Monday, February 24, 2014

Loving Elche

Dearest loved ones, 

How are you? You must be super tired because I haven´t gotten an update on your lives :) Just a picture of the car you are looking at. Super cool, by the way. Definitely an upgrade from the Focus. Haha. (btw, if you don´t want the focus, I know a guy who could use a car in 12 months...just so you know).

I am doing well. I really really love my new companions. It´s the greatest trio I have ever been in. Elder Love is a stud. He is such a cool kid. He reminds me a ton of Kyle. In fact, he even graduated from Perry High School in 2013. He was in Logan´s graduating class. He knows Kyle and Logan, and his family friends with Kyle´s girlfriend Riley. Is she still waiting for him? I hope so.  Elder Love is just a really awesome guy. 

Elder Tudela is a mix between Nico and Nathan Eads. More like Nico than Nathan Eads. He speaks english perfectly. I like him a lot. I might be with him for three entire transfers though. Which is a long time. We get along well. He only has four months left on his mission, so I try to cut him some slack. But I really like him as a person. Tudelas is a really awesome guy. He is from Chile but lives in Sweden. 

Elche is great. There is a lot of work here. The last guy that was here kind of destroyed the area a bit. He just died here and left things pretty bad. But there is work. And that´s the important thing. Our zone is a little small. We´re the second smallest zone in the mission. And almost everyone in the zone is super young. Guess what! Elder Chapple is in my zone now!! I got to see him on Friday. So that was fun. The Hermanas in Elche are baptizing a ton right now. They just had two last night, two last week, and will have two more on the 8th of March. Two sets of Hermanas. They´re working really hard and seeing a ton of miracles. We have two fechas right now as well for the 22 of March. M and M.  M is his mother, and she is getting baptized for sure. We got here and they didn´t even have a fecha, but she is golden!! So we set a fecha with her in our first lesson here. And with her son too. He is not going to be as easy. But she is totally prepared. We have a lot of other investigators that should have fechas this week as well. There is this one member that lives in a pueblo outside of Elche called Elda. The goal is to make a branch there because lots of members live out there. That´s what President wants us to do. So we might be moving over to Elda next transfer to start working only over there. But anyway, this member is a columbian lady named I, and she is AWESOME. Probably about 30, and just the coolest lady ever. She feeds us a lot and gives us tons of references. She was called as a ward missionary yesterday. We are working with her friend right now named D.  I don´t know her yet, but apparently she is ready for the gospel. This I lady is basically a gold mine. So I am super glad to be here. The members are great. Well, some of them. 

I am really really really really missing Almería, when it comes to the ward. The work here is way faster than it was in Almería. But I grew so close to that ward, and they worked so well with the missionaries. This new ward just doesn´t really care a whole lot about the missionaries. Some of the members do, and I already love lots of them, but the leadership in this ward just has other priorities. Which boils my blood because the work of salvation is the Lord´s number one priority right now. But I am trying to be calm and loving instead of complaining. The bishop is nice. But he kind of just blows us off like we don´t matter a whole lot. He is a good man though and wants to work. He just doesn´t think we are super useful to him. He works with technology and the youth. Those are his passions. It´s weird because all my last bishop cared about was Family History and Missionary work. The two most important things. And our ward mission leader here is totally wipped by the bishopric and the other leaders of the organization. Which is totally different than Julio. Julio fought during ward council for more missionary activities and he helped everyone remember the purpose and goals that we have as a ward. He literally teared up and almost cried one time as he was fighting the young men´s president about having a missionary/young men activity every month instead of every three months. He was such a champ. He was the FIRST member that I couldn´t say goodbye to without crying a little. It was sad to say goodbye to him. Here...I don´t think my WML likes me or Tudela. We come here and we start trying to fix the problems that are here, and it´s making the leaders a little uncomfortable. It´s not like we´re doing anything crazy. Just asking for keys to the chapel, a ward directory, ward missionaries, and when ward council is so that we can attend. Fetch, in some wards the ZLs even go to the priesthood leadership meetings. I like the bishop better than the WML. Which is sad. The other two WMLs that I have had have been my best friends. Literally. This guy is nice, but just...I dunno. He´s willing to help us and is super nice, but I was too spoiled with Julio. Really effective WMLs are SOOO hard to come by. Our correlation meetings with the WML and missionares are utterly pointless, and yet the bishop is emphatic that our only connection to the ward be through the WML. And the ward here is also trying to put a limit on the days we can have baptisms, because they are complaining that we have them too often and waste water. Hahaha. I think it´s a little ridiculous. Obviously baptisms can be done together and we should try to plan them as best we can, but obviously baptizing is more important than water conservation. I do like the ward. It´s not Almería, but I am sure that I will come to love it. I already love most of the members that I have gotten to know. 

So yeah. A few other things that aren´t very pleasant. My entire bottle of tea tree oil fell and broke as I was packing last week. So I am totally out of that. I don´t need it, but in a few months when you send another package, I would love some of that. 

My camera broke. I don´t know how or why. I didn´t drop it or anything. It just won´t turn on or charge. Maybe it´s the battery? Still not sure. 

(he shared a long story about an elder that he cared deeply for who has recently had to go home because of some tragic things that went on.  Preston is extremely heart broken. He loves this elder very much.).    

I have to go. I love all of you. I hope you have a wonderful week. 

Love, Preston

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Letter from Jan. 27

Dear loved ones, 

It´s been a crazy week. I always feel like weird stuff happens to me in the misson. For the past 4 days I have been with Bird and Lopez, or the other elders Vosters and Church. Vosters and Church are awesome. I really like them. But I still feel like I don´t belong anywhere. I am like a soccer ball that just gets passed back and forth. It´s actually really frustrating. I just want things to go back to normal. I get my new companion tomorrow. He went home for a month or so because hurt his leg playing soccer (which is why our mission banned soccer a few weeks ago). His name is Elder Cortés. I have met him before. He was a ZL in Malaga when he hurt himself. He only has a transfer and half left. So basically he will come here and then I will leave Almería in three weeks so that he can finish his mission in Almería and teach the area to his last companion. I am excited to work with him. It will be my first time working with someone that can speak spanish since Elder Pardo was my companion. Let´s just say that I am excited ;) This guy is a great missionary. I just hope that being at home for a month hasn´t killed him. I hope that he comes back ready to work his heart out. He is from Chile but lives in Mallorca, Spain. 

So we have been working two areas this week. It was a really sad week in Almería. My comp went home. And then another companionship in our district had a tragedy as well. They had this baptism planned out. This semi active girl´s boyfriend named A. He seemed golden. Cried during tons of lessons, really felt the Spirit, everything. I interviewed him to be baptized, and he understood everything and committed to live it all. I did the interview on Tuesday, and the baptism was supposed to be on Saturday. Saturday morning the elders that are teaching A call me and told me that he isn´t getting baptized. He had broken the law of Chastity the night before. So then I was told about how these elders explained to A that he wouldn´t be able to get baptized, and then he freaked out and collapsed, and wasn´t breathing. So they did CPR and the ambulance came and everything. Next day at church A was there with his girlfriend. Her father is a really strong member and is devastated. They were supposed to meet with the bishop, the father took A into a room and yelled at him during church, and then apparently A begged for forgiveness blah blah blah. After church I didn´t see A or his girlfriend. Then last night the other elders called me and told me that A and his girlfriend left church early and that she moved in with him. Yeah. He is 17 and lives in a pueblo outside of Almería with his mother and brother, and his 15 year old girlfriend now lives with him. Welcome to Spain, people. He is either the biggest liar on earth or just incredibly slow in the brain. I hope it´s the latter. I don´t even know what we are going to do with all of that. A just acts like nothing is wrong. I swear he´s mentally off. But he seemed totally awesome in the interview. I couldn´t have been more specific when I talked about the law of chastity with him. So that was hard for everyone. 

But other than that, there isn´t a whole lot to write!! You´re probably sick of me telling you how fat I am, so I will spare all of you and move on to something else. I really love Elder Bird. He is 6 ft 6, and before him I kind of had a thing against tall people. I guess I just didn´t feel very comfortable around them, being so small myself. But as I was writing Emily, congratualating her on her giant-of-a-fiancé, I realized that tall people have really grown on me (that was sort of punny) over the past little while. So that´s a good thing. 

I am just dying for things to get back to normal. This week has been so crazy. I have just been bouncing back and forth between companionships, and living in two different pisos has caused us to lose time. I haven´t had a solid study session in like five days. I realize that I just don´t feel good when I go a day without really studying. It´s like a spiritual battery charge, and when I don´t get that, I find myself working on basically nothing. Plus I am always exhausted. The members are worried about my health. At church they just kept asking me ¨what´s wrong with you??¨ When I get super tired, these red dots appear right below my eyes.  My eyes always feel awful. It´s the same feeling one gets when he has a headache, and his eyes are really sensitive and it just feels like there is a ton of pressure under my eyes or something. I feel like that all the time, but without the headache part. I think I must need more sleep than most people. I am not sure. 

Really I am a pretty clean person. Sometimes it´s frustrating to have to share cleaning responsibilities with my companions. For example: my companions will sweep the floor and then I will go after them and mop it, and they have no idea what they´re doing. I always have to resweep everything because they missed so much stuff. Quincey can sweep better than most of my companions. I don´t know why I mentioned this, but it just came to mind. 

I learned a ton this week, but it has just been a while since I learned it. So I can´t recall. Oh actually I learned a lot about the Holy Ghost. I am reading the Bible right now as well. I love my studies. 

I think I am really tired right now. 

UM. Yeah sorry. The quality of this email is wretched. I loved reading that Grandpa watched P&P in honor of me :) That made me happy. I also really laughed reading Dad´s email. Hahaha. ¨and Dumb and Dumber blows them both out of the water¨. I don´t know why I thought that was funny. I guess because it´s just so dad. 

THANK YOU clayton for making a list of all those movies. I actually really do trust your opinion in movies, so you be sure and be faithful about writing down all of the movies we´re going to watch together when I return. I miss you so much. 

I miss all of you a ton. But I really really love it here. It´s so hard. And even when I don´t have a companion, and when this entire city should be having much more success than it is, I do love the work. I don´t want to regret anything. The weight of this mantle is sometimes overwhelming for me. But I know that the second it´s removed from me, I will just be crushed. Sometimes I look ahead into the future to the moment in which I am sitting down in front of President Jones and he asks me to take of my chapa, and I just feel scared!! And super super sad. It always brings tears to my eyes. And then I shake it off and work even harder. I will bawl when that moment arrives. I can already tell that, although this mantle is so exhausting, I will not want it to be taken from me. I am running with the baton right now, and in 13 months I will have to pass it off to someone else. I just know that I can´t let myself regret anything. I have to give it my all while I still have time. And I know I could have done better than I have done. But it´s also a learning process, and I keep reminding myself of that. 

We have a fecha for the 16th of February. F. She´s great. Pray for her please!! 

Love you all. 

elder sharp

Letter from Feb. 3

I have had oodles of problems with blogger over the past two weeks.  I haven't been able to log into my own accounts to update.  I finally got my 9 year old to help me today.  Seriously.  But Preston has been doing well.  He expects to be transferred in about a week.  

Dear loved ones, 

Things are going well. It was a difficult week, but I am grateful for it. Elder Cortés is a good guy. He is a very experienced missionary, and is ready to die. But he works hard. He is an amazing teacher and I am learning lots from him. He is from Chile but lives in Mallorca, Spain. My Spanish is improving. I think. I am just at a plateau. I never have time to study the language, but I am totally fluent so there isn´t a huge need. But if I want to speak perfectly by the time I head home, I need to start working harder. F dropped us. I don´t know why. She just says she has some family problem. Which means that I most likely won´t baptize in Almería. Which is hard for me to think about. I don´t know why things were so much easier for me in Jerez. But they were. And I just need to accept reality and make sure it doesn´t happen in my next area. I am for sure leaving in 2 weeks. Kind of sad. I love the ward here. I love the people. But I still don´t like leaving feeling like I have done nothing. I could have worked harder. I learn more, and become more effective, and then look back to the beginning and I just wish I could start my time over here in Almería, knowing what I know now. It would be nice. 

But I can´t. So I am moving on :) I am going to work as hard as I can these last two weeks and make the most of the time I have with Elder Cortés. We have three baptismal dates right now. While I was with Elder B, we found this Bulgarian family whilst knocking doors. And they are actually pretty awesome. They have fechas for this month. We might be able to baptize the teenage son before I leave. We´ll see.

Yes, I wear my retainers almost every night. I have been more diligent in the misson that I ever have before. Probably because I still feel sick about having lost them in the MTC. And paying 200 euros to replace them. No I don´t take vitamins. I will start. I have them still. I usually get 7-8 hours of sleep. I don´t know if my eating schedule is weird or what. I think the summer time will be easier for me when it comes to getting back into shape. It´s easier to work out in the mornings when it´s hot as you wake up. Easier to get out of bed. The problem is that my six months to sexy falls directly in the winter time months. So it´s going to be 12 months to sexy, and I will have to work really hard this summer and then do the best I can this winter to maintain the results I achieved in the summer time. You know?  I don´t drink enough water. That´s for certain. I am predisposed to store fat in my face, aren´t I? Well that´s unlucky. I´ll take it though, if that means I get to be a member of the Will and Debi Sharp family. 

I am glad you had all of those realizations out there. I really understand what you mean. We don´t realize how incredibly blessed we are. I am so thankful for you and for the sacrifices you have made to make our family what it is. I talked to Dad about that, and it was directed towards both of you. I am so thankful for what I have. It´s absolutely perfect for me. God knows what He´s doing. 

I will keep my eyes out for that package. I am sure it will arrive in time. Yeah I have been a district leader for a while off and on. Since my fourth month there in Jerez. I didn´t mention it because I am trying to not care about leadership. 

I have to go. I hope things are going well for all of you :) I love you and miss you dearly. 13 months left tomorrow. Time is going by so quickly. 

love, elder sharp