Elder Jared Stark

Serving in the Spain Málaga Mission

Month: April 2018

Still tirando paradelante

Email 16/4/18

This was more or less an average to mediocre week. It all started, like most weeks do, on Monday. We had an exciting Noche de Mike that ended up being a lesson on the Word of Wisdom. Mike is a slow learner, but he’s definitely learning.

On Tuesday, we had a fun visit with Bibi. It can be frustrating to teach her because she has a ton of doubts that need to be resolved and when we start trying to help her with one doubt, that just basically opens up the door for her to bring up even more doubts. I think that her main doubt is concerning the imperfectness of man. If man is imperfect, how can we trust what they wrote in the scriptures or what modern day prophets say? It basically gets down to that every time. I like what the prophet Wilford Woodruff once said:

“The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.”

Basically we are trying to explain that it is the Lord’s church, and it’s organization and doctrines are perfect even if the people always aren’t, but it’s going to take some time to get to that level of comprehension for Bibi.

We had our district meeting in Jerez on Wednesday. From the time we leave our piso to the time we get to the chapel, it’s about two hours. It was a good meeting, we have a good district this transfer. It’s also a pretty old district, everyone with one exception is over a year in the mission. In the evening, we had English classes, which are still going well. We have about one member and three nonmembers that come. We have a Noche de hogar planned this week after English class because some of the nonmembers expressed interest in coming. We’ll see what happens!

Thursday was a terrible day.

Friday was better, we spent a lot of time in the Capilla because we had to clean it, do weekly planning, have our correlación meeting, and teach some lessons. Pretty exciting.

Saturday was OK, we met with Manuela, a menos activa in the morning, and then in the evening, we spent a few hours walking around trying to make contact with some unknown members. That didn’t go that well. Most people weren’t home and the people who were didn’t want anything from us. Luckily, we met with Antonio Tomate who gave us a dinner, and then Ángel later that night, so the evening ended much better than it started. Ángel is on track to be baptized on May 5. We are reviewing all of the lessons with him one more time to make sure that he understands everything before the baptismal interview, but he’s excited, and the rest of the branch is excited for him, too!

In theory, we have a pretty good investigator pool right now, but ever since Semana Santa, it’s been hard to pick back up meeting with some people on a regular basis. And technically we have three other investigators besides Ángel who have baptismal dates for May 5, but due to various circumstances, we haven’t seen any of them for a looooong time. Life just gets so complicated.

Hopefully we see a bit more progress this week.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1-2: The Great Apostasy. We did this in a Noche de hogar to teach the great apostasy where everyone was given a minute to look at this beautiful drawing I made and then try to remember it without being able to see it. We can clearly see why the restoration was necessary.

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3: Mi amiga Yessenia

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4: With Sara. We took this picture to send to her twin sister, Raquel, who is on her mission in Argentina.

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5: Jerez District: Hermana Grover, Hermana Aguilar, Elder Castillo, Elder Wood, Elder Burnard, Elder Harris, Elder Darrington, Elder Stark

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6: District

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7: Another day

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8: Until next time

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More or less the same but a bit different

Okay.

This week was transfer week. I, not surprisingly, am still here in Sanlúcar de Barrameda for my sixth and final transfer. Who is not still here is Elder Clark. He was transferred to Cartagena. It was sad to see him ago, because in addition to us being together for three transfers, he was also my hijo (son). My new companion is named Elder Castillo. He is from Costa Rica, and in addition to speaking Spanish (obviously), he also speaks fluent English, French, and Italian. He’s a chill guy, so it seems like I said goodbye to one good companion and got another good one.

On Monday we had a good Mike de Hogar on which we talked about personal revelation. We showed him President Nelson’s recent talk concerning the matter. I can’t remember everything that happened in the lesson, but I have re-read this talk several times this week. There’s no one part of his address that especially stands out to me, because I love it all! I love his invitation to “increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation.” It’s such simple counsel and yet so profound such that we may be able to “[sift] through the myriad of voices and the philosophies of men that attack truth…We must learn to receive revelation.”

Tuesday was the last district meeting ever for the Puerto de Santa Maria District. First, they closed my mission. Next, they closed the MTC. Now, they’ve closed my district. What’s next? The reason why they did that is because the number of missionaries that the church is sending to Spain is already decreasing, so there are a few less missionaries now in the mission then there were last transfer. One of the areas in Puerto was a pretty slow area and the Piso there had routine problems with bed bugs. So, that would naturally be a good area to close, and instead of having a four person district, the remaining set of Hermanas are in the San Fernando district and we are part of the Jerez district. I am once again the district leader. The Manwarings made us a nice American lunch, and we said goodbye to them because they also go home this week.

Wednesday morning, Elder Clark and I headed up to Jerez so he could catch his train to Sevilla. I spent the rest of the morning with Elder Burton and Elder Burnard waiting for Elder Castillo to get in. Once he did and we got back to Sanlúcar, we went right over to English classes. I don’t think I mentioned this last week, but we had a record-breaking three people come to it both last week and this week!! This past week, all three of our pupils were non-members, so that’s even better! It’s nice to actually have something work out for once.

On Thursday, we were able to meet with Alfonso and Antonio Sarmiento. Alfonso has been doing a lot better recently and we have been reviewing the commandments with him. This week was the fourth or fifth time that we’ve met with Antonio, and he seems really committed to coming to church on Sunday, but doesn’t make it. Poquito a poco.

Then on Friday, we went to Chipiona for the first time in a long time, trying to hunt down some less active members. Couldn’t find any. In his last area, Elder Castillo was teaching an investigator from Morocco who speaks French. We had a Skype lesson on Friday evening with the missionaries in Cáceres, a member there, the Investigador, Elder Castillo, and this one French Elder in our mission. It was cool but somehow even after taking three years of French class in high school, I don’t even know a single word in French. So I just sat there, but it was cool. I’m grateful for technology which makes teaching moments like this possible.

Saturday was an OK day. We met again with Alfonso and were able to resolve some questions and doubts about tithing, and we also gave our good friend Antonio Bernal a visit. We tried to visit Bibi, and she was in her store, but was throwing up like every fifteen minutes. So, we gave her a blessing of health. Hopefully she’s better.

Yesterday, Sunday, was another good fast and testimony meeting. Hearing the testimonies of the members of the branch made me think about 1 Nephi 14:14, which says:

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.”

Since there are not many members of the Church here, I really think that it makes being a member of the Church a lot harder. I really admire the members here in Sanlúcar and their strong conviction to live the restored gospel. Quoting President Nelson’s talk again:

“You don’t have to wonder about what is true. You do not have to wonder whom you can safely trust. Through personal revelation, you can receive your own witness that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, that Joseph Smith is a prophet, and that this is the Lord’s Church. Regardless of what others may say or do, no one can ever take away a witness borne to your heart and mind about what is true.”

I know that to be true. I know that the Lord has spoken to my heart and I have received my own spiritual witness about the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon, the veracity of Joseph Smith, Russell M. Nelson, and all of the other prophets’ holy callings, and above all, about the reality of Jesus Christ. I am ever grateful for this time that I have been given as a missionary to help others understand the same thing.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Love u bag street

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2-6: These gardens outside of the ayuntamiento that we visited on Monday.

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7-9: Whoops

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10: Noche de Hogar

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11: With Elder Burnard, waiting for our new companions

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12: A Spanish cemetery

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13: Oh Rocío

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14: Storm’s a comin’

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15: Elder Castillo

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16: A semana Santa themed sucker

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17: Until next time

next time

Sixth’s Time the Charm

Email 2/4/18

Hello everybody,

“…Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (D&C 93:24). Our Heavenly Father is a “…God of truth, and canst not lie” (Ether 3:12). The Church of Christ is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20). The Lord has also declared, “whether [I speak] by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38). Thus, we can be sure that when we hear our living prophet and his Apostles speak, it is the voice of the Lord, and what they are saying is the unchangeable truth.

It was a wonderful general conference this weekend! Very historic. We went to the stake center in San Fernando to watch the sessions (at an eight hour time difference) and even though we were just in a small upstairs room, watching it in English, with a handful of other missionaries, the spirit was just as strong as if we were there personally in the conference center. I felt the unmistakable impressions of the spirit testifying to me that Russell M. Nelson is indeed God’s prophet, and I am anxious to review his instructions given to us over the coming days, weeks, and months.

Also, yesterday was Easter! In Spain, it’s not just a one day holiday, but a week long festivo. This involves losts of processions through the streets, including giant floats (not sure if that is the right word) of scenes from Christ’s last week, marching bands, and people dressed in the traicional (traditional) Semana Santa pointy cap robes. Yeah, the ones that look like what the KKK wears. I’m not sure what all of the symbolism behind it is, but I think one reason they’re like that is because the people in the parades are repentant sinners, participating as some sort of rite to receive forgiveness, and it’s something they do anonymously.

All of these processions naturally caused some interruptions to missionary work, making it harder to get from place to place and also not being able to meet with some of our investigators, but we managed to survive. There was even a procession that passed on the street right outside of our Piso one night, which we were able to watch from our balcony. Of course, I will attach pictures.

Some other news coming out of Spain is that the Spain MTC is closing at the end of the year. When they announced that our mission, The Spain Málaga Mission, was being dissolved into the Spain Madrid and Spain Barcelona missions, they made a big deal of reminding us that they’re not “closing” the mission, but “consolidating” it. I have had fun over the past few days reminding people to say that they are “consolidating” the MTC, not “closing” it, but I think my unfunny sense of humor was not understood by most haha. It is sad to see, but understandable as to why the church is making this decision.

In the sprit of Easter, we went to Frank and Ana Belén’s house to share the “SiempreAhí” message with them and encourage them to share it with their friends. They have these two daughters, Paula, age 4, and Carlota, age 2, that are just the funnest little kids to be around. Paula was playing with a Minnie Mouse doll and the “Richard” doll, named after me, that I sent a picture of in one of my previous emails. I ended up using the dolls to act out the appearance of the resurrected Christ to Mary Magdalena to her. So for the next half hour she was walking around the Piso with the Minnie Mouse doll saying, “dónde está Jesucristo?” I guess that means I explained the first part of the story pretty good but probably lost her on the second part haha. Oh well. It was cute. She’ll figure it out eventually.

We also had stopped by Tomas’s house one evening because he hadn’t been to church in a few weeks. You may remmeber him as being the father of Raquel, who left on her mission to Argentina several months ago. Well he was there, and so was Sara, Raquel’s twin sister, who is menos activa, and I feel like we had a good lesson with them and I definitely felt like I got to know Sara a lot better. It was a really positive interaction.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned María Ángeles, and her sister Ana María, and Ána María, the daughter of her namesake. They let us come back this week and teach them which was super good because we thought that they really weren’t that interested. None of them kept their commitment to read the Book of Mormon that we had left them, so we re-emphasized the importance of it, and invited them to do it again. Hopefully they do.

Also, we saw Alfonso a few times during the week. He’s still doing good. He was watching General Conference yesterday at his house. We’re going to be working our best to make sure he’s at church every week from now on now that he’s doing better.

Lastly, this is going to be my last transfer. I come home in six weeks! My trainee, companion for the last three transfers, and good friend, Elder Clark, is being moved to Cartagena. Elder Castillo from Costa Rica is going to be my final companion. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to him, but he’s been in the mission for over a year, so he’s breaking the trend I’ve experienced my entire mission of my companions progressively getting younger in the mission. (My trainer was at 1.5 years, my second companion at 14 months, my third companion at 1 year, my next at 6 months, etc.) It’ll be good to shake things up a bit.

More on this later.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: A scene from the Garden of Gethsemane

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2: Futbolito

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3: With Tomas and Sara

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4-9: Semana Santa on Bag Street

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10,13: Catholic roadblocks

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11: We met a pig

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12: Cool stripes

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13: Dani is French

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14: District meeting

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15: Until next time

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