Elder Jared Stark

Serving in the Spain Málaga Mission

Month: April 2017

A Book From God

Email 24/4/17

Hello everybody,

Another week in Motril has come and gone. President Andersen stopped by on Thursday to do our interviews for the transfer, and he told me that, not surprisingly, I’m going to be transferred out of Motril when the transfer ends next week. I still have no idea to where I’ll be headed, so stay tuned.

It was a pretty “normal” week here in terms of the work and everything. On Wednesday, we went out to Sid’s house (the member from England) to help him finish putting up a fence. That involved digging holes, cementing poles into the ground, and then hanging up the fencing wire to the poles. It was pretty nice to be able to get out of the city and spend some time in the campo.

We were able to get in contact with Miguel during the week because luckily he was home one of the times that we passed by his house. We were basically like, “hey, how’s it going, it’s been a while since we’ve seen you guys, everything ok?” And he was like, “yeah, everything’s fine, don’t worry, everything’s fine,” and then we asked if they’d have any time to have a cita with us, and he was like, “I’m still not sure when we’ll have time again but don’t worry. No os preocupéis.” So we’ll see.

One night, as we were contacting people, we met this 76 year old lady from Mar del Plata, Argentina, which is the town where Presidente Izquierdo is from. We invited her to come to church, and she actually came and stayed for all three hours and really liked it. Only problem is that she believes in some pretty weird spiritually stuff, but it’s still super cool that a person who we talked to for only 10 minutes on the street actually came to church because that basically never happens. 

We also got a reference during the week from some missionaries in Málaga that contacted a person on the street there who lives in Motril and was interested in meeting with the missionaries. The talked to this guy about four months ago and then never sent the reference to us until a few days ago, so better late than never! We showed up to the guy’s house, and he was still interested, so we taught him a lesson and should be heading back today to teach him some more.

We went back to that Luz del Mundo church again to teach those guys that I mentioned in my email last week. It was really nice because they’re super respectful and we were both able to share what our beliefs were without resorting to bible bashing or anything negative like that. Talking with them had actually helped me increase my appreciation for the Book of Mormon a lot. You see, they believe in a lot of the same doctrines that we do, but obviously there are still a lot of differences between us mostly because of doctrine that we’ve received through latter-day revelations. Because I know that the Book of Mormon is true, I know that Joseph Smith restored the original church of Jesus Christ and the original priesthood authority to the earth again, and that he and each of his successors up to President Monson today are prophets of God. It’s that simple.

Here’s a story I found this week from a talk called “The Book of Mormon — a Book from God” by Elder Tad R. Callister. I’d highly recommend this talk. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/the-book-of-mormon-a-book-from-god?lang=eng

“Some years ago I attended one of our worship services in Toronto, Canada. A 14-year-old girl was the speaker. She said that she had been discussing religion with one of her friends at school. Her friend said to her, ‘What religion do you belong to?’

“She replied, ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons.’

“Her friend replied, ‘I know that church, and I know it’s not true.’

“’How do you know?’ came the reply.

“’Because,’ said her friend, ‘I have researched it.’

“’Have you read the Book of Mormon?’

“’No,’ came the answer. ‘I haven’t.’

“Then this sweet young girl responded, ‘Then you haven’t researched my church, because I have read every page of the Book of Mormon and I know it’s true.’”

I also have read every page of the Book of Mormon, multiple times, and know that it is true. I invite all of you to follow the prophetic council of President Monson and read the Book of Mormon everyday. As you do so with a prayerful attitude, the Holy Ghost will manifest the truth of the book to you as it has to me on multiple occasions.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: We were doing risky things on p-day

4:24A

2: A goat man heading towards town

4:24B

3: Random orchestra 

4:24C

4: Motril Viejo 

4:24D

5: Motril Moderno

4:24E

6: 🌵 

4:24F

7: Painting we found

4:24G

8: Until next time

4:24H

Fishers of Men

Email 17/4/17

Hello everybody,

This past week was the Semana Santa, or Holy Week, here in Spain. Yesterday, of course, it was Easter, but the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are commemorated for an entire week here instead of a single day. Elaborate processions took place during the week which included pasos (a large, ornate float with sculptures depicting Christ), marching bands, and a ton of people wearing capirotes, which are large conical hats which are resemblant of the ones worn by members of the KKK, although completely unrelated. We saw parts of a few of these processions since there was at least one happening every evening during the week, and I’ve attached some pictures below. 

When Jesus called two fishermen, Peter and Andrew, into the discipleship, his invitation to them was, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him” (Matthew 4:19-20). As missionaries, we are also “fishers of men,” with the purpose of finding and inviting others to come unto Christ. 

This incident happened at the beginning of Christ’s ministry. After His death and resurrection, which we commemorated this week, Peter, along with a number of the other disciples, went fishing at the sea of Tiberias. During that night of fishing, they caught nothing. The next morning, the Savior appeared and instructed them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat, and when they did that, they caught so many fish that their nets were on the verge of breaking. 

I’ve been thinking about that story a lot recently, and the meaning that it has personally for me. It’s definitely been one of those weeks where it feels like I’ve been “casting my net over” and over again without having the desired results. I imagine how the apostles felt, many of them fishermen by trade, after having spent an entire night on the water without a single catch. I suppose that’s the same thing which I’ve been feeling recently.

Last Monday, we had a really great lesson with Miguel and Jessica. We talked about temples and eternal families, and they shared with us their desires to keep progressing to the point of baptism and so forth. A few days later, after having a lot of difficulty getting ahold of them to work out a time for another lesson, they just kind of shrugged us off, it seems: “Oh, we don’t know when we’ll have time to meet again, but we’ll give you a call when we do.” I’ve been a missionary for long enough to know that very rarely will somebody actually do that, so I guess we’ll see what happens. Elder Pack and I are scratching our heads, trying to figure out what we should do now.

We spent a lot of time contacting during the week and trying to share the pass along cards and video for the #PríncipedePaz Easter initiative. On Wednesday, we met a woman named Yvette. It turns out that we had given her mother a pass along card the night before, and Yvette, who had met with the missionaries some 15 years ago, actually stopped us in the street one evening, expressing her desire to meet with us and learn more. So, we ended up talking for a while with her in the streets, and then even went to her house and finished up the lesson there. We also found out that her mom’s sister, or rather, her aunt, is actually our neighbor who we’ve talked to several times. This all seemed great! But, flash forward a few days later when we went back to our return appointment, and we were somewhat bluntly informed by Yvette that she really wasn’t interested at all in changing or the message. I think that’s the quickest turnaround from new investigator to former investigator that I’ve seen on my mission so far. 

Another potential investigator that we picked up while contacting was a young man named Filipe. On the determined day and time that we set with him to meet, we showed up at the address he gave us and found out that it’s the local chapel of the “Luz del Mundo” church. Awkward. Undaunted, we rang the doorbell, and we were invited in to have our lesson with Filipe and Juan, another member of the Luz del Mundo church. Juan already knew a bit about Joseph Smith, the Restoration, and the Book of Mormon, and we have a return appointment set to teach them the restoration again. Although they were respectable and kind during that lesson we had, it remains a bit dubious their motives for meeting with us. We’ll be finding out if they just invited us back to be able to “teach us the truth” or if they’re really interested in knowing about the message of the restoration, but whatever is going to happen, I just don’t want it to turn into a Bible bash or anything negative like that.

A month and a half ago, we contacted a couple in the street, Monica and Miller. At the time, they lived in Valdepeñas, a city in our mission, but quite a long ways away from Motril, so we had sent their contact information to the missionaries there (one of them being my good friend Elder Darrington, actually). A few weeks ago, we received the news from Elder Darrington that Monica and Miller were moving to Motril, and that they still had a desire to meet with the missionaries! We were going to have a lesson the other week, but they had to cancel the appointment at the last minute because their family from Valdepeñas came down to surprise them. So, we were trying to call them back the other day to arrange another time to meet, and, well, long story short, a prostitute answered the phone instead of our potential investigators. We even called the next day from a different number to make sure that we weren’t being duped, but yeah, I guess that Monica and Miller got a new number and a prostitute picked up their old one. So, now we have no way to contact them.

In short, things didn’t work out quite as we planned this week. But, as we learn from this story with the disciples, the “catch” will come in accordance with the Lord’s timing. I’m sure that the apostles would have liked their first catch of the night to have been the final big one, and not the other way around, but certainly it was worth the wait, for all good things are worth waiting for. The Lord has called us to be fishers of men, and we know from these accounts that He watches over his fishermen. Although I would say that everything in terms of the progression of the work here isn’t quite going in the way that my mind wants it to be going, I take a lot of solace in knowing that it’s going in the way that God has planned it to go as I try to align my will more with His going onwards. I know that “[Christ] is risen, as He said,” and that his marvelous work is still taking place today.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: One of the pasos

4:16A

2: More of the procession

4:16B

3: Happy Easter

4:16C

4: Part of another procession 

4:16D

5: In the outskirts of Motril

4:16E

6: Motril Sunset 

4:16F

7: Until next time

4:16G

PrincipeDePaz

Email 10/4/17

Hello everybody,

This week in Spain is the Semana Santa, or in English, The Holy Week. I know that there’s some interesting Catholic traditions here associated with that, but it would probably be better if I were to wait until next week to explain about it. Right now on Mormon.org, in addition to the great #PríncipedePaz video, there’s a calendar that follows the last week of Christ’s ministry in the earth before he was crucified and then resurrected. I’ll be follow it all week, and I invite you all to join me at https://www.mormon.org/easter/easter-week

We had another pretty typical week of missionary work. On Tuesday, we had the opportunity to go out to Castell de Ferro, a little pueblo about 30 minutes outside of Motril to do some service! We were helping Sid, the member from England who’s here for a few months, and his wife put up a fence on a part of their property. Afterwards, they fed us lunch, and asked me to say the prayer, and I realized that it has actually become very hard to do so vocally in English. It was fun to be able to go out to the campo and do some work.

Something I’ve forgotten to mention for a few weeks is that when we changed into daylight savings time here in Spain, our missionary schedule changed slightly as well. Now, we wake up in the mornings at 7:30 AM and go to bed between 10:30-11:30 PM. On Friday, we headed to Málaga for a Zone Conference. That required us to wake up at 5 AM on Friday, which isn’t the funnest thing in the world to do when you’re used to waking up at 7:30 AM haha. It was a really good conference though. A lot of what we talked about is how we can be focusing on the Savior more in our teaching and especially within the context of the restoration. I got lots of good takeaways from it.

Unfortunately we only had one short opportunity to visit with Miguel and Jessica this week. When we had time to meet, they were busy, and when they had time, we were busy. Kind of disappointing, but that’s just reality. Things should be working out better this week, we have a cita planned with them for tonight, and we’ll just keep going forwards, working with them, and hoping for the best!

Two talks from General Conference which I had studied throughout the week were Elder Christofferson’s talk about overcoming the world and Elder Yoon Won Choi’s talk, “Don’t Look Around, Look Up!”. Elder Christofferson talked about how Jesus said, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Later He added, “I will that ye should overcome the world.” Elder Yoon Won Choi invited us to look up to Christ and keep our focus on Him. Life is hard. We all have our problems. I know that as I have tried to look up to Christ, it has given me hope and strength knowing that he has already overcome the word, and that following Him gives me the chance to do the same.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1-2: Bus or boat?

4:10A 4:10B

3: The steering wheel is a bit lost

4:10C

4: Bus wasn’t there yet

4:10D

5: Potato day with Elder Pack and Amparito 

4:10E

6: Presidente Izquierdo, Nora, Elder Pack and myself

4:10F

7: Root beer is a rare find outside of the United States. We were given some last week by the senior missionary couple who did our piso inspection. This is a Root Beer sundae that I had the privilege of enjoying.

4:10G

8: Until next time

4:10H

Do Not Procrastinate

Email 3/4/17

Hello everybody,

I feel like every time I sit down to write this email every week, I have forgotten what happened and what I was going to say, no matter how busy the previous week was. Last week was a busy week, and so it went by quickly, and so it’s kind of hard to remember everything that happened because the days kind of just blur together during weeks like this.

First and foremost, we had the wonderful opportunity this weekend of participating in the General Conference. Because of the size of our branch and the lack of technology expertise of our branch president, we had to take some time last week to run around to a couple different tech stores, looking for the right cables and adapters in order to Broadcast General Conference from the computer onto a TV. So that was fun, but of course, the best part was watching the conference itself! Because of the time difference between the United States and Spain, we watched the Saturday morning session live at 6 PM on Saturday, the taped Saturday afternoon and priesthood sessions on Sunday morning, and then the Sunday morning session live on Sunday evening. It’s a bit complicated, but it’s such a blessing that we can be so far away from home and yet still able to participate as if we were there.

It’s always a privilege to hear the prophet, President Monson, speak. I loved His remarks about The Book of Mormon. “I speak about the power of the Book of Mormon and the critical need we have as members of this Church to study, ponder, and apply its teachings in our lives.” I start of most every day by reading a few chapters out of the Book of Mormon. It’s been such a blessing for my life, and I do agree that the need to study it is indeed “critical.” The prophet Joseph Smith said it best by saying that, “and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book,” which is something I have felt as I make the Book of Mormon a part of my daily life.

Things have still been going well with Miguel and Jessica. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see them a lot due to the passing away of Jessica’s grandfather during the week. We hope we have the chance to see them soon in order to share about temples and how we can preform the work there for our family members who have passed on before us and be sealed together for eternity to them. Death isn’t the end, but just a step in the plan that God had made for our progression. Miguel seems to be doing alright with quitting smoking so far, but it’s been several days since we have been able to meet with them, so we’ve just been hoping that they’re doing alright. 

There was one night this week when, as we were getting ready for bed, we received a phone call from the Gibson’s (one of the senior couples in the mission) informing us that we would be undergoing a piso inspection the next day. Although we keep our house clean and orderly, we were definitely not ready at that moment to undergo a piso inspection the next day. You see, one of the curses of living in a three story house that has undergone years of missionary abuse is that you might have the misfortune of being in said house when the time comes to have it inspected. Although we received a notice about a month ago informing us of impending piso checks in the mission, I had just set it out of my mind, thinking perhaps that the day would never come or that I might be transferred before it would. 

Alma 34:33 says, “I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.” The day of accountability for our actions always comes and we’re going to regret it if we’re not ready. Fortunately, in this case with our house, the “night of darkness” was not upon us yet as we still had some time the next morning to use to clean our house. And clean it we did. When the Gibson’s showed up that afternoon, it was immaculate, and even though this all ended well, it was an important lesson to me about the dangers of procrastination.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Afternoon in Motril

4:3A

2: Our District: Hermana Woods, Hermana Gentry, Elder Cox, Elder Carter, Elder Cerna,  Elder Ramírez, Elder Morgan, Elder Bird, Elder De La Rosa, Elder Stark, and Elder Pack.

4:3B

3: Again, the district: Elder Cox, Elder Cerna, Elder Ramírez, Elder Morgan, Elder Stark, Elder Bird, Elder Pack; Elder Carter, Hermana Woods, Hermana Gentry, Elder De La Rosa

4:3C

4: General Conference generally is a genial gathering

4:3D

5: Until next time

4:3E

© 2017 Elder Jared Stark

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑