Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New Companero!!

Dear Mom,

Elder Erickson is from Boise Idaho. He is super awesome. I already feel really close to him. So far I have had two companions and they are both shorter than me. Which is not what I expected. But whatever!! He is really athletic and big into sports and working out.. Super short and ripped, and people think he looks like Brad Pitt. (the picture on the blog doesn´t look like him that much). But he is a really great guy. I am glad that he is my son!! He is here to work and he speaks rather well. We have bonded a lot already. He´s super funny too. He went to Utah State for a year and then worked for a year in California and Utah. He has lived on his own for like two years. He has like 8 siblings and his whole family is LDS. He is 20 years old. We have some things in common, but he definitely ran with a different crowd than I did!! He makes my life seem so boring. Hahaha. And compared to his, it was. But he´s an awesome guy. I am happy to be with him.

As far as my week goes, not a whole lot going on. I got back to the Rez at ten o clock that night and we had a welcoming party waiting for us. I set it up for the hermanas. Ward members and stuff were there waiting for us at the train station. Then we all drove to the hermanas new piso and helped them get their bags in and then went home. We spent the next three and a half days with the hermanas visiting members and trying to get them all transitioned in the new área. They are great. Hermana Johns is a champ, and Chance is learning fast. Haha. She is from herriman. I knew of her in high school. Oh and I got to see Jordan Quinn which was awesome!!! I hope he is doing well. But yeah, finally on Saturday we Split off and Elder Erickson and I went to our own área. Things are going a Little slow right now. Jose and Ana are not doing well. I met with them on Saturday and they don´t want to be baptized right now. They said they have too many obligations in their life right now and that they feel guilty about not coming to church and all that, so they want us to give them a break until after summertime. When their life will be more tranquilo. I was devastated. Those were our only promising investigators. Well, basically. We will still pass by and teach them and all that, but they definitely aren´t ready to be baptized. It´s really frustrating. But we have promising futures and all that. We just need to start finding. Victoriano is still doing amazing. Yesterday in church I took the sacrament and looked up at him using his priesthood and passing it to me and just smiled. That´s such a great feeling. I am so happy that he is so dedicated to the góspel. Not every convert is. Most aren´t actually. So this week in Jerez one we will be trying to find new investigators. And listening to the Spirit as much as possible.

Heavenly Father has really helped me a lot this week. Honestly I feel like I have changed so much in just a few days. I prayed and prayed for Him to help me be ready to train, and He came through. I am constantly being surprised when I know where to go and what to say. Actually, most of the time I don't know exactly where to go or what to say, but I just keep walking and keep talking and it all Works out perfectly. I have really come to trust in the Lord lately. My ability to speak the language is much better than I thought it was. Much better than it was a week ago. And I know it's because He's helping me. There is nothing to fear because I know He will be along my side, helping me. I am so excited to keep growing. I sometimes get a Little overwhelmed when I think about the 19 and a half months I have left. But I need every second of it. I just can't waste any of this time because I don't have a lot of it.

The hermanas live about 25 minutes away from us walking. They live in their side of Jerez and we live in ours. We don't proselyte in each other's áreas. They are the first sisters in about 10 years in the Rez. And the Ward likes them way more than us. Everyone wants to feed them and drive them everywhere. Haha. I feel bad for Erckson sometimes cause he probably didn't expect this. But it's ok. I knew it would be this way. I dont mind it. I have lost like 12 pounds since I left on the misión. I am eating a lot and really well. You would be really surprised mom. I think I am just losing muscle though. But Elder Erickson and I have gone running once. But he has tons of blisters from walking around all day so we have to wait until his foot is healed. It is really interesting to watch him experience the same things I experienced three months ago. He hates walking. Hahaha. I remember that feeling. But you get used to it after a few weeks. He will be fine. He doesn't have it that bad. We got a Brand new fridge and an AC machine that Works SOO well. We sleep with it super cold at night. He never knew what it was like to sweat yourself to sleep at night. And our fridge never really worked. It kept food from going bad, but nothing was ever really cold. Now that I have a fridge that keeps things cold my life is just so much better. I am loving it. And I love training. I learn so much more. Seriously. I am excited for the next three months. Right now I am in Puerto with Elder Hooper and Whetten cause my comp had to go to Malaga to do his residency papers. I love being around hooper. I just study him so that I can become like him.

Your week sounds like it was jam packed. You have a rather busy life. I would be there helping Dad with the yard if I were home. I feel bad that he has to do it himself. I can't wait for trek to be over just for your sake. That will be a big stress off of your shoulders. I hope your birthday was great. Even though you had to watch Wolverine. I really want to see the new Super man movie. Have you seen it? Is it good? Elder Ward from the train accident is doing ok. Thank heavens. I hope everything goes well for him. I Heard he is gonna be a great missionary. Can I have Bishopp's address? And Emily SMith's emal address?

I am glad all of you are happy. I would have loved to go to Riders in the Sky. Seriously. We're going when I get back. I miss you all a lot. But being with an american helps. It really does. Tell Brig happy birthday for me. Tomorrow he'll be 17. Time really flies. Sometimes too fast and other times not fast enough. Well have a great week. I am doing well. I wouldn't give this up for anything. I wish the people who aren't choosing to serve could see how utterly important this time is. I am already emotional about my misión. I absolutely love being here. I have already learned so much and I will always appreciate this time in my life. There is no greater work. No greater cause.

I love you all
Elder Sharp

Monday, July 22, 2013

Preston's Reaction and 4 Month Mark

So he was able to watch Spencer open his call on the blog.  (Palakiko was Preston's roommate and close friend at BYU.)  It sounds like he's crazy busy and the next few weeks will be heavy for him.  We'll definitely be praying for him.

My dear family, 

Spencer...I love you. I know that CA is where you are meant to serve. San Fernando, California. I don´t know much about that area, but there is a passionate young elder named Palakiko Chandler serving there right now. I can´t email a lot right now. I have like ten minutes. I WILL TRY AS HARD AS I CAN to get back on while I am in Malaga. I have to go pick up my greenie in Malaga today and I won´t get back till tomorrow. Yeah. Transfers are here, and Pardo is going to be a zone leader in Seville. I am staying here, and am going to train a new elder. I have never felt so unprepared for anything in my entire life. I am way too young to train. But we are blind leading the blind in this mission. At least in Jerez. This was a hard weekend for me too. I found out on Friday. I also have to teach the area to the hermanas that will get here on tuesday night with me and my new companion. One of the hermanas will be brand new too, so we´ll get here together. My train leaves this morning (monday) at noon. This weekend has been one of the most stressful weekend of my life. Trying to finalize everything with the hermana´s piso and whatnot. Splitting an area is seriously stressful. I can´t believe I am going to be in charge now. I relied on Elder Pardo so much. I am afraid. But I also know that Heavenly Father will help me.  

Spencer I want you to know how proud I am of you. I love you so much. I will try to email a longer email with my feelings about everything. Hopefully I can. I will do my best. We are called by a prophet of God, and if we really know that God wants us to go wherever we are called, nothing else matters. I know you hear this stuff all the time. But please realize that the location does not matter. Spain is basically like spanish speaking southern california anyway. Except with crappy grocery stores and no houses. Really. And I definitely haven´t embraced a new culture or anything. Just struggled with a new language. You´re so flipping lucky you get to speak english. And work with a ward that actually does what they should be doing. I know right now in the stage where it´s supposed to be all exciting and whatnot, CA might be a little disappointing. But I PROMISE you that when the silly ridiculous fantasy stage wears off, you will be glad that you are in CA. Missionary work is missionary work. It doesn´t matter where you are. I promise. Spain is just spain to me. Nothing cool or exciting. Just the place where I sweat all day and try to preach the gospel. It happens that way with everyone. G2G. Will write more. Love you. Pray for me. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Lots of lessons (4 month mark on Wednesday!)

So I wrote and explained how we still have no mission call for Spencer. I knew it was going to be disappointing to him when he has been expecting it for the last few weeks. I sure hope its here before next Pday!!!

Dear Mom,

How are you?? Things are going well here. I am really depressed right now because of Spencer´s mission call. Seriously. That is rough on me!! I will have so much stuff to do next P-day when I email. So I probably won´t have time to write a whole lot. Well I have sat on his letter for like two weeks. I feel bad about it but I am just so busy right now. The weeks just fly by. I don´t even know what to say. Haha. I think I am at the point where I would rather not take the effort and write everything that happened and all that. But I won´t do that to you Mom!! Let´s see...

We had another baptism on saturday. Maribel, a 30 year old bolivian lady. Her husband is antonio, and is spanish. He will need more time, but she wanted to do it. I honestly don´t know why we´ve been having so many baptisms lately. Three weeks in a row is really really unusual in Spain. Lots of people go six months or more without having any. The Lord really is just blessing us. We try to be obedient, and we work hard, but we definitely aren´t the best missionaries out there. Seriously. I still have so much to learn. The whole mission just thinks we are so great because we are "tearing it up in Jerez" and all that, but all that means is that they see our numbers. And numbers DON´T mean success. Elder Pardo told me that in his last area things were way harder and so he worked way harder, knocking doors every day for hours and contacting and all that. He was a successful missionary then too. A lot of people get caught up in numbers, and I am glad that I have been taught that they really don´t matter when it comes to measuring success. As long as I work as hard as I can and follow all of the rules and feel the spirit and all of that good stuff, I am successful. I know there will be times in my mission where I won´t have baptisms at all and the work will be hard and a little depressing. But that does not mean that I am not a successful missionary. That is one lesson that I am grateful to have learned.

Something else that I have come to understand is that success is also not meaured by positions. I have been the type to aspire to positions all my life. Of course I have always understood that that is not a good thing and I have tried hard to humble myself and focus on serving the Lord in whatever way he wants me too. But I still wanted the recognition of man. I have thought a lot about that in my mission. There are tons of people that aspire to different positions. Some missionaries think that if they don´t become AP their mission wasn´t successful. How sad is that?? I feel sorry for those missionaries that don´t understand their purpose here. I think I can honestly say that I have got to the point where it seriously doesn´t matter to me if I ever become DL, ZL, or AP. I know it´s easy to say that now at the beginning of my mission whereas at the end of my mission it may be more difficult if all of my leaders are younger than me and I have never had any leadership in the mission, but really, the real triumph for me would be to truly feel happy to serve Heavenly Father in whatever way he wants me to, and to not have the slightest care about the titles in the mission. That is my goal. And I think I am doing well so far. I know what success really is in the mission, and it´s important not to get wrapped in things that don´t matter.

The recent converts that we have make me so happy. That is the best part of my mission. Being able to see them grow in testimony and in the gospel. Emilio and Rosario are just doing great. We had a ward activity on Friday, and he was behind the grill the whole night just as happy as can be. And Victoriano is just on fire. He gave a talk in the baptism on saturday that he wrote completely by himself, which is super amazing having been a member for like two weeks. He bore his testimony on Fast Sunday about the difficulties he´s been having with his family and them always attacking his decision to join the church. It is really hard for him, but he said that he knows this is true. His faith can´t be changed, and he knows that God is pleased with his choice. He came back down from the pulpit and sat down next to me and just started balling. I have never seen him cry before. It only lasted for a minute, but wow. Talk about a testimony builder. I think about all of the people in the world that have sacrificed so much for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I haven´t had to sacrifice very much at all. It was just handed to me and my whole family is right there with me trying to live it. I don´t know. I don´t know why I have been so blessed. But I know that Victoriano was converted by the Spirit. We seriously did not do anything. We taught and all that, but we did not just convince him that this is true. The holy ghost is real. Victoriano was converted by all the times that he prayed to God to ask if this is true. When we weren´t even in his home. The Spirit testified to him, and that is why his faith is so strong. The Spirit is everything in this work. Missionaries just need to learn how to follow it. Victoriano should receive a calling next week. The bishop told us it is something that will take lots of time and all this stuff. We hope it´s something that he can put his whole heart and soul into.

My thoughts have been really occupied lately with the person I am becoming. I just want to study christ like attributes so desperately. I have so much great material on becoming better and all that but I can´t study it right now. It´s not time yet. I have to learn the lessons better and stuff. In the beginning you´re only supposed to study the missionary lessons and the book of mormon. But as soon as I have more experience and can teach well enough, I am going to spend lots of time studying that. Stacie gave me tons of great material, and I really want to read the gospels. Plus Ch. 6 of PMG is all about christ like attributes. I am super excited. Maybe towards the end of this year. I need a favor por favor. Will you go to youtube and type in ¨The Butterfly Circus¨ and watch it and tell me the name of the circus leader?? I can´t remember his name. It would be awesome if you could do that for me. The circus leader is a foreign looking man and his name starts with an m or something. His character is a good example of some christ like attributes.

I am super proud of spencer for doing that. It sounds even worse than Cafe Rio. Which really wasn´t that bad after all. Dad is totally right about him learning the lesson of the importance of an education. I have certainly learned that over the last year of my life. Seeing people here makes me realize how blessed I am to have the opportunity for education. There is a big crisis here in spain right now. If you didn´t know. I think the unemployment rate is 60 percent in Jerez. That is what it was when I first got here anyway. It is hard. There are so many beggars, and I wish I could help them but I am having a hard time as it is without spending my personal money in order to live. 140 euros is not a lot. And I definitely don´t live extravagantly here. I don´t have much money to give away. I was thinking yesterday about how, even though it is the hardest thing I´ve ever done, there has not been one day in the mission where I haven´t learned something of great value. Heavenly Father really does give us the experiences that will help us learn exactly what we need to learn. The mission is SO completely worth it. Every second. Every penny. Every drop of sweat (and there are many). Someone said the mission is sweat and tears because the Atonement was sweat and tears. I think in a way it´s true. We learn so much more about what the Savior did for us while we dedicate our lives to him for these two years. I can´t wait to progress more. There is so much to learn!! I am so excited for Spencer. He´ll learn so much.

Well I am happy about your computer. That is a relief!! And I hope Brigham understands the opportunity he has to help Clayton this week. I would love to do what Brigham gets to do!! Spend a week at Scout camp with my little brother. Seriously that would be so incredibly wonderful. Don´t waste it Brig!! Clayton needs the help of all of us. Brigham is awesome for doing that though. Really. All of you guys are awesome. I love my family so much. Sounds like you guys had a good anniversary. Me alegra mucho :)

Well things are great here. Just normal missionary life. I almost have four months!! Crazy. The time is going by so quickly. Well transfers are in a week. One week left with my beloved elder pardo!! Hahaha. We actually get along really well now. It´s been awesome lately. I am totally fine with whatever happens. If I stay here, I will be so happy. If not, awesome. I just want to learn whatever the Lord has in store for me. Well I love you so much mom!! And everyone else!! Thanks for your support!! Happy Birthday on Friday mom!!! 37 years old!! Fetch. My parents are getting so old :( Dad will turn 40!!!! about six seven months after I get home!! That is so crazy. You are too young to be 37. Oh well. I am glad I have a super long time with you guys. Like I said, you will get sick of me!!!

Love you so much
Elder Sharp

Monday, July 8, 2013

Happy Flippin' Anniversary!!

Dear Mom and Dad,

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!!! How awesome is that!?? Nineteen years of blissful happiness ;) I hope you kids do something peaceful and relaxing. I think you are all vacationed out about now. I am so grateful for you two wonderful parents and for the things that you have taught me. I owe you everything, and there isn´t a day that goes by that I don´t think about how much you do for me and how much I appreciate you. I can´t tell you enough how awesome you both are. I am so blessed to have the parents that I have. I love you so much!!

Well I feel awful. I should have just written you a normal email last week, but since I still hadn´t seen the broadcast, I decided to just write a small one and use my computer time watching the missionary broadcast. I was definitely disapppointed that there wasn´t any emails, but I also realized right away that you had Duane and Misty coming and you had just barely got back from CA. Please don´t even worry about it. Even more, I was able to get back on the computers the next day because I was making a baptism announcement so I printed off your emails and read them that night. Don´t worry at all. Everything is fine. I am sorry for not writing you anything of substance.

When it comes to me, things are going well. We had 2 more baptisms on Friday. Emilio and Rosario, a couple with a seven year old (DANG IT) daughter. I will post some pictures. We have another baptism this week on Saturday. It is the wife of Rosario´s brother. Her name is Maribel. She is really prepared and we are excited for her. Her husband will take more time. The work is going well. We need to start finding more investigators, cause we are running out. If I end up staying here for another transfer then I will have to start finding. I really really cannot wait for the next transfer. Right now I am in week 11 of my training. So this week and next week and then I am finally finished. Thank heavens. Pardo and I are getting along pretty well, but I just want to learn from someone else. We have no idea who will stay and who will go. But we´ll see. Jordan Quinn enters the mission this next transfer. I am praying that he will come to my side of the country so that I can see him. I just want to see something from home. I can´t believe I have to wait another week to see where Spencer goes. I wish I could give you advice about the process but I don´t understand it anymore. It has totally changed. It could be whenever at this point. But it really shouldn´t take them this long. If it isn´t here by this week then there might be a problem or something.

Speaking of Spencer, I have been writing him a letter forever. But I waited to see where he goes to send it. I might as well just send it today though since I don´t want to wait another week. Tell him that I flipping hate his attitude. The mission you serve in says NOTHING about the kind of missionary they think you will be. That is ridiculous. There are good missionaries and bad missionaries everywhere. And if he wants me to give him the lecture on how flipping fantastic it would be to serve in the states I will. Not to mention speaking english. Really I have thought about it and there are wonderful things about every mission. It´s great to experience other culture and learn a language, but serving in the states would be wonderful as well. There isn´t a bad mission. Even Texas would be amazing. All of them are great, and the one you go to will be perfect for you. So stop worrying about it. It doesn´t matter where you go. What matters is how hard you work and how obedient you are. I have been surprised to find out about how many jack missionaries are in my mission. I have been blessed to have a trainer that, although he is way too obsessed about his numbers, is really obedient. But there are lots of missionaries that just don´t obey. I am super excited to find out where you are going. Although a mission is a mission, it is fun to think about it. But really the location isn´t the important thing. It´s hard everywhere. I think the best mission in the world would be Utah. They baptize so much in Utah, and the wards work like they are supposed to, and the members are willing to participate, and there is no knocking or contacting. Just references, teaching, visiting less actives, you get to go to the temple, the weather is great, food is normal, plus you never have to cook cause members always feed you, and they have cafe rio in utah, and you never have to worry about paying for a meal when you eat out cause someone is gonna end up paying for it!! And from what I have heard, arizona and idaho are really similar to that. Same with certain parts of California. So count your blessings if you get called there. If I was waiting for my call, I would be praying to be sent to Utah. No doubt about it!! The Utah Ogden mission would be heaven.

But my mission is great too. Lots of good things about it. Really Spain is great. But more important than the country is the people. They are the things that matter. The people you learn to love and care about more than anything. They are the reason that we´re doing this. And you will be called to the people that need you. That is the most important thing. Whether they be American, chilean, british, spanish, or whatever it be. That´s what matters. Personally, (and this is my guess) I think he´s going to England/Ireland. MAYBE Australia. Those are my guesses. I think he´ll speak english. I hope he has to learn spanish, but I don´t think he will. Anyway. Don´t even worry about it. I know it´s impossible. But in seven or eight months from now you will be walking down some road somewhere in the world and you will be so tired and exhausted and you will think about this time when you were so excited for your call and life was so easy and you will just laugh to yourself. I did that yesterday. It was the hottest day so far, and we were walking in the outskirts of jerez and I just started laughing. This is the hardest thing I have ever done!! It is awesome and I am loving it more and more. But it is hard. Mentally exhausting. And physically exhausting in Spain (not all missions are physically exhausting). Buckle up, Spence. I would tell you to enjoy the "fantasty" stage of this process as long as you can!! :) Really though it´s great. I am definitely enjoying all of this.

I am sorry about your computer. Really that is awful. Years of pictures and videos. I hope and pray that they are retrievable. And yes I did back up all of my pictures. The videos no, but the pictures yes. They are on my pin drive. I am super jealous of the month you guys have had. It hurts a little bit to see pictures of you guys playing in the water (which I DREAM about during the day) and eating fruit pizza. Talk about salt on the wound. There are two things that I know for sure I am doing when I get home. First thing I do is make a classic PB and J with homeade jam and jif. With sunflower sycamore bread. And then (although Í have to wait months for this) I just want to go boating. So badly. I miss the water so so so so much. I hope there will be trips to california that summer. If you guys want to pick me up that´s great, but I am totally happy just coming straight home. Elkins told me that I would quickly lose the desire to travel around after my mission, and he was dead on. I am more than happy just coming home. But we don´t need to worry about that for an incredibly long time. I am glad you guys are having such a great time with the family and everything. Spencer you better enjoy that while you have it. Please please don´t take it for granted. I totally did. Those times were so fetching amazing and I didn´t even realize it while I was living them!! That´s kind of how it is with lots of things in my life though. I am glad Duane is so willing to spend time with us. I love being around them. He really is an awesome uncle. I miss them a lot.

Well I have basically spent my whole time on this email. I want to send you a picture or two. I miss you guys a lot. Thanks for being so supportive. I didn´t want to say it, but I am secretly hoping with all my heart that spencer comes here. I know he won´t- but it would be so wonderful if he did. A guy can dream right?? I hope things calm down over there back home. How is the yard looking?? You should send me some pictures of the backyard. I am glad dad has another counselor to help him now. I hope things pick up with his work and everything. I hate thinking that my parents are sad. I just want everything to go well with you guys.

I have grown a lot in the past few weeks. I know I haven´t said a whole lot about my life here but really I have learned tons. I am growing much closer to God and understand more and more every day the importance of what I am doing. It´s crazy how much I have progressed in just a few months. But I know that I can accelerate this rate of progression, with the Savior´s help. I am really thankful for the stuff that sister lindsey gave me. It has been amazing to have and I am so grateful for her. I don´t have any time left. But thank you for everything

I love you all so much. Can´t wait to find out where he gets to serve!! Be happy!! We really are so blessed. Living here and seeing the lives of so many of God´s children, I don´t think you realize how blessed we are. Enjoy this week!! I hope it´s peaceful :)

Love, Elder Sharp

Monday, July 1, 2013

First Baptism and a Horrible Parent

So this is the first time I didn't get a real email.  This is all he sent.  But in all fairness, I didn't send an email out to him either.  We spent yesterday driving home and then hosting family.  I had every intention to email him and thought about it several times, but I fell asleep around midnight and woke up at 7 am and immediately realized I didn't send an email.  I feel like the worst parent on the planet.  He didn't say anything about not getting an email and didn't wonder what the deal was or anything.  He just sent this.  I was hoping he'd go back to the computers later and check email again, because of course I sent him one this morning as soon as I realized what I had done.  Ugh.  Another week.  But his photos are great and he still sounds happy. 

This week was really good. The baptism was great. I felt such a joy and peace as he was finally baptized. It´s such a wonderful feeling!! Hope everything was fun in California! I am getting used to being a missionary. It feels natural now to do what we do.