Elder Jared Stark

Serving in the Spain Málaga Mission

Month: January 2017

Right Place, Right Time

Email 30/1/17

Hello everybody,

Well, my luck ran out. I woke up sick this morning. It doesn’t seem too bad, at least not when I think of the other missionaries in our district who had to stay in piso all of last week to recover from illnesses. Life goes on.

A big thing that happened this week was the Worldwide Missionary Broadcast. It was basically a continuation of the “Teach Repentance, Baptize Converts” training that was given a year ago. Something that was pointed out during the broadcast that I really liked was that the different parts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ — faith, repentance, baptism, reception of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end — aren’t separate from each other, but all together in one and interrelated in Christ. I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So simple, so powerful. 

Of course, there were the other big changes that were announced during the meeting. The key indicator numbers that we report every week have been cut down from nine to four and the missionary schedule was changed for the first time in decades, I’d imagine. Our mission already had a modified schedule before the change taking into account the Mediodía practices in Spain, so our day to day schedule hasn’t changed too much here. Instead of the schedule being fixed in place, we now have the power to move things around if we so desire. For example, our lunchtime used to be at 2 PM everyday, but now we could move it to be at another hour, if we so desire. Because daily planning, which used to be done in the night after returning to piso, was changed to be in the morning, we can now go to bed around an hour earlier than before. I’m enjoying that change a lot, already I’ve noticed a difference coming from the increased time we have to sleep. Also, we get two more hours of P-Day. #Blessed

Other than that, it was a normal week of work in Motril. On Thursday, Elder Jarvis and I were out knocking doors, and we got to one door where the woman who answered surprised us by saying that she already knew who we were because she has a friend who is a member of the church here. Given the size of our branch, that was a surprise, and perhaps even the first time in my two transfers here that a random person we’ve talked to has actually known someone in the church. Her friend, a less active member, was actually someone we had been trying to meet with for a couple of weeks, and finally we had a lesson with her scheduled for that night. As we were telling her all of this, our phone rang, and it was her friend, the less active member, calling to confirm the lesson than evening! So we gave the phone to the woman and had her answer it, to the complete surprise of her friend! After the phone call, and as we were talking to this woman a bit more, she was telling us that she had actually met with the missionaries years ago while she was living in London and was open to having us come back, and so we scheduled a return appointment with her during the week.

That was one of those “right place, right time” moments that was just too perfect to have been coincidence. I know the Lord is watching over his missionaries and is helping us so much to find those who have been prepared to learn about the gospel. Obviously I don’t know what will end up happening with this woman, but I’m still so grateful for this experience of seeing the Lord’s hand manifested so plainly in our work.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: I was trying to take a picture of the snow capped peaks of the Sierra Nevadas in the  distance and took a picture instead of this sign that says “El mundo necesita gente que ame lo que hace,” or, “The world needs people that love what they do.”

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2: Watching the Worldwide Missionary Broadcast in the Granada chapel

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3: Blessed to be Banana Bread 🙏🏼2️⃣🐝🍌🍞

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4: Churros and Chocolate 🌈

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5: Photo of President Monson for good measure

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6: Until next time

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Let Us All Press On

Email 23/1/17

Hello everybody, 

It’s been another good week. As mentioned in last week’s letter, we went back up to Granada on P-Day to go hit up the sales and buy some clothes. One of the best parts about going to Granada on P-Days is that there’s a Domino’s Pizza there, and here in Spain, they have a 6,95 € all you can eat pizza buffet. It’s the best. #BuffetLibre 

This week, the weather was significantly cooler, cloudier, and wetter than it normally is.  Nothing bad at all though, it was fine working outside with just a coat and sometimes just a sweater on. I’ve even heard reports of snow in many parts of this mission which is very rare to see in this part of Spain. I guess it actually snowed for like half an hour one morning here in Motril, but that was when we were inside doing weekly planning, so we didn’t notice. Darn.

Up until Friday, it was a pretty normally paced week in terms of the work: meeting with our investigators and less active members, knocking doors, and basically just trying to strengthen the people and the branch in Motril. Then, Élder Jarvis came down with a cold, and so we’ve been resting a bit more for the past few days while he recovers. In fact, I was talking to one of zone leaders the other day, and he told me that basically around half of the missionaries in the whole zone are sick right now. I suppose it could have something to do with the change of the weather. I’m perfectly fine as of this moment, but I’ve been mentally preparing myself for the last few days because I feel like it’ll be inevitable that I get sick too, so I guess we’ll see what ends up happening.

Some of you may have noticed that on the Gospel Library App, a new section for General Conference Music was added after the October General Conference. I love the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (it’s pretty cool that they were asked to sing at the recent presidential inauguration) and have downloaded every video of them singing from that session of General Conference on my iPad. The other day, I was listening to their rendition of “Let Us All Press On,” and the words of the chorus really struck me:

Fear not, though the enemy deride;

Courage, for the Lord is on our side.

We will heed not what the wicked may say,

But the Lord alone we will obey.

To me, this is saying that when we are obedient to God and doing the things He wants us to do and becoming the person who he wants us to be, no matter what those around us or the world thinks, that’s how we know we are being successful servants. 

The road won’t be easy, and our efforts may not always bear immediate or recognizable fruit, but obedience to God and to his laws is more important than anything else. When we put our trust in the Lord, we need not fear because we know he will bless us for doing that which he has asked. 

I’m looking forward to another week as a missionary. This week is going to be extra special because of the Worldwide Missionary Broadcast this Wednesday. Many of you who get my emails are serving missions right now as well. Even though we’re all in different places with different languages, cultures, and customs, our purpose is universally consistent and it’s so amazing that we can all participate in this event together.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Elder Krummenacher (my companion from the CCM) and I reunited after over six months apart. Also Elder Egbert. Elder Krummenacher was taking a bus that passed through Granada, so all in all, we only had about a minute in the bus station to so hi and take a picture.

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2: The Nevada Shopping center. It just opened a few months ago and I’ve heard missionaries say it’s the largest mall in the mission (or maybe even all of Spain?). This was the day I accidentally bought two suits #Rebajas

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3: Finally we had a district meeting with everyone present, so here’s our district picture of the transfer: Elder Jarvis, Elder Jones, Elder Stark, Elder Kröff, Elder Köhler, Elder Egbert; Hermana Moore and Hermana Gentry (I served with both of them in districts past #ElcheForever)

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4: Motril in the morning.

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5: Motril at night

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6: Motril black and white.

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7: “Hey look a horse.” “Where’s the Porsche?” “No, A HORSE.”

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8: Until next time.

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Sunny Days

Email 16/1/17

Hello everybody,

Once again, I am writing this sitting on the bus bound for Granada, where we’re headed to spend our p-day once more. Today’s extra special because they just opened up a new bus station in Motril and that’s basically the biggest thing to happen here in who knows how long.

Last week was a good week. As I indicated in my last email, we also spent the last p-day in Granada, and then stayed there all of Tuesday for intercambios (exchanges) with Elder Egbert and Elder Köhler. The cool thing about doing intercambios with the Elders in Granada is that they have a car. I spent Tuesday evening with Elder Köhler basically just driving around from one little town to another teaching lessons. It was certainly an interesting change of pace as that was the first time in my mission proselytizing with a car, and I always love going up to Granada because there is mountains and snow and stuff there.

Speaking of snow, apparently it has been snowing really hard in the North of Spain, and I guess it’s been snowing in Utah and in Colorado as well. On Friday, Elder Jarvis and I had to go back to Almuñécar to find a reference (whom we found and set up an appointment with for a different day), and we found ourselves with a few extra minutes before our bus left, so we headed over to the beach area. It was about 75 degrees and sunny that afternoon, so definitely quite the contrast from the winters that I’m used to. There are some pictures attached.

But yes, our Zone Conference and interviews with President Andersen were on Wednesday in Málaga. I’m pretty sure this was a worldwide change, but now mission presidents are asked to conduct Zone conferences and interviews with the missionaries every transfer. In the past, Zone conferences and interviews used to switch off every other transfer. Less than a month after having the last Zone Conference, we already had another one. Interesting.

I was reading this week in the book of Enos, one of the shorter parts of the Book of Mormon, but one of my favorites. I especially love verses 4-8:

4 And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.

5 And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.

6 And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.

7 And I said: Lord, how is it done?

8 And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.

As Enos, when our souls hunger, we can receive spiritual satisfaction from crying to the Lord in prayer. Prayer is truly one of the greatest gifts that Heavenly Father has given us, and I know that when we pray, having a faith in Christ, we will always receive an answer to our prayers. I’ve seen miracles so many times throughout the mission as a result of prayers and promise all of you that as sons and daughters of God, you’re all capable of receiving answers to prayers. After all, He will give an answer every time.

With love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: A neat donkey that Elder Köhler and I found during an exchange

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2: The coast of Almuñécar. You can actually see Motril way off in the distance.

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3: Wave break 

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4: As Elder Stark looks out over the Mediterranean, basking in 75 degrees of warmth from the coastal sun, his thoughts pause momentarily on his family and friends in Colorado and Utah and he wonders whether or not they’re enjoying winter weather as much as he is.

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5: That’s my name.

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6: The Spain Málaga Mission has a very strict rule that, as missionaries, we don’t even step on the sand of beaches.

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7: The sidewalk leading to Apostasy.

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8: Picture from the Zone Conference at Christmastime, of us singing Christmas songs outside of a large and busy commercial center.

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9: Closeup of me and Elder Jarvis

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10: Candid shot of me and Elder Darrington #ElcheForever

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11: Participating in the Zone Conference from December.

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12: Me and Elder Jarvis again.

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13: Until next time

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Love Thy Neighbor

Email 9/1/17

Hello everybody,

As I am writing this, I’m sitting on a bus bound for Granada. The plan is to spend p-day going around to a couple of commercial centers and participating in the winter round of rebajas, which are basically these clearance blowout sales that every store has for a month in the winter and then a month in the summer. Then, we’ll be staying the night there and having intercambios with the missionaries there on Tuesday, and the next day, we’re heading over to Málaga for a Zone Conference. It should be a good couple of days.

This week was also the Día de Reyes here in Spain. Instead of Christmas, this is the main gift giving holiday where the three kings bring gifts to the children instead of Santa. There are a bunch of big parades the night before with all of these floats and people throwing candy from them, and that’s basically the biggest part of the holiday season in Spain.

The week before, we had received a reference from missionaries in a different part of the mission from a member there who wanted us to share the gospel with one of her friends that just had someone in the family pass away. Sounds great, right? The thing that made it more complicated, however, was that this person lives in a little town named Almuñécar which is unknown territory for us and about a 40 minute bus ride away. Additionally, I guess she couldn’t remember his exact address either, so the only information we had was his name and the approximate part of town that he lived in.

So, when we arrived in Almuñécar, we went to the area where we thought he lived and starting asking random people if they knew this guy. I guess you could say it was a bit like a scavenger hunt. So, we talked to a few people that told us maybe this lady in a nearby bakery knew him. That lady gave us directions to his exact street, and then one of his neighbors led us to his house. All in all, it took less than 20 minutes. To me, how friendly and willing these people were to help us was a great example of charity and loving your neighbor. Although these people might not have been interested in what we do as missionaries, they all still took time out of their day to give some strangers a helping hand. Although the guy we were looking for wasn’t in his house when we finally found it, I still feel like I learned someone from our brief trip to Almuñécar.

As the Lord has said, “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Once we look past differences of background, religion, race, or whatever it may be, and remember that we’re all sons and daughters of the same God, we can focus on loving and serving those around us despite our differences. That’s what Christ did and what we should be trying to do as well.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Crowds gathered on the Día de Reyes to see the parades

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2: Closer up

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3: 🎵Caminamos hasta las 10, hasta que duelan los pies. (We walk until 10, until the feet hurt.)

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4:Part of the bus ride we take every week from Granada to Motril

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5: Until next time

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No Differences

Happy 2017! Doesn't seem very much like January, does it?

Happy 2017! Doesn’t seem very much like January, does it?

Email 2/1/17

Hello everybody, and Happy New Year!

This week was about as normal as they get. Because neither Elder Jarvis nor I were transferred, transfer week really had no impact on us whatsoever. So, all in all, it was a good, solid week of work. We’re still doing a lot of finding activities, trying to search for new people to teach, and perhaps we haven’t seen any fruit from our efforts yet, but it will surely come. For New Year’s Eve, we were allowed to stay up one hour later until midnight and then, accordingly, sleep in an hour later the next morning. That’s about the only special thing that we did when the year changed. Yeah, I mean people were setting off fireworks and stuff, but honestly, it was really, really tranquilo. It’s custom to eat 12 grapes during the last 12 seconds of the year to bring good luck, but we’re broke, so that not something we did. We just stayed up, counted down the last 20 seconds and went to bed, haha.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about an encounter I had with a British bum on the streets. We ended up crossing paths with him again this week. This time, he invited us to “give up your smart people clothes, dress down a bit, grab your sleeping bags, and a bottle of water (because I know you don’t drink), and live on the streets for a week,” and then he told us, “Come back a week later and tell me everything you have learned.”  According to him, living on the streets is really enjoyable and addicting, so if I don’t email again, don’t be surprised, because I’m sure that I’ll be a street person by then. 🚧🚦🚥🛣🛣

Well, the change of the year has provided a good moment of reflection and thinking about where I have been, where I am now, and where I will be in the future. While re-reading some General Conference talks, President Eyring’s remarks about Sabbath day gratitude resonated with me a lot. In it, he shares his experiences as a young man, being a member of really small branches in the church where there weren’t many members, and the growth that those areas have since seen: branches turning into wards, wards turning into stakes, and eventually temples being built in these areas to bless the lives of the people there. I was especially touched by his words, “What I could not see clearly then was that the Lord was pouring out His Spirit on people in those little sacrament meetings. I could feel it, but I could not see the extent and the timing of the Lord’s intentions to build and glorify His kingdom.”

Yesterday in our sacrament meeting, we numbered six: two members, the branch president and his wife, and me and my companion. I spent the first Sunday of 2016 as a member of the 111th Young Single Adult Ward in Provo, surrounded by scores of other members. And yet, the Lord was still pouring out His same spirit on us that I would have been feeling in a sacrament meeting anywhere else in the world. Clearly, there exists a dramatic difference in the setting between this year and last, but the differences don’t extend beyond that. There exists no difference in the spirit, no difference in doctrine, no difference in the church, and what a great witness it is that this is indeed Christ’s true church. I know that the Lord is working through us, as missionaries and members alike, to build and glorify his kingdom on the earth, I trust in His timing to carry it out.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Dinner for la noche vieja (New Year’s Eve) with Presidente Izquierdo and Nora

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2: Descending into Motril as the sun starts to set.

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3: Until next time.

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