Elder Jared Stark

Serving in the Spain Málaga Mission

Month: May 2017

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!

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

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

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2: Another of the district 

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3: Jaén, the world capital of olive oil

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4-7: Bus ride to Málaga

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8: Mission home

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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.

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10: Skype

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11: Until next time

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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. 

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

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

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2: Elder Pack and myself and Alberto

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3: Last night in Motril

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

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5-7: Scenes from Jaén

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8: Elder Moffat and I

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9-10: More scenes from Jaén

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11: Baptism 

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12: Until next time

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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.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

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

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2: Another one of the district

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3: Random statue in Granada

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4: Also in Granada

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

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6: With Sid and Eve, from England

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7: Sleeping

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8: Elder Pack and me with Juan and Jennifer

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9: Sunday Sunrise

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10: En camino

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11: Until next time

5:1K

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