Email 28/8/17

Hello everybody,

This week flew by, which I attribute to having basically two days dedicated to intercambios here in our area with the other elders and two days which were spent in Málaga due to the Zone Conference.

The intercambio that we had with Elder Craven and Elder Trowell went really well, and we saw a lot of the fruits from our work. On Tuesday evening, as Elder Trowell and I were out proselyting, one of our plans involved trying to figure out where one of our future investigators lives. We have her name and the street she lives on, but not the exact address. Because her street is very short, we figure that we could simply go there and figure out where she lives by knocking doors and talking with her neighbors. When we got to her street and we were trying to figure out where to start looking, I feel impressed to knock on this one door in particular. Thinking it might be her house, I was somewhat disappointed when a man answered and informed us that he was not sure where she lived. However, we kept talking to him and started sharing about what we do as missionaries, and although he was reluctant to talk about religion, he still let us into his house (mostly to show us his sword collection haha). As we kept talking with this guy, Miguel (who’s actually from Amsterdam and speaks English), he opened up to us and was expressing how even though he “has this” and “has that” in his life, he knows that he’s missing something and by the of the conversation, he was even saying that “maybe this thing is God.” He also came to our futbol activity the next day and is going to keep coming every week, so we’re hoping that we’ll be able to keep building a good relationship with him and help him realize the happiness and meaning that a belief in God and Jesus Christ brings into one’s life. We still haven’t found that one future investigator that we were looking for, but it seems like Heavenly Father had different plans for us that night.

Elder Liza and Elder Craven also had a good evening because they taught the Paraguayan family that we met last week, and apparently it went really well, but that’s their story to tell. Elder Craven and I had a good time working together on Wednesday morning. He’s actually going home tomorrow, a week before the normal transfers, for studying motives. That means that Elder Liza, Elder Trowell, and I will be together as a trio for the rest of this transfer, but more on that next week.

And then on Thursday, we left for Málaga because we had to spend the night there as there isn’t a bus that would get us from Jaén to there in time for the conference on Friday morning. I was able to spent a bit of time on a mini-split with Elder Apodaca in their area in the centro of Málaga. It’s a great tourist area (we walked past the birthplace of Pablo Picasso), but apparently not the best for missionary work since most of the people on the streets there don’t actually live there. The conference itself was really good. We talked about a lot of things, with a lot of focus on the importance of Preach My Gospel, and finding people to teach. It was also super fun being able to catch up with a lot of my friends from throughout the mission (s/o to Elder Pack).

This week, we also encountered a lot of hecklers. They were doing things like saying rude things to our faces, pointing and laughing at us from a distance, etc. Although people usually don’t want to stop and listen to our message, they’re polite with their rejections instead of the outright disrespectfulness that we’ve been experiencing. But being rejected and being mocked in the Lord’s service is clearly nothing new. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Moroni expresses his concern to the Lord that, “the Gentiles will mock at these things” (Ether 12:23). The Lord’s response was to give him the assurance that, “fools mock, but they shall mourn” (26) and the reminder that, “faith, hope, and charity bringeth unto me” (28). What this says to me is that the most important thing to do when somebody is being rude or disrespectful is to remember the council of the Master to, “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use and persecute you” (3 Nephi 12:44). Even though it can be surprisingly hard to “turn the other cheek” in such situations, I tried to do so, and in the end, it made me feel much better.

That’s about it. I hope that all of you are doing well as summer ends, school starts, and life continues onward.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Another day in Jaén

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2: Fite me feat. Miguel

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3: Lunch after the intercambio

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4: At the Zone Conference with Elder Placencia and Elder Liza

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5: Clouds

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6: More clouds

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7. Thanks for the picture Francisco

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8: Some food (no, I didn’t eat that whole thing)

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9: Until next time

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