Email 27/9/16

Hello everybody,

First, excuse the fact that this is a day late; we switched our p-day this week so we could have the chance to visit a Viking museum in Alicante; all of the museums are closed on Mondays. I’m sure I’ll have pictures from that next week.

Anyway, I try to keep my musical selections focused on mission-approved music, but I wrote the following last Friday night, lying on the couch in the piso, somewhat delirious from a fever:

You load 18 weeks,

and what do ya get?

Another day older

and sick in my head.

Saint Peter, don’t you call me,

’cause I can’t go;

I owe my soul

to this mission some more.

Well, putting my inaccurate (last week was only number 17 of the mission 😉), somewhat melodramatic, and poorly penned parody aside, I did come down with a nasty case of the flu last week. So, as one is somewhat forced to do in such situations, I spent the better part of last week quarantined indoors, trying not to die. Okay, I’m just being dramatic again; it really wasn’t that bad, but we didn’t have the opportunity to go teach anyone last week, so that was a little discouraging.

Somewhat ironically though, spending a week of suffering through sickness led me to do a lot of thinking about the tender mercies of the Lord, or alleviations of distress he gives during stressing times. Even though the Lord will give us difficult experiences, he can make our burdens lighter.

Last week, we had a lot of different lessons to teach and places to be. For example, on Sunday, I gave a talk in church. Then, I had the responsibility on Tuesday of giving a 30 minute workshop on developing patience during our district meeting. Later in the day, we had a cosecha (“harvest”) in the area for the Hermanas of the other ward. Was it a coincidence that I started getting sick on Wednesday morning, the day after all of those important duties were completed? I don’t think so. This week was truly the most convenient time to have that happen, and although being sick was not enjoyable, at least I had relatively little responsibilities to worry about not fulfilling. Definitely a blessing.

I’ll share another story. Apologies if I have shared this before, but I’m sure some of you remember the nightmarish experiences I had with air travel when I was coming to Spain. (Coincidentally, that was exactly four months ago, this Friday.) Between mechanical problems, weather delays, missed connections, and I don’t even know what else, I essentially spent a full day longer traveling than originally intended.

After my second attempt at a flight from Colorado Springs to Chicago landed an hour and a half later than anticipated due to a heavy thunderstorm, I had already missed my next flight and was stuck waiting for my gate checked luggage to be unloaded from the aircraft; all of the ground crew were taking shelter from the weather. My updated travel plans given to me by the gate agent would have required an additional 15 hours of travel time and layovers. I was informed that I could go to the customer service counter elsewhere in the terminal and that they might be able to figure out something better.

Acting on an impression to leave right then, even though I still had luggage on the aircraft, I made my way over to the service counter, had my plans amended to a much more reasonable time table, and made my way back in just a few minutes. When I returned to the aircraft, the weather had just lifted enough for them to get the luggage off of the plane. I didn’t realize that it was somewhat strange that when I stopped by the counter, there were ten free attendants and somehow I was the only patron needing help during a multi-hour period when everything and every flight was shut down and grounded. After getting my luggage, I walked past the counter less than 15 minutes after I had previously been there on the way to my new gate. Then, I saw a new line, appearing seemingly out of nowhere, which stretched through the maze of barrieres that I had walked through unmolested only moments earlier, filling the queuing area and stretching down the hall, bending past the corner so that I could not see its end. I don’t even want to think about the additional travel horrors I would have had to endure if I had ignored the prompting to leave when I did. Definitely a significant blessing during an otherwise discouraging time.

Some might call these experiences coincidences, but I promise all of you that coincidences don’t really exist. As Nephi promises us, “the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.” I testify that his words are true. If we have faith on the Lord and call on Him during difficult times, he will bless us and provide a path for deliverance from whatever situation we’re in.

So, this week is already the last week of the second transfer in the field. The last week of training. I’ll likely be receiving a new companion, maybe even a new area assignment when transfer calls come later this week, so I will update you all next week once I know.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Welcoming “Hermana Llavina” into the area!

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2: We went bowling as part of our last p-day. I was a bit surprised that even though we’re an ocean away, it looked and felt exactly the same as any other bowling alley you’ve ever been to in the United States. Here, I’ve been to McDonald’s, KFC, Domino’s, Taco Bell, the Apple Store, and other places that we have in America, and although they’re more or less equal to their counterparts in the States, they’re different enough that you don’t quite feel like you’re “home.” So, yes, I have grown accustomed to the differences of Europe, but it was still nice to feel some sense of familiarity.

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3: Until next time

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