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.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March Zone Conferences

[I know, it's been a while since we posted. Stake Conference (Vitoria), six zone conferencias, 19 interviews with members of districts and branches, a visit to the Saints on Ibiza, and family visitors from out of town have left little time for blogging. But here is a long-awaited update!]

March zone conferences began in Vitoria. President and Hermana Hinckley drove to Zaragoza on Friday the 11th, where President conducted a number of interviews with members of the two branches there. Saturday morning we drove to Vitoria and participated in the stake conference meetings on Saturday afternoon and Sunday.

On Monday we drove to Burgos to visit Elders T. Johnson and Matherus in this most distant city of the mission! It is a beautiful city, the Elders have a nice piso (which they maintain well!), and they are doing a fabulous job in this little branch.

Elders Johnson and Matherus in front of the Burgos cathedral

We also inspected the Vitoria piso in the evening after our return, and are happy to report that not only do Elders Taylor and Oldroyd have one of the nicest pisos in the mission, they keep it immaculately clean!

Tuesday we held the first of this series of zone conferences in Vitoria and had a wonderful session with the marvelous elders and hermanas of the Vitoria zone.

After the conference ended, we drove with the Ayudantes for 4 hours through a driving rainstorm, arriving in Lleída in the evening. We had a wonderful zone conference with the Lleída Zone on Wednesday, then drove the 2 hours back to Barcelona. We took the Ayudantes directly to airport where they boarded a plane for Palma to do exchanges before the zone conference in Palma.

After five days on the road, we repacked our bags and flew to Palma on Thursday night. Zone conference with the Baleares Zone was on Friday, and it was a wonderful conference.

Elder Sommerfeldt instructs the Baleares Zone

Saturday we attended the baptism of two new converts in Palma, and on Sunday morning we flew from Palma to Ibiza to visit a small group of Saints on this somewhat isolated island. The island belongs to the Poniente Branch in Palma, and the branch presidency met us in Ibiza for a visit with this little handful of pioneers who meet in the home of a member each Sunday to partake of the sacrament and teach one another.

With the Saints on Ibiza

In Ibiza we met Hna. Morelia for the first time. She was baptized in the Fall of 2009 in Valencia by Elder Brian. It was one of the most memorable experiences of his mission. She called him one morning and asked to baptized that week while she was in town! She was baptized four days later and returned to Ibiza, where she has met every Sunday with this faithful group of Latter-day Saints.
With Hna. Morelia in Ibiza

After a wonderful and uplifting day in Ibiza, we flew home to the prospect of sleeping in our own bed for more than one night for the first time in nearly two weeks.

On Monday we did the wash and prepared for the next three zone conferences. Monday evening President Hinckley participated in a live radio broadcast from the Badalona Chapel - Elder Ryser got some airtime and did a great job!

Tuesday we held zone conference in Hospitalet, Wednesday in Barcelona, and Thursday in Valencia, concluding the series of six conferences.

The Barcelona Zone poses in the new stake center

The Hospitalet Zone gathers in the foyer of the stake center

Arriving in Valencia! Rob and Holly Lesan and their new daughter, Tessa, were visiting!

The Valencia Zone!

The zone conferences followed a similar pattern. The primary training topic was on leveraging the power of members. Each conference began with a discussion of "Sister Susan Fulcher" a case study of a missionary who was extremely good at connecting with and working with members to accomplish missionary work. The case was written some years ago by Elder Clayton Christensen who served as a counselor in the presidency of the Massachusetts Boston Mission before serving as an Area Authority Seventy. The discussions centered around the principles which Sister Fulcher seemed to understand so well, how she implemented those principles in the work, and how we can implement those principles in our own areas.

The Ayudantes did a powerful training session on how to work more effectively with the ward council by preparing Progress Reports and conversion plans that are detailed, neat, accurate, and informative. They suggested that all missionaries provide the ward council with photographs and a short bio of each progressing investigator, in addition to asking for specific help from ward members to teach and fellowship these investigators.

Our own experience in the mission suggests that of those investigators found directly by missionaries who set a baptismal date, only about 20% actually get baptized on or near that date. When investigators referred by members set a baptismal date, about 80% of them actually get baptized on or near the date. Members make a difference!

Following the training on working with members, we spent some time on how to continually focus on extending invitations to investigators to do the things they need to do to progress: pray, read, attend church, etc. Preach My Gospel reminds us that "rarely, if ever" should we meet with someone without extending a commitment. We practiced extending commitments to attend church and to obey the Word of Wisdom.

Finally, the President met with the Elders while Hna. Hinckley met with the sisters for some specific instruction. We had lunch, testimonies, and enjoyed a wonderful spirit while learning from each other. We love this work!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Elder Hastings Arrives

Another long-awaited missionary arrived on Friday: Elder Hastings from Torrance, California. Elder Hastings arrived only 2-3 weeks late, having received his visa approval shortly over completing the regular schedule at the Provo MTC. Another week in Madrid enabled him to begin his residency process and arrive in Barcelona this week.

Elder Hastings, Pte y Hna Hinckley, and Elder Anstensen at Montjuic

In the office

Elders Anstensen and Hastings point out Zaragoza on the map.
They are serving in the Zaragoza 1 Branch.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Councilo - 1 March 2011

Each month we hold a "concilio" - a zone leader council - to discuss the previous months and make plans for the coming month. Once transfers are completed, the new mission leaders (zone leaders and assistants) also gather for a day of training at the mission home.

Councilio - 1 March 2011
On the terrace of the mission home
These are always inspirational and uplifting meetings as we discuss principles and doctrines and how we can apply them to accomplish our purpose - to bring others to Christ through faith, repentance and baptism.