Sunday, September 27, 2015

Spain Self-Reliance seminar & Temple Visit

As we arrived in Spain, we had lunch with our SRS manager, PAco, and then proceeded to hold meetings with the three stake presidents in Madrid.  It is a very positive way to leverage our visits, to hold meetings that might otherwise be difficult to organize.  In each of these cases we were able to spend a full hour discussing the self-reliance initiative in their stakes.  I believe that each of them came away with a better understanding of the doctrine and the benefit for their stake members.  Consequently, we anticipate this will increase their ability to bless the lives of their members.

After settling into a small apartment/hotel close to the temple grounds, we were able to have a wonderful evening sharing a dinner with PAco and his wife, Suzy.  They are a delightful couple that are very committed to the gospel.  It is wonderful to share stories and spiritual experiences.  In Spain, lunch starts at 2:00 pm and dinner is typically at 9:00 pm.   A little late for our customs, but when in Spain . . .

The next morning we were able to participate in an endowment session in the Madrid, Spain temple.  Personally, I was able to receive this endowment for my sixth great grandfather.  This finishes up some considerable temple work for this great grandfather, his wife and his children.  These were my first significant family history discoveries a couple years ago.  I am now excited to be able to finish up the sealing of this family together in a family sealing session when we return to Utah in November.  Going to the temple is so uplifting in the middle of a lot of activity in our lives.  Although we had done initiatory work and baptisms during our recent visit to Utah, it has been about a month since we have done an endowment session.  I was surprised how much I missed it.  With no temples open in Germany at this time, we need to take advantage of the opportunities when we are close to temples!  Since we held our meetings on the "temple square"  I was able to share photos during the day and in the evening.

After the temple session, we had some time to get caught up on emails, etc. and then we began setting up for the Seminar that was to begin that evening.  All of the Stake Self-Reliance Specialists for the stakes and districts in Spain were invited to a  Friday night and Saturday all day training session.  This was the primary purpose of our visit, to assist and to learn from this experience.  

Our first experience was to assist in setting up the tables, organizing the materials and setting out the snacks.  PAco, Debbie and I and one of his wonderful volunteers spent a few hours and when it was time to begin at 6:00 pm, we were ready.

The training began with a message from the Area 70 who also shared a summary message at the end of the training on Saturday.  We were pleased with the attendance, more than 20 stake specialists or members of the stake committees in Spain were in attendance.  Many had traveled four or five hours to get there.  

We focused our agenda around the new Leader Guide and then drilled down in more detail.  Several of the discussions were led by some of the specialists.  Some were very seasoned and dynamic, others were newly called and at the beginning of the learning curve. Debbie and I each had opportunity to lead some discussions with the help of able translators.  Each discussion including the learn, ponder and commit process that is used in the self-reliance materials.  Overall, we were very pleased with the experience.  As the Area 70 said in his closing remarks, Spain should see a significant increase in helping members become self-reliant from this day forward.  

We were especially impressed in the quality of the specialists.  This is our great blessing, to get to know such capable and humble members of the Church wherever we go.  That is how the Lord works, through each of us as we seek his guidance in our lives and in our responsibilities.  We know that he will always do his part if we but seek his help and put forth our efforts.  We have seen it happen over and over in our mission so far.  It is so clear that this is his work and we are so thankful to be able to be part of it!

Finally we were able to catch a late flight out of Spain and arrive home before midnight.  We are looking forward to staying in Germany for the next week!

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