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, 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

Monday, August 29, 2011

What We Do

On Sunday 20 new converts received the gift of the Holy Ghost and were confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here are some of their stories.

A few weeks ago the Assistants were walking down the street in Barcelona and contacted a woman who, as it turned out, was a member of the Church but had not been to Church for several years. She had been baptized in South America but moved to Spain and had never found the Church here. She was so excited to find the missionaries and find out where meetings were held! She lives in the Barcelona 1st Ward, and came to church the following Sunday with her son, Ernesto. Ernesto is in his 30s and had never been baptized. She also invited her niece, Lina, and Lina's husband Juan Carlos.

On Saturday, Ernesto, Juan Carlos and Lina were all baptized by Bishop Lino in a beautiful baptismal service at the Barcelona Stake Center. Each of them bore their testimonies following the baptism. Juan Carlos described how he and his wife Lina had been looking for a church for a long time, but everytime they attended a church Lina would come home and say, "No me gusta" - I don't like it. He was so happy their first Sunday attending the Barcelona 1st Ward when they come home and Lina said, "Me encanta" - I love it!

Ernesto's mother, Hna. Roberts, Lina, Ernesto, Juan Carlos, Hna. Reed
A faithful sister who lives in Turin, Italy, was visiting her boyfriend in Cornella during the month of August and  invited him to attend Church with her each Sunday. She gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon, which he began reading, and she shared with him the story of the Restoration. Two weeks ago she cornered the missionaries after Sacrament meeting and introduced them to her boyfriend and asked that they meet with him.

They arranged an appointment for the following Thursday night and had a wonderful lesson. When the Spirit was strong, they invited him to prepare to be baptized on September 10th, just three weeks away. He hesitated for a moment and said, "Well, my girlfriend goes back to Italy on the 30th of August and I would really like her to be here for my baptism. Is there any way I could be baptized before she leaves?"

Juan Carlos was baptized on August 27th and confirmed on August 28th.

Elders Buchkovich and Manotas, Juan Carlos and his girlfiend,
and friends in the  Cornella Ward, following the baptism on Saturday night.
 "Neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men... And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance" (Moroni 7:29, 31)

We are grateful for the way in which angels are preparing to people to receive the message of the Restoration!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

ConfeJAS 2011

In between traning meetings last week we were invited to make some presentations at the annual country-wide young single adult conference - ConfeJAS 2011.

So on Wednesday morning we morning we made the 5-hour drive north through Lleida up to the conference site near the French border in the Pyrenees. The conference was held in a youth conference center in the Valle de Pineta, a high, glacial hanging valley above the village of Bielsa. The setting was spectacular - think Yosemite Valley, complete with waterfalls cascading off of cliffs thousands of feet above the valley floor.

Cascades at the head of the valley

The view from the conference center
 It was a wonderful event, with 287 young people in attendance, including several of our former missionaries! It was great to see these wonderful young men and woman again, and see how they are progressing with their lives. And yes, that is Elder Flores in the center, who is currently in Spain visiting Hna. Garcia...
Ex-misioneros del Faro at ConfeJAS 2011

Clase de baile - dance class

Playing games in the dining hall

The schedule of workshops for Wednesday afternoon

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Specialized Training Conferences

During August we held specialized traning conferences with each zone. On sunday, 14 August, we flew to Bilbao and met with the Vitoria zone in Bilbao on Monday. Monday afternoon we flew from Bilbao to Palma, where we had a training conference on Tuesday. Tuesday afternoon we flew to Valencia for a training conference on Wednesday.

The Ayudantes met us in Valencia on Wednesday and we drove up to Albacete on Wednesday evening where we had a wonderful visit with the branch president and his counselor. We have not had missionaries in Albacete for several years, but we wanted the branch president to know he had not been forgotten. The branch is part of the Valencia Stake and has a wonderful little chapel, very well maintained, in this beautiful city of La Mancha.

Thursday we drove back to Barcelona and met with the Hospitalet zone on Friday.

On Monday we had our weekly meetings with the office staff and the Ayudantes, while Hna. Hinckley made several trips to Teknon with missionaries who needed medical attention. And on Tuesday we met with the Barcelona zone for a training conference.

Our final training conference of the series was held with the Lleida zone on Friday.

Much of the focus during these conferences was on finding new investigators. We had some wonderful discussion and role-plays based on principles from Preach My Gospel.

Barcelona Zone
Vitoria Zone with los Ugarte (YSA Center couple)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Post-Transfers: Leadership Training and Concilio

With the returning missionaries all on their way home and the new missionaries all safely in Barcelona, the next order of business was a full day of leadership training on Thursday. The trainers (and their newly-arrived companions), ayudantes, zone leaders and district leaders all gathered at the Barcelona 2 chapel for a day of instruction. We had a wonderful and edifying experience together and left renewed and recharged!

Leadership Training
After a few brief hours of regrouping and few brief hours of sleep, it was time for our monthly Zone Leader Council meeting on Friday. The ayudantes came at 7:30 a.m. to begin cooking pancakes, and breakfast was served to the 16 participants at 9:00 a.m.

Awaiting the arrival of hungry missionaries...
Following breakfast, we had a very interesting and edifying council, where all missionaries participated actively and discussed how we can help every missionary experience the great joy of baptizing every month. There was a great spirit in the meeting and all "rejoiced together."

Unfortunately, Hna. Hinckley was able to attend only briefly as she needed to accompany a missionary to the emergency room. Not to worry, all is well!


Enjoying juice and napolitanas at the airport -
Hna. Rodriquez, Elders Ryser and Henrie, Pte. and Hna. Hinckley,
Elders Araujo and Bronson, Hna. Garcia

Wednesday morning after dropping off the returning missionaries at the airport, we drove directly to the train station to say goodby to Hnas. Gonzalez and Garcia, who were returning home on the AVE to Madrid. We were also able to bid farewell to Hnas. Cabrejas and Quintana, two great young adults from Bilbao who have served a mini-mission with us for the last several weeks.

Estacio Sants: Hna. Garcia, los Hinckley, Hnas. Gonzalez,
Cabrejas and Quintana
 With the returning missionaries on the train, we then greeted four new missionaries arriving on the 11:22 AVE from Madrid!  We took them directly to the mission home for lunch as Hna. Rejon needed to immediately begin processing some papers for her residency. Following lunch we all went to Montjuic for the traditional view of the mission field and to hear the story of Columbus.

At Montjuic:
Elders Allphin and Bennington (ayudantes)
Hna. Rejon (from Mexico) with her trainer, Hna. Martin,
los Hinckley, Elders Prieto (Cartagena),  Reeves (Bountiful)
and Fica (Pocatello)

On the castle walls at Montjuic

Along the ramparts
After a brief orientation, the new missionaries spend the afternoon and evening with some seasoned missionaries, teaching and contacting in the Barcelona area. We are excited to have these impressive new missionaries in El Faro!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Canto de los ángeles

As we do every six weeks, on Tuesday night following our farewell dinner and testimony meeting with the departing missionaries, we went down to Plaza Cataluña to sing hymns and contact. It was a beautiful summer evening, and we had a wonderful evening of contacting.

One woman who stopped to listen to the singing was touched by both the singing and the message shared by a missionary who approached her. She accepted an invitation to join the chorus and a member brought her into the circle. Some of the youth from the ward came over to meet her, and she is excited to meet with the missionaries this week and to come to Church on Sunday!

Elders Salmon and Allphin share a message with a passerby
(this is the woman who joined us in singing hymns)

Elders Bennington and Buchkovich testify to some young men

Elder Salmon teaches in the street

Hna. Soderquist shares a passage from the Book of Mormon
Members and missionaries singing hymns

¡Gracies y Adeu!

Transfer week. We said goodbye to five wonderful missionaries on Wednesday: Hnas. Rodriguez (Milan, Italy), Garcia (Madrid), and Gonzalez (Madrid), and Elders Henrie (Idaho) and Ryser (Utah). Great missionaries all, and we expect to hear great things from them in the coming years!

Monday, August 8, 2011

One Miracle of Many: Edilma

A couple of months ago Elder Abplanalp and his companion left their apartment exactly at 11:30, the designated time to begin proselyting. As they came out their front door, a middle-aged woman was sitting on a bench taking a short break on her way home from grocery shopping. They offered to carry her bags to her apartment, and ultimately began teaching her about the restored gospel. She was interested and set a date to be baptized. But a before her baptism date her father passed away, and she returned to her home country for a month.

When Edilma returned to Spain, she told the missionaries that she was no longer interested in being baptized, but was willing to meet with them and they began teaching her again. As she began to respond to the Spirit, she set a date to be baptized on August 6th, but once again began to doubt. Finally, as they were teaching her one day, she said that she had been baptized into an Evangelist church several years ago and did not feel like she needed to be baptized again. When missionaries hear someone say they see no need to be baptized again, their immediate reaction is to teach the importance of authority, but Elder Abplanalp said he felt like that was not the appropriate response this time. Rather, he had the impression to read with her from Alma 7. As he was gathering his thoughts, his companion, Elder Cuevas, began introducing the same scripture! They asked Edilma to read Alma 7:11-14. She read through verse 14, then continued to read until the end of the chapter. Her countenance softened and began to change as she read, and at the end of the chapter she looked up at the Elders and, with a voice full of emotion, said, "On the 6th, right?"

Edilma was baptized on August 6, 2011 and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on August 7, 2011.

How grateful we are - and how grateful Edilma is - for missionaries who are willing to persist and who follow the promptings of the Spirit!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

¡Que Viva España!

We have a group of new missionaries who will arrive on Wednesday this week, and they will join us for Leadership Training on Thursday with all Zone and District Leaders and their new trainers. While we will show them the most recent "Viejos Video", we will also show this short little video to get them excited about doing missionary work in the incredibly beautiful country of Spain - and to help them understand that this is a work, and a country, of miracles!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Saturday Night

Saturday night in Hospitalet. Hno. Ric was baptized! The missionaries saw him playing with his brothers a few weeks ago, stopped and introduced themselves and invited him to hear their message. He listened, gained a testimony, and was baptized last Saturday. He hopes to serve a mission in a year!

Elders Ramirez and Johansen with Hno. Ric
in the Hospitalet Stake Center
Hno. Ric was one of 10 people confirmed members of the Church this week in the mission, and one of 41 baptized and confirmed in the month of August. It is a work of miracles!