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.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

More Interviews

The Vitoria Zone (with an unknown passer-by) poses on the chapel steps in Bilbao


After arriving in Valencia in the evening, we walked out to get light supper and ran into what appeared to be family event of some type, with the family members all in full traditional dress!

These $10,000 dresses never cease to amaze!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Miracle in Valencia

Missionaries in the Spain Barcelona Mission claim that investigators just fall out of the sky...

As we finished up interviews in Valencia on Friday, Sergio came over to the chapel and meet us. We had heard about him from some of the missionaries.

Elders Greenburg and Shields, both in the country just two weeks, were working together while their companions were out of town on mission business. In spite of their very limited Spanish and very limited experience, they were doing very well, but did miss the bus and found themselves standing at the bus stop for longer than they had planned. As they were waiting, a little disappointed that they had not planned properly, Sergio saw them and came running. He had met a member of the Church over the Internet, had been learning from her (she is in Trujillo, Peru!), and knew enough that he wanted to be baptized but didn't know where to find missionaries! So he was thrilled to see two elders standing at the bus stop!

When their companions returned, Elders Greenburg and Shields excitedly told them about their new contact. Although their Spanish was limited, they were pretty sure they had an appointment to teach Sergio and they were pretty sure he said he wanted to be baptized. They were right on both counts!

Elders Nye, Ames, Shields and Montoya with Sergio in Valencia

Sergio is currently studying at the University and, with two weeks in the Church, preparing for a mission. Every convert is a miracle!

Monday, October 25, 2010


Monday morning we started a full week of interviews. Monday and Tuesday we interview missionaries from the Barcelona and Hospitalet Zones, then Tuesday evening we fly to Bilbao and spend Wednesday interviewing the Vitoria Zone, then fly that evening to Palma where we interview the Baleares Zone, then fly to Valencia and interview the Valencia Zone on Friday. Friday afternoon we take the Euromed back to Barcelona.

Interviews in Barcelona are conducted at the mission office, which means that missionaries are coming and going all day. Here are a few of those who passed by for interviews:
Hnas. Strickland and Bustamante await their turn

Elder Hunsaker in the office visiting with Elder Raban

Elder Ryser gives a "thumbs-up" to Elder Hadley

Barcelona Stake Conference

The Barcelona Stake conference was held on 23-24 October. Unfortunately, we still do not have an occupancy permit for the new stake center, so the Sunday meeting was held in a rented auditorium in Cornellá as in the past.
One of the highlights of the conference was the sustaining of 13 brethren to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. Among the 13 was Hno. Marcos from Mataró, a recent convert. Marcos had been chatting on line with a member of the Church and sent a email a couple of months ago to the mission asking if there were missionaries who could come to his home and teach him more!

Marcos with the Elders Quorum President

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Singing for the Angels

Tuesday night was the last night in Barcelona for five great missionaries: Hnas. Oliphant and Merrell, and Elders Chavez, Pando and Hardcastle. In a tradition that dates back many years, we gathered at Plaza Catalunya to sing hymns, contact, and say goodbye. It was a windy and rainy night, but spirits were not dampened!

All but four of our hermanas were in the city for the evening. These were some of the angels singing for the angels!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Regular" Transfers

In between all of the "interim" transfers driven by visa delays, we still have our "regular" transfer every six weeks. Regular transfers were this week - except that they happened a week early due to travel schedules!

Arriving at the train station parking garage

Hauling the luggage to the garage...

Real life tetrus - Elder Southwick finding a place for two more suitcases!

 Traveling through Barcelona from the train station to Montjuic

 A great new group of missionaries on a windy morning at Montjuic!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Columbus Day in Spain

At 2:00 a.m. on October 12, 1492, 518 years ago today, Christopher Columbus and his crew sighted land 71 days after sailing westward from Palos de la Frontera. This discovery, by a young captain sailing under the flag of Spain, changed the course of history and almost instantly made Spain a world power. In 1492, Spain was a new nation whose future was very much in question. Ferdinand and Isabella had just defeated the Moors in Cordoba, winning back the peninsula from its Arab rulers. But the newly liberated nation of Spain took a back seat to Portugal - whose sailors were reaching down the coast of Africa and around to India - and Genoa - who controlled trade on the Mediterranean. The monarchs' gamble on a visionary but very persistent young sailor changed everything, and Spain become the wealthiest and most power nation in Europe within a decade.

But of much greater importance, Columbus' discovery set in motion a series of events that made possible the restoration of the Gospel over 300 years later. The great voyage of discovery undertaken by Christopher Columbus was of such importance that it was shown to Nephi in vision 2600 years ago:

And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.” (1 Nephi 13:12)

Columbus himself gave fervent testimony of the fulfillment of Nephi's prophecy: 

With a hand that could be felt, the Lord opened my mind to the fact that it would be possible to sail and he opened my will to desire to accomplish the project… this was the fire that burned within me… Who can doubt that this fire was not merely mine, but also of the Holy Spirit…urging me to press forward?” (Cristóbal Colón, Libro de las profecias)

At the end of his voyage of discovery, Columbus traveled to Barcelona where he reported on his voyage to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. He came overland from Sevilla with an entourage that included caged parrots and six native Americans. The king and queen received him on the stairs of the royal palace as his procession marched into the plaza. The formal report was made in the large dining hall which visitors may still see in the medieval palace.

A monumental statue of Columbus stands at the foot of Las Ramblas to commemorate the opening of what is now called the Age of Discovery. A short distance away one can still see the baptismal font in the old Cathedral where the native Americans brought back by Columbus were baptized.

The Barcelona Cathedral (with green construction netting around one of the towers) in the old city. The Royal Place is directly adjacent to the cathedral.

That same fire that burned within Columbus burns within us in the Spain Barcelona Mission. Like Columbus, we are on a great voyage of discovery, bringing light and knowledge to the people of Spain. As we go about our work, we too can say, “Who can doubt that this fire was not merely mine, but also of the Holy Spirit…urging me to press forward?”

Happy Columbus Day from Barcelona!

Friday, October 8, 2010

More Mini-MTC: Barcelona and Hospitalet

 Elder Keller contemplates the placement of the rug...

Zone leader Elder Gerber shows off two great district leaders: Elders Hunsaker and Hansen

 Still smiling after three days of training! (I think the rug looks good there.)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Missionaries as Art

The City of Tarragona initiated an art program this year for the city bus station - every three months they have a new exhibit that travelers can admire while waiting for their bus.

A few weeks ago, Elders Nasaeth and Keller had been in Tarragona doing companion exchanges, and when they were in the bus station on their way home a photographer was  taking formal pictures of people in the station, so they got in line and took their turn posing.

The resulting photograph is the lead piece in the current exhibition! Elders Close and Anstensen were in the bus station this morning, and to their great surprise saw a large photograph of their fellow missionaries. Not only is it the central photo in the show, it is the icon of the show, appearing as the cover photo in the publicitity for the show. And for good reason: have you ever seen such good looking young men?!

For more info, you can visit the City of Tarragona and see the Elders on the web!

Old Friends

We spent a day in Palma doing interviews - with all of the missionaries as well as a young man who is completing his mission application. After interviews, Elder and Hermana Thompson took us on a short detour to the Castell Bellver on hill above the city.

Old friends above the harbor in Palma

 The view from Bellver