Trip to Spain 2017
July 4, 2017

From May 28 to June 12 we were in Madrid, Spain, and nearby areas as part of my work for the World Missions department of our denomination, the Brethren in Christ.

During the first week we led a learning trip for two couples, and the one couple had their 4-year-old and 2-year-old sons with them. The little boys showed great adaptability as we traveled by Metro, bus and train, had many meetings and kept late hours.

Here are David and Christine, with their sons.

And here is the other couple, Elias and Idotress, on the right, talking with a member of the Madrid Church.

During the second week, JoLene and I had meetings and appointments with our workers as we discussed in depth several important administrative matters.

Cafe del Gato 1

Cafe del Gato 3

In Madrid, we ate several times at Cafe del Gato, the Cat Cafe. There were no real cats on the premises, just the art decorations. In the first photo, the window reflects the street opposite the cafe, and if you look carefully, you can see me as I took the photo.

The Madrid Cathedral, also called the Almudena Cathedral, or the Cathedral of St. Mary the Royal, of La Almudena. La Almudena is similar to the Arabic word, “The Castle.” A modern structure, it was completed in 1993.

Above, the apse, the area beyond the altar; and the ceiling above the altar.

Palace - front

Across the plaza from the Cathedral is the Royal Palace, the scene of state and formal events. King Felipe VI lives in a different palace, somewhere outside the center of the city.

Plaza Mayor 1

Plaza Mayor, a main plaza located a few blocks from the Puerta del Sol (the Gate of the Sun), which is the very center of the city.

Mariachi players and singers in Sol. Like all the street performers, they are looking for donations, so for the privilege of taking this photo I dropped a few coins in the hat.

 

Mercado de San Miguel, San Miguel Market, a glass-walled, indoor upscale market. All kinds of tapas (small portions, a bit like appetizers), seafood, fruit, large stuffed olives (which our group we really liked) and all kinds of drinks.

In Plaza de Espana (Spain Plaza) the Cervantes Monument, a tribute to the famous novelist and poet, author of Don Quixote. Below the statue of seated Cervantes you see Quixote (taller) and his squire, Sancho Panza.

Our church in Madrid meets for worship at noon on Sundays (Spaniards eat lunch at 2:00 PM.) On the first Sunday we were there, they had an international meal. Delicious entrees and desserts, many of them from Latin America. We contributed Hershey’s Chocolate Miniatures.

For our workers, serving means not only singing, Scriptures and sermons, but also clean-up duty. What a pose!

It was a privilege to pray with, bless and encourage our workers.

The members of our two churches are involved in works of compassion. We joined them in packing non-perishable lunches for the members to give to homeless people they meet on the street. I gave my package to a man sitting on the sidewalk outside McDonald’s at Puerta del Sol.

 

This is the storefront (the street level and basement) that serves as the meeting place for our church in the town of Hoyo de Manzaneres, about 15 miles from Madrid.

Here you see Antonio and Aida, the pastoral couple at Hoyo. They are gifted servant-leaders and have a heart to see the fire of God settle on the people of their church and town.

In Hoyo we walked through the town, praying for God to work in mighty ways. On a more mundane note, we saw a huge stork nest, with an adult stork feeding one of its two chicks.

 

We took a bullet train to the city of Toledo, location of the huge Toledo Cathedral, which is impressive on the outside and richly decorated on the interior.

Interior, above the main altar.

Interior, The Disrobing of Christ by El Greco.

This is the Cathedral Monstrance, a structure to exhibit the host (communion wafer, the body of Christ) in a once-a-year procession through the streets. This Monstrance is one of the most famous in the world. The literature says it is made of pure silver, but to me it appears to be gold. Is it silver covered with gold? It is carried on the shoulders of several people, in a procession takes place in the month of June, some time after we were there, so we missed seeing the procession.

Also in Toledo, we spent time in the small museum called Ancient Instruments of Torture, showing many instruments that were used during the Inquisition, which was established by Queen Isabella I in 1478. Originally, it was mostly to ensure the orthodoxy of those who had converted from Judaism and Islam. After seeing the instruments and machines and reading the descriptions, we left the museum with sober thoughts and heavy hearts.

Also in Toledo, we visited a shop where they make damascene plates and jewelry. Damascene is the art of inlaying gold and silver in a darkly oxidized steel background in intricate patterns. The English term comes from the fact that the finished work resembles the rich tapestry patterns of damask silk.

On a day off we went to the town of San Lorenzo of El Escorial to see the Royal Site, a vast building complex that was once a monastery, royal palace and burial place for the royal families. It was conceived by Phillip II and completed in 1584.

Today it is still a monastery of the order of St. Augustine and also a tourist site.

The photo above is the iconic view of the building, which is laid out in an immense square and has spacious gardens of three sides.

The main entrance.

After you enter the main entrance, you step into a courtyard facing the basilica, or church.

This concludes our photo tour of Madrid and surrounding areas. Thanks for joining us.

Please post a short message on my blog so that I know you are there!

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From Madrid
October 19, 2015

In June we took our family to Madrid for a week to celebrate early our 50th wedding anniversary, which will be on December 22. We stayed in a vacation apartment three blocks from Puerta del Sol, Gate of the Sun, the very center of the city.

Here is a photo of the anniversary couple in front of the royal palace.

John & Jo at palace

Unfortunately, the king was busy with other things, so we had to dine at an outdoor restaurant by ourselves.

How we came to this anniversary so soon is a mystery, but we thank God for his mercy and goodness to us in so many ways throughout our married life. Yes, we have had some losses and pain, but God’s grace is sufficient.

In Spain – Week Two
November 15, 2010

Week Two was October 25-31.

We stayed this extra week to look after things that relate to my work as regional administrator and to have two days off. I did a lot of computer and email work, wrote reports, met with each missionary family, met with them as a group for their weekly staff meeting, met with the Bundys and Gonzalezes (you will remember that Antonio Gonzalez is the pastor of the Hoyo church), and spent a lot of time with Mark and Annette Cintron.

Mark and Annette are exploring whether God is calling them to come to Madrid as missionaries, so we had a lot to talk about.

I will report on a few of our adventures.
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In Spain – Week One
November 14, 2010

If you can shift your mind away from Guatemala for a bit, let’s return to the trip we took to Spain. My narration of that trip was interrupted by other duties until now.

So here we are at Week One in Spain, October 11-18. This is the vision trip for pastors and lay leaders to learn about the culture and religious climate of this country, see the vision our Brethren in Christ churches here, and get a vision of how to be a more effective advocate of world missions when we return home.
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Welcome to Spain
October 23, 2010

We are in Madrid, Spain, for two weeks, from October 18 through November 1.

For the first week I am leading what we call a vision trip, an experience for pastors and lay leaders to catch the vision of what is involved in our mission in Spain so that they can return home better prepared to convey missions vision to their church and to promote prayer for missions.The group consists of nine others and JoLene and I.

My time is quite filled with meetings, prayer times and visiting various cultural and religious sites, so I have been delayed in posting any blogs.

For now, I will just show this view of the famous and elegant post office building at Plaza de Cibeles, or Cibeles Square.

The Plaza de Cibeles is a square with marble sculptures and fountains and has become an iconic symbol for the city of Madrid. It takes its name from the statue of Cibeles located in the center of the square (circle, actually!)

Cibele, or Ceres, was the Roman goddess of nature (including grain, hence our English word cereal.) She is sitting in a chariot pulled by two lions, as you see in this photo by David Icke, from the web.

I will add more posts as I have time.