Monday, March 18, 2013

Life is Beautiful

Today is the last day for all of the missionaries currently in the Madrid, Spain MTC.  Tomorrow they all ship out for their various assignments in the 3 different missions in Spain, Barcelona, Malaga and Madrid.  For a few hours on Tuesday the MTC will be completely empty of missionaries before the first tidal wave of the "new" era of missionary work arrives.  55 missionaries arrive Wednesday, which will be the smallest amount we have in the MTC for the rest of this year.  In a few more weeks, we will be closer to 100 missionaries where we will stay.  The tricky part is that the MTC was only built to accommodate 72 missionaries, maximum.  We'll learn how to make it work, like where they are going to sleep, how they will have shower and toilet facilities, when and where they will eat, where we will hold classes and what we will do about Sunday Services.  
To help in this the Brethren of the Area Authority in Frankfurt, Germany have called another counselor in the Mission Presidency, so now there is a full Presidency with President Sitterud, me as First Counselor and Brother Javier Benito as Second Counselor.  Brother Benito is an awesome convert to the Church, a native of Spain, whose wife, also a convert, is from England.

Our current assignments in the mission are:
1.  Counselor in Mission Presidency of the Madrid MTC (Bruce), and Counselor in the Relief Society Presidency of the Madrid MTC (Vivienne),
2.  Advisors to the Young Single Adults of the Madrid Spain Central Stake (a few hundred of them scattered around Madrid and neighboring cities)
3.  Advisors to the Madrid Institute located on "Temple Square" in Madrid.  Kids come from all over to the to Institute.  They have classes in the evenings Tuesday thru Friday.  Brother Faustino Lopez is the instructor.  He's an Area Seventy and a wonderful man.  We have "Family Home Evening" every Monday night at the Institute with a lesson and then refreshments (cooked and prepared by Vivienne; you can't believe how these kids love to eat her food) and an activity on Fridays after classes which again includes lots of refreshments.  If any of you have any great recipes for treats made with ingredients available in Spain we would love them.  We had no idea we would be spending so much of our time on our mission fixing food for young adults, but we love it.
4.  Temple workers on Thursdays for 1/2 day.
Other than that we really don't have a lot to do........LOL.  

Occasionally we find time to clean our apartment and do our laundry (which, without a dryer is a real adventure) and do the grocery shopping.  We carry our groceries from the store to our apartment in this little cart.  Everyone has one.  It holds about 5 days worth of food, but that's all that will fit in out tiny kitchen anyway, and since it's not possible to physically carry any more than that, we go shopping a couple of times a week, rain, wind or whatever.  We bought a lovely purple one.  KareBear, you would like it:

Our frig after shopping today.

Hey, there's veggies in the veggie tray; it's not just soda pop, really.

Below I'm fulfilling my promise to carry Vivienne's "Little Black Bag" of medical supplies on our misson.  We had to go help one of the sisters with a problem.  I look good as a nurse's assistant, don't you think?

 Part of Viv's baking for our activities this evening, Monday, March 19 (which by the way, for all you Americanos, is St. Joseph's Day in Catholic Europe, or El Dia de San Jose, as they say here.  It's a holiday for the patron saint Joseph, the father of Jesus and husband of Mary.  Some interesting historical legends about Joseph and Mary that I've discovered since living in Spain.)

Tonight is also "Despedida" or farewell  to our missionaries that are leaving, as mentioned above.

Here's our whole group of missionaries last Sunday singing in the early evening on the steps from the Temple going onto the public sidewalk.  People stop and listen as we sing; it's fun and the missionaries love getting outside on Sunday when they sit in so many meetings.  We have music conducting class with them, we teach them (some of them) how to sing and then we go outside and practice on the people!

Below, left to right, are Sisters Peterson (from Sweden going to Barcelona Mission), Norton (from Colorado going to Madrid Mission) and Seastrand (from Salt Lake, also going to Madrid Mission)

Some Institute Young Adults watching a movie last Friday.  They went through about 5 dozen cookies and 9 bags of popcorn
 Last Friday at institute.  Those not watching the movie were playing games.  They love the 2 Foosball tables.
  Sitting with Mariam Nalbandyan.  Parents are Armenian.  They joined the Church in Spain.  Mariam is getting ready to put her missionary papers in.
 One of the many fountains in Retiro Park where the missionaries from the MTC go tracking every Saturday.  I've blogged about this previously.  At this fountain we meet from all over the park at 4:00 PM and sing several songs from the hymn book.  The Russians sing in Russians, the Italians sing in Italian, the Americans sing in Spanish (mostly), and Spaniards and Latinos sing in Spanish, the Portuguese sing in Portuguese.  We all take turns with the language on a verse and then we all sing together in Spanish.  It usually gathers quite a crowd and some of the missionaries mingle and talk to the people while we're singing.  We get dozens of referrals and hand out about 50 copies of the Book of Mormon every week.  This park is gigantic.
 One of the other many areas of the park with fountains and ponds.  We saw 13 peacocks strutting about at this pond the week before.
 Our Russian teachers. 5 of them.  We're getting ready for the onslaught of Americans coming here to learn Russian on their way to the mission fields in Russia.  The missionaries are scheduled, for the most part, to begin arriving at the end of July, so the teachers are here getting trained.  They are really awesome.  They were singing "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" in Russian during our talent hour on Sunday evening last night.
We love the work here.  I don't really know how to explain what it's like for us on this mission.  We're much busier than I thought we would be and it feels like we're still sort of figuring out what we should be doing.  But every day it seems we have wonderful spiritual experiences, and it just feels "happy" almost all of the time, even when I'm exhausted.  I recommend it.
We plan on doing a little site seeing around Madrid tomorrow after the missionaries leave and before the tsunami of missionary arrivals starts on Wednesday.  So maybe next time I'll have pictures of some of the more "touristy" things in Madrid.
Saludos a todos!


  1. Glad to see you guys are doing great! Yes dad, I do love the purple bag!

    Did you get the e-mail I sent you guys with some recipes in it? I never heard a response after I sent it. Will any of those recipes work?

    Enjoy touring tomorrow!

  2. I am glad to see that you two are alive and thriving. They have indeed kept you busy. I am curious about the difference between Spanish ingredients and Utah ingredients. I will have to think about some recipes...

    Good luck with the next wave!

  3. So funny that you were trying to think of ways to avoid cooking. Be careful what you wish for! : )

  4. It looks like you are having a great experience...cookies and all.

  5. Just checking in. Great blogging posts. I love the pictures. My son especially loves the pictures since he spent many hours, days, weeks at the Madrid MTC and the Parque Retiro. I also love your grandchildren picture wall. It should warm up soon. And Shaun said it is beautiful in the Spring.

  6. I came across this blog by accident and as I scanned the photos I noticed Anival Zamora and his new wife in the institute one! I had the privilege of training Anival in the mission field!