As you've seen one the mission blog, and other sources, President Russell M. Nelson visited our mission this week, along with his wife, and Elder Patrick Kearon and his wife also. All I can say is that it was probably one of the most spiritually uplifting and powerful experiences I've had in my life. Just to be there with 200 missionaries, and an Apostle, it was ridiculous the spirit felt in that chapel! Our journey there was a story in its own. After having 6 other missionaries in our piso Wednesday night, we left at 4:30 in the morning by taxi to the airport along with the other 40 missionaries from the north. We all hopped on the plane together (that was fun, lots of suits and funny looks), and arrived just as the sun rose in Barcelona. Elder Perry and I went on splits for the day in Hospitalet with the zone leaders there (finding some fun people, and a crazy girlfriend), before going to the stake center for the evening for the general meeting with President Nelson. That meeting was crazy, almost 900 people crammed into the building, including 75 missionaries in the back so that the members and investigators could sit down. All four of them spoke, ending with President Nelson telling his translator to sit down so that he could full "gift or tongues" it by finishing his talk and testifying all in pretty fluent Spanish (the room went silent since the spirit was so powerful). The members were so excited to meet an apostle, the first one to visit here in many years too, and are probably still talking about it today.
The next day was the missionary conference, we arrived at 11 to say hello to all the missionaries of the mission (only the second time in the missions history that the whole mission’s been together), and to prepare for the picture. Once we all got in position, and knew that he was coming down from his brunch upstairs, all 200 of us began to hum “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet”, President Nelson sat down to take the picture with us, and in complete silence we each shook hands with the four of them. President Nelson has a firm grip for a 92 year old man, and the most intense eyes. I think he saw my soul haha, kidding but still an amazing experience. We then had the conference, with the four of them testifying and teaching on the resurrección, the importance of missionary work, the sacrifice our family's make for us to be here, family history, Joseph Smith, and President Nelson’s part being almost an hour of him teaching us. He finished by giving an apostolic blessing to the mission, and with us standing in silence they all four left. From their teachings, and the spirit I felt in this meeting, I know that the Lord calls modern day apostles to do his work, that the spirit of revelation is real (every one of my questions was answered), and that this is Christ's full church on the Earth today! Where else can you feel this spirit, and have all of these truths that we know?! It was a memorable moment for the entire mission, and one I'll hopefully never forget.
Back to Las Arenas (we were gone three days so that was strange), the work’s progressing, Joel's getting baptized next week probably, and miracles are happening everywhere! A miracle I saw this week happened in this small pueblo in our area called lutxana, a station on the metro line that we'd never visited. We contacted almost every door in the town (there were like 15 small buildings), and found nothing. That is until the very last building on the top floor, where we found this young woman named Ester, who had seen the missionaries in the past in Bilbao, already had a Book of Mormon, and was completely open to reading the book again and starting with us! For a long morning of little success, this little miracle helped make the day for me, and show me that there are people prepared in even the smallest of towns in our areas!
This week, while made amazing by the mission conference by President Nelson, was also made good by some of the good people and progress we had this week! Joanna, the friend of a member named Miriam who came to church two weeks ago was able to come to a Noche de Hogar, another lesson, and to church this Sunday with her, and the family of Alicia our recent convert coming to another noche de Hogar tonight. She's very promising, and we're planning to invite her to be baptized in the next few days. What makes it better is her support that she has from Miriam and the family of Alicia, which is where she's living at the moment. Thankfully she doesn't need to be reminded to attend church.
It was also Elder Perry’s birthday today so we spent the day walking around Bilbao, eating at a Chinese buffet, and now we're here writing! It's been a crazy week, along with us moving this week, it's going to be nuts. Hopefully this new piso helps us forward the work here even more!
I love and miss you all!
My crawfish friend!
Birthday lunch for Elder Perry at the Wok Buffet!
The Barcelona Mission with President Russell M. Nelson! (Taylor is 4 rows from the back, 3 over on the right from the basketball hoop)