Here’s how the first-ever pioneer trek in Spain helped Latter-day Saints connect to their ancestors

What would a Latter-day Saint pioneer trek be without a few drops of rain?

Several dozen youth and adults from eastern Spain’s Vilafranca region recently took part in what is believed to be the country’s first Church-sponsored pioneer trek. 

And just like the pioneer children from the Primary Songbook, the Spanish trekkers sang, washed in streams, prayed, played and, yes, “walked and walked and walked and walked.”

 And when the heavens suddenly opened, they all got wet.

They also celebrated. For the past several months, Spanish Latter-day Saints have been marking a historic anniversary. The Church was formally recognized in Spain 50 years ago — allowing Spanish members to practice the gospel in full. 

Today there are almost 60,000 Latter-day Saints in Spain worshipping in almost 140 congregations. The Church in Spain is anchored to the Madrid Spain Temple, which was dedicated in 1999 by President Gordon B. Hinckley.

So members of the Hospitalet Spain Stake possess a two-pronged appreciation for pioneers. Like members worldwide, they honor the Mormon Pioneers who fled persecution and built Zion in the Salt Lake Valley. But they also cherish the devotion of the Spanish Latter-day Saint pioneers who lived by faith though their numbers were few.

Members of the Hospitalet Spain Stake participate in what's believed to be Spain's first-ever pioneer trek.
Members of the Hospitalet Spain Stake participate in what’s believed to be Spain’s first-ever pioneer trek. Credit: lds.org/España

 “We wanted to help present-day and future generations find faith by following the examples of both the pioneers from history and modern-day pioneers,” wrote Relief Society stake president and pioneer trek co-organizer Carmen Campos in an email. “If we stand together, advance the gospel and help one another, we can emerge victorious despite the difficulties that may arise along the way.”

 The recent Hospitalet pioneer trek also helped the youth become better acquainted with local pioneers living in the region.

Adorned in traditional pioneer garb, about 60 trekkers of all ages set out from the Hospitalet Stake Center and began their brief sojourn across neighboring fields. They pulled converted “handcarts” and walked together in trek families.

“During the journey, we had planned for a few brief stops where we sang pioneer hymns, danced, collected water from a river, found refuge under a bridge and enjoyed food that had been placed along the route,” wrote Campos.

 The trekkers also discovered uplifting notes, encouraging the “pioneers” to build their own faith histories that others can follow. Each of the trek stops also provided teaching moments about sacred pioneer lessons.

Members of all ages from the Hospitalet Spain Stake participated in the 2019 pioneer trek.
Members of all ages from the Hospitalet Spain Stake participated in the 2019 pioneer trek. Credit: lds.org/España

 Spain’s first-of-its-kind pioneer trek lasted only a couple of hours — but participants caught a glimpse of pioneer hardship.

“We were all surprised by a strong storm,” wrote Campos. “The heavy rains prevented us from doing some of the things we had planned. But it also helped us better understand the difficulties of the pioneer exodus and appreciate what we have been given.”

The Hospitalet “pioneers” ended their trek at the meetinghouse — their own local Zion. They enjoyed food and games and gathered again to share testimonies.

 “The days following the trek have been beautiful because there has been newfound encouragement and joy,” wrote Campos. “Many hope to do this again.”