Monday, October 29, 2012


Ávila is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites within a two-hour train ride of Madrid. We have been there twice, on July 9, 2012, and again on October 14, 2012, with Beverly's sister Dixie and her husband Terry.

To get to Ávila the first time, we took the train from Chamartín, which is near the Four Towers of Madrid:

On our second trip, we took a bus and passed this tiny castle just outside of Madrid:

As we entered the Guadarrama mountains, we could see off in the distance the Valle de los Caídos (Valley of the Fallen) near El Escorial. The cross on the hill is la Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos and is the tallest memorial cross in the world. Beneath it, hewn into the granite rock of the mountain is the Basílica de la Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos, a controversial basilica built by Fernando Franco, who is buried there:

Ávila is most famous for its magnificent, well preserved 11th century Roman wall with 88 towers (click the picture to get a full-screen view):

Beverly's sister and her husband pose in front of the San Vicente gate into the old city of Ávila:

A view of the Ávila wall from atop the wall:

Scott and Beverly on the wall (during our first trip to Ávila):

The walkway on the wall:

The cathedral of Ávila, which is integrated into the wall:

This is the Basilica de San Vicente in Ávila. Started in 1175, the building wasn't completed until the 14th century:

This monument (inside the basilica) tells the story of the martyrdom of Vicente, Sabina and Cristeta, three siblings killed by the Romans for not denying their faith.

Scott stands next to a lifesize statue of Christ in the basement of the Basílica de San Vicente:

Santa Teresa (born in Ávila in 1515; died 1582) is the patron saint of the city. She was a prominent mystic, Carmelite nun, writer, and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. This is a statue of her situated next to the Ávila wall:

Convento de Santa Teresa, the site of Teresa's birthplace:

Beverly, Terry, and Dixie chat outside the Convento de Santa Teresa. The wall of Ávila is in the background:

The life of Santa Teresa is celebrated each October. We happened to be there on the main day of the celebration. Here a military band marches through the city:

On our first trip, Beverly and I took a little tour of Ávila on this Tut Tut:

We loved Ávila both times we went there and we plan to go back again.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Festival of Nations (Ward Cultural Night)

Saturday evening, October 20, 2012, we attended El Festival de las Naciones in our ward (the Madrid 6th Ward) cultural hall. It featured booths with displays and food, along with a program of singing and dancing. Our ward has members from 19 different countries!

Carla Flores and a friend represented Honduras:

Adriana Gamero from Peru, Beverly, and Vili from Bulgaria. Adriana is one of Beverly's piano students. Vili is an investigator who told us that she and her husband have given up smoking, coffee, etc., to prepare for baptism:

As part of the display for the United States, Beverly made several plates of fudge. (The fudge was eaten quickly!)

A member at the Peru display shows off his country's flag:

Peruvian dancers:

Brother Olivares (counselor in the bishopric and temple ordinance worker) with Samantha Encacada, a Peruvian:

 Armando Cuélllar with his wife Mirtha Vásquez, from Bolivia:

Jaime de la Torre (our ward HP group leader and temple sealer) at the Colombia display:

María Elena (counselor in the ward Primary) was in charge of the Colombia booth, with its delicious food:

A girl in Colombian costume:

 Bolivian dancers:

Sister Gutiérrez and her daughter doing a Spanish dance. (Sister Gutiérrez, is a missionary here with her husband and son; they work in the hostal and in the temple):

The Gutiérrez dancers with the Spanish flag:

Nigerian dancers:

Felix and Jennifer Ogdebor (on the right) from southern Nigeria. Sister Ogdebor is our ward music chorister:

The huge crowd at the ward Festival of Nations:

The next day in Sacrament Meeting, a speaker said it best: Only in the true Church could so many people from so many different countries come together in such love and harmony.