Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Rooster

Dear Family, 

Hello!!!!!! ! ! ! ! How are you? Kyle is home. WOW. That´s crazy. I really wish I could see a picture or something. Well that´s it I guess. Next is Kayla right? And then Hunter. And then me. Weird. 

I am STAYING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!! Yes. I really wanted to stay. Six more weeks in Elche. That´ll be four transfers. Which means I will have spent more time in Elche than in any other area. 

Andrea got baptized!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) :) It was the greatest baptismal service I have ever been to. I seriously loved it. Andrea is so special. I love her to death. I love her family too. She has tons of family here in Elche. Her mom and aunt and cousin are amazing. They all want to be baptized. But the problem is that they are moving to Belgium in a week. Andrea isn´t, she will be living with other members of her family here in Elche. But still. It´s really sad for me. But I keep reminding myself. It doesn´t matter WHO baptizes anyone. Thanks to God for guiding us to Andrea, her entire family will be baptized and receive the gospel within the next two years. No doubt about it. She will bring her entire family. And there are tons of them. We´ve met at least 10, and she has a lot of others here. It´s so wonderful. So althought it may not be me who is there to witness it all, that doesn´t matter. What matters is that these people have the chance to accept the gospel. I feel like Andrea will be the cause of SO many souls finding the gospel. 

I suppose I would rather just have the money. I can buy a cheap suit from HM or something. And then have that one when I get back. It will be nice to have at least one american suit that isn´t trashed. That poor black suit has seen it´s days. Guess what though? Still fits me. It was tight from the beginning. So were my baptism pants. I hadn´t put those bad boys on since September. I used them last night and they fit better than they did 8 months ago. Which is a relief. 

I don´t have a lot of time today. But I hope you are well. SOOOOO happy about Clayton. Seriously. That is the greatest news ever. I am glad that he felt the spirit. Feeling the spirit and crying are very different, but often we mix that up. Good thing Clayton has no tear ducts. He would never mistake crying for feeling the spirit. EFY is awesome. 

Hermana R has a crazy obsession with studying. In her free time she studies Heavenly Mother and stuff like that. She is...well...she really likes knowing things, and she struggles a little with the way that some things are. I admire her so much. She doesn´t want the priesthood or anything, she just wants to understand. But anyway. People send her all these crazy talks and stuff. I read a twenty page BYU study on Heavenly Mother. It´s fascinating. You should look it up. But yeah. Hermana Rawle is leaving. Which is sad. But that´s ok. I just really love the people that I have met here. 

Well what else do I say?? I got an awful haircut. AWFUL. I keep trying to ask members to do it so that I can save money but I decided that it´s just not going to work out. Three people worked on my hair, and the end result is at least not a hack job. But it´s a gross european haircut that makes me look like a rooster. That´s ok though. It grows fast. 

I am trying to convince Spencer to go to UVU. And then live with me in Provo. Fingers crossed. 

Well that´s about it. I love you all a lot. I miss you. Want to know something scary? After this transfer flies by, I will only have five left. My time is seriously ticking. It´s...scary. 

Love, elder sharp

Monday, June 9, 2014

Quenching Thirsts

3 totally different continents. This next skype call will be quite interesting!! That is if Brigham gets his visa. I will be praying so that he does. I am really proud of him. He is going to learn so much in Brazil!! I am super excited for him! Brigham looks really good. Such an attractive little man. Super happy and charming and charismatic. His life is practically perfect right now isn´t it?? Totally easy and carefree. Haha. I can´t wait till he experiences his first few months in the field, especially with the language. Finally someone will know what it´s like!! Brigam will probably baptize the most out of the three of us. I think the work is doing really well right now in Brazil. So that is good for him :) He got a really awesome call. Obviously it´s nowhere near as cool as Spain, but hey- it´s not like we choose we serve ;) Just kidding. Brazil is the perfect place for him, and he´ll love it. 

Elder Wiley and I are doing really really well. We´ve just been quenching our thirst with living water all week, and we feel great. Seriously though, this is the greatest time of my mission. I have never had so many desires to be a missionary!! Let me tell you about the miracles that we have been blessed with!!

ANDREA!!! She is my favorite person alive. Seriously. 16 year old Ecuadorian girl. We found her while searching for an old investigator. The old investigator wasn´t home, so we knocked some doors and then started to leave. Then this lady named Vanessa? looked down the stairs from a higher floor and asked us who we were looking for. We contacted her, and she told us that she would let us come by another day. But she didn´t tell us which door was hers. So then while on an exchange with another missionary, Elder Datwyler and I went back looking for this elusive Vanessa. We knocked every door, and we didn´t find her. BUT we did find a 16 year old girl that told us we could come back another day when her mom was there. We talked to her a little bit about God and she told us that she was atheist. But we kept talking to her and invited her to pray. About a week or two later, we finally went back (we didn´t think there was much potential) and it turns out that she is AMAZING!!!!! Very prepared. She has felt the spirit so strongly and she came to church yesterday and loved it. Her and her mother Maria have fechas for the 29th of this month, but I think that we will move Andrea´s fecha to the 22nd because she is ready. She´s super funny. Very serious and quiet and intelligent. She cried during the testaments movie when the old prophet guy was killed. Which I thought was interesting. So we told her that he was killed for reading and preaching and protecting the very book that she holds in her hands (it was the BOM). It was a cool lesson. And she just loves Joseph Smith. After the second lesson she told us that she had already got an answer that he was a prophet. And she just kept talking about this ¨weird¨ feeling that she gets when she prays. It´s so great. She went from not praying at all and doubting God´s existance to praying, reading, and feeling the spirit every day. All in a few short weeks. God has really worked some miracles with her. Her mom is great too. Another plus is that Andrea has tons of cousins and family that live close by. YES. 

Cesar. Mexican boy of 14 years. STUD. We are having a hard time meeting with him. His mom Claudia is wonderful. SUPER catholic but that´s ok. We are working with them. It´s actually a family of five. C was married before, and had a kid- Cesar. Her ex husband is a member. But he left them when he found out that she was pregnant. Awesome, right? Yeah. Thank heavens for the Atonement. Anyway, she met this Spanish guy online and came to live here. So they had two daugters who are now 7 and 4. Cutest girls ever. The Spanish father, Manuel, is atheist. He won´t listen to us. But he´s a nice guy. We just want Cesar to come to church. He wants to get baptized and he really likes us. He has been praying too. But I think the mom is trying to make it difficult for us. UGH. C has a fecha for the 29th as well, but we´ll see what happens. 

M. Spaniard. 24 years old. Best friend of J, an investigator of ours. I love J to death. But she doesn´t really progress. She´s A´s sister. B is doing a bit better. Finally finished her tests. We´re going to try and help her come unto Christ this week. We´ve been giving her a break because of how stressed she was. But now we´re coming in like a wrecking ball. (they play that song all the time on the busses here) M has a fecha for July. But she is kind of hard to meet with too. And hasn´t been to church yet. But we´ll see. If she reads and prays, she´ll get an answer. And then she´ll want to be baptized. It´s as simple as that. 

We also have this cool couple from Cuba and Peru. But we found out yesterday that they are moving. A the wife is going back to Peru and M her Cuban husband will follow her shortly. So that´s kind of sad. But hopefully their life is better there. Their house almost burned down yesterday. A was alone and we were about to knock on her door when she came bursting out of the door crying saying that her house was on fire. There was lots of smoke and stuff. What had happened is she left a plastic bottle on the stove in a pot of hot water, and it ended up burning the entire baby bottle. And there was lots of smoke. It could have been poisonous. But we got that all taken care of. It was an exciting change of pace :) 

We found this really cool Columbian family. This little kid on the street gave us this reference. So we went by a few times and the mom just tried to keep us out but finally she decided to let us in. And she (her name is Y) said that it was the first time she had ever let any religious people in her house. She just felt like she should. She´s christian but she´s against churches. So yeah. Her husband is awesome. E. They have two kids. It´s one of the few put-together families with a good dad that I have found here in Spain. Usually the fathers here suck. We always find awesome women that would progress super well if it weren´t for their dumb husbands. But this guy is awesome. He´d be such a great priesthood holder. We´ll see what happens. They are moving to London in like five months, so we have to pick up the pace. 

We have other people, but my time is way up. 

So things are going well. I really am just loving life. The mission is the best. I really really really love Spain. I will cry so hard when I leave this place. I am glad that I still have time left! I still have so much left to do and learn. 

I´ve been studying the Savior lately. And the Holy Ghost. And I just love teaching people that want to learn. The Book of Mormon is still true, just so you guys know. The mission has CHANGED my life. It´s insane. 

Love you all

Brigham- you´re a stud. I am going to write you a letter about what you can do to prepare. 

I am glad that Quincey´s birthay was so great :) He is seriously the cutest kid. I love the fedora. What a classy little guy. I miss him a ton. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Brigham's Jaleo (Letter from May 26)

This may be a really short email because my keyboard really doesn´t work very well. It´s the space key that has problems. Quite unfortunate :) 

How are you?? I am glad that you survived your week!! It sounds like it was just filled with...fun experiences ;) I definitely had a very different week than that! 

The Spanish language is more intelligent than the english language. Or at least the english that we as americans speak. The way in which the spanish speakers form their sentences and all of the vocabulary is just more sophisticated. The spanish that I have heard (spanish from pretty much every spanish-speaking country in the world) is kind of like 18th century english. They think more about what they say and how they say it. There isn´t as much slang.   If Spanish were translated exactly it would be very proper english. ¨ The reason for which I wish to purchase this plane ticket has much to do with the desires that I have to see my dear son again.¨   I don´t know how to explain it. But it is a  more correct language. And it hasn´t changed as much as english has. 

I really hope that all of that jaleo with Brigham´s immunizations doesn´t affect his call. Although the US is a WONDERFUL place to serve as a missionary. Uncle James once told me that the very worst and the very best get sent to the States. I could see how that is true. But I feel like we all have different things to learn. 

I am doing phenomenal. Fantastic. Really it´s been a great week. We still don´t have any baptismal dates, but we found a lot of new investigators this week. We found some mexicans. I love mexicans. Seriously. C and her son C. Really nice people. We´ll see how interested they are in our message. We found a Romanian family of seven. They seem quite interested and very sincere. So I am excited to see what happens with them. We also found a Cuban kid named L. And this kid from Ecuador called A. And this Spanish lady called A.  But I don´t know how much she really wants to listen to our message. Spaniards are hard to find. You can really only get to a spaniard if it is a reference from a member. And I think that´s pretty much the truth. But we are still hanging in there. We decided that we weren´t really getting anywhere with the investigators that we were teaching. So as I said we would do, we only went by B's house once. And we made really good use of our time. So we found like 12 new investigators. It was a really cool week. We have a goal of setting 3 fechas this week. And getting four people to church. So we are determined to do that. I really am enjoying my time here with Elder Wiley. He is a lot like me. And we motivate each other really well. 

I feel super inpsired right now. I don´t know why. Reading Kylie´s email was really inspiring.  You should read it mom. I SERIOUSLY loved what Elder Holland told her mission president. ¨I don´t know how many baptisms we will have, but can you, mission presidents, promise me at least 200 converts??¨   That statistic about return missionaries hurts me deeply. I actually cried a little when I read that. But I can see it happening around me. I can totally see it. I think it´s because so many people go through the motions. They just get sick of talking about the gospel all of the time because it´s not becoming part of them. The same thing happens with all members that just go through the motions. But it is especially sad that some young men and women spend 2 years of their lives and get little or nothing from it. 

I think it´s important that all missionaries keep that in mind. The only person that we really can convert is ourselves. It´s great to baptize and do all of that. It´s important. But it serves for nothing if we aren´t changed forever in the process. Can I get a little ¨First Great Commandment¨ action up in here? I think so: ¨I include in that call to fixed faithfulness every returned missionary who ever stood in a baptismal font and with arm to the square said, “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ.” That commission was to have changed your convert forever, but it was surely supposed to have changed you forever as well.¨ Jeffrey R.U KIDDING ME Holland. 

It is so different to read and remember those words as a missionary. It was really easy to quote it as a teenager, but now that I am here doing it...well it takes on a completely different meaning. This is the only time in our lives that we will do anything like this. And after two short years, it´s gone. Forever! I will never be able to stop someone in the street and introduce myself as a representative of Jesus Christ. I won´t be able to invite anyone to be baptized. It will never be the same again. Even on all of the missions that I will serve with my wife; it just won´t be the same. And my beloved time is ticking. 

So that´s why I am making the most of it. :) I am super excited for this next week. Something exciting that is coming up for me? Well...We are going to teach the Romanian family in about an hour. And then I get to do an intercambio with Elder Chapple this week. I don´t know. Nothing super thrilling. We´re just going to spend the week finding, teaching, and baptizing. Calling people to repentance. Actually, I can´t think of a better way to spend this next week. Feel free to be jealous ;) 

I am super stoked for Brigham to get his call. Get this- I will have to email on wednesday morning next week, the same day that brigham SHOULD get his call. But the mission president finds out before the missionary. SOO I could very easily find out from President Deere that morning in the mission home if another Elder Sharp will be coming to the Spain Malaga mission. Now wouldn´t that be interesting?? I am not saying that he will come here or anything. But that´d be crazy right? 

I had the chance to give two blessings this week. We were teaching this less active girl with her mother there. We teach lots of less actives here in Elche. Much more than investigators. And way too many of them are return missionaries. Thankfully this girl isn´t. She finally burst out in frustration telling us that she wouldn´t read the BoM, and that she didn´t even believe in God. She is 21. It was sad for me. It hit me like a brick wall. I was totally caught off guard. She comes from a very active family. And then I thought about my future family. What a terribly frightening situation. What if one of my children were to ever say those same words to me? I don´t know what I would do. But I know that all I can do right now is prepare myself to be the best husband and father that I can possibly become. I hope to be the best example for my children. And I hope that, like my parents to me, my unshaking faith in God (because one day my faith will be unwavering) will help them to build their own foundations of faith in a Divine Creator, and His Son. I have spoken to lots of Muslims lately. I respect that people. But they are SO SURE that Christ wasn´t the son of God. They openly tell that to us, often. And I know that they are wrong. After we finished teaching her, and bearing testimony, her mother asked us to give her a blessing. I gave it. I was afraid. But I hope that it helped. 

I gave another blessing to an active member. She is married and about 25. I don´t know what she needed a blessing for. But her husband was working and she was at the church with us and just asked us for it. I gave the blessing, and afterwards I really had no idea what I had said. I think the channel was clearer that time. I wasn´t as nervous or self-conscious as I usually am as I give blessing, and instead of thinking so much about how it sounds, I thought more about her. I felt very guided. And she definitely felt the spirit. L, the wife of D. (just so I remember it. these emails are going to be part of my journal) 

Wiley is good at praying. I always used to feel a little rushed when we had comp prayers. But Wiley says even longer prayers than I do. Our prayers are more sincere. And I think that has helped me to feel the guidance of the Spirit more as a missionary. 

I watched a documentary on Jehovah´s Witnesses, which is a huge church here in Spain. It was produced by them, so it wasn´t bashing them or anything. Just information. Like the restoration video. The thing that shocked me was that they don´t claim ANY divine inspiration. They acknowledge that their church was founded by men trying to follow the Bible. Which is great. They are very sincere honest people that follow the Bible better than any of us. But I could never believe in a church that didn´t claim divine visitations and revelation. The very thing that makes our church difficult to believe in is the only thing that is worth believing. It´s the only thing that makes sense. If God really were going to have a church in these days, He would make it known. It would be restored by Him, by His direction. Not by that of men. It was actually a huge testimony builder. 

This really is His church. His work. And we have made very important covenants with Him; covenants that will make or break our eternal state of happiness!!  I seriously cannot wait to go to the temple again. 

I should go. I love all of you. Thank you for the prayers and support!! I will talk to you in 9 days!!!!!! 

Love, Elder Sharp