Hello everybody, and Happy New Year!
This week was about as normal as they get. Because neither Elder Jarvis nor I were transferred, transfer week really had no impact on us whatsoever. So, all in all, it was a good, solid week of work. We’re still doing a lot of finding activities, trying to search for new people to teach, and perhaps we haven’t seen any fruit from our efforts yet, but it will surely come. For New Year’s Eve, we were allowed to stay up one hour later until midnight and then, accordingly, sleep in an hour later the next morning. That’s about the only special thing that we did when the year changed. Yeah, I mean people were setting off fireworks and stuff, but honestly, it was really, really tranquilo. It’s custom to eat 12 grapes during the last 12 seconds of the year to bring good luck, but we’re broke, so that not something we did. We just stayed up, counted down the last 20 seconds and went to bed, haha.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about an encounter I had with a British bum on the streets. We ended up crossing paths with him again this week. This time, he invited us to “give up your smart people clothes, dress down a bit, grab your sleeping bags, and a bottle of water (because I know you don’t drink), and live on the streets for a week,” and then he told us, “Come back a week later and tell me everything you have learned.” According to him, living on the streets is really enjoyable and addicting, so if I don’t email again, don’t be surprised, because I’m sure that I’ll be a street person by then.
Well, the change of the year has provided a good moment of reflection and thinking about where I have been, where I am now, and where I will be in the future. While re-reading some General Conference talks, President Eyring’s remarks about Sabbath day gratitude resonated with me a lot. In it, he shares his experiences as a young man, being a member of really small branches in the church where there weren’t many members, and the growth that those areas have since seen: branches turning into wards, wards turning into stakes, and eventually temples being built in these areas to bless the lives of the people there. I was especially touched by his words, “What I could not see clearly then was that the Lord was pouring out His Spirit on people in those little sacrament meetings. I could feel it, but I could not see the extent and the timing of the Lord’s intentions to build and glorify His kingdom.”
Yesterday in our sacrament meeting, we numbered six: two members, the branch president and his wife, and me and my companion. I spent the first Sunday of 2016 as a member of the 111th Young Single Adult Ward in Provo, surrounded by scores of other members. And yet, the Lord was still pouring out His same spirit on us that I would have been feeling in a sacrament meeting anywhere else in the world. Clearly, there exists a dramatic difference in the setting between this year and last, but the differences don’t extend beyond that. There exists no difference in the spirit, no difference in doctrine, no difference in the church, and what a great witness it is that this is indeed Christ’s true church. I know that the Lord is working through us, as missionaries and members alike, to build and glorify his kingdom on the earth, I trust in His timing to carry it out.
Élder Stark 🇪🇸
1: Dinner for la noche vieja (New Year’s Eve) with Presidente Izquierdo and Nora
2: Descending into Motril as the sun starts to set.
3: Until next time.