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We are still collecting information on the Spain Málaga Mission. If you served in this mission and are willing to share your experiences with us, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Snapshot of Spain – Spanish is the official language of Spain, though Basque, Catalan, Galician, and Occitan are all recognized co-official languages in certain regions (mostly border areas). Catalan is the most widely spoken of these, especially in the eastern regions of the country. About 70% of Spain’s population is Roman Catholic, with another 25% being unaffiliated with a religious group. The remaining population is mostly split between Protestant and Muslim (from remaining Moor influence). Spain has a rich history in art, literature, and architecture, of which the Roman Catholic church has influenced much of Spain’s past and current culture. Semana Santa, “Holy Week,” is celebrated with parades and other festivities in the country the week before Easter, and many regional holidays are held in honor of local patron saints. Probably the most famous of these festivals is that of San Fermín, which features the running of the bulls.
While Spain is typically associated with flamenco music and dance, today, Spanish pop music, as well as rock, electronica, and hip-hop have all gained popularity. Different regions of Spain also have their unique traditional styles of folk music and dance. Soccer is the most popular sport in Spain, though basketball and tennis are also favorites. Each region of Spain has its own unique dishes, though pork is typical throughout the country and a variety of seafood dishes are enjoyed, especially in coastal areas. Rice, potatoes, and beans are common sides. Bread is served with most meals, and salads are especially prominent during the summer months. Churros are often served as a snack, particularly common with hot chocolate at churrerías.
Snapshot of Gibraltar (part of the Spain Málaga Mission) – Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory, and as such the official language is English. However, due to its proximity to Spain, Spanish is also spoken widely on the peninsula. Gibraltar is also home to Llanito, a dialect that mixes both Spanish and English. The largest religious group in Gibraltar is the Roman Catholic church (about 75% of the population). The Church of England (7%) and Islam (4%) are the next-largest religious groups. Despite its small size, Gibraltar is influenced by many cultures, including British, Spanish, Portuguese, and Genoese cultures. The government is a big supporter of providing access to sporting facilities for its citizens, where soccer, cricket, and rugby are favorites. The cuisine of Gibraltar includes pasta dishes influenced by Italy and Malta and several types of bread inspired by Genoese cooking, with the pancake-like Calentita considered the national dish. Rolitos (thinly sliced beef rolled around bacon, eggs, vegetables, and other ingredients) is a popular dish in Gibraltar. Due to Gibraltar’s coastal location (on the Iberian peninsula), there are many types of fish dishes found there.
Spain has been only be open to the Church since 1968, with the organization of the Madrid branch (previously, Spanish law did not allow for religious diversity within the country). Missionary work began in 1970. Today, there are over 50,000 members, 138 congregations, and three missions. The nation’s temple was dedicated by President Hinckley in 1999 (his son was among the first four missionaries to serve in the country when it was dedicated). As of 2013, the Málaga mission contains seven stakes in the southern part of Spain and the Church continues to grow.
Spanish cuisine is different than its South American counterparts, so be prepared! In fact, each region of Spain, and Gibraltar, has its own specialties, mostly all based on a typical Mediterranean diet. The Spanish eat a variety of seafood dishes, which are especially prolific in the country’s coastal areas, and pork is also common throughout the country. Meat is often paired with rice, potatoes, or beans. As in most of Europe, bread is serve d at nearly every meal; salads are common during the summer months along with fresh fruit.
Snacks include Churros, particularly common with hot chocolate at churrerías, and Tapas. Cooking is influenced by neighboring countries: for instance, pasta dishes influenced by Italy and Malta and several types of bread inspired by Genoese cooking are popular in coastal areas. In Gibraltar, the pancake-like Calentita is considered the national dish. Rolitos (thinly sliced beef rolled around bacon, eggs, vegetables, and other ingredients) is also a popular dish.
Most missionaries can expect to walk or take public transportation. Although there are both bus and metro systems, buses are more common except for connections between larger cities. Cars are reserved for specific leadership assignments.
Spain is a modernized country with a stable government; violent crime is not high in most Spanish cities. There is always, however, petty theft such as pickpocketing, which is common throughout Europe. Missionaries should be aware of their actions and their surroundings to avoid such crime.
Spanish culture includes a siesta, where children return home from school and parents from work to eat lunch together. Traditionally, lunch is the largest meal of the day. Also, many people give each others besos in greeting, which are kisses on the cheek (normally, participants do not actually kiss the cheek, but rather the air around it).
The southern region of Spain has been heavily influenced by religion, especially Roman Catholicism but also Islam. Málaga is famous for its celebration of the Holy Week (a Catholic tradition), with processions that begin on Palm Sunday and continue throughout the week. In August features, the Feria de Málaga is a celebration the city complete with traditional Spanish dancing, music, bullfights, and other festivities.
Each year in April the Málaga Film Festival is held, specifically for films produced in Spain, and it is considered the most important film festival in the nation.
For parents: missionaries in Spain always appreciate American (or Tex-Mex!) foodstuffs that are difficult to find in-country, such as root beer, peanut butter, barbeque sauce, etc.
Av. Jesús Santos Rein Nº 2, 3 D-E
Official mission blog (current): http://thespainmalagamission.blogspot.com/
Alumni site: http://www.mission.net/spain/malaga/
Straight from the Spain Malaga Mission:
*What items were hard to get or not available? “Most of the “American” food was not readily available or was quite expensive. I craved Root Beer something awful! I even had my parents send me the flavoring to make some myself. (But then I couldn’t find dry ice, so I unsuccessfully tried the yeast method). I wanted Miracle Whip, but after having only mayonnaise for so long I lost the taste for it. We couldn’t find a turkey for Thanksgiving, so we settled for chicken. I didn’t like the body soap they had so that gave something for my parents to put in my care packages.”
“Peanut butter and Dr. Pepper were rare and expensive. Deodorant!!!”
“Peanut butter, taco seasoning, hot sauce, and other such Mexican spicy goodness, deodorant, processed foods that we’re used to in the USA (brownie mixes, cake mixes, macaroni and cheese, etc.) were all rare.”
*What did you eat the most of? “I ate green olives all the time! Yum! We also had some of the most amazing freshly baked bars of bread every day. There is some great hard sausage called chorizo. (Different than the soft Mexican variety.) We did not eat with members very often, so most of the food we ate was missionary-made food. We had a meal we made often we called “Chaws.” It was pasta served with tomato sauce, fried chorizo picante and a melted round of laughing cow cheese. Also, they have a delicious spread called Nocilla, similar to Nutella.”
“Pasta, rice, lentils, chick peas, french fries, eggs, fruit.”
“Seafood, bread, and tortilla de patata (spanish omelet).”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“Squid in it’s own ink. I kept saying in my mind, “Chicken, chicken, chicken.” It didn’t work. 🙁 ”
“Squid in my paella.”
“A pumpkin casserole with sheep brain, heart, liver, and other organs on it.”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“I loved serving among the people. As is common in Europe, giving “besos” or “kisses” in a common greeting that caught us off guard as we were asked not to follow that custom. But, you couldn’t dodge them all! Also, whenever you walked into a store, everybody would stop and greet you vocally. It was fabulous.”
“Kids living with their parents into the kids’ 30s and dog poop everywhere”
“I loved how formal people were. They would get dressed up in their nicest clothes to take a walk down the street. Also, family is most important to them and they would do anything for their family. They thought it was so strange that Americans would leave home at 18. Most Spaniards will stay at home until they get married (even if that’s not until they are in their 40s) and then they will live really close to family.” —Rachel
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Spain Malaga Mission?
“The Spanish language is a beautiful language. The Spanish dialect is especially beautiful. Embrace it and don’t be afraid to speak it with the Spanish pronunciations. Most of the Spanish speakers that live in the United States are from the Americas, you may be ridiculed. But, don’t be afraid. Also, Spaniards do not have a lisp! Study the language and you’ll learn the beauty of the “theta!”” —Scott
“Work hard regardless of success or rejection and recognize that Spanish is spoken differently across the world.”—David
“I would say to have a very open mind. Spain is different. The people are different. Its a different culture. Don’t compare them to you. Just love them for who they are. They will feel that love and, I promise, they will respond to you.”—Rachel
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“That daylight saving change dates may not be the same as the United States! We showed up to church thinking everyone went on vacation! We went ahead with the Priesthood meetings, only to have every start showing up an hour late. So, we thought. We had two Priesthood lessons that Sunday!” -—Scott
“That not every missionary was there to work hard and serve diligently. That was the greatest source of frustration and disappointment for me.”— David
“I wish I would have known how hot it was going to be! I know that seems like the tiniest thing, but I had no idea that it would have been 115+ degrees a lot of the summer in some areas. That would have changed how I packed a little.”—Rachel
“Try everything. Talk with the kids. Smile. ” —Scott
“The hardest areas and companions brought some of the best memories. The ugly areas brought the best experiences, and the beautiful ones were the hardest.”—David
**Did you serve in the Spain Malaga Mission? If so, we would love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at email@example.com.**