Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Again, Do I Really Share This?

Dear loved ones, 

forgive me, I have about thirteen minutes left. So all grammar and spelling is about to fly out the window. Sorry :) 

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE PACKAGE!!! I really really loved it. I had Chaps record me opening it, so I will send that to you :) Thank you so much. I loved the tree. Even though it took me a while to realize what it was :) And I found c batteries super easily. So it was perfect. Loved loved LOVED the food you sent. I have literally been thinking and talking about all of that stuff for a long time because it is just home to me around this time of year. So thank you. You just do everything perfectly every time. I really really appreciate everything you do for me. 

Some things, my personal card didn´t work when I tried to withdraw money from it to buy some things. I only tried to take about 27 dollars out, so I don´t know what happened. If you could respond to this part of the email ASAP that would be good, because I am sending you guys some stuff and I need to know if I can use your credit card to send it if my personal card still isn´t working. I will check my email again in about 24 hours when I am at the capilla, so let me know. I am at nine euros right now for mission money because I am waiting on 110 euros of reimbursals. So I am broke until friday. 

Some interesting experiences

So I never shared this with you, but my first night here in almeria I was walking around with chapple just visiting some people to get to know the area. And for some reason I had the WORST diarrhea (can´t spell it) in the world!! I was walking around literally afraid that I was going to lose it all at any second for about three hours. It came in waves. I like felt it rise up in my body and the pressure built and I was like ¨oh no oh no oh no¨ and then at the last second the pressure released and I had about thirty seconds of peace until it came again and the thirty second build up began. My stomach was just churning. It was AWFUL!!! Especially cause it was my first day with Chapple and I didn´t know him at all. So basically his first impression with me was the constant moaning and complaining and he kept asking me if I just wanted to walk home but I wouldn´t. Finally time came around to go home and it was a good thing too because I knew that I didn´t have much time left before all heck broke loose in my pants. I was literally almost in tears by the time I was walking through our apartment complex door. But I made it in time. Thank the Lord. That was a small little miracle in and of itself!!
Don´t ask my why I shared that with you know. Cause I really don´t know. 

So I have really been missing movies. I really miss books and movies. A lot. Sometimes on Pdays I just go into bookstores and walk around. But I can´t read any of the books in there. But I just like tempting myself. Anyway. I was in a bookstore the other day and I saw a lady that looked EXACTLY like mom. I had a calendar in my hand and I looked up and about fainted. I literally ran and hid. My heart was pounding so fast, and I was just so confused. ¨Mom would never come to Almeria!!!¨ but even the clothing was spot on!! But then I peeked out and walked closer to this lady and realized it wasn´t you. But man my heart was pumping. Then I was super disappointed that it wasn´t you mom!! 

I was also in the home of some of our investigators waiting for one of them to get home and the older brother was watching SUPERMAN (the new one) illegally on the internet. It was in great quality, and it was even in ENGLISH!!! I was dying. Literally the temptation was overpowering. I have wanted to see that SO BADLY. And there it was. literally calling my name. Amy Adams, that really cool superman guy who was in count of monte cristo. WOW. So stinking hard. I admit I peaked once or twice. ¨YOU. ARE NOT. ALONE.¨ Oh man. I have a really long list of movies I want to watch in 15 months. But the first one is the new temple video. I made chaps tell me all about it. But he isn´t very descriptive. So I am excited. I miss the temple a lot. Our ward just did a temple trip on Friday. 

We had this choir concert in Granada on saturday. We spent the entire day there and then got back to Almeria around 12:30 in the morning. It was really cool. A band came and they were very talented. Especially the director. But our missionary choir kind of sucked. We sang english christmas carols. Then some of us sang Winter Wonderland in a small group. That turned out pretty good. And then this hermana sang Oh Holy Night as a solo. She was really good. Spencer could have done it way better, but she is very talented. I was missing Spencer a lot that night. And choir in general. I really really loved that. I am so glad that I did it. 

Things are going super well here. We are working hard and I really love Almeria. I just love the mission. I have been really happy lately. I really love President Deere. He is such an incredible man. Just being around him is spiritually edifying. He is just so happy and so righteous. You look at him and just think of innocence. He seems so innocent and yet he is a 50 year old man. He is a wonderful example for all of his missionaries, and he does a really good job of making them all feel loved individually. 

I am loving the work, and my personal study as well. Life is really good right now. 

Last night elder chapple asked me to give him a blessing of comfort, and i did. The first blessing I have given in english since the mtc. And I start off fine. ...¨By the authority of the Melchizidek priesthood which I hold, I lay my hands upon thy head and I give thee....a name and a blessing.¨ Yeah. I said that. I just paused in the blessing for a second and it dawned on me what I had said, and I then said ¨I mean..¨ but it was too late. Chapple just burst out laughing and then I did too. And it took about ten minutes for us to stop laughing and get to the point where we both could receive/give another blessing. It was really bad. But super funny. 

I have more stuff that I wanted to say, but I don´t have time. I am going to check my email in 24 hours at the church, so please let me know about that stuff! 

I love you all so much.

Thank you for everything! 


elder sharp

Monday, December 9, 2013

Chuggin' Along?

Dear loved ones, 

You sound really really busy. I wish there was something I could do to help, but even if I were at home I would be in Provo. So I suppose it doesn´t matter either way. Here is the best place for me :) We had a good week. Well it was a great week actually. I have been doing super well lately. 

In response to your questions: The hot water is quite limited. So I have been taking super fast showers. Like a minute and a half. It´s exciting :) I often find myself missing the summer that I spent in Jerez. Never thought I would say that. But it´s true. Just the human nature inside of me :) I always want what I don´t have!!! But I am enjoying the ¨cold¨ weather here that actually isn´t cold :) For me it is, but I know it´s nothing compared to what you all are experiencing!!! When it comes to skyping, I need to know soon. I am suggesting 6:00pm to 7:00pm, which is 10am for you and 9am for Spencer. Let me know if it works out. But Chapple and I have to do it at the same time and his family is apparently wanting to know when we´re going to do it asap. I think the Hermanas want to eat there because of the food. The love McFlurries. Haha. It´s hysterical. And McDonald´s is SOOO expensive in spain. The McFlurries are about 4 US dollars. Which is a lot for a poor missionary. We have gone to Granada a lot lately, and everytime we go to Granada we have to eat out at McDonald´s because that´s the only thing close to the bus station. So everyone is spending a ton of money on fast food, except for me. The last four times we have gone to granada I just pack a lunch the night before and warm it up in the stake center before we go to McDonalds. I hate spending money, especially on fast food. It´s super weird!! I have developed this loathing for spending money. It´s not permanent though. I haven´t received the package yet. I assume it will come tomorrow. Last friday was a holiday in Spain, and today as well, and mail doesn´t come on saturdays or sundays. So probably tomorrow. When it comes to the batteries, I am pretty sure that I will be able to find some. Here the chinos have everything. If not that´s ok though. 

I am quite surprised that the MTC President remembered me. Really surprised actually. He has gone through so many missionaries and it´s kind of hard to ¨stand out¨ in the MTC. Most everyone is just brand new and doesn´t know much. I did confide a lot of things to him in my weekly letters though, so maybe that is how he remembers me. That was really nice of Austin to write Spencer. I feel pathetic that I haven´t done it. I have three pages written to him, but I just do not have time for anything. I am definitely the worst letter writer ever. 

I CANNOT BELIEVE that Brigham is doing a musical. WOW. WOW. He totally followed in the footsteps of Spencer and I. That is so CRAZY. I am really proud of him.  I wish I could be there to see it. Brig will change so much here before long.  He´ll get on his mission, and then realize that he wasted a whole lot of time, he´ll regret it, and then he´ll do his best to fix it when he gets home. 

We have had a really good week. We went to Granada twice this week, and when we go there it we don´t get home until about 6 in the evening, and don´t get out working till 6:30, so we lose almost the entire day. But we still worked hard and had success. We have found a lot of new investigators, but just not a whole lot that are truly interested in the message. The only person that is for sure going to get baptized is F, and she can´t come to church yet because of work. So that is sad. J G is doing alright. Didn´t come to church yesterday because it was his birthday. I sent him a birthday text telling him that we appreciated him and he said ¨thanks, nice detail.¨ I really feel like he thinks there is this huge scheme we have to try and convert him or something. All we can do is fulfill our purpose and leave the rest to him. He has to put forth the effort. I feel like we are doing everything we can. We had seven investigators in church yesterday, but only one is actually a progressing investigator. I don´t count the others as progressing because I don´t see a whole bunch of desire there. But we´re working as hard as we can. I think a lot of our investigators just really like us as friends and do what we say so that we keep coming over. Which is a problem. Oh well. We keep chuggin along :) I am really loving the work though. I feel super good about who I am and where I am right now. 

I don´t know if I have ever mentioned anything about it, but Spain is SUPER international. I have met people from almost every country in the world. I have literally met at least someone from every south american country. There were tons of Columbians and Bolivians in Jerez, and here there are TONS of Argentines and Ecuadorians. And Peruvians. And every other south american country. I have met lots of Italians. Just the other day I had a two hour conversation with this 20 year old italian girl on the bus ride home from Granada. She talked my ear off, showing me EVERY picture on her camera. She was super interested in nature and trees and stuff and explained every single picture to me. She probably had over five hundred. I had to act interested for two hours. It was a long bus ride. It was super hard to understand her too because she was speaking a mix of spanish and italian, so that was even harder on my brain. Hahaha, and on that bus ride Chapple was lucky enough to sit next to this creepy Russian girl that ended up stroking his arm and laying her head on his shoulder and just trying to mess with him. She wasn´t a very good person, and the whole time talked about how handsome he was and how much she wished she could smoke on busses. She spoke spanish poorly, and Chapple couldn´t understand her at all. He sat right behind me and at some point I hear ¨Elder Sharp¨ whispered super loudly and I turn around and she is laying on his shoulder with her arms wrapped around him trying to fall asleep, and her male friend is sitting on the other side of the bus just laughing. Chapple looked like he was about to pass out. I almost burst out laughing when I saw the expression on his face. Like a deer about to get hit by a semi. I didn´t know what to do though, and this italian girl just kept on talking like nothing was happening, so Chapple just got up and started writing a letter with his whole body leaning forward off the seat so that she couldn´t lean on him. It was funny. But dangerous. European woman!! But we meet TONS of Romanians, Russians, Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Armenians, you name it. I have met people from almost every European county. Norwegians (that always brings a small pain in my heart...I miss her a lot), Fins, Brits, Swiss name it. And almost every african country as well. I even met an Egyptian guy one time. And a jewish person from Israel. So it´s always a party. Hearing a ton of different languages all the time. We contacted this african from senegal on the street the other day named M. We end up getting into his house last night and as we walked in he led us into the living room and it is filled with at least 10 HUGE african muslims. I was a little scared. Haha. But they were super friendly. They don´t listen to us though. They hear ¨Jesus Christ is the son of God¨ and then just start going off about Muhammed and stuff. They only believe in Christ as a prophet. They told us ALL about their religion. It´s super interesting. I feel like the eastern world is like a different planet. They can have up to four wives and it´s totally normal for the husband to physical keep the peace in his home. I could never live like that. The role of woman is just so diminished in that culture. It just feels wrong. Get this, one of the even told us that they think they love Jesus Christ more than the Christians do. That one stung. So we got out of there pretty fast. That last comment made me think a lot. Sometimes I feel like we do take Jesus Christ for granted. I definitely know that Christ is more important to good Christians than he is to Muslims,  but Christ is everything!! I often take it for granted that I have a Savior and that he truly did live on this earth and establish his church. And he really is the SON of God. I make sure to emphasize that in every prayer I say in front of Muslims. In the name of Jesus Christ, THY SON, amen. I don´t know where that religion fits in in God´s plan, but one day even they will confess that Christ is the Son of God. 

I feel very close to my Father in Heaven and I am LOVING the BoM as usual. It is so wonderful. I love being a member of the church. I am realizing that I will be devoting my whole life to this work, but it is exactly what I want. I believe in this work with all my heart, and I know it´s His work. We are so incredibly blessed to do it. 

You both have such busy lives. It´s incredible. I hope you are healthy and safe. I miss you a lot and I am very excited to see your faces. I have decided that I do want you to come and pick me up. Mostly because I just want to have time alone with my parents before I go back to the real world, and that is much more important to me than a glorious airport homecoming. There is a system for how it all works out when parents come and pick us up, and I am not a huge fan. But it´s what there is :) So buy tickets as early as possible so that we can save money!! 

Last thing, it is kind of cold here. And I often find myself wishing that I had a light jacket to put on. So I am making a request. I don´t know if this is the most lucrative solution, but clothing is expensive right now here. Will you send me the gray coat that Jamie gave me? The one that Brigham thinks is his? I actually can wear it proselyting and I would wear it almost every day. So I want it back. Let me know what you think :) 

I love you 

elder sharp

Monday, December 2, 2013

Ronald McDonald Thanksgiving

Dear Family, 

My Thanksgiving was alright :) Very low-key because no one in Spain celebrates Thanksgiving. The gravy packets got there that same day!! It was perfect :) Thank you so much mom!! The stuffing turned out. It was different than hers (grammy's) but it was good. I spent a ton of money on that dinner but I was glad I did it. Everything I made turned out really good. The green bean casserole was a tiny bit bland, but that´s ok. I will add more salt next time. The mushrooms turned out perfectly. Which really made me happy. Sometimes I impress myself. :) Elder Chapple was in charge of the potatoes (he thinks that being from Idaho automatically gives him the duty to make potatoes) but they didn´t turn out so hot. I had so much else to do that I just didn´t think about the potatoes but man I should have helped him. I did it a lot during college and mine always turn out great. Not all Idahoans can cook potatoes. But that´s ok. I ended up cooking the entire meal. Except for potatoes and rolls :) The Hermanas brought rolls and they were pretty good. Nothing like Williams family rolls, but they tasted good :) Elder Bird brought meat, and I cooked it in the church. He bought turkey breasts instead of chicken breasts, so I guess it was a little more Thanksgivingish. And then we roasted a small little chicken in the oven, that turned out good too. I bought corn and some lima bean looking things that weren´t lima beans, but it was good. I spent 30 euros (42 dollars) on the meal. It was a success. But I am excited to never have to do that again. Well maybe one more time. But after that NEVER again. I am NEVER going to live more than one hour away from my parents. What we learned from this experience is that Preston can hold his own in the kitchen, and that from now on his help should be requested in the cooking of the meal, instead in the cleaning up of it ;) 

That all took place on Tuesday. On Wednesday we dropped Elder Bastian off at the Bus Station and spent the day moving a little and then picking up the new elders. We couldn´t move in on Wednesday because the Hermanas still hadn´t moved out. So Wednesday we slept in our old piso with the other two elders, and then moved the next morning. I really like our new piso. The dryer doesn´t work very well, and is incredibly loud, and the water pressure is awful, and there is no hot water in my shower, but it is a super nice piso and feels really homey. I really have nothing to complain about when compared to living circumstances of other missionaries. 

When it comes to skype, I am totally fine spending the whole hour with everyone. I am glad that you guys are getting the extended skype package, because I really wanted to skype with Spencer. So I will be content with whatever happens, I just need you to tell me what time to be on. We have tons of people that keep inviting Elder Chapple and I over for Christmas, so we think we´re going to have to house hop. But the only thing that matters to me that day is seeing you, so let me know what time works best for all of you and Spencer. 

This week was an alright week. It was very busy and we didn´t teach as much as usual. But things worked out and it ended up being an ok week. The new elders here are...good. I like the younger one, elder Church. And the one who took Bastian´s place is Elder Lopez. Who is nice. The new DL is Elder Vosters who is Church´s comp. He only has 3 transfers left.

This week J G came to church. He is a great guy, but so incredibly difficult to teach. If my testimony of the BoM hadn´t been formalized so much, I don´t think I could do it. He isn´t rude or anything, but he just looks for the tiniest things to prove that it isn´t true. He is so suspicious yet he claims to be open and tells us that he is reading the BOM just like he reads the bible, with an open heart and a questioning mind. (it is so weird to translate things into english). But during church I was sitting next to him and he kept doing all these weird things like taking pictures of the priesthood circle they did to confirm a new member, and then writing down things to look up about things people said. He even wrote down the numbers that were on the sides of the front stand on his little note pad and asked me with a super suspiscious tone ¨what do these numbers mean!!?¨ and I was like ¨those are the numbers of the hymns we sang, bud. tranquilizate!¨ Some people are just so crazy these days. We had two other investigators in church yesterday too. But I don´t know how promising they are. We´ll see though :) It´s a 19 year old girl named M and her 24 year old ¨friend¨ named M. He has stars shaved in his hair and earings and even a tooth piercing. And a huge rat tail jedi braid thing.  I really can´t stand that whole jedi braid fad that is still going on. But he is a nice kid. I hope he will listen to us. I like him a lot. The gospel can touch the heart of anyone, no matter who they are or what they do. And looks don´t mean anything either. 

Thanksgiving day we moved and then helped the hermanas move. Then we went to McDonald´s for Thanksgiving. Yep. It was nice to be with Americans but yeah. Clark was like ¨let´s go get food right now!!¨ and then I was excited but of course the hermanas chose mcdonalds. They LOVE that place. I swear they eat two or three mcflurries a week. But it felt american, and that is what mattered :) We even went around the table (only four of us) and said what we were grateful for. It was nice. 

When it comes to your week, I am sorry.  I have been thinking a lot about parenting in relation with the way God parents us. We learn things about this from the parable of the prodigal son. I really want to read that book you were talking about a while ago, about satan´s war against agency.  

I am glad that you are going on the cruise. I totally understand your fears, and I think it is completely normal to feel the way that you do. But it´s something that you should face. Especially if you feel vulnerable because of it. At least you tried to put forth the effort. I think you will be glad you went. Especially because it is only two days long. Although I am surprised you´re going on a mexican cruise. Be safe!! 

Right now I am in the beginning of 3rd Nephi. I haven´t read very much this week. But I am still loving it. The Book of Mormon is incredible. I am excited to get back in the normal swing of things because this week was quite odd. Anyway. 

I love you all so much. Thank you for your support and encouragement. 

Only 23 more days!!!! 

love, elder sharp

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Post

Dear Family,     

I would first like to thank you so much for all of the things that you do for me. I don´t think any other mother in the world would stay up on the computer till 3am just to give their son some recipes. You truly are amazing mom. I am so thankful for you. I know that all of that took a lot of time and I do not express enough gratitude for the things that you and Dad do for me. Please don´t ever be afraid to ask me for a favor. I will do anything that I possibly can for you. So please ask me whatever you want. It´s hard because there isn´t very much that I can do to show my appreciation for my family, so the small things that you need from me are actually very much welcomed. THANK YOU for all of those recipes. Today I am planning to spend the majority of the day in the kitchen. I am really excited to cook. And I really don´t think you have enough faith in my cooking abilities. But I will send you pictures and you will be impressed :) I CANNOT believe you spent 45 dollars to send me some gravy packets. It literally makes me sick. Am I grateful and appreciative? Yes, but I also feel so incredibly guilty for wasting that money. I feel really bad. It´s just gravy!! I am surprised that Dad even allowed that purchase to happen. I am really really grateful. Like I said, only mother in the world that would ever do that. :) 

I laughed really hard when I saw the picture of Dad getting his jeans. I was suprised when you told me that he had been wearing Spencer´s old jeans!!! But this is a good thing. It´s about time he started to conform. :) But I am just glad that Dad is widening his horizon!!! And I am super proud of him for choosing El Rancho Grande as his birthday lunch. Seriously that man is changing so much!! Loved hearing about his talk. And I am really glad that you sent it to me Dad!! I can´t wait to read it. And the Chic-fil-a story was also hysterical. I seriously miss you all so much it hurts. Quincey is such a sport. Most creative car. That´s pretty dang impressive two years in a row. Hahaha. He´s so cute. BTW, who on earth is Xotchill???? 

My week was one of the greatest weeks of my mission. The work was a ltitle slow, but personally speaking I have really never felt better. A few days ago we found out about transfers, and all of us are staying here except for Elder Bastian. Which really really makes me sad. I have come to love many of the people that I serve with, but Elder Bastian is just really awesome. I am going to miss him a ton. He is going to Seville to be a Zone Leader. But he is only one transfer older than me so I will definitely be seeing him around in the mission field. Elder Chapple and I are going to stay together another transfer. Which is good :) He is a funny kid. Very very mellow and quirky. One of those kids that just goes with the flow in every single aspect of his life. This last transfer FLEW by. So fast. The three new elders that are coming here are alright. Well I don´t know them at all. Two are going to end up dying here in the next few transfers, and one is from Chapple and Bird´s group. It should be a good transfer. 

We are working with some investigators right now that are progressing (finally). Well..kind of progressing. The first is J G, who is a 45 year old man. One of the most interesting people I have ever met. He is actually a big time actor and director of musicals and plays. He is from the Dominican Republic. He is very educated and is easily the most intelligent person I have ever taught, especially when it comes to the Bible. He is a ¨searcher of truth¨ and doesn´t really believe that one church can house all of God´s truth. He knows the Bible insanely well and has done lots of investigations into many different churches. He was an old investigator and knows a lot about the church. It is hard to teach him. He doesn´t bible bash...not really anyway. He is very respectful. But he uses a ton of big words that I don´t really know. He´s awesome though. I absolutely love talking to him. He is a really unique person. But the truths of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ can touch anyone. We just need to help him read the Book of Mormon with the right spirit. He has a fecha for the 29th of December. 

We are also teaching this other family of Dominicans. They are the cousins of J G. We found them last week and they are really awesome. But they kind of think that we are english teachers more than missionaries. So right now we are working on shifiting our purpose in their house. We have only taught them twice though. They are really awesome people. We are teaching this other girl from Ecuador named F. She was an ancient investigator and it´s been about four years since the missionaries taught her. But she let us in and we have been teaching her. She is progressing really well. We only teach her once a week. The problem is that she can´t come to church because she works from 10 - 1 every Sunday. So we are trying to work on that. But she will definitely be baptized as soon as she can come to church. She´s about 23 years old. Super nice. 

When it comes to people who are progressing, that´s about it. We´re working on it though. I am very positive about the work right now. I really do enjoy this. Some days are hard, and I often find myself fighting discouragement, but I love this work. 

One of the reasons that my week was so amazing was my personal study. Honestly I have never had such uplifting personal study. I basically just read the Book of Mormon for an hour. But I have that study guide as well and I seriously love it. My testimony of the Book of Mormon has grown so incredibly much, and I find myself in lessons just testifying about the truthfulness of the BoM. It is so wonderful. I am in Alma 57 right now. I am in the middle of all of the war chapters, which are cool. But my favorite part of the Book of Mormon is probably from the beginning of Alma up to the war chapters, when it talks about all of the missionary work that Alma and the sons of Mosiah did. So incredible. They are such amazing examples for me. The faith that they possessed amazes me. I think almost every single Latter-day Saint takes faith for granted. It is such a commonly mentioned, seemingly simple principle that in reality has so much profundity and depth to it. I wish that I had less doubts and more faith. That is how miracles are performed. The Priesthood itself works according to three different things, (as long as we´re worthy and everything): the will of God, and then the faith of the priesthood bearer and the faith of the person being blessed BY the priesthood. Jesus always healed people according to their faith. I just think there is so much more to it than I even comprehend. But the Book of Mormon really is changing my life. I read it and I just feel joy. My entire soul just feels warm and I feel the Spirit testify to me of its truthfulness every single time I read it. I wish I had put forth more effort into gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon before the mission. Because it really can come alive. I think about Alma the Younger gathering his sons and personally speaking to each of them before the end of his life and counseling him the way that he did. Corianton was the wayward son, and he spends more time speaking to him than the older two. I could just feel the love and concern that Alma has for his lost son. Alma the Younger is definitely my favorite prophet. And I also LOVE Moroni. Captain Moroni. I never realized just how incredible and humble of a person he was. He had so much faith in the Lord. I really am just loving life right now because of the Book of Mormon. 

As I mentioned before, there are some changes coming up here in Almería. Because the new elders are coming to work in the northern pueblos, we had to give up our piso to them. So the hermanas clark and crocket (whom I absolutely love) are buying a new piso and chaps and I will move into theirs because it is a better location in respect to our area. It´s right in the middle of our new area. The new elders won´t have anything to start with in their small northen towns, so Chapple and I had to cut our area in half and give them the top half. So our area is really small now. The new elders came to open up a large pueblo up north. But somehow they got half of our area too. That´s ok though. It will be nice to have a smaller area because we won´t have to walk as much. So I am going to have to move all of my stuff to the Hermana´s piso. It´s going to be a pretty big hassle. But apparently the Hermana´s piso is even nicer than ours. So that´s a good thing. THEY HAVE A DRYER!!!! Americans take that for granted so much. 

Once again, I wish to express my deep sadness for the fact that Elder Bastian is leaving. I seriously love that kid. He is probably the greatest friend I have made so far in the field. We are definitely hanging out after the mission. Whenever the four of us elders are together, we always go on splits and I hang out with Bastian and our comps stick together, so I have gotten to know him really well. I might even shed some tears when we send him off at the train station. Which will be a first. I have really loved my district this last transfer. The Hermanas are so wonderful. I actually love all of the Hermanas I´ve gotten to know. Every single one of them has been just fantastic. I really love serving with them. And I love elder Bird, who is Bastian´s companion. He is super christlike and just a wonderful guy. Bless his heart. 

Tomorrow we are meeting together as a district for our last district meeting and we are going to have Thanksgiving dinner afterwards. I am excited. I have been looking forward to this for quite some time now. I am grateful for a lot of things in my life. 

One thing that I have been thinking about is love. Elder has a hard time expressing love, in fact he won´t even tell people that he loves them. He thinks everyone just lies when they say it in the field and everything. Last night we were talking about how we need to love the people and all of that and he was expressing concerns about how he doesn´t really like people and doesn´t know if he feels genuine love for the people here. I told him that I felt the same way for a while. I am not the most outgoing person and I don´t especially love being surrounded by a ton of people or having to meet new people every single day. But I have prayed a lot to be able to love my fellow missionaries and the people I teach. And I really have felt an enormous amount of love for everyone throughout my misison. I am definitely not perfect, but I love loving people. I love the feeling of just caring for the members and the investigators and especially my fellow missionaries. It is the greatest feeling. I feel full of love almost all the time, and I hope that I can feel like that for the rest of my existence. 

I really just want to keep rambling on about how much I love the Book of Mormon and all of the things that I have felt and learned this past week, but I am about out of time. Thank you so much for the amazing people that you are. This Thanksgiving season is going to be a little different here in Spain, but that does not change the amount of gratitude I feel for the countless blessings that my Heavenly Father has given me. Truly I am blessed. I am so grateful for my parents and my family. More than anything else, I will always be grateful for that blessing in my life. I thank God every single day for the extraordinary family that I was born into. I love you all more than anything else. I am also incredibly grateful for the privilege I have to be a member of Christ´s church in these latter days. I am thankful for the Book of Mormon, and for the powerful impact that it can have on our lives, if we allow it to do so. I know it´s true. I am also thankful for the chance I have to hold God´s priesthood, another thing that I so often take for granted. I love my life, I love my family, and I love my Father in Heaven. Happy Thanksgiving!!! 

Love, Elder Sharp 

Monday, November 18, 2013

I Hate Being Twitchy

HAPPY BIRTHDAY FATHER!!!!!!! (tomorrow) I hope your day is magical and everyone at home treats you as wonderfully as you deserve to be treated

Yes I will send you some missionary in action pics. I really wanted a reciple for stuffing. Grammie´s stuffing. And a recipe for gravy. Cause that is crucial. But just do what you can. I will get back on my email tonight so if you have time I would love to get some instruction on what the best thing to do would be. Also... could I have a chocolate orange in my package?? And I need my sd cards back. And Can you send me a picture of my plaque?? I have never seen it. Spencer´s looks really good. Stud.

We had a killer week this week. We found 12 new investigators, which was a miracle. We´ll see how much potential they have. Unfortunately our investigator with a baptismal date dropped us. He doesn´t feel like he is prepared, and it is hard for him to learn anything anyway. I have a lot of thoughts about that aspect of it...when it comes to differences in intelligence and all that. But he is basically a beggar in the streets. He sells little watches. He is kind of dramatic, but so sweet and loving. He cracks me up. But yeah he doesn´t want to be baptized until February. And he didn´t come to church yesterday. He´s depressed right now. His name is J. He´s a gypsy Literally, a gypsy. they come from egypt and india, a mix breed, and they are literally the european gypsies that ruined the Phantom of the Opera´s life when he was a boy and the ones that have weird circuses and travel around. Nomads, wanderers that long ago settled in Spain. There are some in lots of european countries but spain has many. They have integrated into Spanish culture and are spaniards. But gitanos (gypsies in spanish) are super poor and live in dangerous/ghetto neighborhoods. I should send you a picture of this one neighborhood we go to. It looks like the world will after WW3. Let´s just say that here in Spain NOBODY has the kind of wealth that Spencer is experiencing. But anyway. J dropped us. But we are still working hard. I am going to have to split the area again because two more missionaries are coming here. That will be 8 here in Almeria. I have split an area three times and I am only 8 months old (tomorrow)!!! It´s growing so much!!!

I cannot believe Spencer wrote a letter that long. I don´t know how he has time. My letters really are pathetic compared to what he´s pulling off. I think I should make a bigger effort to organize my emails and send more pictures. And write more thought filled letters. I just don´t understand when he does that. The white bible says we should only communicate with our family on P-days, and I took that to include writing letters. But everyone interprets it differently. Even if I did write during the week, I wouldn´t have time. I am SO busy all the time. Spencer is kidding himself if he thinks I have planned lessons coming out of my ears. We kick and claw and fight to get lessons here in Almeria. I wake up in the morning and either do exercise or lay down on the floor and stretch ;) then eat and shower and I barely make it in time to study. Then we study and plan a little and leave. And we come back three hours later and (if we don´t have an eating cita with members) cook and clean up and start studying again. And we leave at five. And we work till ten. And I come home literally exhausted every night. I used to have trouble sleeping at home. Even in the MTC. But the mission has zapped that problem. We come home, plan, eat something small, and then I crash. I am out three seconds after my head hits the pillow. Which is not normal for this kid!!!

What to say?? It is cold here....yes...cold!!!!!!!! IT¨S COLD!!!!!!! :D :D :D I am super stoked about it. Sweaters and scarves are officially out of the suit case. In our piso it gets FREEZING. They don´t use insulation in the walls here in Spain so we´re all freezing our tails off. Getting out of bed has never been so hard for me. And our piso doesn´t even have tile. It has fake wood floors, which are still cold in the morning but not NEAR as cold as the tile gets. It´s like walking on ice (my bathroom has tile). But I am not complaining. It has rained a little and when I feel cold I just smile. Heavenly Father is being super nice to me right now.

Your lives sound as busy as ever. I hope the fact that you are putting so much time and money and energy into the house means that you intend to stay there for a long time. I really do not want to come home to anything else. My ward, my house, my home!!! And my family. It will be weird coming home to only three brothers. But at least I will be there to welcome Spencer and Brigham home. I am praying that dad's job situation works out. Dad deserves it. He works so hard. He is 38 now right?? So crazy. For a second I thought he was turning 39 and that I would end up missing his 40th birthday, but no. I will be there!!!! People freak out when I tell them my parents are only 37. They then do the math and look at me confusedly, while I smile and explain the situation as carefully as possible. But it helps with people who aren´t members or converts or everyone really. So many people throw it into our faces that we were born in the church and we only do this because our parents do it. Although I wish Dad had gotten the opportunity to serve, it is still nice sometimes to say that my father DIDN´T actually serve a mission. The idea that some people have about religion here is baffling. The majority of people don´t care in the slightest if their religion is true or not. ¨It´s what there is¨ or ¨I was born in it and I will die in it!!!!¨ Who cares if it´s true!!?? Sometimes I just want to take the BoM and smack people upside the head. They do it because it´s just what they know. It´s all tradition here. Apart from the jehovah´s witnesses and evangelicals. 90 percent of Spain is a non practicing catholic. But there are people who are searching for the gospel. We just have to have faith that God will lead us to them.

I had to teach gospel principles yesterday cause the teacher was sick and it didn´t go very well. It was about signs of the second coming. There were investigators in there and this recent convert kept going off about aliens and signs in the sky that she saw. She is a little crazy. She wants to write the pope and have the catholic and lds churches become one. No joke. After her confirmation on sunday she stands up and does the whole catholic cross thing in front of the whole ward. I about died laughing :)

When it comes to Spencer´s letter, I think a lot of things. I am impressed actually. I guess surprised as well. I wasn´t much help to him before he left, but I couldn´t really give them the perspective of being away from home for the first time. I had already done that so it wasn´t new to me. I still struggled in the beginning with it though. Cooking and shopping and budgeting. But I have it figured out now. I have saved tons of money the last two months. I still have 130 euros in my missionary account and the month is almost over!!! Super happy about it. (We get 140 every first day of the month) And with PMG yeah I actually DID tell him that he should study that. Punk. Hahaha. I remember that was about the only piece of advice I gave him. I love him so much. And I really miss him. I loved his letter that he sent me. And your letter to him. And I really loved the letter Dad sent me two weeks ago. My parents are very wise. I respect both of you a great deal. Spencer is right when it comes to getting out of your mission what you put into it. So true. There are lots of elders that go home worse than they left. Some don´t change at all. My biggest fear is coming home the same person I was when I left. I went this to change me so badly. And I know it is. I will print off spencer´s letter tonight in the chapel and then write my thoughts about it.

Well I am running out of time. I wanted to write Dad an email and tell him how much I appreciate him. I don´t know if I will have time though.

I am pretty healthy. I think the hair loss thing was all in my head. I am sort of a hypochondriac when it comes to the way I look, I am starting to notice. Rash was only there for about 2 weeks. And the twitch is still there. Except it happens in random parts of my body. The eye doesn´t twitch as much. Still does though. But I get random twitches every where. It´s weird. I hate being twitchy. My shoes are the bomb. My clothes are awesome as well. Except the gray suit that I bought is fading. The pants are totally different colors than the jacket. Kind of stinks. My bag that I spent so much time looking for is PERFECT. I love it to death. It suits all of my needs perfectly and I really couldn´t have asked for anything better. We walk a ton here. We also use buses sometimes. I think that´s why I am so tired. European missionaries don´t get cars or bikes like the american ones. We aren´t pampered here ;)

Out of time. I love you Dad and I want you to know that I appreciate you so much. Thank you for the things you teach me every week and for the example you have set. I really do care about you guys more than anything. You´re my best friends. I love you

Elder Sharp

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Mom and Dad,

I am doing better. Right now the work here is not going very well. It´s hard. We just don´t have the people. Last week was especially awful. I think the leaders will call us and ask us what´s going on. I am really anti numbers, but I know it´s the way the program works. And the numbers represent people. I just haven´t found investigators that progress. So many unmarried people here. Everyone smokes. BUT I have hope. I know I haven´t worked as hard as I should be. Elder B lectured us yesterday (he is DL) about our numbers. I don´t think his are a ton better, but I know that he has to do it. He is only six weeks older than me in the mission. At first it was irritating for me to have to respect his authority. Not a huge problem or anything. But when I first got here it was...odd. But that was obviously just me being prideful. And I have worked on that a lot these past few weeks. To me, becoming more humble and submissive is really important. I did really well last night as he was giving us his thoughts and everything. So that made me happy. I was grateful for his advice :) I know he only wants the best for us. I thik it´s a really important lesson to learn. Well it is. I will always have authorities and people over me in life, in work, church, everything. Age or experience doesn´t matter, I need to be humble and submissive and respectful because that is the way Christ was. I think I am making progress.

Anyway. really though I am doing better. i´m happy :)

Package- I would prefer nothing. After that, money. After that, yes ties are always welcomed :) We get bored of ties really fast. Other than that, I don´t know. I like being surprised. I am trying not to eat as badly and I know that packages mean treats and unhealthy food, but it´s also what I want. I don´t ever buy unhealthy food at the store. But somehow I am still getting a little chubby. Who knows. I will start thinking and let you know next week.

I LOVED LOVED the Warbler. That made my week. It was awesome. Keep it going!!!

Dad, I appreciate the offer of the money for the marriages, but it´s not allowed. And I wouldn´t take it anyway if it were. These people aren´t even sure they want to get married. And yeah. Everyone needs money here. You guys wouldn´t believe the poverty that is going on here. I don´t know if I have written much about it but wow. It´s insane. No one has money. No one has jobs. The people that do have jobs here have really really bad jobs. Here a job at McDonald´s is something HUGE. There isn´t really a middle class anymore in Spain. It was actually helpful for me to tell people that my father was out of work. But that thankfully ended quickly. Here people either hate the US or would give their right arm to get there. So many people want to go to the US.

The weather actually has been better. Still WAY too hot. It´s november. But I stopped sweating. 70 degrees huh. It´s going to be so long before I experience cold weather. A little less than two years. Unless it was cold when I got home. That would be nice.

I am glad that Dad found a job. That is a blessing. What a enormous blessing. Almost everyone here (including the working members) are on support from the government. It´s insane. This place is going to collapse soon. Work is really hard to come by. And good work is nigh impossible. We are lucky to live where we do. Although things aren´t super amazing in the states, there is seriously no comparison to how things are here. People here are used to living well, because they did before. So people are super depressed with the crisis.

Whitewashed means that the two missionaries are both brand new to the area. Which would be really hard. The only thing harder is opening, which means that the area had been closed beforehand and the missionaries have to go in with nothing already started. Starting from scratch.

I am sorry for him that he is homesick. That is normal though. I was ¨trunky¨ as well when I first started. But it does go away. The mission is all about enduring to the end. Just learning to love it and doing the same thing day after day. It´s kinda like life. We just have to press forward steadfastly, taking it one day at a time. Trying not to think about how much time there is left. Then you will realize that you are down to 3 months left and all of the sudden you don´t want to leave. That´s my goal. I want to get to the point where the end of my mission will be something that I don´t want to come!

I just want to express my love for the both of you. I love you so much. I hope you know just how much I care about you. I never ever could have imagined just how much I would come to love my parents. You are my greatest friends and I miss you more than I have ever missed anything. I am so grateful for the life that you have given me. I am literally amazed by how fortunate I am. God has given me everything I could ever ever want. This has been such a learning experience for me. I don´t know how much I have changed or anything, but I have learned a lot. Lots of different things. More about how life works, how the church works, and more about myself. My testimony has been fortified and I am coming to realize just how incredibly important the Savior is in our lives. In everything. It´s amazing just how much He did for us. Jesus Christ is everything. We´re reading the Book of Mormon (I love that Book with every part of my soul. I know it´s true) as a mission and we are focusing on everything that has to do with Jesus. It´s literally amazing. I have learned a lot, and I am still learning. But I really really appreciate the increased love, adoration, admiration, and respect that I have for my parents. I am so thankful for your diligent example in living the gospel. You are both so selfless. I know you aren´t perfect and everything, but I have met a lot of parents in these last 8 months. And I just can´t believe how blessed I am. I love you both. I love all of you. I am so excited to talk to you in six weeks. I miss our family life a lot. That is easily the thing I miss the most. EASILY. No competition. I would give anything to go back in time. I would love to be standing in that cabin again, surrounded by all seven of you. I know it will never be like that again. But I have such precious memories of my childhood and teenage years and I am so grateful for them.

This week was good. Hard. But this week is going to be much better. I am sure of it. Just pray for work here in Almeria. We need to find people! They switched out the counselors in our ward today. They did a lot of changes. But our new ward mission leader is the old 1st counselor. Julio. He is so awesome. His wife is awesome too. Her name is Mirta. They are from argentina and have a daughter serving in Barcelona. His wife feeds us a lot. And he is ready to work. I am super excited to work with him. The ward is great here. Well I don´t really have any time.

I am still working on my letter for Brigham. I am going to start one for the whole fam and include as much detail as possible. There is a lot to say. I just never remember to tell you about the stuff that actually happens day to day. I have had some interesting experiences.

I love you all. I am sorry this week was kind of all over the place. I am going to start organizing my thoughts better so that my letters aren´t so jumbled :)

elder sharp

Monday, November 4, 2013

Gypsies...but we go on.

Dearest Family, 

I was cracking up at his letter too :) Hahaha. His comp sounds absolutely hysterical. Mamma wolf. I think they will get along swimmingly. So Spencer was whitewashed his first area. That is really hard. But obviously President Hall knows that Spencer can handle whatever the Lord needs him to. 

My week was good. Just chuggin´along over here in Almería. We are still looking for people to teach that will actually progress. We just have tons of people that aren´t married right now. The most frustrating thing in the world because it takes so long for people to get married here. And no one has a dime to their name, so that is even less motivation to begin the process. But we go on. :) 

This week was actually super long. The longest week of my mission. It was jam-packed with tons of different stuff. I wish I had time to be more descriptive about everything, but I really don´t have a ton. What´s new? 

Last P-day we hung out as a district. I really really love our district. Chapple is great. He´s a really interesting person, but we get along really well and I like him a lot. The other two elders are Bastien and Bird. Both live in Utah right now. I love both of them. Bird was the star quarterback and point guard in high school, and is super athletic. He´s 6´6. He grew up inactive his whole life, but started coming to church about a year ago. His future wife helped him decide to go on a mission. He really is one of the nicest guys I have ever met. And Bastien is a lot like me. He is one of the few elders that I have met that I would actually want to become close friends with after the mission. (I have loved all of my companions, especially Lish and Erickson. But I just couldn´t see myself being super close with them after the mission). We just get along really well. We´re a lot alike. He is my DL and has been in the mission six weeks longer than I have. He lives in Saratoga Springs. Well, his family does. The Hermanas are Clark and Crockett. Clark is super super cool. She reminds me A TON of Aunt Amy, so I love having her in my district. She is 22 and kind of a free spirit. She´s funny. And then Crockett is a byu grad with a bachelor´s degree. She´s almost 24. She is nice. It´s a good district. On Monday we went to a large statue of the Savior that is here in Almeria next to the castle. It was cool. I have some cool pictures. Almería really is beautiful in some parts. I get the best sunrises every morning. Unfortunately they can´t quite be captured fully with the camera that I have. (Haven´t lost my camera...that is a record for me I think). 

Tuesday...can´t remember what we did. It was a routine day I think. 

Wednesday- we were invited to an evangelical church by some guy in the gypsyville on Tuesday, and we went. He said we could teach him if we did. So I went to an evangelical church with my companion. It was...odd. An old building in the middle of Los Alhemendros, which is a neighborhood filled with gitanos, or gypsies. We went in an it was very dark. There was a preacher up front with a mike that was chanting and singing, along with a rock band up front on the stage thing. There were loud speakers on the wall, and it was insanely loud in there. My head hurt. We walk in, wearing full missionary get-up of course, (no one was dressed up in this building), and every single head turned and just stared right at us. There were old benches set up in the middle of the room, and they were packed full of people. They looked at us like we were insects or something :) But we walked on in with our friend and sat down on a bench. The pastors rushed on over and greeted us. I didn´t feel an evil spirit or anything like that. I didn´t feel anything, actually. No peace, no light, just...nothing. Kind of numb. It was loud, hot, and people were chanting and wailing and singing along to the blasting music. At one point the pastor called up all those who desired to be clean of their sins to come forward, so a bunch of people got up and formed a line in front of the stage. And then the pastor and his sidekick went over and placed their hands over the ears of the forgiveness-seeking people, and started chanting and singing, swaying from side to side. Sometime they would whisper in the ears of these people. This was happening all while everyone was chanting and singing and the band was playing and it was all super dark. I only felt uncomfortable when they pastors put their hands on the people. That made me feel...wrong. The people would sit their and stare at the pastor chant and sing, and then they would put their hands in the air (while the pastor´s hands were on their head) and just start chanting and swaying around in a circle. Like a weird ritualistic dance or something. It was strange. That went on for about an hour. I was really bored. There was no word of God or anything. Just music saying the same things over and over again. And weird moaning and chanting. Very irreverent too. People (including teenagers and adults) would climb all over the benches and change seats and everything. It finally ended and we left and waited outside the building as everyone came out and shook our hands. They were super nice to us. It was kind of cool :) Usually people aren´t. A lot of them had a lot of questions for us. The pastors came out and asked us some stuff too. I think we intimidated them. But the whole crowd of people had gathered outside and were really interested in us. They kept looking at us and they were all whispering and stuff. We left, but came back to that neighborhood a few days later and everyone knew us. And they would listen to us and everything. We are going to keep going back. I think there is a lot of promise there. But I definitely know that our church is true. There was no Spirit testifying of truth in that church. 

Thursday- in Granada with president deere for a training. Really awesome in Granada. It was cold there. Yes. I said cold. I was in Heaven. It was like Utah in September. I absolutely loved it. I missed it. Such a blessing. I won´t ever get to serve in Granada because usually one doesn´t serve in the same zone twice, but I do appreciate the chances I have to go there. 
We also set a baptismal date for Juan that day. 24th. Fingers crossed. 

Friday- really sweet day. No time to explain. Miracles all day.

Saturday- average.

Sunday- stake conference in Granada. loved it. I saw my first DL Elder Hooper. I missed him a lot. He goes home soon. 

Anyway. I am out of time. But things are going well.  I am doing good. Just pressing forward steadfastly. In 16 months from today, I will either be on a plane or I will be with my parents!! Isn´t that insane? I don´t feel like I have been gone for that long. But I am glad I still have a lot of time. I need it ;) 

Could you send me some recipes? Stuffed mushrooms from Grammie and green bean casserole, try to keep in mind that I cannot get any american products here. The only green beans they have are fresh. I am making my own thanksgiving dinner. Cause I was homesick on Halloween and I know thanksgiving will be worse. 

Love you all. Sorry I just ran out of time today. 

elder sharp

Monday, October 28, 2013

Best Ward in Spain

Dear Family, 

Well I took you up on your offer and spent the last hour writing people I don´t usually write. So I have a small amount of time :) 

Things are going well here in Almería. I love the ward here. We had ward council yesterday and I almost fainted. They were talking about OUR investigators. They have a website that they all use and they have every auxiliary organization assigned to do something for each of our investigators, whom they know by name and by photo. Honestly the bishop was giving out assignments for people to do stuff to help our investigators, and we hardly even talked at all. And then at the end he told us that he has a list of people he needs us to visit this week and part member families and things like that. I about died. This is the best ward in Spain. It´s amazing how much the members support us. There are 22 ward missionaries here!!! 

The other missionares here are great too. My companion and I get along really well. He´s a great kid and he makes me laugh a lot. We are pretty good friends. The work is going really slow. It´s hard to find investigators, but we are continuing forward. 

I was in a lesson that I had a small little revelation this week. I was trying to comfort an investigator with massive depression problems and a very difficult life, and then I just started talking about Jesus Christ and the love that He has for all of us, and that we have every reason in the world to be hopeful. It was almost an out of body experience, where I heard the words come out of my own mouth and it dawned on me that what I said was for myself as well. I need to practice what I preach. I would go around from house to house preaching about hope in Christ and the love of God and I wasn´t applying my own counsel :) It´s been a crazy past few days, but I really changed my perspective on a lot of things. My district leader gave all of us a copy of a letter from his father to his older brother, who is serving in India, and his older brother is so much like me it´s literally eerie. His brother has a lot of my same challenges. And this letter really helped me. As well as some modern day prophets and other things. I have started to look at myself from a different perspective. And I am right now working on being hopeful. Positive. Optimistic :) There is so much to be hopeful about. He really did overcome the world. I know that although I am not perfect, He is and He loves me. I love Him so much. I actually feel really happy :) Things can be difficult, but that is no reason to be down on oneself. I make mistakes, I don´t accomplish everything I want to, but I am trying. And He loves me no matter what. 

Well I am out of time :) I am proud of the hope that you both have right now. We all have trials in life. You will find a good job.  I am sorry that things are hard right now, but you guys just need to keep on having hope :) I love you both so much. I love all of you. Brigham I love you and I want you to know that you are so loved. By your earthly parents and your heavenly parents. If I were there with all of you, I would smile so brightly, and hug all of you. And I would tell you how much you mean to me. I am content being here in Spain, but I will always look forward to the day when I get to be with my family again. 

I love you 

elder sharp

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Faith Stronger than Fear

Preston sent two letters home this time, one to dad and one to mom. So I combined them for this post. That's why it's so super long. And a bit choppy.

It was a pretty good week. It was very reenergizing to switch areas. I like it. Almeria is an interesting place. My area is smaller than Jerez, which is nice. But they use the bus a lot here, which is...different. I prefer walking to the bus. In Jerez we walked so much. Most other missionaries don´t like that. They prefer to wait for a bus to come. But I think walking is more effective. Saves money, healthier, and you can talk to people while you walk. I dunno. An opinion thing I guess. I was really really disappointed when I started talking about the weather with people. Apparently this is the city with the most hours of sunshine in a year in the whole world. Even in winter. I was seriously just heartbroken. I am so sick of sunshine. I just want clouds, rain, and snow. It does snow in some areas here. But nope. I got sent to the sunny coast. I will spend the winter in San Diego :) They say it never rains here either. It isn´t that hot right now. I mean, it´s hot, but nothing like summertime in Spain. Everyday the weather is perfect here. And it just makes me sad. I am super weird about weather, but honestly in october the weather should be different than this. I have accepted the fact that I won´t experience my kind of weather until five months after I get home. Until then, I will learn to love the sun :)

Almeria is a city that is smaller than Jerez, but more condensed. And it has pueblos (or small towns) outside of it that do belong to our area. But we normally don´t go there. Although lots of members live in the pueblos. The ward here is enormous. 140 - 150 active members. That´s huge for Spain. We´re about to be split. The ward is actually really supportive. We get fed almost every day. Which also helps me save money. I am glad to be here. They are very willing to help the missionary work. The food here is the same...I suppose. We shop at a huge supermarket chain called Mercadona, and they have that everywhere in Spain. There are lots of south americans here, and they cook differently than the spaniards do.

I got to my area and was a little frustrated. The person who I replaced was getting really comfortable here. I don´t blame him because it happens after you´ve been here for so long, but let´s just say I made some serious changes. They had been teaching eternigators(investigators that just aren´t progressing because of various reasons) three times a week, and that is just a fat waste of time. They hadn´t been finding any new investigators at all, and were visiting recent converts and eternigators, and lots of members. Which is not my style. So Elder Chapple was a little bugged at first when I explained to him the problem, but he came around. They haven´t baptized here for awhile, and it was obviously because the other elder was just tired. They had about four investigators when I got here. All of them have been investigating for years. They taught lots of lessons every week, but I don´t think 20 lessons to investigators that aren´t progressing is anything to be proud of. We are here to make things happen. So this week we only had nine lessons. Which is really low. But sometimes it is necessary to start over and build back up. We are going to start FINDING. Really though, I got here and my performance level SKYROCKETED. I have been surprising myself. I wasn´t really a street contacter at all in Jerez, but I have been doing it here. We found this african on friday in the street and he came to church on sunday and we are going to teach him today. He´s pretty awesome. His name is Gabriel. He should have a fecha for the 3rd tonight. And we also got some eternigators to come to church that have never come before. I was so glad they came. We´re gonna set a fecha with them tonight as well. So things are going well. I have never felt so much desire to work. It´s insane. The motivation is just oozing out of me. We went to church and a baptism on saturday and I was so outgoing. Talking to all of the members and getting all of their names and just being really friendly. It is weird being in an area where I don´t know everything. I have no idea where to go somtimes. And I don´t know the ward yet. But I am learning fast, and I realize now that I have changed a little. I could not have done any of that before the mission. I am just not a very outgoing person :) But a missionary is an outgoing person. So sometimes we need to stretch a little. Things are going well though. Elder Chapple is a good kid. He´s only 18. Really young. But he is really obedient and wants to work. Haha. He just...I don´t know. He is super athletic and a good looking kid and is really nice and cool, just a little different than me. But we get along pretty well.

Anyway. Enough about me. How are things with you guys? If I have learned anything it is that we only need to trust in the Lord. You have two missionaries now and you will be blessed. Our faith needs to be stronger than our fear. I love that. Fear is the opposite of faith. You´d think that it would be courage or something, but it´s faith. It´s having hope even when we are afraid. I am sometimes afraid that I won´t be able to find new investigators or have baptisms, but I do have faith that if I am obedient and work as hard as I can, the lord will bless me. I think one of the blessings of the mission is being in an environment where gospel priniciples are so easily applied to life. It is so much easier to see the application here than it is at home.

You are always in my prayers. I miss you so much. I miss my family. Sundays are always the most homesick days for me. I don´t know why. Being at church or something. This church is for families. Sigh. I know that I am doing the right thing though. It´s difficult to want so desperately to help these people that cannot understand or choose not to. I will pour my heart out and share this message only to watch some turn away and reject it. I´ve gotten used to people hating us in the street. Here there are tons of Jehovah´s witnesses and everyone HATES them here. They always confuse us with them because we dress similar. So most people just don´t give us the time of day. But it´s a good experience. It´s hard. It´s repetitive. I get overwhelmed sometimes and I start to worry about everything. How I am not making the most of my studies, how I am not budgeting as well as I need to, I don´t exercise enough, I don´t eat healthily enough, I am not progressing spiritually, I don´t study the language like I should, just so many things. The hardest thing for me is that I am not good at applying what I learn. I read something, like it a lot, but struggle to apply it to my life. Like every other human being. But that is my biggest worry right now. But what mom told me really helped me. I can´t overcome all of my weaknesses on my mission. I am not expected to. I have all of my life for that. It´s true.

So things are going well. But we don´t live with the other missionaries here in Almería. There are two other elders and two hermanas and we all are in the same city. Our piso is SUPER nice though. Small, but I love it. It has american AC and wood floors (the closest thing to american carpet you can get in europe). I would love to spend Christmas here just because the piso really feels like home. It´s nice. Good view of the ocean too. And the person that was here before me (Elder B) is now ZL in San Fernando. We traded spots. Sometimes they do split up people´s training. Which is fine. And no, I am not a huge fan of the zone leader life. But it is a chance to serve other missionaries which is good. Lots of pressure though. And you have to tell people what to do a lot. I just like being responsible for me and my companion.

Your email was good. Don´t ever feel bad for sending a long email. I do like the long ones better. Sometimes I get so jealous of your life. I really miss home. Sundays are homesick days for me. Yesterday I was more homesick than usual. I will study that parable more and tell you what I think about it. I must not understand it either. And thanks for the Bednar book...I thought you were going to send a different one but I think this one can really help me. I just have hardly any time to read it. I read a little though.

I am excited for Spencer to get into the field. You will probably hear from him in a couple hours. That´s awesome. Hopefully he starts writing more. Although it is hard even with lots of time. There are just so many people that want to hear from us. Today I won´t be able to write anyone besides you two. I am starting to realize that my friends all write shorter emails to their families than I do, or I just type really slowly.

I feel better now. It was renewing to start again in a new area. I sometimes just wish I had more time in the day. I would like five hours of study time instead of one. And then the question of whether to study in Spanish or english comes up. I can do both, but it isn´t quite as edifying in Spanish. I don´t know. Right now I am reading the book of mormon in spanish and using an english BOM study guide that I found. But I just want more time!!! I don´t really like comp study at all. It´s good and everything, but I much prefer personal study.

I have no time anymore. I love you so much. Don´t lose hope. Things are scary right now but I know we´ll be ok. The Lord will bless us. I love you mom. I really can´t wait to see you again.

elder sharp

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

On to Almeria

I sent Preston a lot of photos of Spencer's MTC drop off and the days preceeding that.  I also sent him Spencer's first letter from the MTC.  It sounds like Preston may have some hard days ahead of him- but he is up to the challenge, I'm sure of it.  I miss my boys.  P.S. I don't know why blogger posts the text in different ways each week.  Weird!

Wow. I just spent the last half hour sobbing. Haha. It felt like I was there when I looked at those pictures. That was surprisingly difficult for me. He looked so wonderful. The best photo was the one with all of you hugging him and you could see his face. He´s gone. I thought about him all week. It feels so crazy. I hope he ends up loving the mtc. It sounds like he does already. Honestly this week has been the most difficult week of my mission so far. I have just been super discouraged. That really helped me though. I know that you feel like he isn´t ready, but I think he is. He has to be :) But he will really be fine. He will grow so much. I am so happy that he is out. The countdown has started. I will see him in 725 days. And Brigham in way more apparently. But I prefer that. Better that he leaves sooner than later. And he will be at my wedding. A year and a half?? Yeah I will definitely not be married by the time he gets home. That´s too soon. I miss all of you so much. I am excited for Christmas. 

San Fernando is alright. I don´t like being here though just because I don´t feel like it´s my area. But I do love Elder Lish. It is RIDICULOUS how much he reminds me of Ben. I am going to miss Elder Lish. I don´t really have a lot of time. I spent all of it listening to hymns and looking at Spencer´s photos. I am leaving San Fernando of course. I will be sent to Almería and my companion will be Elder Chapple. He has six weeks in the mission, so I will finish his training. There are six missionaries there. It apparently isn´t the best area in the mission :) Hahaha. Before I got called, I asked some people what the worst area in the mission was and several told me Almería. After they found out I was assigned there they started thinking of positive things to say about it and I got "you grow a lot in Almería" ;) I wanted to go somewhere like that though. I am not a huge fan of being a zone leader. Lish has a hard job, and you spend a good amount of time out of your area. I was hoping to go to a difficult area, and I got what I wanted. I don´t like thinking that any area isn´t a good area. I know that there are prepared people every where, and I feel a ton of motivation now. Which I was lacking this week. My companion and I will baptize in Almería. 

I don´t know why this week has been so hard for me. I sometimes feel overwhelmed. I was never too hard on myself before the mission. I stressed and had desires to improve, but being in here I just get overwhelmed with how far I have left to go in the eternal scheme of things. I often feel as though I am not doing enough with my mission. It´s an odd feeling. But I am pressing forward. I shouldn´t be discouraged. I may not be the missionary I want to be quite yet. But I can´t expect to be perfect. It´s a process. 

I love all of you so much. Thank you so much for the package mom. I was thinking that maybe they just aren´t worth it, because of the hassle and the price. But opening up that package with the halloween theme and the autumn smell and everything just felt like a rush of home. I LOVED it. Thank you so much. You are so wonderful. I hope you are all doing well. Did you get a new car?? Or was that Grandpa and Grammie´s van? Anyway. I love you. 

elder sharp

The baptism of his beloved Pablo

Remember when he said he had held a falcon?

With his first and second companion.  Pardo and Erickson.  Now it's Chapple time.  :)