Sunday, July 27, 2008

Lions, and Tigers, and BEARS -- Oh MY!!!

I finally got a picture of the BEARS located on the A-1, highway into Madrid. I was so excited. Unfortunately, it took a traffic jam to accomplish this feat but I finally did it. There are actually 2 sets of these mama bears with 2 cubs on each side of the road. I love them! But there is also some significance to bears in Madrid as well.

As many visitors to Madrid know, there is statue of another bear and a Strawberry tree, "El Oso y el Madrono" at Puerta de Sol, the center and heart of Madrid. This statue is the symbol of the city of Madrid. It is on everything that belongs to the city. A visit to Madrid is not complete without a picture taken by this statue.

Bears were once very plentiful in the area which was once called "Ursania." This is the reason that the flag of Madrid is red with 7 white stars. Each star represents one of the administrative areas of the province of Madrid, which are the City of Madrid, Alcala de Hernares, Torrelaguna, San Martin de Valdeiglesias, El Escorial, Getafe, and Chinchon -- But, together the stars are said to represent the constellation in Ursa Major known as the Big Dipper or Big Bear.

So that's your history of Madrid lesson for today. We have learned to love this country and this city, but more importantly, the people. We consider it a great blessing to live here for a time. So next time you see a bear, pause for a moment, remember Madrid and think of us!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Summer has arrived!

This transfer we are doing something a little different. We are having every zone up to the Mission Home for Interviews where they also meet with the zone leaders and the assistants and then we have a Barbeque. So far we have had the Las Afueras Zone and the Alcala Zone. It has been a lot of fun and I think the missionaries have enjoyed it. We discovered we have some talented "chefs" and the food -- both spiritual and physical -- has been wonderful! The missionaries also have some study time and just "getting acquainted" time. We are watching the new Church DVD "Finding Happiness" and talk about how it can help us contact people about the Church by asking them Questions of the Soul. (For those former missionaries, we now have only seven zones. The two districts in Madrid Norte were put into other zones.)
We have also just completed Summer Slam '08. This is a basketball camp the missionaries put on for the church youth and their friends. We had 299 young people register this year. Only 176 attended but we now have 71 referrrals of non-members who attended the camp that will receive missionaries into their home to get their camp shirt and photo in front of the temple. We have already had one baptism and there are another 4 or 5 in the near future. Isn't the Gospel wonderful! This has been a great tool for the Spain Madrid Mission.

With Spain winning the Eurocup and Nadal winning Wimbledon, it's been a great time to be in Spain............even though we didn't watch it. Viva Espana!!!