Some that said we would not be able to fill the hall on a Monday evening, or that at best, there would only be a few, and to be honest, we were quite worried that all our hard work would be for naught. Sister Sullivan and I debated over how many chairs to set up that night. I was firm that 300 was more than adequate. She insisted on 500, stating, "If you pray for rain, bring an umbrella. SET UP MORE CHAIRS!" She won, as usual.
The Devotional was to begin at 7:45, and again, some said, "You'll never be able to start on time; the Spanish are notoriously late; at best they'll be 1/2 hour late." We planned a "processional" to begin the program, with all 133 missionaries striding in from the back of the hall, clapping in rhythm while a small percussion ensemble and piano played. When they assembled in their choir positions we broke into an upbeat traditional Spanish Christmas carol that every child in Spain knows by heart, called "Los Peces en el Rio". And the concert was off and running.....on time. Processional - Los Peces en el Rio.
Right from the first downbeat the missionaries captured the full attention of the audience and they were honestly spell-bound for the next 55 minutes. It should be mentioned that this was not a hand picked choir of singers, but rather the entire group of missionaries from the 5 zones around Madrid, so obviously there are quite a few voices a little off pitch, and we only had one rehearsal before the day of the performance. In spite of those shortcomings it was a smashing success. The building was packed to the walls with people standing in the back. I don't know exactly how many were there, but obviously more than 500. Our Temple missionaries served as hosts/ushers and also provided hundreds of baked cookies as a post-concert treat, so our crowd control was excellent.
Here's a picture of the missionaries just before the concert began. Including the MTC missionaries there were 148 plus President and Sister Jackson, President and Sister Sitterud, and 3 senior missionary couples; the Buhlers, the Riggs and the Sullivans. It was an impressive sight AND an impressive sound.
|Madrid area & MTC missionaries - December 16, 2013|
|A shot of the back of the hall after the concert.|
I'm uploading this video under some protest. It sounded much better live. One sister recorded it on a little hand-held camera. Maybe someone can let Mom hear this sometime for her Christmas present.
|It was an unforgettable night, one that makes us feel real purpose in our call to Madrid, Spain|