Email 29/08/16

Well, here I am again. Another week here in Elche has flew by. It started off with transfers, and although neither me nor my companion left the area, we still helped out all of the missions who were leaving and the many new missionaries arriving here to settle in a bit. It turns out that instead of having one big district, they decided to split it up into two separate districts. So, my companion is now the district leader for me and five other hermanas. He’s a bit nervous because he’s used to districts that are predominately Elders, but this is nothing new to me. At BYU, my ward was more or less a 3:1 ratio of girls to guys. My group at the CCM was a 4:1 ratio of Hermans to Elders. Sometimes, people criticize the church for being too male-centered, but these experiences have made me appreciate so much the prominent role that women play in leadership in the church and in especially missionary work.

I’ve written before about our investigator, Maricarmen. She has some physical disabilities that make it hard for her to communicate and function in everyday life, but her mind is still completely there, and we’ve been teaching her one lesson a week for every week I’ve been here. Although she has been keeping all of her commitments for reading, praying, and so forth, we’ve had some trouble getting her to attend church for a couple of reasons. But, a miracle happened this week as she was able to come for the first time! Seeing our ward mission leader, Antonio, wheel her into the chapel, and seeing the smile on her face as members came over to greet and welcome her has been of the highlights of my mission thus far. I am so incredibly thankful for that experience from this week.

I am grateful for all of you who read my emails every week. Although everyone has trials in their lives, a lot of you are students starting school again, and I know that can be stressful. So I want so share something that has helped me a lot during my transition for any of you who may be experiencing difficulties going through or tough situations. This is from a talk given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland at the last General Conference entitled “Tomorrow, the Lord Will Do Wonders among You” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/04/tomorrow-the-lord-will-do-wonders-among-you?lang=eng). This talk is special to me not only because I had the privilege of attending the session of conference in person in which it was given, but also because I know that the message of hope it preaches is true. I’d encourage all of you to read it, but the take away is essentially that the Lord doesn’t bless those who are perfect, but rather those who have faith in him and are trying to improve. When we’re confronted by our own limitations and weaknesses, when we’re feeling discouraged or want to give up, we can “keep loving, keep trying, keep trusting, keep believing, and keep growing, because Heaven is cheering us on today, tomorrow, and forever.” Having the knowledge that we’re all children of a loving Heavenly Father will allow us to overcome any obstacle or any challenge placed in our path because we can always call on Him to help us, and He always will. Sometimes the Lord sees fit to test our patience, but I promise that this is true.

This coming week is going to be probably one of the craziest and busiest weeks which I’ve had here in my mission so far, so I’m sure next week’s email will be pretty exciting, so you all definitely won’t want to miss that.

With love,

Élder Stark

Photos

1: Enjoying the sunset and the palms as we wait for the bus.

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2: Maricarmen, our investigator, is actually a truck.

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3: Until next time

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Video: Timelapse in the evening of the view from our piso (Elder Pesce wasn’t feeling well, so we went home early that night).

Video