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.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Zone Conference in Palma

Another round of zone conferences began in Palma last Friday. Palma is our smallest zone - ten young missionaries plus Elder and Hna. Thompson. The Thompsons have been a great support to both the missionaries and the two branches where they work. We have a strong group of missionaries in the islands and they are doing a great work!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Internet Miracles - How Google and Facebook Further the Work

Two months ago a woman living in Murcia was trying to find the address of the Church using the Internet. Somehow - we still don't know how - she came up with the address for the apartment where the sister missionaries live. She went to the address on three successive Sunday mornings hoping to find Church services, but the missionaries, of course, were at the chapel. One Sunday the sisters came home early as they were feeling ill, and were home when the woman tried one more time to find the Church. She was baptized two weeks later.

A few weeks ago we received a referral from our neighbor Ruth Ann Abbott in Salt Lake City. She and a young man named Tony from Cairo had somehow become friends on Facebook and Ruth Ann had shared the Gospel with him via Facebook. Tony was interested in learning more, and as he now lives in Barcelona, Ruth Ann emailed his address and telephone number to us. Tony was baptized last Saturday.

Some weeks ago a man who had first heard of the Church in Nigeria was looking on the Internet to try and find the Church in Valencia where he now lives. In the process he somehow came across a Church member in Australia, and they began communicating via Internet. She sent him a copy of the Book of Mormon, and he wanted to learn more. Somehow he found a cellular phone number that had once been assigned to the Elders in Valencia. They phone number was now assigned to Elder and Sister Thompson on the island of Mallorca. They Thompsons served a previous mission in West Africa, so when this Nigerian called asking about the Church, they had an common connection. Elder Thompson wrote down the man's name, telephone number and address and promised to have the missionaries meet with him in Valencia. The Valencia sister missionaries met with him within a few days and he told them he loves the Church and wants to become a member. He is scheduled to be baptized April 3rd.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Changes, Goings, Comings

Transfer week means, among many things, changes. One of the first changes was in the office staff. Elder Ames - who has ably trained Elder Atkin - was assigned to Inca, and Elder Romney began feverishly training his replacement, Elder Bowers before heading off as district leader in Elche.

Elders Romney, Bowers, Baugh and Davis: 4 generations of registradores

Elder Ames in the office

This weekend also brought us a new assistant, as Elder Gogarty went home this week. Elder Morales is from Cadiz, Spain. His father also served in the Spain Barcelona Mission. He has been serving as a zone leader here in Barcelona and has already proven to be a very valuable assistant!

Los Ayudantes: Elder Jensen and Morales in the president's office. Elder Baugh and Elder Sommerfeldt can be seen in the background.

 Elder Morales becomes acquainted with the one perk associated with serving in the office as Elder Gogarty trains him in some of his duties.

On Tuesday we received a great new half-dozen missionaries who arrived via high-speed train from the Madrid MTC. We are excited to have Hnas. Skouson (Las Vegas), Guerra (Stockholm), and Garcia (Madrid) and Elders Johansen (Salt Lake City) and Arcelles (Madrid). They are an impressive group - the future of the mission is bright!

 At the train station

At Estació Sants: Elder Jensen, Hna. Guerra, Elder Morales, Elder Johansen, Pte. Hinckley, Hna. Hinckley, Hna. Garcia, Hna. Skousen, Elder Atkin, Elder Arcelles

The nuevos at Montjuic

A handsome group overlooking the mission field

Fortunately, the new missionaries arriving takes some of the sting out of bidding farewell to those going home. We said goodby to six incredible missionaries this week. It was, as always, a bittersweet moment. We had wonderful interviews with each of them and were blessed with a wonderful spirit in our farewell meeting. We had 5 elders and one sister returning - and Hna. Hinckley had to bring out extra kleenex for the sobbing elders!

We then went down to Plaza Catalunya, as is our custom, where members and missionaries from the area had gathered to sing hymns, make contacts, and say goodbye.

  Elders York and Gogarty saying a last goodbye in the Plaza Catalunya to a family they baptized.

With Elder Worthen
 With Elder Wilcox
With Elder Malit
Hna. Bowen poses for a last photo with Hna. O'Neill

 Hna. Skousen on her first day in the mission with her companion, Hna. Church, as they came to bid farewell to the departing missionaries.

The Las Vegas Trio: with the arrival of Hna. Skousen, we now have three missionaries from Las Vegas (Elders Bowers and Evans joined her for this photo of the trio)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday in Barrio 2

The ward which includes the mission home, Barcelona Barrio 2, is in many respects a typical inner-city ward. We have members from all walks of life and from a score of different countries, and on any given Sunday we have visitors from around the world. The Bishop is Catalan, the first counselor is from Latin America, and the second counselor is from the Philippines. Tt is a very active ward in terms of missionary work.

Today was a typically great Sunday in Barrio 2. Nataly, who was baptized on Friday, was confirmed in Sacrament meeting and then gave the closing prayer in the meeting. She prayed like she had been a member of the Church all her life. Brother Moises, who was baptized about 6 weeks ago, was called as 2nd counselor in the Young Men and helped ordain a young man as a priest before leaving the opening exercises of priesthood meeting to meet with the Young Men. These two recent converts are well-integrated into the ward!

A new sister who has just moved from the Badalona Ward attended our ward for the first time today. She is originally from Brazil but has been less-active for many years. She was warmly welcomed by the great ward members and is excited to finally be back a Church!

Sister Maria Luisa from Andorra was visiting and brought her non-member sister with her. Maria Luisa also reported on a contact Sister Hinckley had made in Andorra a few weeks ago when we were up there. Since we have no missionaries serving in the Andorra Branch, Maria Luisa agreed to deliver a Book of Mormon to Fatima, our contact. Fatima was very happy to receive the book; her mother was there at the time and asked if she could get her own copy. So we may send a pair of missionaries up to Andorra for a day to visit these new investigators.

Other visitors included a couple from Mesa, Arizona, spending a week in Barcelona celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, and a brother from Guatemala City who is here for two weeks of training with his employer, Roche.

All in all, it was a great Sunday in Barrio 2!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Why We Are Here

Elder Gogarty, one of our assistants, goes home on Wednesday, and had a wonderful baptism this morning. Like most of our converts, Nataly came like a gift from heaven - she showed up at Church a few weeks ago with her American boyfriend who is a return missionary and came here to visit her and make sure she connected with the Church.

 Elder Jensen, Elder Gogarty, and Nataly at the baptism

She is a tiny person, but Nataly is 27 and working on her master's degree here in Barcelona. She is staying with her aunt and uncle who live not far from the chapel. Her uncle is a handsome Catalán. She comes from a very well-educated and well-to-do family. She is very bright and has a great understanding of the gospel, studies the Book of Mormon, and has a sweet testimony.

  With her uncle, Salvador, who represented the family at her baptism

 With the office missionaries following the baptism

Because she had received one of the lessons in our home last week, she invited Pte. Hinckley to offer a testimony at her baptism and Hna. Hinckley gave the closing prayer. It was a wonderful service and we are so happy for this bright new member! This is why we are here!

Interviews in the South

We spent four days down south interviewing missionaries in the Elche and Valencia Zones. The trip took us first to Murcia, then to Elche, and finally to Valencia. These are the two most productive zones in the mission right now, with great missionaries, excited members, lots of teaching, and regular baptisms! It was a tiring but very enjoyable trip with the opportunity of spending some time with each of our 37 missionaries in the South!

The Murcia Trio: Hnas. Montes de Oca, Bowen and Brown

 The grounds of the Elche Stake Center - waiting for the missionaries to arrive

In the Valencia metro with Elder Close

 In the Valencia train station with Elders Bowers, Lindsey, Close, and Hall

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Friday we took the AVE to Zaragoza to interview the missionaries in the great capital of Aragón. On the high-speed train it is only 1 1/2 hours each way so we were home in time to do another couple of hours of interviews in Barcelona before the prime evening proselyting time.

Hnas. Brown and Gum, Elders Awerkamp, Lara, and Keller (Elder Wedemeyer was being interviewed by the Pte.)

The Zaragoza missionaries are experiencing a lot of success, and are glad to have the help of Elder Keller who arrived on Wednesday!

Saturday evening we had a wonderful lesson with one of the young investigators in Barcelona Barrio 2. Nataly is 27 years old and came to Barcelona a few months ago to begin a masters program at one of the universities here. Her father is a plastic surgeon in Guayaquil, and she had a few meetings there with the missionaries before moving to Barcelona. She plans to be baptized at 9:00 a.m. next Friday.

Pte y Hna. Hinckley, Nataly, Elders Gogarty and Jensen

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mid-Transfer Comings and Goings

Most changes happen only every six weeks, but there are frequently changes in between the scheduled transfer dates. Unfortunately, Hna. Rodriguez had a foot problem that made it very painful to walk.
She returned home to Milan to have it treated, and we expect her back in couple of weeks. The light of the mission doesn't burn as bright when she is not here!

Meanwhile, Elder Preston Keller (not to be confused with Elder Logan Keller) had not received a visa and was working in the Georgia Atlanta North Mission praying that his visa would come through. It did, and he arrived in Barcelona today!
He traveled from the MTC in Madrid via high-speed train to Barcelona, arriving at 9:45 this morning. By 2:30 he was on a bus to Zaragoza to meet up with his trainer, the legendary Elder Lara. Note to Elder Keller's parents: your son looks great and arrived safely this evening in Zaragoza. He is hard at work as we speak! Thanks for sending him our way!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Snow in Barcelona!

La nieve paraliza Barcelona

"Snow Paralyzes Barcelona"

So reads the headline in this afternoon's edition of El País. It began snowing this morning, and has continued all day. At first it was a slushy, freezing rain, but within a few hours there were huge flakes blowing horizontally down the streets.

Early morning - Hna Eberly in Sabadell looking in amazement at the snow

By afternoon all city buses had stopped running and many of the trains were experiencing delays (two Elders on a stalled train after two hours, but they made it home and our out working tonight).

 Looking out from the terrace of the mission home

 Snow-covered palm fronds in front of the mission home

The mission van...



Sunday, March 7, 2010

Columbus in Barcelona - The Report to the Kings

Columbus returned from his epic first voyage on 4 March 1493, sailing into the port of Lisbon. Moved upon by the Holy Spirit as seen anciently by Nephi, he had overcome tremendous odds and returned home safely from a voyage of discovery that would not only change this history of Spain, but the history of the world, and was a key step in ushering in the Restoration.

From Lisbon (where he had been driven by a storm), Columbus sailed the Niña to Palos de la Frontera, where he set foot again upon Spanish soil on 15 March 1493. From Palos he travelled to Sevilla, arriving on 31 March. There he waited for a response from Ferdinand and Isabella, who were holding court in Barcelona. He received his response on Easter weekend, confirming his royal title of Admiral of the Ocean Sea and inviting him to come and report personally to the Kings in Barcelona.

The Admiral traveled via Murcia and Valencia in a colorful procession which included caged parrots and six Indians in native dress, arriving in Barcelona in mid-April. In an elaborate ceremony fitting the occasion, the royals stood with their entourage on the top of the palace steps as Columbus and his entourage entered the plaza.
To commemorate the event we made a quick visit to the old royal palace, conveniently located in downtown Barcelona.
It was beautiful, sunny day in Barcelona, probably similar to the day in 1493 when Columbus arrived at the steps of the palace.
We are grateful to Columbus for his diligence in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit - "with a hand that could be felt" as he described it. And we are grateful for the hand of the Holy Spirit in our mission that leads our missionaries to those persons who are prepared and ready to receive the restored gospel.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


The new month begins with mission council - the Ayudantes, the Zone Leaders, and an invited companionship of Hermanas joined us for the March council meeting at the mission home on Tuesday morning. Actually, they began with a brief session on Monday evening conducted by the Ayudantes. Hermanas Gum and Brown came in from Zaragoza for the council.

As is our custom, Tuesday morning began with a hearty breakfast prepared by the Hna. Hinckley and the Ayudantes. Pancakes and maple syrup (thanks, Mapeline!) are a treat for our American missionaries!

But the real fun began after breakfast. We had a wonderful discussion about the progress of the mission and revised our Standards of Excellence to reflect the higher performance of missionaries over the last several months. We have remarkable young mission leaders who have a great spirit about them and who demonstrate great faith.

This year we have a specific focus each month on one aspect of Preach My Gospel. In January, we worked on becoming "world-class" planners (Chapter 10). We saw many miracles as our missionaries worked on making more meaningful plans to help investigators.

 In February and March our focus is on using the Book of Mormon more effectively (Chapter 5). Again, we had many stories reported in the council about how directing investigators to find answers to their questions in the Book of Mormon created miracles. The Hermanas reported on an investigator of theirs who just didn't believe that God could ever forgive her of her sins. They asked her to read the story of Alma the Younger and think about how this might apply to her. She returned with a new understanding of the Atonement and the faith that she could put the past behind her and be free from sin.

Just for fun, we did a little Book of Mormon quiz with the council members - the President would give a short description of a Book of Mormon event or key doctrine, and the missionaries were to name the corresponding chapter. He was unable to stump the panel! The scriptural knowledge of these young missionaries is impressive!

 Seated: Hnas. Gum, Brown, Hinckley, Pte. Hinckley
Standing: Elders Jensen, Raban, Lammi, Davis, Millard, Burton, Morales, Groves, Wilcox, Evans, Miskin, Gogarty

 Why is this woman smiling?

We left the council having been fed the Spirit and with a greater vision of how to lift the work in the coming year!

"We Need a Miracle"

 Our missionaries often teach investigators who are not married. In many cases, these are couples who have lived together for an extended period of time and are raising a family, but local laws make it difficult and expensive to obtain a legal marriage, especially if one of the individuals is an immigrant.

One of our zone leaders was doing an exchange with another Elder this week. As they were walking towards the home of a prospective investigator, the missionary told the zone leader that this couple would probably get baptized if they could just get married. But knowing how difficult and time-consuming it would be for the couple to get a marriage license, he was not hopeful. As they approached the front door the missionary said to the zone leader, "We need a miracle."

They rang the bell and woman answered the door in her wedding gown - they had just been married two hours earlier!

"Ask and ye shall receive."