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Here are the highlights from this past week in the Madrid CCM:

Last week, we went to the royal palace of Madrid. It’s a very ornate, very beautiful building with a lot of history behind it. I have some pictures of it, but as always, don’t know when I’ll be able to send them out.

We also went to the “Chocolateria San Gines” last week, which is famous for having the best chocolate and churros in Madrid. It’s one of those restaurants that’s been around for ages and has pictures of famous people who visited there all over the walls. Very good churros and very good chocolate, although I honestly felt a bit sick after because I ate so much.

The highlight of last weeks preparation day was the temple, of course. We’re going again today in a few hours, and everything is going to be in Spanish this time.

Speaking of Spanish, I feel like it’s coming along well. For example, in the park this week, my companion was Elder Bedke, who is from Idaho, going to Moscow, and he doesn’t speak any Spanish. All of my weeks in the park, except for one, I’ve been with a companion who doesn’t know the language here, and every time, things have worked out okay. But this past week, I had a really long conversation in all Spanish with someone about the church and why the Book of Mormon is important, and the incredible thing to me was how easy I felt the language coming out while I was speaking. There’s still a lot of grammar principles that I need to learn so many words that I still don’t understand, but comparing where I was a month ago, coming to Spain knowing only the phrase “Puedo ir al baño,” to where I am now, it’s amazing. I know that there’s no way I could have seen that level of progression without the gift of tongues, which is an amazing gift from God, and something that I have to work hard for every day, but I know that it is real.

Mine and Elder Krummenacher’s teaching is also getting better. Every Saturday after the park, we teach a “TRC” lesson, which is when we’re given a certain situation and have to teach a 30 minute lesson around that situation. After we were done teaching, the teacher who was acting the part of our investigator told us that it was one of the best lessons he had received in the CCM because even though our language is obviously far from perfect, he said he felt the spirit when we were teaching. That’s all that matters because it’s the spirit who teaches, not us. Anyway, that was a very reassuring compliment to receive.

And reassurance I need! On Tuesday, I leave the comfort of the CCM and everything that’s familiar in Madrid. We’re leaving at around 6AM, taking a four hour train ride to Málaga, and from there, I won’t know who my new companion is or where I’m going until I get there. I’ll miss the people and the teachers here, but I’m definitely ready to get out into the field and get to work. My mission is truly about to begin next week, and I hope that I’ll have a smooth transition into the field.

I think that I’ll be able to email one more time before I leave the CCM, but I don’t know when the next time after that will be, so good luck to all of you until then!

Elder Stark