We flew to Madrid on Tuesday, December 16th, arriving late in the evening. Marcia Sperry from Trophy Club, Texas, one of our friends from home, flew to Madrid and stayed at the same hotel we were in. She brought things from home from our children and friends and things she had for us. She took home with her some Christmas gifts for some of our children and also gifts for some of her relatives and friends that we had purchased for her. We had the special experience of spending Wednesday with her in the Temple. We performed 45 sealings and we each did an endowment. In addition, Rick did 4 initiatories. All of these were for names she had researched. Some of the ones we did were people she had known, which made it extra special. It's difficult to see from the picture, but the lights on the trees were like water drops falling from icycles. It was quite dramatic. The whole complex was lighted and decorated.
We found a mall close to the MTC which had a wonderful nativity exhibit measuring about 15x20 feet. Most of the terrain was made from bark of a special tree found natively in Spain. As you can see above, it looks a lot like craggy rock. There were scenes of Bethlehem all the way around and some of the characters were animated. It was truly spectacular.
Trip to Segovia
On Friday, we made a trip north to the town of Segovia with Elder and Sister Palmer from the Russia Ekatrinberg Mission. It was a half hour ride on the fast train which traveled about 120 mph. It was a very smooth and enjoyable ride. Once there, we took a bus to the center of town and were dropped off at the acquaduct built by the Romans. You can see from the picture above how gigantic it is. The Palmers are in the picture with Rick.
From the acquaduct, we took another bus up to the castle which is built higher up the hill from the acquaduct. Here we are pictured just outside the castle. There is a steep cliff just on the other side of the wall to Anne's left.
There was some beautiful intricate work that was incorporated into the walls of the castle. This is the castle that Queen Isabella lived in when she was crowned queen of Spain.
This is a picture of the chapel that was part of the castle. The icons in the niches give a 3-D effect. It was very beautiful.
The castle was turned into an Artillery School later on after the monarchs left it. Rick makes a great modern knight in shining armor!
There were lots of armour and weapons on display in the castle. It was amazing to see one of the cannons that was cut away to show the rifling in the barrel. It was over an inch deep. One whole room was used to display different knight armour. It was amazing to see all the intricate metal work on each piece.
Trip to Toledo
On Monday, we made a trip south a half hour to Toledo with Elder and Sister Nearon who are on a church service mission assisting the chief legal counsel for the East European Area. He is a lawyer from California. The name of this town is not pronounced like the town of the same spelling in Ohio. The "e" in the middle of it is pronounced as a long "a".
The picture above is of the entrance to the cathedral. We were told that this is the second largest Roman Catholic cathedral. The one at the Vatican being the largest.
We took a tram around the outskirts of the city. It was open air on one side with a roof on it. It was like the ones that bring you in from parking lots at Six Flags. The castle, which you can see pictured on the right above, was closed for rennovations and we couldn't get into it. The spire of the cathedral we went through, can be seen to the left of center as the next highest building. It was a great way to see the whole city.
The town is surrounded on three sides by water. Here you can see a shot of a bridge that was built by the Romans when they occupied this area.
The wall surrounding much of the city was started in 932 by the Moors.
President and Sister Hill
Pictured above are President and Sister Hill of the MTC. They are very accomodating to us and all the missionaries who come from Russia to stay with them. They became good friends to us while we were there.