Elder Jared Stark

Serving in the Spain Málaga Mission

Month: November 2017

Work of God

Email 20/11/17

Hello everybody,
This was a stressful week, but a rewarding one, too. Here’s the day-by-day breakdown of what happened:
On Monday, the four missionaries from El Puerto de Santa Maria came to Sanlúcar for preparation day. It was really fun; we played paddle ball and ate Chinese food. Really, it was just a normal Sanlúcar p-day, just with more missionaries. That evening, we went to Antonio Bernal’s house, who’s a menos activo. He had invited a friend, Domingo, to come over to meet with us which was cool. Except he seemed more intentent on proving us wrong than anything, but he was a really nice guy. We’re going to meet the with him again this week.
We had district meeting on Tuesday in Puerto. After arriving back in Sanlúcar, we met with Alfonso and taught him all of Lesson 5. That took a while, but it was a good lesson. We also figured out that our chapel didn’t have any baptismal clothes in it, which is pretty unusual. Additionally, Alfonso is a bigger guy, and finding big white pants in Southern Spain isn’t very easy. Over the next few days, we called up all of the other missionaries in our zone, and nobody had anything. It was pretty stressful trying to figure out where we were going to get the pants, but luckily a member in Jerez was able to lend some to us, so all was well.
I had to go to Chiclana on Wednesday for a medical cita. It took 2.5 hours to get there between the two busses and train we had to catch, and the cita only took 10 minutes. On our way back, we took advantage of the mall being next to the train station in San Fernando and bought The Good Burger. That evening, we had a cita with Antonio. He is a menos activo that we just established contact with who was baptized about 20 years ago and has been inactive most of that time, but he really wants to come back and feel more of the peace that he felt when he was living the gospel. We’re really excited to start working with him. That evening, we also went over to Mike’s house for a bit and had a lesson about repentance with him.
Thursday mostly revolved around a branch Noche de hogar that we had planned. It was about the Book of Mormon, and we did an activity where we gave everyone a peace of paper and a pencil, and told them to write down all of the things in their life that were most important and precious to them. Basically the things they’d want their descendents to know what mattered to them. We then had them hand their papers to us, and we tore them up and threw them on the floor and made the example that that’s basically what we do when we don’t appreciate the scriptures. Un poco fuerte. (A bit strong.) They were written by ancient prophets about the things that mattered the most to them specifically for us. As the prophet Mormón said to us, “Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing” (Mormón 8:35). We then showed clips from the talks from the last General Conference which were about reading the Book of Mormon everyday. I think it went really well.
Something we discovered on Thursday was that the hot water in the chapel wasn’t working, which is a pretty big problem when you’re trying to have a baptism in a few days. Fortunately, one of our members was able to figure out the problem and fix it, but haha, that was a lot of stress.
On Friday morning, we had to go to Puerto because we were still stressing out about where we were going to get pants, and the missionaries in Puerto had some pants that sounded promising, so we went and got them. Later in the evening, we had a little bit of time between citas, so we sat down and started making some calls to some future investigators. There was this guy, Alejandro, who we contacted in the bus station a month ago, and up until Friday, he had never answered our calls. He ended up living really close to where we were calling, so we were able to meet up and have a 15 minute mini-lesson and set something up for next week. He told us he’s made a lot of bad choices in this life and is interested in knowing how to repent and improve his life. Luckily for him, that’s the heart of what we share, The Gospel of Jesus Christ.
On Saturday, we were able to meet with Alba and María for the first time in two weeks. We brought Raquel with us. She is the only (active) YSA (Young Single Adult) in the branch. It was really cool because two of Alba’s sisters, Sarai and Ana were there, and we ended up teaching them, too. So far it’s been difficult to get any of them to come to church, but we’ll keep inviting.
Sunday was a very good day. Elder Kassing and I were in with the Primary children again, helping them out with their rehearsals for the Primary Sacrament Meeting Program. Aurora’s granddaughter, Yissenia, had called us the day before and told us she wanted to come to Primary again which was super cool because she’s only 10, not a member, and her mom is less active. She happily stayed for all three hours of church. After church we had a lunch with Alfonso and the Hermanas from Puerto while we were getting things ready for the baptism. AND THEN ALFONSO WAS BAPTIZED!! It was a really good service, and Alfonso gave a really good testimony about baptism after the ordinance was preformed. I’m so happy for him. Also, Mike and his family came to the baptism!! We had invited him on Wednesday, not really sure if he would actually come, but he did!! They had to come late and leave early, but they were there for the most important part. Then, right after the baptism, I attended the first mission call opening I’ve been to since I was at BYU. It was for Raquel, the aforementioned YSA. She got called to the Córdoba Argentina mission, speaking Spanish (claro), entering the Argentine CCM in February. She’s going to be a great missionary. And then, after all of that, we went to Aurora’s house to give her the sacrament as we do every Sunday. Yissenia was there too (she had also been at the baptism/mission call opening), and was like, “I want to be a sister missionary too one day!” and Aurora said to her, “Well, you know what you have to do to do that: listen to the missionaries and be baptized,” and so now we’re going to start formally teaching her and getting her ready for that important step.
Well, it was a really good week, albeit a really stressful one too. We definitely felt the opposition against Alfonso’s decision to be baptized, but everything worked out. That’s because “the works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught…it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men” (D&C 3:1, 3). I’m happy to be on the Lord’s side and on His errand.
Love,
Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: District P-day
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2: Chichlana vibes
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3: The Good Burger
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4: The playa (beach)
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5: Atlantic Ocean
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6: Future missionary
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7: Alfonso’s baptism
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8: Raquel’s mission call
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9: Until next time
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It is the same

Email 13/11/17

Hello everybody,
Another week in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Here’s an update on how everything’s been going:
On Monday evening, we had our customary Noche de hogar in Aurora’s house. Our investigators Maru and Ángel were there, and we taught a bit about the plan of salvation. Maru and Ángel (once again, they are both just friends of Aurora) both have been reading in the Book of Mormon, and thanks to the help of some of our members, were able to come to church yesterday! I’ve noticed that’s usually the hardest commitment for investigators to keep, so it’s always a good sign when they make that choice to come.
Tuesday was a tiring day. We had planned to meet with Alfonso in the afternoon and finish teaching him the commandments so that he could be ready for his baptismal interview with President Andersen that afternoon. However, during district meeting, he called us and told us that he didn’t think he’d be able to come because his legs were hurting, and he needs to walk a long way to get to the chapel in Sanlúcar. Luckily we worked things out by asking a member to drive him to the chapel, and we were successfully able to finish up what we needed to teach him. He also passed his interview with President, so Alfonso will be getting baptized next Sunday, the 19th! Since we had our interviews with President Andersen right after he had his, we were able to hear how it went. President said he asked Alfonso what was the biggest thing that the missionaries had taught him, and his answer was “Repentance.” He also said, “Never before have I felt so much peace in my life than I do now with the gospel.” We’re so happy for him.
On Wednesday, we had a lesson with Bibi about the importance of the day of rest and coming to church. It was a really good lesson, and she said that she really wants to come to church, but it always seems like something comes up at the last minute that prevents her from going. We all agreed to pray so that she’d be able to organize her life better so that she’ll be able to come to church soon. It seems like she wasn’t able to come yesterday, so we’ll see how it goes this week.
This Friday, something happened that I never ever thought would happen in my mission: WE HAD AN AMERICAN FAMILY HOME EVENING. MIKE DE HOGAR HAPPENED. Because of the nearby Rota naval base, there is an American branch that meets in the chapel in El Puerto de Santa Maria. One of the families from that branch, the Erwins, lives here in Sanlúcar, and they were kind enough to help us out with this. So, on Friday evening, us and the Erwins went to Mike’s house and had a very American family home evening. It was perfect because Mike’s kids are the same age as the Erwin’s, so they were all playing together and we were able to share a lesson about the difference between the Light of Christ / Power of the Holy Ghost / Gift of The Holy Ghost. Mike is really excited to come to Alfonso’s baptism this week in order to “see how it’s done.” Mike de Hogar was a success.
Church yesterday was really good. There’s a new young family that just moved into the branch from the Canarias with two young daughters, so everyone’s excited about that. Elder Kassing and I actually spent the last two hours of church with the primary because I’m now the primary pianist as they prepare for the primary program in a few weeks. There were like seven kids there yesterday, so that’s pretty good. Primary was super fun.
In preparation for the next Noche de Hogar, Elder Kassing and I spent some time yesterday looking through all of the talks from the last General Conference that talked about the Book of Mormon. There’s a lot of them! We were able to make a video of segments from each talk that reference the Book of Mormon and more specifically, the prophetic guidance that we have received to study it every day. I’m grateful for the words of these living prophets in addition to those of the prophets of old that are found in the scriptures. As the Lord Himself declared, “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38).
That’s it. Love you all. Have a great week.
Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Noche de Hogar in Aurora’s house
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2: Otro día (another day)
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3: Dani with Matilde
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4: At the carwash with Hermana Brantley and Elder Moon
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5: Carwash
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6: Domingo and Antonio
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7: Elder Kassing and I performing at the zone conference a few weeks ago
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8: The San Fernando / Sevilla / Córdoba zones
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9: Until next time
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Día por día

Email 6/11/17

Hello everybody,
In 3 Nephi 13:31-34, Jesus Christ taught the following to the recently called twelve disciples:
“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
 
“For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
 
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.
 
“Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof.”
 
Something which I’ve discovered about the mission is that it’s best lived día por día (day by day). I remember at the beginning of my mission, when I was about to leave the CCM in Madrid to go into the mission field, I was nervous about having to cook for myself. It seems so simple and easy to me now, but at that point in my life, I never had to take on that responsibility myself thanks to a loving mother and a meal plan in college. Thus, I was nervous about figuring out how to get it done. But, I remember reading this passage of scripture in the CCM, and feeling a confirmation in my heart that the Lord would help me figure things out. And so it happened that in my first area, we were often fed by members, and day by day, things just seemed to fall in place such that we never had to worry about food.
The principle of living día por día, taking “no thought for the morrow,” has been necessary for my survival in the mission. Being a missionary isn’t easy, and thinking about having two years or six months or however much time left on the mission can often make it seem like an impossible challenge. But, I’ve noticed that just keeping my mind centered on this specific day or even this specific moment has helped me better “seek . . . first the kingdom of God.” So, I’m thankful for the principle which the Savior teaches in this passage of scripture.
Anyways, here is what happened this week, día por día:
We had obtained permission from our mission president to go to Jerez for preparation day with Mike, our American investigator. We went to the mall there, shopped around for a while, ate lunch, and came back. It was fun. That night consisted of traveling to El Puerto de Santa Maria because we had to spend the night there in order to catch an early morning train up to Sevilla.
That’s where we had zone conference on Tuesday. There was a visiting area seventy from France there with his wife, Elder and Sister Bennasar. Also known as the guy from this “I’m a Mormon” video: https://www.mormon.org/matthieu. It was probably one of my favorite zone conferences. Elder Kassing and I had the privilege of participating by performing a musical number in the conference of “I Feel my Savior’s Love,” which was another custom arrangement. He sang and I played the piano. We were approached about doing some sort of musical number a week before, and were luckily able to get this arrangement worked out and ready in time. I wish there was a way to share it with all of you. Tuesday was a good day.
The next day, Wednesday, was a festivo in Spain, and our branch had planned an activity out in the forest! It involved food, sports, and being able to strengthen our relationships with the members. Some of our investigators wanted to come, but weren’t able too, but fortunately, there were a few less active members there that we were able to meet for the first time, so all in all, it went really well.
On Thursday mornings, we typically have weekly planning, and that was no different this week. But what was different was that there is now a new Chapter 8 in Preach My Gospel! We received it in the zone conference on Tuesday. The name of the chapter changed from, “How do I use time wisely?” to “How do I fulfill my missionary purpose?” and changes the process that we use to weekly/daily plan. I really like it. It focuses a lot on goal setting (for teaching investigators, finding new people to teach, ourselves, etc.) and setting plans to fulfill those goals. That evening, we played Fútbol as we normally do on Thursdays.
When we woke up on Friday, it was pouring rain. Really hard. We had planned to go out and visit a lot of members to finish extending them the Book of Mormon challenge that I’ve mentioned in my last emails. After visiting two members, having to go take shelter from a lightning storm, and wading through ankle-deep flooded streets, we wound up in the shop of Bibi, an investigator to dry off bit. We always teach her in her shop, and it’s sometimes difficult to do so because anytime a customer comes in, she has to pause the lesson and go help them, but since it was raining so hard, nobody was coming into her shop, and we had a really great lesson with her centered on the Doctrine of Christ. The big question she asked us right off the bat was, “Why was it necessary for Jesus Christ to suffer and die for our sins,” and we had an excellent discussion about Christ’s mediating role between us and God. She said she really was able to start understanding better the mission of Christ and the need to live by His gospel.
The Elders in El Puerto de Santa Maria have been working to set up a free carwash that we can do every Saturday to give some service and hopefully help them find some new investigators. Accordingly, we spent Saturday morning there helping them, and the only people that came were some members, but it was still great to give some service. That evening, we headed back to the house of María and Alba and Manolo and Álvaro, and had another lesson with them. They wanted us to review some of what we talked about the previous cita, about the restoration. During the lesson, although we hadn’t planned to do so, Elder Kassing and I both felt impressed to teach about baptism and invite them to be baptized. María and Alva both accepted the baptismal date for December 16th! Now we just need to help them get to church….
Sunday was another hectic day, but a good one. Alfonso came to church again, and even stood up in sacrament meeting and bore his testimony! We ended up teaching him a bunch of odds and ends during Sunday school and after church to get him ready for his baptismal interview which will happen tomorrow. There’s still a few things we need to cover before that, and we’ll for sure be on a tight schedule, but it seems like everything should work out OK. Vamos a ver. (We’ll see.) If all goes according to plan, he will be baptized on Sunday, November 19.
Well, that was more or less the week. I just took it dia por día, and everything turned out okay.
Love,
Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Preparation day with Mike
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2: El bosque (The forest)
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3: With the memebrs (members)
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4: Everyone
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5: Uno
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6: Waiting for the lightning to pass
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7: Dani’s painting of the Madrid temple
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8: Until next time
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