From: Robert West I served 2 1/2 years as a missionary in Sweden, the last fourteen months in Stockholm and the last 12 months in the Swedish Mission Presidency. It was a great missionary experience culminated by a December 1951 tour through Europe: Denmark, Luxemburg, Belgium, France, Spain , Italy, and England, where we took the Queen Mary back to the United States. This was with the permission of the Mission President and with a companion Elder Johnson.
It was a wonderful tour with two highlights. We found the only known (to us) member (husband) of Latter-day Saints in Spain, located in Barcelona. After some searching we located him and his family. We were treated to a wonderful meal and later held a Sacrament Meeting with them. He had not had the sacrament in a long time. It was a delightful experience and seemed to be much appreciated by them. Except for a few servicemen's branches the first branch in Spain was organized as the Madrid Branch in February 1968.
From Spain we went to Italy where we stopped in Bologna, where we had a name and telephone number of the only known (to us) members of the church in Italy. We arrived at nearly midnight and with much concern at the lateness of the hour, but without knowing where to stay, hotels, or other accomodations, we called and were immediately, welcomed with open arms. The family came to our phone booth and pick us up and invited us to spend the night.
The following day after breakfast and a long visit we held a sacrament meeting with this husband and wife and two small children. They were French-Italian-Jews and Latter-day Saints. In those years that was a difficult combination to cope with in a community of Roman Catholic Italians. But, what a beautiful spirit they had with them. They were a wonderful example of steadfastness in the gospel with nothing but themselves, their faith, and the Lord to sustain them. They were raising their children with gospel principles directing them. We were humbled by the experience and ever so grateful to be able to share the sacrament and bear testimonies with them.
Elder Lorenzo Snow of the Quorum of the Twelve and others open the work in Italy in 1850 baptizing Jean Antoine Box at La Tour. By 1855, 50 members had immigrated to America and membership was 64. (Church Almanac 1997-98) Missionaries departed in 1857 after little further success. Finally, in 1965, the church was given legal status and missionary work resumed after leaving Italy in 1857 and later being refused legal permission in 1900.
Unfortunately, I do not have the names of either of these families. Carol and I are serving our second mission together in Tokyo, Japan (Australia Brisbane and Papua New Guinea-1st) and I have no records with me. If anyone has any information dating back to December 1951 in Bologna, Italy or Barcelona, Spain concerning these families, or their posterity, I would be grateful to receive it.
Thank you for the wonderful articles on the saints throughout the world. I, often used these articles in high priest quorum, in Salt Lake, to highlight the faith of missionaries and members, and the growth of the church throughout the world, since you first started them. Isn't it marvelous that from only one family (I am led to believe) in each country (Italy and Spain) in 1951, both countries have grown to the many stakes and missions that they have in my lifetime, including a marvelous Temple in Madrid! Thank you. Elder Robert G. West