Monday, December 28, 2015

Our after Christmas Blog 
It has been such a busy week it seems much longer then seven days since last Sunday. You heard in that blog that Sophia was asked to give her testimony in Spanish. And she did. This is in the little branch of Nerja that is just one hour to the north of us. We will be attending Church services there each Sunday.

Monday was a work day and trying to learn our expanding duties and responsibilities. That evening we were able to go shopping for the first time. Fortunately there is a nice market just a block off our path as we travel, walk, to and from the office. How much you buy when you know you have to carry it home six blocks is much different  then when you are going to put it in your car and drive. 

Small park  to the southwest of our apartment
Tuesday morning we left before seven a.m. We drove to Malaga to pick up another North American couple, elder and sister Frost. She is a physician assistant and cares for all missionary illnesses both here and in Madrid. We again drove across Andalucia to the city of Sevilla, 5 1/2 hours west, where half of the missionaries had gathered for a Christmas conference.

The first hour was Sharing of individual talents -singing, Piano playing, and some fun skits. During the second hour we walked over to a very large shopping center and sang religious Christmas carols to the shoppers. It was wonderfully fun and joyful to be part of an unpracticed choir of Over 100 voices. The mall security guard Took pictures as well as did several Shoppers. When we finished one woman near me asked if we were going to sing elsewhere and could she come and listen again. We returned to the church that was about a 15 minute walk where we had a Christmas based short program. It was at this time that both Sophia and I were asked to give our testimonies. Of course all of this was done in Spanish.

We left at 5 o'clock p.m. And drove the six hours across the country of Spain to the city Murcia. The other half of the missionaries had gathered here for a second conference. It also begin at 11on Wednesday with the talent show and then off to sing in the city Plaza. This time we had  missionaries who played the violin the flute and viola to accompany us. The weather was ideal cool but enjoyable and the number of people who stopped and listen was surprising. Again we returned for the more serious meeting, but this time Sophia was not surprised and did a good job.

About 5:30 we left for the 4+ hour Drive back to Malaga and home. The excitement did not end. As we got to Malaga to drop off the Frosts two of the main roads to get to their house had been closed. They do not have a car and we spent an hour driving around and around trying to get into their area of the city. At one point the GPS had us do two identical loops before it could figure out where we were. If we hadn't been so tired it would have been very comical. Fortunately we were all in good moods and said we will remember this is part of the trip for a long time. We arrived home at midnight.

A street near ours
On the 24th we were again in the office trying to learn all our many tasks. We had invited the three Office missionaries and the two missionaries who work in the city to come for breakfast at our home on Christmas morning. I have neglected to tell you that our mission presidents wife was not here when we arrived. She had returned Home to Idaho for their youngest son's wedding. She returned on the 23rd. On the morning of the 25th the president phoned and invited us to his home for breakfast. We explained we had the elders coming and learned that he had just sent them in invite to his home. Rather than have a conflict or a double booking we all took our planned breakfast to his home and he shared what he had planned and we added ours to theirs.

What a wonderful time we had together. We played a white elephant gift exchange, sang some lovely hymns and shared various Christmas experiences that each of us felt. As we left we were much fuller than the quantity of food than we had eaten. And we had eaten very well (pancakes, BlackBerry jam, dulce de leche with bananas, papaya, Oranges, Tangerines, Bacon, Eggs, Muffins, and three different juices, two french hens, and a partridge in a pear tree). In the afternoon and evening Sophia and I went for a walk and enjoyed the Christmas decorations and historical parts of the city.

 Trying to keep track of apartments, Reimbursements, illnesses: in general activities of 200 Young missionaries is a much larger issue than I had understood. On Saturday we again went into the office early to be able to get all the year-end books finished. I don't know if we'll get it all done but we're doing our best. We finally left the office at7pm. and  Saturday night we both worked on the talks we would be giving in our branch. We had been each asked to give a 10 minute Christmas -based talk.

This morning, Sunday, we left before nine in order to get there on time. Sophia's talk use the song “let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me”. She did a very good job. She wrote out her talk first in English had it translated by using Google and then read it to the congregation. We both took about 10 minutes. I was then surprised to learn that for the third week the Sunday school teacher for the adult class had not arrived. So I was volunteered to teach the Sunday school lesson. We talked about goals for the coming year and how to use the words of Christ to both change and to help us reach those goals.
Do you notice how clean the streets are?

There where only 22 members in attendance today. But we were able to me each one and hopefully remember their names. By being able to teach the Sunday school class I was able to get to know them better then if I had just been part of the class.

We arrived home at 4 o'clock and again slept for two hours. It is amazing how deep of sleep you can be in. At that time. We're looking forward to the new year we hope you are. Know that you are in our prayers and in our thoughts frequently. The small adult Sunday school class reminded me exactly of the Sunday school class at FOY where we spend our winters.

Happy new year and hugs all around!!! Elder and sister Hopkins

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