Elder Jared Stark

Serving in the Spain Málaga Mission

Month: January 2018

Service

Hello everybody,
Last Monday was the preparation day in San Fernando with many missionaries from the zone. It was fun, mostly we just played fútbol and emailed all day. We had a cita planned for that evening, but it ended up falling through at the last minute. Luckily, we were prepared and I think our backup plans turned out even better than our original plan would have. There were some cookies we had made the day before with the intention of giving them to a few specific people. One of them was Dani, who is our neighbor and also the boyfriend of Yessenia’s mom. He’s a really nice guy and we always stop and talk to him when we see him, but Monday was the first time that we were really able to talk about religion. He was really interested in the Book of Mormon and graciously accepted a copy.
Something which we have been attempting to do with all of the members in the branch is having a Noche de hogar with each of them to teach about “going about doing good.” That way, we are challenging them to think of people in their lives that could be benefited by an act of service because serving others is one way to open their hearts to learn about the restored gospel. One quote from Preach My Gospel that we’ve been sharing with the members as we teach them about this is:
“Your consistent efforts in serving and teaching as many people as you can is one way God prepares His children to eventually receive His servants. He often reaches out to His children through you. Even when people do not accept the opportunity to learn the gospel, your service and words are evidence of God’s love for them and may plant seeds that future missionaries and members of the Church will harvest.”
We’ve been sharing that story of Dani to illustrate this principle. No, he’s still not an investigator, but thanks to the kindness and service of other missionaries in the past, we were able to start introducing him more directly to the gospel. Service, even something as simple as kind words or a smile, is one of the most powerful ways to teach.
Larter on Monday evening, we stopped by Juan’s house. He’s a guy that I’ve taught once or twice before, but never really went anywhere, so we hadn’t been by his house in months. Well, it was a good thing that we went over because we were able to teach him and his wife and one of his daughters about the Restoration, and it seemed like it went over really well. We shared about how the Book of Mormon answers the great questions of the soul, and they were really interested in that. We also were able to get the address of one of his other daughters who just had a baby so that we can go bring her cookies. Truly there are many miracles in bringing people cookies haha.
So it turns out that I wasn’t quite done being sick and was basically without a voice for the entire week. That’s really hard when all missionary work involves is talking with other people. On Tuesday, we had district meeting, but then on Wednesday and Thursday morning, we just rested. We had stuff planned all of those nights, so we still went out and worked, but I just came back home dead every time. It was all good though, we had a good Noche de Hogar with Ángel and Maru on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, we taught Saraí, a new investigator from a while ago we haven’t been able to see because of the festivos and such.
On Wednesday, we also got an email from President Andersen announcing that we are now a Facebook proselytizing mission, and that we were to download Facebook and get our accounts ready for training on it during Zone Conference this week. So that is why some of you might have noticed more activity on my Facebook account than normal. We’re also going to be getting smartphones and WhatsApp at this conference too. Out of all of this new technology, the thing that I am most excited for is to have WhatsApp, as that is the de facto mobile messaging service here. I must admit that it has been super weird figuring out how to use Facebook again after almost 20 months of not using it, but it’ll be good to see how this can help us in our missionary work.
Friday was an interesting day. We had piso checks in the morning. Luckily we keep things clean around here, so those went off without a hitch. After that was over, we decided to pass by this one family of menos activos that are preparing to move to Málaga right now. It was a good thing that we passed by when we did because they really needed some help moving their bedframe down a flight of stairs. They gave us jamón and cheese as a token of their appreciation. That evening, we were given permission to watch President Monson’s funeral. It was a really nice tribute to a great man.
Saturday was also a good day because I was more or less better by then. We were able to teach Bibi and later in the day Maru and Ángel and Yessenia again. Those are all of our investigators with baptismal dates. Bibi just needs to come to church. Maru and Ángel and Yessenia are still progressing well, we’re working our way through the commandments with them right now. Maru and Yessenia came to church on Sunday (Ángel was sick), and we were able to talk about following the prophet. This is a really interesting time because of President Monson’s recent passing. It’s really helping the idea that God still calls prophets really come alive to those we are teaching. There was also an American family in our branch on Sunday, so I had to translate sacrament meeting for them. If only they had know about the American branch that meets is 20 minutes away from our chapel haha.
Well, there you go. That’s about it.
Love,
Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: District language study
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2: Sanlúcar
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3: Noche de Hogar
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4: There’s some weird stuff going on here
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5: Until next time (Don’t worry, it’s not alcohol!)
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Misionereando

Email 8/1/18

Hello everybody,
Well, well, well. Here we are again. We got transfer calls yesterday, and unsurprisingly, I’m staying here in Sanlúcar to finish training Elder Clark. I’m happy for that.
It was sad to receive the news of President Thomas S. Monson’s passing this week. As Elder Clark and I were walking around last evening and talking about how to help some of our investigators and members, inadvertently, half of the things that were coming out of our mouths were just strait President Monson quotes. I know that He has not only had an impact on my life, but on the entire world through his prophetic ministry.
Last Monday was a really boring preparation day because everything was closed and when we tried to go play a little bit of Fútbol at 10:00, people who were still sleeping were coming out of their houses to yell at us. So we spent most of the day in the chapel playing chess. That night we visited Frank and Ana Belén, the perfect young family, and had a Noche de Hogar with them about service. This is something we’re trying to do with all of the members in the branch because it seems like an effective way to get member referrals. The cool thing about Frank is that when he was a missionary, Sanlúcar de Barrameda was one of his areas. We’ve even been able to look in our area book and find old registros with his name on them.
On Tuesday, I woke up sick. Luckily, it wasn’t too bad, so we were still able to go to district meeting and go to the Noche de Hogar at Aurora’s house with Maru, Angel, and Yessenia. I was still feeling not well on Wednesday morning, so we just stayed in Piso. That evening, we made a stop where Marí and Alba live because we haven’t been able to see them for a while. That was really good, because not only were they there, but they invited us in and told us that they really like it when we come by to share la palabra de Dios with them.
Thursday was kind of a weird day because that was the evening of the parades for El Día de Los Reyes. We had planned to play our weekly game of Fútbol that evening, but only us and one other guy showed up because that was the exact time when the big parade was going on. Luckily, the parade passed right by the high school where we were playing, so we were able to watch it for a bit. Basically it was just all of these kids on floats throwing candy at the people watching. And then after the parade, everyone went to the center to party in the bars. So, the rest of our night was spent contacting the few people in Sanlúcar who weren’t in the center. We met this old guy from Boston. It still blows my mind how many Americans are in this little corner of Spain.
On Friday morning, we went to go teach Fernando, who is this Argentine guy that also speaks English. We read through the restoration pamphlet with him in English, and it seems like he understood everything, but is just a bit afraid of commitment. We thought it was still a good lesson though. In the evening, we had a really good lesson with Bibi. We read 3 Nephi 11 with her and talked about following Jesus Christ. After a lot of negotiation (haha) she agreed to be baptized on March 3, assuming that she’s prepared by then. So that’s what we’ll be helping her do.
The first thing that Christ talked about in His visit to the Nephites was His doctrine: Faith, Repentance, Baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. These are the things that He asks us to do to follow Him. I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon, which explains this doctrine so well and so clearly. As it says in 3 Nephi 11:37-41:
“And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.
 
And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
 
Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
 
And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.
 
Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth.”
Saturday was Él Día de Los Reyes, which is the main gift giving holiday in Spain, rather than Christmas. Basically the only noteworthy thing we were able to do was go visit Mike in the evening. He’s having a lot of various problems happening to him right now, so he’s really looking for the peace that only the Gospel of Jesus Christ can give.
Yesterday was a pretty normal Sunday. Ángel, Maru, and Yessenia all came to church. Ángel says that he has been reading and praying everyday, and feels like the Book of Mormon is true. Maru has been doing a good job reading, but still needs to pray. Yessenia is still 10 years old, but she still knows what’s good. We’re really happy with all of their progression.
Love you all,
Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1-5: Here are some belated photos from the Christmas Zone conference
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6: El Día de los Reyes
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7: There was another car accident right outside of our Piso
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8: Until next time
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1.1.18

Email 1/1/18

Hello everybody,
Happy new year. It’s crazy to think that I just spent the entire year of 2017 as a missionary in Spain. It’s even crazier to think that 2018 is the year that I finish.
Well, Christmas was on Monday. We spent most of the day in Puerto, chilling in the capilla with the Hermanas. Because there was nothing better to do, we ended up watching a few old church movies and playing a ton of Monopoly Deal. We also were able to Skype our families. It was the third time talking to mine. It’s weird to think that the next time I talk to them on Mother’s Day, it’ll be four days before I go home haha. After Skyping, we had to walk for an hour to get out to where the Shaw family lives, who had invited us over for Christmas dinner. It was such a great American feast. I have been really grateful for all of the hospitality shown to us during the holiday season.
Then, on Tuesday, things went back to normal, so we had district meeting that morning. Everyone had brought a different type of fruit to the meeting, so after, we had some traditional Christmas Smoothies together! They were probably some of the best Christmas Smoothies which I’ve ever had in my life. That evening was our weekly Noche de Hogar in Aurora’s house. Ángel and Yessenia were both there, but Maru thought it was on Thursday, so she didn’t end up being there for the lesson. That was almost better, because it really helped us focus the lesson almost entirely on Ángel, and we were able to better figure out how much he’s understanding of what we teach him and how he’s feeling about it. In the end, in turned out really well.
We decided to do our weekly planning session on Wednesday morning since there was a future in Chipiona who said he could meet on Thursday (which didn’t end up working out). While we were planning we heard coming from outside a long honk, followed by a crash. There was a little car accident on the street right in front of our Piso, so that was exciting. After planning, we went to eat lunch with Matilde, our “Mamita.” She needed some help moving a refrigerator from a Piso on the other side of town to her house. So, we all went to the piso where the refrigerator was and had to carry it down a flight of stairs, load it in a van, and move it into her house. Facilito. Later in the day, we had a great cita with Paco and Paqui, some less active members of the branch. Paqui’s dad was actually the first branch president of Sanlúcar, but she and her husband have been living in Las Palmas for the past six years, and just moved back to Sanlúcar this summer. It was heartbreaking to hear that they feel like the members of the branch are completely indifferent to them which I guess stems from some personal problems they’ve had with other members in the past. Well, luckily we hit it off really well with them and they invited us to come back, so hopefully we can help things become reconciled.
On Thursday morning, Dani asked for a hand moving some glass display shelves than he made from his house to Bibi’s store. The rest of the morning was spent helping to arrange them and then scrape glue off of them, so it was another good service opportunity. We even went back a little bit on Friday morning to help finish up.
Then, on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, we had an intercambio with Elder Wood and Elder Wilding in Jerez. It was a really, really good one. The other Elders in Jerez had found someone named Bryan in their area book, that they passed to the zone leaders because he lived in their area. He’s a Spanish-American, born in Nashville, lives in Jerez, and works as an airplane mechanic on the Naval base. We had a cita set for 5:30, but when we got to his house, only his dad, just your basic old Spanish man, was home. He was nice enough to invite us in, and we tried sharing something with him, but it didn’t really end up going anywhere haha. Luckily, Bryan was just running a little late, and when he came in, we were just explaining to his dad a little bit about what the Book of Mormon is. The first thing Bryan said was, “Dad, do you know what this Book is? It’s incredible!” He then went on to perfectly describe what the Book of Mormon is and the importance of it. Turns out that someone on base gave him a copy in English about six moths ago, and he’s been reading it ever since. We went on explaining a bit about Joseph Smith, and Bryan’s dad asked, “So basically, what you’re just telling me is that Joseph Smith made his own church.” Bryan responded by saying, “No dad, he restored the church of Jesus Christ to the earth. That’s why this book is so important.” Bryan gets it. So, we committed him to being baptized in February. That might have just been the most prepared new investigator I have met on my mission. At the same exact time we were with Bryan, our companions were at another new investigator’s house and committed her to being baptized, too. The rest of the intercambio was honestly pretty uneventful, but that didn’t matter, because we found Bryaninstantly making it the best intercambio ever.
Yesterday, Sunday, was an odd day. Half of our branch wasn’t at church, and I guess nobody bothered to plan much of the meetings, because five minutes before church started, I was asked to give a 20 minute sacrament meeting talk. Then, I was also asked to teach the combined third hour priesthood/relief society class right before it started. Luckily, if there’s one thing I’ve learned how to do on the mission, it’s how to give sacrament meeting talks and other random classes without any preparation, so everything went over well. That’s not to say it wasn’t stressful though haha. To celebrate New Years Eve, Elder Clark and I had a very nice meal of Pollo Asado and French fries. For dessert, we had a pumpkin pie that I got my hands on thanks to connections with the military base. Then, we promptly went to bed at 10:00 as we always do, and amazingly enough, we woke up in another year.
One of my messages in church yesterday revolved around this passage of scripture from 3 Nephi 12, verses 13-16:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the salt of the earth; but if the salt shall lose its savor wherewith shall the earth be salted? The salt shall be thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men. Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the light of this people. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Behold, do men light a candle and put it under a bushel? Nay, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house; Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
 
I love this passage because it shows us how the Savior uses us to spread His light thoughout the world. The more good we do, the more of His light we are spreading. 
 
Love,
Élder Stark

Photos

1: Skyping home
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2: Christmas Smoothies
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3: Car crash
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4: The big-screen District
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5: Our phone got stolen this week
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6: Otro día (another day)
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7: Otra comida (other food)
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8: Until next time
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