Monday, May 25, 2015

Sevilla Conference! (Well, and fun :) )

I love these ladies!  From l to r, Hermana Guffey, Hermana Redd, me, and Hermana Wiscomb - from whom I got this (as well as the third and last pictures). Hermana Coombs, Hermana Frost, and Hermana Deere (not pictured) are also great friends :)

Last month the WHOLE MISSION descended upon Sevilla for the very first Whole Mission Conference of President Deere's tenure. Many missionaries, including the "seniors" stayed at hotels, giving me the chance to ride in my first car elevator. It was nice and smooth :) Nice hotel, too.

Hermana and Élder Wiscomb let me tag along with them to explore Sevilla´s beautiful Maria Luisa Park. It is Sevilla´s main green area, and were first the gardens of the Palace of San Telmo, which was built in 1682 as a school for the orphan children of sailors.

It was a beautiful time of year to go, with many beautiful flowers to go along with all of the sculptures, trees, fountains, ponds, pavilions, and etc.

There were several people ensconced in hammocks relaxing above this waterfall (you can see the green one).  You can also see the cool pavilion at the top of the hill.

I loved this walkway covered with gorgeous purple flowers!

There were a number of different ways to get around the park (which was quite large). There were horse drawn carriages, little peddle cars (like the one in this picture), bikes, and even Segway scooters.  We walked, which was good because  I love taking pictures, and that's hard if you're rushing around and have to watch where you're going :).

There were lots of cool buildings, several of which had been turned into museums. We weren't able to visit any though.

Love these flowers!

More gardens. The park actually serves as botanical gardens. To the right is a picture of the Pavillion Real in the Plaza América.

One of these days I'm going to take one of these horse taxis. It looks so fun!  And the horses are treated very well.

The museum of Archaeology.

Élder and Hermana Wiscomb amongst the flowers.

There were a LOT of birds, especially doves, in the park.

This is the ¨Queens Sewing Box¨  built in 1893 as a retreat.

Beautiful buildings.

Such a peaceful place!  Totally beautiful.

The final picture is of our whole mission - all about 200 of us!  It was an awesome conference, and I´ll write more about it next time.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Rock!

Hurray!  I finally got to go to Gibraltar!  My friends, the Wiscombs came down to do their residency and decided to go to Gib, inviting me along.

It's only a couple of hours from Fuen and goes through beautiful country as well as along the Mediterranean. It also had the added bonus of being with some great friends, so the whole trip was a pleasure!
When we got there the Guffeys  joined us (party time!)

This is the Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque, a gift from King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. It's on the tip of Gibraltar, on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula.
Gibraltar was captured from Spain in 1704, and was given the chance to rejoin Spain with referendums in 1967 and again in 2002 when over 90% said No!  This has led to sour feelings between the UK and Spain, and occasionally Spain will get mad and do little things like making it difficult to get into Gib.  In 2006 Gibraltar got its own constitution, and now governs itself, with the exception of a few things like self defense and foreign relations. (This is me with the Wiscombs).

After parking the car we walked through the town of Gibralter with it's narrow streets and many little shops that provide all you need to make your wedding there (one of the main "industries") a delightful day. Our Branch President's son, Jack, had to get married there because Spain wouldn't let him as he had been in the States at school for a while. 
This "statue" is actually a real person. Pretty cool.

Then we took the cable car up to the top of the Rock. Unfortunately we didn't have time to see the limestone "St. Michael's Cave", but the views were spectacular! You can easily walk all over Gibraltar - it's only 2.6 square miles in size (6.8 square kilometers). Beyond the car you can see the city of Gibralter and beyond that the Bay of Gibralter.

This guy met us at the top, hoping for handouts. It is a treasured place, and only the alpha Barbary Macaque monkeys get to hang out here.

Lookiing towards mainland Spain

In spite of the 4,000 pound penalty for feeding the monkeys, they knew where good things come from, and would grab and run with any dangling bags or back packs they could get away with.

This is looking towards the Straits of Gibralter, with Spain on the right, and Africa (Morocco to be specific) on the left. I've seen Africa! Now to visit (I hope) :)

The Three Hermanas :)  We had a great time! (I got this shot and the one of the Guffeys from Elder and Hermana Wiscomb. Thanks!)

Finally we had to try out the famous Roy's Fish and Chips, and it definitely lived up to it's reputation. The fish was light and not greasy, and the chips were delicious!  Very yummy.

Elder and Hermana Guffey. They do military relations at the nearby Rota naval base, where they are famous for their waffles. They were great guides!

And of course the famous British red telephone booth. At least Superman would have a place to change here!

Visiting Gibraltar was such fun!  And it is a spectacular place to visit. My final picture is of the Trinity Lighthouse, at the tip of the Rock, looking out towards the Straight. I am so blessed to be able to serve here in Spain!  #missionsareawesome  :)

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Senior Miss. Just Gotta Have fu-un! Missionaries in La Mancha.

The Frosts, the Redds, me, and the Wiscombs.

Last weekend all the "senior" missionaries (minus the Coombs) got together at the Wiscomb's home  in Alcázar de San Juan which is in La Mancha territory. We don't often congregate, but when we do, we have a lot of fun!
The first order of business was to explore the windmills, which the region is famous for. Especially those tiltable ones disguising their "giant" nature.
Wine and olive oil are also big (shown here with the windmills we are headed towards), as are wheat, barley, and oats (the reason for the wind MILLS).

These are the windmills above Alcázar (pictured in the distance). The picture to the left shows the inner workings of the windmill. First the miller has to attach cloth to the blades of the mill (a difficult and dangerous job). 

Note the contrast between the town, fallow fields, and crops
           The gears transfer the force produced by the motion of the blades to turn the top stone of a pair of millstones. Grain is poured through a hole in the top stone, and it is ground into flour. This is forced out the side and goes down a chute, where it is collected in sacks on the floor below.  

We finished the day checking out the branch in Alcázar and a local restaurant, then went to our various accommodations. The Wiscombs were very kind to me and let me camp out in their living room. You meet the greatest people on missions!
  The next day the Guffeys joined us and we drove to the windmills of Campo de Criptana where we were hoping to be able to tour one. Unfortunately there were busloads of people before us, so we weren't able to. But the windmills were still cool!  I tried to get a picture of the cathedral with the windmills behind it as we drove up, but I wasn't fast enough, so here is the cathedral behind them!

There was a little shop there selling Don Quixote souvenirs that had caves dug out below where he displayed his wares. Very cool (literally). 

Don sneaking up behind me. This is the entrance to the little shop. 

I love the spring flowers coming out!  I couldn't resist. 

Next it was on to El Toboso, "Patria de Dulcinea."  Here the craze for all things Don Quixote reaches a fever pitch.

First we visited the Museo Cervantino, which houses over 400 editions of Don Quixote in 60 different languages. All kinds of different people from Ronald Regan to Hitler donated signed copies.

The sizes ranged from tiny to huge, and they even had a VERY dramatic movie of what Dulcinea might have thought of the author.

                                                      Then we toured the Museo Casa de Dulcinea, which is a "re-creation" of the home of the Don's "girlfriend"  Dulcinea. At least it showcased what a home of that era would look like.
Outside was a wine press that used a gigantic beam to press the juice out of the grapes. They also had an outdoor "room" with walls filled with pigeon holes, just big enough for one bird each. They were raised for meat, not racing.

I leave you with some final pictures of our adventures in La Mancha. #missionsareawesome!