Jared Stark

I do a lot of things

Month: December 2017

Shepherds

From our Christmas morning skype call

From our Christmas morning skype call

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Email 25/12/17

Hello everybody,
Merry Christmas! It has been a very enjoyable second (and last) Christmas season on the mission, and I hope that all of you had happy holidays too.
We’ve been able to celebrate Christmas a few different times this week. On Tuesday and Wednesday, we were in Sevilla for the Christmas zone conference/talent show. That was a really enjoyable time. Then, last night, we went with all of the Hermanas in Puerto to the Fry’s house, one of the American families here associated with the naval base. We read the nativity story, we sang, we ate desserts, and we played jumbo jenga. Today, we’re spending the day in Puerto, and there’s another American family that invited us all over for dinner tonight. This was a very good place to be during the holidays, haha.
Our missionary work this week went really well too. Mike came back from the United States, so we’ve started back up with him again. Also, in our weekly Noche de Hogar with Ángel, Yessenia, and Maru, we talked about the importance of baptism, and established the Fecha of February 3 for all three of them! This is amazing because the last time we invited Maru to be baptized a month or two ago, she just kind of laughed it off, but this time, she was serious about it and seemed more dedicated to do her part in order to feel ready for that day. What was also amazing was that morning, I had the idea to invite one of the members, Virginia, to the Noche de Hogar, but before I got around to calling her, I got distracted by something and forgot about it. Well, right as the Noche de hogar was beginning, who should knock on the door but Virginia? She had decided to “randomly” stop by Aurora’s house while walking her dog, and ended up staying for the entire lesson and played a key part in it. That was a nice confirmation that the Lord is definitely in charge of His work.
Something sad happened this week in Chipiona. After being able to teach Carmen, Mari Carmen, and Jessica about the restoration this week, we were excited to see them again. However, when we showed up to their house in Chipiona, we found a note on the door that said that Mari Carmen’s husband found out that we had been stopping by to teach them, and he didn’t like that at all. So, they politely asked us to stop coming. It’s an understandable situation, but still sad. What help make up for it was meeting a Spanish-American family that runs an American bakery there and also this one other future that we got. So even though there are bumps in the road, the Lord’s work always progresses.
Yesterday in Sacrament meeting, I was assigned to give one of the talks. Here is the gist of what I shared:
Part of the nativity story is when Christ’s birth was announced by an angel to the shepherds. Luke 2:8-20 relates the following account:
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
 
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
 
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
 
“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
 
“And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.”
 
All week, I was thinking about why these shepherds were chosen to be the first to hear about the birth of Jesus. I have come to a few conclusions for why this could be so. They relate to the traits these shepherds had that we should emulate and to how Christ is, in fact, “The Good Shepherd.”
I believe that one reason why this angel appeared to those shepherds was because they were humble enough to value the news that was being given to them. This is shown through their immediate response to go into Bethlehem to search out Christ. Their response wasn’t postponed; they didn’t say, “How neat. We’ll have to go check that out sometime.” Rather, “they came with haste, and found…the babe…” Their humility and faith in the Savior was shown through their immediate response. Surely this is a trait to be emulated.
Additionally, “the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.” I think that one reason why they were glorifying the Lord is because they recognized their dependence on Him. This is attribute that comes through humility. We read about this in Alma 26:12, which says: “Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.” Thus, what we can learn from these shepherds is to remember to glorify and praise God for His strength, which permits us to do all things.
Furthermore, the shepherds “made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.” They wanted everyone to know about the Savior who had come to save the world. Similarly, Preach My Gospel teaches that, “As your understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ grows, your desire to share the gospel will increase. You will feel, as Lehi did, the ‘great … importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth’ (2 Nephi 2:8).” We can see this principle clearly manifested in the examples of these shepherds.
However, the main reason why these shepherds are good examples to emulate is because they were emulating the best example of all: that of The Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. In John 10:14-15, He Himself declared, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.” The role of The Good Shepherd is further explained in 1 Nephi 22:25:“And he gathereth his children from the four quarters of the earth; and he numbereth his sheep, and they know him; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd; and he shall feed his sheep, and in him they shall find pasture.”
President Uchtdorf shared the following about The Good Shepherd:
“To me, the parable of the lost sheep is one of the most hopeful passages in all of scripture.
 
Our Savior, the Good Shepherd, knows and loves us. He knows and loves you.
He knows when you are lost, and He knows where you are. He knows your grief. Your silent pleadings. Your fears. Your tears.
 
It matters not how you became lost–whether because of your own poor choices or because of circumstances beyond your control.
 
What matters is that you are His child. And He loves you. He loves His children.
 
Because He loves you, He will find you. He will place you upon His shoulders, rejoicing. And when He brings you home, He will say to one and all, “Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.”
 
That is the Good Shepherd. That is who’s birth we are celebrating today. God gave the world the greatest gift through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ gave the world His greatest gift through his humble submission to the Father’s will. The greatest gift we can give to Them is our hearts. And that’s what Christmas is all about.
Love,
Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: 100 missionaries singing in Carrefour
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2: Elder Jarvis
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3: Chipiona
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4: Christmas cinnamon rolls
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5: Christmas fire (Hermana Pinkney, Hermana Bočková, Hermana Matsu, Hermana Walker, Elder Stark, Elder Clark)
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6: Christmas jenga
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7: Christmas tree
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8: Until next time
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Alfonso was confirmed

Email 18/12/17

Hello everybody,
Here we are again.
Finally on Tuesday, we were able to get in contact with Alfonso. As it turned out, the reason why he couldn’t come to church last week was because he was in the hospital due to a stomach ulcer! Fortunately, it’s all better now. And even more better, he was confirmed as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints yesterday! I was given the opportunity to be the one to carry out the confirmation, which was a neat experience. Alfonso is so excited to be a member and is looking forwards to receiving the priesthood soon. Actually, we were teaching him about the priesthood in Gospel Principles class, and he was asking when he’d be able to receive the Aaronic Priesthood. We told him that it would surely happen soon, but we weren’t sure what the branch president’s timetable was going to be. Well, as soon as we had finished the lesson, our branch president popped his head through the door and said, “Alfonso, you’re getting the priesthood today,” so we were like, “Good thing we just had that lesson haha.” But it turns out that they need to wait until his records are in the church’s system to give him the priesthood, so that’ll happen soon.
We were able to give some service to the members this week through decorating the chapel for the branch Christmas dinner, which happened on Friday evening. We were also inviting all of our investigators and other people to come. There’s this guy named Fernando that runs a little kiosko here. He’s Argentine, but lived in Seattle for a while, and speaks decently good English. He has an English Book of Mormon, and sometimes we stop by to read a chapter out if it with him (we also discovered that he really didn’t have a good understanding of what the Book of Mormon is, so we’re going to be working on that). Anyways, we invited him to come, and he did, along with his wife and son! While he was introducing himself to the members, he said he was “practically Mormón,” so maybe we can help him become actually Mormón now. Our investigator, Bibi, and her husband came too, so the activity was good.
Something else cool that happened this week was in our pueblo, Chipiona. There’s this family consisting of a grandmother (Carmen), daughter (Mari Carmen) and granddaughter (Jessica) who have been somewhat investigating for a while. In other words, every time we would go to Chipiona (usually once a week), we’d stop by their house and usually just be able to share a quick message in the doorstep or something to whichever one of them happened to be home. Well, this past week we were finally able to go in the house and teach them the full restoration lesson, to all three of them. That was great. It’ll be great to go back and see if they have been able to read and pray about the Book of Mormon and how that went for them.
And those were pretty much the exciting highlights of the week, everything else was pretty normal. We had a good lesson in Elder’s Quorum yesterday about following Jesus Christ and following His perfect example. That includes trying to do what he would do, trying to say what he would say, and following all of the commandments He has given us, including His perfect gospel of faith, repentance, and baptism. Here’s a scripture that was especially applicable to this week seeing as though Alfonso received the Gift of the Holy Ghost yesterday as part of the confirmation:
“And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son. And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do” (2 Nephi 31:11-12)
Love,
Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Feliz Navidad
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2-3: El distrito de la Navidad: Hermana Pinkney, Hermana Bočková, Hermana Matsu, Hermana Walker, Elder Clark and Elder Stark
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4: Plaza de toros
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5: Antonio at it again
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6: The Branch Christmas Dinner
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7: Alfonso after being confirmed
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8: Until next time
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Another week. Another email.

Email 11/12/17

Hello everybody,
This was a pretty basic week. Besides a trip to Jerez on Friday morning for Consejo de la Zona, nothing too out of the ordinary happened. There were two festivos this week and it seems like people were just a tiny bit more flaky because of those. Nevertheless, we have helped move the work of the Lord forward a week more.
Our investigators Maru, Ángel and Yessenia are the ones we are probably seeing the most to progression with. We had a Noche de hogar with all three of them on Tuesday and all three where at church on Sunday. On Tuesday, we were talking about faith, and Maru made the comment that she wasn’t sure if she had seen the hand of God in her life before. So on Sunday, we were able to take advantage of gospel principles class to teach about recognizing the hand of God in our lives. The conclusion we came to is that this recognization usually comes looking backwards and recognizing all of the small and simple things that perhaps seen like coincides but really are parts of Heavenly Father’s divinely designed and personalized plan for each of his children. Yessenia is also going to be asking her mom this week for permission to be baptized (her mom is a less active member), so the hope is that her mom will consent to her being baptized.
We found a new investigator this week named José Antonio. He was this guy we contacted sometime last week who is really smart, but really really likes to talk haha. We met up with him on a bench in the center of town and were trying to teach him about the Restoration, but were having some issues keeping the lesson focused on, well, the lesson. We saw one of our members walk by and we flagged him over, and he joined us in the lesson which really helped it stay more focused. All in all, we got through the whole thing, and he committed to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, it was definitely work to get to that point to haha.
Besides that, everything was pretty normal. Alfonso has disappeared off the face of the earth since a few days ago, so he still hasn’t been confirmed. Surely we’ll be able to get ahold of him soon and help him with whatever has been preventing him from coming to church and being confirmed.
Yesterday in sacrament meeting, I was asked to give a talk, and was given tema libre. So, I choose to talk about faith and how that relates to believing that God and Christ have the power to do anything, but in the end, choosing to accept their will over ours. Elder Bernar explained in this way in an Ensign article titled “Accepting the Lord’s will and timing” (https://www.lds.org/ensign/2016/08/accepting-the-lords-will-and-timing?lang=eng):
“Righteousness and faith certainly are instrumental in moving mountains–if moving mountains accomplishes God’s purposes and is in accordance with His will. Righteousness and faith certainly are instrumental in healing the sick, deaf, and lame–if such healing accomplishes God’s purposes and is in accordance with His will. Thus, even if we have strong faith, many mountains will not be moved. And not all of the sick and infirm will be healed. If all opposition were curtailed, if all maladies were removed, then the primary purposes of the Father’s plan would be frustrated.”
President Uchtdorf summed up this principle with the following words: “No, the purpose of faith is not to change God’s will but to empower us to act on God’s will. Faith is trust–trust that God sees what we cannot and that He knows what we do not” (Two things that faith cannot do, Ensign March 2017). Developing this type of faith takes practice and patience. It is a principle I am still working on developing. When things don’t go as I wish they would, I have the tendency to think, “if only I had more faith, than this thing would have happened.” What I should be thinking instead is, “if only I had the faith to accept more easily what God is having happen.” Faith is all about accepting the Lord’s will and timing, and being empowered to act accordingly.
Love,
Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Just read the dang Book, okay?
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2: View from the top of the castle. We live somewhere down there.
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3-4: Visiting the castle
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5: Our district = Un equipo
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6: By the beach
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7: Underpass in Jerez
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8: Until next time
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Training

Hello everybody,
Good day to you all. This week was a long one, but a good one.
On Monday, we went to Sanlúcar Fernando for zone p-day. It was a bit crazy because that evening, I had to take a train to Sevilla to spent the night, and Elder Kassing went to Jerez to stay with the Elders there. I caught a train early Tuesday morning to get down to the mission office, where all of the missionaries that were training were, and they gave us the trainer’s training. After which, we were driven up to the mission home where all of the new missionaries were waiting to get their trainer assignments. I think that we were more nervous than they were haha. I was assigned to be companions with Elder Clark, from Moses Lake, Washington. Training him has been a really good experience so far. We’re been getting along really well, and it seems like it’s going to be a great two transfers. Although it was sad saying goodbye to Elder Kassing, it’ll be a good experience with Elder Clark.
Wednesday mostly just involved traveling back to Sanlúcar. It was pouring rain most of the day. It always seems to rain hard on transfer day. It had rained enough that parts of the train line from Sevilla to Málaga were flooded out, so we were sent on a long, cramped bus ride to get there instead. Later in the day, we actually found out that there was a train from Málaga to Sevilla that had left right before ours was scheduled to leave that derailed and had injured 35 people, so it was good that neither us nor any other missionaries were on that train. There’s actually another companionship in our district that is pinkwashing / training in one of the Puerto areas, so we were with them the entire journey. Needless to say, it was a relief when we finally made it back to Sanlúcar.
Every Thursday, we play a game of Fútbol. Lately, attendance has taken kind of a nose dive. after showing up to play and it being only us and two other guys that came, we played for a little while, and then spent some time walking around in our Fútbol clothes, contacting jóvenes in the street playing Fútbol. It sounded like a lot of them that we talked to were down to come. We even walked past some of them last night, and they recognized us and were confirming where and when it is. It’d be great if we had a higher turnout this week.
Then, on Friday, we had interviews with President Andersen. Which is unusually early into the transfer. Also super soon for the new missionaries who just were interviewed by him two days ago. It was really good though, as always. It’s not unusual to see President only 2-3 times a transfer, but last week, I saw him four out of seven days.
Well, the work here continues chugging along. There were a few minor setbacks this week though. First, Alfonso, was baptized two weeks ago, still isn’t confirmed because be couldn’t come to church yesterday due to a family situation. Second, we’re having a difficult time figuring out when we can visit Alba and María and their family, because we haven’t been able to teach them in over two weeks now, and that’s been kind of frustrating. Also, we called Alejandro, who I think I wrote about last week, and he told us that he probably won’t be able to meet with us again for a few more weeks. Furthermore, a few other of our investigators are out of town at the moment. But, on the bright side, Maru and Ángel were able to come to church yesterday, and both keep progressing little by little. Yessenia couldn’t come, but she’s doing good too. And, the schedule for the coming week is already looking like it’ll be a good one. So we’ll see.
We’ve been having a fun time trying to incorporate #IluminaElMundo #LightTheWorld in our every day work, and it’s been going well so far. Although really everything that de do for missionary work is service already, it’s been nice having an extra charge to do more things we probably otherwise wouldn’t do. Go to http://mormon.org and see for yourself what you can do to make the difference in someone else’s life.
A nice quote I found this week comes from the book, Adjusting to Missionary Life. It says: “Using these resources will enable you to rely on the Savior Jesus Christ and His Atonement. He is the ultimate source of help in dealing with the demands and stresses of missionary life.” I like that because it is true that there are a lot of good things out there to help us cope with the trials and hardships that come to us all in life, but Jesus Christ is the ultimate source of help. I like the way that President Nelson said the following in his April 2017 General Conference talk, Drawing the power of Jesus Christ into our lives. He said:
“When you reach up for the Lord’s power in your life with the same intensity that a drowning person has when grasping and gasping for air, power from Jesus Christ will be yours. When the Savior knows you truly want to reach up to Him–when He can feel that the greatest desire of your heart is to draw His power into your life–you will be led by the Holy Ghost to know exactly what you should do.
 
 
“When you spiritually stretch beyond anything you have ever done before, then His power will flow into you.
 
I know that promise is true for I have felt it in my own life. And, I can’t think of any better time to stretch towards the Savior than this time of the year when we celebrate his birth.
Love you all,
Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Que awkward
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2: Train station
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3: Showing up early to trainer’s training
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4: The mission home
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5: With Elder Clark!!
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6: The hermanas from my group went home 😭
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7: Some clouds
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8: Until next time
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