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.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Have we not reason to rejoice?

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?
2 And now, I ask, what great blessings has he bestowed upon us? Can ye tell?
3 Behold, I answer for you; for our brethren…were in darkness, yea, even in the darkest abyss, but behold, how many of them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God! And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work.
4 Behold, [451] of them do rejoice, and have been brought into the fold of God.
5 Behold, the field was ripe, and blessed are ye, for ye did thrust in the sickle, and did reap with your might, yea, all the day long did ye labor; and behold the number of your sheaves! And they shall be gathered into the garners, that they are not wasted.

11 I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.
12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.
13 Behold, how many… of our brethren has he loosed from the pains of hell; and they are brought to sing redeeming love, and this because of the power of his word which is in us, therefore have we not great reason to rejoice?
14 Yea, we have reason to praise him forever, for he is the Most High God, and has loosed our brethren from the chains of hell.

23 Now do ye remember, my brethren, that we said unto our brethren [back home], we go up to the land of [Spain], to preach unto our brethren… and they laughed us to scorn?
24 For they said unto us: Do ye suppose that ye can bring the [people of Spain] to the knowledge of the truth? Do ye suppose that ye can convince the [people of Spain] of the incorrectness of the traditions of their fathers, as stiffnecked a people as they are…? Now my brethren, ye remember that this was their language.
26 But behold, my beloved brethren, we came into the [mission field] …with the intent that perhaps we might save some few of their souls.
27 Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren… and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.
28 And now behold, we have come, and been forth amongst them; and we have … traveled from house to house, relying upon the mercies of the world—not upon the mercies of the world alone but upon the mercies of God.
29 And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills...
30 …and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.
31 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; yea, and we can witness of their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us.

35 Now have we not reason to rejoice?
(Alma 26)

When we began the year, we set a goal to help bring 450 souls into the Kingdom during 2011. During the early months of the year, it seemed virtually impossible, but as we approached the last few months we all felt like the Lord had prepared these people. During the last 50 days, one companionship of missionaries fasted each day and all missionaries prayed daily that the Lord would lead us to these prepared people.

By the end of the last Sunday of the year (Christmas Day), we had seen 448 people baptized and confirmed during the year! And then, as if to remind us whose work this is, a few more miracles took place this week. A young girl in a small branch, whose mother is an active member but whose father had never allowed his daughter to be baptized, had a sudden change of heart and agreed to let his daughter be baptized on Wednesday night if she could be confirmed that same night (as he refused to attend Church on Sunday when the confirmation would normally take place). On Thursday morning, the membership secretary, who had been working on a missing membership record of a convert from early in the year, received the baptism record for this convert, bringing the total to 450. And on Thursday night, another baptism and confirmation, due to special circumstances, took place in Palma. It has been a year of miracles!

Elders Allphin and Bennington with Juan and Nancy.
This great couple, 2 of 451 converts this year, were baptized in November.
Their 12-year old is preparing to be baptized on January 7th.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A White Christmas in Barrio 2

Saturday there were four wonderful baptisms in Barcelona Barrio 2. Each of our three companionships working in the ward (the office Elders and the Ayudantes) had a baptism. The ward had set a goal early in the year to help 30 people enter the waters the baptism during the year; with these four new converts they exceeded their goal by 1!

Cindy, Ligia, Sebastian, and Carmen
Every convert is a miracle, and each of these four wonderful new converts has their own miracle story. The Elders found Cindy´s name in the Area Book. She is the niece of one our Filipino members and was taught about 4 years ago but her parents did not want her to be baptized. The Elders got back in touch with her and her family (her parents are still in the Philippines). She wanted to get baptized, talked to her parents, and they agreed to give her permission.

Ligia was found by the missionaries several months ago. They taught her and her friend, and her friend was baptized within a few weeks, but Ligia was out of town and then had a difficult work schedule, and only in the past few weeks were the missionaries able to again begin meeting with her.

Sebastian showed up at Church a few weeks ago with his wife who is an active member. They live in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, but spend a month each year in Barcelona visiting family and friends here. Sebastian had never been baptized because of a smoking habit, although he attends regularly with his wife in Bolivia. The Elders Quorum President here immediately befriended him on the first Sunday, heard his story, introduced him to the missionaries and asked them to help him prepare for baptism. The EQP and the missionaries gave him a blessing to help him overcome his addiction, and he asked if he could be baptized by the EQP before returning to Bolivia. He kept all of his commitments, was baptized on Saturday, confirmed on Christmas, and returns to Santa Cruz today where he will attend Church on New Year´s Day as a new member!

Carmen is a young university student from Honduras who recently came to Barcelona. In one of her first classes the instructor asked each student to introduce themselves, and when Carmen found another student from Honduras, Diosana, she immediately felt connected to her. Diosana is one of our great Young Single Adults, and invited her new friend, Carmen, to Church on Sunday. Carmen was baptized Christmas Eve and confirmed on Christmas. Her older sister, just arrived from Honduras, came to Sacrament meeting on Sunday to see her confirmed, so this story is not yet over.

We love miracles!

Christmas Conferences

Following the mission tour with Elder Causse, we made the rounds one more time to have Christmas lunch with all of the missionaries. We had our traditional pizza lunch, enhanced by Hna. Hinckley´s homemade chocolate chip cookies. Each missionary also received a small gift - a lighthouse ornament with "El Faro 2011" written on it. Most of the ornaments we purchased at the lighthouse in Tossa de Mar earlier this year.

The missionaries also had a little gift exchange - "something white" - and we concluded our get-together with a slide show of the year, the new Church videos on the birth of Christ, and testimonies. It was a wonderful time to be together and feel the spirit of Christmas!

We begin in the Lleida Zone, a short day-trip from Barcelona:

Next was a flight to Bilbao to meet with the wonderful missionaries of the Vitoria Zone:

And from Bilbao´s rainy skies, we flew to Palma where the weather was markedly better:

From Palma we flew to Valencia:

And from Valencia we took the train back to Barcelona, where we met with the combined Barcelona and Hospitalet Zones for our last conference:

Bon Nadal per a tots!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mission Tour

Elder Gerald Causse toured the mission from December 6 to 9. We met him in Bilbao the evening of the 6th and held a wonderful conference there with the Vitoria Zone on 7 December. We then flew to Valencia for a conference on the 8th, then took the train to Barcelona where we met with all the other missionaries (4 zones combined) on the 9th.

It was a wonderful three days of inspired instruction. Elder Causse concluded each conference with a special Christmas present - he played a piano solo for the closing song.

One of the aspects of the conferences was a clear message that we are entering a "second harvest" in Spain. The first great harvest occured in the 1970s, when missionary work was very productive and when most of the current leaders of the Church were baptized. We are seeing the beginning of this second harvest already - this year we have already seen more convert baptisms than we have seen in any year for the past two decades, and with fewer missionaries than in any year except 2010. Elder Causse encouraged us to think of Spain as part of Latin America rather than part of Europe! This is an exciting time to be a missionary in Spain!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Report from Palma

At the beginning of November, one of our companionships on the island of Mallorca were setting their goals for the month and felt strongly that there was a family being prepared in their area for baptism during the month. They set a goal to find and baptize that family. Then they made plans and went to work. They discussed their feelings and goals with the branch mission leader and branch missionaries and invited them to pray for this family. They asked about families that branch members knew. 

"We went to work, and we talked to a lot of people. We met families from all over the world, from Spain, from Argentine, for Colombia, from Ecuador, and from a handful of other countries. But the family that the Lord had prepared to receive the fullness of His gospel came from a different country, and it came in a way that was most unexpected."

Three weeks ago we held the semi-annual district conference of the Baleares District in Palma. Since the chapel is small, the Sunday session of district conference is held in a rented auditorium. That Sunday morning a young man and his father were on their way to church and, forgetting that it was district conference, went to the chapel as usual, only to find it locked. But standing outside the chapel was a family of 5. The young man talked to them and discovered that they had come to attend church, so he invited them to walk with him to the district conference. They attended the conference session and met the missionaries following the meeting. The Elders set up an appointment to meet with them on the following day. At that first lesson, the missionaries invited each member of the family to prepare to be baptized on November 26th, and each of them accepted the invitation. They began reading the Book of Mormon, they fasted and prayed together as a family. They attended Church each Sunday. And last Saturday they were baptized.

"We had a lot of white clothes to iron..."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A few notes...

While we were in Valencia for stake conference a couple of weeks ago, we took the opportunity to drive up to Albacete to see the new piso where the elders live. It is a great piso located in a good building in the center of town. Small, clean, and just right for missionaries. We are excited about re-starting the work in this branch after several years!

Home of the Albacete elders
 Late at night from our hotel room window in Valencia there was plenty of action on the streets below. The intersection was crowded with itinerant vendors. Anybody looking for cheap knock-offs?
Street vendors in Valencia

For those more interested in eating than buying a 10 euro pair of "Ray-Ban" sunglasses, there are plenty of tables available on the sidewalk.
Sidewalk cafes in Valencia

Last weekend took us to Zaragoza. We drove up on Saturday morning and met Hna. Clarissa Dalton, who arrived on the train from Madrid just a couple of hours before we arrived! She has been waiting for a visa in the Provo MTC and the Temple Square Mission for the past few weeks, and has now finally arrived! Since we had to be in Zaragoza for branch conferences on Saturday, and she was going to be assigned to Zaragoza and leave Madrid on Saturday, we skipped the usual visit to Barcelona and put her right to work!
Hna. Dalton with the Hinckley's in Zaragoza

Hna. Dalton and her trainer, Hna. Fuentes
 Following the branch conferences in Zaragoza, we drove back to Barcelona and prepared for a full day of training with the recently arrived missionaries (those arriving during the past four weeks) and their trainers. Since many of these new missionaries came from Spain, they received only 3-weeks training and did not attend the Provo MTC, so we spent an extra day with them helping them get a jump-start! They are are remarkable group of missionaries. We are very proud of them and very glad to have them in the mission!
New missionaries and their trainers at leadership training

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Specialized Training

We just finished our sixth training conference this month. This week we trained missionaries in Palma, Barcelona, and Bilbao.

It has been a great, if tiring, two weeks. We had inspiring meetings and are excited to go out and help 74 more people repent and be baptized this year!

Monday, November 7, 2011

¡Bienvenidos a los nuevos!

The new missionaries who arrived last week were welcomed with this short video. We hope it gave them a feel for the mission and the miracles they will see! We hope it will also give you a feel for the mission and the miracles we see!

Friday, November 4, 2011

November Concilio

Zone Leader Council is usually held on the first Friday of each month, and this month the first Friday followed transfers, so it has been a busy week around the office and the mission home!

As is the tradition, the morning began with a pancake breakfast cooked by the Ayudantes - this was Elder Hadley's first week as a new Ayudante, so it was his first time in the kitchen!

Elders Hadley and Allphin doing kitchen duty
Following breakfast, we moved into the living room where we had a wonderful morning as the zone leaders reported on the month of October and discussed their goals and plans for November.

View from the breakfast table to the living room
We took a lunch break at 2:00 p.m. and were able to get all the zone leaders in a photograph before they began dessert.

Zone leaders around the table
Ayudantes with Pte. Hinckley (standing)
We were fed both physically and spiritually as we discussed goals and plans for the coming months. We have been greatly blessed during the past several months, and we are praying, planning, and working to bring at least 90 souls into the Kingdom during November and December.

Albacete Tape

Because so many asked, here is the "Secret Albacete Tape." Not much, really, but it's rumored existence has been the source of much speculation. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

November Nuevos

This was a big week - we received 5 new elders and 3 new hermanas! And what made things even better, no missionaries returned home this week. So we now have 103 missionaries - 84 elders and 19 hermanas - in addition to our two wonderful couples. This is the largest complement of missionaries we have had in a long time - we are clawing our way back from a low of 78 missionaries in July 2010.

As is our tradition, we traveled from the train station to Montjuic to take in a view of the mission field and hear the story of Columbus.

Overlooking the city on a cloudy day
 After lunch and orientation at the mission home, each of the new missionaries spent the afternoon and evening with a pair of missionaries in the Barcelona area. It was their first real experience proselyting, and it was great fun. Elder Castillo was able to meet with a father and husband whose wife was recently reactivated and whose two children were recently baptized. They had a powerful visit and Elder Castillo was able to invite this brother to be baptized. He is preparing for November 19th!

On Wednesday morning we introduced the new missionaries to their trainers, then spent a couple of hours studying the doctrine of Christ and practicing inviting investigators to be baptized (because that is what we do).

Hna. Ratcliff (from Auckland, NZ) practices the baptismal invitation
with her trainer, Hna. Soderquist.
 In the background, Elder Rios (Granada, Spain),
practices with his trainer, Elder Gallegos

Elder Cerqueira (Elvas, Portugal), practices with his trainer, Elder Greep.
Hna. Farrell (Rolling Hills Estates, CA) practices with Hna. Boone.

Trainers (back row): Elders Gallegos, Greep, Hnas. Boone, Soderquist, Ruz, Elders Keller, Bennington, Buchkovich.
Nuevos (front row): Elders Rios, Cerqueira, Hnas. Farrell, Ratcliff, Mancera, Elders Castillo, Arce, Gonzalez
Elders Gallegos / Rios: Manacor
Elders Greep / Cerqueira: Mataro
Hnas. Boone / Farrell: Benidorm
Hnas. Soderquist / Ratcliff: Sabadell 1
Hnas. Ruz / Mancera: Inca
Elders Keller / Castillo: Menorca
Elders Bennington / Arce: Albacete
Elders Buchkovich / Gonzalez: Granollers

Albacete hasn't had missionaries for about 7 years, so Elders Bennington and Arce have an exciting few months ahead of them as the build up this little branch! (Note to ex-misioneros del faro: if you would like to listen to the "secret Albacete tape" just let me know!)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Barcelona Stake Conference: 40 Chairs

"And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities, which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat."
Joshua 24:13
First eight missionaries in Barcelona, October 1969
Last weekend we attended the stake conference of the Barcelona Stake. The conference was held in the beautiful new Barcelona stake center, a three story building which has been open for just about six months. Outside of the Madrid Temple, it is probably the most beautiful Church building the country.

In the Sunday session, as I stood at the pulpit and looked out over the congregation - chapel, cultural hall, and onto the stage - I was reminded of the beginning of the work here in Barcelona. In October of 1969, eight missionaries traveled from Madrid to Barcelona to open the work. They arrived early on a Saturday morning so they would have time to find a place to stay that night. They held the first sacrament meeting on the beach early on Sunday morning, presided over by Elder Michael Duffin who served as the zone leader and branch president. They soon located space on the second floor of a building near the Sagrada Familia and hired a contractor to build some partitions for classrooms. They then petitioned President Smith B. Griffin of the Paris France Mission (which included Spain) for 40 chairs for the new little chapel. President Griffin questioned the need for so many chairs when the little branch consisted of only eight missionaries and two or three investigators. But the elders promised that they would fill the 40 chairs.

As I looked over the congregation in the stake center on Sunday, I noted that we had at least 40 chairs on the stage at the back of the cultural hall! We owe a special debt of gratitude to those first eight elders - in so many ways, we are the recipients of their pioneering work.

Early missionaries in Barcelona

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why We Love this Work

Elders Allphin and Bennington with Juan and Nancy
Elder Bennington provided this summary of the recent baptism of Juan and Nancy:

 "One afternoon in late September we were walking down the street after our morning meeting.  As we were walking we began to talk about the upcoming month of October, and what we wished to see happen in our area.  Elder Allphin began to express that he had a feeling that there was a family that we were meant to find and baptize in the month of October, and moreover a family that would be going to the temple in a year’s time.  As we began to talk about the idea, we both began to feel a confirmation that that is what the Lord wanted in our area in the month of October.

"Looking over our potential families that we were teaching, the future looked bright.  We wondered if it was one of these families, or if it was someone that we had yet to meet.  We came together and prayed regarding this goal, and kept it in mind as we went out everyday to work.  If a stroller came down the street, our goal flashed into our mind.  If a reference we received was connected to a family situation, we were again reminded.  We were blessed with so many opportunities to dedicate ourselves to our purpose. But when the answer to our prayers came, it came through an unexpected medium.

"Margarita was a less active member from Paraguay.  She was the only member baptized in her family. During her baptismal process she began to receive harassment from her family, and even began to feel discouraged regarding her new faith.  Nevertheless, she persevered and received a calling in the church and continued to grow in the Gospel.  Around the age of 18, Margarita took her belongings and moved to Spain.  Upon arriving she was faced with trial after trial, testing her faith time and time again.  With the necessity of work growing more and more apparent in her life, she began to sacrifice her religious backing and started to work on the Sabbath.  From that point on she struggled to make it back to church for roughly 6-8 years.  As she saw the missionaries from time to time, she felt a longing to speak to them and to return to the richness of the Gospel. 

"One afternoon walking down the street Margarita spotted you and Hermana Hinckley.  She finally mustered up the courage and began a conversation.  You then passed her information on to us, and we began to teach her.  Upon teaching her we quickly realized that Margarita´s testimony was still as strong as ever.  From that next Sunday on she has yet to miss a Sunday.

"One Sunday Margarita told us that she wanted to bring a friend that she was really excited for us to meet.  The next Sunday she came with Nancy and sat with her through all three hours of church.  At the end of church Margarita came up to us and told us that Nancy was really excited to start meeting with the missionaries and had already expressed her desires to become a member of the church.  We scheduled a first visit for the next night, right after the Noche de Hogar activity that we had with the ward.  When Nancy came the next day she brought her husband Juan.  We sat down with them after the activity and asked how they liked it.  Juan immediately began to tell us how he felt something amazing as he was in the church and how much he liked the people that were there.  We taught them about the gospel of Jesus Christ and why it is so important to apply in our life.  As we invited them to be baptized we had not even gotten though the invitation when Juan began to shake his head, tears in his eyes saying, "YES, this is exactly what my family needs right now.   We have finally found what we are looking for."  Nancy looked at him very surprised and with tears in her eyes also accepted and committed to be baptized on the 15th of October.  It was three weeks away but from the time they accepted to be baptized to the 15th everything went perfect.  They had no problems with any of the commandments; in fact they loved every time we taught a new commandment because it always seemed like something they had been wanting to change in their life.  They were the most prepared family that we have ever met and it has been such a blessing to see the gospel work in there life.

"The day of their baptism Juan and Nancy showed up more excited than ever.  As Margarita showed up, she revealed that she had brought a laptop with her.  As we walked back into the room after attending to something, we walked in to see Juan and Nancy equipped with a headset excitedly talking to their two children and Nancy´s mother on Skype in Paraguay.  It was a very special moment to see them interact and explain what was about to be taking place.  As the daughter saw her mother dressed in white she said, 'Mom I want to wear a white dress like that too!'  With tears in her eyes Nancy responded, 'Don´t worry, when you and your brother come you will both be baptized too!'

Preparing for baptism
"Nancy´s mother and two children watched the entire baptism from start to finish.  Nancy´s mother became overwhelmed with emotion and began to cry during the moments of Juan and Nancy´s baptism.  It truly was a special experience to see this family together in Spirit.

"Their children will be flying over to reunite with the parents at the end of November.  Matias will be baptized by his father in the beginning of December, and then middle of December they are planning to attend the trip with the ward to the temple to do baptisms for the dead.  There main goal at this point is to make it to the temple a year from now to be sealed."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Every Week is Transfer Week...

...or almost every week, but we are always grateful to receive new missionaries whenever they can come! On Friday, 21 Oct 2011, we were blessed to receive three young missionaries and one couple - the long-awaited Elder and Hna. Church!

At Estació Sants

Hnas. Dalton and Smith as we they get in the van 

Elder Timmig (center) pointing to Cornellá where he will serve
with Elders Manotas and Egan

Hna. Martín and Hna. Dalton point to Valenica!

And Elder and Hna. Church will serve in Zaragoza

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Interview Road Trip

This week's road trip for interviews took us to Martorell and Vilafranca. Great visits with four great missionaries doing great work! We have six investigators in these two branches preparing for baptism in the next few weeks.

Elders Roberts and McKinnon during weekly planning in Vilafranca

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Columbus Day 2011

Letter from President Hinckley to All Missionaries:

Christopher Columbus
and the Opening of the Last Dispensation
As the sun sank below the western horizon of the Atlantic Ocean on the evening of October 11, 1492, it left three small wooden ships surrounded by the gathering darkness. The ships were located at latitude of 24 degrees, slightly south of Key West, Florida, and a longitude of about 73 degrees, about  3500 miles west of San Sebastian, The Canary Islands. In all of recorded history, there was no known record of any ships sailing so far west from land, certainly not in the broad Atlantic.

The two smaller ships, the Niña and the Pinta, were captained respectively by Vicente Yañez Pinzon and Martin Alonso Pinzon, two brothers from Sevilla Spain who were experienced captains. The third and largest of the ships, sometimes known as La Gallega (having been constructed in Galicia) but named the Santa Maria by her devout captain, was under the command of a 45-year old Genoese seaman who used the Spanish version of his name, Cristóbol Colon. In English speaking countries he is known as Christopher Columbus.

As darkness set in, the ships were at full sail in gale force winds, traveling due west at about 9 knots. It had been 35 days since they had last seen land – the small port of San Sebastian in the Canary Islands where they had repaired a damaged rudder on the Niña. The voyage had already become the longest known journey through open ocean.

About 10:00 o’clock in the evening, an hour before moonrise, Columbus was standing on the sterncastle of the Santa Maria, scanning the dark horizon, when he thought he saw a faint light in the distance. Not certain in the darkness if it might be land, he did not inform his crew, but he mentioned it to an aide, Pedro Gutierrez, who thought he saw it to. The little fleet continued to sail due west under full sail.

At 2:00 a.m. on October 12, Rodrigo Triana, a 23-year old sailor from Sevilla, was atop the lookout on the Pinta. In the light of the moon, he saw “something like a white sand cliff gleaming in the moonlight on the western horizon, then another, and a dark line of land connecting them” (Samuel Elliot Morrison, Admiral of the Ocean Sea, p. 226). Recognizing land, he cried out to the deck below, “Tierra! Tierra!”

In that moment the world changed. One era – an era that covered nearly 4 millennia of recorded history – ended, and a new era began. The known world, which had consisted of Europe, Africa, and Asia, expanded to include a New World previously unknown, and the discovery would arguably have a more profound impact on the world than any discovery before or since. In the dim light of the moon on that fateful morning of October 12, 1492, Rodrigo Triana saw not just a slip of land on the horizon, but the dawn of a new dispensation and the fulfillment of prophecy.

The written story of Columbus begins nearly 2,000 years earlier in the deserts of Arabia, “in a valley by the side of a river of water” (1 Nephi 2:6). In this remote location, somewhere near the Gulf of Aqaba, Lehi and his family lived in a tent after leaving the city of Jerusalem. During their stay in the desert, the young Nephi was given a great vision in which he saw scenes from the history of his descendants as well as events leading up to the restoration of the gospel in the last days. Nephi gives us only a brief account of these latter-day events, beginning with this interesting verse:

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, emphasis added)

Columbus, of course, did not have access to Nephi’s prophecy, but by his own account his world-changing voyage of discovery was the result of being “wrought upon” by the Spirit:

With a hand that could be felt, the Lord opened my mind to the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies, and he opened my will to desire to accomplish the project. This was the fire that burned within me.
All who found out about my project denounced it with laughter and ridiculed me. All the sciences were of no use to me. Quotations of learned opinions were no help… Who can doubt that this fire was not merely mine, but also of the Holy Spirit who encouraged me …urging me to press forward?  (The Libro de las profecías of Christopher Columbus, translation and commentary by Delno C. West and August Kling)
Like Columbus, you are engaged in a life-changing adventure. You may meet with many obstacles, as did Columbus, but the work you do will have eternal impact. Like Columbus, the learning of the world is of little use to you – it really doesn’t matter how smart you are, how talented you are, or how well you speak. What matters is the fire that burns within you, urging you to press forward!
May that same fire that burned in the heart of Columbus burn within every missionary in the Spain Barcelona Mission,

Pte. Clark B. Hinckley
Columbus Day 2011
Christopher Columbus Statue, Barcelona

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Menorca's First Missionary!

Pte. and Hna. Hinckley spent 24 hours in Maó (or Mahón) on Saturday and Sunday for a very special event: Pte. Hinckley set apart Eddy Perez Familia as a full-time missionary. Eddy is the first missionary to be called from the island of Menorca. He will serve in the Spain Madrid Mission.

The little Menorca Branch was organized in 2006 as several members of the Church from Latin American immigrated to the island in search of employment. With the current economic crises, many of those members have moved elsewhere in search of work, but we still have about 30 members of record in the branch and an average attendance of 12-15.

Elder Perez with members of the branch
Elder Perez moved with his family from the Dominican Republic about two years ago. He and some of his siblings had joined the Church in the DR, and Eddy immediately became  our "third missionary" on the island, working almost everyday with the pair of full-time missionaries assigned to the island.

Elder Perez with his mother following the setting-apart
Saturday evening we were able to interview Elders Keller and Plaskett in their apartment in Maó. These two wonderful missionaries are doing a great work in Menorca - they have several investigators working towards baptism and regularly teach 20 lessons a week.

Sunday morning we met together for sacrament meeting and Sunday school (with such a small branch, we have a shortened block), then everyone stayed for the setting apart of the branch's first missionary. The branch president's wife brought some food and we all stayed for a light lunch together.

It was a memorable and historic occasion!

The Port of Mahon is the second deepest natural harbor in the world

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Nuevo y nuevos

We had transfers two weeks in a row! On our regular transfer date, only Elder Bookstaber had his visa and was able to come. He arrived in good spirits on the AVE from Madrid. Unfortunately, we did not have a camera with us so our only photo is somewhat shakey photo from a cell phone, but you can see his great smile and spirit!

Elder Bookstaber and his trainer, Elder Dalton,
points out Palma de Mallorca on the map
One week later, we recieved two more missionaries. Elder Kane has been serving for six weeks in the Utah Salt Lake City Mission, and is now being trained by Elder Rasmussen in Lleida. Hna. Walker came to us directly from the Provo MTC (and a week in Madrid for residency paperwork). She is being trained by Hna. Fuentes in Zaragoza.

At the train station

Taking the luggage to the van

At Montjuic

Hnas. Walker and Fuentes point to Zaragoza!

Elders Kane and Rasmussen point to Lleida!
We are grateful to have these wonderful new missionaries serving with us! They have arrived ready to go to work, teach, and baptize!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Farewell - Viejos Video

We already miss this great missionaries, but we expect to hear great things from them as they return home and move foward with their lives!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Concilio - September 2011

Our monthly zone leader council was held on 2 September 2011 at the mission home. As always, it was a wonderful experience to meet and counsel together with these great young priesthood leaders!
The "official" photo - on the terrace

Getting ready... the Ayudantes set a beautiful table!

We were not just fed spiritually, but physically!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Some Zone Conference Photos

September was zone conference month. We met with all six zones in five days - Vitoria on Monday, Lleida on Tuesday, Barcelona, Hospitalet and Baleares (combined) on Wednesday, and Valencia on Friday! It was wonderful to be able to see every missionary in the same week.

Lleida Zone

Hospitalet Zone

Valencia Zone