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Church leaders make courtesy visit to Spain's king and queen

President Gordon B. Hinckley visited King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain March 9 and presented the couple with a personalized, leather-bound copy of the Book of Mormon.

President Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, was in Spain with Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Council of the Twelve for a regional conference March 7-8 in Madrid. Both leaders were accompanied on the trip by their wives.Also paying the courtesy visit to the king and queen were Elder Spencer J. Condie of the Seventy and president of the Europe/Mediterranean Area and Pres. Faustino Lopez of the Madrid Spain Stake. The meeting took place at the Palacio de la Zarzuela, the residential palace north of Madrid.

After the presentation of the book, King Carlos and Queen Sofia graciously expressed their thanks for the gift.

During the brief meeting, President Hinckley reminded the king of their previous meeting several years ago in Santiago de Compostela, when President Hinckley was visiting the country during a mission presidents seminar. He also told the king that his own son, Clark, had been one of the first four LDS missionaries in Spain in 1969.

Elder Ballard has a special interest in Spain as well, having had a daughter and two sons-in-law serve as missionaries here.

Elder Ballard extended greetings to the royal couple from the Spanish ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Ojeda, and from Minister Fuentes of the Spanish Embassy, who have been helpful in assisting the Church in Spain.

Queen Sofia expressed her admiration for the Tabernacle Choir, and President Hinckley said he would send her several recordings of the choir's performances.

The king supported himself on crutches as he visited, having recently suffered a knee injury while skiing. The brethren invited him to try skiing in Utah, where the snow tends to be softer.

Toward the conclusion of the visit, King Carlos invited Pres. Lopez to contact his office and arrange a future appointment when they could discuss the Church in Spain in greater detail.

During the two days prior to the visit with the king and queen, a regional conference was held, which included a special session Saturday for all stake, district and mission presidents in the country, followed by a priesthood leadership session attended by 604 brethren and a Sunday general session.

President Hinckley admonished the priesthood leaders to live worthy of their callings, follow the programs of the Church, organize their time, share their heavy loads through effective delegation, remember that this is the Lord's work, and to act enthusiastically after praying for the Lord's assistance.

Elder Ballard underscored the importance of bishops and branch presidents using full-time missionaries to team with local brethren in home teaching less-active and part-member families.

On Sunday, 4,244 saints from throughout Spain, including the Canary Islands, gathered for the general session.

President Hinckley reviewed in detail the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants, explaining that the Church was restored to earth so that men might speak in the name of the Lord; that faith might increase in the earth; that the Lord's everlasting covenant may be established; and that the fullness of the gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and simple to the ends of the earth.

Elder Ballard bore testimony of the divine mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith and of the unfolding restoration of priesthood keys and authority.

Other speakers included Elder Condie, Sister Hinckley, Sister Ballard and Sister Condie. Music was provided by a combined choir of the Seville, Madrid and Barcelona stakes.

"It was marvelous to have President Hinckley and Elder Ballard here, it was a wonderful shot in the arm," Elder Condie expressed following the visit. "The saints in Spain who listened to a prophet's voice will never be the same again."

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