Monday, August 26, 2013

Reaching Goals

My week was great. We found 8 new investigators. The mission reached the goal of 555. We have a baptism this week and I am super excited. We are trying our best. This week I need to confirm Ana and bless the baby. Still afraid. President Deere called me and gave me some advice about it. Should be fine. I am happy to hear about the happy things going on in your lives. I can´t wait to see that movie. And I hope you get better mom. You are so loved and appreciated and you just need to turn to the Savior with all of this. We can´t let ourselves go spiritually. The card got here safe and sound. Hopefully it never gets used. When it comes to the package, please don´t feel like you need to do anything. I feel bad. You´re sending me 150$ packages. It´s ok if I don´t get any of it. Just makes me fat anyway. BUT if you do send anything, we would love brownie mixes. Or cheesecake mixes. Stuff like that. I don´t need anything. Really. But food from home is always the best. And throw some letters in there too. Those are better than anything. Transfers are this week. We should find out on Friday. I am sure that we´ll both stay here. My personal study isn´t going very well. I only get a half hour in the morning and we hardly ever have time to do the study during medio dia. The other half hour of personal study. Cause we are either at people´s houses or whatever it may be. So when I get off the training schedule I will have a full hour in the morning, which will be nice. But I now know what I need to focus on. Thanks for that BOM quote. It really had a huge impact on me. Exactly what I needed to here. thanks mom. You always make my life so much easier. Well I need to go. I love you all so much. Thanks for everything. Mom you are amazing. Both of you. I love you so much and I can´t wait for Christmas. Tell Spencer I am super proud of him. I think about him all the time. He will be so good at this. Brig I love you. Our family is the most important thing. Tell the little boys how much I love them. You are all just wonderful.

Love, Preston

Monday, August 19, 2013

Waiting for the time to start flying by...

Hello from Jerez!!

Things sound good there. I am glad Spencer had a good experience in the temple. I think he was probably pretty prepared for that. I was super interested to learn that they updated the film. How cool!! I am even more excited to go to the temple. I am glad that I was able to see the old film. I miss the temple a lot. I spent a good amount of time there before I left. How is Quincey?? I seriously have dreams about him getting cancer at night. It is not fun. I don´t know why it happens but it really worries me. Just let me know that everything is still fine. Life sounds a little rough for all of you right now. It´ll be just you and Spencer at home now soon Mom. Just like it was with us a few months ago. Time flies. I am at five months today. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with how much longer I have. Time passes quickly and yet so slowly. Sometimes I think about the 19 months that face me and start to feel a little claustrophobic. It´s a really weird feeling. My heart starts beating all fast and I just get nervous. I am not used to 2 year committments. Haha. I´m the kid that looks to the future and likes to live there. But I am working on that. I am getting better at living day to day. Anyway. I miss you so much mom. And Dad. And everyone. I had a really rough day on Friday. I don´t know why. But things are much better now.

We had a decent week. Numbers wise it was ok. I still haven´t gotten back up to where I was with Pardo. But that will come in time. I am not too hard on myself. As long as I try my hardest I know that Heavenly Father is pleased with me. So this week is gonna be much better. The mission has some seriously high goals right now. We are going to find 555 new investigators this week, have 250 baptismal dates the next week, and 100 baptisms in September. CRAZY. That means 7 investigators every companionship, and they want everyone to find 7. We fasted and will pray every day at 4:00 to find new people. It´s a really big deal. We usually find 1-2 every week. And our monthly best for baptisms is 52. So September is double that. I am really excited. I work well with goals like this. I know Heavenly Father is preparing people here in Jerez. We just need to listen to His spirit and find them!!

Jose Sonia Ana Alonso and Paola are doing well. Paola isn´t a new investigator yet, but she will be this week. She is doing well and her baby Lola is perfectly healthy. Which makes me super happy. Alonso will get baptized in September. Ana on August 31st. And Jose is still needing some time. He has told us that he knows and HAS FELT that he should stop participating in the semana santa. Which is awesome. He reads the BoM every night and is just doing really well. I love being with that family. But I am also a little nervous. They want me to confirm Ana which is something that I have never done before. It is usually done by the bishopric. It requires really complicated Spanish that I am still not super good at yet. Subjunctive form. And even scarier than that is that they want me to bless Lola in sacrament meeting too. I didn´t think I would be blessing a baby until I was 24. So I don´t really know what to think. That is complicated Spanish too. Plus the whole ward will be there listening. So yeah. I am a bit nervous. I think that will all go down on the 1st of September so pray for me. I am going to need some serious help from the Spirit. I am pretty good at Spanish. But when you say things in that kind of form it gets really complicated. Anyway. We´ll see.

Pablo went to the temple this weekend with a family in the ward. He just walked around and stuff. He said he really loved it. Which is awesome. We will go teach him tonight. We have some other people too. Julia, Katherine, Juan, Gonzalo, and Andres. And we´re gonna find lots more this week. We had to drop some other people because they weren´t progressing which is always kind of sad.

Elder Erickson and I did much better this week. We worked out in the morning and got up on time. We still don´t do medio dia perfectly with language study and area book and all that. But we will this week. This week has got to be exact obedience if we want to see results. And every other week too. But especially this week. I am not very good at street contacting. I just don´t like doing it. Ideally missionaries wouldn´t do it but here in Spain the church is new and the members aren´t super helpful yet. In time. So I need to be better at that as well. I am kind of being forced to start liking being around people. I am usually a person that keeps to himself and his family but on the mission it´s kind of hard to do that. Obviously. I think when it comes to being Christlike we can´t keep to ourselves. We need to love people and desire to bless their lives any way we can. So that is good for me to learn.

Some interesting experiences this week...

We ran into a pack of teenagers one day when we were looking for this apartment complex. They were on one side of a chain link fence and we were on the other. It was super interesting. We asked them for help finding this place and they came over. A bunch of guys and about three girls. Girls were super immodest and had tats and facial piercings, like everyone here. The guys looked a little intense as well. They all looked about 20ish. They were all doing drugs and they came over and offered me some marijuana. (Totally used to that by now) but unlike other kids we talk to, these kids were super mean. They were shouting at us and swearing and doing really obscene things and trying to totally rip us to shreds. They asked us what we were preaching and ripped apart the prophet and were really just super rude. It was hard for me to be patient and kind cause every part of my natural man wanted to make them realize how bad their lives are right now and how incredibly unintelligent their comments were. But I didn´t say anything. They probably could have climbed the fence and killed us. There were tons of them. But the cool part was that we weren´t even phased. I felt the Spirit as we testified about what we know and told them that they are children of God and that he loves them. And that if they ever want to better their lives all they need to do is find us. So we invited them to the english class and left, while they were just hooting and screaming at us. They were all just feeding off of each other you know? There was one in there that had a different light about him. But I don´t know. I went back and right away found the door that we had been looking for. It was number 2, right next to number one. But before I was POSITIVE that the number two had been a number three, and so we went looking for number two. I don´t know. Maybe one of those young adults felt something when we spoke. I hope so. I do know that God wanted us to go talk to them.

We have more. But I am out of time. Unfortunately.

I had a whole thing written out on paper about my thoughts on member missionary work. I don´t know how the time flies so quickly. I am happy right now. I am eating pretty well. I eat tons of salads and vegetables. I buy tons of vegetables that are frozen and then cook them on a skillet. I eat lots of chicken, pork, and duck. And I really love tortilla de patata. I will make that a lot when I go home. Elder Erickson and I are super close. We irritate each other some times but we are both kind of mellow. Haha. He is so funny. I love being his comp. I hope I don´t get transfered. This transfer has FLOWN by. We are already in the fifth week. Well not much time left. I only send one email the whole time. I don´t know why I am so slow. Probably cause I read all of the emails now. It´s just not enough time. Well anyway. I miss you. I love you all so much. Only 19 months left :) And I get to see you in December. Sigh. Haha. I haven´t switched fully into the Love it stage yet. But I am on my way.

I love you

Elder Sharp

Monday, August 12, 2013

Beginning the LOVE IT phase... and approaching his 5 Month Mark

Dearest Family, 

It sounds like Trek was a wonderful experience. I am really glad :) Hearing about all of the fantastic things that happened and the friendships that were made make me really happy. Especially about Spence and Brig. They are truly amazing people. I don´t ever think about it enough, but I have been blessed with some fantastic brothers. Their testimonies are much stronger than mine, and I am grateful for their example. I loved what Dad said about Spencer. He really does know this is true. He will become an incredible missionary very soon after he gets into the field. It doesn´t matter how well you can speak AT ALL. Seriously. We don´t convince people of anything. But what we can do is bear testimony with the Spirit, and as Spencer shares his powerful testimony, his investigators will FEEL it. They will be touched by the Spirit that he brings. The only language that matters is that of the Spirit. I still am not really there yet. I can´t speak very beautifully, especially not in Spanish, and I don´t think I have the conviction that Spencer has. But I am trying to improve. I can´t tell you how beneficial this mission has been for me. And it´s only been a little less than five months. I am SO excited for Spencer!!! And Brigham. I am super proud of them. I wish Clayton could have had that trek experience. But I guess he will when he´s 17. You all give me so much strength. Really I love hearing from you. Missionaries are technically supposed to strengthen their families in their weekly letters, but the opposite occurs for us. I have an incredible family. Seeing your faces and reading about the things you think and feel really help me get more excited to work here in Jerez. So thanks. You mean a lot to me.

Elder Erickson and I had a better week when it comes to numbers. We still didn´t find a whole lot of new investigators. Which is what we need to work on right now. We are going to really change the way we do things this week. You are very right when it comes to the obedience factor Mom. It is a lot more difficult without Pardo. I do some things better, but some things a lot worse. I know we would be blessed with new investigators if we obeyed the schedule better. Exact obedience brings miracles. So this week we are going to obey to the best of our ability. Today we got up RIGHT at 7:30 and did everything we were supposed to do before P-day. Right now I am studying that Christ like attribute. Obedience. It is the first thing that I am trying to develop. We can always obey better, but I really have lots of room for improvement. Everything is based on obedience. If we obeyed exactly, we would be perfect. Which is really impossible. But it´s always an effort. Something we need to always strive to achieve. It´s just in the mission we have so many more rules to follow :) Even the hour Í wake up is a commandment now!! If I sleep in five minutes, then I am not being obedient. It´s interesting. But I know that if I master these things I need to do here in the field, I will have an easier time obeying the other commandments that we have when I go back home. So the elders of jerez are going to be more obedient. 

The week went well. Ana and Alonso are going to be baptized. The children of Sonia. But her husband Jose so far doesn´t have a baptismal date. There is only one problem. Otherwise he said he would get baptized on the 31st with his stepkids. He is so awesome. The whole family is amazing. I have never felt so much love for investigators (it also has to do with how I can finally bond with people. I couldn´t before with the langauge barrier.) in my mission. I want them to go to the temple together so badly. Jose doesn´t drink, or smoke, is totally willing to pay tithing and believes all of the doctrine. The only problem is that he carries the altar/idol thing during semana santa. Jose has an interesting story. His dad died when he was young, so he stopped believing in God. But he met Sonia four years ago (while she was an inactive member) and she built his faith. They read the BOM together, Principles of the Gosepl, and he now believes very strongly in Jesus Christ and God. He does not believe in worshipping idols and images and understands that the Catholic church is corrupted, but he feels close to Jesus Christ when he is a pallbearer(??? four men carrying a box looking things with gold and stuff, don´t know the english word for it) and that is something super important to him. But I am not too worried. I am confident that he will realize that these things are more important. He really wants to go to the temple with his family. We are going to go talk to him with the Bishop and I am just praying that the Spirit will touch his heart so that he can be baptized and go to the temple. Jose has a daughter that lives with them normally. Her name is Paula, she´s 18 and she just had a baby girl. I was able to give her a blessing in the hospital the night before she had the baby. It was a really cool experience. Everything went perfectly with the delivery, and Paula will come back home to Jerez on the 15th. Right now she is visiting her mom in a close by city. I really want to teach her. I don´t know how receptive she will be, but I am confident that now is her time. The Spirit will touch her heart if she allows him to. This family is really important to me. I feel such a huge love for them and I truly desire their salvation. I just want Sonia to embrace the gospel again. She knows it´s true. But she doesn´t want to be a single mom in the church again so she is waiting for him. 

For the first time in my mission I am starting to truly feel something different. Maybe I am finally switching into the LOVE IT stage. I don´t know. But I think about all the people I have met and the problems that they are having and the people that I been able to help as an instrument in His hands and all of the members and other missionaries I have met....I just feel so happy. I was told that it would be more difficult to say good bye to Spain than it was with my family. But I never believed it. Especially after I got here and didn´t love it. But Spain is seriously growing on me. Fast. I think about leaving Jerez and I just get really sad. I really love this place. And I don´t want to leave. And I know that when the time comes to leave Spain itself, I will be devastated. Excited to see my family, but I am coming to love these people. They mean everything to me. I am glad that I still have 19 months and one week to live here with them. WOW. I can´t believe this is happening but it totally is!! I seriously and truly love this. I love being a missionary and I love these people. I love the growth that is happening and the things I am learning. I love being surrounded by so many amazing examples. President Deere is so amazing mom. He is so Christlike. You can feel the love he has for you after just looking in his eyes. He is so genuine and so good.  President Deere has lots of Christ like love. Being with him is the greatest feeling. After talking with him, you just want to go out and work so hard. I absolutely love President Deere. I don´t know anyone like him. Maybe the Adams?? He cares about other people WAY more than himself, and you can tell he dedicates everything to his missionaries and this work. He is super close to the Savior. Book...yes please. Erickson and investigators are getting along well. I know exactly how he feels when he says he doesn´t feel like he can connect with people because of the language barrier. But he is doing really well. 

I will pray my heart out for Sarah. That is so sad. But I know that no matter what happens, everything will be ok. The will of God is something we can´t understand. I know that at some point in my life I will have huge trials when it comes to the will of God. Things will happen and I will have to choose whether or not to be bitter and angry or plead for peace and the strength to continue. I am a little scared to think about it. But I know it will happen. We just need to have an eternal perspective. I love you all so much. I am so flipping happy right now. Thanks for your support :) 

When it comes to missionary work, I wish I had more time to write something. I am out of time, but I will write a letter if I can. Or write some thoughts and then email them next week. You are having the FHE next week right?? I will try to get it to you before then. Love you all

Elder Sharp

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Shopping the Sales in Spain

I apologize.  Preston's letters have been coming in at different times lately, and I keep having computer issues.  Because his letter came in so much later yesterday, I was able to email back and forth with him about twice.  It was nice again to feel like I was able to communicate with him in real time.  He is doing very well.  I think he's very happy with his companion and his current situation.  I'd like to see this big Rebajas and see if it's really all that great.  :)

Dear Family,

This week was good. Numbers wise it has been the worst week I have ever had in the mission. It is a little hard with the area being cut in half. But we have some really promising new investigators. And some promising new futures. So we´ll see how it all goes this week.

Elder Erickson has been sick this week. He has a stomach problem.  Poor guy.  I just want him to feel up to working hard. He is a funny guy. He sometimes reminds me of Uncle Jarrett. Just the way he laughs.  I could be friends with him outside of the mission for sure. He is a little like Kyle Macdonald too. I don´t know how to explain Elder Erickson. He´s kind of a punk. But he makes me laugh a ton. We have gotten along pretty well so far.

Hermana Johns is not Hermana Johnson from the MTC. Hermana Johns is super awesome and I love working with her. She is super old in the mission. She will go home in February. She is not from my same group. But we get along really well. Having other missionaries in the area is really good. I am enjoying it. And yeah I had a class or two with Chance but we never talked very much. She is pretty good friends with Tean I think. Not sure though.

Yeah I have lost weight according to the scale. But not a lot. I am getting super fat. Just a lack of exercise. We haven´t done much cause Elder Erickson never can. He either has blisters, upset stomach, or ingrown toenails. I feel bad for the guy. My first few weeks were rough too. I don´t give him a hard time for anything. I know it is miserable in the beginning. I have not forgotten :) But we need to start doing some kind of exercise. Last week I ate pretty poorly. I found this super delicious cereal and ate two whole boxes of it this last week. Chocolate pillows. The boxes of cereal here are even less filled than the ones in the States. So it wasn´t that much cereal. But I didn´t buy any today. I tried to go really healthy this week and ended up spending ten euros more than I should have. It´s hard. If I try to eat super healthy (just salad stuff and tons of fruit and lean meat) then I end up going over. One day I will figure this stuff out. I make refried beans a lot (which is just a little oil, beans, salt, and garlic, and some cheese) and that can´t be too bad for me. I dunno. We shall see!!

You should send me that book of Bednar´s for Xmas or something. I can get almost any church book approved from Pres. Deere. I would love to read it. I have already almost finished Jesus the Christ and all the other books I brought. I read a lot. I used to think Jesus the Christ was super complicated but it really isn´t that difficult to grasp. I like it a lot. I am gonna read it again in Spanish towards the end of my mission.

You definitely don´t write too many letters. I promise there is no such thing as too many letters. Or too long of an email. I can understand that writing letters to someone that never responds to them might be pretty frustrating, so I don´t blame you if you aren´t too thrilled to write me. Don´t feel obligated to. I did send one though last week. It should get to you guys soon. While you´re on Trek. When does Spencer go through the Temple?? Hopefully after my letter gets there. I would like him to read it before he goes through.

My bag is perfect. I love it so much. Perfect size and everything. I wouldn´t buy the Mr. Mac mission bag. There were like 2 of them that broke in the MTC. But yeah, it sounds like he has got everything all ready. Weird that he only has two months left.

Yeah I am spending money. Right now is Spain´s REBAJAS, which is the huge sale that all of the stores have. I have got some super great deals on stuff. And I also have had to use money to live. I wish I could make money in some way. I don´t know what I will do. I know missionaries that have never been able to go a month without using their personal money to eat. And they are almost done with their missions. It´s frustrating. I promise I will stop buying stuff. See why I did that? I gave you my word that I won´t buy more clothes for the rest of the year. If I break that then I am a person of zero integrity.

Thanks for sharing the miracle about Nico. That is seriously awesome. Seriously awesome. Thank heavens for the priesthood. And I actually got an email from Brianna a week ago. She says she is doing well. I am excited for her mission. And for Lolly too. She emailed me and told me :) Nampa Idaho. Super crazy!!  I am happy for them. There is no better place to be!!

Well when it comes to me, I am doing well. We have this awesome family that we are teaching right now. The mother is Sonia, a lady who hasn´t been to church in 7 years. She was an active member for 6 years. She went through the temple and everything. Even has her patriarchal blessing. But she got offended or something bad happened, and she left the Church. She moved to Jerez a few years ago. Her husband (second husband) is named Jose. He looks EXACTLY like Liam Neeson. The actor from Batman 1 and Taken. SUPER cool to teach the gospel to Liam Neeson. This guy used to be a body builder and almost died from steroid abuse. He quit all of that after he met Sonia and they got married. They are REALLY happy together. He is still really ripped though. And Sonia has two kids from her old marriage, Ana a 13 daughter and Alonso a 9 year old son. Jose has a daughter that lives with them too, named Paula. She is 18 and pregnant. She is visiting her mom right now in a different part of Spain, so we haven´t taught her yet. But we definitely will. Jose and Sonia want to be sealed in the temple together. But Sonia doesn´t want to begin the repentance process. She does, but she knows it will be hard. She has a super strong testimony and knows a ton about the gospel. All of them do because she has taught it to her family. It´s a little weird teaching them. But I love them a ton. We will keep working with them.

Pablo and Maria are still with us. We can only teach them once a week though because he works 6 days a week as a lifeguard. He is 19 and she is 16. He knows this is true. I think they will be baptized after the summer is over.

Jose and Ana are not doing well. They have been busy and they told me they feel like this is an obligation that they aren´t ready for right now and they want to wait a while. Which was hard to listen to. Sigh. But we keep going!!!! Always :)

We have some other people and things should start picking up. I am excited for this week!! I don´t have much time left. I love you all a ton. Thank you for your support. Things are going really really well here. Thanks for your prayers :) Have fun on Trek!!!

Love, Elder Sharp