Elder Jared Stark

Serving in the Spain Málaga Mission

Author: Donna Stark (page 2 of 8)

El bautismo de Pablo, el que fue un milagro

Email 10/7/17

Hello everybody,

Last week started out kind of bad. From Sunday through Wednesday, Elder Moffat and I were both sick with some sort of stomach flu, so we were stuck in piso for a few days, dying. It was pretty miserable. The worst part was that we had to cancel a few teaching appointments, but it was a definite necessity to rest. Hopefully we’ll be able to get those appointments arranged again for this week. One of the appointments we had to cancel was for our investigator Bernardo, whom we haven’t seen in a month, so that one was especially sad to have to postpone. But, it is what it is.

After our fun sick fest, we went down to Málaga. Thursday evening, there was a training meeting for the district leaders of the Granada and Málaga 1 and 2 zones, and then Friday was Zone Conference! One really cool thing that we did during the meeting was that every companionship stood up and shared a miracle that they had seen happen recently. You see, for the last fast Sunday, we had a special focus as a mission during the fast to have the missionary work go well and also to help us to be able to meet the mission goal of 22 baptisms during the month of July. There were so many miracles that happened as a result of this fast! 

The thing that really struck me about the miracles that everyone shared was that they were all about individual people or families. “So and so came to church for the first time in months,” or, “our investigator committed to baptism,” and other great things like that. A quote in the book “Adjusting to Missionary Life” says that, “You [as a missionary] have a front row seat to the greatest miracle of all: the effect of Christ’s Atonement on individuals and families.” The work of salvation is truly a “one-by-one” experience. Our Heavenly Father knows us all individually and we can all have a personal relationship with Him and with our Savior Jesus Christ. The best part of the mission definitely has been all of the people that I’ve met and have seen change through the Atonement of Christ. The miracle of change is real.

On Saturday, we helped out with a youth fundraising activity in order to help the youth in our ward earn money for a stake campout. We spent the afternoon helping them wash and clean the member’s cars, who in turn donated money to the camping trip fund. It was a really fun service opportunity!

And finally, yesterday, Pablo was baptized! He’s going to be confirmed next week, so it’s not all done yet, but the baptism yesterday went really well! Pablo may be only 14, but he’s one of the most solid people in the gospel that I’ve met. Although really any missionary could have been the ones to “officially” teach and prepare him for baptism, it was a special privilege to be one of the missionaries who did just that. Him being baptized was for sure one of the biggest miracles I’ve ever seen.

Needless to say, the mission is going great!

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Somewhere outside of Málaga

7:10A

2: Elder Darrington!!!

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3: Santiago, or, The Realest OG

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4: All of us missionaries with Jesús, our ward mission leader who is moving back to his country this week, sadly.

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5: With Jesús

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6: Elder Stark, Pablo, Elder Moffat, Carlos

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7: With Pablo, Jesús, and the Bishop haha

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8: Until next time

7:10H

Developing Patience

So, let’s take a look at developing patience. Patience is a Christlike attribute. Of it, Chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel says the following. Read this carefully. Pay attention to every sentence. 

“Patience is the capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious. It is the ability to do God’s will and accept His timing. When you are patient, you hold up under pressure and are able to face adversity calmly and hopefully. Patience is related to hope and faith–you must wait for the Lord’s promised blessings to be fulfilled.

You need patience in your everyday experiences and relationships, especially with your companion [or friends, roommates, etc.]. You must be patient with all people, yourself included, as you work to overcome faults and weaknesses.”

Now, write a definition of the word patience. Think about how you would describe this attribute to somebody who is not associated with the quality. Focus on creating a simple and solid sentence that captures the essence of the word.

Good. Take that definition that you just created, and make it more profound. Turn it from a dictionary entry into a mini encyclopedia entry. 

Okay, now try to think of some questions about patience. For example, “How did Jesus Christ show patience?” “How are having hope and being patience related?” Why do I need patience?” Things like that. You can make as many questions as you like.

The next step is to turn to the scriptures. Find the answers to those questions. You can find scriptures about patience by looking through the topical guide in the Bible, in Chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel, and in many other places. Search for General Conference talks about it. LDS.org has a neat feature that lets you sort General Conference talks by topic, and a search for patience will certainty yield many results. 

As you read these scriptures and conference talks, it’s very important to write down the spiritual impressions that you receive. Don’t take notes on what you’re reading, rather take notes on what you’re feeling. Elder Richard G. Scott has taught the following about keeping a study journal: “Knowledge carefully recorded is knowledge available in time of need. Spiritually sensitive information should be kept in a sacred place that communicates to the Lord how you treasure it. This practice enhances the likelihood of your receiving further light” (Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge, November 1993 Ensign). As we keep a log of the impressions that receive as we study, we put ourselves in the place to receive even more personal revelation.

The next part is a bit tricky. It involves setting goals and making plans for how to apply patience in your life. You may have noticed some situations where you’ve lacked patience: in interactions with certain people, when your roommate takes too long in the bathroom, feeling uncertainty when  you think about the future, etc. Try to think of all of the moments in the past few weeks when you felt a lack of patience. Think about and visualize yourself handling the situation more patiently. Using your understanding amassed from your studies, think about the different words that you would use, thoughts you would have, etc. and write them down. Commit yourself to using different words or having different thoughts when you find yourself in those situations again.

It’s important to remember that there’s no procedure set in stone for developing more patience. It’s something that is learned moment by moment, decision by decision, day by day. Elder David A. Bednar has give the following council on developing faith (which can certainty be applied to developing patience, or any other Christlike attribute). This is from a great video on LDS.org called “Being an Agent to Act.”

“I don’t want to talk about faith in the Savior as if it’s a trait and there’s a formula, and if I just follow the elements of the formula, then I’m automatically going to get more. It’s a spiritual gift. But we have to be doing our part to be able to be in a position where we could receive the gift. And it always requires that we act first, and then the power comes.” 

Do you recognize the significance of what Elder Bednar says? Christlike attributes are gifts from our Heavenly Father. When we develop more patience, it’s because our Heavenly Father has gifted us more. However, like Elder Bednar pointed out, we need to be indicating to our Father that it’s something that we’re working to receive. That’s why this next part if of the utmost importance. It’s necessary to pray for the Lord to help you develop patience. This step is the key. Jesus Christ has declared, “And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you” (3 Nephi 18:20). That scripture really speaks for itself.

Finally, it’s necessary to go back and evaluate your progress periodically in developing patience. It’s something that we have to strive continually to have. In other words, you can’t just “develop patience” one time and then be set for life. It’s something that requires attention over an extended period of time. Every so often, think back to experiences that you’ve had where you demonstrated patience and experiences where you could have been better. While doing this, always focus more on the positive than the things which you did wrong. We’re never going to be perfectly patient, so never beat yourself up for lacking patience at times. The important thing is simply to be improving little by little as time marches on. When you’re feeling discouraged, just remember that, “Yes! You are going to be good enough,” and, “Yes! You are going to make it as long as you keep repenting,” and as you keep trying to improve. (Am I Good Enough? Will I Make It?, Elder J. Devyn Cornish, October 2016 General Conference). 

Learning to be like Christ is a lifelong pursuit. Elder Robert D. Hales has recently said that, “Genuine discipleship is a state of being. This suggests more than studying and applying a list of individual attributes. Disciples live so that the characteristics of Christ are woven into the fiber of their beings, as into a spiritual tapestry.” (Becoming a Disciple of Our Lord Jesus Christ, April 2017 General Conference). As you strive to develop more patience, you will also learn more about charity, hope, kindness, and all of the other attributes that Christ has. There’s no better example to follow than that of the Savior.

Day by Day

I don't know how to play fútbol, but I bought this jersey for 20€ from an African street vendor, so it looks like I do.

I don’t know how to play fútbol, but I bought this jersey for 20€ from an African street vendor, so it looks like I do.

Email 3/7/17

Hello everybody,

As I had indicated in my last email last Monday, we went to Granada in order to have interviews with President Andersen. On Tuesday, we had our preparation day. We went to the Museum of Jaén, which was free (probably for a good reason). We also had lunch with the Bishop and his family, and he fed us some pig brains, which taste fine but have a really interesting texture. The rest of the week went pretty normally after that. 

On Tuesday, we also got the green light to go ahead and prepare Pablo for baptism! He’s our 14 year old investigator (his mom is a less active member) who has been coming to church for the past year all on his own. The Bishop and one of his counselors were able to get his parents to consent to him being baptized this week, so if everything goes as it should he’ll be baptized on Sunday! 

One thing that we’ve been trying to do is think of more creative finding techniques. Usually, the default activity for finding here is through street contacting. That works fine, but is definitely the most inefficient method for finding people who can become new investigators. One big thing that we did this week was that we worked together with the ward in order to set up a week fútbol activity. That way, we can have members invite their friends and we can invite the various people that we meet on the street to come and play. This week, it was only us, a member, and one guy we had met on the street the day before, so not super great, but we’re sure it’ll keep picking up as the weeks go by.

Now, just a few other odds and ends: Our air conditioner got fixed this week! It was great, but last week’s temperatures were about 10°C lower than the previous weeks, but it’ll be getting back up to about 40°C (104 F!) this week, so that’ll be nice to have. We found out yesterday that in September, Elder Holland of the Twelve and Elder Johnson of the Seventy are going to be visiting our mission! It’s a few months away, but we’re all excited. Benjamin left this week to Luxembourg, which was really sad to see. That’s okay though because the church is true everywhere! Also, Elder Moffat and I have been pretty much falling apart as of recently. We’ve both been kind of sick and sore and just all around exhausted recently. But, the work continues!

In the story of Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath, Elijah the prophet has the widow woman use her last bit of flour and oil to make him some food. After Elijah the prophet was fed, he made it so that the barrel of flour and the jar of oil of the widow never become empty. In one of the video depictions of this event made but the church, it shows that each time that the widow reaches for the flour barrel and the oil jar, there’s always just enough in them for one more morsel of food. Such is the same with the mission, I’ve discovered. God gives us exactly what we need in order to make it through the day and accomplish his purposes. Sometimes, it might not seem much, but I’ve seen for over a year that there’s always been enough “flour in the barrel” and “oil in the jar” to last through the day. Day after day, they’re replenished with the necessary levels for the tasks that the Lord needs to be accomplish His purpose. It’s such a blessing to be one of His missionaries, and have His constant help.

Love you all,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Don Quijote

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2: Museum of Jaén with Elder Stark, Elder Rigby, Elder Craven, and Elder Moffat

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3: Bye bye Benjamin 

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4: We live five minutes away from this

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5: The cathedral again

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7: Practicing Pokémon 

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7: Until next time 

7:3H

Happy Tuesday

Email 27/6/17

Hello everybody,

For the second time on my mission, I am having preparation day on a Tuesday. We changed it this week for two reasons. First, because there is a museum here in Jaén that we wanted to go to, but as with most museums in Spain, it is closed on Monday.

Second, we had interviews with President Andersen down in Granada yesterday. Interviews with him are always so good, so yesterday was a great day.

Last Tuesday, I turned 20 years old! It was a great birthday, especially because it was Elder Rigby’s 20th birthday as well. We celebrated by eating something like four different cakes, going over to the Bishop’s house for lunch to eat caracoles (snails), and then having a nice Kebab dinner later in the day. Needless to say, we were absolutely destroyed by food by the end of the day haha. It was a really fun day.

For the rest of the week we kept ourselves pretty busy with the pretty typical missionary work rhythm of finding and teaching. It was a tiring week, but we put some pretty solid work in. A big miracle that happened this week involved the dad of our teenaged investigator, Pablo. When Elder Moffat and I got to Jaén, we were told that because of some negative experiences that Pablo’s dad had with the missionaries in the past, it was better if we didn’t pass by their house. Up until this week, we hadn’t ever seen or talked to his dad, but we decided to go over and see what happened. We ended up staying there and talking to him for well over an hour, and hopefully helped to fix any misunderstandings that he had between him and any other missionaries in the past. Everything went just about as well as it could have. 

I was reading Elder Hale’s General Conference talk this week, “Becoming a Disciple of Jesus Christ” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/04/becoming-a-disciple-of-our-lord-jesus-christ?lang=eng). While I was reading this talk, I was thinking about His life and His example. He was the perfect example of love, charity, patience, virtue, forgiveness, and every other positive attribute that exists. In the words of Elder Hales, “Many people hear the word disciple and think it means only ‘follower.’ But genuine discipleship is a state of being. This suggests more than studying and applying a list of individual attributes. Disciples live so that the characteristics of Christ are woven into the fiber of their beings, as into a spiritual tapestry.” Something that I learned this week was that “developing Christlike attributes” isn’t done by going down a list and checking things off, but rather striving to emulate the Savior in the little things day by day. I love Him, and I’m grateful to be one of His missionaries.

I hope you all have a fantastic week!

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: District Birthday Picture of Elder Craven, Elder Stark, Elder Rigby, and Elder Moffat.

6:27A

2: Another one

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3: District meeting can’t wait even for birthdays

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4-5: Jaén ❤ 

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6: “Leave If You Can” Street

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7: Another day 

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8: With Pablo and his parents 

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9: Until next time

6:27I

100+

Email 19/20/17

Hello everybody,

First off, thank you to all of my friends and family who sent me cards for my birthday tomorrow. I wish I could thank all of you personally, every card meant a lot to me. The 20th will be a golden birthday indeed! 

This was another crazy week. As I mentioned in my email last week, I was in Málaga/Fuengirola on Sunday/Monday in order to renew my residency. It’s a two part process, so I’ll have to go back in a few weeks, which is great, because it was super fun to be with all of those missionaries, and also super important to follow the law.

This week was transfers week. Elder Cerna was finishing up his mission and going back home to Peru. The new missionary here is Elder Craven, who is going home at the end of the next transfer. He arrived in Jaén on Tuesday night, and actually spent the night with us before meeting up with Elder Rigby. 

Also on Tuesday night, Elder Moffat and I were teaching Benjamín, our recent convert. Somehow, the topic of speaking English got brought up, and he said to us, in a perfect accent, “Actually, I speak English better than I speak Spanish.” That absolutely blew our minds because we had been teaching him for the past six weeks in Spanish haha. Benjamin is doing super great. Yesterday, he received the Aaronic priesthood! The unfortunate thing is that he’s probably leaving Jaén this week for Luxembourg, but we’ve been in contact with the missionaries and bishop there, so we’re hoping for a smooth transition for him.

There was also an American family visiting Jaén on vacation at Sacrament Meeting on Sunday, and I was able to translate for them. Super nice people! It’s the little things like that which make the mission nice.

One big thing this week that we did was starting the “big list” with some of the members in our area. It’s an activity where the missionaries help the members come with a list of 100+ names of friends, family, etc., have them pray about specific people from that list that they could share a gospel message with, and then we work with the members to help them do that. There’s no better way to do missionary work than through the members!

On Saturday, there was a Stake Super Saturday for all of the young men/women and young single adults in the Granada chapel. In the morning, all of the missionaries in the Zone went to Granada to help out with a missionary activity. We all got assigned to us a few of the jóvenes/JAS, and then left to contact, knock doors, etc. for about two hours. The people I worked with included an 18 year old about ready to receive his mission call, and two investigators (one of them being our investigator Pablo). Everyone a missionary!

Also, it has been getting up to at least 100°F almost every day, and the air conditioning in our piso doesn’t work! But hey, no pasa nada, right?

Every day, I’ve been trying to read a talk from General Conference during personal study. It’s really helped me increase my testimony of the importance of modern dah profeta. We read in 2 Nephi 26:8 the following: “But behold, the righteous that hearken unto the words of the prophets, and destroy them not, but look forward unto Christ with steadfastness for the signs which are given, notwithstanding all persecution–behold, they are they which shall not perish.” Read the scriptures! Follow the prophets! Heed their counsel! It’s that simple.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Until this time (oops)

6:19A

2-3: (Almost everyone) from my CCM group in the mission office: Hermana Trujillo, Hermana Richardson, Hermana Clark, Hermana Wood; Elder Krummenacher, Elder Hollowell, Elder Stark

6:19B 6:19C

4: With Elder Cerna, Elder Rigby, and Elder Moffat

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5: Elder Cerna went home 😭 

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6: El Corte Inglés

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7: Jaén

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8: Missionary activity in Granada

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9: Elder Moffat and I with Benjamin after he received the priesthood

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10: I love you all!

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11: Until next time

6:19K

Un Traslado, Un Bautismo

Email 12/6/17

Hello everybody,

This week a million things happened. I’m actually in Málaga right now (more accurately,  the city of Fuengirola) at the mission office to renew my residency. Almost everyone from my CCM group is here too, so that’s really cool since I haven’t seen some of them since we got to the mission field almost a year ago! I left yesterday afternoon from Jaén, spent the night in Málaga, and I’ll be getting back to Jaén tonight. Best preparation day ever!

So, the biggest thing that happened this week was that Benjamin was baptized and confirmed as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! It was crazy getting everything ready for the baptism. President Andersen came to Jaén on Wednesday in order to interview him, we had the baptismal service on Saturday, and he was confirmed in church on Sunday. Benjamin is the coolest guy ever. Some of you may remember that the way we met him was because he showed up to sacrament meeting all by himself our first Sunday in Jaén. He’s actually moving to Luxembourg next week, so it was a miracle that everything went super well and he was able to be baptized here. During the baptism, when he gave his testimony, he said, “When I came to Spain, I didn’t have a family; now I do. When I go to Luxembourg, I’ll have one there too.” 

Juan, who was baptized a few weeks ago, also got the priesthood yesterday. More miracles!

On Friday, we had a ward activity with a barbecue. For some reason, the ward assigned the full time missionaries to be in charge of the games for the kids, so we spent some time during the week designing and setting up an obstacle race for the kids to get through. The activity and the obstacle course turned out super well, there were a lot of non members and menos activos who came too, so maybe we’ll be able to start working with them soon, too.

Also on Friday, Elder Moffat and I were driven by a member named Carlos to a pueblo called Acaudate to meet with our investigator named Bernardo. We taught him about the plan of salvation. It was a good lesson, and he had so many questions about everything, which is really cool, because questions mean that they want to learn! Things that happened in that lesson included the Jehova’s Witnesses stopping by to deliver a magazine, some guy without a shirt on joining us for about half and hour, and a food delivered truck coming, so all in all, it lasted about two hours. He’s doing really well though, he’s been reading the Book of Mormon and praying. Now he just needs to come to church!

Probably a million other things happened this week that I’m forgetting to write about, but that’s just the mission life! Also, Elder Moffat and I are going to be staying together in Jaén for another transfer.

On Sunday, I gave a talk in church about the joy that comes from seeing changes in the gospel. I talked about the story of Alma and Alma the younger and both of their conversion processes and the profound joy that they both experienced at the end of their respective conversions. I also talked about the joy that Alma, the father, must have felt when his son turned from someone trying to destroy the church into the strong and powerful leader that he would later become. 

As missionaries, we have the privilege of not only helping other people change, but seeing ourselves change as well. D&C 18:15-16 says, “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!” That first soul is our own soul. Accepting the gospel into our lives will always bring joy, equal with helping othesr make changes in their lives to qualify to have the same level of joy.

Have a good week!

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Cathedral in our area

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2: I’m going to Chile!

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3. Out and about

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4. We made a cake for Benjamin

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5. Accidentally went to Córdoba 

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6: Ward party

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7: Sunset

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8: Another Sunset

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9: Benjamín got baptized! 

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10: Another one from the baptism!

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11: Us and the other Elders and Jesus, the ward mission leader when Benjamin was confirmed. 

6:12A

Living After the Manner of Happiness

Cathedral

Cathedral

Email 5/6/17

Hello everybody,

This was a tiring week, but a good week. Last week for preparation day, we hiked to the top of the hill that overlooks Jaén to the Castillo de Santa Catalina. It was a really fun hike, and it felt nice to get out of the city for a little. We only got a little sunburnt and we were only a little sore for the next day or two, but it was definitely one of the most fun preparation days I’ve had in a while.

On Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, we had our intercambios with Elder Cerna and Elder Rigby. It was the first time on my mission of hosting an intercambio, where the other elders came to our area and there were twice the number of feet on the ground in out area. It was a really good intercambio, just a really solid afternoon and morning of work.  Because of the extra push from the intercambio, this week we actually got the largest number of future investigators that I’ve ever received in any one week on my mission.

I feel very blessed, because the work here has still been going along really well. There’s this one future investigator named Bernardo who lives in a pueblo 45 minutes outside of Jaén. We’ve been trying to stop by and see him this whole transfer, but things didn’t work out to us getting out there until this week. On Friday morning, we had Carlos, the Elders Quorum President, drive us out. The lesson with him went really, really well, and we set a baptismal date with him for the 22 of July. The best part is that he seems super ready to do his part and keep his commitments, so we’ll see how things go!

Benjamin has been doing well too, except this week he was pretty stressed about his family at home and wasn’t sleeping well, but he has so much faith that everything will work out. We finished teaching him about the commandments, and all we need to have is President Andersen come out to interview him, and then he can be baptized!

Also, we’ve had a baptismal date set for the 8th of July for a while with a 14-year-old investigator named Pablo. He’s basically a member already, but his parents haven’t consented to let him be baptized, but it seems like now they’re going to let him! So we are going to start teaching him and preparing him to be baptized this week!

I was reading this week in The Book of Mormon, in 2 Nephi 5. This is the chapter where the righteous Nephites separate themselves from their wicked brethren, the Lamanites. In verse 27, Nephi makes the remark that his people “lived after the manner of happiness.” When I read that, I went back through the chapter and identified four things that the Nephites were doing which permitted them to live in such a matter. They were observing the commandments of the Lord (verse 10), having the scriptures (12), temple worship (16), and being industrious (17). These still are the things that help us live in a manner of righteousness. It’s amazing how the gospel, and the things that bring true happiness, never change, isn’t it?

I love you all, thank you so much for your continued prayers and support from afar.

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Above the city a little

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2: The other Elders’ area

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3: Elder Moffat, Elder Cerna, Elder Rigby, and I

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4: We hiked to the top of the castle, and realized we didn’t bring money to pay for the admission.

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5: Views

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6. Bird’s Eye

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7: Where we live 📍

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8: Castillo de Santa Catalina 

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9. The edge of town

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9: D&C 4:4….El campo ya blanco está

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11: La 🌙 

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12: Castillo from down below 

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13: Driving in Spain

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14: Until next time 

6:5N

No hay una obra mejor (There is no better work)

Email 29/5/17

Hello everybody,

A year ago today, on Sunday, May 29, 2016, I was set apart as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It’s hard to believe that so much time has already passed so quickly. They say that the mission is “the best two years,” and during this last year, I’ve learned that “best” doesn’t mean “least stressful” or “easiest,” but rather, “worthwhile.” I’ve spent the past year doing the hardest, but most worthwhile things that I’ve ever done in my life. There are a lot of highs and lows that are experienced in missionary service, pero, sí, vale la pena (but yes, it’s worth it).  I’m excited to see what my (approximately) one year left as a missionary will entail! 

Unfortunately, this week was probably one of the “lower” and “more stressful” weeks that I’ve had on the mission; I won’t get into the details of why, but even during weeks like this, I still know that the mission life is the good life.

We spent approximately four days outside of our area this week: on Tuesday and Wednesday, we went to Granada to have intercambios with the Zone Leaders, then on Friday, we went to Málaga for the Zone Conference. That meant leaving Thursday afternoon, taking a bus down to Málaga, and then spending the night there in an “empty piso” (empty in the sense that missionaries used to live there, but the area was combined with a neighboring area about six months ago, and the mission keeps paying for the piso in the case that the area opens up again, or to have an extra place for missionaries to stay in Málaga since there’s always a ton passing through, or something along those lines). That was pretty fun, and the Zone Conference was really good as well. 

Yesterday, Juan was baptized! He was the other Elders’ investigator, but he was the person I interviewed for baptism last week, and I was asked at the last minute yesterday to be one of the witnesses to the baptism. It was a really great baptismal service! Juan’s daughter was the one who was baptized a few weeks ago, and Juan came to her baptism with no plans in his head to get baptized, but there, the spirit touched his heart, and a few weeks later, here we are. Everyone has their time.

Speaking of baptism, our investigator, Benjamin, is still on the right path headed towards entering into that covenant! If everything goes according to plan, he’ll be baptized about two weeks from now, on June 10. We gave him a Bible in French this week, and he was so happy to get it. “If everybody would read the Bible and The Book of Mormon,” he said, “there would be so many less problems in the world.” That is so true.

The scripture I want to share this week comes from 2 Nephi 2:6-8, which says:

Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.

Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.

Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.

Me encanta este evangelio. Me encanta esta obra. Estoy muy bendecido porque me queda con un año más en la misión, haciendo esta grande y maravillosa obra aquí en este parte de la viña del Señor. No hay una obra mejor.

(I love this gospel. I love this place. I am very blessed because I am left with one more year in the mission, doing this great and wonderful work here in this part of the vineyard of the Lord. There is no better work.)

Os quiero. (I love you.)

Élder Stark

Photos

1: Olives

5:29A

2: Clouds

5:29B

3: Pueblo

5:29C

4: Not our car, haha

5:29D

5: Accidentally matched ties with Elder Pack

5:29E

6:  Elder Hollowell, Elder Krummenacher, and I, one year into our missions. They’re the two other Elders in my group, this is the first time that all three of us were together since arriving to the mission.

5:29F

7: Jaén

5:29G

8: With Elder Moffat

5:29

9: Bautismo de Juan

5:29I

10: Until next time

5:29J

Hill City

Email 22/5/17

Hello everybody,

A lot of things happened this week. Monday and Tuesday were pretty normal days. On Wednesday, it seems like Elder Moffat had came down with the cold that I had last week, so we spent the day on Wednesday mostly resting. On Thursday, we went to Granada to have our interviews with President Andersen. Then, on Friday, I had to go back to Granada for a meeting with the Zone leaders and the other district leaders in the Zone. Definitely it was a bit of a crazy week.

We’re still working with our investigator from the Ivory Cost, Benjamín. We originally had a baptismal date set with him for this Saturday, but we’ll have to move it back a bit. The only thing that’s holding back his progress a bit right now is the fact that we weren’t able to meet with him as much during the week as we wanted to just because of some conflicts between his schedule and ours. It’s going well though, he’s been to church for three weeks in a row and has come to a few of the activities during the week like English Class, Family Home Evening, and a fútbol activity we had on Saturday. His roommate came to church too yesterday, so that was super exciting. 

Besides that, we don’t have many other people that would be considered investigators. We still have a good amount of futuros to work with, so that’s great, but it’s definitely pretty easy to get someone’s information that you meet on the street and pretty hard to actually sit down and have a lesson with them. Élder Cerna, one of the other missionaries here, told me in the nine weeks that he’s been in Jaén, he’s found 250 futuros just by street contacting. Of those 250 people, he’s only taught five of them, and only one has turned into a progressing investigator. I don’t even know how many people he had to talk to in the first place to even find those 250 people since, obviously, the vast majority of people on the street won’t even want to stop and talk. So that’s what we’re up against here.

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to carry out a baptismal interview for the first time. It was for a man named Juan, who is actually the father of Rebecca, the woman who was baptized a few weeks ago. Even though he’s got the appearance of a big, tough mechanic, he’s a super nice guy who really just wants to do what’s right. Hearing him talk about the changes that he’s made in his life because of the gospel and the person that he wants to become was incredible. He was bearing his testimony at the end of the interview and the spirit was so strong. Being able to participate in that interview was such a blessing.

Earlier in the day yesterday, before the interview, I was reading in The Book of Mormon, in Mosiah 18, the account of Alma baptizing in the waters of Mormon. After Alma had taught the people about “repentance, and redemption, and faith on the Lord,” and asked the people if they were desirous to be baptized, “they clapped their hands for joy, and exclaimed: This is the desire of our hearts.” I know that keeping the commandments and following the example of Jesus Christ gives us that joy. It always has and it always will, and I’m grateful for the chances that I’ve had to see people experience that joy for themselves.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: This archway is the last remaining part of what was once an ancient cathedral

5:22A

2: We love hills

5:22B

3: Hill city

5:22C

4: Clouds

5:22D

5: Fútbol on Saturday

5:22E

6: Until next time

5:22F

Oh Say, What is Truth?

Email 15/5/17

Hello everybody,

This was kind of a weird week, not in a bad way, but definitely an unusual week. On Wednesday night, there was a training meeting for all of the district leaders in the mission at the mission home in Fuengirola. That required leaving Monday morning, taking a 5 hour bus to get to Málaga, and then a 1 hour train ride to get to Fuengirola. We had the meeting that evening, spent the night in the mission home, and then spent the rest of Thursday traveling back to Jaén. It was a super good meeting, and a really fun time as well. On Friday, I woke up pretty sick and had to stay in piso all day on Friday and Saturday. So there wasn’t a lot of time to do a lot of “normal” missionary work unfortunately, but weeks like this just happen.

I mentioned before that Elder Moffat and I are whitewashing this area, and we got here without really that much to walk into. There were a lot of potential investigators, but we basically had to start from scratch. Miraculously, we already have two investigators progressing to baptismal dates. The first one is a teenager named Pablo who has been coming to church every week for a long time, but hasn’t been baptized because his father wouldn’t let him, but he seems to think that his father might change his mind this time around, so we’ll see.

Our other investigator is named Benjamin. He’s from Côte D’Ivoire originally and is here as a refugee. Circumstances made him leave his wife and his two year old daughter behind in his country and he’s here in Spain for a while as he’s trying to get to France or Luxembourg to live more permanently there. We met him because he showed up to church a week ago because one of his friends here recommended it to him. He actually tried to come two weeks ago, but nobody was here because that day was the stake conference in Granada, so I’m super glad he decided to come back another week! It’s been great to teach him. He told us the other day that he already knows that the Book of Mormon is true, and now we’re just helping him on the road to baptism. It’s one of the biggest miracles I’ve seen on my mission.

For whatever reason, I’ve had the hymn, “Oh Say, What is Truth?” In my head this entire week. I love the whole hymn, but I especially like the final verse:

Then say, what is truth? ’Tis the last and the first,

For the limits of time it steps o’er.

Tho the heavens depart and the earth’s fountains burst,

Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst,

Eternal, unchanged, evermore.

There’s always a lot of opposition as a missionary, as a member of the church, a follower of Christ. I am so grateful that the gospel, the “fairest gem,” will indeed “weather the worst” and “endure to the last.” I know in whom and in what I’ve put my trust, and I know that no matter what happens or what fights need to be faced, the truth will always come off conquerer. In the words of President Monson, “We are blessed to have the truth. We have a mandate to share the truth. Let us live the truth, that we might merit all that the Father has for us.” The power of the truth is true power.

I hope that everyone has a great week!

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Distrito de Jaén: Elder Stark, Elder Rigby, Elder Cerna, and Elder Moffat 

5:15A

2: Another of the district 

5:15B

3: Jaén, the world capital of olive oil

5:15C

4-7: Bus ride to Málaga

5:15D 5:15E 5:15F 5:15G

8: Mission home

5:15H

9: Elder Smith, Elder Jarvis, and me. Elder Jarvis and I were companions for two transfers in Motril, and Elder Smith was comps with him there before I came. Elder Smith also served in my first area in Elche two transfers before I got there.

5:15I

10: Skype

5:15J

11: Until next time

5:15K

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