What do you get when you travel missionaries all day to come to a once in a lifetime End of a Mission Zone Conference? Tired worn-out Elders with a smile! The entire mission came together on Thursday, June 10th at the Vitoria Capilla. The logistics to do such a conference were handled superbly by our two secretaries Elder Holmes and Hansen. Over half the mission had to travel the day before to be able to attend together the next day. We had the honor of housing the Leon District at the mission home. We asked all the missionaries to come fasting to prepare them for the spiritual feast as well as the joyous reunion for all of us.
Elders Ciccio, Saune and Farnsworth were glad to be off the train and ready for the next day to arrive. We chose the teachings of the Zone Conference to be the Book of Mormon. The electricity and anticipation of the day had been high in the office and now seeing the Elders and Hermanas arriving made it all real. We went to bed very excited for the coming day. The day before Hermana Belnap and I took all the food down so as not to have to deal with it the morning of the conference. As well, MariJ, who works in the mission home, came on Thursday to aide with all the work of serving almost 70 missionaries. The stage was set and off we went Thursday morning.
For the rest of the blog I won't be commentating too much. I would prefer that we just absorb the pictures and try through the medium of pictures to feel the spirit of the conference. Occaisionally I will fill in some details. Let it be said that this truly was an incredible day with such a closeness to the spirit throughout all the teaching and testifying. We had 12 missionaries that were going home who shared with us their final testimonies. We had musical numbers that were fantastic. The food of Lasagna, salad, carrots and many deserts was delicious. It ran smoothly and everyone came away with many memories. The mission will officially close on June 30th and over half of these missionaries pictured are going to the Madrid Mission and the others are going to be in the Barcelona Mission. They will all remain in their cities and work as hard as always, but after this date, they will all have a new mission president.
All the Hermanas of the mission sang He Sent His Song. Their voices rang like angels. Everyone wanted to capture every moment as you can see by the cameras running during the conference. A special thanks to Elder Driggs. He accompanied all the musical numbers and then shared Praise To The Man as a piano solo.
Elder Howard and Quinn played a beautiful violin duet of "How Great Thou Art." Heavenly!!!
After great Zone focuses, the Ayudantes and my teaching on the Book of Mormon, it was time for lunch.
Dear Elder Dredge! He was very emotional all day as he knew he was leaving the mission in another week to go to Madrid and help Pres. Watkins with the transition of almost 30 new Elders and Hermanas to the Madrid Mission. Elder Ashby will be helping Pres. Hinckley in this transition for the Barcelona Mission.
A standing ovation for MariJ and Hermana Belnap for all their help with the food.
The Elders sang "If the Savior Stood Beside Me" with Elder Pederson leading out with a solo. Great job Elders!
After a wonderful message by Pres. Clegg and an emotional DVD we stood and sang "Called to Serve" and Nos Plascenteros Nos ES Trabajar" with a 4th verse written by Elder Anderson. After the closing prayer we surprised everyone with a T-Shirt that says "Siempre Bilbao" on the back with the dates of the misson. It was a hit!! Then our wonderful missionaries surprised us with a book filled with a picture of each missionary and a personal letter from them. It is priceless.
Here we are with our 65 young adult children. What a family photo!! (Yes, that is Elder Chavez in the middle front row. He came up from Madrid just for the day to be with us. Wow, we love him so!)
What would a Zone Conference be like without a funny picture.
These are the 12 plus the Presidente and I who are leaving the mission. The 12 pictured go home on June 24th. Great group of missionaries that have all worked till the end and leave with honor.
Now we are pictured according to our homes. These are all our wonderful "nativo" missionaries who live within Spain. We couldn't have this mission without them. Elders and Hermanas Cepeda, Roldan, Sandoval, Moraza, Bajana, Marin, Abellan, Chavez, Ciccio(he lives in Italy) Sanchez, Zamora, Griotti, Sauane, Oscanoa, Leon, Castellon, Esteves-Garcia and Gonzales. For some reason Elder Cairns isn't in this picture, he is from Scotland.
Here is the Utah Army. Elders and Hermanas Dredge, Stock, Driggs, Clegg, Woosley, Frank, Southwick, Stosich, Sieverts, Pederson, Reist, Howard, Hansen, Clegg, Nielsen, Flory, Plaskett, Ryser, Hanson, Crocker, Strickland, Hadley, Crocker, and Nye.
Our Arizona group are Elders Quinn, Belnap, Jackson, McClanahan, Ashby and Hermana Belnap
California is represented by Elders and Hermanas Fitches, Farnsworth, Pyne, Blazian, and Patten.
All the rest from other states are Elders and Hermanas Woods, Aston, Skidmore, Blatter, Renshaw, Gerber, Anderson, Huntsman, Roerig, Johns, and Bell. Whew, lot's of wonderful missionaries all united in their service to the Lord.
We came home that night full both spiritually and physically. The Elders and Hermanas all went out and worked that night, and then we had our Leon District for the night. The next morning it was French Toast, cereal and yogurts before we sent them on the train. There is Elder Cairns holding up a yogurt! Our wonderful Scotland boy.
As we loaded them into the van, had to get one last glimpse of an example of what we see and pray for and work with every day. Life is great in the mission and we will never forget our Bilbao Missionaries.