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, 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!)