Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Birthday to Ben

Dear family,

All is well. I am glad that Dad had a good birthday. Although birthdays just aren´t as fun when you get older. And they are even less fun in the mission. It´s ok though. Some religions don´t even celebrate birthdays! 

THANK YOU for the package!!! We are having a zone dinner tomorrow for Thanksgiving. But I am not bringing my special thanksgiving food. There will be too many people. Plus it´s not even Thanksgiving. So Weenig and I might invite the other elders over on Thursday and we have everything bought to do the real thanksgiving feast there. I am going to make turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffed mushrooms, gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole...the works. I am excited!! It cost a pretty penny but it´s definitely worth it. The ensign was my favorite part :) 

Things are going well. We had a really good week. I was very happy. We set four baptismal dates. We found some pretty awesome investigators. A 20 year old boy called Henry, who is really prepared. He´s from Ecuador. We have this Bulgarian investigator called Rosa that is going to be baptized on the 20th of December. She´s progressing very well. Jaime and Diana are doing well. Slowly progressing. It´s hard to meet with them but they are SO nice and I know that they need to hear this message right now. 

So there is a Sister in my ward that is going to leave for Brazil on December 2nd. She is in Brigham´s same group, but she is Brazilian and doesn´t need to learn the language, so she enters a little less than two weeks before the field entry date. So she is totally going to see BRIGHAM!!! Her name is Sister Barbosa and she is super awesome. She speaks english so she´ll be able to talk to Brigham. I was super excited to hear that. 

So I don´t have a whole lot to say. I really have missed my family this week. It doesn´t ever go away. I cannot wait to see Spencer again. And I feel like I won´t see Brigham for years. Which is totally true :( It makes me sad. Sigh. I didn´t anticipate this whole ¨let´s all serve missions at the same time¨ thing being so stinking difficult on me. But it really is. I can only imagine how it is for my parents. 

Church is always a joy. Yesterday we had to sit in primary the whole time because Elder Weenig is apparently the only mormon pianist in all of Alicante. Haha. It´s ridiculous. Even the other ward calls us and tries to get us to go to their choir practices every week. I am not the biggest fan of being the pianist´s companion because we waste lots of time. But at least we are serving the members. Well. My companion is :) I sing in their choirs though so I think that counts for something. Anyway. The primary in Spain is just special. It´s basically nursery with larger children. Those poor poor primary teachers. I have so much respect for them. 

I was thinking about my testimony during church. I feel like before the mission I had never ever really sat down and contemplated my own testimony. It´s certainly changed a lot in the last 20 months. The little sapling has grown into a pretty sturdy, young little tree. I have ways to go. But I do enjoy having testimonies of so many different aspects of the gospel. All of the principles. The commandments. I have the biggest testimony of obedience. I truly understand the commandments and the reasons for which we have them. I love living them and I am so grateful for the clarity that I feel. The mission has been the biggest blessing in that regard. The life of someone who lives the gospel is SOOOOOO different than the lives of those who don´t. I am ridiculously blessed. I really have learned how to rely upon the atonement of the Savior and apply it into my life. And I really do know that this church is His. I feel it everytime I think about it. It has become so clear in the mission field. 

Sometimes I ask myself why I was born into such incredible circumstances. The best time of the world, into the best family ever, into the greatest country ever, with the gospel....I really just don´t understand it. Herriman is such a special place. It´s different than the rest of Utah. I honestly couldn´t have asked for a better situation in life. My life is perfect and it scares me. I have everything that I could ever want. Weenig and I talk about it a lot. He said something that impacted me a bit. Where much is given, much is required. My blessing says that exact same thing. And it´s true. We are expected to live much different lives than the rest of the world. I really do want to give back all that I can. He has given me so much. I don´t have time to write about all of the things that I am grateful for, but if you really want to know I´ll let you read my journal come March. God has given me EVERYTHING. 

I was reading the ensign that you sent me. Thanks by the way. I love it. I especially love Elder Eyring´s talk about receiving revelation. I feel like I relate to him very well on certain things. One of them being our relationship with our mother. In his talk he recalls coming home at night and quietly walking past his parent´s bedroom, and then hearing his mother call ¨Hal, come in for a moment¨ Hahaha. Oh I know how that feels. He then walked in and sat on their bed for two hours or so, and then perhaps his father sent them out to the family room because he was tired and needed to sleep for work the next day. So he and his mother went out into the family room and talked for another two hours. It probably ended with a very very long hug, maybe some tears. Elder Eyring mentions that his mother sought revelation to help her son who may or may not have been struggling. And, just from reading his talk, one infers that her inspired counsel made a lasting impact upon his life. So profound that those counsels have stayed with him until this day. Even though his mother passed away over 40 years ago. 

I love reading that. I have been blessed with a similar mother who seeks revelation to help her struggling sons. And an equally incredible father. The counsel that was given to me has also stayed with me throughout my short life, and it will be something that I remember forever. I am eternally grateful for that. For the effort that you two put forth to help me SEE clearly. That was always a common theme. The things that are truly important in this life, and the things that are not. Seeing clearly and taking off the teenage blinders that cause us to put so much emphasis on things that really don´t matter. The importance of striving to develop a testimony at a young age. I wish I had listened more. I think the message that most sunk through was ¨don´t have a girlfriend before your mission¨. hahaha. But now the Spirit bring things back to me and I say to myself I wish I had listened to them. I wish I had tried harder to understand the gospel and listen to the spirit. I wish I hadn´t wasted so much time on things that weren´t really that important. How I RELISH those memories. Those long, late nights. Those nights have made a profound impact on my life. I am so grateful for two parents that have invested so much in me. I really hope to make that investment worth it. 

I have been thinking about my mission. I can´t believe I have this much time here. Hermana Herrera asks me all the time ¨What would you say if you had to sum up your mission in a few words?¨ or ¨What have you enjoyed most about your mission¨? I hate those questions. I hate having to look back over my mission and see that it´s coming to an end. I randomly broke down crying in the streets the other night. We were walking and I was thinking about how much of a miracle the mission even is. It shouldn´t work. Young adults should not be willing to give up 2 years of their life to go and talk to people about their religion. It´s so weird. And they certainly should not be able to convince people to change their entire life and join a church and then do the same thing. It really doesn´t make sense how the missionary program even functions properly. But it does. And it´s successful. I am so thankful for this time that I have been given. I am especially grateful for the 3 and a half months that I have left. It´s going to be a wonderful time and we are going to make the most of it. I have had the greatest experience out here. I would reccommend this to everyone. And I do. It has changed me completely. I have gained so much more than I have given. 

Anyway. I love you all. 

Happy birthday to ben 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Gospel Unites Us

Dearest mother and father, and family,

I cried a little looking a those pictures. He´s gone. I am praying for all of you. I hope that you can get back to the swing of things quickly. I can´t imagine what you must be feeling though. God is blessing you. That´s for sure. He is going to have the greatest experience of his life,,,so far. Really. This is what God wants. I have a firm testimony, a sure knowledge, that all of this is literally welding our family together. We were always close before, but the love, adoration, devotion and appreciation that I have for my family has multiplied a hundredfold on my mission. The financial blessings are great, but the most incredible blessing that I think we will receive is what this is doing for our family spiritually and emotionally. We´re going to be an eternal family. 

Is Abby lactose intolerant?

I have had an interesting week. A whirlwind of a week. I love being a missionary. I have had a lot of wonderful little experiences this week that have just touched my heart! 

My companion is unreal. I feel like I am companions with a celestial being. He could be translated at any moment. He has shared some pretty personal things with me about his life and I just cannot believe how incredible he is. Such a pure, sincere desire to bless the lives of others. Even before his mission. That´s all he wants in life. I was so selfish before the mission. He inspires me. He inspires everyone. He´s literally 18 years old and has no experience, but he is a natural leader. I am really excited for him. We get along really well. Sometimes his singing gets to be a little too much. I think going twenty months surrounded by people who hate when I sing has rubbed off on me and caused me to stop. Cause I don´t sing that much. But he is ALWAYS singing. That´s my only complaint though. His only flaws are fretting too much about whether or not he´s being perfect. I think being with someone that has that problem is helping me to work on it too. Cause I am not super good at that either. 

I was in an interview with President Deere today. And I was telling him about my companion. My interview with him was weird. But he talked to the two of us together, Weenig and I, about teaching correctly, and then Weenig left and we talked about how I will end my mission here in Alicante and we talked a little bit about my companion. He told me how much he appreciates me as a missionary, and then I told him about Elder Weenig. Honestly I just got emotional. I felt so weird. But I was telling him about Elder Weenig and how much he is going to accomplish on his mission and how pure and powerful he is and the Spirit just got super strong. President Deere felt it as well, and he just said   I know. He´s special.   That´s why I am trusting you with him.¨  It was nice to hear that. Elder Weenig is probably going to be an Apostle. 

I told President Deere that I want to stay with Elder Weenig until the end of my mission, but he just laughed and said that it probably wasn´t going to happen. My gut feeling is that Weenig will leave in December and that I will train. That´s what President wants. But he told me he would pray and think about letting Weenig and I stay together another transfer. 

President Deere is going to go teach lessons with us tonight in an hour. We changed our Pday a little today, and now Pres Deere is going to come work with us. I am super nervous about it. Never done it before and we don´t have the greatest lessons planned. But it´´ll be ok. 

Could you send me a recipe on cooking potatoes in the oven? The red ones that you do? I don´t like baked potatoes, and mashed get old after a while. What else can I do? 

Elder Weenig and I are doing really well. One of our investigators is getting baptized this week. Her name is Tekki. She´s pretty awesome. There aren´t a lot of progressing investigators here, but a few of our investigators have fechas. We dropped a lot of them and we are starting from scratch. We have a goal of finding nine this week. I love this work. I really do. 

I don´t have much time left. I am trying to remember what happened this week. 

Oh I saw President Lopez, my old stake president from Elche, on saturday. I LOVE talking with him. He gave me a lot of great advice and really inspired me. I feel like once I capture the vision for a particular ward/area, everything becomes much easier. Honestly I love taking part in this. I keep having all of these ¨missionary moments¨ where I wish I could just take a snapshot of my life. Just yesterday we cornered our incredibly difficult to meet with Bishop and sat him down and had a little meeting with him asking how we could best help the ward and all of that, and just sitting down with him in that room just meant so much to me. I love it. I love feeling like such a huge part of this work. I really did nothing with my life before the mission. Another one was seeing an African recent convert (who are kind of....looked at warily here because most of them go inactive quickly) sit down amidst the congregation after having given and INCREDIBLE talk in SPANISH and then all of the spanish members turned and clapped him on the shoulder and thanked him for his words. He was beaming. I was watching from the other side of the room, but I just felt such a joy in my heart. The gospel unites us. It changes lives. It gives people second chances. I have more that I wanted to share, but I am out of time. But I really am loving every minute. Being here in Alicante has revitalized me. Elder Weenig has revitalized me. 

I must admit, I think about your suggestion often. Living at home that first semester. I think that is what I am supposed to do. It answers a lot of my problems and worries. I will have to look into it, but I have a good feeling about that. Anyway. 

I love you all so much. I miss you but I am so happy to be where I am. 

Tea tree and that blue face soap please. 


Elder Sharp, the first

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Soggy, Moldy, Fly-infested Pillow

Dear Family, 

It was really great talking to you!!! I loved seeing all of you, and seeing my grandparents as well! You all look so great!!  It gets easier every time to hang up that skype phone call! I don´t know why. Perhaps it was easy this time because I know it´s less than two months till we get to do it again. And it will probably be easy next time as well. It´s so crazy. I feel like I am running so fast and that there is a big wall of fire chasing me matter how fast I run it´s always gaining on me. Four stinking months. I kind of want them to last forever....and at the same time I want them to pass by in the blink of an eye. Ugh. So many conradicting feelings. You guys all look great. I am super excited to talk to you again :) 

Alright to explain a few things. My companion is seriously the greatest missionary I have ever met. I feel like I am companions with a future prophet. Seriously this kid is going to accomplish miracles in the mission field. He speaks spanish fluently and understands exactly what missionaries should do to be successful. He is 100 percent exactly obedient to the T in every single way. He feels an urgency and truly desires to use every second in the most effective way possible. He knows the area INCREDIBLY well and also knows the members and their stories. He´s also freakishly positive. I haven´t heard one negative thing come out of his mouth. Not one!! He never speaks unkindly about ANYONE. He is optimistic, driven, and here to serve God and serve these people. He is also a skilled teacher. And an effective planner. It´s like he´s been out here for over a year, but it´s been six weeks. I cannot comprehend it. He contacts, invites people to be baptized, follows every single rule, and strives so hard to use every second wisely. I have never had a comp like him I really don´t feel like there is a whole lot I can teach him, but I am doing my best. I feel like being companions with him is a big responsibility. Like the future of many souls is in my hands right now, and I have to make sure this kid keeps going like he is. It´s really awesome being companions with him. He just has so much FAITH! AND HE´S BEEN HERE FOR SIX WEEKS!! Sometimes it is a little frustrating in the beginning because we aren´t used to each other. But I think he has a lot more respect for me now after having worked together for a while. I think his last comp was awesome, but didn´t really keep up with Weenig very well. I can keep up with him though, and he knows it. Plus I have a year and a half of experience on him, and he is starting to realize it. In the beginning he just thought he had to carry the whole world on his shoulders, and it´s not supposed to be like that. But really he´s amazing. I feel like I have been given a chance to work harder and more consecrated than I ever have. And I am going to do it. I´ve already decided. I am tired and sometimes it´s hard for me to find motivation, but I am going to give it my all with this guy. 

The only negative thing was when I stepped into the piso. Absolutely filthy. The dirtiest piso I have ever come to. I seriously don´t understand how some missionaries can live like this. This morning we spent SIX hours cleaning the piso. Weenig is actually a fairly clean person, but he said that he just assumed that as missionaries we just lived like that. I just stared at him for like ten seconds without even saying anything, and asked him if they ever did their monday morning cleaning. He just stared at me blankly and said...what´s that?  I was so bothered at the previous missionary. So I dug through a huge stack of papers and found the cleaning chart that our mission has that tells us what to clean each day, week, and transfer. Haha. I could have been nicer about it. I couldn´t clean until today, but saturday night we went and spent like 15 bucks on cleaning supplies just to get ready for monday morning. Honestly, I have spent the past five days just miserable. I couldn´t walk into the kitchen without feeling overwhelmed and depressed. It literally grates at my soul living in a dirty place like that. JUST WAITING to be able to clean it. Flies EVERYWHERE food spills EVERYWHERE honey all over inside the cupboards and flour/spice residue everywhere because a few months ago some idiots thought it would be cool to have a food war in their piso. It seriously looked like a bunch of fetching animals had lived there for the past six months. The bathrooms were filthy and in the laundry room there was a wet PILLOW and towels in this big sink that had been molding and rotting for ages, and there was this bug nest underneath there and that´s why there were so many flies. A soggy moldy fly infested PILLOW!! What the heck? I don´t think they cleaned the toilets once last transfer. Seriously I don´t get it. I don´t get it. People think that cleaning is picking up trash and washing some dishes. So this morning we swept and mopped everything and threw away tons of crap that missionaries always leave in their pisos and then I went through all of the cupboards and drawers and took out all of the dishes that were thrown in there and scrubbed every single cupboard and drawer in the kitchen and washed all of the dishes in the entire kitchen, even the ¨clean¨ ones (missionaries don´t know how to wash dishes properly) and then scrubbed the floor and the fridge and the sink and took care of the heck that was going on in that laundry room. Then cleaned the inside of the fridge and threw away all of the old disgusting food that no one bothers to worry about. I swear. I just don´t get it. But thankfully our piso is spotless right now. And I am much happier :) Although we spent a lot of Pday time cleaning, it was definitely worth it. My sanity is pretty important. 

On a happier note, the ward is good. It´s a very pretty area. There isn´t much work here but that´s not really a shocker because I never get sent to an area that is going well. I am used to it by now. And I also have a lot of hope for the future. Weenig and I are going to see miracles together. I am sure of it. We already have seen a few miracles. We are working so hard. Seriously. I love it. As I told you before, I have never had a comp that pushed me like this. I am not a bad missionary or anything, and I am certainly not disobedient. I mean, sometimes I email for fifteen minutes longer than I should, and occasionally I don´t do area book during medio dia, but I would say that I am a pretty obedient missionary. But Weenig is the type who makes obedience a quest. He just loves finding new rules so that he can follow them. It´s sometimes a little irritating, but then I repent and try to help him be as obedient as possible. Like I said, I don´t want to ruin the guy. I am going to do the best I can to make sure that he always has this mentality. I really am excited to be here. My area is beautiful. It´s got some really rich parts in it. Everything is super close to our piso. I am really glad to FINISH MY MISSION HERE ( that was for Thorpe). It is an amazing area and the members really care about the missionaries and I think we´re going to see lots of miracles. 

Which is really what I want. I want to hit the tape sprinting as fast as I can. And my comp is willing to run right along side of me. So I am going to make this my best area. 

I had a cool experience in church yesterday. We were in class and there was a recent convert there and he was having a lot of doubts about Jesus being Jehovah. He used to be Jehovah Witness. But the teacher (who is my spanish hero here in Alicante, I have one in every area) just explained it with so much love and compassion, and finally got through to the guy when the missionaries have been trying for months. And after the teacher just bore his testimony about the gospel and truth and understanding true principles and doctrine and I just felt such a peace inside my heart. I felt so much LOVE for the church and for the blessing that it has been in my life. I really do love it. I love the gospel so much and I am forever grateful to have been born to parents who sacrificed so much to teach it to me. I am so stinking lucky. That´s all that I felt after hanging up with you guys. Pure and immense gratitude. I have so much to look forward to after my mission and so many amazing people who love me. And many people don´t have that. Families are the most important thing in this world, because I am convinced that true and lasting happiness comes from knowing that you will be with your family forever. Life would be so hard without that knowledge. Sigh. I really don´t deserve everything that has been given to me. 

I don´t have much time left. 

I was thinking that we don´t need to go to Almeria. I would rather have more time in other places. I don´t have very many friendships here, and I would be ok with not visiting there. I t would be better that way. So first Sevilla, then Jerez, then Elche and Alicante, and from there to Barcelona and on to Paris and all of that. So yeah. Let me know if you need more specifics. I would like to see a musical or something in London, and also visit the HP castle, but I will be happy just being with you people so don´t worry about it. Thanks so much for everything. 

Good luck Brigham. I love you. You´re going to be awesome :) I am so stinking proud of you. We´re three for three so far. Only three left!!! 

Clayton´s grades are absolutely beautiful. I love that. What a huge feat for him. That´s so great!! You should buy him an ice cream or something. 

And Dad your thoughts on parenting were interesting to me. I guess it makes sense. The motivation goes down as the years go by. Hang in there :) I am super excited to help you in the yard, and you´ll have to wait and see in order to believe me!!! 

I love you all SOOOOOOOOOOOO much, The church is true and we are soo blessed. 


Monday, October 20, 2014

The Only Thing that Can Save the World.

Dear Family, 

It´s been a really great week. One of the most consecrated weeks of my mission. I am very tired!! 

Nancy´s baptism was quite wonderful. Small and tranquilo. She´s seriously amazing. One of my favorite converts. She is rock solid. She got baptized two weeks after our first lesson with her, but she was totally ready. 

Right now we have a mini missionary with us. He´s been here for a week, and will be here for a week more. He is from Jerez, and so I knew him from a year ago. His name is Nefi, and he´s funny. It was really hard for me to understand him in the beginning because the accents from Jerez are AWFUL. I had forgotten. But after a week of being with him I have gotten the hang of it. Because we are a trio, they sent him to be with us so that we could do splits. It´s been really nice. We have been able to work as two companionships in one area. It´s kind of hard sometimes because we don´t have enough to keep two companionships busy, but we have been finding news and it´s going well. I have been with Nefi all week, which has been cool. I have always wanted to have a Spanish companion. My companions are basically best friends, so they just decided that Nefi and I would be together for two weeks. Which was fine with me :) 

Sometimes Nefi reminds me of Spencer´s old companion, the one that would never leave him alone. Nefi is hysterical, but the whole personal space thing just doesn´t register to him. We literally walk around the streets all day with his arm around my shoulders as he tells me jokes in his awful accent. He is super touchy. And he LOVES just sitting in the bathroom watching me as I brush my teeth. I don´t know what he finds so fascinating about it, but he just walks right in and stares at me. It´s funny :) 

He´s a good kid. I am glad that he got to experience a baptism on his mini mission. That´s a rare occurence here in Spain!

I don´t have much to say. Today we went to the 3rd largest cathedral in all of Spain, and then to a castle palace thing, and then to a 12 century arab bathhouse that has been converted into an italian restaurant. That awesome Texan couple took us. They spent tons of money on us and it makes me feel super bad. Apparently they are loaded though because they take the missionaries out all the time. They remind me so much of Grammie and Grandpa. The husband has a PHD in spanish culture and history so he gave us a personal tour of everything today. It´s been a good day. 

A few things that I wanted to mention- 

I have been reading Acts lately!! What an amazing book. It has been very beneficial to read about the primitive church of Jesus Christ. Peter was amazing first of all, and I am also amazed by how much that church back then resembles our church now. It´s obviously the same church, but it´s so exact. I have found many different scriptures about the gospel of Jesus Christ- it really was taught by the original apostles, and it was lost to the world until 1820ish. Such a simple doctrine was totally distorted and forgotten. They practiced the laying on of hands to receive the gift of the holy ghost, priesthood authority, organization, it´s all there. The exact blueprint of our church, as Callister says. 

We are reading the Book of Mormon as a mission. Again. I love it. I wish I had more time every morning for personal study. I am gonig to pay attention to a few things in specific this time. The atonement of Jesus Christ, as the BoM is the best book to teach us how to apply it into our lives, and how to learn to hear and recognize the voice of the Spirit. I think someone talked about that in conference....President Packer maybe?? 

I have felt really good this week. I feel like I am training a new missionary or something, being with Nefi. We get up every morning and work out super hard. We did it every day this week. Which is an accomplishment for me. Heavenly Father has been helping me a lot to get up, change, and get out the door to work out. If I get out and run or do cross fit with the ZLs, it really helps me through out the rest of the morning. So Nefi and I have had some really good mornings. And I have been much better about doing language study and area book. And I am just working a lot harder in general. Being with Nefi has motivated me a lot for some reason. He´s willing to do anything without complaining, so I am just taking advantage of it! I had him contact last night. I would do it, and then we would find someone else and I would say ¨your turn¨ and he always said ¨no, it´s yours, I did the last one¨ even though he had yet to speak to anyone in the street. When we would knock doors he would just sit there staring awkwardly at the person who just answered the door, and then turn to me and say ¨habla!¨ Hahaha. It was super embarrassing sometimes. Finally I made him do it last night, so we go up to this girl who was waiting at a bus stop, and Nefi goes up to her and just stops dead. She was this really really beautiful Venezuelan girl, and Nefi who is 19 just lost his breath. He LITERALLY stared at her with his jaw dropped for like 8 long awkward seconds, and she looked super afraid, and then finally just found his voice and looked at her, then looked at me, then looked at her, and pointed to me and said to her ¨my companion¨ and then just stopped talking completely and looked at the ground. I was DYING!!!!! I was trying SOOOO hard not to laugh. It was the most hysterical thing I had ever seen. The girl wasn´t amused though, she looked terrified. Apparently she was just here on vacation, and was only 17. I tried to salvage the contact, but there wasn´t much to save. She wasn´t super interested, but she said she would talk to the missionaries if she ever saw them in her country. 

I should mention just how blessed I am. I have been thinking a lot about my converts. And it just baffles me how wonderful they are. This week has been really special for me. As you saw in the photos, Jose and Sonia and their family were sealed in the temple on Thursday. I heard that day, and then Nefi pulled up a picture of it on his iPhone. I don´t think I have ever been so impacted by a picture. It was totally overwhelming. I just bawled. They have come so far. She was totally inactive, and none of her family members were members of the church. Her husband didn´t really want anything. And now he is a worthy, endowed melchizedek priesthood holder and they are sealed in the temple. I don´t know how to explain the joy that I feel. Their lives have changed so much in just one short year. Thanks to the gospel. The first time in white is great. Baptizing. Yay. But we do all of that to help people. It´s about changing their lives and getting them to the temple, so they can become eternal families. I have been immeasurably blessed when it comes to that. Pablo the 19 year old boy from Jerez is expecting his mission call this week. He is excited to serve a full time mission, and he will change so many lives. Victoriano received his endowment a few weeks ago. He too had his second day in white. Jose and Sonia and Ana and Alonso were just sealed, they are all solid. Maribel and Antonio from Jerez are still fully active with callings and are preparing to go to the temple as well. Andrea and Gabriela from Elche went to the temple last week as well. They did baptisms. Andrea is determined to serve a mission. Their whole family (all five of them that are members now) are preparing to get sealed in the temple. The parents came back from Belgium, and are now all together in Elche, totally active and happy. Nancy was baptized and confirmed yesterday and saturday, and is preparing to go to the temple in November. She is also determined to serve a mission. Her parents are totally active again, after like 15 years, and received callings yesterday. Her brother should be baptized soon if all goes well. Their goal is to be sealed in the temple. Carlota is doing well too :)  She has so much faith. Emilio and Rosario are semi active. I don´t know how Emilio the Bulgarian from Almeria is doing, and I know that Kevin from Elche only comes every other week. But all in all I am absolutely amazed by how much the Lord has poured out his blessings upon all of those incredible people. They inspire me, and I just can´t help but feel peace in my heart that they have made it to the temple. Looking at that photo of Jose and Sonia just makes everything worth it. THAT is why I am here. I am so thankful for the experiences that I have had so far in this country. I have been blessed way more than I deserve. People really do need to hear this message. It´s the ONLY thing that can save the world. 

And my little brother received his endowment :) Another amazing miracle. I am super proud of you Brigham. I had a similar reaction when I went through the temple. It gets better every time you go.

I hope you are all happy and healthy. I pray for you specifically every night mom. I hope that these migraines will leave soon. I hope that everyone helps you this weekend to relieve the stress. I would if I were there. Be safe. I love you all so much. 

Elder Sharp

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Gospel can Save the World

Dear Family, 

Life is good. I am doing well. I have been feeling much closer to the spirit lately. Honestly...I feel like this is a turning point in my mission. I was reading back to my time in Jerez and I just feel like I was a different person. The things that I wrote about in my journal were just ... different. I was such a focused missionary. I had absolutely NO idea what I was doing but I did the best I could and trusted in the Holy Ghost and God worked miracles through us. I didn´t realize it in the moment, but we experienced miracles ALL THE TIME in Jerez. It´s amazing to me. I ask God to help me to go back to where I was before. To have that same level of urgency and dedication and pure trust in Heavenly Father with the knowledge and ability that I have now. Maybe that´s part of it. Maybe I have been putting too much trust in my own abilities and not trusting enough in Him. Either way, I am feeling better. 

I have had some cool experiences lately. When I go to an area, I get really wrapped up in the vision that the ward has for the work here. For example, I care a lot about helping the ward to acheive their goals and have real growth. Baptizing strong converts that will stay here and bless the ward, rescuing people, strengthening the members and helping them to develop a love for missionary work...there is just so much to be done. And I love it. I met with the bishop last night (which is a miracle...he´s SOO busy) and he talked to us about his goals and what he wants from us as missionaries. I finally caught the vision of Sevilla 2. Now I just want to stay here for the rest of my mission. It´s hard here because all of us live SOO far away from the church. Sevilla is a big city, and few people have cars. So the members move around on bikes or busses. And many people choose not to come to church because of the distance. But we are going to do the best we can. I am becoming really anxious. The time is just slipping through my hands. I worry that I won´t be able to make an impact on this ward. I worry that I am not using His time wisely enough. I don´t want to waste a second of it. I try not to think about the fact that, on Thursday, I will have officially six months left. It seems like so little time. Every one of my friends that have finished their mission and returned home tells me that they just want to go back. That it´s not as incredible as they thought. So I am just here praying my little heart out so that Heavenly Father helps me to enjoy this as much as I can while it lasts. And I think that I am. 

Our Gospel Principles teacher is President Blanco, who was the Stake President a few years ago and who also is the ward mission leader, and the counselor to President Deere in the mission. He´s an incredible man. I feel so blessed to have become so close to so many incredible priesthood leaders here in Spain. They have all made strong impacts upon my life and have inspired me in many ways. 

As President Blanco was teaching class yesterday about missionary work, he told his conversion story. It was very simple, but it marked me. He just said ¨When I think about the missionaries that taught me the gospel...I just feel overwhelmed with gratitude.¨ He can´t even talk about it without choking up. He was 21 years old. Two Americans knocked his door, he felt bad for them having to sweat out in the sun, so he let them in saying ¨you´re not going to get anything with me, just so you know¨. He was baptized three weeks later. He quit smoking, and put his life in order with the teachings of the Gospel. And then he went on a mission a year later. And he is one of the strongest members in Sevilla. He looks back on those two missionaries with pure gratitude and love, because the gospel means EVERYTHING to him. His family, the families of his children, everyone has been changed forever because of it. I just sat there staring at him and thinking about how I have been blessed to find people like that as well. I know that many of these converts have been changed FOREVER. But I also just felt so much guilt. I have not used my time as well as I should have. I felt so much desire to first repent, and then go out and find more prepared souls like President Blanco. That´s really what this work is about. Searching out and finding the chosen and elect that have been prepared to accept our message. I know there are people out there like Pablo, Victoriano, Jose and Sonia, Maribel, Maria, Andrea, and Jose Luis Blanco. People that are literally just waiting for this message. Searching for the truth but they know not where to find it. That´s what it is all about. Our call is to have changed our converts forever. It´s so not about us. We´re here to serve. I feel very blessed to be here right now. I wish I could go back and just start all over. There are so many people that need to hear our message. 

If I have learned anything on my mission, I have learned that the gospel truly can and does change lives. But it depends on us. If we (and the investigators) let it into our hearts, we really will be changed forever. The gospel is perfect and it never fails. But we have to truly accept it and live it. If we know and understand the reasons for which we do the things we do, we will learn and grow and be blessed. Missionary work is so much more that baptisms and numbers and time away from home. It´s about changing people´s lives and following in the Savior´s footsteps. Tithing, Chastity, Word of Wisdom, all of the principles and commandments by which we live are not just there to make life easier for us. Although that´s what they do in reality. We have to live by the letter of the law, but we also have to understand the spirit of the law. Kinda like faith and works. We have to do it to the best of our abilities, but we can´t go through the motions. We need to FEEL it and love it and do it because we truly have faith that we are doing God´s will. There have been many moments in my mission where I have simple just gone through the motions. Just doing things because ¨that´s what we´re supposed to do¨. Find people, teach them, and baptize them. I think it happens to lots of people, members, missionaries, everyone. 

I feel good about my mission though. I know I haven´t been all. Nor will I ever come close out here, but I have learned from my mistakes and I try to do better every day. And lately I have been doing better. I am so thankful for a Father that has so much patience with me. I used to hear people say that all the time and I never really understand how they could actually FEEL that way. But that is exactly how I FEEL. I feel so much gratitude in my heart for my Heavenly Father. And for my Savior and His Atonement. I know without a doubt that through His sacrifice and our sincere repentance, we can be forgiven of any mistakes that are made. And thank heavens for that. I have fallen short all my life, and will surely continue to do so. But He has always been there to help me up, even when sometimes I just laid there stubbornly, ignoring the divine help that has always been available to me. This really is His church. This gospel is the only thing that can save the world. Everyone talkes about the wars and problems going on in the world. All of the diseases, natural disasters, political threats. We´re getting closer. Just like you said Mom. We are so blessed to have the reassurance that the Gospel provides. 

Your week sounds quite exciting. You were SOO busy this week. I wish I could have been there to help you out. I actually would have, if I were there. No doubt about it.  I am proud of you for juggling all of that without Dad´s help. That is no small feat. I am sure it was much more difficult than all of us realize so just know that you are greatly appreciated and admired by many people. Especially by me. 

I hope you do learn some spanish before you come. Because it would be nice if you actually understood what everyone says to you ;) But do what you can! It makes me really sad to hear that the food is going up. I thought costco prices were just awful in Spain, but with the euro transition it´s exactly the same price. Really sad. 

I am glad that Beth is going on a mission. She will absolutely love it. 

I hope you have fun on your cruise. Be safe!! Derek sounds like he´ll be a wonderful missionary. I really like hearing that Dad went to lunch with Spencer Garcia.  I swear. I have some truly incredible parents. Good to hear that he is doing well. 

As for all of that Brigham stuff....hahaha. I was laughing pretty hard after hearing about the whole Quincey and Lincoln thing. They are absolutely hysterical. I cannot WAIT to babysit them when I get home. Hopefully they will still need being babysat. They´re getting so old. But I love them so much. I can´t wait to see them again. 

I love you all so much. Have fun this week. I miss you!!!

love, elder sharp

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Worst Night of My Life

Dear Family, 

It´s been a crazy week. I am pretty sure yesterday was the worst day of my life. I think God must be punishing me for being more excited about costco than about missionary work. Something like that. 

I REALLY love Sevilla. It´s enormous. There are 16 missionaries in this city, and just my area alone is bigger than the entire city of Jerez, and Almeria, and Elche. I could spend an hour and a half walking and I might get from one end to the other. My areas in elche and almeria were tiny so I am not used to walking this much. The elders here are in a bad habit of wasting time traveling. The chapel is about an hour away, on bus. So for example, we had correlation meeting on saturday. We left our piso at five and didn´t get back to our area until about 8:30. How ridiculous is that?? I found out this morning that there is a faster way, but the elders here before weren´t really concerned too much with saving time. But still, either way we have to waste a lot of time traveling. There´s not really much we can do. I am trying to convince the office to let us move. We don´t even live in our own area. We have to walk a half hour every day just to get to our own area. Plus our piso is super old and gross, and the church is paying WAY too much for this piso. So we are just waiting on the go ahead to look for a new piso. 

Sevilla is hot. But it´s SOOO different than Elche. I really didn´t realize just how humid Elche was until I got here. Everyone here is practically dying because of the heat, and I feel great. Seriously. It´s weird to hear others complain about the heat, cause that´s usually my job. It´s just like Arizona. Just a dry, baking heat. After elche, I can take anything. So that is definitely a little tender mercy. 

So why was yesterday the worst day of my life? Well on Friday I started feeling a little sick. It felt like strep was coming on. I woke up on Saturday and it felt like there was a golf ball in my throat, but after a few hours, motrin, and some spice of life I was feeling ok to work. Then I come home on Saturday and my head starts killing me. So I go to bed and have the WORST night of my life. It was like I had a bloody nose for 8 hours, but it wasn´t blood that was coming out. I felt awful. I go to church on Sunday morning and by that time I was just dying. My nose had stopped running, but I could barely speak because my throat hurt so much and my eyes were huge and puffy and red and swollen and literally did not stop leaking water. So everyone thought I had been up crying all night. Until they heard me speak and realized that I was deathly ill. Church was just the worst. I had to try and put a smiling face on and greet all of the members for the first time and then they ask me to get up and introduce myself during sacrament meeting, so I had to do that. Elder Love told me that I looked like I had just snorted some cocaine. I was sneezing and crying and I sounded like a 70 year old smoker. For some reason I decided to fast yesterday as well, so on top of everything else, I was literally starving. And then I find out that after church, we have ward council meeting. So I was at church for about four hours. And then we waited in the hot sun for our bus, and embarked our hour long bus ride to get home. And we got home around 3:30-4:00. We ate, and I was just getting worse. I just started to cough up a storm and my head started pounding and my nose turned into niagra falls and then I got this weird sinus pressure on the bridge of my nose and to top it all off, I broke out with a fever. The whole hot chills type thing. Yeah. It was a fun day. I don´t think I have ever been that sick in my entire life. I just laid in bed all day unable to sleep just miserable. It was the first time in my mission that I have ever not been able to work. I called the mission nurse that night and she suggested that I go to the ER, but Spanish Emergency Rooms are the biggest joke on the planet, so I told her it wasn´t necessary. I took some nyquil last night with a ton of ibruprofen and was able to sleep through the night alright. I feel ok now. My throat still hurts and I have a cough. And I still feel like I have a fever because of the hot chills that I get, but I am on dayquil so it´s manageable. The nurse is going to get me a doctor´s appointment. So yeah. It´s been fun. I am sure I made a wonderful impression on the members here :P 

And I lost my wallet. On Wednesday. I know that was divine punishment for the whole costco thing. I literally can´t do anything because I am broke. I lost everything. My social security card wasn´t in there. I don´t even have my social security card here with me in Spain. But everything else is gone. It´s actually really quite sad. I don´t think there is any worse feeling than that pit in your stomach once you realize that you´re on a train to Sevilla and your wallet is back on a bus in Malaga. I am usually SUPER paranoid about losing stuff. I think Kylie rubbed off on me because I feel like I am constantly checking to make sure I have everything. But this last transfer was just insane because my bus got there in Malaga and I had 15 minutes to get from the bus station to the train station to catch my train, and I was trying to make it. But I have WAY too much stuff and I couldn´t carry all of my luggage by myself. I was doing it alright, but then my largest suitcase just fell apart. A wheel fell off and after that, all hope was lost. So I missed my train. I had to wait there in Malaga for a few hours. And somehow in those three hours I never realized that I didn´t have my wallet. Everyone else was buying food at Burger King but I decided to be frugal and eat the food that my two best friends gave me. Dumb decision. If I had tried to eat BK, I would have realized that I didn´t have any money and I could have tried to run back to the bus station. 

The only positive thing about that fateful day was that I was reunited with Hermanas Rawle and Reed!!!!! WOOO!! Hermana Reed was with me on the bus to Malaga. She was with me in Elche and she left at the same time. She dies in one transfer and she will spend her last transfer in Malaga in the same district as Hermana Rawle. They are best friends. They served three transfers together in Elche. And now they are together again. So not fair. I was feeling rather bitter about it for a while. A lot of zone leaders ¨went down¨ this transfer (went back to being normal missionaries?) and one of them is going to THAT SAME DISTRICT. I could EASILY have just switched this guy places and served with my two best friends. Ugh. That´s ok though. God must want me here in Sevilla. Hermanas Rawle and Reed are the best. They´re going to be there at the airport when we get home. Rawle is from Utah, goes to BYU, and Reed is from CA and goes to BYU Idaho. 

I am glad to be in Sevilla though. Proctor is a good guy. Super tranquilo. Just very relaxed and go with the flow. Sometimes I feel like I am companions with a turtle. I try to haul it in the streets to make our travel time go faster, but he is just content as can be to walk at his own pace super far behind me. So I just have to go his pace. I like him a lot. But we have different styles of working. We get along really well though. He´s super funny. He reminds me a little bit of Tean, just by his sense of humor and personality. Just a super super calm, relaxed version of Teano. He´s my first companion from Utah. He´s from Kearns. 

Other than that, it´s just normal. The work is alright. I am super super motivated to change this area. We have three baptismal fechas right now. It´s a family of HondureƱas. They´re pretty cool. We´ll see what happens. I am a little worried because I feel like they don´t understand very well. We´re going to try our best though. They don´t have hardly any investigators here. We spend a lot of time with members and recent converts. Which is important. But we just waste a lot of time. I don´t want to make Proctor change the way he´s been doing things though. He´s only six weeks younger than me. So it´s kind of a difficult position. But we´re just doing to do the best we can for these next five weeks. And then Proctor will leave and I get to TRAIN. YAY!!! I am not a zone leader anymore. Which really is fine. I have wanted to train again ever since my second transfer in Elche, and President told me that after six weeks here I´ll be training, along with a ton of other ex zone leaders. So I am pretty excited about that. I am a District Leader right now. My zone leaders are Rasmussen and Love. They are like six months younger than me. But that´s alright. Everyone should have a chance to be ZL, and I really love both of them. I am not going to be the type of missionary that, after having been a leader, doesn´t respect his leaders in the mission just because they are younger than him. I think that´s the stupidest thing in the world. And yet it happens a lot here. 

I did a lot of self reflection as I laid in bed yesterday and coughed my lungs out. I really want to end my mission well. I feel like I focus too much on myself. I feel like my motivation for working is too much about self recognition than it is about helping other people. I feel like almost every missionary has that problem. It´s hard not to. But I am going to strive to find my motivation from a sincere desire to bless the lives of others. Lately I am constantly thinking about turning outward instead of inward. Being deathly ill at the chapel and yet, instead of wallowing in pain and self pity, trying to focus on other people and their needs and feelings. IT´S HARD. I feel like I have such a long ways to go. I don´t know if I have changed too much as a person out here. I hope so. But I think you´re totally right mom. It´s a constant effort. It´s enduring to the very end. It´s not something that just magically happens because of a mission. Sure it helps, but it takes more than a lifetime to acheive all of that. One decision at a time, one day at a time. 

I still haven´t been to costco yet. I can´t go in until I have a card. And I can´t buy a card until I have money. But there are no rules about it. President Deere drives three hours to go grocery shopping in costco, so he would definitely not have any problems with us doing it. The goal is to go next monday. I literally dream about kirkland. We had zone meeting this week and there is a senior couple in our zone. They brought kirkland ice cream and those costco brownie bite things for after zone meeting. I don´t think words could explain the way that I felt. It has been over 17 months since I have tried ice cream like that. They simply don´t have it here. The ice cream here is super thin and weird. It´s not gross or anything. It tastes good. But there is no comparison. NO FLIPPING COMPARISON. The thick, rich, vanilla bean costco ice cream was such a beautifully american experience that I have needed for so long. I chopped up my brownie things and mixed it into my ice cream cold stone style. Yeah. It was pure bliss. I can´t wait to go. 

I have to use my companion´s money for everything. So that´s kind of awkward. He eats like crap. I have eaten really badly for the past three months. But all I do here is eat spaghetti. Meat, CANNED mushrooms, processed tomato sauce, and noodles. Every day. The members don´t invite the missionaries over to eat here. Which is odd. I hardly ever ate at home in Elche. I am getting chubby. Just in my gut and face. My jawline is hard to see. It´s sad. But it´s time for 6 months to sexy. So I am ready to start. Proctor loves running, so as soon as my body lets me we´re going to go running in the mornings. And as soon as I have money I am going to buy healthy food. That of course doesn´t mean that I won´t enjoy costco to the utmost, because I will. I think that if I ate more fruits and vegetables, and exercised, I would be totally fine. 

I can´t believe I am finally coming around on my last six months. I obviously still have about 7 left, but still. It´s so crazy to me. I am the oldest one in my district now. It´s a weird feeling. 

As for travel plans, we can do whatever we want. President Deere is relaxed about pretty much everything. I really wanted to go to the harry potter castle in london, so I am glad that you are all on board as well. I just want to visit Sevilla, Jerez, Almeria, and Elche (and one area more), and then go to Madrid. We don´t have to. But it would be cool to see the temple there and visit the city. And yes Paris would be a must. And London. But you´re all in charge, really. Just so you know, I made a friend from Cork, Ireland. Her name is Peg Wynn, and she invited me to her house in Ireland to eat lamb and potatoes after my mission. She says it´s absolutely beautiful. So if you´re interested in visiting Ireland, I have already got some connections ;) 

Yeah it kills me that my brothers don´t appreciate it either. I talked about this for a while with Hermana Reed on the bus. It´s super important to me that my kids have a love for Harry Potter. I decided that we´re going to read it every night as a family. One chapter from the BoM, one from Harry Potter. Ya gotta start ´em out young. I think it also means that I need to add another quality on my future wife list. ¨abiding love for the gospel....and for harry potter.¨ Just kidding. Kind of. 

I loved reading about your week. I love your long emails mom. And dad´s was pretty long this week as well. I miss you guys a ton. Sorry for causing you more problems. Seriously, it bothers me so much that I lost my wallet. I will be extra careful from now on. I think it´s hysterical about Lincoln and his boat obsession. So great. 

And yes mother, you have been talking to us about all of that from the beginning. It´s something that is on my mind a lot, and I would thank you and Dad for giving us lots and lots of council and advice for when it comes to that decision. I feel like we are all much more prepared than the normal person to make decisions like that. Because you guys started us out young. I know what I want, and what is important, and what is dangerous. So you do deserve a pat on the back. 

Well I have typed for a while now. Thanks for your support. You´re the best. I love you a ton. Let´s hope that I get better soon so that I can start working!!! I am really excited for this transfer. And to start working out and eating better. And to find new people to teach. It´s going to be great! 

love, preston

Monday, August 4, 2014

Can I Get an I Love Kirkland?

Dear Family, 

I am SOOOO TIRED!!!! And a little sad. I am leaving Elche. My humid, hot, desert paradise of palm trees. I have really loved my time here. And my next destination is.....

SEVILLA!!!!!!! Or, in other words, hell. It´s one of the hottest cities in Europe, and the hottest city in Spain. And the two hottest months of the year are August and September. I lucked out, didn´t I?? The good thing is that it´s SUPPOSEDLY not humid there. They say that it´s a dry heat. So that will be nice. Basically just spending two months as a missionary in Arizona. So that´s cool. My companion is called Elder Proctor. He is only a transfer younger than me. I don´t know him very well. Nobody knows him very well, actually. Apparently the area I am going to is suffering a lot. They literally taught three investigator lessons last week. So it sounds like we´ll be starting from zero. YAY!! No really though, I am excited. It will be a growing experience. 

Sevilla is the third largest city in Spain I think. Madrid is the biggest, and it has three stakes. Barcelona is second, and it has 2 stakes. Malaga is TINY compared to Sevilla, and it has five wards in it. Sevilla, although it´s enormous, has only two wards. So my area will be HUGE. Sevilla went through a time of apostasy, so it´s nowhere near as big as it should be. For some reason they don´t baptize a lot there. Every once in a while of course. But it should be better. The mission headquarters used to be there, but they moved it to Malaga. I am excited. It is my first time being in a large city. I am actually kind of nervous. Jerez, Almeria, and Elche are all rather small cities. Sevilla is probably much bigger than all of them put together. But it´ll be cool. Lots of culture there. Alright....time for the reason for which I am most excited to go to Sevilla.....



It is THE ONLY COSTCO in all of Europe!!! Except for England of course. I honestly start tearing up when I think about it. There is just so much nostalgia and emotion that wells up inside of me when I think about Costco and how I will be there just ONE WEEK from today. I honestly do not deserve all of the blessings that my Father in Heaven gives me. He´s the best. For those of you that might be saying that it´s different than the American stores, you´re mistaken. According to President and Hermana Deere, all of the senior couples, and all of the missionaries serving in Sevilla, it is almost EXACTLY the same as an american costco. YEP. Can I get an I LOVE KIRKLAND!!!!!!!anyone??? KIRKLAND everything. The other day when I went to the mission home I ate KIRKLAND brand salsa and KIRKLAND brand chocolate coverd almonds and KIRKLAND brand peanut butter pretzels..........AND KIRKLAND BRAND CHOCOLATE FREAKING MUFFINS!!! YESSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!! I am so incredibly lucky. Hermana Deere drives like three hours just to go to Costco. So yeah. You might say that I am somewhat looking forward to it. 

But, in order to make all of my wildest dreams come true, I am going to need a costco card...I can apply for one here. I mean, I will only be in Sevilla for 4 months. I will go to my last area on December 12. But still. The only way they let you in is if you go with someone who has a card. I don´t know if any missionaries have cards or not, but I was wondering if you could send me one....or would it be easier if I just applied for one here? They work internationally btw. Just let me know what you think. Best part- my son happens to be in Sevilla right now as well. Elder Erickson. And he happens to be in a car assigned area. So he´s going to do his daddy a favor and take me to costco. 


Alright. Anything else exciting happen this week? Well my hermanas are dying. The first one to die is Hermana Nielsen, the girl who was there at the airport when I was balling my eyes out saying goodbye to all of you. She goes home on Wednesday (she´s going home a transfer early for school and her brother´s wedding). And then in two weeks, practically all of my other hermanas go home to get to school. And in six weeks, all of them will offically be dead. In four weeks, I start my six month countdown. The greatest part of your mission from what I hear. I don´t know how it can get any better than this, but apparently it does. It´s weird to think that we started together and that they are all dying. Hey, just barely realized this- today officially makes seven months left. SO WEIRD. 

Your week sounds about as luxurious as ever during the summer time. I swear, those kids SERIOUSLY don´t understand how good they have it. I laughed my head off when I read about Quincey and Lincoln fighting over who gets to put their head on your lap during sacrament meeting. They both better start getting used to the reality that, once I return home, I am putting myself into that rotation as well ;)  

It´s been a good week. It flew by. The weeks always do with concilio. On Saturday we went to Felix´s house to have a good bye barbaque. It was cool. I will try and send photos. The stake president was there. He´s like my hero. He´s so awesome. The youngest stake president in all of europe. He´s only 33. I admire him a lot. He is probably the most driven and organized person I hae ever met. I don´t know how he does it all. He has SOOO many responsibilities and he juggles all of it. I am sure that man has divine help constantly. He has to do all of the house work because his wife has really bad pregnancies and was bed ridden for nine months (she just had the baby recently and is now getting back on her feet), and so he cooked, cleaned, took care of all of the children, worked a full time job, studied, and fulfilled all of his many responsibilities as stake president. He´s INCREDIBLE. I consider myself very blessed for being able to get close to him. He lives in our ward and I see him a lot, plus he is super close to Felix. His wife Cynthia is awesome too. Spaniards can just be so awesome sometimes. 

Well I am about out of time. Andrea looked SOOOO mormon yesterday at church!!! Usually everyone here wears dresses that push the modesty line a ton. SIDENOTE I have put my foot in my mouth so many times when it comes to some comments that slip out of me about modesty in the church in spain. (the stake president and his wife agree with me though, that´s what counts) But anyway, so everyone wears short skirt dresses and stuff, but yesterday Andrea came in a dress that was just perfectly modest and elegant and I was just so proud of her. She´s so awesome. Gabriela her cousin came back from Belgium so she has been here too. It´s been really cool. We´re still working on convincing Nayeli´s parents to let her get baptized. I wish I could have been here to see it. That´s ok though. 

I am really excited to start over in Sevilla. It will be perfect for me. I know that it´s just what I need. 

Well I need to go. We are having our last zone pday, because pretty much every companionship is being changed. So we´re going ICE SKATING and then to a 50s american diner. We´ll see how american it really is. Anyway. I love you all

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Headed to the Heat?

How are all of you guys? 

Sounds like you had a ton of fun in AZ. At least you have AC!!! Here they don´t really use it. I am a little worried because August is the hottest month of the year here and President is hinting that I am going to be sent to a really hot area in a week. Which scares me. But I will be fine. I am SOOO excited to get through my last summer in this country. 

Logan looks great. Kyle too. It´s crazy that he´s home just there with all of you. Super exciting about Janis and Kevin having a baby. That family is changing so fast. 

I wish I could have spent time with you and the Williams. I miss them a ton. I miss everyone of course. 

Well I don´t have a whole lot of time. I want to watch a conference talk today. 

We had a good week. It was long. Probably because we only taught 13 lessons. We were really just enfocused on making sure the baptism went through. It did!!!! I really loved it. Saturday we had three baptisms. C,  K, and D. I´ll send you a picture of D.  The Hermanas of the other ward taught her,  but all of the missionaries are super close to her. She´s the coolest. Her dad baptized her. It was the most spiritual baptism I have ever been to. I had to sing at her baptism. Scared the tar out of me. I don´t know how on earth I was ever able to sing in public because I get so nervous when I do it now. I guess it´s so much time without practice. But I did alright. It would be really nice to have Spencer´s voice!!! Never having to worry about messing up, just so flawless and natural. He´s a lucky man. 

Dad. In response to your email, yes and no. One thing I have noticed on my mission is that a missionary- investigator relationship is very interesting. Sometimes it can be too formal, and sometimes too informal. I would say that A is one of my best friends. But I feel like a problem that I have is that I am too casual with people. I am not formal enough when I teach, and I think it affects the spirituality of my lessons. I think I am TOO much of a friend to my investigators. But not to all of them. For example, we have basically no connection whatsoever with K, the Ecuadorian boy. We try and try.  The mom and sister are both members, but they don´t ever even come out and talk to us. They can´t even look us in the eye. The sister is 14!!! Can you believe that?? K is a sweet boy, with a really good heart, and he is much better than his family when it comes to socializing with people, but it´s so hard for us to find any connections with him. We always just go to his house, make lame, awkward conversation, and then teach and leave. It´s ok though. I think there is a good balance. But A and her family are some of my best friends. D, although she isn´t our convert, is also a really good friend of ours. It´s been forever since I have seen my people in Jerez, but they also are some of my best friends. Being a missionary and baptizing people is different than growing up with one of your best friends and then baptizing them. But I am sure both are very rewarding. 

Anyway. I am exhausted with this area. I feel like I have been here forever. Wiley is my favorite companion, and I love him to death, and I love Elche to death, but I am so ready to leave. SOOO ready. I am ready to learn a different area and meet new people. I will miss this place a ton. And I might even cry as I leave, but another six weeks here would be so difficult. But I know I am leaving. Apparently going to Sevilla or Cordoba to burn for two months. Divine Punishment. Ha. 

I love you all. Thanks for your support. 

The church is still true. I finished the book of mormon again. That book is still true as well. I love it so much 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Not so short. :)

Dear Family, 

This will likely be very short. Sorry.      Or NOT so short

I am doing pretty well :) It´s been a crazy week. Our mission is doing really well right now. We have 40 fechas as a mission for this weekend. I am just hoping and praying that they go through. 

I am glad that you enjoyed scout camp so much. And I am proud of Brigham for going on the longer hike!!! And for realizing how awesome boating is. I may have mentioned something before, but going boating is on my top ten priorities list after the mission. So...hopefully we can work something out with the whole bear lake thing Dad. And mom, the stairs look FANTASTIC. Seriously. You are such a champ for being so productive. I seriously admire you a ton. Really. I have realized on my mission that all I want is to marry someone EXACTLY like my mother. I hope you had a wonderful birthday, even though it may have started off really bad. I miss you a ton and was thinking about you all day on Saturday. I sang happy birthday to you multiple times! 

God answers prayers. I was relieved to hear that Grammy´s surgery went well. 

I have a few really cool experiences to share. 

Andrea. Is. A. MAQUINA!!!!!!!!!!!  Seriously she´s the greatest. Right now she is at EFY which makes me so happy. I spent a lot of time trying to convince her to go and trying to get the ward to make an exception. Thankfully the bishop here LOVES the youth and he pulled some strings for us, as the sign up deadline passed like two months ago. So she´s going to have a great week. The cool thing happened yesterday. I had her phone and was looking for something when I stumbled upon a conversation that she had with her 12 year old cousin Paula who lives in Madrid. 

Paula asked her ¨why doesn´t my baptism count?¨ and Andrea went on to explain, through a conversation of like 50 messages back and forth, ALL about the restoration and the apostasy and the authority and Christ´s church and Joseph Smith. It was PERFECT. She explained it better and more simply and clearly than we do. Not even kidding. Her 12 year old cousin understood it perfectly. As missionaries they teach us how to deliver the message and what to do and she just did everything. I don´t even know how. I don´t remember everything she said anymore, but I made her take screenshots of it and she´s going to email it to me. She talked about the name of the church, and how ours is the only one that bears the name of Christ. And the best part was at the end when she invited her cousin to be baptized. Her cousin said ¨but how can you know?¨ and then Andrea committed her to pray and ask God if all of the things that Andrea told her are true or not. And her cousin said she would do it, and then told Andrea that  ¨I have been crying for five minutes now and I just don´t know why. I feel something weird..¨ and then Andrea, like the perfect missionary that she is, said ¨oh that feeling that you have is just the holy ghost testifying to you that the things I have said are true. you need to pray and ask god about it.¨  I ABOUT DIED. I looked at her just dumbfounded with my jaw dropped and she realized that I had her phone and got mad at me. I just cannot believe it. SHE EVEN IDENTIFIED THE SPIRIT. OVER A TEXT MESSAGE. Seriously amazing. She is a miracle. She hasn´t even been a member for a month yet. 

Elder Wiley and I just want to give her the world. Seriously. Her teeth aren´t super bad or anything, but she feels self conscious. So we want to buy her braces, pay for her to come to the US and study at BYU, send her on a mission, find her an amazing husband, everything. She´s so great. I know the gospel will open tons of doors for her. It´s a weird feeling. I have NEVER felt so close to a convert. I think this is what it feels like to have a little sister. Wiley and I are just like her protective older brothers that want to give her everything. She´s just so great. 

Other thing...

TUDELA CAME BACK TO ELCHE YESTERDAY!!! It was so great. Seeing him in church was awesome. He even got to here me speak in church yesterday. Haha. But yeah. Hearing him talk about how he feels really inspired me to finish my mission strong. I asked him how it was being released and he just looked at me and started tearing up. I have NEVER seen this kid cry before. But as he told me about how it was with him and his stake president, he was crying just talking about it. Apparently he just walked in, sat down, looked at his stake president, and started bawling uncontrolably. I wouldn´t have believed him if he hadn´t been crying while telling it. I didn´t think Tudela expressed emotions like that. Seriously. But he says that although being home is cool and all, he really really misses the mission. He feels like he no longer has a purpose in life. As he was crying in front of his stake president, the SP asked him ¨do you feel satisfied with the service you have given? ¨  and then Tudela just responded through his tears with a ¨Yes. Yes I do.¨ and as I watched him say that to me something just hit me really hard. All I really want is to be able to say the same thing when President Jones asks me that question. That is all that matters. I want to feel in my heart that God has accepted my sacrifice. And I am going to do everything I can over the next 8 months to make it happen. I also got to meet his parents and speak with his mom. Hearing his mom talking about how it was for her, and how proud she was of him, and how different he is, and seeing the video of tudela arriving at the airport and hugging his mom and was awesome. It didn´t make me trunky at all. Just more motivated to work harder so that I can feel good at the end of the line. I want to hug my parents knowing that I have left EVERYTHING in the field. The only way I will ever be happy with myself is if I give my very best these last 8 months. I will be honest, I haven´t been very focused here in Elche. But that is going to change. I have promised myself and the Lord that I will hit the tape with nothing left. 

Other cool thing...

We watched the joseph smith movie last night. The full one. I haven´t really sat down and watched the whole thing since the MTC. In the MTC, every single missionary was just bawling and sobbing and then there was me just sitting there with my arms folded looking sad and confused. 

But a lot can change in 16 months. I don´t usually get super affected by the films and videos of the church. I feel the spirit in a lot of them. But the mormon messages don´t make me cry or anything. But yesterday we were at a FHE (with some other missionaries and their 19 year old inv that will get baptized on saturday...I have to sing at her baptism :(  ) and they put that on and I just felt so different. I realized just how much my testimony of the prophet joseph smith has grown. I have felt good about him for the last year or so. I know he´s not perfect, but the doubts that I used to have are totally gone and have been for a while. But as I watched that movie, and it got to the part where he kneels to pray and satan attacks him and then God comes with Jesus in the pillar of light..I felt like I was on fire. It was so simple, we were just watching a flipping movie, but it was such a powerful experience for me. I just felt like I was literally vibrating spiritually and all of the sudden I was just bombarded with the same thought over and over ¨this is true¨ this is true this is true it´s all true¨ and then I just started to cry silently. I didn´t need a confirmation of that or anything. I wasn´t searching for it. I felt super good about the restoration. But for some reason it just really impacted me. Tears were just dripping from my face and everyone was looking at me and I was super embarrassed. I have watched accounts of the first vision like a thousand times on my mission. We always watch the 20 minute video with our investigators. The other missionaries probably thought to themselves ¨what the heck is this kid´s deal...he´s seen this like a hundred times¨. 

But I really felt a confirmation of the first vision last night during that movie. I freaking love Joseph Smith. I realize that he wasn´t perfect, but I know, I KNOW, despite all of the doubts that I have had, that he was a prophet of God. The Holy Ghost really can and does speak to our spirit. I can say that, through His Holy Spirit, God has testified to me of the truthfulness of Joseph´s account of the First Vision. I know it´s true. And I am SOOOO grateful for that knowledge. Because I have not always had it. And you are totally right mom. If we don´t continue to search for the Spirit´s guidance and read and study and pray, we will lose that knowledge. The gospel is simple, but not easy. 

Well I am out of time. I love you all a ton. Thanks for all you do. I leave Elche on August 6th. I don´t know where I am going. But I just want to be a missionary without leadership responsibility because all I want to do is train again. Luckily, the transfer after this one, lots of new missionaries are coming. Like thirty. So I am hoping that I go to a normal area for a transfer, learn the area, and then get to train after those six weeks. Fingers crossed. And I still have five transfers left. So I will most likely have two more areas after Elche. Crazy huh?? And we are still working on getting the missionaries to find our family in Belgium. For some reason the Belgium mission just is super slow to contact references. 

love you all!!

elder sharp

P.S. Have fun in hell, Dad ;) Hahaha I still laugh whenever he refers to AZ as hell. He truly means it 

P.S.S Thank you for your testimonies. I am so blessed to have such faithful and righteous parents. SO many people don´t have them. I love you guys more than anything