Jared Stark

I do a lot of things

Month: May 2017

No hay una obra mejor (There is no better work)

Email 29/5/17

Hello everybody,

A year ago today, on Sunday, May 29, 2016, I was set apart as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It’s hard to believe that so much time has already passed so quickly. They say that the mission is “the best two years,” and during this last year, I’ve learned that “best” doesn’t mean “least stressful” or “easiest,” but rather, “worthwhile.” I’ve spent the past year doing the hardest, but most worthwhile things that I’ve ever done in my life. There are a lot of highs and lows that are experienced in missionary service, pero, sí, vale la pena (but yes, it’s worth it).  I’m excited to see what my (approximately) one year left as a missionary will entail! 

Unfortunately, this week was probably one of the “lower” and “more stressful” weeks that I’ve had on the mission; I won’t get into the details of why, but even during weeks like this, I still know that the mission life is the good life.

We spent approximately four days outside of our area this week: on Tuesday and Wednesday, we went to Granada to have intercambios with the Zone Leaders, then on Friday, we went to Málaga for the Zone Conference. That meant leaving Thursday afternoon, taking a bus down to Málaga, and then spending the night there in an “empty piso” (empty in the sense that missionaries used to live there, but the area was combined with a neighboring area about six months ago, and the mission keeps paying for the piso in the case that the area opens up again, or to have an extra place for missionaries to stay in Málaga since there’s always a ton passing through, or something along those lines). That was pretty fun, and the Zone Conference was really good as well. 

Yesterday, Juan was baptized! He was the other Elders’ investigator, but he was the person I interviewed for baptism last week, and I was asked at the last minute yesterday to be one of the witnesses to the baptism. It was a really great baptismal service! Juan’s daughter was the one who was baptized a few weeks ago, and Juan came to her baptism with no plans in his head to get baptized, but there, the spirit touched his heart, and a few weeks later, here we are. Everyone has their time.

Speaking of baptism, our investigator, Benjamin, is still on the right path headed towards entering into that covenant! If everything goes according to plan, he’ll be baptized about two weeks from now, on June 10. We gave him a Bible in French this week, and he was so happy to get it. “If everybody would read the Bible and The Book of Mormon,” he said, “there would be so many less problems in the world.” That is so true.

The scripture I want to share this week comes from 2 Nephi 2:6-8, which says:

Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.

Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.

Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.

Me encanta este evangelio. Me encanta esta obra. Estoy muy bendecido porque me queda con un año más en la misión, haciendo esta grande y maravillosa obra aquí en este parte de la viña del Señor. No hay una obra mejor.

(I love this gospel. I love this place. I am very blessed because I am left with one more year in the mission, doing this great and wonderful work here in this part of the vineyard of the Lord. There is no better work.)

Os quiero. (I love you.)

Élder Stark


1: Olives


2: Clouds


3: Pueblo


4: Not our car, haha


5: Accidentally matched ties with Elder Pack


6:  Elder Hollowell, Elder Krummenacher, and I, one year into our missions. They’re the two other Elders in my group, this is the first time that all three of us were together since arriving to the mission.


7: Jaén


8: With Elder Moffat


9: Bautismo de Juan


10: Until next time


Hill City

Email 22/5/17

Hello everybody,

A lot of things happened this week. Monday and Tuesday were pretty normal days. On Wednesday, it seems like Elder Moffat had came down with the cold that I had last week, so we spent the day on Wednesday mostly resting. On Thursday, we went to Granada to have our interviews with President Andersen. Then, on Friday, I had to go back to Granada for a meeting with the Zone leaders and the other district leaders in the Zone. Definitely it was a bit of a crazy week.

We’re still working with our investigator from the Ivory Cost, Benjamín. We originally had a baptismal date set with him for this Saturday, but we’ll have to move it back a bit. The only thing that’s holding back his progress a bit right now is the fact that we weren’t able to meet with him as much during the week as we wanted to just because of some conflicts between his schedule and ours. It’s going well though, he’s been to church for three weeks in a row and has come to a few of the activities during the week like English Class, Family Home Evening, and a fútbol activity we had on Saturday. His roommate came to church too yesterday, so that was super exciting. 

Besides that, we don’t have many other people that would be considered investigators. We still have a good amount of futuros to work with, so that’s great, but it’s definitely pretty easy to get someone’s information that you meet on the street and pretty hard to actually sit down and have a lesson with them. Élder Cerna, one of the other missionaries here, told me in the nine weeks that he’s been in Jaén, he’s found 250 futuros just by street contacting. Of those 250 people, he’s only taught five of them, and only one has turned into a progressing investigator. I don’t even know how many people he had to talk to in the first place to even find those 250 people since, obviously, the vast majority of people on the street won’t even want to stop and talk. So that’s what we’re up against here.

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to carry out a baptismal interview for the first time. It was for a man named Juan, who is actually the father of Rebecca, the woman who was baptized a few weeks ago. Even though he’s got the appearance of a big, tough mechanic, he’s a super nice guy who really just wants to do what’s right. Hearing him talk about the changes that he’s made in his life because of the gospel and the person that he wants to become was incredible. He was bearing his testimony at the end of the interview and the spirit was so strong. Being able to participate in that interview was such a blessing.

Earlier in the day yesterday, before the interview, I was reading in The Book of Mormon, in Mosiah 18, the account of Alma baptizing in the waters of Mormon. After Alma had taught the people about “repentance, and redemption, and faith on the Lord,” and asked the people if they were desirous to be baptized, “they clapped their hands for joy, and exclaimed: This is the desire of our hearts.” I know that keeping the commandments and following the example of Jesus Christ gives us that joy. It always has and it always will, and I’m grateful for the chances that I’ve had to see people experience that joy for themselves.


Élder Stark 🇪🇸


1: This archway is the last remaining part of what was once an ancient cathedral


2: We love hills


3: Hill city


4: Clouds


5: Fútbol on Saturday


6: Until next time


Oh Say, What is Truth?

Email 15/5/17

Hello everybody,

This was kind of a weird week, not in a bad way, but definitely an unusual week. On Wednesday night, there was a training meeting for all of the district leaders in the mission at the mission home in Fuengirola. That required leaving Monday morning, taking a 5 hour bus to get to Málaga, and then a 1 hour train ride to get to Fuengirola. We had the meeting that evening, spent the night in the mission home, and then spent the rest of Thursday traveling back to Jaén. It was a super good meeting, and a really fun time as well. On Friday, I woke up pretty sick and had to stay in piso all day on Friday and Saturday. So there wasn’t a lot of time to do a lot of “normal” missionary work unfortunately, but weeks like this just happen.

I mentioned before that Elder Moffat and I are whitewashing this area, and we got here without really that much to walk into. There were a lot of potential investigators, but we basically had to start from scratch. Miraculously, we already have two investigators progressing to baptismal dates. The first one is a teenager named Pablo who has been coming to church every week for a long time, but hasn’t been baptized because his father wouldn’t let him, but he seems to think that his father might change his mind this time around, so we’ll see.

Our other investigator is named Benjamin. He’s from Côte D’Ivoire originally and is here as a refugee. Circumstances made him leave his wife and his two year old daughter behind in his country and he’s here in Spain for a while as he’s trying to get to France or Luxembourg to live more permanently there. We met him because he showed up to church a week ago because one of his friends here recommended it to him. He actually tried to come two weeks ago, but nobody was here because that day was the stake conference in Granada, so I’m super glad he decided to come back another week! It’s been great to teach him. He told us the other day that he already knows that the Book of Mormon is true, and now we’re just helping him on the road to baptism. It’s one of the biggest miracles I’ve seen on my mission.

For whatever reason, I’ve had the hymn, “Oh Say, What is Truth?” In my head this entire week. I love the whole hymn, but I especially like the final verse:

Then say, what is truth? ’Tis the last and the first,

For the limits of time it steps o’er.

Tho the heavens depart and the earth’s fountains burst,

Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst,

Eternal, unchanged, evermore.

There’s always a lot of opposition as a missionary, as a member of the church, a follower of Christ. I am so grateful that the gospel, the “fairest gem,” will indeed “weather the worst” and “endure to the last.” I know in whom and in what I’ve put my trust, and I know that no matter what happens or what fights need to be faced, the truth will always come off conquerer. In the words of President Monson, “We are blessed to have the truth. We have a mandate to share the truth. Let us live the truth, that we might merit all that the Father has for us.” The power of the truth is true power.

I hope that everyone has a great week!


Élder Stark 🇪🇸


1: Distrito de Jaén: Elder Stark, Elder Rigby, Elder Cerna, and Elder Moffat 


2: Another of the district 


3: Jaén, the world capital of olive oil


4-7: Bus ride to Málaga

5:15D 5:15E 5:15F 5:15G

8: Mission home


9: Elder Smith, Elder Jarvis, and me. Elder Jarvis and I were companions for two transfers in Motril, and Elder Smith was comps with him there before I came. Elder Smith also served in my first area in Elche two transfers before I got there.


10: Skype


11: Until next time


Here in Jaen

Email 8/5/17

Hello everybody,

As most transfer weeks are, this week was crazy. After six months of serving in Motril, I’ve left the familiarity of my surroundings there and am now in Jaén! It’s only about a two hour bus ride inland from the Motril coast, but it’s definitely different. The weather here is a lot warmer and drier. Additionally, Jaén is built on the side of a mountain, and there are steep hills EVERYWHERE here, especially in our area. Also, Jaén is one of the highest exporting parts of the world of olive oil, so there are so many olive trees everywhere surrounding the city, and because of that, we’ve had some problems with allergies, but we’re bought some medicine which is helping. Jaén is a super cool place though. It’s got a city feel, but you can still see past the buildings to the mountains. There’s also a ton of parks and green spaces in our area. I love it.

Like I said in my last email, Elder Moffat is my new companion. He’s from Las Vegas and has been out on the mission about six months less that I have. Last week, we thought that we were going to be staying as a part of my last district in Granada, but it turns out that we’re going to be in our own district with the other two Elders here in Jaén. They are Elder Cerna, who finishes his mission in five weeks, and Elder Rigby who’s just arrived to the mission field. So we’re all at pretty different points in the mission. I’ve also been assigned to be the district leader here.

Elder Moffat and I have been working especially hard to get acquainted with our area and the people here because we’re both new here. We don’t really have any investigators, but luckily we inherited a lot of future investigators when we got here and have found even more in the last few days. People seem more open to stopping and talking to us than they were in Motril, even if they’re not interested. Our goal for this coming week is going to be converting some of our futuros into investigators.

I definitely have forgotten the perks of serving in a ward and having the support of so many members behind us. The ward here seems really great and really happy to help us missionaries. There was a baptism here on Saturday; the grown up granddaughter of one of the members in the ward was baptized. I played the piano for it. It was a good opportunity to meet a lot of members and their families. 

Things are going really good so far. I was a bit nervous about this change, given the whitewash situation, but I’m really excited to be in Jaėn. I started reading the Book of Mormon over again recently, and I noticed for the first time how cool of a scripture 1 Nephi 7:12 is. It says, “Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him.” There is such straightforwardness to the gospel. We keep the commandments and we exercise faith, and we will be blessed. I felt a lot of those blessings this week, especially with everything that’s happened in our new area. 


Élder Stark 🇪🇸


1: Last photo with the Granada district. Hermana Woods, Hermana Gentry; Elder Pack, Elder Ramirez, Elder Morgan, Elder Stark, Elder Cox, Elder De La Rosa, Elder Bird


2: Elder Pack and myself and Alberto


3: Last night in Motril


4: The member who was driving me from the bus station to our piso got ticketed for talking on his phone.


5-7: Scenes from Jaén

5:8E 5:8F 5:8G

8: Elder Moffat and I


9-10: More scenes from Jaén



11: Baptism 


12: Until next time


Leaving Motril

Email 1/5/17

Hello everybody,

Yesterday, we received notice of the transfer changes. I’m actually being transferred to another area within my current district (which was a bit of a surprise), to the city of Jaén. It is a few hours inland from where Motril is on the cost. My new companion will be Elder Moffat. All I know about him right now is that he is from Las Vegas, NV, has around six months less time than I do in the mission, and was trained by Elder De La Rosa, the district leader here. Also, we’re whitewashing / reopening that area, so we’ll both be new there. You see, Jaén typically has two companionships (four missionaries) there, but for the last transfer, there’s only been one companionship of three missionaries there. So this will be an adventurous start to this transfer, heading into this new area with a lot of unknowns.

Of course, that means that my six months here in Motril is coming to a close. I’m definitely going to miss it. I’ve met a lot of great people here and have learned a ton from this area. Changes are always bittersweet moments. 

On Sunday (yesterday), we had stake conference. It was in the Granada chapel with all of the members from here, Málaga, Almería, Jaén, etc. in attendance. The chapel and overflow seating areas, which are basically the same size as a chapel and cultural center in a typical church building in the states, were packed full of people. It was quite the different experience from the small 10 people sacrament meetings that I’ve grown accustomed to here. 

It was a really good conference. Elder Patrick Kearon of the seventy (and also president of the Europe area) was there, as well as Elder Karl D. Hirst, a newly called area seventy. Elder Kearon spoke about how to make the messages we heard in the stake conference last “past Tuesday,” or in other words, how to actually put things into practice in order to achieve our goals and become more like the Savior. He was walking around, greeting members before the conference started, so I was able to shake his hand and talk to him for a second, so that was cool.

A bunch of other things happened this week. For starters, we went up to Granada to do intercambios with Elder De La Rosa and Elder Bird. It was a really, really good intercambio. Elder De La Rosa and I had the opportunity to teach about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ to one of their new investigators, and it was probably one of the best lessons I’ve had on my mission. The spirit was so strong, and we were able to commit that investigator to being baptized this month! 

Also, later in the week, Elder Pack and I decided that we wanted to pass by the house of this future investigator we found while street contacting a few months ago. This guy was from Morocco, and every time that we’ve passed by his house in the past, he’s been in Morocco, working. Not this time though! His Spanish isn’t the best, and we can’t really speak Arabic, but luckily we had copies of the Book of Mormon and pamphlets in Arabic, so we were able to start teaching him and his family about the restoration. We’ve only had one lesson with them, but they expressed that they are very excited to learn more about Jesus Christ, so that was super exciting! الكنيسة صحيحة!

I’ve been thinking about the scripture Moroni 10:32 a lot this 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.” It is such a powerful verse and important invitation. The promise here is also incredibly straightforward. As we choose to come unto Christ by following the commandments and making covenants, we are perfected in Him. I love Him. I love this promise. So simple, but so true. Come unto Him.


Élder Stark 🇪🇸


1: The District (feat. The Gibsons who dropped by our district meeting on Tuesday): Hermana Gentry, Hermana Woods, Elder Carter, Elder Bird; Hermana Gibson, Elder Gibson, Elder Cox, Elder Cerna, Elder Stark, Elder Ramirez, Elder Morgan, Elder Pack, Elder De La Rosa


2: Another one of the district


3: Random statue in Granada


4: Also in Granada


5: Nora, (Elder Pack), Celia, and Me


6: With Sid and Eve, from England


7: Sleeping


8: Elder Pack and me with Juan and Jennifer


9: Sunday Sunrise


10: En camino


11: Until next time


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