Tables and chairs are set up the night before. The Ayundantes arrive at 8:00 a.m. to help cook a breakfast of French toast, maple syrup, bacon, and orange juice. At 9:00, the doorbell rings, the Zone Leaders and Hermanas come in, remove their shoes, find a place for their books and bags, wash their hands, gather for a blessing, and we serve breakfast buffet-style ("Please take only two slices of French toast and two slices of bacon until everyone has been served.")
At 10:00 we clear the table, shuffle the chairs, everyone finds a seat in the living room area, and "Concilio" officially begins. After an opening hymn and prayer, we recite "Our Purpose" from Preach My Gospel, then D&C 4, then have a couple of talks on D&C 4 (everyone prepares a 5-minute talk; two are called on).
The Ayudantes then give a brief report on the pre-Concilio meeting which they conduct the night before, the president's secretary gives announcements from the office, and then the council discussion begins. This time we had a lengthy and very interesting discussion about the "culture" of the mission - our beliefs, practices and habits. We talked about what elements of the culture we wanted to retain, and what we might want to change. It was a very interesting and productive discussion. You might be interested in some of the key elements of our mission culture - in the opinion of the mission council, these are common beliefs, practices and behaviors in the Spain Barcelona Mission:
- In the Spain Barcelona Mission, we baptize converts.
- We are an obedient mission.
- We are “Preach My Gospel” missionaries.
- We love the people.
- We challenge on the first visit.
- We are effective teachers.
- We work hand-in-hand with members and leaders, and we help members become more effective missionaries.
- We speak exceptional Spanish.
- We always speak Spanish in the street.
- We bring people to Church.
- We build the Church by reactivating less active members.
- We open our lessons with a hymn.We pray and testify before leaving the piso.
- We are professional in our appearance, behavior and speech:
- We do not carry backpacks- we use briefcases when necessary;
- We part our hair (if at all possible);
- We never use slang or acronyms.
- We work harder, as evidenced by shorter preparation days than other missions (because we get up an hour later, our preparation days are one hour shorter than in most of the world.
At noon we take a refreshment break - some vegetables and dip, bean and salsa dip, sliced oranges, crackers with cheese and ham.
We then moved into the second half of the meeting, where we discussed several issues about mission rules and norms. The council decided, for example, that we should continue and even enhance our practice of having regular "English fasts" where we speak no English among companions for several consecutive days. We discussed how to deal with the reality that as our number of missionaries decreases our proselyting areas become bigger. And we talked about what the focus of the next series of Zone Conferences should be. These missionaries are remarkably mature and thoughtful, and this council runs as well or better than most councils I have seen anywhere in the Church.
Following these discussions we had messages from Hermana Hinckley and President Hinckley, then heard testimonies from several of the missionaries before concluding.
At the conclusion of the meeting (about 2:30) we had a wonderful buffet lunch of baked potatoes with toppings and lasagna, took photographs, cleared the dishes, put away the tables and chairs and rearranged the furniture. The missionaries then put their shoes back on and went back to work!