Email 19/12/16

Hello everybody,

As I indicated in my last email, for the previous weeks p-day, we traveled to to visit Ahlambra, the centuries-old caste-fortress, located in the mountains of Granada. It was really cool; I have attached a number of photos from our trip. Because of the already large number of photos that are in the email, there are some pictures of things that happened this week that I will send in the next week’s email.

I can’t believe that Christmas is already this week. I remember being in the CCM and celebrating it being halfway to Christmas and feeling like it would be ages until it came, but already, here we are. Some of you might be wondering how they celebrate Christmas in Spain. I’m not sure if this is constant throughout the entire country or only in Andalusia, the part of Spain that I’m in right now, but Christmas isn’t a very celebrated Holiday. There’s lights that the city puts up in the main streets of the city, but generally nothing besides that. People have Christmas trees that are usually somewhat small and not put up until sometime with in past two weeks or so. Christmas is seen more as  a religious holiday, so Belénes (Nativity Scenes) are very common to see. The main gift giving day, however, doesn’t come until January 6, which is the Día de Reyes, a celebration of the three wisemen visiting the baby Jesus. So, a “token gift” might be received on Christmas from Santa, but the Three Wisemen have the main cargo of gift giving in January.

I got the news that Silvia, one of my investigators from Elche, was baptized! Because I’m not in that area any more, I obviously couldn’t be there, but it was so great to see someone I had taught be baptized and take this very important step. I have a attached a photo.

This week, we spent a lot of time trying to follow up with many of the people whose doors we knocked on in the weeks past, said they were busy at the moment but that we could drop by in another day. It seems as though a lot of those people didn’t seem to think that we would actually return and follow up, and, well, let’s just say they tend to be less polite the second time we come by. There’s still many, many doors left to knock, so onwards we will go. We also have many solid future investigators that we haven’t been able to get ahold of yet, so there’s that too.

We had a lesson with Juan, an investigator. Elder Jarvis and I had planned a good message to share with him, but when we got there, him and his girlfriend, Jennifer, were arguing, their 5 year old son was acting out, and all in all, it was just an environment that was going to be very hard to bring the spirit into. I felt like we should save what we had planned for another day and simply read out of the Book of Mormon together. When we had finished reading a chapter, the environment was completely changed. The spirit of contention was gone, their son had completely calmed down, and Jennifer, who doesn’t usually participate, was sharing her own ideas and life experiences, and even wanted to say the closing prayer, which basically never happens. Is was all thanks to the incredible power that comes from reading The Book of Mormon.

To all of my friends and family, I want to share my testimony with you all that the Book of Mormon is a true and beautiful testament, written by ancient prophets, of our Savior Jesus Christ. I have received my own personal witness that it is true and as a missionary I have witnessed many others gain their own personal witness. The amazing thing is that all you have to do to gain your own testimony about it is read it and then pray and then the Holy Ghost will indeed confirm it’s truthfulness to you! I invite all of you to spend time this Christmas season “feasting upon the words of Christ,” and read it. No matter who you are, what you’re doing, or what needs you have, doing this will bless your life and give you happiness in ways you could never imagine.

Merry Christmas!

Love, 

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Baptism of Silvia with Elder Catmull (my last companion), Jamie (a member from Elche), Elder Catmull’s Companion, and Silvia.

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2: The Alhambra

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3-5: Some shots from inside Alhambr

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6: Snow on the mountains, something I thought I would go two years without seeing

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7: Looking out over Granada

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8: The perks of having a camera that is waterproof

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9: Missionaries in the Digital Age

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10: Myself, Elder Boston and Elder Köhler

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11: Directing 

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12: With Hermana Moore and Hermana Twede

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13-14: Inside of the chapel of the stake center in Granada. It’s by far the biggest and closest chapel to one in the United States that I’ve been in on my mission.

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15: Until next time.

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