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 dad...it 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

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Last week's letter

What a miracle!!! I don´t have much time this week, but we had the coolest experience ever. 

We had absolutely no hopes in baptizing Andrea´s family. They left on Sunday morning to Belgium. It was Wednesday and we were teaching Maria the mom of Andrea and Gabriela who is her cousin. We knew they were leaving in literally four days. We showed up to the house with absolutely no idea what we were going to teach. We walk in and sit down and just start talking for a while. We had planned on talking about the holy ghost I think with Andrea. But for some reason during the middle of the lesson, we both felt a super strong impression to start talking about the requirements for baptism. It was a very clear impression. It was weird because I honestly never even dreamed or hoped that they would get baptized before they left. We didn´t even try to push them. But we felt like we should invite them to be baptized on Saturday morning, the day before the left to Belgium. So we went over DC 20:37 and talked about how the Nephites in 3rd Nephi didn´t wait one second to be baptized after Christ left for the first time...and we felt the spirit a ton in that lesson. We invited them, and they said no way... So I was a little disanimated. So we just invited them to pray and ask god that night if he wanted them to be baptized on saturday (which was three days away) and they said they would. So we leave and go back the next day (thursday) and somehow elder wiley ended up teaching gabriela in the corner and I was teaching maria with the rest of Andrea´s family. I couldnt´hear wiley at all. I had no idea what he was talking to her about. But I taught Maria and asked her about her prayer and she said that she felt God´s answer, but that she was afraid. So we went over the baptismal interview questions, and I honestly don´t even know what I said to her. But all of the sudden Maria just called out to Gabriela (who was with Wiley) across the room ¨Gabby, I am getting baptized this saturday!!" and then gabriela turned around and said ¨me too!!!¨ 

I about fell out of my chair. It was incredible. I was a little scared to baptize them that soon. But I knew and felt that it was what God wanted. So we did the interviews the next day on Friday, and they were baptized on Saturday morning and confirmed right afterwards ( we got special permission) and then they left the next day to Belgium. 

It was great. Seriously one of the coolest miracles I have seen on my mission. I am very worried about them though. We have already contacted their bishop in Belgium, and there are latinos there that will take care of them. The mother of Gabby and the sister of Maria didn´t get baptized because it was too soon for her. So the missionaries in Belgium will get that reference soon and will take care of them. And I will email them every week and make sure that they are ok. But I really don´t like not being with my recent converts after the baptism. I don´t care how many people I baptize, but I do care that they stay active and close to the gospel. So far all 13 are good in the church. But I am worried about the two in Belgium. Anyway. I really love this family. They are so amazing and It was REALLY hard for me to say goodbye to them. 

I know that God will take care of them for me. And I am not going to forget about them. 

Well I love you all. This is seriously the greatest time of my mission. Elche is the best

Not a Real Letter :)

I am way too tired to write out a long email talking about my week. 

Nothing too exciting has happened. It´s been a slow week work wise. But I think it was a week of personal victories for me. 

You two are so classy. I LOVED the photos of your anniversary trip. Seriously amazing. Let´s just go to washington and oregon together instead of europe. Haha. No but seriously you guys have class. SUPER cool vacation. I am really jealous. The doogers thing really was just salt on the wound. Seeing photos of that place makes it difficult for me to appreciate the natural beauty of Spain. It´s beautiful in its own way, but I am more drawn to deep green forests and stuff like that. I love rain and cold weather and clouds. Not hot sun with sandy beaches. But Spain is still super pretty. 

Anyway. Irish restaurant looks sweet. 

I am exhausted right now. I didn´t really sleep on the bus. We took it last night at 4 am and got here to malagaat 11 am. So I haven´t slept a whole lot. 

that´s ok though. 

Any questions for me? I am not going to write out a huge email.