Friday, September 19, 2014

Updates from July, August and part of September:

As most of you know, we are in England until December. We keep in touch with Elder Stark via weekly e-mails, but haven't had a chance to update the blog very often. He moved from La Follette to Chattanooga this past summer. He misses his old area, but loves where he is now serving. We hope you enjoy some of these posts from our Tennessee missionary!


June 30, 2014

Well, I've decided to try to send a mass email to everyone. I don't know If anyone even want's these. But too bad. It's gonna happen. At least for a little bit until I give up and stop. I thought I would kick this off with a quick summary of what's gone down the past few months.
Well, I've been in a little town called La Follette since Feb 11th and have really enjoyed it. I love it here and no matter what people tell you about hillbillies don't believe everything you hear. They are some of the coolest people you'll ever meet. The people here have inspired me to start my "Little Book of Southern Phrases and Metaphors" Every time I here a phrase or metaphor that makes me chuckle or is just awesome I right it down. I'm not very far into it yet but It'll get there. I still have a while. While I've been here We've had 2 baptisms and should have a couple more in the coming weeks and months, I've been welcomed with open arms, and I've just learned a ton. I've learned not only about the gospel but about life. I've learned skills that I will take with me for the rest of my life. I've probably sweat more here than I ever have before in my life. And you know what, I've learned that a mission is just plain hard. It's totally worth it, but it is hard. I've never cried so much in my life, I've never prayed so much in my life, and I've never loved so much in my life. I've really learned that I have to love everyone to do this. And sometimes it is definitely hard.

Well, that's all for now. If you feel so inclined, email me back. If not, don't. It's that simple. Bye.
July 7, 2014

Hello everybody!
A new week and another chance to make a difference. Highlights from the life of Elder Dallen Stark this past week...
First, our new Mission President arrived. President Griffin is a great man and is going to do great things during his time here in Tennessee. Fun fact: I was the first formal interview that Pres. Griffin conducted as  mission president. Cool right?
Next, the 4th of July. We had a great Independence Day. We were at an investigator's house and we launched huge fireworks. He said he spent about $400 on fireworks. Pretty good right? We even got to stay out until 10:30 PM. Crazy!
Last, Fast Sunday. Fast Sundays are always the best. I love hearing from the members of this wonderful branch and their great testimonies. It helps mine grow. Never miss a fast and testimony meeting. They are just so good.
Other than those highlights we taught people, served people, and just had a great week. If you ever have any questions for me don't hesitate to ask. I love questions, because questions have answers. Bye everybody
Love,
    Elder Dallen Stark


July 14, 2014

Hey Yuns,
Elder Stark here reporting from LaFollette, TN. You know what? This week has been very uneventful. I don't have much to say about it really at all. Oh, our investigator who has a baptismal date scheduled was at church today! Cool right? Um, I recently acquired a mandolin, free of charge, and am currently learning to play it. It will definitely take some practice but I'll get there some day (maybe). And I have a quick story. It goes something like this:

Earlier this week we decided to take some action on the ant infestation that has been plaguing our apartment for the past few months. We got some of those things you set out and the ants eat it and take it back to their hive and it kills them all. Or at least that is the theory. So we do this and everything is going great. They start going for the bait, some of them are dying, Good right? That's what we thought too. So we leave it there in our kitchen for a few days like it tells us to and then last night my companion yells for me to come check something out. So I go downstairs not really sure what to expect. So I look in the kitchen and he is crouched down by the little ant trail that this bait is causing and he asks what these little white things are. They weren't ants, ants are black. They turn out to be little ant larvae. The ants set up shop on our kitchen floor right under our noses next to the corpses of their friends. So we spray them all of them with bleach and then go to bed. It was terrible. The apartment smelled like bleach all night long.
Anyways, that's my story for the week. I am also working on a book of southern phrases and metaphors that I hear people say. But I have to hear them say it otherwise it doesn't count. I thought I would share one in my weekly emails from now on. This is a good one:
"It's better than bear huntin' with a switch!"
                     -Fleet Smith

Well, that's all folks.
Love Elder Stark


July 21, 2014


Sup Y'all?
Over here in Tennessee things are going good. The work is really progressing. The sisters in the branch had a baptism this past Saturday and we have one scheduled for this Friday. Things are going great. This past month has seemed to just fly by. You know what? I can't really remember anything that happened this week. There is one thing that I am super pleased with. We went to this cool souvenir shop and I got this awesome Jack Sparrow pipe. I don't really know what compelled me to buy it but I did, and I have no regrets. I will attach some close ups just so you can admire the awesomeness.
To continue the tradition, another fun saying I heard down here.
"Like a blister! You show up AFTER all the work is done."
-Trey Smith
Anyways, That's all.
Love, Elder Stark

Pretty cool pirate pipe. I had to buy it!




July 28, 2014

Greetings Friends and Family,
This week has been exciting! We had a baptism on Friday, we survived a tornado, and I found out that I will be transferred this week.
The baptism could have gone smoother but he got baptized so everything is good. His name is mark and he is 28. He has a Masters in Business Administration, and is working on another masters degree. He's smart. It came up so fast and we thought we had everything planned but it turns out that we didn't have everything, like the piano player or the video we wanted to play while they were all getting changed and stuff. So it could have gone smoother for sure. Ultimately that doesn't matter a whole lot though.
The tornado...  Yesterday we were up at our branch president's house with the sisters in the branch having dinner and it was pretty good weather. Pretty soon clouds started to move in and everything went still. It's never a good sign when it is too still outside. The clouds started t turn greenish which is a sign that there is probably going to be a tornado. Suddenly the wind picked up very quickly and everything went crazy. We went down to the basement and waited it out. The wind was howling and the rain sure was coming down. When it settled, the branch pres. gets a call from the branch mission leader. The tornado had gone right through his yard and taken down a bunch of big trees on his property. We later found out that a house on the  side of the ridge opposite from us was leveled. A few other houses nearby were taken out too. We ended up just staying the night at our branch president's just in case. It was crazy. Then this morning we stopped by our mission leader's house to check out the damage on his property. It was bad. A lot of the trees all around his house were taken out and there was debris everywhere. The cool thing was that his house wasn't touched. Talk about blessings from above. It was a crazy night.
And finally, I am getting transferred this week. I am super sad I am leaving La Follette. I love it here, I love the people, and just everything about it. But the next place will be even better. I hope. I'll let y'all know where I'm at next week when I a there.
Now for the Saying:
"He ain't got a pot to pee in, let alone a window to throw it out of!" (now that's poor)
          -Pres. Trey Smith
That's a good one.
Well, this is Elder Dallen Stark Signing out from La Follette for the last time. So long for now

The tornado got this tree!


The Smith Family


August 4, 2014

Well everyone, it was transfer week. I have been relocated to Chattanooga. A Bike area. My legs are sore man. But hey, at least they'll be super ripped by the end of my time here. I have this great feeling that I am going to love it here. It's been a few days and I already love it. I sure do miss La Follette but they'll be just fine without me up there. This is where I'm needed. I just hope I will be able to accomplish all the things I've been sent here to do. I know that I'm here for a specific reason, now I just need to find it. Church here is Awesome. We meet in the old civil war mansion in downtown Chattanooga. It is legit. My comp is pretty cool too, We're going to get along just fine. Well, What else can I say...I can't really think of anything so I'll close. 

Now for the Saying:

"I'm more wore out than a one-legged man in a butt kickin' contest!"
     -Unknown

Love y'all

      Elder Dallen Stark


August 11, 2014

This  is going to  be really short because I  am  out of time. The  church  evacuated every missionary from  a couple missions in  Africa because of that crazy disease. We got 3 of them  here and  one of them is my new comp. We are  in  a trio now and  that's cool. His name is Elder Tucker and He's cool.

Quote

"He's as  nervous and a long-tailed cat in a room  full  of rockin' chairs."
-Trey Smith

That's all Folks.

Love,

Elder Dallen Stark

Elders Tucker, Smith and Stark


August 18, 2014

Well, this week hasn't bee very eventful. We had a baptism scheduled for this past Saturday but they had to cancel. Nothing breaks your heart like seeing something like that. Seeing someone who is ready, not step into the faunt. But it will happen. His time will come. Elder Tucker, the one from Africa, is really cool. He is a really good missionary and has really taught me to not take anything for granted. He tells stories of people in Africa having it terrible. Even the missionaries over there just are  not in good situations most of the time. It has really made me grateful for what I have. We should all be grateful for what we have. It puts everything into perspective. Well, that's my 2 cents this week. 

The Quote:

"Her heart's as big as a wash (Pronounced warsh) tub."
-Charlie Riggs

That one is just sweet. He was talking about his wife and it was just good.

Anyways, that's all for this week

Love, Elder Stark


August 25, 2014


How goes it?


This week has been exciting and crazy and full of Weirdness. One night we heard a knock on the door at like 11 pm so we all walked over and looked through the peep hole and no one was there but we just didn't feel good about opening the door so we didn't. That's just one example of just an odd thing that happened. 

Another thing that happened was really kinda funny. So we're about to go to bed and one of my companions walk into the bedroom and ask if we could smell smoke. We said maybe a little. So we look at the oven and nothing. We look outside and nothing. So we're like 'where is that coming from?' We then look in one of the last places we would have thought to look, the dishwasher. Smoke is just pouring out of it. We open it and it turns out a wooden spoon had fallen down to the bottom and landed on the heating element and started to burn. I would send you a picture of the spoon but I forgot the camera. But the spoon was all charred and the whole apartment smelled like smoke for a couple days. It was lucky that we caught it before it got too bad. But it was still bad. Stupid wooden spoons anyways.

I was given the 'opportunity' to give two talks this sunday. One in the YSA branch and one in the Family branch.  I had a day to prepare the one for the family branch and a week for the YSA branch. It's safe to say that the family branch talk wasn't quite as good as the YSA. But it was a good experience. This was actually the first time I was asked to speak while on the mission and it's been about 7 months. 


Well that was basically what happened this week with a lot of lessons and biking in between. So I guess I'll end there. 


Saying:
"Well, there's more than one way to skin a rabbit." 
- Random Librarian

You would say this if you do something in a different way than someone else. just FYI.

BYE

Love,
       Elder Dallen Stark


September 2, 2014


WHAT!! It's September already? Time really does fly. Anyways, Just a quick update because honestly I don't have anything to say this week. 


Umm, next week is transfers and one of us in the tripanionship will most likely leave Chatt town. It's sad, we must just be having too much fun or something. It's still hot and sweaty on the bikes, and we're still teaching a lot of black people which is AWESOME!

Quote:

"Grinnin' like a mule eatin' a sawbriar."
-Trey Smith

I have no Idea what a sawbriar is but is doesn't sound very appetizing.

That's all I've got for you. You're Welcome.

Bye

Love,
   Elder Stark 


September 8, 2014


Hello everybody,


This week not a ton happened. One really cool thing that we are doing is we are teaching this guy who is agnostic. He has a ton of questions and is just a really cool guy to talk to. He is all ears and really wants to know whether he can believe or not. It is nice to be able to help someone like that. 

Also we got to tour a news station and watch a newscast in person. It was really cool. One of our investigators is the weather man there so he was able to hook us up.

Other than that nothing real big to report on. One of my companions will be transferred out on wednesday and we won't be picking up a new guy so it will be back down to two. That will be quite the change. 

Quote: 

"Lord willing and the creek don't rise."
-Mary Smith

When saying that you will probably be able to do something unless something else comes up. Never a good thing to hear because chances are something will come up.


That all I've got for you. Talk to you next week.

Love, 
            Elder Stark


September 15th, 2014


HELLO EVERYBODY!


We're down to a normal companionship of 2 here in Chattanooga. We lost Elder Smith on Wednesday. He got transferred away. We have a nice vision and some good goals for the next transfer. It's Gonna be good. It was a hectic week with transfers and really not a ton of exciting stuff happened. 

There was one cool experience. We were at church before the YSA branch meetings and a 20ish year-old guy walked into the church and asks for one of the missionaries, so a member calls me over and start talking to him for a bit and we swap contact info and stuff and we plan on talking with him more in the next little bit. I love it when people find us. It's a lot easier. That's my story for the week.

Phrase:

"He could start an argument in an empty house."
- Unknown

Some people down here are just like that.



Anyways, I'll talk to y'all later.

Love, Elder Stark

Any news? Teaching the gospel to the local weatherman made this pic possible...

Elder Bacon headed home!


Friday, July 4, 2014

Update: 5 Months In!!

May 19

Not much happened this week. We do have a family that we just started teaching this week. They have been exposed to the church for a while because they lived in Utah for a few years, in Tooele. They are going to be great. We just need to replace their fear with faith and they will be baptized.
I keep on learning more and more about how to be better and I keep realizing that I have so much left to learn. It can be daunting but it's exciting to learn as much as I am. That is one thing I a grateful for. Going to an English speaking mission I really get to focus on learning the gospel because I don't have to worry about a language. It's a blessing. I am glad I came to Tennessee.

May 31

Sorry this is so late in the week. Monday was Memorial Day so the library was closed and this is the first time we've had time to do any emailing. It has been a really busy week but it seems like we've got nothing done...

We have one really cool family we're teaching, I'm not sure if I mentioned them before. They lived in Utah and have 3 boys. And guess what? They are actually interested. It is awesome. There is nothing better than families. Especially if they're ready.

June 2

 It is so dang hot here. It is barely June and it is in the upper 80s with a humidity percentage of just about the same. UGH. But it's cool. We deal with it. We get our new mission pres in July. He'll come in mid transfer. So we won't actually meet him until he either is doing his tour of the areas or a big meeting or the next transfer at the end of July. I have a feeling that there will be a lot of changes. He's a business man rather than pres Irion who is a doctor. It will be different. But it will be inspired.

June 9

The only investigators we're getting anywhere with right now are the Brandenburgs. Everyone else, we've either taught them everything we can and they know what they need to do they just aren't doing it, or they don't understand the significance of any of this. It's kinda frustrating. But I'm learning patience right now. All is well.

One thing about southern life and me adjusting to it. The portion sized here are huge, and everything is cooked in lard or lots of butter. It tastes so good but it is just so much and after eat meal I can just feel the inside of my mouth just coated with grease. It is kinda nasty if you think about it. It's a wonder that I haven't gained much weight. I think I've only gained about 5 lbs.

June 16

The big news with me over here is that Elder Bacon will be leaving this week. I'm terrified to kinda take charge of the area for a while during the period where the new one is getting used to the area and the branch. I feel completely inadequate. I'll be fine though. It's just weird that he's actually leaving. We've been companions for a little over four months. That's a long time. Other than that there was a wedding this past week. They were previously married and sealed to the past spouses but they just got civilly married. It was a good wedding and they looked happy. Other than that not much has happened. But during this reflection period while I am getting ready for a new companion I have really learned that I need the saviors help being able to cope and actually do the things I'll need to. I realized how much I've relied on Elder Bacon and that is all going to have to change because he won't be around any more. I need all the help I can get.

June 23

I have a new companion. His name is Elder Froelich (Fro-lick). He is Kinda short with short blonde hair and glasses. he is really smart and likes computers and stuff like that. He playes a little guitar and sings. He goes home to St.George in October. He is real chill and easy to get along with so far. He is definitely not Elder Bacon. It's been hard the past few days kinda showing him around the area and introducing him to all the people. I feel like the senior companion even though he's been out for more than a year longer than me. 


June 30

I really like my new companion...He's just super cool and we just have a good time. We have the same investigators, but we did set a baptismal date for a guy named Mark. We weren't really sure what he was expecting to get out of our visits so we just made it really clear what ours (and God's) are for him. So we asked if he would be baptized if he found that it was true and he said yes. It was great. 
We have dealt with just about everything this week. Door shut in our face, crazy people, screwed up families, as well as great lessons and baptismal commitments. It's been good. President and Sister Griffin should get here tonight along with a few kids they are bringing along, and the Irions are leaving tomorrow morning. It's so weird. We get to meet the Griffins on Thursday at zone meeting.

June 30 (Mass Email)

Well, I've decided to try to send a mass email to everyone. I don't know If anyone even want's these. But too bad. It's gonna happen. At least for a little bit until I give up and stop. I thought I would kick this off with a quick summary of what's gone down the past few months.
Well, I've been in a little town called La Follette since Feb 11th and have really enjoyed it. I love it here and no matter what people tell you about hillbillies don't believe everything you hear. They are some of the coolest people you'll ever meet. The people here have inspired me to start my "Little Book of Southern Phrases and Metaphors" Every time I here a phrase or metaphor that makes me chuckle or is just awesome I right it down. I'm not very far into it yet but It'll get there. I still have a while. While I've been here We've had 2 baptisms and should have a couple more in the coming weeks and months, I've been welcomed with open arms, and I've just learned a ton. I've learned not only about the gospel but about life. I've learned skills that I will take with me for the rest of my life. I've probably sweat more here than I ever have before in my life. And you know what, I've learned that a mission is just plain hard. It's totally worth it, but it is hard. I've never cried so much in my life, I've never prayed so much in my life, and I've never loved so much in my life. I've really learned that I have to love everyone to do this. And sometimes it is definitely hard. 








I got to hold a baby possum. and we got to tour a Victorian house in town called the La Follette house. and that is what the other two pictures are.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

It's been a while since we updated the blog. Here are some "Elder Stark" highlights from the past month:

April 14:

Well, this week was interesting. There is good and bad. The good is that we have another baptism this upcoming saturday. Peter the puerto rican is getting baptized on saturday and confirmed on sunday. The bad is that the guy that was supposed to get confirmed yesterday was too sick to come to church so that didn't happen. But it will happen next week. so Easter Sunday will be a really good Sunday.


April 21:

Easter was fantastic. We went over to a member's house to eat Easter dinner. That was something we never really did as a family was eat a big Easter dinner. But it was really good. Also, some members here made us some Easter bags full of candy. I love how much stuff we get as missionaries. we are spoiled. And just to put a cherry on top of Easter weekend, we had a baptism and a couple confirmations. It was just a great weekend. I got the package today. They left a slip in the mailbox so I could go pick it up but the post office closes in the morning on saturdays, which we didn't know, and it isnt open on sundays. So I had to wait until today. The baptism was awesome. Peter got baptized Saturday evening and it was a great service. He brought a lot of family there that aren't members and we might start teaching them soon. Then he was confirmed on Sunday with Anthony. It was just a really good Easter weekend.

There isn't really much news other than the baptism. We have a couple potential investigators and just the same solid ones. They aren't really progressing though. It's a little frustrating but we're trying. We are still doing a lot of Less-active work. There are a lot of less-active and inactive members here. So that takes up a big chunk of our time. But I love working with them. A lot of them know what they need to do they just aren't doing it. Yep, transfers are on the 7th of May. I will know whether I am going or staying on the 3rd. I don't even know what to think. It could go either way. I don' really want to leave this area. But Wherever I need to go I will.

...Peter's wife is catholic, possibly teachable. Not sure yet. Elder Bacon is from Wisconsin and he has been out for about a year and a half. He goes home in September.

April 28:

This week has actually been kinda hard. I have been really stressed and normally to relieve stress at home I would play videos games and such, but I can't do that here so I try my best to find other ways to do it. It's hard. But I'm fine. Not much to report this week. Went on a couple exchanges and met some people from Bonneville communications while they were filming our branch president for a "I'm a Mormon" video. So that's pretty cool. So in about 6 months the Trey Smith I'm a mormon video will be up and running. They were really cool guys and they said that it was a really good shoot. I'm excited to see the videos when it comes out.

On May 4 we sent this blurb from the Church News to Elder Stark:

Steven Paul Griffin, 48, and Cherie Nanette Mitton Griffin, seven children, Meadows Ward, Plain City Utah Stake: Tennessee Knoxville Mission, succeeding President Richard A. Irion and Sister Gloria Irion. Brother Griffin is a former stake president, bishop, ward Young Men president and missionary in the Washington Spokane Mission. President/owner, Sky Blue Industries, Inc. Born in Ogden, Utah, to Rulon Alton Griffin and LueDean Bingham Griffin.
Sister Griffin is a former ward Young Women president, ward Young Women adviser, ward Relief Society instructor and ward Primary teacher. Born in Carson City, Nevada, to Von Allen Mitton and Suzanne Elizabeth Mitton.


May 5:

Hey Everyone,

Neither Elder Bacon or myself will be transferred this time. So we will both be here another 6 weeks at least. We will be able to call or Skype next Sunday! We are planning on using skype if we can find a member we can use it from. I'm not sure when we will be on. We get out of church at 1:00 PM, so we could probably be on as soon as 2:00 or anytime after that. What time would be best for you guys? You will be in Arizona? Because of the time zone difference we don't want to get confused. Is Arizona 2 hours behind or just one? We can plan for whenever so just let me know when you will be watching for it, whenever the best time for you is and I will see if that will work. That info about the new mission president is great. Now I can put a face to the name. So with that out of the way...

This week was an interesting week. For the most part it was a pretty standard week. Nothing real bad happened but nothing real good either. We basically just went throught the week until friday. We went on exchanges on Friday with an elder up in Whitley City, Kentucky for the day. But, he was pretty sick. So we were confined to the apartment for most of the time. So while he was resting I was reading and studying. It was actually a nice day. It was relaxing and I learned and was still productive. We ended up going out and visiting one family that night when he started feeling better which was great also. The next day we exchanged back and I went back down to La Follette. This Sunday was great. People who aren't normally there were there, but some people who should have been there weren't. It was bitter sweet. It was Fast Sunday so people got up and gave their testimonies and those are always good. The other classes were good as well. After church we visited a man named Eddy. We met Eddy tracting a couple weeks ago and were just able to go back yesterday. He is a great man. He recently went through a divorce and is raising a teenage son. He had some great questions like 'what questions do I ask God?', 'How do I ask them?', and 'How do I really forgive?'. Just some really good questions. I'm not sure how far he will go but I think he is a good one. We gave him a Book of Mormon and he said he would read and pray. So we'll see where that goes. Then we went over to Joey's (a recent convert) home to watch the CES devotional and that was really good as well. Joey is just the best. He was baptized in December. He found the church by looking for the right one. He was researching religions and he found The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and he wanted to know more. He ordered a Book of Mormon expecting it to come in the mail. The next thing he knew two missionaries knock on his door and the rest is history. He is awesome.

Anyways, that was my week. Is there anything else you need? Let me know when a good time to skype would be so I don't miss the chance. I'll see you then I guess. Love you all.

Love,
Elder Dallen Stark

May 11-12:

We were able to talk to Dallen for about 45 minutes on Mother's Day. So fun! but also hard to not be together. He was at Pres. Smith's home in the "Holler" and seems to be doing really well. He loves the members there, and is really working hard to be a good missionary. Here is his note from the next day:

The person who texted you I think was actually Pres. Smith's son Fleet. He is a really great guy. He went on a mission to Ogden and is now the Young Men's pres. here in the branch. I've tried to become friends with everyone in the branch. It is the easiest way for the members to trust you and it makes it a lot more enjoyable to have people that actually like seeing you.
It was awesome to talk to everyone yesterday, it wasn't nearly long enough but at least it was something. I miss you all too and at times I kinda wish I was there with you but I don't want to go home. I still have a lot to do here. How was the little video you took of me? Was it good? Not that it really matters but I would prefer if it was good.

There isn't much that I need to say because we just talked yesterday. But I will say that I am becoming more comfortable with everything the longer I am out here but by no means am I comfortable, ever. This whole Mission experience is completely the opposite of anything I have really ever done. It is really hard but it will all be worth it.

That sucks that Hayden wasn't able to skype with them yesterday. Maybe it will work today. That's funny that he has a mexican accent. They all get one. I'm sure all of my friends down in mexico have one too. Do I have an accent or are there just some words that I used that were funny. I can't really tell. I know I don't have a strong one if at all because I don't sound like most of the people here. A lot of people here have really strong southern accents.

Keep the advice coming, it does help. Say hi to the family for me and Happy Mother's Day again Mom. I'll talk to you later. Love you

Love, Elder Dallen Stark



Here are some pictures from the baptism. Peter got baptized, Robbie (the mountain man) baptized him, and there is President Trey Smith (Branch Pres.). I think dad should grow a beard like Robbie. 






Saturday, April 12, 2014

Baptism on Conference Weekend!

Dallen sent a fun e-mail and picture of a recent baptism, and a bike wreck...all is well in Tennessee!

(pieced together from letters to Kaylen and the family)

ALOHA!

My week was pretty good. It started off exciting. Last monday we were riding our bikes to an appointment and I crashed. I hit a pretty big sized bump on accident and ate it off the side of the road. I got some pretty good scrapes, my shirt ripped, and I think the gear shift migh be a little wacked. It still works but when I push it in it doesn't click back out so I have to do that manually. I'll try to fix it but I'm not much of a mechanic. I sent some pictures of the aftermath of the crash to dad. They were taken a few days afterward, but you'll get the picture. The middle of the week was pretty normal. But the weekend was crazy. We had conference, a baptism, and another one of our investigators has a baptismal date. A lot happend this weekend. The baptism was Anthony's. He is a really big guy and he wanted Brother Bilyeu to baptize him. Bro. Bilyeu is a 76 year old man, but he can still bowl on the upside of 250 and even sometimes gets perfect games. He is the most in shape old man I've ever met. He is the best. So he baptized him. It was great. Our next baptism is on the 19th of this month. Easter weekend. A great time for a baptism. We're excited for that. we might even have two that day…


Yeah, General Conference was amazing. We were able to stream it through the internet but the satellite and the church is broken so they need to fix that. Talks I liked were Elder Bednar's, Elder Holland's and Elder Hallstrom's along with all the talks the First Presidency gave. It was a really good General Conference. We watched the saturday sessions at the church and sunday sessions at and investigator's house and at a member's house. It was probably the most meaningful conference to me because I'm out here. I need all the help I can get. I learned a lot and took a lot of notes. I plan on going over it again in the next few weeks. My favorite talk was Elder Bednar's about assessing your individual load and relying on the Enabling power of the Atonement. I didn't even here president Monk's name during but I just listened to it again and sure enough his name was said. That is really cool. I was set apart by an area 70. not everyone can say that.


Awesome Baptism!
He'll have a nice shoulder scar!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Another short update for Elder Dallen Stark...

It’s crazy that it has already almost been two months. It really doesn’t feel like it has been that long. Transfers are on Wednesday so it’s almost been one whole transfer. I loved those pictures [of Brenden's birthday]. Brenden looks great. He’ll fit right in over in the UK. He’s 16 now. That’s weird. By the time I get back he will be bigger than me and I don’t know what to think about that.

This week was kind of a weird week. We had zone meeting on Wednesday and stake conference on Saturday and Sunday so it wasn’t the normal schedule. But we still go a lot done. We were going to have a baptism next Saturday but something came up so we are pushing it back to the 5th of April. That is the biggest news I have. We’re getting a new sister missionary in the branch this transfer so it will be interesting to see who comes in and what they are like...

I don’t really have any great news. But if anything happens I will let you know. Oh yeah, I need a scan of my social security card ASAP. I need it so we can volunteer at this nursing home here. They need to do a background check and all that stuff. So if I could get that that would be great.

If you ever have questions let me know and I will answer them the best I can. I love all of you and miss you.

Love,
            Elder Dallen Stark

AND TO KAYLEN:

Tennessee is great. The people are for the most part very nice. Even though most of them aren’t willing to listen to us they aren’t mean about it. The weather is even weirder than Utah. One day it is 70 degrees and sunny the next day it is 30 degrees and sleeting. But I think that it is finally gonna start creeping into spring and staying there. It’s been it the 50-60s for the past few days. Today is a bit cold but it is sunny. We don’t have any new solid investigators, still Anthony, Peter, and Ron. We have had some nice potentials but nothing has really worked out. We’re still trying though. This week was kind of a weird week. We had zone meeting on Wednesday and stake conference on Saturday and Sunday so it wasn’t the normal schedule. But we still go a lot done. Anthony was going to be baptized next Saturday but something came up so we are pushing it back to the 5th of April. That is the biggest news I have. We’re getting a new sister missionary in the branch this transfer so it will be interesting to see who comes in and what they are like... Other than that there isn’t much to tell. I will think about sending that shirt. But as I have thought about it I really like them. So maybe I’ll just keep them. I don’t know you’ll find out I guess.

To make it fun, we came across this picture of Dallen with Grandma Stark at the Salt Lake temple. It's a good one!
Dallen and Grandma Stark!


Sunday, March 23, 2014

What do we hear from Dallen?  -- a few interesting things:

Elder Stark with his District

Things are going good here. Not much to report.This week has been a pretty boring week here. Just the same old stuff: studying, teaching, and finding new people to teach. Most of our investigators are just slowly progressing but one in particular is doing really well. His name is Ron. He is in his 50s, he's a State trooper, and he has a lot of questions. His wife is a member who fell away when she was a teenager so she knows just about as much as he does at this point. So we're really teaching both of them. He has seen a lot of terrible stuff while on the road as a trooper. A lot of stuff that nobody should have to see. People getting killed and other stuff like that. He knows that there is a God but he just questions 'why would he let stuff like this happen?'. We're trying to resolve that concern as well as get his wife interested in the church again. She has her own set of concerns that I won't go into right now. He will get baptized. I don't know when but he will. He is just a great guy. He told us that if we ever need anything to just call him. That's how great he is.
Tell Grandma Happy Birthday for me. Tell them that I miss them and hope they are doing well. At least the Manwarings have found a place, even if it isn't the best. We have ants here too. Every day we have to make sure they aren't in our food. We've tried to get rid of them but they keep coming back. It's not that bad though.
I heard that Cecil was leaving. Do you know anything about the new guy. Is he supposed to be a good guy or what. I didn't know they were going to replace Cecil any time soon. Tell Brenden Happy Birthday for me. Now he can flirt with girls and all that good stuff. We never know what to get Brenden, he is terrible to shop for. Just get him a computer game and you should be safe. Get him on that learner permit. Well, I guess it doesn't really matter because you're going to England. But it would still be good.



A note to Kaylen:


I found some T-shirts at a thrift shop here in town that were really cool and I thought you would like them. I might even send one home to you if you want. Tell me which one you want. I also have some pictures of my district that you might be interested in. Let me know if you have any more questions and keep in touch.
Is this shirt a better fit for Kaylen or Dallen? Hmmm...Maybe Brenden!


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Some fun things from Dallen this week...

(This part to Mike)

It sounds and looks like you had a great trip to New York and had fun. I will for sure let you'ins know if I ever get sent down to Georgia. That's what they say in this part of Tennessee. You'ins, not Y'all. It's kinda funny but it's the querk these people have...That's great news about Grandpa. Is he feeling any better? Wow, I didn't even know  that Rachel was getting married. That is so weird... 

I was actually going to ask you about my plaque (missionary plaque for the ward building). Hmm, my favorite scripture. It is probably D&C 122:7-9. I actually found this scripture out here and I really like the end of verse 7 where it says "...know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." and in verse 9 I especially like the phrase, "Hold on thy way". If I had a motto that would be it 'Hold on thy way'. That is my decision. It was a hard one but that is it. Let me know if that is going to work. 

Well, I guess that's all I have to say. Give Brenden a hard time for me about going on dates and all that good stuff. And tell everyone that I love them.

Love, Elder Dallen Stark 

(This part to Susie)

Hello,
Not much exciting happened this week that I can think of right now other than the pot luck we had on friday. We made some Scalloped potatoes out of a box we got a Walmart and for some reason you got credit. Elder Bacon wrote on a little 3X5 card "Elder Stark's mama's bacon-ranch potatoes". But whatever right? I thought it was funny. There was so much food at the pot luck. We got sent hope with three almost full pans of food. we aren't going to be able to eat it all. We get fed pretty well out here most of the time. There are stretches where we don't get fed for a few days but what can we deal with it. 
 
Ugh, I've missed so many movies. You should all go see Son of God. The new movie about Christ. I wanted to see it so bad but it didn't come out soon enough. I heard it was supposed to be really good. You'll have to let me know. Oh yeah, we also had a wildfire on the mountains across the valley. Apparently there is an arsonist around here that set the fire and it burned quite a bit of the mountain up. No one was hurt and no homes were damaged as far as we know but that is probably the most exciting thing that happened this week.
 
I emailed dad just barely with my favorite scripture. And you are right about me not really caring what picture is used. Just use one where I at least look half good. Other than that I don't care which one.
 
I'll keep you updated on any new excitement or any good stories. I'll let you know if I need anything.
 
Love, Elder Dallen Stark

(This part was written to Kaylen)

The weeks are going by pretty fast I know. Same here not much excitement or big breakthroughs with any of our investigators. One thing that is crazy is that there was or is a forrest fire burning the mountain across the valley from us. It was started by an arsonist. No big deal right? Just an every day occurance. Hey, maybe you could look up forrest fire in Jacksboro/Caryville/La Follette and see if there is any news because we don't know anything about what is going on other than what we overhear members or investigators talking about. It is really isolating. We did hear about Russia invading Ukraine and everyone calling Putin "Hitler" and all that good stuff. I think it is hilarious. It is sad that people are suffering but the situation is just so Hollywood. It's almost like a story from a movie. Definitely keep me posted on all that stuff. Like I always say, all this stuff is just another sign of the apocalypse. What else could it be.

Like I said, there isn't much new news on our investigators. Just slow progress. I still am not sure if I like my companion or not. I mean, I trust him with my life but, yeah... I don't know. It is really hard to explain. I guess the soonest I could get transfered is the 7th of May. That is when the training (12 week program) is over. But It could be months after that when I get transfered. I really don't know. Transfers happen every 6 weeks. So, I really have no idea. I'e heard of missionaries only being in areas for one transfer and other missionaries being in areas for almost a whole year. Your guess is as good as mine.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A few pics from the mission home...
First area!

With Elder Bacon

With President and Sister Irion

Airport arrival!


Some fun things from Dallen's letters, Feb. 2014

Here are some tidbits from Dallen, now in a town North of Knoxville called La Follette:

Feb. 18
 I am currently in La Follette, Tennessee with Elder Bacon...The weather here has been kinda crazy. Our flight to Tennessee from Atlanta almost got cancelled because of weather but we were able to fly out. The weather in Tennesee was decent the first night but the second night when we got to our area it snowed about 6 inches. It was crazy everything was shut down the next day. We didn't have a lot to do that day because we were snowed in so we scraped snow off of cars and then made a snowman. I will send a picture. So, Elder Bacon is my companion, he is a pretty cool guy I guess...Our apartment is just a normal apartment. Nothing special. Just enough to survive. Most of the people here are pretty nice. It isn't uncommon around here to talk about God and religion in just a random conversation in Walmart so that is definately a little different. I constantly smell like cigarette smoke because most of the peole we teach are smokers. Everyone smells like smoke. It will take some getting used to. also another thing I was surprised about was the amount of illiteracy here. most people we visit have a hard time reading anything let alone the scriptures and it's hard to understand something they can't read. But I guess if they try their best the spirit will make up the rest. I wish more members would feed us. Sometimes we just don't eat because we don't have time to. But if a member would feed us that could solve the problem. I'm still getting used to waking up at 6:30 everyday. I don't think I will ever get used to it. We are constantly doing stuff and I am always exhausted. But at least we have a car so we don't have to bike everywhere...There are a lot of Less-active members in our area. half of our lessons are taught to them. most of them are either struggling keeping some commandment or the other and just don't want to change so we are trying to change that. I still dont know the investigators very well even though we've met a couple times. One guy has a baptismal date and a few others are pretty close. hopefully they can see how this can change their life.

Love you, Elder Dallen Stark


Feb. 24
Hey everybody,

This week has gone by pretty fast. At least compared to other weeks. I'm feeling more comfortable with everything even though I am still missing everything back home. I here that after your first few months everything else turns into a blur. I wonder if that is true. Elder Bacon is doing his best to help me become a missionary even though I don't think any missionary ever truly knows what they are doing until they leave. All we can do is our best...I feel like I am losing weight. we have a scale and I hover between 150 and 155. We haven't had many meal appointments though. So maybe once those start coming I will gain a little. But maybe not.

...The weather out here has been good the past few days but it is supposed to get bad again soon. We got a tornado season e-mail warning us about tornado season. I want to see a tornado really bad but not bad enough that I will be stupid about it. 

Well, things are pretty good here. I still feel tired all the time and sometimes have trouble sleeping. But I am adjusting to the lifestyle the best I can. Everyone in the branch is just so nice. We go on teamups with quite a few members. The brance mission leader is President Muggridge, he used to be the Branch President. He is a really good guy and just really powerful. also he feeds us everytime we go out so that is another good thing. Our Branch President is President Trey Smith. He is as good as they come. He tells it how it is and has offended some people because of that but it is all out of love. He just wants what is best for everyone. We also go out with Brother Bob Bilyeu. He is an old man whose wife died a few years ago. When she was sick he did everything for her and loved every minute of it. He is just the best guy ever. He is crazy good at bowling, he bowls like a 270 at age 80 something and is apparently the second ranked horseshoe tosser in Tennessee. He is a fireball. Pretty much everyone in the branch is amazing.

...We're just teaching people who are willing to listen, which isn't very many. Right now we are regularly visiting two single investigators, one older couple, and one part-member couple, plus quite a few less-active members or completely inactive members trying to reactivate them. We have one baptismal date from before I got here that is scheduled on the 29th of March that we might have to push back depending on his understanding...

We have a few progressing investigators. I'll talk about one now. His name is Peter. He is Puerto Rican and just on the ball with everything. He comes to church, he reads scriptures, he even watches the mormon videos on the website. He could be baptized tomorrow. But, his wife says that she'll divorce him if he gets baptized. So we are just working with him and praying and hoping that his wife will soften her heart. Right now that is all we can do for him. God works in mysterious ways sometimes.

I've learned that perspective is one of the most important things out here. If you focus on the good it will be good, but if you focus on the bad you'll feel terrible. That is what I need to work on the most is just being positive.

The Church is true, I love you all.