Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Eternal Families - The Church in Madrid - Grass Fire

Hello!!! It's Elder Knorr, your son/brother/friend/acquaintance/grandson/nephew!

Just emailing in to let you all know that I'm doing fine and enjoying missionary work here in Barrio 1 in Madrid! First off, it's good to hear that the mail is making it so fast! I try to be very quick in writing replies and then sending them off, so it's good to hear that the Spanish mail system is doing their part as well!

I'm still happy about the baptism, but I can't let any kind of lull set in. If I just act satisfied and loosen up the work, who knows what kinds of opportunities I'll miss? There are other people out there who need the gospel as well. For instance, the other son of the Mejia family, whose name is Angel, has two children with a girl named Carla, who isn't a member. For all intents and purposes, you couldn't tell them apart from a married couple except for that they aren't married! After a lesson in priesthood this week about the temple and sealing and eternal families, Angel seemed really set on getting married in the temple! So Elder Parry and I let him know what that was going to take. First we have to get them married, and it's really hard for people to get married here if they come from another country, due to a lot of paperwork and government stuff, but I think that they have the desire to work at it until it's a reality. After that, Carla will be able to be baptized and we'll be one step closer to helping the Mejia family get sealed in the temple for eternity! :)

"Missionaries leave their families for 2 years so they can bring other families together forever." That quote really sums up what it means to be a missionary. Sure, we work towards baptism, but eternal families are where it's at!

The Church here is much younger here than it is in Utah, and it shows. There are very, very few people born into the Church. I have a lot of respect for the members of the ward that I'm with here. Most of them are immigrants from South American country or from Africa. There are six missionaries who serve in our ward. Our chapel is nice, but it's not its own building like in the States. Just think about the NYC temple and you'll get an idea of what it is.

As missionaries, we spend time teaching members, for practice and also to get referrals, but we hardly ever get dinner appointments (at least in my area). I've become quite apt at cooking rice and hamburger. Yum! Oh, on that note, I made some Chicken Fallbrooke for my companions a few days ago. It was delicious! I don't think they caught the vision though because they kept mixing it with pepper and barbeque sauce and stuff, but that's ok!

Some exciting things that have happened recently: We live in a large apartment building on the second floor right next to an empty lot filled with dry, yellow grass and weeds. A few days ago I was brushing my teeth at about mediodia when I heard a cracking sound. I followed the sound to the window. When I looked out, I saw that there was a small fire that had started in the lot next to us. It was small, but I knew that there was no way it could be a controlled fire, considering where it was. I shouted to the other missionaries to have them call the emergency number (112) and report it. We took pictures of the blaze, and within minutes there was a fire truck filled with bomberos valientes parked on the street next to the lot. The fire had really picked up and it was burning through the field really quickly! They took it down in no time with the high pressure water hose. I got pictures of that too. I'll be sure to send them in the next batch!

Today, we went to a place called Valle de los Caidos. You can look it up on the internet, probably. It's an enormous Catholic cathedral tunneled into the side of a mountain. We attended a mass there! It was really different, that's all I'll say about the experience. There were somewhat scary-looking stone statues all along the walls of hooded figures and winged angels. It's in this cathedral that the famous dictator Francisco Franco is buried, along with many of the casualties of the Spanish Civil War. One of the defining features of the Valle is an enormous, and I mean ENORMOUS cross on the top of the hill that the cathedral is tunneled into. It's the largest cross in the world. I got pictures of the outside of the cathedral and of the cross. It was all pretty cool! We had to hike 6 kilometers in and 6 out, but that was good exercise too.

Well, I need to get going and go shopping so that I can eat this next week. Thank you for all the letters and emails and love and prayers! Let the good times roll!

-Elder Knorr