Greetings from the CCM!

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Here are the highlights from this past week in the Madrid CCM:

Last week, we went to the royal palace of Madrid. It’s a very ornate, very beautiful building with a lot of history behind it. I have some pictures of it, but as always, don’t know when I’ll be able to send them out.

We also went to the “Chocolateria San Gines” last week, which is famous for having the best chocolate and churros in Madrid. It’s one of those restaurants that’s been around for ages and has pictures of famous people who visited there all over the walls. Very good churros and very good chocolate, although I honestly felt a bit sick after because I ate so much.

The highlight of last weeks preparation day was the temple, of course. We’re going again today in a few hours, and everything is going to be in Spanish this time.

Speaking of Spanish, I feel like it’s coming along well. For example, in the park this week, my companion was Elder Bedke, who is from Idaho, going to Moscow, and he doesn’t speak any Spanish. All of my weeks in the park, except for one, I’ve been with a companion who doesn’t know the language here, and every time, things have worked out okay. But this past week, I had a really long conversation in all Spanish with someone about the church and why the Book of Mormon is important, and the incredible thing to me was how easy I felt the language coming out while I was speaking. There’s still a lot of grammar principles that I need to learn so many words that I still don’t understand, but comparing where I was a month ago, coming to Spain knowing only the phrase “Puedo ir al baño,” to where I am now, it’s amazing. I know that there’s no way I could have seen that level of progression without the gift of tongues, which is an amazing gift from God, and something that I have to work hard for every day, but I know that it is real.

Mine and Elder Krummenacher’s teaching is also getting better. Every Saturday after the park, we teach a “TRC” lesson, which is when we’re given a certain situation and have to teach a 30 minute lesson around that situation. After we were done teaching, the teacher who was acting the part of our investigator told us that it was one of the best lessons he had received in the CCM because even though our language is obviously far from perfect, he said he felt the spirit when we were teaching. That’s all that matters because it’s the spirit who teaches, not us. Anyway, that was a very reassuring compliment to receive.

And reassurance I need! On Tuesday, I leave the comfort of the CCM and everything that’s familiar in Madrid. We’re leaving at around 6AM, taking a four hour train ride to Málaga, and from there, I won’t know who my new companion is or where I’m going until I get there. I’ll miss the people and the teachers here, but I’m definitely ready to get out into the field and get to work. My mission is truly about to begin next week, and I hope that I’ll have a smooth transition into the field.

I think that I’ll be able to email one more time before I leave the CCM, but I don’t know when the next time after that will be, so good luck to all of you until then!

Elder Stark

Another Week in the CCM

Madrid Metro


Elder Stark in Madrid


CCM Companion
Madrid Temple as seen from the CCM
Burger King Home Delivery

Yesterday was the one month mark of me being a set apart missionary, I didn’t even notice until I was writing in my journal before bed. It’s insane how fast the CCM is going by, and weird to think that I’ll be out somewhere in southern Spain in less than two weeks.

On Friday, one of our teachers, Hermano Arnal, brought our class into the elevator to play a game. We had to recite the first vision, memorized, in Spanish by the time the elevator went from the top floor to the bottom floor, or in about 25 seconds! Only me and one other Hermana in my district could do it, it was really stressful haha, but I guess it shows that my spanish is progressing, and I know that I can attribute most of that success to the Lord helping me with it.

Saturday was another opportunity to proselyte in the park. My campion was Elder Ivanov, from Russia who I’m sure speaks really good Russian, but not a whole lot of English. That didn’t matter though, as we were still able to have really good conversations in the park with people about the restored gospel. It was more difficult than previous weeks for us, but a lot of other companionships found success, and that’s all that matters.

On Sunday, my district sang the As Sisters in Zion / Army of Helaman medley in sacrament meeting. It was a really good experience, and was the first time that I have really sang in front of people, but it went really well, and there was such a strong spirit in the room as we sang.

Sometime during this week, some of the Russian bound elders thought it would be a good idea to have a CCM wide Rock Paper Scissors tournament. I don’t want to brag or anything, but I did win out of basically the entire CCM.

Right after I finish this email, we’re taking a 40 minute metro ride out to a palace that we can go in and tour, and then we have the opportunity to attend the temple this afternoon, which is wonderful as always!

I sincerely hope that all of you have excellent weeks!

CCM Halfway Point


This past week, I’ve officially crossed the halfway mark for my training in the CCM. I thought six weeks was going to take forever, but time here passes in the blink of an eye, especially when you’re learning a new language.

Here are some highlights from the week:

Elder Hollowell (sorry, probably spelled his name wrong) and I both celebrated our 19th birthdays. His was on the 18th, and mine was on the 20th. They had some cake in our honor last p-day, and the Portuguese district sang us happy birthday in Portuguese.

On Saturday, Elder Hollowell and I were companions for proselytizing in the park! And probably because it was the day in between our birthdays, we spent the entire time talking to people about the Church in English. At one point, we both felted prompted by the spirit to go talk to a woman on a bench, and even though she was smoking and doing something on here phone, we still went over and talked to her and had a really good conversation about the power of prayer as well as about the Book of Mormon and the restored gospel.. It was a good reminder to me that God loves all of his children and will respond to any prayer offered with humility and faith. That I know for sure to be true.

Every Sunday, we have the opportunity to sing on the steps of the temple. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it before in my emails, but it’s one of my favorite parts of the day and it’s a great feeling to see people walking by take time out of their day to stop and listen to us sing hymns.
Monday was my birthday, and it was pretty great. No difference in the amount of work that I had to do, but my my companion set up a little birthday scavenger hunt for me and my district gave me a really thoughtful card. It was so nice of them, I love my district.

Also on Monday, about half of the CCM, including all of the Russian, Portuguese, and French missionaries left for the mission field! It was sad to see them go, but they were all a great example to me and I look forwards to seeing what they’ll be able to accomplish in their respective areas. The next day, a big group of Russian bound missionaries from Provo, and some native Italian and Russian speakers arrived. My friend from BYU, Elder Gerratt, was one who arrived from Provo, so it’s super cool to see him around so much!

We also got new progressing investigators this week. They’re teachers in the CCM, not real investigators, but the lessons that we teach are real and the spirit that is present when we teach is real as well.

I’m still struggling to send pictures, so it’ll be nice once I can figure that out. But besides that, life here in the CCM is fantastic, and I look forward to another rigorous week!
Elder Stark

Settling In


Well, this past week has definitely just been settling into missionary
life and getting used to the daily routine of being in the CCM. So
unfortunately, that means my life here is pretty steady and not a lot
of overly exciting things happen, but the Spanish is definitely coming
along well, and I’m learning how to be a better missionary every day.

Last week, we went on an excursion to The Porte del Sol and Gran Plaza
which are some pretty touristy areas with a lot of shops and cool
palaces and stuff. I went inside of the Apple Store here, that was
pretty exciting. We also went to a police station to get our green
cards approved for Spain, which I guess means that I’m legal to be
here for the next year.

Saturday was another great day proselytizing in the park. My companion
for the day was Elder Utia from Thaiti, who will be serving in France.
He speaks no English and no Spanish, so that meant a majority of the
contacting was left up to me. Even with the language barrier, we were
still able to pass out like 100 pass along cards and even a few copies
of the Books of Mormon. Nothing too miraculous, but still a testament
to me of the truthfulness of the Gospel and how it knows no language
or cultural boundaries. Incredible.

Wish I had more time to write about our progressing investigators in
the CCM and what else I’ve been able to experience, but our time to
communicate with the outside world is so short.

Yo sé que el Libro de Mormon es la parabla de Díos. Yo sé que José
Smith es un profta.

Wish I had more time to figure out a better testimony in Spanish to
seem all cool and whatever, but I know that what I’m doing here is
right and that it is good and I love it.

Elder Stark

Fantastic First Week!

It’s weird that I’m writing this at 8:30 AM but all of you are probably asleep right now. I still quite haven’t gotten used to that. Luckily, I had basically no jet lag, so I was really able to hit the ground running.

Life is busy here in the CCM. Super busy. I thought I was busy at BYU, but even between classes and homework, I’d still have an hour or two to myself everyday. That is not the case here, but I love it.

There’s probably around 60 missionaries here in the Madrid CCM right now. I’d say about 2/3 of them are native English speakers learning Spanish and going to Spain missions. Out of all of the Spanish speaking missionaries, there are only 6 of us elders! We all sleep in the same bedroom together, and they’re all great. Half of us are going to Málaga and the other half are staying in Madrid. Like I said, in my district, it’s only me and my companion and then 8 hermanas! The rest of the missionaries are native speakers of French or Portuguese
(coming from places like France, Portugal, Brazil, and Tahiti) and are going to be serving in either French or Portugal. There’s also a district of elders learning Russian that are all native English speakers. It’s amazing how much diversity the CCM has and is great to see that the Church has strength all around the world.

So the CCM is on the fourth, fifth, and sixth floors of a building next to the Madrid temple. All of the classrooms are on the fourth floor, bedrooms on the fifth, and the comedor is on the sixth floor. There is a distribution center on the first floor and a mini hotel for people visiting the temple on the second and third floors. Speaking of the temple, we were able to do a session in it last Thursday, the morning after I arrived! Although now it’s closed for the next two weeks for cleaning. It’s such a beautiful temple and visible from basically any window here. There is also a stake center here, and because everything is connected by underground tunnels, I actually haven’t been outside since Sunday which is kind of crazy.

Speaking of outside, on Saturday, we went to the park to proselyte. It’s a huge park, 3x bigger than Central Park, I’ve heard. I honestly don’t know the name of it haha. Only three days into the MTC and only three days learning Spanish, they already had us hitting the streets
and talking to people about the gospel. I’m not going to lie, it was super hard. A lot of rejection and I could understand basically nothing that the people were saying. My companion for the day was Elder Tehahe, who is from Tahiti and speaks no Spanish and very little English. Even with the language barrier between us, we were still able to go out and place a Book of Mormon and share with some people about the church. It was hard, but I loved it and can’t wait to go back again this Saturday.

So my companion is Elder Krummenacher. He is from Arizona, and graduated from high school two days before entering the CCM! He is a really great guy, we get along well. We actually tricked all of the elders in our room into thinking that both of our first names are
Eugene. People weren’t lying when they said that he MTC was the most immature place in the world. I won’t even get into everything that’s gone on, but somehow we still manage to get our work done haha.

So I would send some more pictures rather than this one, but they gave us iPads for the sole purpose of emailing on p-days and there’s no way to get the photos off of my camera. Not to mention that I’m pretty sure that I forgot to bring the charging cable anyway, so I’m hoping
that if I’m conservative with my use, the battery will last me through the six weeks here and then I can figure out how to get a new cable in the field. Not that I’ve done anything super interesting so far anyway. We finally get to go out of the MTC this afternoon and go on
an excursion so maybe I’ll have some cool pictures after today.

I’m almost out of time, so let me just end by saying that I know that this is the place that I need to be right now. I know that this church is true and that God lives. I have seen his hand in my life too many times in this past week alone to not believe that. Learning Spanish is a difficult thing to do, but thankfully I don’t have to do it alone.

I hope you all have fantastic weeks.


Elder Stark


I Made It

Despite many headaches while flying, I finally made it to the Madrid MTC. After my flight out of Colorado Springs on Monday returned to the gate due to smoke coming out of it, my trip was rescheduled to the next day. Due to the new flight taking an hour longer than expected to fly into Chicago, I missed my flight and had to change my whole itinerary again. The new flight I was to take out of Chicago to Frankfurt was delayed for about an hour, but I still made it to Frankfurt with plenty of time to catch my flight to Madrid. So, I essentially made it to Madrid 24 hours after I was supposed to. As it turns out, the rest of the missionaries in my district were routed through Denver and got delayed a few hours because of a storm which was enough to make them arrive in the MTC at 2:30 AM this morning. Ouch.

Speaking of my district, I haven´t met any of them yet but apparently there is me and my companion and 8 sisters, and that´s it. I would tell you what my companion´s name is, but
I am way too tired and his last name is way too long. I know that he is from Mesa, Ariz., and I think that we´ll get along fine.
Since coming to the MTC, the MTC President, who´s name I can´t remember right now either, has been showing me around and telling me all sorts of information. I still have no idea what´s going on here haha. I´m tired, but I think that recovering from jet lag won´t be too bad. I just need a good night´s sleep.
So this is my last chance to write any emails until a week from Thursday. Hopefully by then I will be fully settled in, I´m not quite sure what I´ll be up to for this coming week, so I´m sure I´ll have lots to tell you then.
Anyway, I think I´ve ran out of time, but hopefully you can see that I´m here, I´m safe, and most importantly, I´m happy to be here no matter how crazy of a transition this is going to be.
Heavenly Father is always there watching out for you. Especially after these past couple of super stressful days, I know that to be true.
Elder Stark13327646_10209356131170560_7959728167302367895_n

10 Days…

In only 10 days, I will be entering the Madrid Missionary Training Center to begin my missionary service in the Spain Málaga Mission. ??

To receive my weekly updates, comment or message me your email address. The updates will also be posted to my website,

I will be giving a farewell address at 1:00 PM on Sunday, May 29 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 5375 Centennial Blvd. All who are interested are welcome to attend.

For anyone wishing to contact me, my only form of electronic communication for the next two years will be through email: [email protected]

I am so excited for my opportunity to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with the people of Spain. Although I know there are many hurdles that I will need to overcome, I have faith that my Heavenly Father will help guide me through them.

More to come…

Just finished a minor renovation of this website in order to shift its focus to my upcoming mission. More on that coming soon…