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, April 26, 2010

Flooding the Earth

Dia de Sant Jordi

St. George is the patron saint of Catalonia (and some other parts of Spain), and April 23 has evolved into an interesting holiday. Men give a red rose to their sweetheart, a reminder of the red roses that sprang from the blood of the dragon slain by St. George. But because April 23 is also the anniversary of the death of Cervantes and Shakespeare, it has become International Book Day, so women reward their men with the gift of a book.

President Hinckley presented Hna. Hinckley with this red rose...

Nearly 50% of book sales in Spain take place during the week of Sant Jordi. On April 23 the cities are filled with flower vendors selling roses, and every plaza is filled with tables and booths from booksellers. Our missionaries and members take advantage of this occasion to offer free copies of the Book of Mormon to those in need of a book!

We had booths in at least a dozen cities, and by the time the day was over we had distributed 844 copies of the Book of Mormon! Equally significant, we obtained the names and addresses of over 200 people who said they would be willing to have a representative of the Church visit them and explain more about the book!

A ward member writes down the name and address of a passer-by who accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon. This table was set up at the entrance to the Hospitalet Stake Center.

 Elder Groves and a ward member get the name and address of man in the plaza near the Hospitalet Stake Center.

 Missionaries and members man the table on the Ramblas near the statue of Columbus in Barcelona.

 Ward member Enrique Catala mans the table while Elder Bowers and a ward member talk with a passer-by on the Ramblas.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

More Miracles - a Sampling from Reports This Week

Two weeks ago, a pair of missionaries reported that a young woman showed up at Church on Sunday and asked if she could learn more and be baptized (see below). In their letter to the president this week they wrote,
We had another miracle occur this Sunday. For the second week in a row, a man showed up at church and asked if we accept visitors.
The man stayed for Church, then set an appointment to meet with the missionaries during the week. They met with him and taught him about the restoration, then invited him to prepare to be baptized on May 1st. He accepted the invitation by telling them that the very reason he went to Church is because he knew he needed to be baptized!

A different pair of missionaries shared this story this week:
This week has been great. This past Sunday a man came into the church and asked if we were the Mormons. We said, "Yes" and he said he had met with the missionaries about 20 years ago but wasn’t ready, but he is ready to listen now. We taught him and he now has a baptismal date for the 2nd of May.

Another pair of missionaries reported that a recent convert brought a friend to Church with her, something the missionaries "weren't expecting at all (other than we have been praying for a family to teach and baptize for a while now)." The friend asked how she could be baptized a member of the Church, and the missionary explained that she needed to study with the missionaries, read the Book of Mormon, pray and attend Church, and she could prepare herself to be baptized on May 1st! They began teaching her this week.

"Have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men." - Moroni 7:29

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hinckley Conference

Elder Richard G. Hinckley of the First Quorum of the Seventy completed a tour of the mission this week. Yes, he is Pte. Hinckley's brother, but he was assigned by Pres. Packer to tour the mission as part of a European trip to visit the MTCs and tour missions.

He began his tour in Paris and was scheduled to fly from Paris to Barcelona, but the Icelandic volcano changed those plans. After scrambling for 24 hours to find a way to get from Paris to Barcelona, we finally determined that automobile was the only option. So, with the blessing of the Area Presidency, Pres. and Sister Staheli (of the France Paris Mission) left Paris with the Hinckleys in their car and headed south, while we got in our car and headed north. We connected in the little town of La Canourge somewhere in central France, traded passengers, and headed home!

Elder and Sister Hinckley with Pres. Staheli in La Canourgue

 Hna. Hinckley with Elder and Sister Hinckley in La Canourgue

We arrived back in Barcelona late Saturday night. Sunday night Elder Hinckley was the featured speaker at a fireside for investigators and new members, and spoke to a packed stake center. Monday and Tuesday were zone conferences (Barcelona, Hospitalet, and Palma combined on Monday, and Valencia and Elche combined on Tuesday).

The conferences were wonderful and we all came away with many questions answered and many new ideas to be more effective in helping others develop faith and repent so that they can be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end!

Wednesday the Hinckleys boarded the AVE (high speed train) for Madrid to spend some time with the Madrid MTC before (successfully) flying to England.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Short Guide to the Week

MONDAY: President Hinckley's sister, Virginia H. Pearce, arrives for a brief visit. Elder Gallegos falls on Montserrat, breaks his leg, and is evacuated by helicopter.
TUESDAY: In a mid-cycle transfer, two new missionaries arrived from the Madrid MTC. Arrangements are made for Elder Gallegos' release and travel home.
WEDNESDAY: Hermanas luncheon and meeting for hermanas serving in the Barcelona metro area. Finalize travel arrangements for Elder Gallegos.
THURSDAY:  Elder Gallegos leaves, with the able assistance of airport services for the handicapped.

On Friday we take Sister Pearce to the airport, then pick up Elder Richard G. Hinckley to begin a mission tour and series of conferences over 4 days. His arrival is dependent upon being able to fly out of Paris in spite of air travel interruptions due to volcanic ask from eruption in Iceland.

And in the meantime, the work goes on with miracle after miracle! Details below.

Spring comes to Parc Guell

Hermanas Are Awesome!

On Wednesday the Hermanas from the Barcelona area came into the mission home for a luncheon with Hna. Hinckley and the president's sister, Virginia H. Pearce (who is visiting for a few days). A good time was had by all.

Back Row: Hnas. Church, Bustamante, Pearce, Hinckley, O'Neill, Skousen
Front Row: Hnas. Eberly and Merrell

Missionary Down!

On Monday (preparation day) a group of missionaries took a little field trip to Monserrat, a national park not far from Barcelona. Coming down a trail high on the mountain in the afternoon, Elder Gallegos slipped on wet step, and fell immobilized with broken leg! Paramedics came with a stretcher, but the trail was too narrow and too wet, and they ultimately called in a helicopter to evacuate the wounded elder. He was taken by ambulance to a local hospital where they did x-rays and put him in a cast up to his waist.

At the beginning of the day the missionaries had expressed hopes for a real adventure on Montserrat. They got more than they bargained for!

It was a very nasty and painful break. We got him back to the mission home about 1:30 a.m. and made him as comfortable as possible.

 Elder Gallegos preparing to board the plane for Madrid...

Thanks to a priesthood blessing and good medical care, Elder Gallegos is doing fine, but he will be out of the work for about six months. We got him on an airplane Thursday morning. He will live with his sister in Madrid who will care for him (his mother passed away several years ago). He is an enthusiastic and diligent missionary, and we miss him! We hope he heals quickly and comes back to us soon!

Surprise Elders

From time to time we receive "surprise" missionaries - missionaries who arrive on days other than regular transfer days, either because a visa has finally come through or their language skills are such that they have completed all the need to do at the MTC. This week we received Elder Taylor and Elder Estrada (both of the latter category - excellent language skills).

We met them at the train station on Tuesday morning where they arrived on the high speed AVE from Madrid. 

 Elders Taylor and Estrada with the office elders at Estacio Sants

We then gave them the tradition introduction to the city on Montjuic, before coming back to the mission home, doing a brief orientation, and introducing them to their new companions.

 At Montjuic

 Elder Taylor with his trainer, Elder Black - they are serving in the Cartagena 2nd Ward

 Elder Estrada and his two companions - Elder Worthen and Elder Keller - serve in Lleida

We are very excited to have these amazing two new missionaries serving with us!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Notes from the Field

Each week our missionaries write a short letter to the President and share some of their experiences. Here are a few excerpts from this week. First a note from a pair of hermanas:
On Thursday we had an amazing contacting experience. We stopped two young women on the street to invite them to our English classes, which will be starting this week. They asked, "Are you from a church or something?" We explained that we are missionaries and they said, "Good! We want to change our lives but we don´t know how! Our parents drink and smoke and go out dancing and we don´t want to do that anymore, but we need someone to help us. Everyone in this world has an angel, and we think you have been sent from heaven to help us." We told them about the Book of Mormon and that we are so excited to teach them about Jesus Christ and help them change their lives.

Here is another note from a different pair of missionaries:
[We have an investigator who] is French and 60 years old. She was a reference from a less active member whom we gave service to. She is truly a miracle. In the first lesson, we had the first counselor accompany us and, as we taught the message of the restoration, we saw amazing things occur. The spirit was very strong during the cita and many times I remember her saying, "Oh that makes sense!" or "Now I understand that!" It was wonderful. So we gave her a Book of Mormon in French at the end of the lesson. The next lesson we had, because of traveling and time schedules, was 5 days later. We felt impressed that we should do a review of the restoration, with a focus on the Book of Mormon. It was great. When we asked her if she had read the introduction like we had asked she responded, "Sí." She opened up her Book of Mormon and said, "I Love to read and this book is powerful. I read more than you had assigned me." Long story short, she had read through Mosiah 25 and absolutely loved it. My companion and I couldn’t believe it! We asked if she had questions or if she had something she wanted to talk about. She said, "Sí,There is one thing I would like to say. This book is good. I was thinking the whole time while I was reading that if the world would just read this book, and apply it, they would be happy!"
And finally, a short comment from a pair of elders:
So a girl walked in to church and asked to be baptized. Yah! How often does that happen?
As it turns out, it happens quite often! This is a work of miracles!

Some of our miracle workers: Elders Worthen, Raban, Paolinelli and Ramirez

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Zone Conferences - Elche and Valencia

Zone Conferences for the Elche and Valencia stakes were held last week. We usually meet in Murcia for the Elche Zone Conference, as it is more central for the missionaries. But is was a holiday in Murcia and the chapel was very much in use, so we met in the beautiful Elche Stake Center.

The Elche Zone
Following the Elche Conference, we took the bus to Valencia - a new mode of inter-city travel for Pte. and Hna. Hinckley, but not for the missionaries! It was an interesting trip, but enabled us to arrive in Valencia early enough in the evening to have some dinner and get the chapel set up for the Valencia Zone Conference.

 The Valencia Zone

 Hna. Hinckley teaching in Valencia

Friday, April 2, 2010

April Concilio

We have been holding mission council monthly this year to help emphasize the importance of setting monthly goals (rather than 6-week transfer cycle goals). We brought the zone leaders together last week for the monthly mission council ("Concilio") and had another wonderful meeting. These are great young leaders, and they are the key to the mission's success. We felt a great outpouring of the spirit, and left the meeting with new goals and plans to help bring the gospel to more of Heavenly Father's children in Spain.

 Practicing preparing an effective lesson plan

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Viejos Video

Before saying our final farewell to our departing missionaries, we did a short interview with them, asking them about their mission, advice to other missionaries, and their testimonies. We then showed this video to their "replacements" - the new missionaries who arrived the same day. You might enjoy this video.

 Filmed 23 March 2010 in the Spain Barcelona Mission home