Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Missionaries in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

During the semiannual shutdown of the Madrid Temple, we took a side trip to Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. We enjoyed going to church at the Los Cristianos Branch. There we met many wonderful members, including the two full-time missionaries serving there. They are Elder Anderson from Springville, Utah, and Elder Miner from Cokeville, Wyoming:
Elder Anderson, Beverly, Scott, and Elder Miner

We chatted with the elders after church and also took them to dinner in the evening (as is our custom when we meet young elders from the Madrid Spain mission). They seemed so appreciative to have a nice steak dinner for a change. Here they are at the restaurant across the street from our hotel in Tenerife:

Elders Anderson and Miner

These missionaries are charming, enthusiastic, and hardworking in bringing souls unto Christ on this amazingly beautiful island off the west coast of Africa. We loved meeting them and spending some time with them.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Dinner with the Elders and their Chinese Investigators

Sister de Schweinitz invited Scott and Beverly to have dinner with Elders Levorson and Fisher and their Chinese investigators, "William" and "Henry." These two men are graduate students in economics here in Madrid. They don't know Spanish but they do speak English.

William has a friend from China who is a member of the Church and who encouraged him to learn about the Church. So after William moved to Madrid he contacted the missionaries. Both William and Henry are wonderful, sincere men who are seeking the truth.

All of us enjoyed Sister de Schweinitz's fajitas, salads, and dessert. The missionaries and their Chinese investigators expressed appreciation by taking seconds and thirds of the fajitas!

Most importantly, we had a nice gospel discussion of a scripture shared by Elder Levorson, and ended our discussion with a heartfelt prayer by William.

Here we are after the dinner:
Left to right: Sister de Schweinitz, William, Henry, Elder Fisher, Elder Lavorson, Scott, and Beverly

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Vist to El Escorial with Single Adults

On New Year's Day 2013, Scott and Beverly joined with the Single Adults of Madrid (along with single adults from other places, including Granada, Great Britain, and Russia!) on an outing to San Lorenzo de El Escorial, the location of the famous monastery:

We rode from Madrid to El Escorial on a chartered bus, about an hour and a half ride. Three of Beverly's adult piano students were part of the group, including Josefa, who hugged Beverly when she saw her get off the bus:

The group stopped in a park to eat the lunches they brought. Here Miriam and Beverly pose with a group of Latin American members who live in Madrid:

This is a picture of the park with the young single adults sitting at various tables:

Our first stop was the monastery of El Escorial to get pictures of the exterior (the monastery itself was closed). It was freezing cold:

The main purpose of the visit to the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial was to visit the life-sized Bélen (a depiction of the city of Bethlehem at the time of Christ's birth) which covered several city blocks. The central feature of the Bélen, of course, was this nativity scene:

The huge Belén included a wide range of characters, including this "Bethlehem farmer" who was depicted as wearing glasses!

Beverly stands by a camel being led through the desert:

And Scott stands by one of the three "Wise Men":

The shepherds have a look of surprise and awe at the appearance of an angel announcing the birth of Christ:

The single-adult group, along with the two temple missionary sisters (front and left) posed in front of a huge "elephant":

The group also posed in front of the Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial:

Here Scott befriends a "horseman" in the Roman army:

We had an enjoyable New Year's Day with the Single Adults at El Escorial.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Celebrating New Year's Eve with the Temple Missionaries

The temple missionaries celebrated New Year's Eve together. Everyone brought delicious food:

Several people brought "gambas" (shrimp), but Scott couldn't eat any because he is highly allergic to them:

Everyone was in a party -- and somewhat silly -- mood, as shown here by Bro. Salas:

Even the normally serious Brother and Sister Conesa were in a silly mood:

The Eastmans and the Ebys were somewhat more serious:

Scott, Beverly, and Sister de Schweinitz tried to liven things up by wearing brightly colored wigs, a Spanish New Year's tradition. (Earlier in the evening, when we were at Puerta del Sol, the center of Madrid's New Year's Eve festivities, we saw hundreds of people wearing these crazy wigs, and we couldn't resist joining them):

All the sisters at the party enjoyed being with each other:

As midnight approached, we all followed an interesting Spanish New Year's Eve tradition. We took a cup of grapes, and then at midnight, we watched on TV as the bells in the tower at Puerta del Sol chimed twelve times. With each chime we tried to eat a grape (actually we ate half a grape). According to the tradition, everyone who eats a grape with all twelve chimes will be granted their wish for the new year:

After eating the grapes, everyone hugged and kissed and wished each other a Happy New Year. Wearing crazy wigs and counting down the New Year by eating grapes are a fun Spanish tradition that we plan to take back to Utah when we return.