Elder Jared Stark

Serving in the Spain Málaga Mission

Month: February 2017

Salobreña de Salobreña

Once in a lifetime opportunity to drink Castillo de Salobreña on the Castillo de Salobreña

Once in a lifetime opportunity to drink Castillo de Salobreña on the Castillo de Salobreña

Email 27/2/17

Hello everybody,

Another week has passed. Tomorrow will mark nine months in the mission. If I were an hermana, that would mean hitting my halfway point, but luckily I still have a little bit of time left before that happens.

In Spain, there’s a very popular juice beverage (or in other words, non-alcoholic wine), that a ton of missionaries like to drink called Castillo de Salobreña. Salobreña is part of our area, a little town about 10 minutes outside of Motril. Last p-day, Elder Pack and I took a bus over there in order to drink Castillo de Salobreña on the Castillo de Salobreña. That was a lot of fun, and I think we’re literally some of the only missionaries in Spain who can say they’ve done that haha. I’ve included a few pictures from the trip.

The work this week started off good and were looking upwards because we were having some good success finding a lot of interested futuros, and that was really exciting. But then, on Friday, I woke up, and out of the blue, was feeling extremely dizzy and nauseous and had to spend all of Friday and Saturday in bed, lying down. That kind of stalled our plans to meet with some of those futuros for a few days. It was pretty rough, I couldn’t even sit up without feeling super sick. I’m still not sure what caused it. I think that it was a problem with my inner ear, but thankfully, it has resolved itself and I’m back to feeling normal.

Yesterday, something great happened during church. It was my turn to teach gospel doctrine class, and right I was about to begin the lesson, our branch president beckoned Elder Pack and I out into the hallway. Standing there was this guy named Miguel Ángel, someone who came up to Elder Jarvis and I in the streets months ago, wanting to meet with us and learn about the church. I think I’ve mentioned him in one of my previous emails. He doesn’t have a phone and we were never able to catch him at home, so eventually we had to stop trying to meet with him. But he and his girlfriend decided that they wanted to come to church today to see what the meetings are like and so that we could start meeting with them to teach them! So, I had to ask the Branch president’s wife to teach my lesson for me at the last second so we could go and have a lesson with them. President Hänni, the stake president, happened to be visiting our branch this day, and actually helped us teach our lesson Miguel and his girlfriend, and we had a great little lesson with all of them focused on faith. We have another appointment set for Wednesday. I wasn’t expecting to be teaching a lesson that day to two new investigators with the stake president as our member present! But it went great. He even gave them his phone number and told us that he wants to call them and personally invite them to the upcoming stake conference. Definitely a miracle.

I love the Mormon Message “Earthly Father, Heavenly Father” (https://www.lds.org/video/mormon-messages/2013-01-002-earthly-father-heavenly-father?lang=eng). We used it in a couple of lessons this week. It makes me grateful to have such great parents on the earth as well as to have a loving Heavenly Father. There’s a line in it where the father says, referring to providing for his family, that says, “I do it all for them.” Everything that God does is out of love for our benefit. After all, “this is [His] work and [His] glory, to bring to pass [our] immortality and eternal life” (Moses 1:39). He knows us each perfectly, and knows exactly what what we need to experience in this life to learn and grow and better ourselves. “I work that they may grow.” Sometimes the hand of the Lord manifests itself in our lives by giving us trials, and at other times miracles, but they’re all given to us by Him for our benefit. This week I experienced both. I know He is real. I know He loves us, and because He loves us, He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world in order to redeem us to allow us to return to Him. “He really wants us to come home.”

Os quiero. I love you all.

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Chillin with my Castillos 

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2: Elder Pack and I preparing to drink our Castillo on the Castillo

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3: After drinking the Castillo

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4: Kebab selfie with the District: Myself, Elder Pack, Hermana Woods (being k-baptized!), Hermana Gentry, Elder Köhler, Elder Jones, Elder Morgan, and Elder Bird

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5: When it feels almost like America

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6: Until next time

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Talking About the Message

Email 20/2/17

Hello everybody, 

It has been a good week. A lot of time was spent in the streets trying to find new investigators. We had an interesting experience with a backpacker from the Czech Republic. We walked up to him, and introduced ourselves (in Spanish) as missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and then invited him to hear a message about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His response to our invitation was a question (in English): “Well, what would you be talking about if you weren’t talking about the message?” That kind of caught me off guard, so I just said in response, “Nothing I guess.” I then asked him how many languages he spoke (since our conversation was switching between English and Spanish) and he said, “the number of languages a man speaks is what the man is,” which doesn’t really make sense, haha, but I really liked that first question he asked us. It strengthened my conviction that the whole point of me being here in Spain and learning Spanish for two years is to share the message that, “through a modern prophet, God has restored knowledge about the plan of salvation, which is centered on Christ’s Atonement and fulfilled by living the first principles and ordinances of the gospel.” If I weren’t sharing that, I guess there would be nothing to talk about. I know that this is true and it is such a wonderful blessing to bring people to have their own testimony of this.

We spent a lot of the week working on finding, and well that will definitely be what we’ll keep doing this week as well. Thursday and Friday were fun days though. Thursday, we went to Málaga to have our interviews with President Andersen, got to go eat at Taco Bell, and then spent the night in the piso of the Zone leaders there, Elder Boston and Elder Dunham, which was really cool because they had both been Zone leaders for me at different points earlier in the mission. On Friday, we had our Zone Conference. It was focused on the second fundamental from The First 12 Weeks, “The Role of the Spirit in Conversion.” In preparation for this conference, I had been studying a lot about this topic and identified five things I can do every day in order to better have the presence of the spirit in my life which in turn helps those we teach feel the spirit confirming to them the truthfulness of the message. They are to study the word (D&C 11:21), be obediente (D&C 121:37), pray for the guidance of the spirit (D&C 42:14), follow the promptings of the spirit and act on them (D&C 33:8-10), and give thanks for the promptings that have been received (D&C 78:19). Having the guidance of the spirit (the “senior companion”) is so necessary in missionary work.

Everything is going great in Motril. I love our little branch. Yesterday, in church, we even had a few visitors from other parts of Spain. I was responsible for playing the piano in sacrament meeting, giving a 20 minute talk, and then two minutes before priesthood meeting started, I was asked to teach the lesson. That was fun haha, but I don’t think that the Sabbath doesn’t get any better than that, when you can spend the day teaching and serving other people.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: This was a pretty guapa week for Motril. After a rainstorm, outside of Mercadona.

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2: Sunset in the center of town.

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3: Abandoned factory

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4: Church on the hill

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5: Fountain and palm

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6: Church dating back to the 1500’s

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7: Edge of town

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8: Ferris wheel in Málaga 

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9: A very tired Elder Pack and I; we match our ties.

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10: Until next time.

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Motril, Part III

Email 13/2/17

Hello everybody,

Wow, I feel like a ton of things have changed since the last time I wrote. Obviously the biggest change has been that I now have a new companion here in Motril. Elder Pack is from Lehi, Utah, loves BYU (just like me), and has been in the mission for two transfers less than me. Both him and my last companion were fairly close to me in terms of time on the mission, and I love serving with other missionaries who are close in time because you just learn so much from each other. It’s going to be a great transfer with him.

Other changes haven’t been so good. We’ve basically lost contact with some of the investigators I’ve spent the past 12 weeks teaching, so we’re in full on finding mode right now. We’ve spent a lot of time in the street contacting people and knocking doors in the last few day and that will likely continue for a while. But that’s okay! There are a ton of prepared people out there. In the words of my cousin who also served his mission in Spain, “you have to sift a lot of mud to find those nuggets of gold.” 

It’s been a pretty fast week. Monday and Tuesday were spent helping Elder Jarvis Pack and clean the house for him to be transferred to his new area. Wednesday I spent like 8 hours in the bus station in Granada waiting with the other missionaries in our district for our new companions to arrive. Something like 30 missionaries passed through that day, including some in my group whom I haven’t seen since the CCM, so that was really fun. And then the days after that until now were spent with Elder Pack adjusting to the area and getting to work! 

Oh, and I’ve still been sick this whole week, for the second week in a row. I lost my voice for a few days and have been coughing a ton, but I went to bed a little early last night to get some extra rest, and I’m feeling a lot better today, so I think I’m finally getting better.

Something cool that I was reminded of while doing my studying this week comes from an entry from the Book of Mormon Student Manual, referencing Alma 13:3: 

“The Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–44) taught that those who are ordained to a calling in mortality were foreordained to that calling in the pre-earth life: “Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was. I suppose that I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council”

I know that my call to preach the gospel in the Spain Málaga Mission was given to me by a prophet of God through revelation from Him, and that I was even pre-ordained to this calling even before I came to the earth. How great of a blessing is that! I know without a doubt that being here, in the mission, in Motril, doing the things that I am doing is exactly where and what I need to be doing with my life right now. Heavenly Father has a plan for me and for each one of his children. It isn’t always easy, but as long as we trust Him and do the things he wants us to do, we will always be happy. 

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Don’t drink beer

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2: During our last district meeting before transfers: Elder Jarvis, Elder Kröff, Elder Köhler, Elder Stark, Elder Jones, Elder Egbert

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3: Elder Jarvis and I with Alberto, a member.

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4: An investigator, Rosa, with Myself and Elder Jarvis.

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5: City, Sky

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6: Alone in the Motril bus station 🙅🏻‍♂️😬😮

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7: Elder Pack 

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8: Until next time.

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Come Unto Christ

Email 6/2/17

Hello everybody,

Yesterday was an interesting Sunday. First, we had a few visitors show up to church which is always exciting. There was one American couple from Las Vegas who were in Spain visiting a friend living in the area who actually knew Elder Jarvis’ dad. I think that’s one of the first times that there have been American visitors in any one of my sacrament meetings during the mission. The other visitors were President and Hermana Andersen, our mission president and his wife! When we saw them walk into the chapel, we were nervous and though, “oh no, what’s happening?” But, it turns out they were deciding where they were going to go to church this week, realized that they’ve never been to Motril, and surprised us and all of the members here by coming. They stayed for all three hours (it was a bit stressful teaching gospel doctrine class with them there, haha) and even came to our customary lunch at the Branch President’s house afterwards.  

Something else that we did was we had a musical testimony meeting. Meaning that every member of the branch (and the visitors, too) chose their favorite hymn, bore their testimony about that hymn, and then we sang it. As the branch pianist, playing 12 hymns in one sacrament meeting was also a bit stressful, haha, but it was a really good meeting. I chose “Press Forward Saints” as my favorite hymn.

The upside to this is that this is transfer week and we found out the transfer calls a day before everyone else. 😏Elder Jarvis is leaving to go to the Sevilla area, and my next companion here in Motril will be an Elder Pack. The only thing I know about him is that he has two transfers less time than me on the mission, and I’m looking forwards to meeting and working with him.

Last week, I came down with a cold, and it took a harder hit on my than I was expecting, so I’m still recovering right now. Nevertheless, it was still a good week and we taught a lot of good lessons. Last week, I wrote about a person who we found while we were out knocking doors, and we showed up on Saturday to meet with her again as she told us to, and she was there, ready to listen, but we couldn’t enter the house because there wasn’t another man there. Great. So, we’ll be trying again next week, bringing someone else with us this time. 

We were reading in the Book of Mormon with our investigator Juan this week, and the final invitation we find in Moroni 10:32 to “come unto Christ” has been in my mind all week:

Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

Coming unto Christ is basically the end result of everything we do as His disciples, members of the church, and missionaries. We have the church, the scriptures, modern day prophets, temples, and everything else so that we may be led back to the presence of our Heavenly Father through Christ’s Atonement. It is all there for that one simple purpose. Coming unto Christ is the most important thing we need to learn how to do on this earth, and having these two years of my life dedicated to helping others come unto Him is the best.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

P.S. Go to Instagram and follow @mormonfaces. I’ll be making an appearance there sometime within the near future.

1: Droopy Day

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2: Droopy Day II

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3: Because of the transfers, Elder Jarvis and I took pictures with some of the people we’ve been teaching. Here are our investigators Jennifer and Juan with their kids Zulema and Paco.

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4: Nora, Celia, Myself, and Elder Jarvis

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5: Myself and Elder Jarvis with Sebastian

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6: Strolin’ ’round gypsy-town

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7: Myself, Presidente Izquierdo, Nora, Hermana Andersen, President Andersen, Elder Jarvis

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8: Amparo, her daughter Amparito, Elder Jarvis and Myself

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9: Until next time

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