Then dad headed straight back to the mission office to do some work while Chris and my mom and I took the scenic route home through some cute streets in Barcelona.
SATURDAY, MAY 25
The next morning we ditched my dad again and Chris, my mom and I headed to down town to the Sagrada Familia for a tour. I couldn't get enough of the cute little streets we walked past. My mom has now been here so many times that she has a favorite parking garage to park at and a favorite bakery nearby to eat at after the tour (more on that later). It was so nice to be touring with a local. I'm sure it would have taken us much longer to take public transit and find it all on our own.
And when we got to the church we walked straight to the front of the (huge) line, handed them our reserved ticket printout and walked right in. Amazing! Two thumbs way up for my mamacita who has this whole darn city all figured out. (Someone the other day told me I was turning out to be like her and it made me cry. I should be so lucky.)
As a small note here, you can see a little orange-ish buildling near the street with a curved roof in front. It was the schoolhouse for the children of the construction workers who were building the church back in the day. We got to tour the inside of it and it was the cutest thing! It felt like something out of a Dr. Seuss book! Very whimsical.
The other side of the church at the end of the tour is called the Nativity Facade (depicts his birth) and the Glory Facade (depicting his resurrection) is yet to come. It's planned to spill out over the street into a neighboring block, so funds have to be raised to purchase that block first.
It's hard to see here, but there is a 2-ton figure suspended between two towers, which is the soul of Christ ascending to heaven.
When it's finished it will have 18 spires total. Twelve spires for the apostles (330 ft tall), four spires for the four Evangelists that are slightly taller, one spire for Mary (400 ft tall), and a spire in the center for Christ (560 ft tall).
After the tour we headed towards my mom's favorite churro bakery. We always passed lots of motorcycle parking when we walked around the city, because it's many people's transportation of choice. They call them "moto's." It reminded me of the ringtone of my motorola razr phone I had years ago. Anyone else remember that? HELLO, MOTO. Everytime we passed moto parking that song popped into my head, ha ha.
Here's a good spot to talk about Carolina, since I never did get a picture of her. I would say she is my mom's best friend in Spain. She comes twice a week and does ironing, cleaning, cooking, etc. Whatever my mom needs to get ready for transfers or meals or conferences or traveling - she does it. But the best part about Carolina is her demeanor. Do you want to know why my mom's Spanish is so good? (Other than the fact that she's just plain smart.) Carolina is why. She has the sweetest, bubbliest, kindest demeanor. When she speaks with my mom, I can see my mom relax and be comfortable in her Spanish and if she gets to a word she's unsure of or a verb she's not sure if she's conjugating correctly, Carolina gently offers her the correct word and they carry on with their conversation. It was the sweetest thing to watch. My mom is comfortable enough with Carolina and they have a good enough relationship that she can show all of her Spanish vulnerabilities when they talk and know that she won't be judged or criticized. On the contrary - she will be praised and encouraged, and that is why her Spanish is growing and will continue to improve. Thank the heavens above for Carolina. I know tears will be shed when my mom has to leave her in two years!
At any rate. We found an even BIGGER tub of mayonnaise at Makro this time than we did last time. Who knew a person could need that much mayo at one time?
Elder Reina, who is from the Canary Islands, was sitting in a park playing his guitar when he was 19-ish or so. He had long hair and a long beard, and was doing what hippie's do. He saw the missionaries walk by and he said something in his heart leapt, and he had the urge to chase after the missionaries...but he didn't. A few minutes later he spied them again leaving the park and when his heart leapt again, this time he jumped up, threw down his guitar and literally ran after them, calling for them to stop. He didn't know who they were or what they were doing, but something inside him told him that whatever message they had for him was so important he needed to run to get it. Two weeks later he was baptized.
It was a humbling experience to listen to their stories, and story after story that my parents are filled with. Just miracle after miracle, and the spirit guiding individuals to the truth when they were looking for it.
Later that night we found out there were going to be baptisms at two different Barcelona wards, so we hit a baptism at my parents' home ward at 6pm and then hopped over to a second baptism at 8pm. The services were beautiful, and my favorite part was hearing each of the new converts bear their testimonies afterwards. It was so powerful, even in another language!
The 8pm baptism was in a bonafide chapel that the church built and owns, and it was lovely. I wanted to take pictures of it to remember it. It was a 3-story place with lovely skylights and open space. I noticed the hymn books had huge labels on the front that covered half off the cover saying what ward they belonged to, etc, and I asked my mom why they did that. So my dad told me a story. He said one day the missionaries were walking down the street and saw a man with like a framed picture of Abinadi/King Noah walking past them, and they were like, what the...? So they stopped him and asked him where he got it and they realized he'd stolen it from the ward, ha ha! Like taken it off the wall. The man lied of course and told them he found it but they physically took it out of his hands and walked it back to the church and hung it back on the wall where it went. Then they went into a meeting for an hour or so and when they came back out, the picture was gone from the wall again, ha ha! So now all the pictures on the walls are bolted/mounted permanently, and all of the hymn books and other books are labeled on the front with huge labels. I thought it was pretty humorous.
After the two amazing baptisms we headed downtown for a tapas dinner at a really cool basque tapas restaurant called Txapela. (The Basque people mostly live in the Northern part of Spain -- the one area we didn't visit.) Basque tapas are almost all served on like a slice of baguette bread, it's sort of cool.
We rounded out the evening with a rousing game of Gin with a Tail. I think it was Chris's first time playing, but it felt a little bit like home for me.