Elder Jared Stark

Serving in the Spain Málaga Mission

Page 2 of 11

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

6:12B

2: I’m going to Chile!

IMG_3739.JPG

3. Out and about

IMG_3730.JPG

4. We made a cake for Benjamin

IMG_3735.JPG

5. Accidentally went to Córdoba 

IMG_3743.JPG

6: Ward party

6:12F

7: Sunset

6:12G

8: Another Sunset

6:12H

9: Benjamín got baptized! 

6:12I

10: Another one from the baptism!

6:12J

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

6:5B

2: The other Elders’ area

6:5C

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

6:5D

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

6:5E

5: Views

6:5F

6. Bird’s Eye

6:5G

7: Where we live 📍

6:5H

8: Castillo de Santa Catalina 

6:5I

9. The edge of town

6:5J

9: D&C 4:4….El campo ya blanco está

6:5O

11: La 🌙 

6:5K

12: Castillo from down below 

6:5L

13: Driving in Spain

6:5M

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

Here in Jaen

Email 8/5/17

Hello everybody,

As most transfer weeks are, this week was crazy. After six months of serving in Motril, I’ve left the familiarity of my surroundings there and am now in Jaén! It’s only about a two hour bus ride inland from the Motril coast, but it’s definitely different. The weather here is a lot warmer and drier. Additionally, Jaén is built on the side of a mountain, and there are steep hills EVERYWHERE here, especially in our area. Also, Jaén is one of the highest exporting parts of the world of olive oil, so there are so many olive trees everywhere surrounding the city, and because of that, we’ve had some problems with allergies, but we’re bought some medicine which is helping. Jaén is a super cool place though. It’s got a city feel, but you can still see past the buildings to the mountains. There’s also a ton of parks and green spaces in our area. I love it.

Like I said in my last email, Elder Moffat is my new companion. He’s from Las Vegas and has been out on the mission about six months less that I have. Last week, we thought that we were going to be staying as a part of my last district in Granada, but it turns out that we’re going to be in our own district with the other two Elders here in Jaén. They are Elder Cerna, who finishes his mission in five weeks, and Elder Rigby who’s just arrived to the mission field. So we’re all at pretty different points in the mission. I’ve also been assigned to be the district leader here.

Elder Moffat and I have been working especially hard to get acquainted with our area and the people here because we’re both new here. We don’t really have any investigators, but luckily we inherited a lot of future investigators when we got here and have found even more in the last few days. People seem more open to stopping and talking to us than they were in Motril, even if they’re not interested. Our goal for this coming week is going to be converting some of our futuros into investigators.

I definitely have forgotten the perks of serving in a ward and having the support of so many members behind us. The ward here seems really great and really happy to help us missionaries. There was a baptism here on Saturday; the grown up granddaughter of one of the members in the ward was baptized. I played the piano for it. It was a good opportunity to meet a lot of members and their families. 

Things are going really good so far. I was a bit nervous about this change, given the whitewash situation, but I’m really excited to be in Jaėn. I started reading the Book of Mormon over again recently, and I noticed for the first time how cool of a scripture 1 Nephi 7:12 is. It says, “Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him.” There is such straightforwardness to the gospel. We keep the commandments and we exercise faith, and we will be blessed. I felt a lot of those blessings this week, especially with everything that’s happened in our new area. 

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: Last photo with the Granada district. Hermana Woods, Hermana Gentry; Elder Pack, Elder Ramirez, Elder Morgan, Elder Stark, Elder Cox, Elder De La Rosa, Elder Bird

5:8A

2: Elder Pack and myself and Alberto

5:8B

3: Last night in Motril

5:8C

4: The member who was driving me from the bus station to our piso got ticketed for talking on his phone.

5:8D

5-7: Scenes from Jaén

5:8E 5:8F 5:8G

8: Elder Moffat and I

5:8H

9-10: More scenes from Jaén

5:8J

5:8I

11: Baptism 

5:8K

12: Until next time

5:8L

Leaving Motril

Email 1/5/17

Hello everybody,

Yesterday, we received notice of the transfer changes. I’m actually being transferred to another area within my current district (which was a bit of a surprise), to the city of Jaén. It is a few hours inland from where Motril is on the cost. My new companion will be Elder Moffat. All I know about him right now is that he is from Las Vegas, NV, has around six months less time than I do in the mission, and was trained by Elder De La Rosa, the district leader here. Also, we’re whitewashing / reopening that area, so we’ll both be new there. You see, Jaén typically has two companionships (four missionaries) there, but for the last transfer, there’s only been one companionship of three missionaries there. So this will be an adventurous start to this transfer, heading into this new area with a lot of unknowns.

Of course, that means that my six months here in Motril is coming to a close. I’m definitely going to miss it. I’ve met a lot of great people here and have learned a ton from this area. Changes are always bittersweet moments. 

On Sunday (yesterday), we had stake conference. It was in the Granada chapel with all of the members from here, Málaga, Almería, Jaén, etc. in attendance. The chapel and overflow seating areas, which are basically the same size as a chapel and cultural center in a typical church building in the states, were packed full of people. It was quite the different experience from the small 10 people sacrament meetings that I’ve grown accustomed to here. 

It was a really good conference. Elder Patrick Kearon of the seventy (and also president of the Europe area) was there, as well as Elder Karl D. Hirst, a newly called area seventy. Elder Kearon spoke about how to make the messages we heard in the stake conference last “past Tuesday,” or in other words, how to actually put things into practice in order to achieve our goals and become more like the Savior. He was walking around, greeting members before the conference started, so I was able to shake his hand and talk to him for a second, so that was cool.

A bunch of other things happened this week. For starters, we went up to Granada to do intercambios with Elder De La Rosa and Elder Bird. It was a really, really good intercambio. Elder De La Rosa and I had the opportunity to teach about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ to one of their new investigators, and it was probably one of the best lessons I’ve had on my mission. The spirit was so strong, and we were able to commit that investigator to being baptized this month! 

Also, later in the week, Elder Pack and I decided that we wanted to pass by the house of this future investigator we found while street contacting a few months ago. This guy was from Morocco, and every time that we’ve passed by his house in the past, he’s been in Morocco, working. Not this time though! His Spanish isn’t the best, and we can’t really speak Arabic, but luckily we had copies of the Book of Mormon and pamphlets in Arabic, so we were able to start teaching him and his family about the restoration. We’ve only had one lesson with them, but they expressed that they are very excited to learn more about Jesus Christ, so that was super exciting! الكنيسة صحيحة!

I’ve been thinking about the scripture Moroni 10:32 a lot this week: “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.” It is such a powerful verse and important invitation. The promise here is also incredibly straightforward. As we choose to come unto Christ by following the commandments and making covenants, we are perfected in Him. I love Him. I love this promise. So simple, but so true. Come unto Him.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: The District (feat. The Gibsons who dropped by our district meeting on Tuesday): Hermana Gentry, Hermana Woods, Elder Carter, Elder Bird; Hermana Gibson, Elder Gibson, Elder Cox, Elder Cerna, Elder Stark, Elder Ramirez, Elder Morgan, Elder Pack, Elder De La Rosa

5:1A

2: Another one of the district

5:1B

3: Random statue in Granada

5:1C

4: Also in Granada

5:1D

5: Nora, (Elder Pack), Celia, and Me

5:1E

6: With Sid and Eve, from England

5:1F

7: Sleeping

5:1G

8: Elder Pack and me with Juan and Jennifer

5:1H

9: Sunday Sunrise

5:1I

10: En camino

5:1J

11: Until next time

5:1K

A Book From God

Email 24/4/17

Hello everybody,

Another week in Motril has come and gone. President Andersen stopped by on Thursday to do our interviews for the transfer, and he told me that, not surprisingly, I’m going to be transferred out of Motril when the transfer ends next week. I still have no idea to where I’ll be headed, so stay tuned.

It was a pretty “normal” week here in terms of the work and everything. On Wednesday, we went out to Sid’s house (the member from England) to help him finish putting up a fence. That involved digging holes, cementing poles into the ground, and then hanging up the fencing wire to the poles. It was pretty nice to be able to get out of the city and spend some time in the campo.

We were able to get in contact with Miguel during the week because luckily he was home one of the times that we passed by his house. We were basically like, “hey, how’s it going, it’s been a while since we’ve seen you guys, everything ok?” And he was like, “yeah, everything’s fine, don’t worry, everything’s fine,” and then we asked if they’d have any time to have a cita with us, and he was like, “I’m still not sure when we’ll have time again but don’t worry. No os preocupéis.” So we’ll see.

One night, as we were contacting people, we met this 76 year old lady from Mar del Plata, Argentina, which is the town where Presidente Izquierdo is from. We invited her to come to church, and she actually came and stayed for all three hours and really liked it. Only problem is that she believes in some pretty weird spiritually stuff, but it’s still super cool that a person who we talked to for only 10 minutes on the street actually came to church because that basically never happens. 

We also got a reference during the week from some missionaries in Málaga that contacted a person on the street there who lives in Motril and was interested in meeting with the missionaries. The talked to this guy about four months ago and then never sent the reference to us until a few days ago, so better late than never! We showed up to the guy’s house, and he was still interested, so we taught him a lesson and should be heading back today to teach him some more.

We went back to that Luz del Mundo church again to teach those guys that I mentioned in my email last week. It was really nice because they’re super respectful and we were both able to share what our beliefs were without resorting to bible bashing or anything negative like that. Talking with them had actually helped me increase my appreciation for the Book of Mormon a lot. You see, they believe in a lot of the same doctrines that we do, but obviously there are still a lot of differences between us mostly because of doctrine that we’ve received through latter-day revelations. Because I know that the Book of Mormon is true, I know that Joseph Smith restored the original church of Jesus Christ and the original priesthood authority to the earth again, and that he and each of his successors up to President Monson today are prophets of God. It’s that simple.

Here’s a story I found this week from a talk called “The Book of Mormon — a Book from God” by Elder Tad R. Callister. I’d highly recommend this talk. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/the-book-of-mormon-a-book-from-god?lang=eng

“Some years ago I attended one of our worship services in Toronto, Canada. A 14-year-old girl was the speaker. She said that she had been discussing religion with one of her friends at school. Her friend said to her, ‘What religion do you belong to?’

“She replied, ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons.’

“Her friend replied, ‘I know that church, and I know it’s not true.’

“’How do you know?’ came the reply.

“’Because,’ said her friend, ‘I have researched it.’

“’Have you read the Book of Mormon?’

“’No,’ came the answer. ‘I haven’t.’

“Then this sweet young girl responded, ‘Then you haven’t researched my church, because I have read every page of the Book of Mormon and I know it’s true.’”

I also have read every page of the Book of Mormon, multiple times, and know that it is true. I invite all of you to follow the prophetic council of President Monson and read the Book of Mormon everyday. As you do so with a prayerful attitude, the Holy Ghost will manifest the truth of the book to you as it has to me on multiple occasions.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: We were doing risky things on p-day

4:24A

2: A goat man heading towards town

4:24B

3: Random orchestra 

4:24C

4: Motril Viejo 

4:24D

5: Motril Moderno

4:24E

6: 🌵 

4:24F

7: Painting we found

4:24G

8: Until next time

4:24H

Fishers of Men

Email 17/4/17

Hello everybody,

This past week was the Semana Santa, or Holy Week, here in Spain. Yesterday, of course, it was Easter, but the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are commemorated for an entire week here instead of a single day. Elaborate processions took place during the week which included pasos (a large, ornate float with sculptures depicting Christ), marching bands, and a ton of people wearing capirotes, which are large conical hats which are resemblant of the ones worn by members of the KKK, although completely unrelated. We saw parts of a few of these processions since there was at least one happening every evening during the week, and I’ve attached some pictures below. 

When Jesus called two fishermen, Peter and Andrew, into the discipleship, his invitation to them was, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him” (Matthew 4:19-20). As missionaries, we are also “fishers of men,” with the purpose of finding and inviting others to come unto Christ. 

This incident happened at the beginning of Christ’s ministry. After His death and resurrection, which we commemorated this week, Peter, along with a number of the other disciples, went fishing at the sea of Tiberias. During that night of fishing, they caught nothing. The next morning, the Savior appeared and instructed them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat, and when they did that, they caught so many fish that their nets were on the verge of breaking. 

I’ve been thinking about that story a lot recently, and the meaning that it has personally for me. It’s definitely been one of those weeks where it feels like I’ve been “casting my net over” and over again without having the desired results. I imagine how the apostles felt, many of them fishermen by trade, after having spent an entire night on the water without a single catch. I suppose that’s the same thing which I’ve been feeling recently.

Last Monday, we had a really great lesson with Miguel and Jessica. We talked about temples and eternal families, and they shared with us their desires to keep progressing to the point of baptism and so forth. A few days later, after having a lot of difficulty getting ahold of them to work out a time for another lesson, they just kind of shrugged us off, it seems: “Oh, we don’t know when we’ll have time to meet again, but we’ll give you a call when we do.” I’ve been a missionary for long enough to know that very rarely will somebody actually do that, so I guess we’ll see what happens. Elder Pack and I are scratching our heads, trying to figure out what we should do now.

We spent a lot of time contacting during the week and trying to share the pass along cards and video for the #PríncipedePaz Easter initiative. On Wednesday, we met a woman named Yvette. It turns out that we had given her mother a pass along card the night before, and Yvette, who had met with the missionaries some 15 years ago, actually stopped us in the street one evening, expressing her desire to meet with us and learn more. So, we ended up talking for a while with her in the streets, and then even went to her house and finished up the lesson there. We also found out that her mom’s sister, or rather, her aunt, is actually our neighbor who we’ve talked to several times. This all seemed great! But, flash forward a few days later when we went back to our return appointment, and we were somewhat bluntly informed by Yvette that she really wasn’t interested at all in changing or the message. I think that’s the quickest turnaround from new investigator to former investigator that I’ve seen on my mission so far. 

Another potential investigator that we picked up while contacting was a young man named Filipe. On the determined day and time that we set with him to meet, we showed up at the address he gave us and found out that it’s the local chapel of the “Luz del Mundo” church. Awkward. Undaunted, we rang the doorbell, and we were invited in to have our lesson with Filipe and Juan, another member of the Luz del Mundo church. Juan already knew a bit about Joseph Smith, the Restoration, and the Book of Mormon, and we have a return appointment set to teach them the restoration again. Although they were respectable and kind during that lesson we had, it remains a bit dubious their motives for meeting with us. We’ll be finding out if they just invited us back to be able to “teach us the truth” or if they’re really interested in knowing about the message of the restoration, but whatever is going to happen, I just don’t want it to turn into a Bible bash or anything negative like that.

A month and a half ago, we contacted a couple in the street, Monica and Miller. At the time, they lived in Valdepeñas, a city in our mission, but quite a long ways away from Motril, so we had sent their contact information to the missionaries there (one of them being my good friend Elder Darrington, actually). A few weeks ago, we received the news from Elder Darrington that Monica and Miller were moving to Motril, and that they still had a desire to meet with the missionaries! We were going to have a lesson the other week, but they had to cancel the appointment at the last minute because their family from Valdepeñas came down to surprise them. So, we were trying to call them back the other day to arrange another time to meet, and, well, long story short, a prostitute answered the phone instead of our potential investigators. We even called the next day from a different number to make sure that we weren’t being duped, but yeah, I guess that Monica and Miller got a new number and a prostitute picked up their old one. So, now we have no way to contact them.

In short, things didn’t work out quite as we planned this week. But, as we learn from this story with the disciples, the “catch” will come in accordance with the Lord’s timing. I’m sure that the apostles would have liked their first catch of the night to have been the final big one, and not the other way around, but certainly it was worth the wait, for all good things are worth waiting for. The Lord has called us to be fishers of men, and we know from these accounts that He watches over his fishermen. Although I would say that everything in terms of the progression of the work here isn’t quite going in the way that my mind wants it to be going, I take a lot of solace in knowing that it’s going in the way that God has planned it to go as I try to align my will more with His going onwards. I know that “[Christ] is risen, as He said,” and that his marvelous work is still taking place today.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1: One of the pasos

4:16A

2: More of the procession

4:16B

3: Happy Easter

4:16C

4: Part of another procession 

4:16D

5: In the outskirts of Motril

4:16E

6: Motril Sunset 

4:16F

7: Until next time

4:16G

PrincipeDePaz

Email 10/4/17

Hello everybody,

This week in Spain is the Semana Santa, or in English, The Holy Week. I know that there’s some interesting Catholic traditions here associated with that, but it would probably be better if I were to wait until next week to explain about it. Right now on Mormon.org, in addition to the great #PríncipedePaz video, there’s a calendar that follows the last week of Christ’s ministry in the earth before he was crucified and then resurrected. I’ll be follow it all week, and I invite you all to join me at https://www.mormon.org/easter/easter-week

We had another pretty typical week of missionary work. On Tuesday, we had the opportunity to go out to Castell de Ferro, a little pueblo about 30 minutes outside of Motril to do some service! We were helping Sid, the member from England who’s here for a few months, and his wife put up a fence on a part of their property. Afterwards, they fed us lunch, and asked me to say the prayer, and I realized that it has actually become very hard to do so vocally in English. It was fun to be able to go out to the campo and do some work.

Something I’ve forgotten to mention for a few weeks is that when we changed into daylight savings time here in Spain, our missionary schedule changed slightly as well. Now, we wake up in the mornings at 7:30 AM and go to bed between 10:30-11:30 PM. On Friday, we headed to Málaga for a Zone Conference. That required us to wake up at 5 AM on Friday, which isn’t the funnest thing in the world to do when you’re used to waking up at 7:30 AM haha. It was a really good conference though. A lot of what we talked about is how we can be focusing on the Savior more in our teaching and especially within the context of the restoration. I got lots of good takeaways from it.

Unfortunately we only had one short opportunity to visit with Miguel and Jessica this week. When we had time to meet, they were busy, and when they had time, we were busy. Kind of disappointing, but that’s just reality. Things should be working out better this week, we have a cita planned with them for tonight, and we’ll just keep going forwards, working with them, and hoping for the best!

Two talks from General Conference which I had studied throughout the week were Elder Christofferson’s talk about overcoming the world and Elder Yoon Won Choi’s talk, “Don’t Look Around, Look Up!”. Elder Christofferson talked about how Jesus said, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Later He added, “I will that ye should overcome the world.” Elder Yoon Won Choi invited us to look up to Christ and keep our focus on Him. Life is hard. We all have our problems. I know that as I have tried to look up to Christ, it has given me hope and strength knowing that he has already overcome the word, and that following Him gives me the chance to do the same.

Love,

Élder Stark 🇪🇸

Photos

1-2: Bus or boat?

4:10A 4:10B

3: The steering wheel is a bit lost

4:10C

4: Bus wasn’t there yet

4:10D

5: Potato day with Elder Pack and Amparito 

4:10E

6: Presidente Izquierdo, Nora, Elder Pack and myself

4:10F

7: Root beer is a rare find outside of the United States. We were given some last week by the senior missionary couple who did our piso inspection. This is a Root Beer sundae that I had the privilege of enjoying.

4:10G

8: Until next time

4:10H

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2017 Elder Jared Stark

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑