MADRID, Spain — "Wonderful," "marvelous," "magnificent," "inspirational."
Over and over, members of the Church used such descriptions when adequate words to express their feelings failed to come to their tongues during the days the Madrid Spain Temple was dedicated, from March 19-21.
Hard though they searched, they could not convey inward feelings through verbal expressions. Most, when asked about the sessions they attended, began to weep as they tried to respond.
A mingling of the languages of the Iberian Peninsula — principally Spanish, Portuguese and French — and English filled the plaza surrounding the temple after each session. Ever-courteous ushers' expertise in crowd control allowed for members to linger on the temple grounds after the dedicatory sessions.
The temple grounds, which some call "Temple Square of Madrid," also could have been called "Reunion Square." Long-time friends renewed associations, and numerous members from throughout the temple district had an opportunity to visit with missionaries who once served in Spain, Portugal and France.
Many entering the plaza at the main entrance to the temple property for the first time stood in silence, taking in the beauty of the edifice's exterior walls of gleaming white Italian marble and gazing upward to the statue of Angel Moroni atop the temple's sole spire.
The Dealba family — Fernando, father; Mari Carmen Leri, mother; Zuleika, 14, daugther, and Mario, 12, and Jairo, 8, sons — found the dedication one of the highlights of their lives.
"It's difficult to describe this day," said Brother Dealba, second counselor in the Madrid Spain East Stake presidency. " 'Awe' is the only word I can think of. Seeing the prophet, listening to the talks — it's all been an uplifting, wonderful family experience.
Carlos Terra, who directed the Porto Portugal South Stake's choir in one session, said: "It was very humbling to be part of this dedication. Most members of the choir have no knowledge of music, but we practiced many hours. We listened to recordings of the Tabernacle Choir for inspiration and bore our testimonies at each rehearsal. Everyone dedicated all they could to sing for the Lord."
Members of the stake spent most of the night traveling by bus to arrive for their assigned session on the afternoon of March 20. They began their return trip home within a few hours after the session had ended.
Thirty-nine years ago — before she knew about the Church — Amparo Salvador lived in the neighborhood where the temple now stands. She joined the Church in 1978, and has lived in the United States for a number of years.
"I was so surprised to read in the Church News that they were building a temple in my old neighborhood," she said. She has returned to Spain to serve a temple mission. Her companion, Juliana Eizaguerre, is French. "When I see this wonderful place, I think how blessed I am," Sister Salvador said.
Two of the first four missionaries to Spain, Clark Hinckley and Craig Ward, attended the dedication. The others were Robert Haws and Jose Luis Barcol.
"We came here in June 1969 as the first full-time missionaries," said Brother Hinckley. "There was a branch that had been organized a little over a year. All members were expatriates, with two exceptions that we knew of, Spanish members Jose Maria Oliviera, who was baptized in France in 1966, and Angel Herrero, who had been baptized by some BYU students who had been here about a month earlier on a semester abroad."
Brother Hinckley paid tribute to the expatriates who provided so much help to the missionaries.
"People like Bill Fotheringham, who had been sent here by the Kodak Company, helped us so much. He picked us up at the airport, rented a place for us, even put a map of Madrid on the wall. He was very instrumental in getting the Church legally recognized in Spain. He took very good care of us. He and Jose Maria were our two primary sources of help."
Brother Ward said that he and the early missionaries often thought of the promise of wards and stakes in the prayer that Elder Marion G. Romney of the Quorum of the Twelve offered on May 20, 1969, in dedicating the land of Spain for the preaching of the gospel.
"We knew in our hearts that this promise would be fulfilled some day, but never thought that it would be realized for many, many years. Not only are there wards and stakes here but there is now a temple of the Lord."