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!
1: Off to Úbeda
2: José Castro
3: Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
4: Aquí estoy (I’m here)
6: Until next time