Email 14/08/16

Hello everybody,

There’s a member here, Juan, who seems to enjoy buying us KFC, so I’m
back in this same KFC in the mall for the third time this transfer,
and I honestly can’t believe that it’s already been a week since the
last time I was here. This week definitely was one of the fastest that
I’ve had on my mission so far, for several reasons.

First, I went on my first companionship exchange! After our district
meeting, Elder Brown and I went to his area in the city of Elda whilst
his companion (and the district leader) Elder Fumero and my companion
stayed here. Elda was nice because everything there is more spread out
and you can actually see past the buildings to the mountains! But,
their area is geographically much larger than ours with only a few
members and investigators, so most of our time was spent walking from
place to place, ringing doorbells for less actives and recent
converts. Besides one brief conversation about gardening with a former
investigator, we didn’t find anyone else at home for the entire
evening.

As we were walking back to the piso, we were taking, and we discussed
how if we had just stayed in the piso that evening and hadn’t gone
out, the outward effect of our works would have essentially been the
same; nobody would have noticed the difference if we were absent.
However, we knew that God still noticed our efforts. For me, this
experience was a reminder that He still expects our full, sincere
efforts even if they will seemingly go unnoticed, and I know that
he’ll always bless us for the work we do on his behalf, whether or not
they are noticed by others.

Next, President Andersen was here for interviews this week! He
conducts them with all of the missionaries in the mission every other
transfer (6 weeks), so I feel very fortunate to have arrived when I
did to the field. Additionally, I feel like I’m finally overcoming the
initial shock of arriving in the field and am feeling much more
confident than I have been, so all in all, it was a tremendous
interview.

Finally, there were three baptisms in Elche this week! The hermanas
baptized a woman and her daughter, and the other Elders had a
different service with someone else, so there were two baptismal

services on Saturday. How I participated will make my mom
happy: I played the piano for both of them. I’ve actually played the
piano quite a bit on my mission so far. My initial plan was just to
not say anything about my ability to play piano on my mission since,
honestly, it’s a bit stressful to be called on at the drop of a hat to
play, but starting in the CCM, I realized that it’s better to use my
talents to help others rather than just keep them to myself. So, so
far, I’ve played in several meetings in the CCM, a stake priesthood
training meeting, those baptisms, and several other times.

Sadly, our best investigator, Paula, is moving back to Madrid (she was
only living in Elche for a few months). She wants to be baptized, but
her parents don’t want her to, so it’s a complicated situation, but
while she was in Elche, she had the opportunity to go to church every
week, attend EFY, and take all of the lessons, so I guess all we can
do now is send her information to the Madrid mission and hope for the
best. So, it’s definitely a disappointment that she is leaving, but
we’ve been having more success with another investigator, Maricarmen.
She has really impaired motor movement and speech because of a stroke
or tumor I think, but her mind is still completely there.  She’s been
reading the Book of Mormon and should hopefully be coming with us to
church this week. Things are somewhat slow moving with her due to her
disabilities, but the progress is steady and sure.

So, in all, it was a crazy week with its highs and lows, but
definitely it was a good week to be a missionary.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Chilean-style “Completos.” Elder Pesce (my companion) is from Chile
and Hermana Moore did a study abroad in Chile for a year, so we’ve
eaten these a few times.

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2: “Make España Great Again” (Don’t interpret this as a political
statement of any kind, please)
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3-4: Saturday was the peak of the super huge holiday here in Elche
that has been going on for the past two weeks. It’s like every night
has practically been like the Fourth of July, but Saturday night was
like 10x anything that I’ve seen in the states. I attached a video
of the climax on Saturday night, and everything was just going as
crazy as you see it in the video for 30-45 minutes straight. It was so
cool.
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5-6  Us with Paula 😭
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8: The statue is the woman of Elche. There’s replications and
dedications of her all over the place.
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