Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Great Folks of Fuengirola and The Horses of Jerez

The Deeres and me

This week I have decided to tell you a bit about the people I work and go to church with. First off are the Deeres, who are a great family. Unfortunately I don't get to see them a ton (just a bit on Sundays and President and Sister Deere at our Monday office meetings), and the only picture I have is the one someone took when I got here (I didn't have enough presence of mind to get one myself so I had to "procure" the one off the mission blog). They have two children living here with them right now, and one of those leaves in Sept to attend BYU. They are great people to work with and I feel very fortunate to be in their mission!

The Castillos and office missionaries Flint and Dansie
(and a bit of Hermana Chantrill)
Next up are the Castillos. They are the only mission couple here in the office right now (we are getting another before too long) and I already consider them great friends. She is a great photographer, and is generous enough to share them; many of the pictures on this post (including the horse above and the ones of the ward party on a previous post) were taken by her. Thank you Hermana Castillo! I won't embarrass them by telling you how generous, kind, loving, and sharing they are - feeder and champion of missionaries, young and old alike, but you get the idea. They are the ones who instigated and planned the trip to Jerez I so enjoyed :)

Hermana Chantrill
And this is my great friend and companion, Hermana Chantrill. She doesn't like to have her picture taken, so I had to enlarge one Hermana Castillo took ;) ... she's also in some general ones you can check out. We have a great time together - she's even enough of a good sport to go wandering with me around town and trail me up all (or most of) the flights of stairs I am want to tromp up. Yesterday was her birthday and we celebrated by getting some delicious artisan icecream (there are tons of little stores that sell it here) and walking along the shoreline in the surf collecting interesting rocks and shells. Everyone had been telling me how cold the water was, so I waited for a warm day to try it. They don't know cold apparently (doesn't even touch the Washington and Oregon Pacific!); swimming is definitely in my near future!
Hermana Chantrill has a great sense of humor and tells a great story. This is her second mission (the first was a temple mission to the Dominican Republic so she has some great Dominican recipes), and she's been out 7 or 8 months already so I get to enjoy her company for a while yet!

The other members of our office staff consists of the young missionary companionship that takes care of finances, travel, and the legal stuff that lets missionaries stay in the country. We have a third right now who is training to take over finances. This is a picture inside the arena waiting for the Andelusian horse show in Jerez. Nearest is Elder Castillo, then me, Hermana Chantrill, then the finance person Elder Flint (who sang in church today and has a great voice), then the travel / visa (and other stuff) person Elder Dansie, and then Elder Buckway, who is taking over Elder Flint's job. They are great young men and I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them. We have some interesting, fun times in the office and they are great at their jobs (making great improvements)! Elder Castillo likes to give them a hard time, and Friday they made a big jello mold and put a bunch of his desk stuff in it (stapler etc). Big mistake. As Elder Castillo said, "Revenge is a dish best served cold".... :)

So... a bit about the horse show I got to enjoy last weekend (I'll tell a bit more later although I don't have pictures of the show as they wouldn't allow them). The Spanish Andalucian horse breed is very old and is the forebearer of the Lipizzan Stallions. We got to watch them do their "airs above the ground" (rearing, then jumping up while kicking back with their hindquarters and other stuff) and basically equine "ballet". It was TOTALLY awesome and I absolutely loved it. A very great day.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Fuengirola Spain

So I decided to give you all a little tour of my ciudad here in Spain. Down at the Mediterranean, there are several pieces of sand art that are really quite good. There is usually an "artist" there working on some minor part, but I'm pretty sure it's not the original artist as after a while parts of the faces start to fall off, and they'll just be fixing the table or whatever. I think this might just be the original though - I saw him later actually redoing the people who had started disintegrating. I guess he needs someone to collect all the donations though. Our missionaries aren't allowed at the beach (even the one who had a doctor's note saying it would be good for some medical condition or another) because Spaniards are, shall we say, quite cavalier about whether certain pieces of clothing are completely necessary. I try to keep to the cooler times of the day :)
The Med in a calm mood
The Med in an unusually wild mood

The last few days it has been pretty wild down there (unusually so - lots of people were taking pictures) with the water coming all the way up to the wall in some places. There were even people surfing the waves were so good!

Two days after I got here Fuen celebrated International Day, and there were all kinds of food booths representing different countries (you could have a Kangaroo burger from Australia, and it seems many countries like to cook slabs of meat propped up around a fire).

There was a parade down the center of all the booths with performers from 10 or so different countries, incl. Spain (of coarse), some African countries, England, Ireland, Japan, and I'm not sure who else. It was pretty cool! :)

They also had booths you could buy stuff from the various countries and I got a necklace and a carving of Mary, Joseph, and Christ from Israel.

There was also a carnival that had a lot of familiar looking rides, but I thought this one was very cool. They locked the kids in these big hamster balls and let them run around in a pool. It looked like a lot of fun!

The ward also had an activity to celebrate the day, and it was done as only Spain would do, with much style and a very easy going attitude. There were desserts representing a lot of different countries, including Iran (from a Sister who was in a very unhappy arranged marriage and fled Iran, but was not allowed to take her 10 yr old daughter, and in fact can't even contact her at all (the husbands have ALL the rights in Iran) and was just baptised a couple months ago).

The chapel/cultural hall combined - on the left is our Branch
President and his wife from Great Britain.
There was also England (of coarse! And I got to finally try Trifle), the US (brownies and PBJ samples), the Philippines, and I can't remember where-all else. We had a lot of time to druel over them though, because the dinner (Mediodia) was supposed to start at 2pm, but the paella (a traditional Spanish rice dish with lots of curry and various meats which I thought meant that there was seafood paella, beef paella, etc. - but it had seafood AND chicken AND beef) didn't come until 3:30 (the Spanish are even more easy-going about time than US LDS folks are!) The desserts were worth waiting for though - very yummy!

Well, this page has run out of space (and I have run out of time), so I guess I'll have to continue another day. A teaser of future blogs:

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Day in the Life of an Office Missionary in Spain

The walkway by the Mediterranean I enjoy

So you may ask, what is it like to be on an office mission in Spain?
Well, I usually wake up when I wake up, around 6:30 or 7 or so. Then I read scriptures, maybe write in my journal, then do exercises. Right now that consists of MWF doing major muscle strength training with weights, then I run the 6 flights of stairs in our apartment building 10 times, then stagger into our piso (apartment). Tu/Th I work on the more minor muscles and do some band (elastic) exercises. I haven't figured out cardio yet.

Our front door and my nemesis THE STAIRS

Then it’s breakfast (oatmeal with fruit of coarse for those who know me) and shower, then get ready for the day. We usually get to the office around 10, then I check to see if there are any new referrals, and do any of them (send them to the right mission if it’s not in ours, or to the right Elders/Sisters if it is), then work on my project to get the Spanish missionaries ready to take the English test at the end of their mission. I’m still working on getting the referral system and my other project up and running well, but once that’s done I’ll find more to do. Right now there are just us two single sisters, one couple (which includes the nurse), and two office elders in the office. Another couple should come in a couple of months, which will help. We work until 2pm, then take a two hour “mediodia” (as per Spanish custom), then it’s back to work at 4 for another couple hours or so. It’s pretty relaxed though - if not much is going on and we need something, we’ll take off to get it, or whatever. Right now we don’t have internet at our piso, so anything we want to do online has to be done at the office. So sometimes we stay a bit extra. Like I said, pretty relaxed. Then it’s home for a snack (the major meal of the day is mediodia) - for me usually some VERY yummy bread with cheese (I’m trying different ones - yesterday I found some goat/sheep/cow cheese that’s actually pretty darn good!) and some fruit.
One of the many local fruit stands

Then I like to take a walk along the Mediterranean, maybe write some, study Spanish, or whatever else I need to get done. Then bed by about 10:30 until the next day. Some “specials”:  Every Monday we meet with President Deere and go over any planning or changes that need to happen in the office. Then once a month is “concilio” where all the younger missionary leaders come for training, then two Hermana (sister) missionaries come to stay at our place for a night, which is fun. Then there are transfer days, and days when new missionaries come in, which get kind of wild (although not particularly for us). That’s all I’ve come across so far. Then there are the fun days. Once in a while we’ll go with the office elders on a P day (my Pdays are on Saturday) to somewhere for fun, and sometimes all the senior missionaries get together for some fun. I’m looking forward to those days :)  This next Saturday we’re going to the Jerez horse show (which I guess is pretty famous) that I’ll try and report on.
I do have a companion, Hermana Chantrill, who has already been here about 7 months. whom I really enjoy. We have a lot in common, and I enjoy her personality, and she even does fairly well keeping up with me, even though she’s a fair amount older. We share thoughts from what we’ve learned in scripture study that morning, and plan to have FHE together. She was pretty lonely before I came, so I felt pretty welcome :). This is her second mission. The first was a temple mission for 2 years in the Dominican Republic and today she cooked mediodia from things she learned there, incl. plantains (cooked kind of like mashed potatoes), and poached eggs and veggies and salad. It was very good and I had no trouble eating my share :).  I did the cooking last week, and actually made my own spagetti sauce instead of going the jar route, so that’s something new for me. Like I said, the bread and pasteries here are to die for (yes, I’ve tried the chocolate wrapped in a light pastery like a crescaunt, which is SO good and the "hot chocolate" [very thick so you can dip your churros in it and so rich I could only finish half]), so I have to limit the bread to once a day, and freeze most of the loaf for later.
Yummy hot chocolate and churros

 It’s actually much easier to cook this time than when I first got to Switzerland, which is a relief. And there are TONS of fresh fruits and vegetables in little stores all over which I have really been enjoying (I try to get a new and unusual fruit when I go there too. It’s been interesting and very good :)). All in all I’m having a GREAT time, and have also been enjoying the awesome spirit of the great people here I work with too. No better place to be!

Thursday, May 8, 2014


With my Mission President Pres. Deere and Sister Deere at the airport

Hurray! The adventure has finally begun!  I’ve had my first full week of serving the Lord and the people of Spain and it’s been totally awesome.
My first chore was to get here. The plan was to fly from Salt Lake to Minneapolis-St. Paul, then from there to Amsterdam, then to Paris, then to Malaga. I left Marie’s house about 6am, and the plan was to arrive in Malaga about 1 pm the next day. With the 8 hr difference, that made for 23 hrs of travel. Well… the flight to Minn-St. Paul went fine (except that I discovered I had left my computer cords in Utah), but the flight from there had some late connecting flights they waited for, so we got to Amsterdam way late - after my flight to Paris had already left. So I got to sit around in Amsterdam for 8 hours (I got to know that airport very well!). Fortunately they fed us decently on the transatlantic flight, and I had some food I brought from Marie’s, so I was fine. The flight over was actually pretty decent, although I didn’t sleep at all. I got to watch some movies I’d been meaning to watch, so I wasn’t too bored, but just as I was settling down to try and sleep the kids around me woke up, so I never did get to sleep. I think I may have dozed off an hour or so in Amsterdam (I set my cell alarm just in case), and for another hour on the flight to Malaga (maybe - that one had crying babies pretty much the whole way), but other than that not much sleep. Once I got to Malaga it took a while to collect my luggage (although customs was no problem, and miracle of miracles my bags were all there!), but  the Deeres (my Mission President and his wife) were there to meet me and boy was it good to see them!  It turns out that the mission office and home aren’t in Malaga itself, but in a smaller city about 20 min away called Fuengirola. So by the time I got “home” it was about 8pm and I had spent about 30 hours traveling, almost all of it awake. I actually didn’t feel all that bad then, although of coarse with jet lag I didn’t sleep all that well the first few nights. But by Friday night I was sleeping just fine (although still dragging a bit) and the last few days have been pretty good, so actually it hasn’t been bad at all :)!
Malaga from the air

First I’ll tell a bit about the area I live in. Fuengirola is very much a tourist town, and I live maybe a block from the mission office, and a couple blocks from the beach. That has a walkway that goes alongside it for as far as I’ve been able to walk (and see from there) in both directions, and the Mediteranean Sea is a beautiful blue that I just love. The sky has also been blue almost all the time (except for a couple hazy mornings) and the trees and flowers are blooming… it’s a very beautiful area. The streets are clean and everything is orderly, and it’s hard to get too lost between the mountains on one side and the sea on the other, although I did manage it once for a while. I’m lucky though - my piso (apartment) is on a one-block very narrow (just enough for one car and less than a yard on the sides to walk on) street that just happens to have two veterinary clinics /pet stores on it, with accompanying two feet square very green signs on both ends of the street to mark them that I have been able to use as landmarks. I haven’t visited them yet (they’re open kind of weird hours), but it’s on the agenda :).  There are a ton of tiny shops selling pretty much everything imaginable, and a couple of larger grocery story closeby too, so shopping is absolutely no problem. There are a bunch of tiny “Chino” stores that have a little bit of everything - I found weights to exercise with in one and the owner gave me both for the price of one! (11.5 euros, or about $16.50 - not bad). I also found some crock-type shoes there for like $5. Some other landmarks where I live - the “naked lady” fountain (that’s what they call it here) with mermaids and mermen that marks the major road (still pretty narrow by our standards) through town and which is near home and office, a “fair” grounds - like a parking lot most of the time, but fills with booths a couple times a week - and advertizing signs that look like street signs trying to get you to go visit (the street signs are tiny signs on the buildings that usually aren’t there and as the street names typically change every couple of blocks it makes navigating challenging if that’s what you’re going by. I just usually wander around and don’t have anyplace specific to go, so no problem :) The chapel is about a 20 minute walk from home, so that’s no problem, and I have plenty of offers of cars available, so I can pretty much do what I want that way. They often go exploring different areas on Saturdays, so I look forward to that!  More later….

The Mediterranean at Fuengirola