Hello everybody,

I’ve been thinking a lot about security this week.

First, I want to share an excerpt from the weekly mission bulletin from last week:

We had a challenging experience yesterday afternoon. About 16:30 Sunday afternoon Elder Gozart and Elder Egbert went to the mission office. Upon arriving they were not able to open the office door with their key. They could see lights on inside and assumed the other office elders were there so they rang the doorbell to be let in. A moment later, the door opened and two men came running out yelling for them to close the door as they fled. As these elders looked into the office from the outside they could see the office safe had been taken from the wall and was on the floor in the office visible from the outside door. They immediately recognized that the office had been robbed and that these men who had fled were obviously the perpetrators. The elders then called the police. They were wise enough to recognize it was best not to enter the office until after the police arrived. Moments later the police began to arrive. They had also received a call from a person on the sidewalk out on the street in front of the office of seeing two men descend from the balcony and flee with a Mercadona bag in their hand. It then became apparent that there were four men involved in this incident and two had fled through the door and two had gone out the window and climbed down from the balcony. The men had attempted to cut the lock mechanism out of the safe door in order to open it and were unable to do so then they determined to remove the entire safe and take it. It was a massive task to remove the safe and it caused much damage and mess to do so. There was not a large amount of money in the safe but even still they didn’t get it open to get to it. In the midst of their effort they did take about 30 iPads that were being kept in the office in preparation for new missionaries. That is a significant monetary loss.

(I overheard on the TV too that over 400,000 € of merchandise was stolen in the course of 40 seconds from a store in Barcelona, maybe, so at least the break-in to the mission office wasn’t that bad.)

Next, this past week and this coming week in Elche has been some type of local holiday which apparently involves setting off a lot of fire crackers at all times of the day and night. Really, really loud firecrackers too, and because our piso is on the busiest street corner and plaza in the city, one goes off outside of our window probably every 10 seconds or so when we return to the piso at night. It almost sounds like gunshots, all night, every night.

Outside of our piso at night

Outside of our piso at night

(Luckily, I have earplugs. Also, the door to our piso probably has around 10 bolts on it, so if it were people shooting each other that much outside, I think we’d be safe.)

Last week, as you can see in my photos, we visited a castle in Alicante. I honestly have no idea how old it is or what is the history behind it is, but clearly, the security of the castle failed at some point in time and the ruler’s power was usurped.

(Although based on its beautiful location, it seems more like a resort than a castle.)

Finally, many of you know that I run a number of websites. Before I left on my mission, I painstakingly set things up so that they wouldn’t have any problems or issues during these two years. However, last week, I received notice from my family that a security problem with one of them forced my host to suspend operations of all of my websites. Even though I had thought that everything was safe and secure, clearly it was not.

(I give many thanks to my mom and my brother for figuring out and fixing the problem with minimal help from me.)

So, to summarize, lots of things happened this week illustrating that the world in which we live is not a very secure place. However, through the Book of Mormon and the Gospel of Jesus Christ we can introduce safety, specifically spiritual safety, into our lives.

A general conference talk which I’ve kept near to my heart thus far on my mission has been “Safety for the Soul” by Jeffrey R. Holland (October 2009, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2009/10/safety-for-the-soul?lang=eng). I highly encourage all of you to read it, but in short, it’s about how the Gospel of Jesus Christ will never lead us astray. I know that The Book of Mormon will strengthen us and our families and make it so that all of the most important and sacred things in our lives are kept out of the hands of the adversary.

I stand with Elder Holland when he declares, “Brothers and sisters, God always provides safety for the soul, and with the Book of Mormon, He has again done that in our time. Remember this declaration by Jesus Himself: “Whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived”–and in the last days neither your heart nor your faith will fail you.” Even though the things of the world may fail us, the love which God has for his children will never change. The truthfulness of and security that comes from living by the example of Jesus Christ will never change. The divinity of the Book of Mormon will never change.”

Although the world around us is always changing, it’s my promise and testimony to you all that the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon are constants through which we can derive peace and happiness in our lives.

All the best,

Élder Stark

Castle of Santa Barbra in Alicante with my district.

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It’s a new mission rule that all missionaries must wear at least three name tags at a time so that people can recognize us more easily.

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Elche sunset

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Zone meeting from this past week in Alicante! Our zone basically covers Alicante, Elche, and a couple of small pueblos nearby.

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General everyday missionary stuff

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Also, look at how much bread people gave us this past week. Not pictured is the 5 loaves which we had already put in the freezer.

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Until next time

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