Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas - Jerez de la Frontera Cadiz

Christmas has arrived. We finally opened Elder Bennett's package that he sent us. It was so thoughtful of him to send goodies and souvenirs all the way from Spain. He's such a wonderful young man. He also included a letter. It just melted our hearts to read from him. Later that afternoon about 1:40pm, he called home. We talked for 10 mns then we were cut off. He called again and the same thing happened. He tried again at 2:10pm and we finally were able to talk longer (about 1 hour). Ahhhhhh, it was so nice hearing his voice again & learning more about his experiences in the Mission field. He had so much to say. It's such a blessing to know how much he's enjoying his mission & how great his love is for the people of Spain. This is one of the best Christmases for us.

Elder Bennett & his companion Elder Waite

Here's Elder Bennett's letter.
Hello & Merry Christmas family!

You will find that I have included in your package some stuff to eat. Most of the goodies are from Switzerland & Germany cause their sweets are just better. I also sent you a lot of "polverones". These are very Spanish and they are good. I sent a plate with a bull picture on it and I wrapped it with a scarf. Linsey can go ahead and keep the scarf. I sent a key chain with a spanish crest and a bull on the back, that's for whoever wants it. I also sent a Ferrar key chain (the one with a horse on it). David, the african we lived with told me "that's for your mother; mother is so nice and very important". I sent some "cherizo" and they are fantastic. The Spanish use it in their eggs, spaghettis and a number of dishes. It's treated meat so it doesn't need refrigeration before initially use. There's a shirt that says Spain on it. Whoever wants that can have it. I think tha's all. Thanks for the gifts and stuff. I hope all is well. I miss home and stuff. Hope you are having fun. Merry Christmas!!!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Jerez de la Frontera Cadiz 12/20/10

I am now in my new assigned area "Jerez de la Frontera de Cadiz'. The transfer was hard, especially having to carry my two overpacked and heavy luggage but I made it. The train ride from Dos Hermanas Sevilla to Jerez de la Frontera Cadiz was only 40 minutes.

Jerez is absolutely gorgeous. It is a breath-taking place. It's a town full of gypsies. Everyone here is part gypsy. They all sing and dance. But, they're almost all pure blood spaniards. There are hardly any Nigerians or South Americans. They're more Analuz here. In church even, they do not shake hands, they just kiss each other on the cheecks. Everybody makes you feel sooo welcome. The ward, is so so so friendly and loving.
By the way, we reached our baptism goal. Yes we did it! We now officially have 200 baptisms and still counting!!! We certainly deserve a little chicken to celebrate our success here. Right?? Hourray for Malaga Spain Mission!!! We also had our Stake Pres and our Stake Mission Leader from Sevilla to join in the fun.

Christmas Zone gatherings. Two awesome looking zone, Sevilla & San Fernando.

The city of Jerez is gorgeous. The architecture is old, and there are hills and killer views to enjoy. This city is giagantic, it's almost as big as Sevilla. It would probably take about 2 hours or a little more to walk from one end to the other. And that's not all. Our area encompasses a ton of other really big cities all around, in about a 2.5 hour bus ride distance.

I love it here!

This is a beautiful city!

I saw the most beautiful city in my life this week. It's called Ubrique and i'ts in our area. Ubrique is a small little pueblo sitting inside a valley. Its 2.5 hours by bus, and 28 euros to get there. It's actually one of the most famous expoters for designer leather in the world. There are a ton of shops selling leather purses, jackets, shoes, belts, wallets and all sorts of designer stuff and, its so green. It's so good to see mountains again. I missed the mountains. We had the oppurtunity to climb the mountains to find a less-active member. It was awesome. So we will mostly be doing heavy work in Jerez.

The people of Jerez are so much more friendly. Maybe it's cuz they drink so much wine...(lol), I am kidding. There are wineries everywhere. Jerez has some of the most famous wine in all of Spain. We even found some in our piso. It was way old. Wine is actually cheaper than beer here. But, everybody is so nice when we contact them on the road. I love it. I love Jerez.
I love the mountains

We did some pretty good work in the few days I have been here. We had three people baptized last Friday. We met Paco who was a brand new convert. He was baptized 2-weeks ago, but you would think he was a strong member for years. On Friday, Paco baptized his wife and I had the opportunity to baptize his niece Virginia and my companion Elder Waite baptized his other niece Esperanza. Paco is so excited about the Gospel and he wants to do missionary work with us. He's refering us to his friends and neighbors, and missionary work is picking up so so well!! The ward is excited with all the recent success and everyone is pitching in and offering help. I just love it.
Elder Bennett, Paco & his wife, elder Waite, Paco's two nieces Virginia & Esperanza.

Christmas is going to be swell!! We get to stay out til midnight on christmas eve and we get all of christmas day as P-day. I have recieved your package and I will open it on Christmas day.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I am being transfered! Dos Hermanas Sevilla 12/13/10

This week has probably been the most "el loco" week I´ve had yet on the mission. It was the most succesful, the most busy and the most stressful.
Our area Dos Hermanas is really fantastic. We´re teaching a lot, we're finding tons of new people and we are having great success with some of them.

The Mission President called me last Friday and I´m moving to my next new area this coming wednesday December 15th. We are moving a week early cuz my Mission President doesn´t want us moving too close to the holidays and it's normal for me to go, cuz I´ve been here 6 months. But, I was suprised when my companion Elder Bassurto told me he was moving also. Then I was shocked and a bit upset when I heard that our area (Dos Hermanas) will be temporarely closed. We won't know for how long! We won't be replaced when gone. There will be no more Elders or sisters serving in Dos Hermanas for a while. This is the first time in 40-years! It's because out of the 20-35 missionaries that are supposed to be in Spain recently, only 4 have arrived, 3 Sisters and one Elder. We are supposed to have 120 missionaries and we only have 68. Spain is having huge problem of issuing Visas.

BUT, instead of being discouraged, me and Elder Barsurto have been working really hard. We fixed 6 baptismal dates since Friday. All different families. The first two were in a city called Lebrija, which is a little bit too far from Dos Hermana but still in our ward.
Then Elder Taylor and I set 3 more baptismal dates with some people from Paraguay. Two were a couple and 1 was a girl who lives in the same house. But, the couple came to church yesterday, and the husband said he almost burst into tears cause he felt the spirit so strong. And we set one with a man from Argentina. This guy is crazy cool. We are going to try to organize something with the Church in his country, cuz he runs a school for poor children. He provides, food, clothes and education. But, he wants to provide them with spiritual experiences as well. He used to live in Paris and he would bike from Paris all the way to Sevilla Spain. lol.
Elder Taylor is 6´8 and everywhere we went, people just stared at us! Funny, hein?

Now with 6 upcoming baptims on our list, this sets us appart of having the most potential baptisms in all of the mission. We have so many more investigators about ready to accept baptism and also plenty golden potental investigators who want to hear about the gospel. Unfortunately pretty soon we will have to turn our missionary work over to the Ward. The Ward will be in charge starting this week of making sure the baptims are met and the new investigators are being taught and cared for. The ward seems excited about the future baptisms and the potential investigators. I think the members will be able to do it. The Bishop didn´t want us to reveal to the Ward members about the "Mission being temporarely closed" in the area of Dos Hermanas.

It's been stressful preparing everything. We´ve been doing lots of meetings, and we´re going to have to teach all the ward missionaries a crash course in missionary work. We are also passing on our English classes,(which have been increasingly getting successful,) to the family from England. One of their sons wants to teach English to Spanish people as a living, so this is a perfect oppurtunity. And on top of it, we´re still living with Isabel cuz the new piso isn´t ready for us to move in yet. So it will be ready for the new missionaries, if they ever come. They sure will have a very nice place to live in. I´m also worried about packing, cuz I have a ton of stuff that I have to carry.
I definitely don't want to leave my empty soda cans behind...I've got to find room for them in my suitcases! Can you tell I had too much sodas?

My next area is in Jerez de la Frontera Of the province of Cadiz. It's actually really close to Sevilla. Lebrija is so close, I had permission from the Mission President to continue teaching the two baptismal dates from Lebrija. Our goal is actually 200, and we´re almost there.

That's good to hear that grandpa's Funeral went well. How is everyone in the family? How are you guys taking it?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

See you later grandpa! Dos Hermanas Sevilla 12/06/10

I received your Christmas package... kinda. The mission office has it, I have had that confirmed. I just sent yours yesterday. don´t worry about the shipping. it wasn´t expensive at all. cuz i´m shipping it technically from NY, not Spain.

Swiss chocolate is good but it's different than the kind uncle Gilles sends. Cuz, the brands he sends is super super expensive. Just as an example it's like 6 Euroes for 6 of those best chocolates uncle Gilles sends. The small box of white chocolate coconut balls is like 5 or 7 Euros. So I sent you all stuff you haven´t tried and a little cheaper than the ones uncle Gilles sends.
Elder Bennett, couple & Elder Redd

I´ll probably be outta Dos Hermanas before Christmas, but my comp thinks he´ll go and I´ll stay. It's possible we´ll both stay. Afterall, the mission is low on travel money. They haven´t announced that, but I know they are. Spain is cool in Christmas. It's raining all the time, and it's barely above freezing. The government did some lights in all the city squares, and the trees are all dressed up with lights like temple square. Every street has lights. It's sweet. I haven´t really been shopping lately. I would if things are on sale. Diet coke was 24cents a bottle of 2-liter. That was cool.

This week has been absolutely crazy and busy. We didn´t even have time to do normal things like planning in the morning, or night or weekly planning session. We are in the moving process, and we were supposed to be in the new house by Nov. 28. So we packed everything, all the food, books, our stuff, everything, and moved it into the new house. Which still wasn´t ready. We kept enough stuff to last 2 or so days. Except... WE´re still living at Isabel´s house, and the new house needs electricity, all the furnitture moved in, and the bathroom to be remodeled. It's kind of a sketchy situation. But, it's alright. We´re surviving. We´ve been getting fed, once or twice a day. Which is fantastic.

We´re also getting many service oppurtunities. We helped a guy remodel his giagantic house on an olive orchard. We scraped paint, (probably 80 years old and probably lead based) and repainted. I think the house is older than Utah. And one morning, the Bishop called us and asked us to come repair a fence, around the new church lot. That was an adventure cuz we had no clothes. i used flip-flops to make a chain link fence and concrete in the winter. it was an experience, for sure.
No, the car was not part of the service opportunity but it looks good! no?

Its still been raining pretty hard. It hasn´t kept us from sloshing around town.

We´ve been teaching a lot, and getting some new investigators. No baptisms, no real good progressing investigators. We´ve dropped all the bad investigators.
We had splits this week, and we also had a special training meeting. Which was good. I´ve been speaking a lot better Spanish. Its cool that you had the rare occasion to feed the missionaries. We got a training booklet which talks about how to work with members. More of a 20 page case study.

I am so sad to hear about Grandpa's passing. Here's a little thought that you can read at the funeral service today on my behalf:

´Its not goodbye, just see you later.´
Life is a journey and death is part of it. It's sad when loved ones pass on, but it's joyful to know that we will be reunited after this life. God loves us, and he has laid out a wonderful plan. And I am so grateful that this plan has been revealed to us. It makes me sad to hear that my Grandpa is gone, but I am grateful to know that this life is not the end of our journey. This knowledge gives me peace, and happiness to know that families can be together forever.
Grandpa Bennett was a good & dedicated man to the Gospel. I know he will find rest and be exhalted to the Celestial Kingdom.
If there is one thing he understood, that was love. He loved his family. He loved his plants. He loved his neighbors. He loved the Gospel. I am grateful for his example that he has set for everyone. I am grateful for his decisions and his example to me. I´ll always remember as a kid he would always tell stories. I love you grandpa and I will miss you.´

Daryl & grandpa Bennett