Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Birthplace of Cervantes

About an hour train ride west of Madrid is the town of Alcalá de Henares, where Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (Spain's greatest literary figure and author of Don Quixote) was born in 1547.  We took a quick trip there today after working in the temple, and Scott took a few pictures.

This is the Plaza de Cervantes in the middle of town:

This is a closeup of the monument to Cervantes:

The town is also famous for the University of Alcalá. Founded in 1499 by Cardinal Cesneros, it became one of the foremost places of learning in the 16th century. This is the facade of the main entrance of one of its colleges, Colegio de San Ildefonso:

Here, in front of the Cervantes museum, Scott and Beverly are flanked by Don Quixote de la Mancha and his sidekick Sancho Panza:

And here are our friends and fellow temple missionaries Dave and Teresa, who invited us on this mini-tour:

Among the most interesting things that we saw in the town were the numerous storks that have built nests on the top of many buildings and monuments:

We had a great time in Alcalá de Henares.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

Of the major art museums in Madrid, only the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Raina Sofía is open on Mondays, our day off. We went there on Monday, May 28, 2012, in the afternoon (after doing our shopping, laundry, and cleaning).

The  plaza in front of the main entrance to the museum:

One of the external, glass-covered elevators in the old building of the museum:

The huge entrance between the old and new buildings of the museum (notice the mammoth sculpture Brushstroke by Roy Lichtenstein at the end of the hall):

Some people think Brushstroke looks like a praying mantis. It really does.

If you like modern art (which we do), you'll love Museo Reina Sofía (Queen Sophia Museum). It specializes in 20th century Spanish art, and includes excellent works by Picasso, Miró, Goya, Dali, and others. We didn't have time to see a lot of the museum, but here are some of the wonderful works that we did see, and which we were able to photograph. (The most famous work here, and the one we enjoyed the most, is Guernica by Picasso, but we weren't allowed to take photos of it.)

Homage to St. John of the Cross by Eduardo Chillida, located in one of the gardens outside the old building:

Still Life by Salvador Dali (with Scott standing at its side):

Metrónomo by Man Ray (born Emmanuel Rutzitsky), with music teacher Beverly at its side (the sculpture actually moves):

Bust and Palette by Pablo Picasso:

Portrait of Joella by Salvador Dali:

We saw lots of other wonderful art, and want to see more when we return to that museum the next time.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Young Local Missionaries to Dinner

We invited two of the young missionaries who work in our local area over to dinner (Sunday, May 27, 2012). We often see them out on the street looking for contacts near our apartment. They are Elder Chase Gabbitas from Roy, Utah, and Elder Ammon Baldomero form Kailua, Hawaii. They are wonderful hard-working missionaries who are having success in this area of the Madrid Spain Mission.

Sister Miriam de Schweinitz from Palo Alto, California, a senior sister missionary at the Madrid Temple, also joined us for dinner. Here is the group, posing in our apartment:
Beverly, Scott, Elder Gabbitas, Elder Baldomero, and Sister de Scweinitz
Beverly cooked a beef roast in our slow cooker (a gift from another missionary couple), baked potatoes, and made a fruit salad. Sister de Schweinitz made a tossed salad and brownies. Scott supplied the ice cream to go with the brownies.

We enjoyed a great meal and even greater conversation.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Our Temple Assignments

Here's how things are organized for the temple workers at the Madrid Spain Temple.

Each month the mission presidency publishes a sheet with assignments and puts a copy of the sheet in each of our boxes located in the temple office area. Here's a copy of this month's assignment sheet:
As you can tell, each day, Tuesday through Saturday, has a morning shift and an afternoon shift. The morning shift starts with preparation meeting at 7:15 am and ends around 1:45 pm. The afternoon shift on weekdays starts with preparation meeting at 2:15 pm and ends around 8:45 pm. On Saturday, the afternoon shift starts an hour earlier (1:15 pm) and ends two hours earlier (6:45 pm).

Here's a closeup picture of one of the days:
The box (first two columns) on the left gives the names of all the workers (individuals or couples) for that shift. The next column gives special assignments, and the last five columns give the days and names of the people with the special assignments.

These special assignments are rotated daily among the workers and include:
  • Coordinador and Coordinadora are the brother and sister, respectively, who coordinate all the specific assignments during the shift. They assign who goes where, and when. Assignments include being the Oficiante and Ayudante for each of the five or six endowment sessions during that shift, directing the areas where patrons go before each endowment session, directing the areas where patrons go after they finish each endowment session, and other assignments.
  • Oficiante/Ayudante (a brother who officiates and a sister who helps during a session) must come early to preside over a session that starts before the beginning of the shift.
  • Mostrador/Entrada (Recommend desk and entrance). This couple needs to be at the temple early and miss the preparation meeting.
  • Presidencia is the presiding member of the temple presidency for that shift.
Other assignments are passed out during preparation meeting. Here is example of Beverly's assignments for one day:

M-V = martes a viernes (Tuesday to Friday). 2:00-8:45 are the shift times. Tarde is the afternoon shift. The rest of the slip of paper lists the various assignments.

Here's a similar slip that Scott recently received for a Saturday morning shift:

The "I S B" simply means that we could be assigned to do initiatory, sealing, or baptism work, as well as other assignments.

Our biggest challenge has been to remain flexible. We often have our assignments changed as local workers decide to leave early, or not show up at all, or as other circumstances arise. We also have to remain flexible as far as languages go, because we never know what language the session or the ordinance will be in.

For example, Scott was involved in an ordinance that included two workers and a patron. The patron spoke French, the other worker spoke Spanish, and Scott spoke English (because the patron understood English better than Spanish). It worked out just fine. The great majority of the ordinances are in Spanish, as you might expect.

The bottom line: Every day is a challenge. Every day is interesting. And every day is a new spiritual experience.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Our First Visit to the City Center

On Thursday morning, May 24, 2012, we made our first trip into the city center of Madrid.

Beverly is waiting at the bus stop located right next to the temple:

We took Bus #32 from the temple to the end of the bus line at Benavente. This is the typical, very nice, modern bus that travels throughout the city. The normal price is 12 euros (about $15) for 10 rides. Senior citizens, including us, can obtain an "abono" that allows them unlimited rides for 11 euros per month.

We walked from Benavente to the famous plaza Puerta del Sol, considered to be the geographical center of Madrid and of Spain. The plaza (shaped like a half moon) is surrounded by historic buildings, shops and cafes, and this glass-covered metro station:

In the center of the plaza is a statue of the Spanish king Carlos III, who reigned from 1759 to 1788:

On the east end of the plaza is an interesting statue of a bear eating from a madroño (strawberry tree); the statue is a symbol of Madrid:

The plaza also included a central fountain. If you look carefully, you can also see another "symbol" of  Madrid (a beer bottle) floating in the water. Madrid is world-famous for its night life, much of which takes place in Puerta del Sol:

We walked from the plaza east along Calle de Alcalá, which included lots of traffic, beautiful, historic buildings (this is Torre del Edificio Metropolis) ...

... and interesting statues, including this Romanesque chariot on top of a tall building:

We returned to the plaza, where we bought and ate delicious Italian gelato (ice cream):

Scott took pictures of Beverly standing next to some TV characters, including Sponge Bob Square Pants, which we hope the little grandkids will enjoy:

We then took the bus back to our apartment in time for our afternoon shift at the temple.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Our Madrid Apartment

We love our apartment here in Madrid. It has only four rooms, but it works fine for a missionary couple.

This is our apartment building, which houses temple missionary apartments, the Madrid Missionary Training Center, the Distribution Center, LDS Employment Services, and the hostel for members who come to the temple:

You can see how close our apartment building is to the temple, in the photo below. The red building on the left is the apartment building, right next to the temple (view of the west side of the temple).

Here's another photo that shows the proximity between the temple and our apartment. The white wall on the left is the east side of the temple, and the big red building straight ahead  is our building:

When we arrived last Tuesday morning (May 15, 2012) this sign was attached to our door (a similar sign is on the door of all the missionaries):

When we entered our room, there we saw, on the kitchen bar, these welcome items--fruit, chocolate truffles, honey nuts, filled rolls, and an information sheet:

We also found a full issue of towels and sheets on our bed:

The following are pictures of our four rooms.

Beverly in the living room (with TV, DVD player, computer desk, etc.):

Beverly checking the dishwasher in our kitchen; it also has a large fridge, stove and oven, microwave, sink, and bar:

Not part of our apartment, but we bought this collapsible cart. It is essential for carrying our groceries from the stores (two to three blocks away) and carrying our clothes to and from the laundry:

Our bedroom with queen-sized bed, night stands, two dressers, and two closets.

Our bathroom:

Another view of our bathroom (with Scott in the mirror taking the picture):

Our laundry room, located in the basement of the building. It has five washers and four high-capacity dryers. We are issued tokens each week so that we can do the laundry for free:

So there you have it, our home away from home. Very convenient and comfortable.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Photos of the Madrid Spain Temple

Scott has taken a few pictures of the Madrid Spain Temple and the temple grounds during the five days that we have been here. Here are some examples of his photographs.

We had a nice rainstorm pass through today. Scott got this picture after the storm (taken from our apartment building):

This is the sign near the west entrance to the temple grounds (photo taken on a clear day earlier in the week):

A view of the back of the temple (Angel Moroni is looking east; the back of the temple is on the south):

Another shot of the temple, taken after the rain today from ground level, showing the main entrance (on the north side of the temple):

A night photo from our apartment building, taken last night at 10:15 pm:

An old olive tree graces the grounds of the temple. It probably represents the allegory of the olive tree from the Book of Mormon and also represents Spain, the world's biggest producer of olive oil:

The southeast corner of the temple:

The west side of the temple:

Another photo from the apartment building where we live, showing the entrance to the temple and one of the fountains:

The temple at about 8:30 pm, taken from our apartment building:

The sign showing that the temple was constructed in 1999:

This is the beautiful temple that we have come to love.