Email 16/10/17

Hello everybody,
It’s another transfer week. Elder Kassing and I are both staying here in Sanlúcar. In fact, our entire district is staying the same, so I guess life will just keep going like it has been.
We’re starting to see good progression, bit by bit, with our investigators. Last Monday, we went to Mike’s house. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned him before, but he’s half American and half Spanish, was born in Spain and served in the US Navy, and ultimately considers himself American. What’s funny is that when he talks to his wife (who’s Spanish), she’ll talk to him in Spanish and he’ll respond in English haha. Same with his kids. Anyway, we had invited him to read 2 Nephi 31 during our last cita, and he said he had done it and that he “felt good with God” while he was reading it and interpreted that at first as thinking that he needed not to be baptized, but we had a good lesson about the Doctrine of Christ and I think we cleared things up a bit. We’re going to see him tonight, and what we’re going to be trying to do is setting up a Family Home Evening with a family from the American branch.
We went back to Jamie’s Campo to give some service, and he gave us a ton of Granadas. In other words, grenades, which is what they call pomegranates. It’s also the zone where Elder Stark spent 10 months of his mission. Who would have thought that I’d now be eating it.
We were supposed to meet with Alfonso twice last week, but he kept having to push our citas back, and before we knew it, the week ended and we never saw him. Hopefully this week we will be able to.
Laura, one of the new investigators we got last week, has been progressing really well! We were able to teach her both about The Restoration and The Plan of Salvation, and they were probably some of my favorite teaching opportunities I’ve had a missionary! She’s been doing a great job to keep her commitments to read and pray, and even came to church on Sunday! When we invited her to be baptized, she said she would, but there were two problems. The first being that she’s planning on traveling to Brussels in a little while, but is using one of those unpredictable last-minute bargain airplane ticket websites, so she’s not sure when she’s leaving, how long she’ll be there for, or when she’ll come back. (On a side note, things like this always seem to happen when you find a golden investigator.) The second problem was that there were some things that she said she needed to clear up with God, and we had a great, emotional discussion about the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and forgiveness for our sins. She told us that we helped her clear a lot of things up for her and feel a lot of relief. So pray for Laura, please!
One of the investigators of the Puerto elders, Juan Pablo, was baptized on Sunday. It was a great service, and I’m glad that Elder Kassing and I were able to go. After the baptism, someone had brought a prepackaged desert to share. We quickly figured out that it contained both coffee and alcohol, and we were trying to get it off the desert table before people starting eating it. As we were trying to explain why we shouldn’t be eating this desert, someone objected and said, “But Jesus drank wine.” (“No, it was grape juice.”) We eventually convinced them to stop eating it, but this experience reminded me of the following excerpt, taken from a conference talk that was given in 1916 by Elder Orson F. Whitney. It’s a bit long, but I’ve been trying to figure out how to work this into one of my weekly emails for a while, so here it is:
“Many years ago there came to Utah a learned prelate of [another] church. … He had been to a “Mormon” sacrament meeting and had much to say in criticism of our method of administering the Lord’s Supper, particularly our use of water instead of wine on such occasions. He said it made him shudder when he saw the people sipping the water; and he pointed out the fact, for it is a fact, that according to the Bible, the Savior, when He instituted the sacrament among the Jews, used wine, declaring that it was His blood or that it represented His blood. I could add that the Book of Mormon also states that the Savior used wine when He introduced the sacrament among the Nephites.
“My … friend, whether he knew it or not, had hit upon the great distinguishing feature that differentiates God’s Church from all other churches under the sun–in this, that while they are founded upon books and traditions and the precepts of men, this Church is built upon the rock of Christ, upon the principle of immediate and continuous revelation. The Latter-day Saints do not do things because they happen to be printed in a book [of scripture]. They do not do things because God told the Jews to do them; nor do they do or leave undone anything because of instructions that Christ gave to the Nephites.
 
“Whatever is done [officially] by this Church is because God, speaking from heaven in our day, has commanded this Church to do it. … That is the constitution of the Church of Christ. If we use water instead of wine in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, it is because Christ has so commanded [see D&C 27:1–4].
 
“Divine revelation adapts itself to the circumstances and conditions of men, and change upon change ensues as God’s progressive work goes on to its destiny. There is no book big enough or good enough to preside over this Church.
 
“In saying this, I speak with all due reverence of the written word of God, that which is printed in the books, part of which may be obsolete, having fulfilled its purpose and been laid upon the shelf [such as animal sacrifices; see 3 Nephi 9:19–20], while the other part is virile, full of life, and applicable to our present state–our present degree of development. But even this part must be interpreted aright. No man ought to contend for what is in the books, in the face of God’s mouthpiece, who speaks for Him and interprets His word [see D&C 1:37–38]. To so contend is to defer to the dead letter in preference to the living oracle, which is always a false position.
 
“What the Lord said to the Jews and Nephites 2,000 years ago or what He said to the Latter-day Saints 50 or 60 years ago has no force whatever at this time unless it agrees with present-day revelation, with the Lord’s most recent instructions to His people through His chosen or appointed servants or servant; and they who ignore this fact are liable to get into trouble.”
 
I love what that says so much, as modern day revelation is at the heart of the Church and the message that we share as missionaries. God still talks through prophets. We actually had the opportunity to participate in a meeting yesterday that was held for the entire Europe Area that was presided over by Elder Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Aside from a ton of technical difficulties that we were having with the broadcast, it was really, really good. He talked a lot about believing in miracles. It was like a nice, bonus session of general conference.
Well, that’s it. I love you all.
Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Playing video games?
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2: Or looking up Mormon Messages?
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3: It was Elder Cox’s birthday
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4: The district: Hermana Matsu, Elder Cox, Elder Moon, Elder Stark, Hermana Brantley, and Elder Kassing
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5: Globos
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6: Working hard or hardly working?
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7: Until next time
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