Elder Jared Stark

Serving in the Spain Málaga Mission

Page 2 of 11

Lift Up Your Voices

Email 7/8/17

Hello everybody,

Last Monday, as we were enjoying preparation day in the chapel, we got a call from President Andersen informing us of an emergency transfer in the mission affecting the other set of elders here in Jaén. The next day, Elder Rigby left to go to Ciudad Real and Elder Trowell came from Huelva to be companions with Elder Craven. That provided a sufficiently crazy start to the week.

Also on Monday, we had another lesson with Olga. She’s doing good, progressing little by little. We have been able to get through 2/3 of the Restoration with her so far, so it’s definitely going a bit slower than “normal,” but she has been keeping her commitments to pray and read, so it just goes to show that everybody has their own pace of learning.

We’ve still been keeping in touch with Jorge this week, but he has been a bit busy with moving, so we really haven’t been able to see him too much, but we’ll probably be able to see him a bit more this week. We ate lunch with him on Wednesday, and that was about it.

This week I was able to do a baptismal interview for Juani, an investigator of the other Elders. Those interviews are for sure some of the most spiritual parts of this work. She hopefully will be getting baptized this week, but has to go to France for a few days, so it’s still a bit up in the air what’ll happen.

One night last week, we were contacting in the street, and we were stopped by a lady named Lola. She approached us saying things like “you guys worship Joseph Smith, don’t you, etc.” Of course, we tried to set the record straight with her, found out she was a Jehovah’s Witness, and ended up talking with her on this street corner for over half an hour. She told us that she thought we were really sincere young men, and wanted to keep talking to us, but somewhere a bit calmer. So she told us to follow her to a park by her house, but she wanted us to follow her at a distance so that nobody from her church would see her with us and judge her for talking to the Mormons. We ended up following her for almost 30 minutes to the other side of town, and she kept looking back and subtlety gesturing at us to keep following her. It was very bizarre, but super funny shadowing this old testigo lady at her request. Once we got to the park, we talked for a few more minutes and then set up another cita to meet there. When we came back for the second cita, she had brought some of the Jehovah’s Witness study material, and our understanding was that she would share a little bit about her church with us and we’d be able to share our beliefs with her. Unfortunately though, once she had finished sharing her thing, she indicated she had no interest in “listening to our lies” and unfortunately, that was that. 

I think that my favorite part of the week was our lesson with Nabil, our investigator from Morocco. As we were teaching him, he stopped us and said, “There’s something that I feel like I need to tell you guys. That day when you contacted me on the street last week, I was praying to God to know if he even existed, and if there was more to life, and right when I finished my prayer is when you stopped me and talked to me. I took that as an answer from God to my my prayer.” He’s still finding out if what we’ve been teaching him is true and from God, but he’s accepted an invitation to be baptized, and I have no doubt that his prayers to find out the truthfulness of this message will be answered, too.

Here are some scriptures that were especially applicable for the mission this week. The first is D&C 123:12:

“For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it–

Therefore, as it says in D&C 100:4-6:

“…I, the Lord, have suffered you to come unto this place; for thus it was expedient in me for the salvation of souls. Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men; For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.”

I testify of the truthfulness of this promise for I have seen it fulfilled time and time again. The Lord wants his children to know the truth, and he calls missionaries to communicate it. The work is true. Miracles happen every day, and God is the one who is directing this work.

Love you all,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Elder Liza cut my hair

8:7A

2: Preparation day lunch

8:7B

3: Elder Liza, Carlos, Elder Stark, Olga

8:7C

4: Elder Stark, Elder Craven, Elder Liza, Elder Rigby

8:7D

5: When district pictures go bad

8:7E

6: Goodbye Elder Rigby

8:7F

7-9: JAÉN

8:7G 8:7H 8:7I

10: Until next time

8:7J

Another One

Email 31/7/17

Hello everybody,

Another preparation day, another week, another month, and another transfer. Time keeps marching on.

On Monday, we went back to the pueblo of Úbeda to teach Olga again. We had a lesson with her about our relationship with Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ, and how we can communicate with them through prayer. We have another lesson with her tonight, and hopefully things will keep going well, poco a poco.

Besides that, the first part of last week consisted of helping Elder Moffat get ready and go off to his next area. Accordingly, on Wednesday, he left, and my new companion, Elder Liza, arrived. He’s from Peru but has been living in a city in the north of Spain named Pamplona for the past 11 years. He’s also a convert of about two years, so it’s been really interesting to see his perspective on missionary work after having been “on the other side of the the table.” I, and I believe all of the rest of the companions that I’ve had, were raised in the church, so there’s certain parts to the conversion process that we obviously can’t understand having not been in that position. I also had to say goodbye to my crutch of being able to speak English whenever I wanted to, which is probably for the best.

Things have been going really well so far. We were able to find two new investigators in the past few days. One of them is named Nabil, who is from Morocco, and is really interested in the precept of a modern day prophet. We taught him about The Restoration on Saturday, and should be meeting again with him this week. The other new investigator is named Jorge, who is from Mexico, and has had contact with the church and the missionaries in the past. He’s actually invited us over to dinner for the past three nights in a row, and we’re starting to reteach him the missionary lessons and respond to his questions and doubts about the church. In addition to them, we’ve been able to set things up with some menos activos that we’ve been trying to get into contact with for a while now, so yeah. Everything is going pretty good right now, even with the heat and the hills and everybody being out of town for vacations.

One of my favorite parts of the Book of Mormon has always been the story of King Limhi’s people, as found on Mosiah 21. Maybe I’ve shared this before in one of my previous emails, but it’s something that I had reviewed this week, and I’d like to share it again. At this time, the people of King Limhi were under the yoke of bondage of the Lamanites. It was a miserable position to be in. As the record states, “. . . they did humble themselves even to the dust, subjecting themselves to the yoke of bondage, submitting themselves to be smitten, and to be driven to and fro, and burdened, according to the desires of their enemies.”

Their response to this situation was to “. . . humble themselves even in the depths of humility; and they did cry mightily to God; yea, even all the day long did they cry unto their God that he would deliver them out of their afflictions.”

Humility lead them to pray, although, “. . . the Lord was slow to hear their cry because of their iniquities; nevertheless the Lord did hear their cries, and began to soften the hearts of the Lamanites that they began to ease their burdens; yet the Lord did not see fit to deliver them out of bondage.”

The Lord always hears and answers our prayers. Sometimes those answers are not what we were hoping. I’m sure that the people of King Limhi were praying in order to be delivered from bondage, but the will of the Lord was to keep them where they were. Nevertheless, the Lord began to bless them “. . . that they began to prosper by degrees in the land, and began to raise grain more abundantly, and flocks, and herds, that they did not suffer with hunger.”

From this, and from personal experiences I’ve had with prayer, I know that Heavenly Father listens to every prayer, from every one of his children. He always answers them too. Even though these answers may not be what we expect, or come in our timing, all we need to do is trust in the Lord, and trust in his timing. Prayer works.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos 

1-2: Elder Moffat, Elder Craven, Elder Rigby, Elder Stark

7:31A 7:31B

3: Snuck my way in

7:31C

4: Goodbye Elder Moffat

7:31D

5: Esperando

7:31E

6-7 At it again 

7:31F

7:31G

8: Jorge and Elder Liza

7:31H

9: Really wants to go home

7:31I

10: Until next time 

7:31J

Tirando

Email 24/7/17

Hello everybody,

May as well kick this email off with the transfer news. Elder Moffat is leaving here to go to Molina de Segura, and I’ll be staying here and getting a new companion on Wednesday named Elder Liza! I’ve never met him, but I believe he is originally from Peru, but his family lives in Barcelona now, so it’ll be great for my Spanish to have a native companion. I’m really excited for transfers, always bring a nice boost of energy.

This week involved a decent amount of traveling. Several weeks ago, we received a reference for a lady named Olga who lives in a pueblo named Úbeda, which is about an hour away from where we live. We had tried a few times to get in contact with her and set up a time to meet, but nothing ever worked out, so we decided that we’d go over once and try to meet with her face to face before we stopped trying. Luckily, the one and only member that lives there, Vanessa, the Relief Society president, was able to come with us, and to our surprise, we were actually able to go in and have a super good lesson with Olga and her family! We have a return appointment for this evening. We also met a friend of Vanessa while we were there, and he’s had some interest in learning about the church, but has kind of been suspicious of us as missionaries, so he’s had a lot of reservations about meeting with us. The next day, Vanessa called us and told us that we made a big impression on him (all we did was just a few minutes of chit chat and offered him service), and showed him that we’re not just here to “force people to be Mormon,” but to serve and help everybody. 

On Wednesday, I had to go to the mission office in Fuengirola in order to finish my residency, so that I am legally in Spain until the end of my mission. This took up the entire day, most of it was spent in bus and train getting to and from the mission office.

For the afternoon on Saturday, we decided to go to a pueblo named Torredelcampo, which is only about 15 minutes outside of the city. We were just trying to pass by a few menos activos (less actives) that live there. It was pretty fun. There was one who lived in the next pueblo over, so we walked on this cool road that cuts through an olive orchard (which really, any road outside of the city cuts through an olive orchard because there’s so many olive trees in the province of Jaén). I think that by the end of the day, we had walked something like 10 miles. 

The last couple of weeks have been especially hard and stressful for me, for a variety of reasons that I won’t get into. I was feeling pretty dead by the time church came around on Sunday, but going really helped to recharge my batteries. In the priesthood class, we watched the talk “Songs Sung and Unsung” by Elder Holland (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/04/songs-sung-and-unsung?lang=eng). It reminded me that even though we all have different voices, there’s a place for each of us in our Heavenly Father’s choir. In Sunday school, Elder Moffat and I taught the gospel principles class about the scriptures, and I was reminded about the great power that comes as a result of a consistent study of the word of God. In Sacrament Meeting, someone gave a talk based off of the hymn “God Speed the Right” (in Spanish, “Dios da valor,” or literally translated, “God Gives Courage”) and it was a good reminder that God does indeed give us courage to get through the hard parts of life. Something that we always tell people is that “church is like a hospital for spiritually wounded,” and I felt a lot of that healing power of the Savior’s Atonement coming into my life yesterday.

Love you all,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

P.S. Over this past weekend, there was a baptism in Motril, my last area. I never knew the person who was baptized, but it was the first baptism there since 2014, so I was really happy to see that!

Photos

1: Off to Úbeda 

7:24A

2: José Castro

7:24B

3: Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

7:24C

4: Aquí estoy (I’m here)

7:24D

5: Torredelcampo

7:24E

6: Until next time

7:24F

Intercambios

Email 17/7/17

Hello everybody,

This week was the week two of intercambios (exchanges). On Tuesday and Wednesday, we had them with Elder Rigby and Elder Craven, and since I’m the district leader, they came to our area to work. But, since they had citas set with some of their investigators, we actually ended up working in their area a bit. Which is fine, because we’re all pulling for the same team! So, on Tuesday evening, Elder Craven went to a pueblo called Mancha Real to teach an investigator named Juani who is a friend of Juan/Rabeca (who both were baptized last transfer), so things keep multiplying! Amazing! Elder Rigby and I spent Wednesday morning contacting and passing by some members, so that was great.

On Thursday and Friday, we had intercambios in Granada with the Zone leaders, Elder Ramirez and Elder Krummenacher. Elder Ramirez and I spent a nice night contacting, but what was super cool about this morning was being able to go with Elder Krummenacher the next morning and teach a lesson to one of their investigators. You may remember that Elder Krummenacher and I were companions in the CCM, and this week was coincidentally our one year anniversary of being in the mission field. It was super cool being able to be with him and see how much we’ve grown and changed within the past year. There, we would teach lessons to our “investigators” in the CCM just reciting pre written sentences out of the language books, and a year later, we were able to go through an hour lesson without even having to worry about the language, and just focus on the promptings from the spirit. I really wish that I could have seen that moment a year ago, because it was sure hard to ever see myself getting to this point in my mission. 

After all of these intercambios, I was just hit hard with feeling really tired and burnt out, and was just feeling really anxious and unsettled on Friday and Saturday. Luckily, we had a great service opportunity on Friday, helping a member move, and that service helped a lot. Then on Saturday, we took things a bit slower, and I’m definitely feeling better now, but wow, the mission sure takes it all out of you sometimes. 

I had a pretty special experience in church yesterday. Before sacrament meeting started, we had scoped out a seat near the back of the chapel, but felt like we should move forward to one of the front rows. So, we did, and sat next to an older member of the ward who was sitting alone. When we sat down, she turned to me and said, “Thank you for coming to sit by me. I’ve been feeling really lonely lately, and I’m happy that you chose to sit by me. It’s a miracle.” That was a very humbling experience to know that the spirit had directed us to go sit by her. There’s a part of one of the youth theme songs that says, paraphrasing President Monson:

I can’t think of anything more sweet

Than to follow where the spirit leads

Be the answer to someone else’s prayer

A lot of the times, we, in the words of President Hinckley, “never know how much good we do.” If we’re living our lives in harmony with the commandments to be worthy to have the guidance of the Holy Ghost, and if we follow the impressions which we receive, we are literally the hands of God, carrying out his purposes and helping out his children in need. So, that experience in church was a very special manifestation of that.

I love all of you, and hope you all have a great week!

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: My companion was trunky

7:17A

2: Going for a ride

7:17B

3: With my angelito Elder Krummenacher 

7:17C

4: The views

7:17D

5: The views 2.0

7:17E

6: The views 3.0

7:17F

7: Until next time

7:17G

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!!!

7:10B

3: Santiago, or, The Realest OG

7:10C

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

7:10D

5: With Jesús

7:10E

6: Elder Stark, Pablo, Elder Moffat, Carlos

7:10F

7: With Pablo, Jesús, and the Bishop haha

7:10G

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

7:3A

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

7:3B

3: Bye bye Benjamin 

7:3C

4: We live five minutes away from this

7:3E

5: The cathedral again

7:3F

7: Practicing Pokémon 

7:3G

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.

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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

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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)

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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

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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

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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. 

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