Wednesday, January 27, 2016

To all our friends
Sorry it has taken us so long to make an entry. We have been very busy in the office and in the Nerja branch.  Three weeks ago we had a zone leaders conference for two days. The quality of the leadership here in the mission is very impressive. I forget what day it was, they arrived in the evening and we went to the Mission presidents Home to help serve a dinner. It was a simple buffet but it was very impressive to see the enthusiasm of these 30 (elders and sisters) missionaries. After the dinner there was a planning meeting and discussion of 2016 goals.  Both Sophia and I had a minor presentation at the beginning. The dinner started at around five, the meeting ended around 11. Six elders then came with us and spent the night in our home. We had a photo taken of the group and had each of them sign in one of our notebooks. Our plan is to have everyone who spends the night with us, to take their picture and have them sign our book. It will be a wonderful memory of those who come through.  The next morning they were picked up at 6:30 and then stayed until noon with continued meetings.

The Croshaw's, a senior couple, arrived two weeks ago. They arrived not knowing they needed to get an international drivers license from AAA before arriving here. We had planned to have them leave driving one of the mission cars to the northern most part of the mission. This is the area of Alcazar de San Juan. When they couldn't drive it was necessary for them to go by train and then by bus. Having six large suitcases it would have been very difficult for them to travel. So they stayed with us three nights and then traveled with some elders from the area as they went to their new home. The elders had been down for a zone conference in Malaga. Anyway the good news we got them back to their proselyting area and within three days they had found a new apartment. When you're back away from the tourist areas, prices for apartments are very reasonable. A three bedroom apartment with  air conditioning, fully furnished was only €450 per month.

When they first started talking to the rental agency they had the agency phone me. I indicated that I would need two forms completed and emailed the forms to the agency. Three days later after meeting with the owner, the agency informed me that they would only give five pieces of the two pages of information that the church requires to rent a an apartment and told me that was all the information that the church needed. It was not a good morning for me and the wrong thing to tell me then. I had early on agreed to doubling the security deposit to 2 months rent for the apartment. I was not about to have an agency tell me what the church needed especially when I told them upfront that it would be needed. I told the couple to get up and leave the agency. I strongly told the agency that they would not tell me what the church needed or not. I had met their demands when they wanted an increase in the deposit and they would either fill out the pages completely or the renters would go find another unit to rent. I spoke to the Croshaw's who were there in the office, they were not on the speakerphone, and told him that this was a negotiating issue. They were to get off the phone thank the woman and leave the office. They did as I asked.  Previous I had told her, the renting agent, that the church would decide what information it needed and that she would not determine the extent Nor the limits of what they, the church, needed. We would be happy to go find another unit.

The Croshaw's walked out. The renting agent pleaded for them to come back and she quickly completed the two forms entirely and then email them to me. What was funny amongst this is when she sent the forms to me it was noticed that the checking account was missing four digits. I emailed her and told her the number was incorrect she came back immediately and said it was correct. She then sent her checking account Number which we were to credit and it had all 22 digits. I pointed this out to her comparing her account number to the owners account number. She not pleasantly said the number was fine to get on with the transaction. We attempted to make the transfer to the owners account and our bank came back saying the transfer could not take place due to an inaccurate Account number. I contacted the agent again told her exactly what my bank was saying and then she finally Believed the bank but not me.  When she checked the account number that she  had given me twice, it was missing four digits. With 20 minutes to spare she finally got me the full account number and the transaction could take place. I do believe if I had to rent another unit from her she would be much more careful in how we dealt together and how she would answer me.

The work here is much more then I ever anticipated. It was such a mistake to send out someone to take over finances during the month of December. During December our books were closed after the 23rd. We were traveling the 21st and 22nd to zone conferences. The closing of the books required such specific detail that I could not give it. So being the shy quiet person I am, I wrote a very gentle letter to the church missionary Committee suggesting that their timing if possible should never have a new financial secretary to begin in December. I don't know if it will do any good but at least I tried to help future Financial secretaries.

My typical day, I leave the house before 8 o'clock. It is only a six minutes walk to the office and I'm always the first one there. Sophia usually comes in about 930 and the other elders coming about 10 o'clock. In that first hour and a half I do all missionary reimbursement of expenses and the payment of water and light bills. Then by 10 o'clock I'm ready for the phones to begin ringing. And ring they do. It is not uncommon for me to have 4 calls pending.

Sophia has done a wonderful job in organizing and straightening the supplies for the missionaries.. She is such a hard worker and it is so very thorough in her job. We usually leave the office by seven. I set a new record this last week by having lunch two days in the week. Normally we don't break for lunch.

This is now Wednesday next week Will be transfers. This week we will be having over 50 missionaries coming through to be fingerprinted and forms completed to get their permanent visas. What really is incredible is the frequency that we see god's hand in simple necessary decisions. This week on Friday we will go to nerja and bake oatmeal cookies. Oh yes I forgot to tell you on Monday morning at 4 o'clock a.m. We had a 6.6 earthquake. It was only 20 miles deep and with an epic center just a couple miles away. We rolled are bed shook for over 40 seconds. 45 minutes later we had a 2nd 5.5 shaker. It was an interesting problem to decide what we should do. We live on the third floor should we get dressed and go downstairs? Should we stay in bed and not worry about it? Or should we run screaming and jump off our balcony! I stayed in bed, Sophia got up got dressed and then came back to bed. But we never did hear if anybody got hurt.

I hope it won't be another three weeks before I blog again until then thanks for reading.