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, July 26, 2011

Pioneer Day

Pioneer Day, July 24th, found us in the little town of La Seu in the Pyrenees mountains near the Principality of Andorra. The Andorra Branch actually meets in La Seu, on the Spanish side of the border, as more of our members live in La Seu than in Andorra.

Although it is only a 2 1/2 hour drive from Barcelona, we don't get there nearly as often as we would like, so it was a special Pioneer Day to join with 11 faithful Latter-day Saints and 2 investigators in our little meeting place in La Seu.

We had a wonderful Church service presided over by our faithful branch president (who returned on Saturday from a 3-week visit to his family in Bolivia). After Church we went to the apartment of his first counselor and joined them for the dedication of their new "piso" - a new apartment which they have just rented.

With the Valdivia family in their new piso
La Seu is located in the valley of the Rio Segre, deep in the Pyrenees. It is a beautiful valley and was the venue for the kayaking events in the 1992 Summer Olympics.

The view from our hotel window in La Seu

More Interviews

Interviews for missionaries in the Barcelona and Hospitalet Zones (as well as our faithful companionship in Menorca) are held in the office. We had a great series of interviews, while the office elders continued to do their duties!

Companion unity: Hnas. Soderquist and Boone
Hnas. Fernley, Quintana, Reed.
Hna. Quintana is serving a mini-mission with us for a few weeks.
Elders Dalton and Swenson came in from Gerona
Yes, that is Elder Saldaña next to Elders Bascopé. Littlefield and Shields
Elders Johnson, Jones, Ellis and Mattice
(with Elder Bronson in the back!)
Elders Garces, Mathews, and Carrol, with Elder Hadley behind them
Elder Reeder, Registrador
Elder Araujo, Secretario del Presidente
Elder Call, Secretario Financiero
Elder Bronson,  Secretario de Distribución

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Farewell to the Thompsons

Neighbors: the Thompsons and the Hinckleys in the Mission Home

After 18 months of dedicated service on the island of Mallorca, Elder and Hermana Thompson are heading back home! We had a wonderful paella dinner with them and several of their family members and hope to see them again on Sunday before they leave for Madrid and then Salt Lake City. In any case, we will see them when we return home, as we live next door to them!

The Thompsons have left their mark on Mallorca and the young missionaries who served with them there. They have been instrumental in several baptisms (including a woman at the gas station who sold them the fuel to drive their little mission Corsa 3,000-4,000 kilometers a month!) and reactivations. They will be missed and remembered !

July Interviews

We interview each missionary once every three months, and July is the month for interviews. We began in Lleida on Friday, 8 July. Then we fly to Bilbao on Sunday evening and interviewed on Monday; Monday evening we fly to Palma for interviews; and Tuesday evening we flew to Valencia.

Elders Salmon, Estrada, Rhead and Malan, and Hna. Kline in Lleida
Hna. Garcia points out the new edition of El Clarín
Hnas. Henderson, Garcia, Hinckley, Reeder, Fuentes and Kline
Hnas. Rodriquez and Martin, Elders Greenburg, Thompson,
Keller, Farley and Knudsen in Palma
Elders Gross, Matherus, Hughes and Middleton in Valencia
Elders Olson, Taylor, Ryser and Galan in Valencia

Next week we will have the opportunity to visit with the remaining missionaries from the Barcelona and Hsopitalet zones, as well as Menorca!

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Saturdays are special days, since most baptisms take place on Saturday. We returned this afternoon from Tarragona in time to attend two baptismal services in Barcelona.

The first service was in Barcelona 2, where the girl-friend of a recently reactived young adult was baptized. The newly actived boyfriend also had his non-member sister and niece at the service. This is a great group of young single adults, and Elder and Sister Brown were there to invite all of them to come regularly to the Young Adult Center and participate in institute classes.

Elders Araujo and Bronson flank Andrea and Cesar
(a priest in the ward who performed the ordinance)

We then went over to the stake center to attend a baptism in Barcelona 3. Mother and son, Natividad and David, were baptized about a month ago, but Fernando, the husband/father has not been very receptive. Last Sunday they were all at church, and Elder Shields and Elder Garces felt they needed to visit with them after the meetings. They found an empty class room, had a prayer, and began to visit, no really knowing what they needed to teach or what to say. But there were guided by the Spirit, and that wonderful miracle unfolded where the Spirit touched Fernando and his testimony came. Today he was baptized, thus bringing the entire family into the Church. They are  making plays to go to the temple in a year. And David is counting the days until his 19th birthday when he can be a missionary (he turns 14 next month).

Elders Garces and Shields flank David, Fernando, and Natividad,
following Fernando's baptism

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What We Do: Open Our Mouths and Witness Miracles

On the Tuesday night of transfers, we gather to sing hymns in the plaza and contact people to teach them about the gospel.
Elder Ramirez working with newly arrived Elder  Carroll
Elder Johnson shows Elder Olsen how to teach in the street
More often than not, we don't know the impact of many of these contacts. But last Tuesday we had a very interesting experience. Elder Bennington, one of our Ayudantes, took Elder Carroll out onto the sidewalk to contact some people while the other missionaries were singing. The first three people they spoke with had no interest. Elder Bennington said to Elder Carroll, "OK, who do you think we should talk to next?" Elder Carroll responded, "The very next person we see." They turned around as a woman with a bicycle pulled up to listen to the singing. At first she said she was in a hurry and didn't have time to talk, but after one or two quick questions she began to listen. After a few minutes, she asked if they had anything she could read. They took over to a little table where we had some pamphlets and Books of Mormon and explained the different topics. She asked for a brochure on the plan of salvation, saying that this was what she needed to bring some peace and comfort into her life. She continued the conversation for 20 minutes and before she left, said, "If I give you my telephone number, could you call me and come over and tell me more?" She is now preparing to be baptized on July 30.

June: Transfers!

All good things must come to an end, and so it was with the month of June. And for some missionaries, it was the end of a wonderful two years! It is always sad to say goodbye, but we are so proud of these fine young men who have given there all and now return to even greater things. As we remind our departing missionaries, these have been the best two years - so far. The best is yet to come!

For others, transfers means finally arriving in the Spain Barcelona Missionary. Our new missionaries have had their calls for many months, and the reality of actually arriving in Barcelona is pretty exciting!

And for many others, transfers means a new city, a new companion, a new assignment, and new ward or branch. Change is a big part of missionary life!

After President Hinckley determines the changes, the transfers are announced by telephone to all the missionaries who will have a change. The Ayudantes meet with him in the office, and while the President is talking to one missionary on the phone, the Ayundantes have the next missionary on hold...

Notifying missionaries of transfers
Transfer calls were made on Saturday night (25 June), even though transfers did not officially take place until the following Tuesday. This was a "big" transfer - 11 missionaries going home and 11 new missionaries arriving - so most of the companionships saw some change. The transfer including calling a new Ayudante and 5 new zone leaders, 11 new trainers, while still providing trainers for the 9 new missionaries who arrived last transfer!

Interviews with departing missionaries took place on Sunday and Monday. Then on Tuesday morning we met our new missionaries at the train station (they come on the high-speed train from Madrid). We took all four cars, including the mission van with all seats removed. We filled the van with luggage, put the new missionaries in the other cars, and drove them to Montjuic for the traditional view of the mission and orientation.

An amazing group of new missionaries at Montjuic!
After lunch, interviews, and a brief orientation at the mission home, all the new missionaries went out with missionaries in the Barcelona area to get a flavor for "real" missionary work before a more detailed orientation on Wednesday.

With the nuevos out working, the "viejos" - the missionaries returning home on Wednesday - came back to the mission home where we had dinner and testimony meeting before going down to Plaza Catalunya for the traditional canto de los ángeles - singing for the angels.

Taking the metro to Plaza Catalunya
Early on Wednesday morning we headed out to the airport for a final farewell. Because of the size of the group, we rented a bus that would accommodate the luggage. This insured that everyone could link up quickly with their luggage when we arrived at the airport!

Our bus pulls up in front of the mission home

At the airport...
We are so proud of these wonderful elders who have served with such dedication and effectiveness! And we will especially miss Elder and Hermana Lund who have been our companions in the office for the past 18 months! We look forward to great things in the future from these wonderful missionaries!

June: Valencia and Baleares Conferences

Following the Lleida Zone Conference on Thursday, we drove back to Barcelona where we had a day to prepare for the quarterly Regional Correlation Council on Saturday.

Then the next week it was back down to Valencia, this time traveling by train. We arrived on Tuesday evening (14 June) and had a wonderful conference on Wednesday. And then took the train back home on Wednesday night.

Thursday we repacked to fly the next day (Friday) to Palma. We spent some time on Friday with Elder and Sister Thompson on the beautiful island of Mallorca (see fotos below), and on Saturday and Sunday participated in the Baleares District Conference. We have 5 branches in the islands - 4 on Mallorca and 1 on Menorca - that form the Baleares District. We had a wonderful district conference under the direction of Elder Wright of the Seventy (from Scotland).

El faro: Formentor, Mallorca
Fornalutz, Mallorca
Hnas. Hinckley and Thompson with some of the sisters of the Baleares District, including one sister who took the ferry from Ibiza with her husband. He husband was ordained an elder during the conference.
Elder and Hna. Thompson with some of the wonderful Mallorca saints!
While on the island, we were invited to (another) Argentine asado with the Tiberi family of the Manacor Branch. Doing this once a year gives us our annual protein fix!

Meat on the grill...
Hno. Tiberi tending the asado
On Monday following the district conference we held zone conference with the Baleares Zone. As always, it was an inspiring and wonderful conference as we met with this dedicated missionaries.

Baleares Zone Conference

June: Continued...

After returning from Valencia late Sunday night (5 June), we spent the day in the office on Monday meeting with the office missionaries. Then on Tuesday we drove north all the way to Vitoria (about 7 hours) to begin zone conferences. On Wednesday we met with the Vitoria Zone in a wonderful conference.

Vitoria Zone
Wednesday evening we drove from Vitoria to Lleida for the next zone conference. That evening we went over to the chapel as soon as arrived to greet a new missionary! Elder Garces arrived early during the day from the Madrid MTC and was assigned to work with Elder Keller in Lleida.

Elder Garces with Pte. and Hna. Hinckley in the Lleida chapel
The Lleida Zone
Of course, everyone wants a photo of the zone on their camera!
This is one of the many talents of our great Assistants,
Elders Bennington and Sommerfeldt!
Hard at work doing some role-plays at zone conference

June: Concilio, Stake Conference, District Conference, Zone Conferences, Transfers, etc.

In other words, just another great month in the mission field!

We began the month of June with our monthly Zone Leader Council ("Concilio"). This month we invited all of the district leaders to join and expanded the council to include some broader leadership training. We had a wonderful series of meetings on Thursday and Friday with these great young priesthood leaders.

The following day - Saturday - the new Barcelona Stake Center was dedicated by Elder Jose Teixeira of the Seventy and 2nd counselor in the Area Presidency. It was a wonderful event at which both President and Hermana Hinckley spoke.
The two L's in the coat of arms of Valencia (c...Image via Wikipedia
Coat of Arms of the City of Valencia

Following the dedication we drove Elder Teixeira to the airport (in company with President and Sister Moore of the Madrid Temple), then returned home for a quick lunch before jumping back in the car and driving down to Valencia with the Moores for stake conference.

Sunday morning we attended the general session of conference, held at a large convention hotel in the city. It was a wonderful conference, with record attendance, a great choir, inspired instruction, and a wonderful spirit! After the session we met a couple who had come from Castellon (about an hour away) to attend the conference. They had walked into the chapel the week before asking how they could "sign up" for this church. Among other things, they signed up that day to take the bus down to Valencia for stake conference!

Saffron is one of the three essential ingredie...Image via Wikipedia
Paella Valenciana
After conference we were invited over to President Bleda's home with the other members of the stake presidency to enjoy a fresh paella valenciana. The meal was almost as good as the conference! Well fed both spiritually and temporally, we dropped the Moore's off at the train station where the boarded the high-speed train to Madrid and we drove back up the Mediterranean Coast, between the orange groves and returned home that night.

Missionaries and future missionaries at the Valencia Stake Conference

Sergio stopped two missionaries on the street a few months ago and
told them he wanted to be baptized! He was sustained to
 become an elder at stake conference, and hopes to go
on a mission once he has been a member for a year!

Hnas. Ruz, Fuentes, and Moulton add smiles and energy to stake conference!

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Monday, July 4, 2011

July Clarin

The July edition of El Clarín has now been posted to the blog. You can read the full issue by clicking on the link at right.