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