Madrid, Spain – Sunday October 13, 2019 – [Find this travel series here]
Today is an example how Facebook can be a blessing. Just moments before we left the house for the SLC airport my friend Gloria Johnson noticed I’d posted we were headed to Madrid instead of Osaka. She quickly contacted me through FB Messenger inviting us to attend church and have supper with them on Sunday (today)! We had completely forgotten they were serving a mission for our church in Madrid! We hurried and added some appropriate Church-going attire into our small carry-on suitcase (hoping wearing our hiking shoes would be forgiven).
This morning, we were excited to take an Uber ride to the Latter-day Saint Madrid Temple grounds. Our Uber driver was impressed with the tall white structure and asked what it was. In our halting Spanish we explained it was a church… “iglesia de jesucristo“… On the same block of land as the Temple is a large chapel where Sunday services are held for several Latter-day Saint Congregations, and another building several stories high includes the mission office and accommodations for those who live a distance from the temple and need lodging during their temple service.
There are three Stakes of the church in Madrid (similar to a Diocese – each “stake” is comprised of multiple congregations called “wards”). Today, we were attending a bi-annual Conference for one of the Madrid Stakes (I can’t remember if they said it was the West or the North Stake… ?).
Fun facts: Missionary work in Spain for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints commenced in 1967 after a religious liberty law was passed in this country, allowing for the official recognition of the Church. Clark Hinckley, son of then-apostle Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, was among the first four missionaries sent to Spain from another mission.
The Madrid Temple was the 56th Latter-day Saint Temple to be built in the world, the 7th Temple completed in Europe, and the 1st Temple in Spain. It was dedicated in 1999 by then President of the church, Gordon B. Hinckley. It is now part of a complex of land often referred to as the “Temple Square of Madrid.”
When we entered the chapel we were thrilled to see it filled to the brim from the front row all the way back to the last row of chairs in the connecting overflow. Gloria, Jeff and I were given some really cool headsets and a kind brother in the congregation acted as our translator for us during the meeting, speaking into a microphone that broadcast through one of the channels in our headsets. He did such a professional job! It was so cool to listen to an entire meeting through one ear in another language and hear heartfelt testimonies of Jesus Christ witnessed in Spanish, and translated into my own language. The spirit of Jesus Christ was so strong during this meeting it brought me to tears multiple times.
I loved hearing my favorite hymns being sung with gusto in Spanish. Jeff and I knew the melody and the English words. So, we tried our best at singing the foreign pronunciation.
Elder Tom-Atle Herland from Oslo, Norway was the visiting area authority presiding over the meeting. He spoke to the congregation in English, and our interpreter served as his translator into Spanish. It was exciting to meet with Elder Herland afterward and talk about the preparations that he is involved in for the Tabernacle Choir coming to Norway and all of the other Scandinavian countries in the Baltic next summer for our 2020 Tour. Jeff and I are looking forward to seeing each other again in Oslo!
It was a very spiritual and thought-provoking meeting. The theme was chasing away the darkness from our lives by adding more light. In order to gain Light, we were encouraged to add more daily prayer & scriptures, and especially to add more temple attendance. The local members were reminded that they may stay free for one night any time they need at the church lodging on site in order to complete their family temple work. The President of the Stake challenged everyone to attend the temple once per week and promised that they would receive tremendous blessings from God if they would commit to this goal. If once per week were not possible, they were encouraged to attend at least once per month .
“My brothers and sisters, temples are more than stone and mortar. They are filled with faith and fasting. They are built of trials and testimonies. They are sanctified by sacrifice and service.”Thomas S. Monson
After the meeting, we lingered on the grounds to admire the beautiful craftsmanship of the temple, and snap some photos.
We walked with the Johnson’s about 1 mile to their apartment where we were fed an exceptionally delicious 100% plant based feast! The Johnson’s are also living the whole food plant based lifestyle. This is their fourth mission for the church. The served a humanitarian mission to The Democratic Republic of Congo, they taught English in China, they served another humanitarian mission to Morocco, and now they are serving a mission teaching the Self Reliance Program in Spain! When we grow up, we hope we can be as active and adventurous serving missions around the world just like them!
We had such an enjoyable visit with the Johnson’s it was hard to say goodbye! So, we decided to meet up again on Thursday afternoon to introduce them to Vivaburger. 🙂 They walked us to the nearest Metro station, and after Roland had a lively conversation with an exuberantly helpful Metro worker, we were happy to learn that Jeff and I could purchase one pass and share it for the week. We are impressed with how efficient and fast the Madrid Metro system is. In no time we were exiting the subway at SOL station, and experiencing all of the colorful chaos of the bustling downtown as we slowly wandered our way home.
Much later we may or may not have made a midnight run over to Vivaburger… (Okay, yes, of course we did). – Holly