|Very Important Things Home Page Called to Serve Site Map|
Between 1936 and 1939 Spain was rocked by a brutal civil war. At the war's end, the fascist General Franco became ruler of Spain. In late 1975 Franco died, and the government shifted to a democracy. Many of the strict prohibitions from the "Franco Days" were lifted by the new democractic reforms. Spain is now a thriving, modern democracy that is an important participant in the European Economic Community.
With time, and as you become fluent, you will notice the influences recent history has made on the people of Spain. In particular, you may notice a "generation gap" between those who remember Franco and those born after his rule.
By most standards, Spain is as modern, if not more modern, than the United States. Do not think you are going to a "backward country" in any sense of the term. In fact, they use the metric system, so you're likely to think the United States is a backward country when you return.
Spain is flooded with high technology, consumer goods, and modern transportation. For example, Bilbao has an underground metro system. Their banking system and ATM network rivals that of any other western country (yes, you can use your credit card or check card in Spain).
In particular, most consumer goods found in the United States are also available in Spain. Don't think you need to pack two years' worth of toiletries in your suitcase prior to leaving the States. You will find deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, eye care products such as contact solution, and feminine hygiene products in Spain. Pretty much anything that you can get in the States you will be able to buy in Spain. A few popular exceptions would be peanut butter, root beer, barbecue sauce, potato chip dip and Kool-Aid (the latter being a great item for family to mail you during the hot summer). You may be able to find a few import stores that stock these items, but in general, count on not being able to find them in Spain.
Many familiar places, like McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and even Harley Davidson are quite prevalent in the mission!
Bikes and cars are not used by missionaries in the Spain Bilbao Mission. To travel within your area you will usually walk, although you may use the bus or metro where available. Although expensive, in extreme cases you probably will ride a taxi. Transfers between cities usually mean a train and/or bus ride.
If you work in the Mission Office, you might drive a car to complete duties corresponding to your calling. Typically however, you are on foot. This lends itself well to street contacting and meeting people en-route to appointments and meetings.
Durable, comfortable shoes are essential to the hard-working Spain Bilbao missionary.
The Spanish speakers in Spain use the full range of verb conjugations. In contrast, the Spanish speakers of Latin America use all but one.
Both Spain and Latin America use verb forms for yo, tú, usted, nosotros, and ustedes. But missing from Latin American Spanish is the informal plural form vosotros, which is an integral part of the Spanish in Spain.
Your MTC teachers may not teach you the vosotros form of verbs but you will encounter them in nearly every speaking situation!
Anyone your age or older will refer to you (single informal) as tú, and they will refer to you and your companion together (plural informal) as vosotros and will conjugate all verbs accordingly.
Also, when you talk to a group of people your age or younger, you will be expected to speak to them using the vosotros verb conjugations. For you to use ustedes instead of vosotros in these situations will appear strange and foolish.
The scriptures in Spanish use the full range of verb forms and are an excellent resource to learn the correct use of vosotros.
Spain uses the original pronunciation of Spanish that includes a sound not used in Latin America. In Spain, the letter z and the letter c followed by an i or an e produces a sound similar to th in English. This extra sound not only adds more texture to the spoken language, but helps in the spelling of words phonetically.
A story that this sound came about because an old Spanish king talked with a lisp is as untrue as it is ridiculous. The strong s sound has always been and still is an integral part of Spanish spoken in Spain!
In the MTC, you might not be encouraged to learn correct Spanish pronunciation for Spain because your teachers served in Latin America, where the th is not used. However, you will soon learn to use it once you arrive in Spain.
This is not an overwhelming issue for communicating in Spanish. Speakers from Spain and speakers from Latin America understand each other quite readily, despite pronunciation differences.
País Vasco is a collection of provinces in both Spain and France that claims a unique cultural heritage all its own. The native language of the region is Basque (or Euskara) and is unrelated to Spanish or any other known language in the world. Although Euskara was outlawed for many years during Franco's reign, it is now experiencing a renaissance. Basque schools now teach in Euskara, and the language itself, which previously had broken down into regional dialects, is in the process of being standardized. The Basque people are highly independent, and are very proud of their unique culture and language.
As a missionary, you will most likely not be taught the Basque language, and you most likely will not have to speak it. Most of the people in larger towns speak Spanish. It is a good idea, however, to learn as much of the language as you can if you are serving in País Vasco.
Recently, some missionaries have been taught the Basque language, and you may be among the lucky few who have to learn what is called the most difficult of European languages.
Currently, the Book of Mormon is not completely translated in Basque, although translation of basic Church material and portions of the Book of Mormon is underway.
Galicia consists of several provinces on the northwest shore of the Iberian peninsula. The native language is Galician (or Galego), which is centuries old and has influenced both Portuguese and modern Spanish.
Once again, you will not be taught the Galician language, and you will most likely not have to speak it, even though much of the Spanish in the region is heavily influenced by it. The more you learn of the language while serving in Galicia, the better you will be able to relate to the people there.
Asturias, along the northern coast of Spain, has a culture and history all its own. Although they don't have their own language, the local dialect, Asturiano, is an important aspect of their culture.
Each Spaniard has a first name and two surnames. The first surname is also the first surname of the person's father; the second is the first surname of the mother. You should address each man and woman by his or her first surname. For example, Francisco González Hernández would be "Señor González," and Pili Sanfélix Flores would be "Señorita Sanfélix."
Things get a little more complicated with marriage and birth. For example, let´s say Francisco González Hernández marries Pilar Sanfélix Flores and they have two children: Jose Luís and María. The boy's name would be Jose Luís González Sanfélix, and the girl's name would be María González Sanfélix.
Now imagine that María marries Juan Fabra López. Her full name would still be María González Sanfélix. As a married woman, María would still be addressed as "Señora Sanfélix." Legally, her name does not change in marriage. However, if she were a senior citzen, out of respect you should refer to her as "Señora de Fabra." Since married women in the church are not usually refered to by their husbands' last name, it may be tricky at first to determine who is married to whom.
The same process for transmitting names would then be followed with the children of María and Juan.