Email 31/10/16

Hello everybody,

Happy Halloween! I’m sure some of you are wondering if Halloween is celebrated in Spain. It is, but it’s definitely not as big of a holiday as in the United States. Let me explain: First, trick-or-treating isn’t a practice since the vast majority of people live in flats rather than houses. Next, only the more scary side of Halloween is celebrated; people only dress up as scary things, and there aren’t really the funner/lighter costumes you would find in the states. Finally, it’s a lot less commercialized than an American Halloween. For example, the supermarket we shop at only has very small section of special sweets that you could easily overlook if you weren’t searching for it.

Elder Catmull and I definitely had one of the busier weeks I’ve had in my five months (can you believe it!?) as a missionary. First, our mission just received the Area Book app for our iPads, so now we’re responsible for manually converting probably hundreds of teaching records from our paper area book to the digital one. So between figuring that out, lessons, meetings, and whatever else, we actually started the week having the majority of our proselyting time for the entire week actually filled with decent plans. That never happens!  

Accordingly, my body decided it was the perfect time to get sick. So, starting last Wednesday, and still affecting me today, I’ve been dealing with a sore throat, runny nose, headaches, drowsiness, and a cough. 

Not wanting to cancel anything, I decided that I would rest when I could and do my best to persevere during the other times. These words from the second verse of the hymn, “How Firm a Foundation,” flowed through my head throughout the week:

In ev’ry condition–in sickness, in health,

In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,

At home or abroad, on the land or the sea–

As thy days may demand, as thy days may demand,

As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.

I’ve sung these words countless times throughout my life, but look how applicable they are to me right now! I’m sick, poor, and living abroad by the sea, with every day demanding much from me. But more importantly, I know I’ve been succored constantly during my service as a missionary, especially during the more difficult times.

That’s why last week, despite being sick and having limits in what I could effectively do and say, everything turned out alright. To list a few bright spots: We taught Silvia for the first time, an investigator who has friends in the church, and she has already accepted an invitation to be baptized. Andrís, the investigator we started teaching only last week, has too. Yanet continues to come to church and grow her faith in the restored gospel. Maricarmen told us that now is the first time in many years that she’s starting to feel a connection to God again. And, that’s not even everything good that happened! Everybody we teach is progressing differently, but they’re all certainty doing so, and it’s so rewarding and such a blessing to be a part of this work. 

I know just as Heavenly Father has given me succor during a taxing time, he will give all of his children the same, not if, but when we need it. I promise all of you that divine assistance is always available for those who have faith and work to obtain it.

Love,

Élder Stark

Photos

1: With La Dama de Elche: Elder Stark, Diego, Elder Darrington, Elder Llavina, Elder Catmull; Hermana Giraldo, Hermana Garcia, Hermana Gibson, Hermana Gentry.

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2: Something exciting happening outside of our piso during daily planning.

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3: “Can you take a picture of me with the iPhone?”

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4: Breakfast 🍳 with Elder Darrington, Elder Llavina, and Elder Catmull

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5: Until next time.

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