Jared Stark

I do a lot of things

Month: March 2018

#SiempreAhí

Email 25/4/18

Hello everybody,

This is approximately my 30th week in and email from Sanlúcar de Barrameda. If all of my emails have been the same, that’s only a representation of real life.

Monday was a fun preparation day. We did all of the things that we normally do, namely, play Fútbol, eat out, play chess, and write home, but everything was just extra fun for some reason. In the evening, we had a really good lesson with Cintia, who you’ll remember is the daughter-in-law of Domingo. We were going to review what we had taught her about the restoration, but then she opened up and told us that she really worries about what happens when we die and why hard things happen in life. Isn’t it amazing that thanks to God communicating through prophets, we have the answers to those questions? It was a really spiritual lesson, and we even set a baptismal goal for May 5 with her. 

Tuesday was another good day. We had our district meeting in Puerto. I’ve lately been planning meetings that revolve around one theme, and this theme was the Doctrine of Christ, or in other words, the things that Jesus asks us each to do: have faith in Him, repent, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. It’s always good to focus on the basics. In the evening, the stake presidency was here and wanted to do some visits to less active members and investigators with us and the branch presidency. I ended up going with one of the Stake Presidency counselors and the Elders Quorum President to visit Bibi. It was a really good visit, and slowly but surely, we are helping her overcome her doubts. Then, we did our normal Noche de Hogar and taught Angel about how the Priesthood is power. He’s definitely getting baptized on May 5.

Wednesday was the day when we finally got around to fixing the lock with the key stuck in it. Dani, the old French member, got the key unstuck in like 30 seconds, and then we just had to take it to a locksmith and get a copy. It was super simple to fix. We headed out to Chipidog to help out cleaning the dog cages, and taught another English class to Bibi’s husband, so we put in some good service that day. We also had a really good visit with Mike, who is such a nice guy but not the fastest learner, so we reviewed The Restoration and it seemed like he got it a lot better than times in the past. The Spirit was also super strong in the lesson, and he said a really sincere prayer asking if the Book of Mormon was true.

On Thursday, we did our weekly planning in the morning and then headed to Jerez to do intercambios with the zone leaders. I never look forward to doing intercambios, but they always turn out OK. I was with Elder Harris, who is also from Colorado (Montrose). He also just finished serving in my old area in Jaén, so that was cool. We finished the intercambio up on Friday and then headed back to Sanlúcar. Antonio Sarmiento called us again, wanting to meet. He wants to come back to church, but I guess it’s really hard after not coming for 20 years, so we’re trying to be really positive and as welcoming as possible with him.

Saturday was good, too. We had an OK cita with Bibi in the morning and then went and stopped by some investigators and Futuros with whom we set up citas for this coming week. Hopefully we will be having some good lessons with them. We also met with Alfonso, who is doing a lot better right now and is working and seems a lot happier than he has been for the past few months.

Sunday was an interesting day. It was the Sanlúcar branch conference, and a ton of people from the stake and their families were visiting, so the chapel was completely full. They also released our branch president and called a new one, which I don’t think anyone was expecting. It will be exciting to be the first missionaries to establish a solid relationship with this new president. The funny thing is that our last president is named Daniel and is from Jerez, and the new president is also named Daniel and is from Jerez.

Lastly, with this week being Semana Santa aka Easter, the church has given us a fun new initiative called “Always There.” I’m pretty sure it’s a Europe-only thing. I really like it, it is such a good message about how Christ is always there for us. Just as D&C 84:88 says: “…I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” You can all see the video associated with this topic at http://lds.org.uk

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: District. Elder Clark, Elder Stark, Hermana Malcolm, Hermana Moncayo, Hermana Walker

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2: Jerez

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3: Some cats

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4: Burger King haha

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5: With Paco and Presidente García after our visit to Bibi

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6: Intercambios with Elder Harris and Elder Wood

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7: There’s trouble ahead

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8: Until next time

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I fear no man

Email 19/3/18

Hello everybody,

Well, well, well.

We live in a Piso in the centro of the city, in a building with about 10 apartments total. We are the only tenants which live here full time as the other pisos are either summer homes or up for sale. Normally it’s very nice because we basically have the entire building to ourselves most of the the time, but yesterday we ran into a major problem. There are two doors that you need to use in order to enter into the building, each having a separate key. There is one giant set of wooden doors that lead to the street, and at the end of a short corridor, a locked gate. As we were going back to Piso last night, our key broke off inside of the giant outside doors, and because nobody else lives here, there was no way for someone to just buzz us in. We were getting really stressed about it, but luckily for us, our across the street neighbor, Dani, is a great guy, and he showed us how to break into these types of doors using nothing but a credit card to get in. So we still need to get the lock fixed and the key copied, but we were almost in a pretty sticky situation yesterday.

Besides that, yesterday was an average Sunday. It was raining really hard in the morning, so a bunch of people didn’t come to church, as normal, but we helped out with a primary lesson about missionary work, so that was pretty fun.

It was also really rainy on Saturday evening and we decided to stick with our plan of passing by some menos Activos before the citas we had later in the evening, and we got absolutely drenched. We did find this one family who was sealed in the temple and everything, but left the church because of a fight they got in with some of the members. It’s frustrating that it seems like every menos activo that we’ve met stops going to church because of some stupid feud with another member of the branch! Aren’t forgiveness and charity supposed to be the basic facits of Christianity? It reminds me of the Lord’s chastisment to Joseph Smith after the loss of the 116 manuscript pages of the Book of Mormon, which is found in D&C 3:6-8 (emphasis added):

“And behold, how oft you have transgressed the commandments and the laws of God, and have gone on in the persuasions of men.

“For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his words–

“Yet you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble.”

Anyways, that’s been a pretty annoying pattern we’ve seen several times as we’re trying to help out these less active members. If I sound frustrated, that’s only because I am. We’ll see what more can be done to help them.

On Friday, we had a decent cita with Mike. He’s doing pretty good. The only thing that was holding him back from coming to church this week was potentially being too hung over after a party on Saturday night, so I guess that’s what must of happened because he didn’t come.

We also had a cool finding moment, where we had about an hour in the morning between citas. We had planned to stop by this one antiguo investigator but as the morning went on, I stated to second guess that decision because it was kind of far and we didn’t have a ton of time. Well, something kept telling us to go there, so we did, and the guy wasn’t home. But, we contacted this lady outside of the building that was super nice and super interested in having us come back. One of her daughters was actually an investigator from a few years ago who stopped metting with the missionaries just because they lost contact, it seems. We’re headed back on Wednesday, and we will see what’s there.

There was a district leader training meeting on Thursday evening in Málaga. But due to technology, we were able to connect through the meeting through an app called Zoom. It’s a cool idea, but honestly wasn’t that good in practice because the audio was really bad so it was hard to understand anything, and it just felt weird to participate from the other side of a screen. So, I probably would have gotten more out of the meeting had I been there in person, but it was an interesting experiment at the very least.

Wednesday was a good day because we were able to go to the dog shelter with Guadalupe and work a bit cleaning out the dogs’ cages. There’s nothing like the unconditional love that lonely dogs can give haha. We also taught Bibi’s husband in English class and had a fun Noche de Hogar.

Tuesday was a pretty normal day. We had district meeting in the morning and our Noche de Hogar in the evening.

And then last Monday I can’t even remember, everything just fades together.

So, the moral of the story is the following: once you “have experienced a change of heart, and…have felt to sing the song of redeeming love” (Alma 5:26) and have “laid down the weapons of…rebellion”(Alma 23:13), do not become like the Nephites of old and “turn from…righteousness, like the dog to his vomit” (3 Nephi 7:8). Please.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Just a field and some clouds

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2: The District eating lunch

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3: Futuro misionera

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4: Castle at night

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5: Suited up, weapon in hand

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6: People here are really Catholic and really into Fútbol

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7: The future of missionary work?

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8: In December 2016, I made a goal to sing every hymn in the Spanish hymn book at the beginning of companionship study. I finally finished on Saturday.

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9: Until next time

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Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Stake Conference

Email 12/3/18

Hello everybody,
This was a week of many meetings and much traveling. It went by fast, but at the same time, it feels like forever ago that I was writing my group email last Monday.
Speaking of last Monday, it was a decent preparation day. It was still raining all day (it rained pretty much every day this week, again), so we had some fun playing indoor Padle Ball. That night was our customary Noche de Hogar in Aurora’s house. We had fun teaching Ángel about our favorite topic, missionary work! Ha.
Tuesday morning was pretty busy, we went to Mike’s house and had a good lesson with him, and later, I helped Vanessa with her website some more. We had a really cool lesson that evening. A few weeks ago, I mentioned that we were trying to work a lot with less active members. One night, we stopped by this one Piso looking for one named Ana, but instead we met her sister, María. She told us to come back another day, and finally on Tuesday, our schedules coincided we went back. Not only was Maria that and ready to listen, but also Ana (the menos activa), her teenaged daughter (also named Ana), and the 84-year old mother of Ana and María. The member we brought with us was already acquainted with them, so that was an extra blessing. We taught them the restoration and they seemed sincerely interested and attentive the entire time we were teaching, so we’ll see if they’ll let us come back some other day.
Right after that cita, we had to get on a bus and go to Jerez to spend the night there since we had to catch an early morning train to Sevilla the next day. On Wednesday, we had our zone conference there. I realized that I was the oldest missionary in this entire tri-zone area. It was focused on the importance of The Book of Mormon and helping people make and keep commitments. Two of my favorite quotes from Preach My Gospel regarding these two subjects are:
“The Book of Mormon, combined with the Spirit, is your most powerful resource in conversion.”
“When you ask for commitments as part of your teaching, you are inviting the investigator to repent.”
 
Helping investigators and others make and keep commitments and understand the significance and gain a testimony of The Book of Mormon are some of the most important parts of our work. The introduction in the Book of Mormon states: “We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost.” I know that this promise is true for I have done it myself and have received my own witness of the truthfulness The Book of Mormon, independent of the testimony of anyone else. I have seen others do the same. The Book is true, and through the Holy Ghost, God can confirm the truth of it to anyone who sincerely reads it and faithfully asks God for this confirmation.
Anyways, so after coming back from Sevilla, exhausted, we had a Noche de Hogar with the family of Miguel Ángel and María José, some members. We talked about The Great Apostasy that occurred as a result of priesthood authority being taken from the earth resulting from the persecution and death of the Apostles that Jesus called. I’m grateful this Apostasy happened because it paved the way for the gospel to be restored again to the earth in its perfect form through the prophet Joseph Smith. It’s amazing how available the gospel and the priesthood power to perform saving ordinances is throughout the world. Even though there certainly are problems and calamities in the world, we are so blessed to live at a time when The Church of Jesus Christ is so well established on the earth.
On Thursday, we had our normal weekly planning session in the morning, and then all of our plans for the evening fell through, so we spent some time trying to find more menos activos and knocking some doors. It was raining, so there was nobody in the street, but also nobody at home either, so I wonder where everyone disappeared off to.
We had interviews with President Andersen on Friday, so we had to go to Puerto for that. Those are always so good. He told us that one of the Hermanas in our district is being transferred to Chiclana this week because the companion of one of the missionaries there never went to the MTC at the beginning of her mission, and now needs to do her three weeks there. That’s a pretty weird situation. The rest of the Hermanas are going to be in a trio for the rest of the transfer.
Saturday was a good day, although we basically only did two things. The first was having a cita with Bibi, which are turning more and more frustrating because it seems like we just keep going in circles with her. Poco a poco, as they say. Then, the second thing was going to San Fernando for the priesthood and adult sessions of Stake Conference! Elder Paul V. Johnson of the seventy, who is also the Europe Área President, as well as the Madrid temple president, and President Andersen were all there and all gave talks. It was really, really, really, good, probably some of my favorite meetings that I’ve ever been to on the mission. I won’t go into all of the details about what they shared, but my favorite message came from President Andersen. He told of an experience he had several years ago when Elder Neil L. Andersen, then just a Seventy, visited their stake in Idaho. He made the remark that it’s such a privilege that the Lord lets us handle his fine china, and the fact that we’re even let into the door of the chapel is amazing given how imperfect we all are. He also talked about how having callings and responsibilities in the church is such a blessing. While President Andersen was relating this experience, it just hit me how much of a blessing the mission has been. Some of you know this, and others don’t, but I’ve had to deal with persistent depression for the majority of my time as a missionary, and I honestly have considered my calling as a missionary as a burden way more than a blessing. But when I was listening to President Andersen speak, I felt like my heart was opened up, and I could see and feel all of the ways that I have been an instrument in the Lord’s hands to bless the lives of others, and all of the way He has blessed me and will continue to bless me in the future because I decided to serve a mission and have been blessed enough to be able to make it this far despite my weaknesses and problems. I am so grateful to the Lord for doing that.
I love you all, and I sincerely thank you for the support that you send from afar, and I’m thankful that you all will continue to be by my side for these two months that I have left to “serve him with all [my] heart, might, mind and strength” (D&C 4:2).
Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: The ocean destroying the beach
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2: El cuadro de compromiso. For a lack of other pictures during the week, I made this in personal study one day.
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3-4: Peter = Joseph Smith
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5: On the way to stake conference
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6: After stake conference
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7: Until next time
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It rained

Email 5/3/18

Hello everybody,
This week was unusual because it rained pretty much all day, every day this week, with rain continuing today and through the majority of the coming week. In a place that’s known as “The Southern California of Europe” for how nice the weather usually is, a rainy week like this one always throws me off a bit. Notwithstanding my inadaptness to this weather, it was a good week.
Last Monday we were doing some more work trying to get in touch with menos activos, and we found this one guy named Manual, who is the brother of one of our active members. We had a good cita with him and read Moroni 6 together. Verse 4 is especially good because it talks about how we don’t forget about those who were baptized but have lost their way for whatever reason.
“And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.”
After that, we went over to Mike’s house and taught him a little about temples since he had some questions about them from the church tour we have him the day before. It was a nice visit. It really made me miss going to the temple, though.
Tuesday was a productive day. It started off with our district meeting in Puerto that morning. The Manwarings, the senior couple assigned to military relations on the base, made us a nice, big American lunch. When we got back to Sanlúcar, we had a cita with Frank and Alfonso where we reviewed The Restoration. He’s doing OK, he still has a lot of health problems and it’s still hard to get him to church, but he’s doing better than he was a few months ago. Poco a poco.
We also got a call from Domingo (member) asking us to give a blessing to his granddaughter. So, we met up with Domingo and went to his daughter-in-law’s house. His four year old granddaughter has chronic bronchitis and it gets pretty bad in the winter. However, she thought that we were doctors there to give her a shot, so she ran away from us, crying inconsolobly. That made us feel like trash haha. After talking it over with Domingo and the mom, Cintia, we decided that we’d try coming back the next day in normal clothes to not freak Lola (the granddaughter) out.
We went the next day and even brought some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, but kids are smart and Lola still didn’t let us get anywhere near her. So, we just started teaching Cintia instead! We talked about the part of the Bible when Jesus instructs the Apostles to let the children come to him, which led us to showing her the part in the Book of Mormon where Jesus blesses the children one by one, which led us to teaching a bit of the restoration. She wants us to come back again, so that was a super cool way to find a new investigator!
The rest of Wednesday was pretty slow as it was a very rainy day and a holiday (Andalucia Day).
On Thursday, we went to Jerez for the “Zone Council” meeting with the ZL’S, SHE’S, and the other district leaders from the zone. It was a really fun meeting, part of it included playing “Knockout” with church trivia, and I won twice, which I was really proud about. (Mental note for myself: “beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old” (D&C 38:39).) The big news from this meeting was that we are now known as the “Cádiz Zone” rather than being the “San Fernando Zone”, so the name coincides with all of us being missionaries in the Cádiz Stake of the Church. Then, we went to the Domino’s all you can eat pizza buffet, and life was good.
Friday all of our citas for the evening fell through during the morning, so we started working in the evening not sure what was going to happen, but it turned out really good. First we had a visit with Bibi that was supposed to be only 10 minutes but turned into 2 hours. Hahaha. We got her to commit to start reading and praying about the Book of Mormon every day again, so that was good. After her, we decided to pay Tomas a visit. His daughter, Raquel, is the one who left for her mission last week. We shared a few scriptures about how the Lord watches over his missionaries. Like these:
“And king Mosiah went and inquired of the Lord if he should let his sons go up among the Lamanites to preach the word.
 
“And the Lord said unto Mosiah: Let them go up, for many shall believe on their words, and they shall have eternal life; and I will deliver thy sons out of the hands of the Lamanites.
 
“And it came to pass that Mosiah granted that they might go and do according to their reques” (Mosiah 28:6-8).
 
“Therefore they did not fear Ammon, for they supposed that one of their men could slay him according to their pleasure, for they knew not that the Lord had promised Mosiah that he would deliver his sons out of their hands; neither did they know anything concerning the Lord…” (Alma 17:35).
 
“Now we see that Ammon could not be slain, for the Lord had said unto Mosiah, his father: I will spare him, and it shall be unto him according to thy faith—therefore, Mosiah trusted him unto the Lord” (Alma 19:23).
 
The Lord really does protect his missionaries. As many are aware, there were four missionaries and an investigator involved in a head-on colision with a semi-truck this week. Miraculously, nobody died, and it seems like they are all going to make a full recovery.
Nothing that interesting happened on Saturday. Oh wait, I take that back. We got a call out of the blue from a menos activo, Antonio, with whom we had contact way back when but eventually we lost contact with him. We were able to meet in the chapel and he expressed with us his desires to come back to the church. That was nice.
Sunday we had like 5 people (investigators and less-active members) who said they were coming to church flake out. ;( Oh well, we will try again. That’s what we do.
Love,
Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: The weird things you start doing when you’ve been with the same comp for three transfers
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2: Chapita
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3: The District: Elder Clark, Elder Stark, Hermana Moncayo, Hermana Walker, Hermana Malcom, Hermana Pinkney
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4: Another photo with the Manwarings, who give us American lunch every once in a while
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5: Beach
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6: Domino’s
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7: Until next time
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