It was the day before a missionary conference for the Castile-La Mancha Zone in the Spain Madrid Mission. The mission president, Richard H. Winkel, spent the entire day organizing the conference program with his wife and two assistants, Elder Borchert and Elder Allen. So that nothing would detract from the spirit of the conference, they carefully planned each detail, including the schedule, the speakers, the hymns, and the special musical numbers. They also saw to temporal matters, such as preparing food for the missionaries’ lunch, which they planned to serve after the conference. Twenty-six missionaries were expected to attend.
On the day of the conference, which happened to be a holiday in Spain, everything went as planned. The meetings were very inspiring, and the missionaries’ testimonies of the work increased.
However, when President and Sister Winkel began to prepare lunch, they found that in spite of all the care they had taken, they had forgotten to bring the bread for the sandwiches! President Winkel did not want the missionaries to leave the conference hungry, so he gave his assistants a 5,000 peseta note and sent them to buy 26 rolls for the sandwiches.
Once outside, Elder Borchert and Elder Allen happened to find 100 pesetas on the ground (something that had never happened before in their almost two years in Spain). The elders had no way to locate the owner or return the money, so they set out with 5,100 pesetas to buy the rolls.
The two missionaries soon realized that because it was a holiday, all the grocery stores were closed. So they decided to buy bread from one of the many pubs on the main street of the city. They entered the first pub they saw and asked for 26 rolls. The owner told them he could spare only one roll. The elders bought the roll for 60 pesetas—and with 5,040 pesetas left, they headed for the next pub.
In the second pub, as in the first, the owner could sell only one roll. His price was 50 pesetas. The elders put all their money—the 40 pesetas and the 5,000 peseta note—on the counter. The owner did not have change for a 5,000 peseta note, so he let them take the roll for 40 pesetas.
With 5,000 pesetas and two rolls, the missionaries headed for the third pub and asked for 24 rolls. They placed their 5,000 pesetas on the counter. The owner of the establishment could sell them only one roll for 50 pesetas. But because he did not have any change, he allowed the missionaries to take it for free.
The elders entered the fourth pub with three rolls and 5,000 pesetas and asked for 23 rolls, again putting their 5,000 pesetas on the counter. Again the owner could let them have only one roll for 50 pesetas. And once again, because he did not have change for 5,000 pesetas, he let the missionaries take the roll for free.
The elders entered the fifth pub with four rolls and 5,000 pesetas. They asked for 22 rolls and put their 5,000 pesetas on the counter. The owner could sell only one roll for 50 pesetas, but because he did not have change for 5,000 pesetas, he permitted the missionaries to take one roll for free.
And so it continued. Some time later the missionaries returned to the meetinghouse with 26 rolls and the 5,000 peseta note they had when they left.
The experience reminded the missionaries of the time the Savior refused to let the multitude, who had gone three days without food, leave without sustenance. Jesus told His Apostles, “I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.” On that occasion, through the Savior’s power, “they did all eat, and were filled.” (See Matt. 15:32–38.)
This modern parallel cannot be compared in magnitude or power to the miracle of the loaves and fishes. But for a group of missionaries in Spain it was enough to remind them that, today as in ancient times, the Lord is aware of His disciples’ needs and will bless them with what they lack.