Thursday, September 13, 2012

Car Wreck

We will miss this kind of happening at our first apartment!! Yeh, right!!!!
2:00 am in the morning. No wonder we were always tired. Couldn't get any sleep around this place!! Busy street with traffic all night and a phone booth below our bedroom window where we could hear callers conversations, or I should say, screaming matches most of the time!!! Crazy, Crazy!
He's still going in the right direction!! Notice the tree. He hit the car behind that one, which broke the tree that fell on the black car. He also clipped the black car.

Notice the grey car on the right with it's back tire leaning against the bumper? That's the first car that was hit.

Trying to get the guy out trapped inside!

The people come out of their pisos and help. People hanging out their windows all around us. Including us, as you can see!!

There were 5 police cars, 2 ambulances, & 2 street cleanup crews. Everybody wanted to get in on the accident!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

June, July, & August

View from our terrace

New convert Monte Alexander from Egypt. A Muslim recieves Christ

Doug reading his Grisham novel!!

September 12, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

It has been way too long since our last letter and a lot has happened, but we want to share some of the highlights of the past little while. Of course, as we have said in every letter, this mission is the best in the world. These missionaries we work with are amazing, every one of them. They love the gospel and the Lord, Jesus Christ, and show it by working hard every day to take this gospel message to all and any that are waiting to receive it. The Lord has prepared many for such a time and our faithful missionaries are finding and bringing these precious souls into the gospel. They are on fire!! Their goal for this year is 404 baptisms and they now have 307. They had 57 in the month of August alone. In the year 2011, they only had 15 for the month of August. What an amazing growth.  Our Malaga First Ward is the top baptising ward in Europe!  At least right now.

We enjoy having these missionaries in our home for dinner where we get to know them and hear their testimonies of Christ's true church. We also get to know them on a personal basis and what sacrifices they made to serve a mission. It humbles us to feel of their spirit and in turn, it lifts us spiritually. They are a blessing to us and one of the best parts of our mission is knowing and serving them in any small way we can. Even if it is just filling their tummies!!

We visit the English Branch in Fuengirola about once a month and we are sending a picture of one of the members there who is an Egyptian. His name is Monte Alexander.  He moved here from Egypt not quite a year ago and tells us his story of how he found the Mormon church and the blessing it has been in his life. He was not satisfied with his Muslim religion and was searching the internet about Christianity. He came across many Christian beliefs but when he came across some information about the "Mormons," which was all anti-mormon propaganda, he felt he needed to check into it himself to see why there were so many negative accusations about Mormons.  He did more research on the LDS religion, found, and concluded that he was very interested in this Christian religion and its beliefs. He read the Book of Mormon and had no doubt that what he read was true. After he moved to Fuengirola, Spain, he contacted the missionaries and told them he wanted to be baptized right away. He is a faithful member and a strength to those who know him. What's even more profoundly important about this conversion is that he is conversing with hundreds of his friends and relatives in Egypt through the internet, talking with hundreds at a time, like a conference call. I can't remember what the site is called, but he is telling them about his newfound Christian belief, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." He could be called a "Moses" of his time, leading many to the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is only one of the miracles we see here while serving in Malaga. We know God is preparing these, his select children, to hear His message and they are ready when these missionaries bring it to them.

Our young Elders just recently found a Dominican Republic family of 13. Some members were cousins but they are all living together. All of the children, mostly teenagers, were baptized a few weeks ago. What a wonderful experience that was to see the light of Christ in their eyes and feel of their joy as they were cleansed in the waters of baptism. The parents of this family have not been married, so that has been an obstacle for their baptism, of course! This is not an unusual situation though. It happens quite often.  Sometimes it takes up to eight months to a year to get a marriage license here, but they were able to get one in three months where they live, in a small town on the outskirts of Malaga. That is a blessing in and of itself. The Elders that have been teaching this family came to dinner one day and proceeded to tell us that one of the young men of this family decided not to be baptized because he didn't feel like he would be able to live all the commandments after he was baptized. I told the Elders about an article in the Liahona I had just read that morning. It was on the very same subject and I felt impressed that they should give the article to this young man to read. The Elders reported a few weeks later that they had asked this young man to read the article.  He followed their suggestion, and immediately responded by saying he was now ready to be baptized and join the church with the rest of his siblings. I learn everyday that the spirit will whisper to us the things we need to know and do, if we but listen and respond to those promptings.

I am grateful for the Priesthood and having a worthy Priesthood holder to go to for a blessing when I need it. I have to admit that it has not been the easiest six months of my life here in Malaga and being able to have a blessing whenever I feel I need it. I am thankful for Doug and his love and patience with me. I can be a very depressing person to be around sometimes, but Doug just keeps on smiling and doing little jigs for my entertainment when I get down in the dumps. He makes me laugh. 

Our Spanish has improved a little but not as much as we need it to. Doug is good at adlibbing and has fun with it. I'm a little timid and do better when it's a one-on-one situation. Hopefully, I will be able to bear my testimony in Spanish within the next few months. Doug has already done his good deed, two months ago.  Of course, he had notes. :-)
I will be teaching, finally, some piano lessons this week. In Spanish of course. Wish me luck on that. I think I will probably be doing a lot of pointing and showing more than talking. It will be fun anyway. These young adults are sweet to me and are patient with my terrible Spanish errors.

We found a new piso and have moved to a city 10 miles from Malaga called Benalmadena. Our six month lease was up on the one we were in so it was a good time to find something a little more comfortable. We will enjoy being away from the all night traffic whizzing by. Cars, buses, motorcycles, and garbage trucks at 2:00 am. The other night we were just dropping off to sleep around 1:30am, when we heard this big crashing sound. We jumped up and looked out our bedroom window, which faces the street, and there was a car flipped over in the road. It had hit a parked car, knocked the back tire off of it, and shoved that car into a tree in front of it and broke it off at the base. Then the tree fell on the car in front of it.  It looked as if someone picked the car up and just turned it over on its top. It was still in its lane of traffic going in the same direction, but just flipped over. People started coming out of their pisos and calling on their cell phones for the police. About eight police cars, a fire truck, two ambulances, and two street sweepers arrived. What a mess. They finally retrieved someone from the car and carried him off in the ambulance and then the cops & firemen, by hand, proceeded to flip the car back over so they could haul it off, something Doug suggested an hour before (but only to me, of course). It took about two hours to finish the process of cleanup and questioning those that were on the streets at the scene. We will not be seeing or hearing those kinds of things in our new piso. We are on the 5th floor and have a terrace from which we can enjoy the view of a beautiful golf course, our community lawns and swimming pool, and a beautiful, but small, view of the sea less than a mile away.  But, in moving, it has taken two weeks to get our internet service hooked up again.  We are not sure of our address yet but you can try the one Doug added below.  It will likely work.  Try it with a postcard or something of no value, like a post card or letter with our grandkids' art work! 
The big "Fair" just ended last week in Malaga. We didn't go but drove by one night and it was quite the sight with all the lights. It was lit up almost as much as Las Vegas! I think it must have been the closing night because we could see hundreds of people just packed in like sardines celebrating and having a big party.  Doug resists too.
Our JAS program (young single adults), is in the process (as is all of Europe), of making major changes, by direction of the First Presidency. Instead of calling it "a center for young adults", it will be the "Stake Young Single Adult Program."  It will be organized and run under the direction of the Stake Presidency and Bishoprics. The Elders Quorum and Relief Society leaders will also share the work and responsibility.  We will remain as Mentors, but we will have more help, so eventually European Stakes will no longer need full-time missionaries assigned. (We are likely "the last of the breed.") Each ward will have two representatives, a male and female, who will become part of the Stake YSA council.  Then the Stake will select one male and one female to join that group as general Stake Representatives.  In Malaga that council, then, will have 10 members.  The Stake President's Assistant will preside over the entire group, and we will be the mentors/teachers/resources.  That committee will plan all activities for the young adults to fulfill the purposes for the program, with our help: missionary work, retention, reactivation, rescue, temple activities, service projects, temple marriage, real family home evenings, and activities--the only part of a single adult program that has been operating here quite well, may too well.  Hopefully, this change will take over soon so our younger adults that are coming of age will want to be a part of the program. As for now, we have been working hard to make some good changes but have had only mild results.  We wanted to replace all of our officers anyway (they are slow to change, like all of us tend to be with our "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" attitudes).  So this new plan will make it easier for us to name new leaders.  We continue to take it one day at a time, as Doug keeps telling me. I just want it all to happen right now but the Spanish are a little more layed-back. We never know for sure if a meeting that has been scheduled will actually happen or not. They just don't show up and somehow, most everyone gets the message but us and a few others maybe. We have our required meetings less than 20% of the time.  Funny thing, the cause of many of these no shows/cancellations is a soccer game somewhere in Europe or in town or on TV. Crazy!  But we still love these young adults and the members of the wards we attend, even though only a few speak English.   
 Our stake had a Madrid temple excursion last month on a chartered bus filled to capacity. They leave Friday at 10:00pm, drive all night, and then start at 6:00am in the temple doing any and all work that's needed. They work all day and evening and come home to Malaga that night, arriving home in the early morning hours on Sunday morning;. but you still see them at church Sunday morning with the red-eye look from their long trip and filled with satisfaction for what they just accomplished and the satisfaction of doing temple work. 
All in all, life is good to us. We are very blessed to see the Lord's hand in our daily lives and partake of His tender mercies and miracles that are happening daily. We love the gospel and know without a doubt that God lives and this is Christ's church. We do have a prophet of God to guide us in these latter days. It would be well for us to listen and follow his counsel. Just "DO IT".
We send our love to all. May you continue to be faithful and righteous in order to receive the blessings our Heavenly Father has in store for you and is anxious to bless you with.
Elder and Hermana Spainhower