The lighthouse at Formentor, Mallorca

The background shows sidewalk tiles - "rajoles" - that pave the sidewalks throughout Barcelona. They were designed by architect Puig i Cadafalch for the entryway of a home. Since 1915, they have been used by the city to pave sidewalks, and have become emblematic of the city. One of the city's most famous chocolatiers, Enric Rovira, produces chocolate bars in the shape and design of these tiles.

Monday, December 28, 2009

"Now have we not reason to rejoice?"

We have just witnessed a miracle of substantial proportions. For some years, the Spain Barcelona Mission has had the goal of seeing 400 convert baptisms in a single year. In 2008, the mission had 265 baptisms/confirmations during the year. As of last Sunday night, we had 402 baptisms during 2009! This miracle is even more remarkable considering that we currently have 50 companionships compared to about 65-70 during 2008.

Like Ammon, we can say, "How great reason have we to rejoice; for could we have supposed when we started [this year] that God would have granted unto us such great blessings?... Now behold, we can look forth and see the fruits of our labors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are many."

We could not be more proud of our wonderful missionaries - they have been obedient, clean, diligent, prayerful, and full of faith. They have worked very, very hard, through the humid summers months when the heat was oppressive, and in cold, biting wind and rain in the winter. They have dealt with rejection daily. And they have been rewarded with miracles beyond their imagination.

Thanks to all of you for your prayers - they have been an important factor in this great miracle!

Maria - one of 402!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The First Day of Christmas

Bon Nadal, as we say in Catalunya! The celebration of Christmas in Spain really begins with a long family dinner on Noche Buena - Christmas Eve. In recent years Papa Noel has become more popular, and many families now have presents on Christmas Day delivered by Santa Claus. But the big gift event is Three Kings Day on January 6th, so we have just begun to celebrate the twelve days of Christmas.

Our Christmas morning began with a special present - we drove to the airport early in the morning to pick up our son, our daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren!

In the afternoon we hosted an open house at the mission home for missionaries, recent converts and investigators. A good time was had by all!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Notes from the Field

We had every intention when we arrived six months ago to keep a careful record of the miracle stories that we see and hear from missionaries, but we were unprepared for the sheer quantity of miracles we would see!

Last week a pair of Sister missionaries reported three unusual events in three days. First, Their train was delayed resulting in a 30-minute wait at the station to make their connection home in the evening. They were tired and disappointed at having to wait. As they sat there, the man from the ticket booth came out and asked if he "could steal a few minutes from them." They thought he wanted to borrow their mobile phone, but he then asked, "Could you tell me a little bit about what you preach?"

The next day they were walking down the street and a gentleman called after them, "Aren't you Mormons?" They responded yes, and he then said he had once had a Book of Mormon and would like to know more.

The next day they were dropping some things off at the chapel and visiting with the Ward Mission Leader, a recent convert and an investigator, when another man stopped just outside the front door, peering inside. The Sisters went out and asked if they could help him with something. He said, "Yes, I was told you could tell me the true story of Jesus Christ here. Could you share it with me?"

Like most parts of the world, finding people to teach is the hardest thing missionaries do. But invariably, when they are working hard, the Lord sends his prepared children to them. We love serving in a time and place where "angels are declaring unto many at this time in our land... for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word." (Alma 13:24)

Keeping organized...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Conferences

!Bon Nadal! as we say in Catalunya. Or !Feliz Navidad! as we say in other parts of Spain. We celebrated the season with two special combined Zone Conferences this week, one in Elche and one in Hospitalet (near Barcelona).

We had some fun - each district had to prepare and then present a short skit, an exercise that revealed a wealth of hitherto unknown talent. We did a simple gift exchange among the missionaries and keeping with our theme of a White Christmas (the color of baptism clothing), we asked that the gift be something white. Some gifts were practical - a jar of mayonnaise - while others a little less so - where do I start?

We gave each missionary a special Christmas ornament as a souvenir of this Christmas in Spain, a handmade leather ornament with a drawing of lighthouse engraved on it, the name of the mission, and the year. These were all made by a member of the Church in Elche.

We had a catered lunch - pizza - supplemented by homemade chocolate chip cookies made by Hermana Hinckley (over 300 of them!) and fresh-picked oranges from the orange groves of Valencia.

The stake center in Elche, where we held the southern conference, is located within the largest grove of palm trees in Europe. It was not hard to visualize the wise men on the camels making their way through the trees in search of the Holy Child!

And we had a great spiritual feast. The missionaries shared some remarkable accounts of recent miracles, we sang Christmas carols, we watched a slide show/movie recalling events, places and people in the mission of the past year, and ended with a video presentation of the Christmas Story from the Bible.

It was the best Christmas ever!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Suprise Sister!

We had a special suprise last week. Hermana Bustamante from Rengo, Chile, who has been serving for six months in Chile Santiago East while waiting for a visa, received her visa and arrived in Spain on 3-days notice! We were beginning to give up hope that she would ever get a visa, but we are happy to say she is now in her assigned field of labor in the Spain Barcelona Mission.

Hna. Church, Hna. Bustamante, Hna. Hinckley, Pte. Hinckley at Montjuic

Hermana Church came up from Valencia to be Hermana Bustamante's companion. They are serving in the Barcelona 1st Ward - a new area for Sisters. The new Barcelona Stake Center is being constructed not far from their ward, and they will be able to take advantage of some of the publicity surrounding the new building (which we hope to occupy in March).

Even though they are starting a new area, they expect to have their first baptism next week. These Sisters are full of faith and are seeing miracles in their first days together. We feel it is a great privilege just to know them!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's Been a Quiet Week...

Kind of.

After the flurry of a mission tour - two conferences and a mission council, plus meetings with three of the four stake presidencies, this has been a quieter week in the sense that rather than have meetings we have gone back to work!

And work the missionaries did! They have been meeting with every progressing investigator and with every former investigator who once had a baptismal date but was not baptized. They have been sweetly bold in inviting these people to be baptized.

And they have seen miracles. Two missionaries called this afternoon to tell us of a recent experience. They had been teaching a less-active woman who is now coming back to Church. Then they taught and baptized her niece and are baptizing the niece's mother this week. They have also been teaching a sister-in-law who became offended by something at Church and left angry, saying that she would never return. A few days later this same sister-in-law underwent medical tests for possible cancer, and requested that the Elders give her a blessing, which they did. Her heart was softened and she related that an angel had presented the missionaries to her in a vision or dream in a pillar of light. She is getting baptized next week!

Moroni teaches us that it is the office of angels "to call men unto repentance," and Alma noted that "angels are declaring unto many at this time in our land... for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word." (Moroni 7:31, Alma 13:24)

We love this work! Thanks for your continued prayers on behalf of our missionaries and their investigators.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


We had the best Thanksgiving ever - the entire day was spent with a General Authority learning how to be better missionaries! Elder Erich W. Kopsichke of the First Quorum of the Seventy and President of the Europe Area toured the mission this week, and it was a spiritual feast!

And we have much to be thankful for! November was the best month in the mission in anyone's memory. We were blessed with 49 baptisms (and when you consider that we have only 100 missionaries, that is a remarkable month)! We are twice blessed - we baptize like South America but we get to live in Europe!

We are exercising our faith - and works - to have an even greater December. Thanks for your prayers and faith!

Some conference notes...

"Thanksgiving Dinner" in Valencia - sandwiches and softdrinks during a break in the conference