Elder Jared Stark

Serving in the Spain Málaga Mission

Month: June 2017

Happy Tuesday

Email 27/6/17

Hello everybody,

For the second time on my mission, I am having preparation day on a Tuesday. We changed it this week for two reasons. First, because there is a museum here in Jaén that we wanted to go to, but as with most museums in Spain, it is closed on Monday.

Second, we had interviews with President Andersen down in Granada yesterday. Interviews with him are always so good, so yesterday was a great day.

Last Tuesday, I turned 20 years old! It was a great birthday, especially because it was Elder Rigby’s 20th birthday as well. We celebrated by eating something like four different cakes, going over to the Bishop’s house for lunch to eat caracoles (snails), and then having a nice Kebab dinner later in the day. Needless to say, we were absolutely destroyed by food by the end of the day haha. It was a really fun day.

For the rest of the week we kept ourselves pretty busy with the pretty typical missionary work rhythm of finding and teaching. It was a tiring week, but we put some pretty solid work in. A big miracle that happened this week involved the dad of our teenaged investigator, Pablo. When Elder Moffat and I got to Jaén, we were told that because of some negative experiences that Pablo’s dad had with the missionaries in the past, it was better if we didn’t pass by their house. Up until this week, we hadn’t ever seen or talked to his dad, but we decided to go over and see what happened. We ended up staying there and talking to him for well over an hour, and hopefully helped to fix any misunderstandings that he had between him and any other missionaries in the past. Everything went just about as well as it could have. 

I was reading Elder Hale’s General Conference talk this week, “Becoming a Disciple of Jesus Christ” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/04/becoming-a-disciple-of-our-lord-jesus-christ?lang=eng). While I was reading this talk, I was thinking about His life and His example. He was the perfect example of love, charity, patience, virtue, forgiveness, and every other positive attribute that exists. In the words of Elder Hales, “Many people hear the word disciple and think it means only ‘follower.’ But genuine discipleship is a state of being. This suggests more than studying and applying a list of individual attributes. Disciples live so that the characteristics of Christ are woven into the fiber of their beings, as into a spiritual tapestry.” Something that I learned this week was that “developing Christlike attributes” isn’t done by going down a list and checking things off, but rather striving to emulate the Savior in the little things day by day. I love Him, and I’m grateful to be one of His missionaries.

I hope you all have a fantastic week!

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: District Birthday Picture of Elder Craven, Elder Stark, Elder Rigby, and Elder Moffat.

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2: Another one

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3: District meeting can’t wait even for birthdays

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4-5: Jaén ❤ 

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6: “Leave If You Can” Street

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7: Another day 

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8: With Pablo and his parents 

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9: Until next time

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100+

Email 19/20/17

Hello everybody,

First off, thank you to all of my friends and family who sent me cards for my birthday tomorrow. I wish I could thank all of you personally, every card meant a lot to me. The 20th will be a golden birthday indeed! 

This was another crazy week. As I mentioned in my email last week, I was in Málaga/Fuengirola on Sunday/Monday in order to renew my residency. It’s a two part process, so I’ll have to go back in a few weeks, which is great, because it was super fun to be with all of those missionaries, and also super important to follow the law.

This week was transfers week. Elder Cerna was finishing up his mission and going back home to Peru. The new missionary here is Elder Craven, who is going home at the end of the next transfer. He arrived in Jaén on Tuesday night, and actually spent the night with us before meeting up with Elder Rigby. 

Also on Tuesday night, Elder Moffat and I were teaching Benjamín, our recent convert. Somehow, the topic of speaking English got brought up, and he said to us, in a perfect accent, “Actually, I speak English better than I speak Spanish.” That absolutely blew our minds because we had been teaching him for the past six weeks in Spanish haha. Benjamin is doing super great. Yesterday, he received the Aaronic priesthood! The unfortunate thing is that he’s probably leaving Jaén this week for Luxembourg, but we’ve been in contact with the missionaries and bishop there, so we’re hoping for a smooth transition for him.

There was also an American family visiting Jaén on vacation at Sacrament Meeting on Sunday, and I was able to translate for them. Super nice people! It’s the little things like that which make the mission nice.

One big thing this week that we did was starting the “big list” with some of the members in our area. It’s an activity where the missionaries help the members come with a list of 100+ names of friends, family, etc., have them pray about specific people from that list that they could share a gospel message with, and then we work with the members to help them do that. There’s no better way to do missionary work than through the members!

On Saturday, there was a Stake Super Saturday for all of the young men/women and young single adults in the Granada chapel. In the morning, all of the missionaries in the Zone went to Granada to help out with a missionary activity. We all got assigned to us a few of the jóvenes/JAS, and then left to contact, knock doors, etc. for about two hours. The people I worked with included an 18 year old about ready to receive his mission call, and two investigators (one of them being our investigator Pablo). Everyone a missionary!

Also, it has been getting up to at least 100°F almost every day, and the air conditioning in our piso doesn’t work! But hey, no pasa nada, right?

Every day, I’ve been trying to read a talk from General Conference during personal study. It’s really helped me increase my testimony of the importance of modern dah profeta. We read in 2 Nephi 26:8 the following: “But behold, the righteous that hearken unto the words of the prophets, and destroy them not, but look forward unto Christ with steadfastness for the signs which are given, notwithstanding all persecution–behold, they are they which shall not perish.” Read the scriptures! Follow the prophets! Heed their counsel! It’s that simple.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Until this time (oops)

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2-3: (Almost everyone) from my CCM group in the mission office: Hermana Trujillo, Hermana Richardson, Hermana Clark, Hermana Wood; Elder Krummenacher, Elder Hollowell, Elder Stark

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4: With Elder Cerna, Elder Rigby, and Elder Moffat

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5: Elder Cerna went home 😭 

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6: El Corte Inglés

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7: Jaén

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8: Missionary activity in Granada

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9: Elder Moffat and I with Benjamin after he received the priesthood

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10: I love you all!

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11: Until next time

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Un Traslado, Un Bautismo

Email 12/6/17

Hello everybody,

This week a million things happened. I’m actually in Málaga right now (more accurately,  the city of Fuengirola) at the mission office to renew my residency. Almost everyone from my CCM group is here too, so that’s really cool since I haven’t seen some of them since we got to the mission field almost a year ago! I left yesterday afternoon from Jaén, spent the night in Málaga, and I’ll be getting back to Jaén tonight. Best preparation day ever!

So, the biggest thing that happened this week was that Benjamin was baptized and confirmed as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! It was crazy getting everything ready for the baptism. President Andersen came to Jaén on Wednesday in order to interview him, we had the baptismal service on Saturday, and he was confirmed in church on Sunday. Benjamin is the coolest guy ever. Some of you may remember that the way we met him was because he showed up to sacrament meeting all by himself our first Sunday in Jaén. He’s actually moving to Luxembourg next week, so it was a miracle that everything went super well and he was able to be baptized here. During the baptism, when he gave his testimony, he said, “When I came to Spain, I didn’t have a family; now I do. When I go to Luxembourg, I’ll have one there too.” 

Juan, who was baptized a few weeks ago, also got the priesthood yesterday. More miracles!

On Friday, we had a ward activity with a barbecue. For some reason, the ward assigned the full time missionaries to be in charge of the games for the kids, so we spent some time during the week designing and setting up an obstacle race for the kids to get through. The activity and the obstacle course turned out super well, there were a lot of non members and menos activos who came too, so maybe we’ll be able to start working with them soon, too.

Also on Friday, Elder Moffat and I were driven by a member named Carlos to a pueblo called Acaudate to meet with our investigator named Bernardo. We taught him about the plan of salvation. It was a good lesson, and he had so many questions about everything, which is really cool, because questions mean that they want to learn! Things that happened in that lesson included the Jehova’s Witnesses stopping by to deliver a magazine, some guy without a shirt on joining us for about half and hour, and a food delivered truck coming, so all in all, it lasted about two hours. He’s doing really well though, he’s been reading the Book of Mormon and praying. Now he just needs to come to church!

Probably a million other things happened this week that I’m forgetting to write about, but that’s just the mission life! Also, Elder Moffat and I are going to be staying together in Jaén for another transfer.

On Sunday, I gave a talk in church about the joy that comes from seeing changes in the gospel. I talked about the story of Alma and Alma the younger and both of their conversion processes and the profound joy that they both experienced at the end of their respective conversions. I also talked about the joy that Alma, the father, must have felt when his son turned from someone trying to destroy the church into the strong and powerful leader that he would later become. 

As missionaries, we have the privilege of not only helping other people change, but seeing ourselves change as well. D&C 18:15-16 says, “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!” That first soul is our own soul. Accepting the gospel into our lives will always bring joy, equal with helping othesr make changes in their lives to qualify to have the same level of joy.

Have a good week!

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Cathedral in our area

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2: I’m going to Chile!

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3. Out and about

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4. We made a cake for Benjamin

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5. Accidentally went to Córdoba 

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6: Ward party

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7: Sunset

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8: Another Sunset

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9: Benjamín got baptized! 

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10: Another one from the baptism!

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11: Us and the other Elders and Jesus, the ward mission leader when Benjamin was confirmed. 

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Living After the Manner of Happiness

Cathedral

Cathedral

Email 5/6/17

Hello everybody,

This was a tiring week, but a good week. Last week for preparation day, we hiked to the top of the hill that overlooks Jaén to the Castillo de Santa Catalina. It was a really fun hike, and it felt nice to get out of the city for a little. We only got a little sunburnt and we were only a little sore for the next day or two, but it was definitely one of the most fun preparation days I’ve had in a while.

On Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, we had our intercambios with Elder Cerna and Elder Rigby. It was the first time on my mission of hosting an intercambio, where the other elders came to our area and there were twice the number of feet on the ground in out area. It was a really good intercambio, just a really solid afternoon and morning of work.  Because of the extra push from the intercambio, this week we actually got the largest number of future investigators that I’ve ever received in any one week on my mission.

I feel very blessed, because the work here has still been going along really well. There’s this one future investigator named Bernardo who lives in a pueblo 45 minutes outside of Jaén. We’ve been trying to stop by and see him this whole transfer, but things didn’t work out to us getting out there until this week. On Friday morning, we had Carlos, the Elders Quorum President, drive us out. The lesson with him went really, really well, and we set a baptismal date with him for the 22 of July. The best part is that he seems super ready to do his part and keep his commitments, so we’ll see how things go!

Benjamin has been doing well too, except this week he was pretty stressed about his family at home and wasn’t sleeping well, but he has so much faith that everything will work out. We finished teaching him about the commandments, and all we need to have is President Andersen come out to interview him, and then he can be baptized!

Also, we’ve had a baptismal date set for the 8th of July for a while with a 14-year-old investigator named Pablo. He’s basically a member already, but his parents haven’t consented to let him be baptized, but it seems like now they’re going to let him! So we are going to start teaching him and preparing him to be baptized this week!

I was reading this week in The Book of Mormon, in 2 Nephi 5. This is the chapter where the righteous Nephites separate themselves from their wicked brethren, the Lamanites. In verse 27, Nephi makes the remark that his people “lived after the manner of happiness.” When I read that, I went back through the chapter and identified four things that the Nephites were doing which permitted them to live in such a matter. They were observing the commandments of the Lord (verse 10), having the scriptures (12), temple worship (16), and being industrious (17). These still are the things that help us live in a manner of righteousness. It’s amazing how the gospel, and the things that bring true happiness, never change, isn’t it?

I love you all, thank you so much for your continued prayers and support from afar.

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Above the city a little

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2: The other Elders’ area

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3: Elder Moffat, Elder Cerna, Elder Rigby, and I

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4: We hiked to the top of the castle, and realized we didn’t bring money to pay for the admission.

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5: Views

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6. Bird’s Eye

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7: Where we live 📍

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8: Castillo de Santa Catalina 

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9. The edge of town

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9: D&C 4:4….El campo ya blanco está

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11: La 🌙 

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12: Castillo from down below 

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13: Driving in Spain

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14: Until next time 

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