Wednesday, October 21, 2009

La Lucha Continua...

"La vida es una lucha..." [Life is a battle.] That's something that our beloved Presidente Galera always says. Things continue to go well in Segovia. We've had some very promising contacts recently and have kept teaching Alfredo and helping him progress. We finally got to meet his family (at least, the family he has here with him) and they are some of the nicest people I've ever met! His Aunt Meri is a charming old lady who speaks in the most tiernos accentos. We also taught Alfredo's 26 year old son, William, and he seems to have a steel-trap understanding of what he reads and what we talk about. That's always refreshing.

Yesterday we had Interviews in Madrid with Presidente Watkins. And since I was in Madrid, close to the center of the mission, I got mail! Yay! I got a whole stack of letters and a delightfully fun Halloween package from Kristen, and I thank you ALL for your wonderful correspondences. The way things are looking now, I probably won't be able to respond to very many of the letters today as we're running a little crunched on time and my time to write letters will be fugacious at best, but I'll do what I can.

After interviews, the office elders had scheduled me for a residency appointment so I went to a government building and then got in an intense chase/combat scene avoiding all the guards... just kidding, this isn't the Bourne Identity. But they did take my fingerprints and I got to spend some time talking with other missionaries in my group while waiting in the lines. All around good times! Apparently it will still take me several months before I'm officially a "resident" here in Spain. Quite an ordeal.

Since we were going to be in Madrid so late anyway, we decided to spend the night here and then spend preparation day here as well. Since we were outside of our regular area, all we could do was contact and try and get return appointments for the Barrio 5 Madrid Elders. We got two!

Then the skies darkened and a torrential rain started to fall. It was without a doubt the most rain I've seen thus far here in Spain! We bought an umbrella at a Chino (basically a small store that sells a little bit of low quality everything) but it proved to be ineffective as the rain came in from sideways and the streets flooded, essentially becoming rushing creeks. I got completely soaked and my companion did too. We tried to dry our clothes off that night, but when I woke up, my shoes and the pockets of my pants and coat were still wet. It's alright though, it was a way exciting experience being in such a fierce rain!

We've spent most of today walking around Sol, one of the main centers of Madrid. Elder Zollinger doesn't have long left in the mission, so he's starting the "souvenier shopping phase," mostly for family and friends. I still don't have very many desires to buy much in the way of souveniers, so I did a lot of following around. The Elders of Villabla met up with us, and we also bumped into Elder Ogden and his two companions waiting in line to go into the Royal Palace! I got pictures.

Oh, here's a fun story: Hermano Patricio, the first counselor in our branch, and his wife Maira have recently become the owners of a restaurant in Segovia. They serve Cochinillo, which is the meat of a baby pig (the best ones are only 3 weeks old) which is a delicacy very specific to Segovia. They invited me and Elder Zollinger over and fed us some. It was very good! The best part is the skin, because after they roast the whole piglet in the oven, the skin gets crunchy and delicious. The meat is very juicy and tender. Anyways, after they'd fed us and we'd left, their restaurant got filled to bursting with tourists. They invited us over a few weeks later to feed us again and yet again, after we had eaten, the restauraunt got very busy. So, convinced that their success as a restaurant hinges on how often they feed us, they've asked us to come over every week! :) Just a funny story. And I hope you all don't think I'm some kind of sadistic creeper for enjoying piglet meat. It's a cultural thing, ok?

Some other things specific to Segovia and the surrounding province (I may have talked about this before, but whatever): the Jota. It's a folk dance danced by the natives here at any festival, party, or similar celebratory gathering. It's almost always danced to the music of a snare and bass drum, and a woodwind called the Dulzaina, a uniquely Spanish horn which I can only define as a sawn-off oboe. It has a very powerful and happy sound. Elder Zollinger and I have seen the Jota danced every now and then and have always enjoyed the culture of it all. Once, in the apartment, I almost had it down! Elder Zollinger just said I looked like a dopey-dopey-dumb-dumb, but I think I was doing pretty good!

Things are going well for me here in Segovia still. I hope to receive more letters and packages soon and I hope everything is going well for all of you back home. I love you all and I love the Lord. 'Til next time!

-Elder Knorr