!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!
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.