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