It has been three years since we returned from Barcelona: our successors, Mark and AnneMarie Pace, will speak in their home ward this coming Sunday, and the Daytons, who just arrived in Barcelona last week, can not remember a time when they were doing anything else.
Our three years in the Spain Barcelona Mission were life-changing in many, many ways. We will never be the same.
And the three years since our return from Spain have also been life-changing in ways we never imagined. We have continued to feel the guidance of the Lord in our lives in much the same way as we did in the mission, and in ways equally as dramatic and remarkable.
A series of events in the first weeks and months of our return set us on a course very different from what we had imagined. That change in direction resulted in one of the great experiences of my life - researching and writing about the life of Christopher Columbus. I felt like I had a "columbian" experience, that the Holy Ghost, "with a hand that could be felt," was urging me onward "with great haste." It was a life-changing experience and extremely gratifying.
Kathleen and I felt impressed to put together another small book, a transition guide for recently returned missionaries. It gave us a chance to spend many hours talking with returned missionaries, many of whom served with us, and think about the decisions and attitudes that determine our lives. We hope it will be useful to some.
How often I told departing missionaries in Spain that the best was yet to come! Our mission experience in Spain was truly remarkable and unforgettable; we will never do anything quite like it, but it is also true that, for us, the best was yet to come!