Email 22/08/16

Today is the first official day of my second transfer in the field as a missionary. I can’t tell whether or not my time here in Elche has flew by or dragged on, but whatever the case has been, I survived. Reflecting on it, it’s been a difficult transition. It’s been a real wake up to the reality of the challenging nature of missionary work and the things that I’m going to have to be coping with for the next 21 months of my life. However, trying times do have a way of making one develop faith. Without the help of my Heavenly Father, I wouldn’t have been able to make it.

This week, I read the talk “God is the Gardener” by Hugh B. Brown. You can read a paraphrased version of it quoted in a talk by Elder Christofferson entitled, “As Many as I Love as Rebuke and Chasten” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/04/as-many-as-i-love-i-rebuke-and-chasten?lang=eng). I realized as I was reading it how absolutely cut down a mission has made me feel so far. My weaknesses have been exposed and magnified like no other time in my life, and as much as it’s hard to be learning how to overcome them, I’m okay. I know that I can trust in the Lord to help me change into the person that He needs me to become.

So, not surprisingly, Elder Pesce and I are staying together as companions here in Elche for this transfer; I still have six weeks of in-field training left with him. They’re changing up our district a good amount though, and even adding three new missionaries into the area. That means that our district will have a total of five companionship and one trio, or 13 missionaries in it starting this week. I believe that is pretty big for a single district. Additionally, four of those six companionships will be training, so I guess Elche is a preferred area for that.

We had many experiences this week of the Lord putting people into our paths to teach. I’ll share a story. The other week, Elder Pesce and I were having an English fast day, and he told me that we were going to go visit a member, Tomás, in the hospital. When I asked why, I thought he said that they cut off his foot due to complications with diabetes. I was very confused when we went to the hospital and I saw that he still had both feet, but it turns out that he only had a toe get cut off. Loosing a toe is still a challenge, but there’s a pretty big difference between a toe and a foot haha. Spanish is fun.

Anyway, the other man in the hospital room, Andrés, is super nice and seemed sincerely interested in the church. We were visiting both of them on Friday when Andrés told us that his birthday was on Saturday! Although he is Spanish, his family lives in Venezuela, so we threw a little party in his room for his 66 birthday, and I think that helped to open his heart because he wants to meet more after he is discharged from the Hospital. If nothing else though, I’m just glad that I got to meet and talk to him and hopefully brighten his situation at least a bit.

Mosiah 2:17 teaches us, “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” I encourage all of you to find ways to serve those around you, maybe something even as simple as a smile or a “Hello,” because you never know what it could mean to someone else.

With Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

1-2: It was Elder Hammond’s one year anniversary of being a missionary, and his family shipped him a complete Minions themed party kit including cake, party favors, decorations and everything else. Elder Hammond; Hermana Butler, Hermana Prior, Hermana Moore, Hermana DeBoard, Elder Llavina, Elder Brown, Elder Stark, Elder Fumero; Elder Pesce

8:22A 8:22B

3: Waiting for the bus outside of the hospital

8:23C

4: Until next time

8:23D