Elder Jared Stark

Serving in the Spain Málaga Mission

Month: September 2017

On Tour

Email 25/9/17

Hello everybody,

I think this is my 70th weekly email that I’ve sent out. I wonder if anyone still reads these. But if not, it doesn’t matter, because I’ve written in anyways, and even if it just sits in your inbox for the rest of eternity, doesn’t matter either because I’ve done my part.

Well, on Tuesday, we had a Zone meeting in San Fernando, which continued on our streak of having to get up early and travel places for the meetings and conferences that was going on the previous week. At the conference, Elder Kassing and I preformed an arrangement of “I Need Thee Every Hour” and “Nearer My God To Thee” that I made. He sang and I played the piano. After the meeting, I was able to eat the Dominos all you can eat pizza buffet for the first time since February, so that was pretty nice. 

On Tuesday evening, we had a nice noche de Hogar with three of our members and two investigators, Maru and Angel. (That makes it sound like they have some sort of relationship, but they don’t — they’re just two friends of one of the members.) We taught them about the restoration, and it went really well. Noche de hogars are the best!

At one point this week, a member fed us “menudo,” which is a dish where the main ingredient is tripe. Or in other words, cow stomach. It was actually pretty decent, as long as I wasn’t thinking too much into it.

On Saturday, we went over to El Puerto de Santa Maria because the hermanas there were having a baptism! Apparently what happened was they had invited Manuel, their investigators, a few weeks ago to be baptized on the 23rd and asked him to think about and pray for that date to accept the invitation, because I guess he hesitated accepting it or something. Anyways, they had a lesson with this past Wednesday, and he surprised them by asking, “so, am I still getting baptized this Sunday?” So, they organized a baptism for him really quickly, and Manuel was baptized on Saturday! Elder Kassing and I were the witnesses for the baptism. There’s nothing better than a surprise baptism.

Elder Kassing and I also preformed our musical number there, and after the service, one of the Zone leaders asked us to play it at one of their upcoming baptisms, and we’re going to do it in sacrament meeting here sometime too, so we were joking around that we’re just going to change our assignments and go on tour now, but I guess we are only a one hit wonder, so maybe that’s not very wise yet.

Also this week, we had a cita with a member, an older man named Antonio, who was baptized a few years ago. He told us the story of how he was introduced to the restored gospel and why he decided to let the missionaries in to talk to him. He said that one day, he was walking down the street in Sanlúcar, and saw two Mormon missionaries walking down the street at a normal, brisk, missionary pace. Also walking down the street was an older lady who’s grocery bags suddenly broke. Even though the missionaries had already passed her some time ago, they turned around, and helped her out with her things. This simple act of service is what convinced Antonio to listen with the missionaries when they showed up on his doorstep sometime later. Obviously, we don’t serve other people to look good in the eyes of men, but miracles certainly do come from serving and helping others. 

As the hymn “Have I Done Any Good?” says:

Have I done any good in the world today?

Have I helped anyone in need?

Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?

If not, I have failed indeed.

Has anyone’s burden been lighter today

Because I was willing to share?

Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?

When they needed my help was I there?

Then wake up and do something more

Than dream of your mansion above.

Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,

A blessing of duty and love.

Don’t forget to serve! Also, don’t forget to watch General Conference this weekend. It’d be kind of stupid not to, for as the Lord has said, “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38), and who wouldn’t want to be taught by the voice of the Lord?

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Elder Kassing and I saying goodbye to Hermana Gibson, who went home this week

9:25A

2: La Zona De San Fernando 

9:25B

3: Sunset

9:25C

4: Not quite the full mission, but Elder Holland is in this picture 

9:25D

5: Here I am

9:25E

6: This is the full mission, just without Elder Holland (we took a group picture before and after the conference because a number of missionaries arrived late, but Elder Holland couldn’t stick around for the second set of photos)

9:25F

7: That’s me 

9:25G

8: Chillin 

9:25H

9: Until next time 

9:25I

“I am famous for going crazy”

Email 18/9/17

Hello everybody,

I think that I always start my emails saying that it was a crazy week, but this week was indeed an insane one. So I’ll just kind of go through it day by day.

On Monday, we decided to go to Él Puerto de Santa Maria and have a district preparation day. Puerto is an interesting place because there’s an American Naval base really close by, and a couple thousand of Americans that live in the city. In fact, Puerto is home to what I believe is the only English-speaking church unit in Spain, which is the military branch. We mostly just played fútbol and ate at Burger King and emailed.

Tuesday was mostly a normal day. We had a noche de Hogar with a member and a few of her friends who want to know more about the church, and it doesn’t get much better than doing missionary work with the members.

On Wednesday, we met with Alfonso, who is an investigator. He had been meeting with the missionaries some time ago, stopped for whatever reason, but had recently called them back up desiring to meet again. We were able to have a super good lesson with him about the Plan of Salvation, and he accepted a baptismal date for October 7th! So let’s hope that keeps going well!

On Thursday, we had to go back to Puerto to have our district meeting. Then on Friday, we had to go back to Puerto for a third time that week. I just realized that three times is a lot of times to go to Puerto in a week. On Friday, we spent the night there so that we could wake up super early on Saturday morning to catch a bus to go to Málaga because of our mission conference with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles!

It was such a blessing to be able to have an Apostle of the Lord visit us, and it was also super cool to have the entire Spain Málaga mission together — all 180+ missionaries — for the first time in years. To give a recap of what happened at the meeting, Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy (and President of the Europe Area) was also there with his wife, and they both shared some remarks with us. Looking back on my notes, they both talked a lot about love and how, in the words of Elder Johnson, “the real power of the Gospel of Christ is in love and in truth.” Then, we were able to hear from Elder Holland. The subject line of my email is a comment he made referring to what generally happens when he visits missions with problems with disobedience or other things. Haha. Luckily, he said that he his eyes we have “a good and loyal mission” and that “the mission seems in good shape,” so we were spared from the caña de Holland. I mean, he only pounded the pulpit four times, so that’s a pretty good sign, right? His remarks touched on a lot of the things related to the importance of sharing the gospel in preparation for the second coming of Jesus Christ, working hard and “swimming ’till the last stroke” of the mission, and the importance of teaching about revelation! We also all got to shake his hand. It’s a shame that this Conference only lasted two hours because the spirit was in such a rich supply there, but it’ll certainly be an experience that I will never forget.

Then yesterday, Sunday, we had to get up early again because it was stake conference here in the Cádiz stake. This involved taking another bus ride, this time to San Fernando. One of our eternagators, Moisés, came with us mostly because he has a man crush on the Stake President. Unfortunately, due to some disagreements he’s had with some of the members, things ended up going super badly and now we’re kind of worrying about how to fix things up, but things always end up working themselves out.

That’s all from Spain for this week. I love you all.

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: District preparation day in BK

9:18A

2: Always clouds

9:18B

3: Atlantic Ocean

9:18C

4: Party bus

9:18D

5: Not so party bus

9:18E

6: Las preguntitas: Hermana Brantley, Elder Kassing, Hermana Gibson (who was in my district in Elche), Elder Moon, Elder Cox (who was in the Granada district with me), and Elder Stark

9:18F

7: Stake conference with Moisés

9:18G

8: Until next time

9:18H

Roca de Eternidad

Email 11/9/17

Hello everybody,

Transfer weeks are always a crazy blur of saying goodbye to the familiar places and faces and being thrown into the midst of a brand new world. As stressful as it can be, more than anything, it’s exciting to be able to be somewhere new and to have new experiences. 

This week, I left Jaén and am now here in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, in the Cádiz province in the southwest corner of Spain, on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s part of the San Fernando Zone in the mission (I realize I may have said San Francisco Zone in my last email, but that’s wrong haha). It’s good to be back in a pueblo. This is a super Spanish place, like everything just has a super Spanish feel to it. Everything here is also super flat, and I am not missing the hills in Jaén. This part of Spain is also known for having the súper think Andalucian accent of death where they basically cut the last half off of every word, but I’ve been managing pretty well so far. The branch here also seems super good, with about 25-30 active members, which is much nicer than the last branch I was in (Motril) that had like six active members haha. I’ve been able to meet a lot of the members, investigators, and other people that we’re going to be working with here, and all in all, it seems like a great area. My companion is Elder Kassing from Gilbert, Arizona, and he just finished up his training, so I’m greenie-breaking him. (On a side note, my greenie-breaker, Elder Catmull, who is also from Gilbert, finished his mission this week, so it was nice being able to talk to him for a bit before he left.) So, it seems like it should be a good transfer.

Well, there’s not much to say than that. Sorry that this email isn’t too specific, I’m typing this on a bus to El Puerto de Santa Maria to have our preparation day with our district, and I’m getting kind of dizzy. I’ll just say that this week has been significantly less stressful than the past few, so I can’t really complain. Also, it seems like the promise found in Helaman 5:12 is true:

“And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Goodbye, Pablo and Pablo

9:11A

2: Goodbye, snake 

9:11B

3: Goodbye, familia Castro

9:11C

4: Goodbye, Barrio de Jaén

9:11D

5: Goodbye, Carlos

9:11E

6: Goodbye, familia Saborido

9:11F

7: Goodbye, Elder Trowell and Elder Liza

9:11G

8: Hello, Sanlúcar

9:11H

9: Hello, lawn

9:11I

10: Hello, sun

9:11J

11: Hello, castle

9:11K

12: Hello, Antonio and Elder Kassing

9:11L

13: Until next time

9:11M

Surprise Update

Email 4/9/17

Hello everybody,

This was an unusual week. On Tuesday, we said goodbye to Elder Craven, who was going home a week early in order to be able to start college in time. Because transfers aren’t until this Wednesday, Elder Trowell has been with us since Tuesday and will be with us until his new companion, Elder Newman, comes on Wednesday. It’s been interesting being in a trio, even if only for a week. Contacting and teaching were pretty awkward at first, but we quickly got into the swing of things, and the week went by fast trying to balance our time between the two areas here in Jaén. 

Speaking of transfers, I’ll be staying in Jaén for a fourth transfer, and it’ll be my second one with Elder Liza. When this transfer ends in six weeks, I will have been in Jaén for roughly six months, and in the Granada zone for a few weeks shy of a year. ¡Que locura! 

What’s something nice is that summer is finally ending: the temperature has been significantly cooler this week, people are coming back from months-long vacations, school is starting up again, the university students are coming back to town, and everything is going back to “normal.” The chapel yesterday was the fullest that I think I’ve ever seen it. I also was able to translate for a family from Germany who was visiting in order to drop their daughter off for the semester at the university. But anyways, I’m just hoping that some of this normality will be helping our missionary work a bit. We don’t have any progressing investigators right now, and the investigators that we do teach have been a bit flojo recently. For example, we haven’t been able to go to Úbeda to see Olga for a month, Bernardo sent us a text message on Tuesday telling us that he’s becoming an international truck driver and that he won’t be able to keep meeting with us, Ambrosio went out of town for a while, and Shirley and her family too, and we haven’t been able to find any new people to teach for a while. So yeah, hopefully things will pick back up again.

This was also an incredibly hard week for me personally, and I spent the better part of the week walking around as if I had a very dark cloud hovering over my head. In fact, by the time Thursday rolled around, I was so exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually, that I could barely get out of bed, and spent 24 hours straight sleeping. I felt better after that, but it was definitely like I had 15 months of unrelieved mission stress weighing me down. But, this is a new week. Hopefully something will change. As the third verse of the hymn “Lead, Kindly Light” says:

So long thy pow’r hath blest me, sure it still

Will lead me on

O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till

The night is gone.

And with the morn those angel faces smile,

Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!

Heavenly Father is always there helping. He’s always there, in the good and especially the bad. He’s always helped me before, and there’s no reason why he would stop now.

Surprise update: After having written this whole email (and spending 40€ on groceries for the transfer), I got a surprise call from President Andersen this morning telling me that I’m being transferred to Sanlúcar de Barrameda in the San Francisco Zone. So effectively half of my email from today can be ignored, but now you all know. I’m just too lazy to go rewrite what I’ve already written, so, sorry. More on this next week.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Got caught in a downpour last preparation day 

9:4A

2: Preparation day 

9:4B

3: Bye bye Elder Craven

9:4C

4: Three man district

9:4D

5: Another day on the job 

9:4E

6: Fútbol 

9:4G

7: Out of the City

9:4F

8: Until next time

9:4H

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