Elder Jared Stark

Serving in the Spain Málaga Mission

Oh Say, What is Truth?

Email 15/5/17

Hello everybody,

This was kind of a weird week, not in a bad way, but definitely an unusual week. On Wednesday night, there was a training meeting for all of the district leaders in the mission at the mission home in Fuengirola. That required leaving Monday morning, taking a 5 hour bus to get to Málaga, and then a 1 hour train ride to get to Fuengirola. We had the meeting that evening, spent the night in the mission home, and then spent the rest of Thursday traveling back to Jaén. It was a super good meeting, and a really fun time as well. On Friday, I woke up pretty sick and had to stay in piso all day on Friday and Saturday. So there wasn’t a lot of time to do a lot of “normal” missionary work unfortunately, but weeks like this just happen.

I mentioned before that Elder Moffat and I are whitewashing this area, and we got here without really that much to walk into. There were a lot of potential investigators, but we basically had to start from scratch. Miraculously, we already have two investigators progressing to baptismal dates. The first one is a teenager named Pablo who has been coming to church every week for a long time, but hasn’t been baptized because his father wouldn’t let him, but he seems to think that his father might change his mind this time around, so we’ll see.

Our other investigator is named Benjamin. He’s from Côte D’Ivoire originally and is here as a refugee. Circumstances made him leave his wife and his two year old daughter behind in his country and he’s here in Spain for a while as he’s trying to get to France or Luxembourg to live more permanently there. We met him because he showed up to church a week ago because one of his friends here recommended it to him. He actually tried to come two weeks ago, but nobody was here because that day was the stake conference in Granada, so I’m super glad he decided to come back another week! It’s been great to teach him. He told us the other day that he already knows that the Book of Mormon is true, and now we’re just helping him on the road to baptism. It’s one of the biggest miracles I’ve seen on my mission.

For whatever reason, I’ve had the hymn, “Oh Say, What is Truth?” In my head this entire week. I love the whole hymn, but I especially like the final verse:

Then say, what is truth? ’Tis the last and the first,

For the limits of time it steps o’er.

Tho the heavens depart and the earth’s fountains burst,

Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst,

Eternal, unchanged, evermore.

There’s always a lot of opposition as a missionary, as a member of the church, a follower of Christ. I am so grateful that the gospel, the “fairest gem,” will indeed “weather the worst” and “endure to the last.” I know in whom and in what I’ve put my trust, and I know that no matter what happens or what fights need to be faced, the truth will always come off conquerer. In the words of President Monson, “We are blessed to have the truth. We have a mandate to share the truth. Let us live the truth, that we might merit all that the Father has for us.” The power of the truth is true power.

I hope that everyone has a great week!

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Distrito de Jaén: Elder Stark, Elder Rigby, Elder Cerna, and Elder Moffat 

5:15A

2: Another of the district 

5:15B

3: Jaén, the world capital of olive oil

5:15C

4-7: Bus ride to Málaga

5:15D 5:15E 5:15F 5:15G

8: Mission home

5:15H

9: Elder Smith, Elder Jarvis, and me. Elder Jarvis and I were companions for two transfers in Motril, and Elder Smith was comps with him there before I came. Elder Smith also served in my first area in Elche two transfers before I got there.

5:15I

10: Skype

5:15J

11: Until next time

5:15K

Here in Jaen

Email 8/5/17

Hello everybody,

As most transfer weeks are, this week was crazy. After six months of serving in Motril, I’ve left the familiarity of my surroundings there and am now in Jaén! It’s only about a two hour bus ride inland from the Motril coast, but it’s definitely different. The weather here is a lot warmer and drier. Additionally, Jaén is built on the side of a mountain, and there are steep hills EVERYWHERE here, especially in our area. Also, Jaén is one of the highest exporting parts of the world of olive oil, so there are so many olive trees everywhere surrounding the city, and because of that, we’ve had some problems with allergies, but we’re bought some medicine which is helping. Jaén is a super cool place though. It’s got a city feel, but you can still see past the buildings to the mountains. There’s also a ton of parks and green spaces in our area. I love it.

Like I said in my last email, Elder Moffat is my new companion. He’s from Las Vegas and has been out on the mission about six months less that I have. Last week, we thought that we were going to be staying as a part of my last district in Granada, but it turns out that we’re going to be in our own district with the other two Elders here in Jaén. They are Elder Cerna, who finishes his mission in five weeks, and Elder Rigby who’s just arrived to the mission field. So we’re all at pretty different points in the mission. I’ve also been assigned to be the district leader here.

Elder Moffat and I have been working especially hard to get acquainted with our area and the people here because we’re both new here. We don’t really have any investigators, but luckily we inherited a lot of future investigators when we got here and have found even more in the last few days. People seem more open to stopping and talking to us than they were in Motril, even if they’re not interested. Our goal for this coming week is going to be converting some of our futuros into investigators.

I definitely have forgotten the perks of serving in a ward and having the support of so many members behind us. The ward here seems really great and really happy to help us missionaries. There was a baptism here on Saturday; the grown up granddaughter of one of the members in the ward was baptized. I played the piano for it. It was a good opportunity to meet a lot of members and their families. 

Things are going really good so far. I was a bit nervous about this change, given the whitewash situation, but I’m really excited to be in Jaėn. I started reading the Book of Mormon over again recently, and I noticed for the first time how cool of a scripture 1 Nephi 7:12 is. It says, “Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him.” There is such straightforwardness to the gospel. We keep the commandments and we exercise faith, and we will be blessed. I felt a lot of those blessings this week, especially with everything that’s happened in our new area. 

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Last photo with the Granada district. Hermana Woods, Hermana Gentry; Elder Pack, Elder Ramirez, Elder Morgan, Elder Stark, Elder Cox, Elder De La Rosa, Elder Bird

5:8A

2: Elder Pack and myself and Alberto

5:8B

3: Last night in Motril

5:8C

4: The member who was driving me from the bus station to our piso got ticketed for talking on his phone.

5:8D

5-7: Scenes from Jaén

5:8E 5:8F 5:8G

8: Elder Moffat and I

5:8H

9-10: More scenes from Jaén

5:8J

5:8I

11: Baptism 

5:8K

12: Until next time

5:8L

Leaving Motril

Email 1/5/17

Hello everybody,

Yesterday, we received notice of the transfer changes. I’m actually being transferred to another area within my current district (which was a bit of a surprise), to the city of Jaén. It is a few hours inland from where Motril is on the cost. My new companion will be Elder Moffat. All I know about him right now is that he is from Las Vegas, NV, has around six months less time than I do in the mission, and was trained by Elder De La Rosa, the district leader here. Also, we’re whitewashing / reopening that area, so we’ll both be new there. You see, Jaén typically has two companionships (four missionaries) there, but for the last transfer, there’s only been one companionship of three missionaries there. So this will be an adventurous start to this transfer, heading into this new area with a lot of unknowns.

Of course, that means that my six months here in Motril is coming to a close. I’m definitely going to miss it. I’ve met a lot of great people here and have learned a ton from this area. Changes are always bittersweet moments. 

On Sunday (yesterday), we had stake conference. It was in the Granada chapel with all of the members from here, Málaga, Almería, Jaén, etc. in attendance. The chapel and overflow seating areas, which are basically the same size as a chapel and cultural center in a typical church building in the states, were packed full of people. It was quite the different experience from the small 10 people sacrament meetings that I’ve grown accustomed to here. 

It was a really good conference. Elder Patrick Kearon of the seventy (and also president of the Europe area) was there, as well as Elder Karl D. Hirst, a newly called area seventy. Elder Kearon spoke about how to make the messages we heard in the stake conference last “past Tuesday,” or in other words, how to actually put things into practice in order to achieve our goals and become more like the Savior. He was walking around, greeting members before the conference started, so I was able to shake his hand and talk to him for a second, so that was cool.

A bunch of other things happened this week. For starters, we went up to Granada to do intercambios with Elder De La Rosa and Elder Bird. It was a really, really good intercambio. Elder De La Rosa and I had the opportunity to teach about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ to one of their new investigators, and it was probably one of the best lessons I’ve had on my mission. The spirit was so strong, and we were able to commit that investigator to being baptized this month! 

Also, later in the week, Elder Pack and I decided that we wanted to pass by the house of this future investigator we found while street contacting a few months ago. This guy was from Morocco, and every time that we’ve passed by his house in the past, he’s been in Morocco, working. Not this time though! His Spanish isn’t the best, and we can’t really speak Arabic, but luckily we had copies of the Book of Mormon and pamphlets in Arabic, so we were able to start teaching him and his family about the restoration. We’ve only had one lesson with them, but they expressed that they are very excited to learn more about Jesus Christ, so that was super exciting! الكنيسة صحيحة!

I’ve been thinking about the scripture Moroni 10:32 a lot this week: “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.” It is such a powerful verse and important invitation. The promise here is also incredibly straightforward. As we choose to come unto Christ by following the commandments and making covenants, we are perfected in Him. I love Him. I love this promise. So simple, but so true. Come unto Him.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: The District (feat. The Gibsons who dropped by our district meeting on Tuesday): Hermana Gentry, Hermana Woods, Elder Carter, Elder Bird; Hermana Gibson, Elder Gibson, Elder Cox, Elder Cerna, Elder Stark, Elder Ramirez, Elder Morgan, Elder Pack, Elder De La Rosa

5:1A

2: Another one of the district

5:1B

3: Random statue in Granada

5:1C

4: Also in Granada

5:1D

5: Nora, (Elder Pack), Celia, and Me

5:1E

6: With Sid and Eve, from England

5:1F

7: Sleeping

5:1G

8: Elder Pack and me with Juan and Jennifer

5:1H

9: Sunday Sunrise

5:1I

10: En camino

5:1J

11: Until next time

5:1K

A Book From God

Email 24/4/17

Hello everybody,

Another week in Motril has come and gone. President Andersen stopped by on Thursday to do our interviews for the transfer, and he told me that, not surprisingly, I’m going to be transferred out of Motril when the transfer ends next week. I still have no idea to where I’ll be headed, so stay tuned.

It was a pretty “normal” week here in terms of the work and everything. On Wednesday, we went out to Sid’s house (the member from England) to help him finish putting up a fence. That involved digging holes, cementing poles into the ground, and then hanging up the fencing wire to the poles. It was pretty nice to be able to get out of the city and spend some time in the campo.

We were able to get in contact with Miguel during the week because luckily he was home one of the times that we passed by his house. We were basically like, “hey, how’s it going, it’s been a while since we’ve seen you guys, everything ok?” And he was like, “yeah, everything’s fine, don’t worry, everything’s fine,” and then we asked if they’d have any time to have a cita with us, and he was like, “I’m still not sure when we’ll have time again but don’t worry. No os preocupéis.” So we’ll see.

One night, as we were contacting people, we met this 76 year old lady from Mar del Plata, Argentina, which is the town where Presidente Izquierdo is from. We invited her to come to church, and she actually came and stayed for all three hours and really liked it. Only problem is that she believes in some pretty weird spiritually stuff, but it’s still super cool that a person who we talked to for only 10 minutes on the street actually came to church because that basically never happens. 

We also got a reference during the week from some missionaries in Málaga that contacted a person on the street there who lives in Motril and was interested in meeting with the missionaries. The talked to this guy about four months ago and then never sent the reference to us until a few days ago, so better late than never! We showed up to the guy’s house, and he was still interested, so we taught him a lesson and should be heading back today to teach him some more.

We went back to that Luz del Mundo church again to teach those guys that I mentioned in my email last week. It was really nice because they’re super respectful and we were both able to share what our beliefs were without resorting to bible bashing or anything negative like that. Talking with them had actually helped me increase my appreciation for the Book of Mormon a lot. You see, they believe in a lot of the same doctrines that we do, but obviously there are still a lot of differences between us mostly because of doctrine that we’ve received through latter-day revelations. Because I know that the Book of Mormon is true, I know that Joseph Smith restored the original church of Jesus Christ and the original priesthood authority to the earth again, and that he and each of his successors up to President Monson today are prophets of God. It’s that simple.

Here’s a story I found this week from a talk called “The Book of Mormon — a Book from God” by Elder Tad R. Callister. I’d highly recommend this talk. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/the-book-of-mormon-a-book-from-god?lang=eng

“Some years ago I attended one of our worship services in Toronto, Canada. A 14-year-old girl was the speaker. She said that she had been discussing religion with one of her friends at school. Her friend said to her, ‘What religion do you belong to?’

“She replied, ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons.’

“Her friend replied, ‘I know that church, and I know it’s not true.’

“’How do you know?’ came the reply.

“’Because,’ said her friend, ‘I have researched it.’

“’Have you read the Book of Mormon?’

“’No,’ came the answer. ‘I haven’t.’

“Then this sweet young girl responded, ‘Then you haven’t researched my church, because I have read every page of the Book of Mormon and I know it’s true.’”

I also have read every page of the Book of Mormon, multiple times, and know that it is true. I invite all of you to follow the prophetic council of President Monson and read the Book of Mormon everyday. As you do so with a prayerful attitude, the Holy Ghost will manifest the truth of the book to you as it has to me on multiple occasions.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: We were doing risky things on p-day

4:24A

2: A goat man heading towards town

4:24B

3: Random orchestra 

4:24C

4: Motril Viejo 

4:24D

5: Motril Moderno

4:24E

6: 🌵 

4:24F

7: Painting we found

4:24G

8: Until next time

4:24H

Fishers of Men

Email 17/4/17

Hello everybody,

This past week was the Semana Santa, or Holy Week, here in Spain. Yesterday, of course, it was Easter, but the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are commemorated for an entire week here instead of a single day. Elaborate processions took place during the week which included pasos (a large, ornate float with sculptures depicting Christ), marching bands, and a ton of people wearing capirotes, which are large conical hats which are resemblant of the ones worn by members of the KKK, although completely unrelated. We saw parts of a few of these processions since there was at least one happening every evening during the week, and I’ve attached some pictures below. 

When Jesus called two fishermen, Peter and Andrew, into the discipleship, his invitation to them was, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him” (Matthew 4:19-20). As missionaries, we are also “fishers of men,” with the purpose of finding and inviting others to come unto Christ. 

This incident happened at the beginning of Christ’s ministry. After His death and resurrection, which we commemorated this week, Peter, along with a number of the other disciples, went fishing at the sea of Tiberias. During that night of fishing, they caught nothing. The next morning, the Savior appeared and instructed them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat, and when they did that, they caught so many fish that their nets were on the verge of breaking. 

I’ve been thinking about that story a lot recently, and the meaning that it has personally for me. It’s definitely been one of those weeks where it feels like I’ve been “casting my net over” and over again without having the desired results. I imagine how the apostles felt, many of them fishermen by trade, after having spent an entire night on the water without a single catch. I suppose that’s the same thing which I’ve been feeling recently.

Last Monday, we had a really great lesson with Miguel and Jessica. We talked about temples and eternal families, and they shared with us their desires to keep progressing to the point of baptism and so forth. A few days later, after having a lot of difficulty getting ahold of them to work out a time for another lesson, they just kind of shrugged us off, it seems: “Oh, we don’t know when we’ll have time to meet again, but we’ll give you a call when we do.” I’ve been a missionary for long enough to know that very rarely will somebody actually do that, so I guess we’ll see what happens. Elder Pack and I are scratching our heads, trying to figure out what we should do now.

We spent a lot of time contacting during the week and trying to share the pass along cards and video for the #PríncipedePaz Easter initiative. On Wednesday, we met a woman named Yvette. It turns out that we had given her mother a pass along card the night before, and Yvette, who had met with the missionaries some 15 years ago, actually stopped us in the street one evening, expressing her desire to meet with us and learn more. So, we ended up talking for a while with her in the streets, and then even went to her house and finished up the lesson there. We also found out that her mom’s sister, or rather, her aunt, is actually our neighbor who we’ve talked to several times. This all seemed great! But, flash forward a few days later when we went back to our return appointment, and we were somewhat bluntly informed by Yvette that she really wasn’t interested at all in changing or the message. I think that’s the quickest turnaround from new investigator to former investigator that I’ve seen on my mission so far. 

Another potential investigator that we picked up while contacting was a young man named Filipe. On the determined day and time that we set with him to meet, we showed up at the address he gave us and found out that it’s the local chapel of the “Luz del Mundo” church. Awkward. Undaunted, we rang the doorbell, and we were invited in to have our lesson with Filipe and Juan, another member of the Luz del Mundo church. Juan already knew a bit about Joseph Smith, the Restoration, and the Book of Mormon, and we have a return appointment set to teach them the restoration again. Although they were respectable and kind during that lesson we had, it remains a bit dubious their motives for meeting with us. We’ll be finding out if they just invited us back to be able to “teach us the truth” or if they’re really interested in knowing about the message of the restoration, but whatever is going to happen, I just don’t want it to turn into a Bible bash or anything negative like that.

A month and a half ago, we contacted a couple in the street, Monica and Miller. At the time, they lived in Valdepeñas, a city in our mission, but quite a long ways away from Motril, so we had sent their contact information to the missionaries there (one of them being my good friend Elder Darrington, actually). A few weeks ago, we received the news from Elder Darrington that Monica and Miller were moving to Motril, and that they still had a desire to meet with the missionaries! We were going to have a lesson the other week, but they had to cancel the appointment at the last minute because their family from Valdepeñas came down to surprise them. So, we were trying to call them back the other day to arrange another time to meet, and, well, long story short, a prostitute answered the phone instead of our potential investigators. We even called the next day from a different number to make sure that we weren’t being duped, but yeah, I guess that Monica and Miller got a new number and a prostitute picked up their old one. So, now we have no way to contact them.

In short, things didn’t work out quite as we planned this week. But, as we learn from this story with the disciples, the “catch” will come in accordance with the Lord’s timing. I’m sure that the apostles would have liked their first catch of the night to have been the final big one, and not the other way around, but certainly it was worth the wait, for all good things are worth waiting for. The Lord has called us to be fishers of men, and we know from these accounts that He watches over his fishermen. Although I would say that everything in terms of the progression of the work here isn’t quite going in the way that my mind wants it to be going, I take a lot of solace in knowing that it’s going in the way that God has planned it to go as I try to align my will more with His going onwards. I know that “[Christ] is risen, as He said,” and that his marvelous work is still taking place today.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: One of the pasos

4:16A

2: More of the procession

4:16B

3: Happy Easter

4:16C

4: Part of another procession 

4:16D

5: In the outskirts of Motril

4:16E

6: Motril Sunset 

4:16F

7: Until next time

4:16G

PrincipeDePaz

Email 10/4/17

Hello everybody,

This week in Spain is the Semana Santa, or in English, The Holy Week. I know that there’s some interesting Catholic traditions here associated with that, but it would probably be better if I were to wait until next week to explain about it. Right now on Mormon.org, in addition to the great #PríncipedePaz video, there’s a calendar that follows the last week of Christ’s ministry in the earth before he was crucified and then resurrected. I’ll be follow it all week, and I invite you all to join me at https://www.mormon.org/easter/easter-week

We had another pretty typical week of missionary work. On Tuesday, we had the opportunity to go out to Castell de Ferro, a little pueblo about 30 minutes outside of Motril to do some service! We were helping Sid, the member from England who’s here for a few months, and his wife put up a fence on a part of their property. Afterwards, they fed us lunch, and asked me to say the prayer, and I realized that it has actually become very hard to do so vocally in English. It was fun to be able to go out to the campo and do some work.

Something I’ve forgotten to mention for a few weeks is that when we changed into daylight savings time here in Spain, our missionary schedule changed slightly as well. Now, we wake up in the mornings at 7:30 AM and go to bed between 10:30-11:30 PM. On Friday, we headed to Málaga for a Zone Conference. That required us to wake up at 5 AM on Friday, which isn’t the funnest thing in the world to do when you’re used to waking up at 7:30 AM haha. It was a really good conference though. A lot of what we talked about is how we can be focusing on the Savior more in our teaching and especially within the context of the restoration. I got lots of good takeaways from it.

Unfortunately we only had one short opportunity to visit with Miguel and Jessica this week. When we had time to meet, they were busy, and when they had time, we were busy. Kind of disappointing, but that’s just reality. Things should be working out better this week, we have a cita planned with them for tonight, and we’ll just keep going forwards, working with them, and hoping for the best!

Two talks from General Conference which I had studied throughout the week were Elder Christofferson’s talk about overcoming the world and Elder Yoon Won Choi’s talk, “Don’t Look Around, Look Up!”. Elder Christofferson talked about how Jesus said, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Later He added, “I will that ye should overcome the world.” Elder Yoon Won Choi invited us to look up to Christ and keep our focus on Him. Life is hard. We all have our problems. I know that as I have tried to look up to Christ, it has given me hope and strength knowing that he has already overcome the word, and that following Him gives me the chance to do the same.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1-2: Bus or boat?

4:10A 4:10B

3: The steering wheel is a bit lost

4:10C

4: Bus wasn’t there yet

4:10D

5: Potato day with Elder Pack and Amparito 

4:10E

6: Presidente Izquierdo, Nora, Elder Pack and myself

4:10F

7: Root beer is a rare find outside of the United States. We were given some last week by the senior missionary couple who did our piso inspection. This is a Root Beer sundae that I had the privilege of enjoying.

4:10G

8: Until next time

4:10H

Do Not Procrastinate

Email 3/4/17

Hello everybody,

I feel like every time I sit down to write this email every week, I have forgotten what happened and what I was going to say, no matter how busy the previous week was. Last week was a busy week, and so it went by quickly, and so it’s kind of hard to remember everything that happened because the days kind of just blur together during weeks like this.

First and foremost, we had the wonderful opportunity this weekend of participating in the General Conference. Because of the size of our branch and the lack of technology expertise of our branch president, we had to take some time last week to run around to a couple different tech stores, looking for the right cables and adapters in order to Broadcast General Conference from the computer onto a TV. So that was fun, but of course, the best part was watching the conference itself! Because of the time difference between the United States and Spain, we watched the Saturday morning session live at 6 PM on Saturday, the taped Saturday afternoon and priesthood sessions on Sunday morning, and then the Sunday morning session live on Sunday evening. It’s a bit complicated, but it’s such a blessing that we can be so far away from home and yet still able to participate as if we were there.

It’s always a privilege to hear the prophet, President Monson, speak. I loved His remarks about The Book of Mormon. “I speak about the power of the Book of Mormon and the critical need we have as members of this Church to study, ponder, and apply its teachings in our lives.” I start of most every day by reading a few chapters out of the Book of Mormon. It’s been such a blessing for my life, and I do agree that the need to study it is indeed “critical.” The prophet Joseph Smith said it best by saying that, “and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book,” which is something I have felt as I make the Book of Mormon a part of my daily life.

Things have still been going well with Miguel and Jessica. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see them a lot due to the passing away of Jessica’s grandfather during the week. We hope we have the chance to see them soon in order to share about temples and how we can preform the work there for our family members who have passed on before us and be sealed together for eternity to them. Death isn’t the end, but just a step in the plan that God had made for our progression. Miguel seems to be doing alright with quitting smoking so far, but it’s been several days since we have been able to meet with them, so we’ve just been hoping that they’re doing alright. 

There was one night this week when, as we were getting ready for bed, we received a phone call from the Gibson’s (one of the senior couples in the mission) informing us that we would be undergoing a piso inspection the next day. Although we keep our house clean and orderly, we were definitely not ready at that moment to undergo a piso inspection the next day. You see, one of the curses of living in a three story house that has undergone years of missionary abuse is that you might have the misfortune of being in said house when the time comes to have it inspected. Although we received a notice about a month ago informing us of impending piso checks in the mission, I had just set it out of my mind, thinking perhaps that the day would never come or that I might be transferred before it would. 

Alma 34:33 says, “I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.” The day of accountability for our actions always comes and we’re going to regret it if we’re not ready. Fortunately, in this case with our house, the “night of darkness” was not upon us yet as we still had some time the next morning to use to clean our house. And clean it we did. When the Gibson’s showed up that afternoon, it was immaculate, and even though this all ended well, it was an important lesson to me about the dangers of procrastination.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Afternoon in Motril

4:3A

2: Our District: Hermana Woods, Hermana Gentry, Elder Cox, Elder Carter, Elder Cerna,  Elder Ramírez, Elder Morgan, Elder Bird, Elder De La Rosa, Elder Stark, and Elder Pack.

4:3B

3: Again, the district: Elder Cox, Elder Cerna, Elder Ramírez, Elder Morgan, Elder Stark, Elder Bird, Elder Pack; Elder Carter, Hermana Woods, Hermana Gentry, Elder De La Rosa

4:3C

4: General Conference generally is a genial gathering

4:3D

5: Until next time

4:3E

“Sustained Peace and True Joy”

Spring

Spring

Email 27/3/17

Hello everybody,

The first week of the transfer has passed. Of course, neither my companion nor my area changed, so there was really nothing new to have to adjust to this week, which was nice.

Our progressing investigators, Miguel and Jessica, are still doing well. They came to church yesterday and even brought a friend with them, so that was great! We spent the week teaching them about all of the commandments, and those were really good lessons. The only thing that could potentially be a problem is Miguel quitting smoking, which he acknowledged would be hard for him to do, but not impossible. So we’ve been helping him and hoping and praying that he has the ability to quit smoking.

Here in Europe (or at least Spain), it seems like there’s some commandments that are easier to follow here than there are in the States and vice versa. For example, because all of the stores here are closed on Sunday’s, there’s a much smaller temptation to go shopping on the Sabbath here than there is in the US. But here, smoking is way more common than in the states, making it more likely for someone to struggle with that part of the Word of Wisdom.

On Friday, we had a rare opportunity to have a Zone meeting with just our Zone, rather than the typical tri-Zone conference. It was to introduce us to the church’s Easter Initiative and special video for this year. I really liked it, and the video will be released to the public by the end of the week.

Yesterday, our branch got a new member! Well, kind of. There’s a man named Sid from England who has a summer home within the boundaries of our branch, so he spends a few months here every year. He also doesn’t speak any Spanish (and all of our members who don’t speak any English still love him) so I had to translate all thee hours of church for him. That was fun, but definitely a bit taxing on the mind.

Spanish feels pretty comfortable, but that in no way means that I’m prone from mistakes. I was talking about my YSA, young single adult, ward during a lesson this week. In Spanish, that translates to un barrio de JAS, Jóvenes Adultos Solteros, except in this moment, I combined Adultos and Solteros and said “mi barrio de Jóvenes Adulterios,” which translates to “my ward of young adulterers.” Haha, didn’t take me long to correct that mistake.

As always, we spent a decent amount of our proselyting time this week contacting in the streets. There are some weeks where contacting goes great and you meet a ton of prepared people and get a lot of futures, and then there are weeks like this where 75% of the phone numbers you get are fake. (They say that for every fake phone number a missionary in Europe gets, another person is baptized in South America, haha.) The following council from President Nelson’s talk “Becoming True Millennials” was especially appealing to me some moments through the week. He said:

“You will have days when you will be thoroughly discouraged. So, pray for courage not to give up! You will need that strength because it will become less and less popular to be a Latter-day Saint. Sadly, some whom you thought were your friends will betray you. And some things will simply seem unfair. 

“However, I promise you that as you follow Jesus Christ, you will find sustained peace and true joy. As you keep your covenants with increasing precision, and as you defend the Church and kingdom of God on the earth today, the Lord will bless you with strength and wisdom to accomplish the impossible. “

There were definitely a few days during the week when I was feeling down and discouraged because of my duty as a missionary to defend the truth, but I took President Nelson’s and I prayed for courage not to give up, and that helped a lot. I love the straightforwardness of his advice there. The Lord requires us to do hard things, but he’s also there to lend a hand to help us accomplish them, and following his example will lead us to “sustained peace and true joy” even in the hardest of circumstances. I know that’s true.

I love you all, thanks for all of your support from afar. 

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

P.S. I was just published on @mormonfaces on Instagram, go check it out 😎

Photos

1-3: Mostly I just took pictures of clouds this week.

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4: Myself, Elder Cerna, Elder Pack, and Hermana Christensen at our Zone meeting.

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5: Until next time.

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Declaring His Doings

Email 20/3/17

Hello everybody,

Okay, a lot has happened since last week, I’m going to see if I can remember everything that has happened.

The hot water in our house is finally working again! A plumber came over and had to spend the better part of Monday and Tuesday night cleaning the pipes, replacing faucets and cleaning the hot water heater to fix whatever the problem was. I’ve never appreciated a hot shower more in my life.

We’ve taught Miguel and Jessica several times during the week, and they are still progressing! They’ve accepted an invitation to be baptized in three weeks, on April 8! Their testimonies of the truthfulness of the Restored Gospel have definitely been growing and it’s been such a testament to me of the wonderful power of change that the gospel has. However, we did just find out yesterday that Miguel’s new job might mean that he had to work on Sundays from now on; if it’s every Sunday or just every one in a while, we’re not sure yet, we still need to talk to him more about it, but we have faith that everything will work out in the end.

On Wednesday night, we were walking back from Miguel’s house and stopped to talk to this one homeless guy from Finland that’s a friend of ours; in fact, we had purchased him some bread and lunch meat that morning so he’d have something besides beer to eat. Anyways, he was watching the dog of another homeless guy, and suddenly, without warning, the dog leapt at me and bit my leg! He ripped a pretty big hole in one of my pairs of proselyting pants, but luckily, the only injury that I received was a little red mark, this size of a bug bite, on my leg. They say that you don’t become a real missionary until a dog attacks you, so I guess this could be considered as a significant milestone.

We also found a few new investigators this week from people that we’ve contacted the last few weeks. One of them is this 75 year old man named Pepe Luis who might be the nicest old man that I’ve met on my mission so far. He lives in Salobreña, and we went out there one evening to visit him, and had a good lesson about faith and The Restoration. Another one of our new investigators is named Lenut, he’s from Romania, and is going through a really hard time in his life right now, but seems very interested in the gospel, which is great, because the gospel helps us get through those hard times in life. 

I love these scriptures from 2 Nefi 22: “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also has become my salvation. Therefore, with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. And in that day shall ye say: Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.” I love being able to be a missionary and being able to declare the doings of Christ amongst the people here in Motril by preaching the message of his Restored gospel. There is nothing else I would be rather doing with my life right now. Elder Pack and I have seen a lot of miracles during our six weeks together, and we’re both super excited because we just got word that we’ll be spending another six weeks together here! It’s going to be great. 

I love you all, thanks for all of your support.

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos 

1: Them mountains 🏔

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2: Thanks for fixing our water 

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3: RIP Pants 👖 

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4: Where’d my house go?

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5: Until next time

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Go Away Korihoh

Email 13/3/17

Hello everybody,

Well, there goes another week in Motril. It feels like a lot has happened since the last time I wrote. Here’s some of what went down this week:

As I said in my last letter, we went up to Granada and visited The Alhambra on P-Day. The Alhambra is a palace/fortress complex and is actually the most visited tourist site in Spain. It’s really impressive. I had already been there before, but this time was different because the bishop’s wife of the Granada Ward came with us and gave us a tour of it, so it was nice to be able to learn a little more about the historical significance of it.

The hot water in our house still isn’t working. The dueña (landlady) and her dad came down (they live in Granada) to inspect the problem on Wednesday. I still don’t think we’ve figured out exactly why we don’t have hot water, but they’re going to come back soon and replace some of our faucets to see if that’ll help anything. Even though I doubt that’s the problem. It’s definitely something to do with the pipes or the hot water heater. Hopefully we make some more headway with this soon, but at any rate, it’s been very frustrating trying to get this problem solved.

The weather has turned very pleasant this week, it feels like summer has started. We were out proselyting comfortably in short sleeved shirts this week. Although this week isn’t supposed to be quite as warm (it’s actually overcast and a bit rainy as I’m writing this), I’m remembered how blessed I am to serve in an area that doesn’t have winter haha.

We taught Miguel and Jessica a few times this week, and they came to church for the second time yesterday! They’ve been doing such a good job with keeping their commitments to read from the Book of Mormon and pray, it’s been great, and they’re progressing well. They’ve expressed their desire that they’re wanting to keep learning more and more about the restored gospel, and it’s been such a privilege being able to teach them and see their progress.

Notwithstanding how well things are going with our investigators, we still encountered a lot of opposition to our work this week. In the Book of Mormon, Alma Chapter 30 gives an account of a man named Korihor, who is referred to as an “Anti-Christ” because of his teachings which were contrary to those of The Lord and His prophets. This happened approximately in the year 74 B.C. The basis of his teachings was that there would not be a Christ, and that looking for Him is “a foolish and a vain hope.” (verses 12-13). He targeted first the prophecies handed down by holy prophets, or in other words, the scriptures, calling them “foolish traditions of your fathers.” (14). Next, he attempted to discredit the power of faith and a testimony, asserting that, “ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ” (15). He then attributed the feelings of hope and faith to “the effect of a frenzied mind” (16), and continued by asserting that we don’t need a Savior nor an Atonement because “every man prospered to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength” (17). He ended by saying that, “when a man was dead, that was the end thereof” (18), or in other words, it doesn’t matter what we do in this life because we’ll never have to face the consequences afterwards. 

All of those false assertions that Korihor made were all things that I heard people tell me during the week. Seriously, all of them! The Book of Mormon makes such a detailed account of the attacks on the church that Korihor and his contemporaries made for a reason, principally because the adversary is still using these same exact tricks today to lead the hearts of men away! The fundamentals in the adversary’s playbook haven’t changed too much over time. As President Benson said, “The Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and . . . fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time.” Studying the scriptures blesses us with the foresight necessary in order to avoid the ever-present attacks of the adversary in our lives.

I hope you all have a great week!

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: The Alhambra 

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2-3: Inside The Alhambra 

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4-5: Views of Granada from The Alhambra 

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6: Stole my picture 

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7: Vi una columna (de luz…)

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8: Elder Pack and I

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9: Elder Bird, Elder Pack, Elder Jones, Elder Köhler, Elder Morgan, Elder Stark

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10: Sunset from the bus 🌄

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11: We made paella as a district, and it turned out alright. Elder Köhler, Elder Bird, Hermana Gentry, Elder Stark, Elder Pack, Elder Morgan, Elder Jones, Hermana Woods

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12: Until next time

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