Email 5/2/18

Hello everybody,

It was another normal Sanlúcar week. Here’s the important things that happened.

On Tuesday, we had a great Noche de hogar with Ángel, Yessenia, and Maru. We had invited them a while ago to be baptized on the 3rd of February, and obviously they weren’t quite ready yet. We reviewed the importance of baptism and they committed to a firmer baptismal date on the fifth of May. I believe that they could definitely be ready before then, but at least they’re committed to the idea of getting baptized. That’s the important part.

One of the members in the branch, Guadalupe, volunteers at a dog shelter once a week and has always told us that we’re welcome to come help her whenever we want. After somehow not taking her up on her invitation for something like four months, we finally went on Wednesday, and it was great! There’s about 15 dogs at this shelter and we were given the task of cleaning out their cages. It was hard work, but really fun and good service for the community. In the words of Elder Clark, there’s nothing like the unconditional love and attention that animals can give you. Well except for God’s unconditional love. But you know what I mean.

On Thursday morning, we were going to do our weekly planning until we got a call from Daniel, one of the antiguo investigators we’ve been trying to set something up with. Daniel is an interesting guy. He didn’t have the best examples growing up, and eventually got into drugs and did a stint in prison, but really wants his kids to have a brighter future than he did, and he knows that it’s the church and the Gospel of Jesus Christ that can get him there. He’s got some problems he needs to get over before he can be baptized, namely smoking #alsoadrug but he seems really determined to get there. We set a baptismal goal with him for the fifth of May. At church on Sunday during sacrament meeting, while someone was bearing their testimony about their own fight giving up smoking, I saw him get out his phone, go to his calendar, scroll to May, and put down “Bautismo de Daniel” on the fifth. Seems like a good sign.

Later on Thursday evening, we went to Augustine’s house. He is the brother of Juan, one of our investigators. Augustine is also pretty crazy, and somewhat of a hoarder, and there was not a place to sit in his house when we dropped by. But, he told us to come back the next day and that he’d clean off one of his couches so we could sit and talk. We so did, and were able to share some of the first lesson with him, but it seems like his attention span is really short. He was really happy that we were there though. So we’ll see.

Friday morning was pretty crazy. Dani, one of the members, was going to take us out to visit Manuela, a menos activa. She lives in the Campo, so it’s necessary to take a car to get there. Dani just bought this 20 year old big cargo van the other week, and that was what he drove us to her house with. Well, we got to Manuela’s house and were inside giving her the lesson when her son came in and was like, “What happened to your tire??” None of us realized anything was wrong, but it turns out that the right right tire on the van was just utterly obliterated (see picture below). We’re still not sure how that happened. We then spent the rest of the morning helping Dani change his tire. That was a fun adventure.

Saturday was a good day. We started the morning off with a visit to Bibi. Once we got there, we started talking about something that made us want to show her the Mormon Message “Life’s Drama.” (see here:https://www.lds.org/video/mormon-messages/2016-04-1000-lifes-drama?lang=eng) It was good that we were then taking about being personally accountable for our actions because halfway through the lesson, a Jehovah’s Witness decided to come into her shop and she started talking and got onto the topic of original sin. They believe that if Adam hadn’t eaten of the forbidden fruit, we would all still be living in a Garden of Eden like paradise. It was funny to see Bibi arguing with this testigo about this doctrine and really it made me feel grateful for the Book of Mormon, which explains so clearly that the Fall of Adam and Eve was a positive and necessary step forwards. As it says in 2 Nephi 2:22-25:

“And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.

“And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

“But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.

“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”

This whole idea of man existing to have joy through “the Messiah [which] cometh in the fulness of time” (2 Nephi 2:26) came up during a baptismal interview that I gave on Saturday evening to one of the Hermanas’ investigators in Puerto. The name of this Investigador is Abigail; she’s English and is working as an English teacher here in Spain. She first came to know about the church four years ago when she was in college and missionaries knocked on the door of her house where she lived with five roommates. At first they had just invited the missionaries in for a bit of a laugh, but one of the girls ended up getting baptized and is now married in the temple and Abigail basically had a testimony of the gospel at that point too but never ended up getting baptized. Seeing the death of President Monson a month ago prompted her to reach out to the missionaries again, and this Saturday, she’s getting baptized! Anyways, something she said during the interview that really struck me was the fact that Christ did everything he did and suffered everything he suffered so that we could be happy. It’s up to all of us to choose to follow the source of all happiness. We follow Him by following his gospel and His commandments.

Church worked out well on Sunday; we had five investigators there and Manuela came for the second Sunday in a row. Alfonso was sick so he wasn’t able to come. All is well.

Well, as was officially announced by the church on Thursday, as of July 1, 2018, the boundaries of the Spain Málaga Mission are being absorbed into the Spain Madrid and Spain Barcelona missions. This is not a change that will have an effect on me personally as I finish before that date, and I really don’t think it’ll have that much of an impact on the day to day work that missionaries are doing in the areas anyways. There were some members at church yesterday who thought that meant they were taking all of the missionaries out of the south of Spain, but that’s obviously not right. Although there is an element of sadness with this change, it’s really not that big of a deal. This is the Lord’s work and it’s going exactly how He wants it to, for He is in charge.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Elder Clark turned 19 this week!

IMG_6044

2: Yessenia gifted us some gloves

20180130_194534

3: Perros (dogs

20180131_172051

4: Besitos (little kisses)

20180131_172141

5: Whoa

20180202_111810

6: “Somos en el campo” – Dani  (“We are in the field”)

IMG-20180202-WA0003

7: Until next time

20180130_194647