Yeah. Another week.
On Monday evening, we went to teach our investigator, Mike, the American. He is half Spanish and half American, was born here in Spain, but lived in the States for a long time and served in the Navy. Being in his house feels like being back in the States. We had a really good lesson with him covering some points of the plan of salvation, and I tell you, the Book of Mormon really came in handy during that lesson. Probably because it contains answers to the great questions of the soul (Why am I here? What is my purpose in life? Where am I going after this life?) and those questions are answered so amazing clearly in the scriptures.
On Wednesday, we went to go to our weekly noche de Hogar / correlation meeting with our branch mission leader, Miguel Ángel and his family, and we we got there his wife, María José, told us to come back in 15 minutes because her husband wasn’t back from work yet. So, we went to the house of this guy named Juan who lived pretty close, wanting to stop by and set up a time to meet with him later, but instead of finding him there, we met his daughter and son in law. We were able to teach them about the Book of Mormon with the little time we had, give them one, and set up a time to meet the next day. Although they weren’t there when we came back, it was a miracle enough being able to place that book with them.
On Friday, when we were on intercambios with Elder Cox and Elder Moon in Él Puerto de Santa Maria, Elder Cox and I had a really good contact where we taught this guy about the importance of the Book and why it sets us apart from other religions (i.e. continuing revelation). The Book of Mormon came in handy once again as a powerful witness of Christ and the restoration of His church on this dispensation.
Lastly, on Saturday and Sunday, we attended general conference. Multiple of the men who we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators gave powerful discourses on this magnificent book. In President Nelson’s words:
“Something powerful happens when a child of God seeks to know more about Him and His Beloved Son. Nowhere are those truths taught more clearly and powerfully than in the Book of Mormon . . . When I think of the Book of Mormon, I think of the word power. The truths of the Book of Mormon have the power to heal, comfort, restore, succor, strengthen, console, and cheer our souls.”
I want to share my testimony with all of you that The Book of Mormon is indeed God’s words, and I have felt it’s power in my life by reading and applying its teachings day by day. Because of this book, I know that God “shall consecrate [mine] afflictions for [my] gain” (2 Nephi 2:2). Surely the family of the late Elder Robert D. Hales is finding comfort that “that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise” (Alma 40:12). And certainty we all can benefit from following Moroni’s invitation to, “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness” (Moroni 10:32). What a perfect book.
Élder Stark 🇪🇸
1: Obligatory cloud picture
2: Some crabs and dirt
3: South Bay in San Fernando
4: Hamburguesas with Domingo
5: Elder Cox is the best
6: When Elder Moon and I were stuck in a bus for an hour and a half
7: It was because of a bike race (I realize you can’t see bikes in this picture)
8: Until next time
I think this is my 70th weekly email that I’ve sent out. I wonder if anyone still reads these. But if not, it doesn’t matter, because I’ve written in anyways, and even if it just sits in your inbox for the rest of eternity, doesn’t matter either because I’ve done my part.
Well, on Tuesday, we had a Zone meeting in San Fernando, which continued on our streak of having to get up early and travel places for the meetings and conferences that was going on the previous week. At the conference, Elder Kassing and I preformed an arrangement of “I Need Thee Every Hour” and “Nearer My God To Thee” that I made. He sang and I played the piano. After the meeting, I was able to eat the Dominos all you can eat pizza buffet for the first time since February, so that was pretty nice.
On Tuesday evening, we had a nice noche de Hogar with three of our members and two investigators, Maru and Angel. (That makes it sound like they have some sort of relationship, but they don’t — they’re just two friends of one of the members.) We taught them about the restoration, and it went really well. Noche de hogars are the best!
At one point this week, a member fed us “menudo,” which is a dish where the main ingredient is tripe. Or in other words, cow stomach. It was actually pretty decent, as long as I wasn’t thinking too much into it.
On Saturday, we went over to El Puerto de Santa Maria because the hermanas there were having a baptism! Apparently what happened was they had invited Manuel, their investigators, a few weeks ago to be baptized on the 23rd and asked him to think about and pray for that date to accept the invitation, because I guess he hesitated accepting it or something. Anyways, they had a lesson with this past Wednesday, and he surprised them by asking, “so, am I still getting baptized this Sunday?” So, they organized a baptism for him really quickly, and Manuel was baptized on Saturday! Elder Kassing and I were the witnesses for the baptism. There’s nothing better than a surprise baptism.
Elder Kassing and I also preformed our musical number there, and after the service, one of the Zone leaders asked us to play it at one of their upcoming baptisms, and we’re going to do it in sacrament meeting here sometime too, so we were joking around that we’re just going to change our assignments and go on tour now, but I guess we are only a one hit wonder, so maybe that’s not very wise yet.
Also this week, we had a cita with a member, an older man named Antonio, who was baptized a few years ago. He told us the story of how he was introduced to the restored gospel and why he decided to let the missionaries in to talk to him. He said that one day, he was walking down the street in Sanlúcar, and saw two Mormon missionaries walking down the street at a normal, brisk, missionary pace. Also walking down the street was an older lady who’s grocery bags suddenly broke. Even though the missionaries had already passed her some time ago, they turned around, and helped her out with her things. This simple act of service is what convinced Antonio to listen with the missionaries when they showed up on his doorstep sometime later. Obviously, we don’t serve other people to look good in the eyes of men, but miracles certainly do come from serving and helping others.
As the hymn “Have I Done Any Good?” says:
Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone’s burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?
Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.
Don’t forget to serve! Also, don’t forget to watch General Conference this weekend. It’d be kind of stupid not to, for as the Lord has said, “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38), and who wouldn’t want to be taught by the voice of the Lord?
Élder Stark 🇪🇸
1: Elder Kassing and I saying goodbye to Hermana Gibson, who went home this week
2: La Zona De San Fernando
4: Not quite the full mission, but Elder Holland is in this picture
5: Here I am
6: This is the full mission, just without Elder Holland (we took a group picture before and after the conference because a number of missionaries arrived late, but Elder Holland couldn’t stick around for the second set of photos)
7: That’s me
9: Until next time
I think that I always start my emails saying that it was a crazy week, but this week was indeed an insane one. So I’ll just kind of go through it day by day.
On Monday, we decided to go to Él Puerto de Santa Maria and have a district preparation day. Puerto is an interesting place because there’s an American Naval base really close by, and a couple thousand of Americans that live in the city. In fact, Puerto is home to what I believe is the only English-speaking church unit in Spain, which is the military branch. We mostly just played fútbol and ate at Burger King and emailed.
Tuesday was mostly a normal day. We had a noche de Hogar with a member and a few of her friends who want to know more about the church, and it doesn’t get much better than doing missionary work with the members.
On Wednesday, we met with Alfonso, who is an investigator. He had been meeting with the missionaries some time ago, stopped for whatever reason, but had recently called them back up desiring to meet again. We were able to have a super good lesson with him about the Plan of Salvation, and he accepted a baptismal date for October 7th! So let’s hope that keeps going well!
On Thursday, we had to go back to Puerto to have our district meeting. Then on Friday, we had to go back to Puerto for a third time that week. I just realized that three times is a lot of times to go to Puerto in a week. On Friday, we spent the night there so that we could wake up super early on Saturday morning to catch a bus to go to Málaga because of our mission conference with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles!
It was such a blessing to be able to have an Apostle of the Lord visit us, and it was also super cool to have the entire Spain Málaga mission together — all 180+ missionaries — for the first time in years. To give a recap of what happened at the meeting, Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy (and President of the Europe Area) was also there with his wife, and they both shared some remarks with us. Looking back on my notes, they both talked a lot about love and how, in the words of Elder Johnson, “the real power of the Gospel of Christ is in love and in truth.” Then, we were able to hear from Elder Holland. The subject line of my email is a comment he made referring to what generally happens when he visits missions with problems with disobedience or other things. Haha. Luckily, he said that he his eyes we have “a good and loyal mission” and that “the mission seems in good shape,” so we were spared from the caña de Holland. I mean, he only pounded the pulpit four times, so that’s a pretty good sign, right? His remarks touched on a lot of the things related to the importance of sharing the gospel in preparation for the second coming of Jesus Christ, working hard and “swimming ’till the last stroke” of the mission, and the importance of teaching about revelation! We also all got to shake his hand. It’s a shame that this Conference only lasted two hours because the spirit was in such a rich supply there, but it’ll certainly be an experience that I will never forget.
Then yesterday, Sunday, we had to get up early again because it was stake conference here in the Cádiz stake. This involved taking another bus ride, this time to San Fernando. One of our eternagators, Moisés, came with us mostly because he has a man crush on the Stake President. Unfortunately, due to some disagreements he’s had with some of the members, things ended up going super badly and now we’re kind of worrying about how to fix things up, but things always end up working themselves out.
That’s all from Spain for this week. I love you all.
Élder Stark 🇪🇸
1: District preparation day in BK
2: Always clouds
3: Atlantic Ocean
4: Party bus
5: Not so party bus
6: Las preguntitas: Hermana Brantley, Elder Kassing, Hermana Gibson (who was in my district in Elche), Elder Moon, Elder Cox (who was in the Granada district with me), and Elder Stark
7: Stake conference with Moisés
8: Until next time