|Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Vigo, in Northern Spain|
|Meeting with the Leon District President and our manager, PAco Serrano|
On Monday morning we began our first session of the accelerated My Job Search in Vigo, Spain for the southern portion of the District. We had 8 participants, including a translator for Sister Rueckert and the District President. Two more joined us on Tuesday morning for the second session. The 8 job seekers, including two unemployed priesthood leaders all returned for the third session on Wednesday morning. In total we covered the first five lessons of My Job Search in a group format, including daily reporting of goals.
|First 8 participants of the Accelerated Job Search practicing their Me in 30 seconds on Monday morning|
|Tuesday morning group, including two more participants, absent the translator (District President translating)|
|No translator for Sister Rueckert, but a young child to entertain, she keeps busy|
|Additional practice with continuing participants|
On Monday and Tuesday afternoons, PAco and Elder Rueckert visited some local organizations that work with job seekers, including temporary employment opportunities. We introduced our materials and our members (conceptually) with these organizations and were positively received.
Our Monday and Tuesday evenings were open so we took time to explore. On Monday we walked along the promenade near the beach and on Tuesday we went to the ancient fortress on top of the mountain and were able to get a great view of the city and the coast. We were also able to taste some local shellfish and octopus on Tuesday night. This region is known for these delicacies, we partook and we agree.
|Along the beach, Atlantic Ocean behind us|
|Elder Rueckert couldn't resist going down into the water|
|View of the promenade, public swimming pool to the right|
|Evening view from above the promenade, with a local seagull|
|At the entrance of the fortress|
|Near the top of the fortress, Atlantic Ocean behind us|
|Sister Rueckert and our Spain manager, PAco|
|Overlooking the city and the ocean|
|A relaxing moment in the park within the fortress|
|Near the exit to the fortress|
As we saw the marker below, referring to 136 individuals assassinated on this location 80 years ago, we received a history lesson from PAco. He described the civil war in Spain that occurred in 1936 and led to 39 years of dictator rule which ended in 1975, closely aligned with the Catholic Church. That dictator rule was a solution to extreme right and left positions. Finally, in 1975 Spain returned to a democracy and our Church was allowed to be established. This covered the period of World War II which Spain essentially missed. Franco, the dictator, appeared to be sympathetic with Hitler, but did not feel his country was able to participate in World War II, having just finished their own civil war. We always enjoy a little more history lesson as we see different locations in Europe.
|Grilled Octopus, served as an appetizer. Very tasty!|
|A plate of assorted Shellfish, we ate it all|
|6 job seekers, two SR facilitators, district counselor and one branch president, along with PAco, Sister Rueckert and Tom King|
|Practicing their Me in 30 Seconds|
That evening the local branch hosted a local singing group who put on a concert, including Easter songs and other music in Spanish, German and English. We decided to attend this event, since our travel plans had precluded any other Easter concerts. This concert included some hymns from our hymn book and allowed the congregation to participate in these songs. This was a wonderful blessing to add to our efforts of the week.
|Concert choir performing|
|A spiritual song with audience participation in the choreography|
|Closing song, showing the entire choir|
We continued the training on Thursday morning. Four of our participants could not participate due to work commitments, but we added one new participant.
|Thursday morning group working on Power Statements|
Thursday evening we had facilitator training. Three facilitators were present as were 3 members of the District Self-Reliance Committee. We trained them using the new facilitator guide which has just been translated into Spanish. This process trains facilitators in a group setting so that they don't just hear theory but experience the process. We have found this to be extremely effective.
After the facilitator training we participated in a District Self-Reliance Committee meeting. This was presided over by the 1st counselor in the district presidency. The second counselor also attended as did his wife, who is the district relief society president. The new district specialist was not able to be in attendance as he had been called by his employer to work during our visit. They were trained as a committee and discussed the upcoming May 6 devotional plans. We then asked them why we had so few unemployed priesthood leaders in our training sessions. The committee chairman knew the situation of every name on the list that had been submitted to us before hand. It turns out that there are only about 6 unemployed leaders and 4 of them participated in our sessions. There are many other underemployed priesthood leaders who desperately need this same training, but they all had work commitments during the day, similar to the 4 participants that had not continued from the Wednesday evening group. We felt better about the results and returned with much more understanding.
|Santiago District Self-Reliance Committee|
|Outside the restaurant in A Coruña|
|Octopus and Salad, part of our "tapas"|
Friday morning we continued with lessons 4 and 5 of My Job Search. As we had the participants report on their commitments from the previous day, we were pleased to get a very positive response form one of the unemployed priesthood leaders. He had followed the commitments from the prior day and had contacted a work colleague from 4 years ago. He was well received and learned that this contact is currently in a regional management position and may have a job opportunity for this leader. He had started the course without a lot of hope. Now 2 days later, he had a scheduled meeting for a job opportunity and several more identified contacts to make. At the end of the meeting he had to take a call on another job opportunity. This was a fitting completion to our week. We know that the materials that the Church have prepared will help members to find self-reliance, including jobs, if they will follow the steps outlined and keep their commitments. When they do, the Lord steps in and helps them, for "He will provide for His saints".
|Meeting from Friday morning session|
We caught an afternoon flight back to Madrid, stayed in a nearby hotel overnight and returned to Frankfurt early Saturday morning. This allowed us time to do our laundry and enjoy our time home in our apartment. Sister Rueckert also found time to create new "flowers" for our door wreath, since the Easter Decorations were no longer appropriate.