to a nearby orthopedist that did some probing and moving of the arm, looked at the x-ray and showed us a line he said is a break in the bone – it’s just below the ball that fits into the socket of the shoulder. He prescribed some heavy-duty Ibuprofen and a sling, we got those along with instructions and were out the door. She’s done pretty well with the situation – being one-handed and that, the left, has meant she’s had to have a little help to dress, scrub her back and left arm in the shower, tie shoes and a few other things but she’s done remarkably well. The most difficult thing for me to help with has been to use the curling iron on her hair – I love straight hair! She had trouble sleeping the first few nights but seemed to be doing better as she got used to sleeping with her arm in a sling. This week the doctor gave her some exercises to do for the arm and told her she can take off the sling at night as long as she’s careful so that’s been a welcome improvement for her.
As advertised in our last letter, we’ve moved to Barcelona as part of the mission consolidation that took place in Spain effective July 1st. Before we left Las Arenas we had a busy week of closing the mission offices, getting stuff sorted for packers to move some things to Madrid and some to Málaga and for us to take some things to Barcelona in a van. We didn’t get very much guidance on how they wanted things to be done so we made the decisions, moved out and answered questions on the phone when others came for follow-up after we were gone. Ten of our missionaries went home that same week so getting everything done for them to leave with a feeling that they weren’t neglected and welcoming three new missionaries in the same time frame added more to the busy schedule. And since we were also ‘closing’ our piso, we had to make sure we were moving all the stuff that had been accumulated for the previous 5+ years, figure out what to take with us and what to do with stuff we couldn’t or didn’t want to take. On our final day in our Las Arenas piso, we had help from the missionaries & a member to load a refrigerator and all our boxes into the van. It felt strange to drop our keys into the mailbox knowing we now had no place to live. We drove to the mission office to load the stuff there and spent the night at the mission home with the Cleggs. Early the next morning we drove the Cleggs to the airport, did some shuffling of the three cars we left there and headed for Barcelona in the van – it took us about 6 hours for the drive and things went pretty well for us. When we arrived we got hooked up with the Lunds and Hadleys – other senior missionaries in Barcelona – and were able to unload the refrigerator in the office and park the van in a garage for a few days then went with a real estate agent to look for a piso. We’d seen several pictures of a piso that looked good to us but were told that the owner had rented the piso the preceding day so the realtor showed us another – it looked good to us primarily because it was so much larger than our Las Arenas piso. We made a list of things for the realtor to negotiate with the owner – we needed a 7-month contract, an oven, refrigerator door to seal, less rent, a washing machine, some plumbing issues – and the next day we received a call saying they’d agreed to do those things and we could meet the following day to sign a contract. At the Friday meeting we were required to pay for a lawyer to ensure we understood the terms of the piso contract, pay July’s rent & two months of rent for deposit and pay the realtor nearly 1.5 months’ rent – and it had to be in cash. But we were glad to have a place to live – it’s on the 6th floor of a modern high rise, missionaries helped us unload the van and we got pretty well organized that night. It has two good-sized bedrooms (one has only a twin bed in it), two bathrooms, a long but narrow kitchen, a much larger living room and a patio on the back that’s 5-6 times larger than what we had in Las Arenas. The landlord (who lives right next to us) had been very good to work with – they’ve fixed all the issues we’d raised and have been very friendly to us – even bring a daughter in to translate for us as necessary. We’ve left the world of everything being written in Spanish & Basque and moved to a world where everything is written first in Catalan then most things in Spanish. Barcelona has far better street signs at intersections so we can determine the street we’re on. Our piso overlooks a very busy street (Travessera de les Corts) on one side and some sports courts next to a park on the other side. There is no air conditioning but if we open windows on each end of the piso, we’ve had a nice breeze come thru that has kept the place quite cool while we’ve been here. That may not work all the time but we’re hoping it works most of the time. Next to the sports courts is a large building that includes the church for our ward (Barcelona 2nd) and that’s where the Hadleys have their facilities for Institute and the Young Adult activities that they work in. If we walk at a moderate rate it takes us about 25-30 minutes to walk to the office or we can take a bus that takes 15 minutes or so – the office isn’t quite as accessible as it was in Las Arenas.
We’ve had opportunity to see & do a few interesting things in Barcelona – one morning the Hadleys took us toward the center of town and we walked La Rambla, saw the huge market place along there, visited a large cathedral, walked to the Christopher Columbus statue and caught a glimpse of the Mediterranean Sea. We went with Lunds on a Saturday evening to visit a water fountain show that’s near (may be considered a part of it for all I know) Espanya Plaza – the water and colored lights did their thing but there was a rock concert going on below the main fountain and they apparently had precedence for providing music. When we left the show we had our first experience with a pickpocket – we’d been warned about how they work so we were trying to be careful. As we walked, a young woman bumped into me from the side and I’m quite sure she went into my camera case. I immediately pushed her away and checked my possessions - I had my camera around my neck, a thin wallet we’d gotten that afternoon in my front pocket and nothing in my back pockets so we were fortunate. Maybe I should have had a sign around my neck explaining we’d just rented a piso and thieves could have known we had nothing left worth stealing. Another Saturday we went with the Lunds to a park that included remains of a castle and a museum (Monastery de Pedralbes) that was home to the Poor Clare Nuns (female branch of the Franciscan Order of priests) for about 650 years then became a museum when Barcelona offered to build them a new home in exchange for the monastery. The museum now contains paintings, sculptures, gold & silver work, manuscripts and tools collected by the nuns thru the centuries. One of the most interesting exhibits to us was a room downstairs that had 20+ scenes in miniature that depicted the life of Christ from birth thru death - they were remarkable. While buying some beds for one of the pisos at IKEA, we had lunch and thought we were getting chicken but found out we were eating rabbit.
Mission President Hinckley has asked us to go thru the mission pisos with the intent to bring them up to a standard that ensures they’re nice places to live so that’ll be our focus for most if not all the remaining months of our mission. Accordingly, we went thru a piso here in Barcelona and made a significant difference in it then last week we drove to Valencia and went thru two pisos there. One of them has fewer problems than before but we’re still in process of getting some things fixed that require professionals to repair appliances and plumbing. We haven’t reached that point yet but our travels may require that we fly to the Baleares Islands to go thru the pisos there – what a tough break, huh? We’ve made a couple of trips to Sabadell (a suburb) to prepare for missionaries to move to a new piso and to try to explain to the landlord why we’re moving – we’ve still got to do repairs and cleaning in the old piso before we vacate it.
I guess that’s about all we have to tell you this month. Flo has been taking pictures as we go along and has put some (if not all) on the blog (dfbelnap.blogspot.com). We love you and appreciate your friendship, love and support for us – we’re so happy to receive emails telling us about your lives. May God continue to be with each of you – it’s great to be alive despite the challenges we face around us.
Love & greetings, E&H Belnap

Castle de Mont Juic

The second time we went to Mont Juic was successful. The first time, they had no electricity. We had to walk all around this area on the left. See the tower in the middle. That is where we got on the tram to go to the mountain.

Here is a cruse ship that was docked at Barcelona. We were right above it on our way up.

This is actually a better picture that shows our walk to the tower. We walked from about the middle of the bottom of this picture, which you can't see, all the way around to the far right of the picture. It was a nice day so it wasn't a bad walk. Walking is something we do a lot here.

Round abouts are very popular here. This is a large one down by the Sea. We over looked it on the tram. You can see many buses and taxi cabs, (they are the black and orange cars) going and coming to the cruse ships.

One of the hotels had this fun statue, so I got a picture of Delwyn with her.

Looking over the sea and the many buildings by the sea. I wonder if the tall ones are pisos. If they are, I'm sure they cost a bunch.

How would you like to be the captain of that cruse ship and park that thing in that small area. They must be really good navigators. Everything is so pretty and clean.
This is Hermana Julie Lund on one of the interesting trees here. So much of the root stump is above ground. All the trees down the row are the same.

On top of Mont Juic is a huge fort. The garden area around it is well kept. Very beautiful.

The outside of the fort and all the greenery around the walls.
Of course, all forts have to have a cannon around them.
More of the grounds.

On all four sides on top, we could over look the city and the sea. Delwyn and Elder Dennis Hadley. You certainly could see everything all around you.

We could actually see our piso from the top of Mont Juic. It is in the very middle. The building is like a 7. Ours is the top of the 7. If you can see the 6th floor on the far left, ours is the second from the left. We have orange shades. Our landlord is the one on the far left. His shades have sculpts on and ours don't. See if you can find us!
The side overlooking the Sea. Many cruse ships out there.

More of the sea and looking over the south part of Barcelona.
We are in front of a fountain up on top. Hermana Lund, Delwyn, Flo and Hermana Lana and Elder Hadley.
This statue reminded us of the family statue in Salt Lake.