Monday, September 7, 2009

The New Vitoria Stake

The organizing of the newest Stake in Zion brought many people from all over.  We are here with President and Sister Larkin, who served as the mission president from 2000-2003.  They are delightful people who came from St. George, Utah and were warmly greeted by many.  We had a lovely visit in the mission home and felt of their love for this area and people.  
Here we are pictured in the rear of the Vitoria capilla in Vitoria.  From l. to r., Pres. Ruiz de Mendoza, the District President, Elders Frank and Griffith, Elder Causse, Hna Clegg, Pres. Clegg, Elder Kopischke, Hmns Patten, McConkie, Miskin, and Elders Olds and Renshaw.  This was taken after all the interviewing was done of the men to be considered to become the Stake President.  It was a process that started on Friday evening and ended around 2:00 p..m. Saturday afternoon.  At this moment they had received the confirmation of who was to be called, but were waiting for him to come back to Vitoria.  We had a lunch ready to serve the General Authorities and invited our missionaries who are serving in Vitoria to share in the experience.  It was a beautiful fall day which was filled with excitement.
The afternoon was filled with a 3:30 Priesthood meeting and a 6:00 adult session.  Here we have a dear member of the Relief Society Presidency in San Sebastian, she is so dear to me and I can't remember her name, please someone help me.  Sister Serrano (not really her name, but it is her husbands)and her son who came from Pontevedra because she grew up in this area.  The next few pictures were taken at the Hotel Ciudad de Vitoria.  The chapel wasn't big enough to hold the expected amount of people.  
Just a few shots of people waiting in the lobby while the Priesthood meeting was still in session.
Lot's of pictures being taken.  We turned around and were both taking one of each other.  Such fun.  Many people have asked which branches were becoming wards.  The 5 new wards are Santander, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Logrono and Pamplona.  The 3 branches are Las Arenas, Vitoria and Burgos
Here I am with more wonderful sisters from San Sebastian. My english friend Diane is right next to me.  So many lovely people with such strong testimonies.  The Saturday night session was wonderful.  Elders Causse and Elder Kopischke gave very powerful talks on Zion and the Pure In Heart.  Pres. de Mendoza, me, and a few others spoke for about 5 minutes each.  The choir was wonderful.  The people new the Stake President had been called, but that news was for the next day.
Sunday morning, September 6th, in this building on the campus in Leioa by Getxo was the place for this meeting.  It was a wonderful auditorium that was to seat about 1,000.  The estimate of the crowd was around 700 but both myself and Elder Causse thought they were a little off and didn't include the many on the stage.  We felt like it was at least 850 or more.  It was a wonderful place and people came by car and bus. 
This is taken from the parking lot.  I will apologize from this point on because my ability to take pictures was hampered by the fact that we were shepherding the General Authorities and it didn't allow for real good picture taking.  The next pictures you will see were taken in the hall after the meeting.  I have never seen people taking pictures inside, but after the meeting was done, almost everyone wanted to come and get their picture taken with a general authority or the new stake presidency or even Rick and I, can you imagine that?  I did decide to try to get a few for the blog but they aren't very good.  I have put a few on so you might get a feel, but the quality of the pictures isn't the best, hopefully you will just feel the excitement.  It was amazing.
This is one third of the auditorium.  It was very nice and comfortable for all.  As the meeting started, the first thing that Elder Kopischke had to do was have about 12-15 men stand up and be sustained as High Priests.  These men would be on the High Council or possibly in the Stake Presidency.  When you have branches, you don't have too many High Priests.  This was a very incredible visual experience.  As he read the names you could feel the power of the Priesthood resting upon these people.  It was an amazing, moving moment for me.  I was sitting 3 seats away from the new Stake President who was to be sustained in a few minutes.  He hadn't been presented yet, but as I looked over to him, he was putting his hand in his face, shedding a few tears.  The brother sitting next to him put his arm around him to comfort him.  I am sure he was feeling the moment and the responsibility that was to rest upon his shoulders.  The mantel of the calling must have been coming to him.  It was a very special time, one that I hope I never forget. 
These two wonderful women belong to two very important men in the meeting this day.  On your right is Sister Camargo, who's husband is our Area Seventy and on your left is the wife of our new Stake President, Sister?  (I won't tell you yet)  They are both from Brazil.  Two lovely, wonderful women who are great examples of love and service.  
This is Elder Causse who is talking with members after the meeting.  He is such a wonderful, sensitive man.  He has a goal to learn Spanish.  I enjoy being with him and at times when I do get him to speak French, it is like music to my ears.  We have a wonderful connection, my brother baptized his in-laws over 40 years ago in France.  His wife was only 3 at the time, but what a sweet connection we have.  
This isn't the best picture, because you only get the back of Elder Kopischke.  But the other men are the new Stake Presidency and some of the former District Presidency.  Who are they?
O.K., I have made you wait enough.  Here is the entire new Stake Presidency with the Area Seventy and the two General Authorities at the end of the afternoon two hour training.  We will be taking the General Authorities to the airport shortly after this picture was taken.  I will name them all left to right, and I will call the sisters who are with their husband by their husbands name, even though they don' t do that in Spain.  It makes it hard to get to know them all and I haven't mastered that yet.  Lorenzo Rojo Rosado, clerk, Elder and Sister Camargo, Elder Kopischke, Pres. and Sister Jose Manuel del Molino Cortes, he is the 1st Counselor, President and Sister Saulo Franco Guimaraes, Stake President, Pres. and Sister Carlos Esharri Zuazola, 2nd Counselor, Elder Causse, and Bro. and Sister Julio Samalo, Executive Secretary.  History has been made and the Spain-Bilbao Mission has it's first Stake.  A giant leap forward in the progression of the work in Northern Spain.  


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  2. I was literally brought to tears as you told about the fifteen men standing up and being sustained as High Priests and the new stake president choking up with emotion. Even over the written word of the blog, the spirit the the meeting is palpable. There is something so exciting and tender about being in the mission field, where LDS people are a tiny minority. Where some of us live, and the church is big and very established, I think we take for granted how miracluous the priesthood and the church organization is. Thanks so much for not only sharing the pictures, but also sharing the spirit of such an incredible event in the church in Spain.

  3. Thanks so much for putting names to the faces of the new Stake Presidency, the moment was so beautiful that I didn't even write them down in my notes. The Sunday morning Conference is something that will stay in my mind and heart forever.
    It was wonderful seeing and talking to President and Sister Larkin again as well, they were and are greatly loved by the members here.
    Okay, now I'll help you out with some of the sisters' names you were asking for. The sister in the San Sebastian RS Presidency in Sister Mariana Muñoz.
    In the photo with you and I before the Saturday pm Conference, the sister besides me is Gloria Dominguez. Her husband Brother Antonio Iglesias is one of the brothers called to the High Council and they are a pioneer family here as they were baptised over 30 years ago. On the left is Sister Concha Salcedo who is our wonderful FHC Director in San Sebastian.
    Please keep on writing this blog as it is lovely to see and hear about the members in other (now) wards who we don't get to see very often.

  4. This was a great event that many of us have been looking forward to many years. I remember reading letters home written by one of the first four missionares to Spain (before I met and married someone from that area). If you want more pictures, just call
    948165533, and speak to one of the new folks on the High Council

  5. Thank you so much for the information on the new Stake, we were all excited to hear about it. When you mentioned the power of the Priesthood I was teary-eyed as I thought of the power of the Priesthood that has descended on the new Vitoria Stake. That Elder Griffith is sure a handsome missionary! (only a Mother can say that).

  6. I served in the mission from 1998-2000, and having a stake was only a distant dream at that time. It makes me so happy that the work has progressed this far! There were many days when I never thought it would. Just thinking of having wards in Pamplona and Santander give me goosebumps. Thank you so much for the report.

  7. I also served in the Bilbao mission from 1998-2000 and am jumping for joy at the organization of the new stake! What an incredible blessing for the people of northern Spain, whom I love so dearly. I served in Santander, Burgos, and Las Arenas and can only imagine the excitement those Saints must feel at the progress the Work of the Lord is making in their homeland. My wife and I look forward to visiting in a couple of years and rejoicing with them!

  8. I served from 2002-2004 and was brought to tears reading about this wonderful event. Thank you for posting. While reading I kept thinking of the many prophecies, promises and blessings given by General Authorities regarding Spain. We were given a handout of these prophecies to motivate and inspire us missionaries in our labors. One of them is:
    "No hay una estaca en Bilbao todavía, ¿verdad?"...(no)... "pero vendrá, vendrá." [Pres. Boyd K. Packer, 20 Noviembre, 2000; Madrid]
    The work of the Lord moves forward!
    Thank you again.

  9. In March of 1988 I was transferred to Vitoria-Gasteíz from Santiago de Compostella. My new senior companion, Elder Bagley, was the branch president in Vitoria and the chapel was a little place on calle Beltran de Otazu. Here´s to Itziar Arenaza Nuñoz, Loli Larroda, the pioneers of Vitoria.