Monday, December 13, 2010

December 13, 2010

Buenos días,

I want you all to know that I love you sooooo much. Your lives have blessed mine and I am grateful for each of you.

The weather here is nothing like Iowa, that is for sure. This past week, Elder Han and I wore short sleeve shirts three days in a row! It rains, it doesn't snow, and I think the coldest it has been so far is about 40º F.

This has been an amazing week, a week full of miracles. Elder Han and I are both staying here in Huelva. We are really enjoying our time here and we continue to grow stronger in our determination and testimony. The Lord is helping us in the work we do, and as we have relied more upon Him, we have seen His influence and blessings.

I love this time of the year. Christmas is always special. It's a wonderful time to think of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The First Presidency Christmas Devotional was wonderful. We watched it last night. True, it was a little different for me to see it translated into Spanish, but I still loved it. Daniela, a girl we're teaching, came to it and she said she loved it. It really helped her feel the Spirit.

President Eyring's talk, especially when he referenced the words of Isaiah, were particularly meaningful to me. President Uchtdorf, President Erying, and President Monson all invited us to ponder and reflect on the true spirit and meaning of Christmas - the life and mission of Jesus Christ. His love, His atoning sacrifice for us, is the way in which we find purpose and peace in this life. The Savior said that if we have faith like a mustard seed, we can move mountains. Like so many of the Lord's teachings, this applies to us spiritually. For some, it might be a mountain of guilt from mistakes made in the past, for others it might be a mountain of pain from the actions of others. It might be a mountain of fear, not knowing what the future holds, or a mountain of distractions that call our attention to less important things. Whatever the mountain might be, through faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement, it can be moved. This was the purpose for which He came to this world - to provide the way for us to overcome these things, to live in happiness, and be prepared to return Home to our Heavenly Father's presence, with our families in joy that will never end.

I know that the Savior loves you. He knows your name. He anxiously waits to help you, to forgive you, and heal you. Through His atonement, all of us can be made whole. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to be serving a mission, sharing this message of hope and peace that comes through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I hope that His light and love will fill your hearts as you remember Him this Christmas season, and invite others to come unto Him.

Elder Fagersten

December 6, 2010


This week was awesome. Monday night, Barcelona and Real Madrid, the two biggest and best "soccer" clubs in Spain played each other. Although Elder Han and I did not watch it, we heard it, and heard about it this whole week. We were walking home from an appointment when the game was on and all of the bars were filled with people. When Barcelona scored we heard everyone cheering. It was pretty cool. Barcelona ended up winning 5-0. It was crazy.

Tuesday we had a great Family Home Evening with a family. We felt the Spirit and enjoyed each other's company. We are going there tonight and Elder Han and I are going to make some good ole fashion chocolate chip cookies. Well, kind of. They don't have chocolate chips here, so we buy a bar of chocolate and break it up into little pieces and put it in the dough. It works.

On Wednesday we went to our Ward Mission Leader´s barber shop and he cut our hair before we went to his house for lunch. His wife is an amazing cook and we enjoyed the food a lot. When we were there, their son turned on the show "Extreme Home Makeover," and we saw the end, where a family came back from a vacation and a brand new house was waiting for them. The father of this family had died of cancer, and the town all pitched in to get them this new house. There was something that the father said to his family, while he had cancer, that they engraved on a stone bench in the backyard. He said, "There are a lot of things to think about, but nothing to worry about." That really impressed me, and I think it's true. The gospel of Jesus Christ gives us hope and strength, despite the many, many things there are to think about. Seeing this community work and sacrifice for this family to have this new home made me think of the Savior, who worked and sacrificed His whole life for us to have a Home with Him.

I don't have time to write about all of the rest of the week, but it all went really well. I have seen the hand of the Lord in my life and in the lives of many people here. I know that He loves us and is anxious to help us, anxious to forgive us, anxious to bless us, lead us, and guide us. He lives. I love each of you and thank you for your goodness.

Elder Fagersten

November 29, 2010


December is almost upon us and I don't think I will see snow on Christmas. It has rained all week, and it's raining again today, but I doesn't really snow here. Oh well.

Things are going well. Elder Han and I had a great Thanksgiving. We even ate pumpkin pie.

I am so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Bible and the Book of Mormon teach us the gospel, the plan that our Heavenly Father has revealed for us to be happy. Elder Han and I have had some great experiences teaching people these things.

On Sunday, the Primary children presented their program during sacrament meeting. I played the piano for them. They did a wonderful job and I felt the Spirit as they shared their testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I love hearing them read the scriptures and sing songs that help me remember who I am, that I am a child of God. The Lord is very aware of who we are. His hand is in our lives. I have seen it in my life, in very sacred, important experiences, but also in very small, simple experiences. I know that He loves us. I know that the Savior lives. By being humble, being obedient, having faith, repenting, and honoring our covenants, we grow spiritually. The Holy Ghost has a greater role in our lives, and we are changed through the atonement of Christ. This gospel is a gospel of love, a gospel of progression, and a gospel of transformation. We become happier, we become more like the Savior, as we strive to keep His commandments and simply do the best we can. His commandments and teachings are the way to happiness, true, eternal happiness.

I love you all so much.

Elder Fagersten

November 25, 2010

Plaza de Espana, Sevilla

Happy Thanksgiving. This week we changed our preparation day because Elder Han and I came here to Dos Hermanas for District Meeting, and in a little bit, we are going to the house of one of the members near here that is serving in the U.S. Military and stationed at one of the bases here in Spain. I think it's an Air Force Base. So, we're going to have Thanksgiving dinner with them!

Just one thing, as much as I wish I could, we are only allowed to email members of our immediate family. That is our rule as a mission. Just for your information. Some people have sent me some emails and I just wanted to let you know I am not ignoring you.

We had a fantastic week. On Saturday night we went to the dedication of the new Stake Center in Sevilla. That building took 12 years to get the land and permits and everything else to construct it. It's beautiful and we enjoyed it a lot.

On Tuesday, the Assistants to the President came to Huelva and we spent the day on exchanges. I was with Elder Solari, and we had a wonderful day. We felt the Spirit really powerfully in our companionship study while reading the Book of Mormon and talking about it. It helped me a lot.

I am so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the atonement. It is through the atonement, and obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel that we are happy. At times we have difficulties, challenges, and things we have to change, but can just slow down, and take life one day at a time. Slow progress is better than no progress. Every effort we make to come closer to the Lord will make a difference for good. The atonement changes our hearts, we become more loving, and our lives have purpose no matter what we experience.

I love you and want to give you thanks for your love. I know that the Savior lives. He wants you to be happy. He has prepared the way for us. He is the way. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to be a full-time missionary. It is wonderful.

I hope all is well. May the Lord bless you.

Elder Fagersten

November 16, 2010

Hola from Huelva,

This is where I am now. The city of Huelva. Elder Han is my companion (see attached picture). He's Korean, but he grew up near Philadelphia. He's awesome and I love serving with him. We are working hard and really putting our faith in the Lord as we do this work.

Almería was really amazing. I had wonderful experiences and I love the people there. Elder Hurley went home last week. I left on Wednesday morning, about 10 minutes before he did. I really enjoyed being with him. Elder Adams and Elder Dunoskovic are in Almería now, just those two. Elder Adams was great. He was such a patient companion and he always looked for ways to enjoy this experience of serving a mission.

The train ride was about 5 hours from Almería to Sevilla. In Sevilla, I waited about an hour and a half for my train to Huelva. Elder Han and I are the only missionaries here in Huelva, so we have the piso to ourselves. We are about a 10 minute walk from the Church. I love the ward. They are good people and I'm excited to serve them and get to know them better. Here's our address:

Avda. Costa de la Luz Nº 27, 5-D
21002 Huelva, Huelva

Yesterday, we had Zone Conference. It as wonderful and I learned a lot. We talked about having faith; having faith not just to serve, but faith to succeed. With the Lord, all things are possible. Through His atonement we change and become converted - we do and become what He would have us do and become. Through this process, which we work on and go through our entire life, we find joy and peace in Him. I know the Savior lives and loves us. We have the opportunity to come unto Him. He has extended the invitation. He is there. 2 Nephi 9:21-23

I love each of you and think of you often.

Elder Fagersten

November 8, 2010

There is loads of stuff that went on this week. First, some random things:

Yesterday, I saw a John Deere tractor.

In Spanish there are some words that are very similar but mean very different things. For example, casado and cansado. We were at a Family Home Evening and I was asking Sofia if she was tired. Well, I thought I was. I said, "¿Está casada?" She looked at me wierd, then I asked her again, "¿Está casada?" She started laughing and I realized what I had been saying. I had been asking her if she was married instead of asking her if she was tired (Sofia is 18 and she is not married). Casado means married, cansado means tired. So, that was interesting. But yes, she was a little tired.

Anyway, this week, I went to Fuéngirola, to the Mission Home, for a meeting there along with about 25 other missionaries. Elder Hurley came with me from Almería and we really enjoyed it. We learned a lot about becoming better teachers, better missionaries, and how practicing helps us develop the skills that the Lord wants us to use in inviting others to come unto Him.

Yesterday we had Stake Conference in Granada. There was great counsel given to us about changing our perspective and developing Christlike love - charity. I really felt the Spirit and it strengthened my testimony of the Savior, of his atonement, and how it changes us.

When we were at the Mission Home, President Clegg took me into his office and told me that I am being transferred to Huelva. It's on the west coast of Spain (the opposite side of the country) and I will be in the Sevilla Zone. My companion will be Elder Han. I am going to miss Almería a lot. I love these people.

I know the gospel is true. Jesus Christ restored his church and gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith. The truth has been restored. I know that the Savior lives and loves us. His atonement gives us the opportunity to change, to repent, to be healed, and to be happy.

Elder Fagersten

November 1, 2010

We had a good week. Monday we went to Granada for our preparation day. We went to the Alhambra but the cool part didn't open until later and we didn't have time to go. Still, it was fun. Later that night we had a meeting about things we can improve in our Zone and set some goals.

Tuesday we visited a man that lives in a little pueblo (town) about 45 minutes away on bus. The Stake Patriarch also lives there and we had the lesson at his house. It went really well and I felt the Spirit there. I love being here.

The rest of the week went well and I continue to learn things every day. Each of us have opportunities to learn and improve each day. It's true, sometimes life gets a little hectic, and we get a little crazy trying to keep up with everything, but just remember, even Moses was a basket case once. Seriously though, we really can draw closer to the Lord in every experience that we have. I know that is true and I know that the Savior lives and loves us.

And I love you.

Elder Fagersten

October 25, 2010


We love Almería. Somebody asked me about this, but I don't think I answered - yes, the members feed us. ...Every day. Not an exaggeration either. Well, okay, actually, they don't feed us on Mondays because that's p-day. Every other day, yes. Is it a lot of food? Yes. Is it delicious? Yes. We are quite lucky here. Every Sunday one of the sisters in the ward, her name is Mirta (from Argentina), goes around talking to people about feeding us and then hands us the list at the end of church. It's pretty nice.

This is not the only reason we love Almería. The people are just as willing to help us in lessons as they are to feed us. The young single adults help us most of the time. Now that school has started again it is a little bit more difficult to find time when they can come, but they are still willing and ready. We all come closer when we help in this work.

Random fact about Spain: Very few things are refrigerated here.

Elder Adams and I are now teaching a lady named Jaqueline. She is reading and praying and coming to Church. She and her husband, Orlando, and their son, Jason, left after sacrament meeting yesterday because they were kind of sick, but they're all right. It was just a little cold. We have been working with them for a couple of weeks now and things are going well.

In the past few weeks I have thought a lot about the Savior's atonement, and the plan that Heavenly Father has for us. It is a perfect plan. Like Elder Adams has said, it just makes sense, and it gives purpose to this life. The atonement of Jesus Christ makes the plan possible and when we accept it we find true happiness. Obedience is essential to true happiness. Like Nephi asked, can we follow Jesus save we are willing to keep the commandments of the Father? (2 Nephi 31:10)

We have been commandend to have faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ, to repent, and come unto Him. In the end, all of this is intended for our happiness. Dad, I am beginning to understand why you have always loved teaching the plan of salvation. It gives us true hope. It gives us something worth-while. It gives us the promise of eternal families and a pure fulness of joy.

I know that my Redeemer lives. He loves us. The invitation is extended to us. The way is prepared.

I love you!

Elder Fagersten

A small favor...

Could somebody please tell me how the Yankees are doing?

Elder Hurley has gotten a few updates about BYU - not so hot. Are they really 2-5? How are the Hawkeyes looking? What are the NCAA rankings anyway? And the Iowa High School Football Rankings.

Believe me, I'm staying focused, it's just fun to see what's goin on each week. It's more distracting to be wondering about it.

Love you all tons.

- Joe

October 18, 2010

¡Buenos días!

Well, things are great here in Almería, Spain. The weather is cooling off a little bit, Elder Adams is wonderful, and we are loving this time together as full-time missionaries.

This past week we had a "Specialized Training" in Granada. We talked about the Book of Mormon, how it is crucial to our testimony and conversion to Jesus Christ, and that through the Spirit we know that it is true. The confirming voice of the Spirit then brings us to the knowledge that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that the Lord, through Joseph Smith, has restored his true church and gospel, along with proper Priesthood authority to administer the ordinances of salvation and direct all the affairs of the church. I know that this is true.

Thank you for all of your prayers and love. I feel so grateful to have so many blessings in my life. This is hard work. It's really hard, but I am absolutely sure that I am in the right place, doing the right thing, at the right time. I often think of what President Eyring said in a General Conference a little while ago, that when he thinks he has just completed a hard task, and feels ready for a break or some time to relax, he thinks to himself, "Remember Him!" Jesus Christ gave everything for us. We can find strength in Him as we remember that, come unto Him, and allow His atonement to change our hearts. For this I am and will be forever grateful.

I love you!

Elder Fagersten

October 11, 2010 Story #2

A little more than a month ago we met Jesús while enjoying the lunch buffet at Telepizza. He was sitting alone and we decided to go talk to him. We invited him to the Young Single Adult Family Home Evening at the church later that week. He came, and after that Elder Adams and I began teaching him. During the last four weeks he has prayed, read from Book of Mormon, attended sacrament meeting, and even a session of General Conference. Throughout this time he has grown in his testimony and received a personal witness, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's true church, restored to the earth with priesthood authority, through the prophet Joseph Smith. He entered the waters of baptism on Saturday, October 9, 2010, and was confirmed a member of the Church and received the gift of the Holy Ghost yesterday, October 10, 2010.

There are a couple of pictures attached to this email. One picture of Jesús (who is wearing the glasses), Joel (who baptized him), Elder Adams and me, and the other of Jesús, Joel, Elder Hurley (the blonde one on the right), Elder Dunoskovic (Elder Hurley's companion), Elder Adams (my awesome trainer, who I'm standing next to), and me.

I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true and has indeed been restored in our day through the prophet Joseph Smith. We have the opportunity to participate in our Heavenly Father's plan of happiness, to enjoy all of his blessings, and live together forever with our families.

I love you and thank you for all that you do, for who you are, and for who you are becoming.

Elder Fagersten

October 11, 2010 Story #1

Yesterday Elder Adams and I were contacting people in the street and trying to follow up with some of the people we had talked with before. Here in Spain we don't really "knock" doors because most people live in apartment buildings, so they have a thing called a timbre, which is like a doorbell, you here it buzz or beep or whatever, but it hooks up to a phone in the apartment which rings and they talk to the person down there at the door through a speaker thing. Anyway, Elder Adams and I are pressing these on an apartment building and Elder Adams presses one and it gets stuck. He tries to press it again to get it unstuck but it just gets stuck more. So he looks at me and I have already almost wet my pants laughing and he says, "Let's go!" So we swiftly walk down the street and turned at the first corner we came to. It was hilarious.

October 4, 2010

Hola from "still making me sweat it's so hot outside" Almería,

Here is this weeks fact about Spain - besos. Besos are how the people greet each other here in Spain. It's a kiss, first on the left cheek, then on the right. Men greet men with a handshake or a beso, but all others, men to women, women to women, are besos. We, as missionaries, stick with handshakes for everyone.

Spetember 27, 2010

Buenos dias,

We had a wonderful week. I forgot to tell you about two weeks ago when we went to Granada for a Specialized Training with President and Hermana Clegg. It's not the same as Zone Conference (we now only have those once every three months) but it is still with the whole zone. Anyway, we went on the bus there (two hours) and had an awesome meeting! We talked about having more energy and urgency and enthusiasm for the work, but at the same time, being more sensitive to the Spirit and asking questions that will invite it to teach the people we meet with. I enjoyed it a lot and felt the Spirit strengthen my testimony and my desire to serve.

This past week we had companionship exchanges with the Zone Leaders, Elder Gold and Elder Del Molino. We had a lot of fun with them and worked hard.

Elder Hurley turned two last Friday, meaning that it was his two year mark in the mission. He has extended and this is his last transfer here. He is a great missionary and he has taught me a lot. Elder Marchello was transferred - he went to Elche. Elder Hurley's companion is Elder Dunoskovic. He was born in Australia, but grew up in the U.S. He's a cool kid. Elder Adams and I are still here in Almería and we are loving it.

Thank so much for all of your love and all of your prayers and all of your support. I love you all. I hope you are all doing well. I know you will continue to do well when you grow in the gospel of Jesus Christ. This coming weekend we have the opportunity to hear from His living prophets and apostles, and His other leaders of the Church, in General Conference. There are many, many ways to prepare for conference, but one I had was to write down questions that come to my mind and listen for answers during the sessions. And there are many different types of questions you can ask as well - they can be questions about doctrines, things you want to change, things you are uncertain about, things you fear, things that will make you happy, things you want to apply in your life - all of those questions will help you get more out of conference. All of those questions will be answered because the principles and doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ are eternal and can be applied to everyone's life. I know that the Lord loves us. He lives, and he has restored his true church on the earth again, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with the revelations and authority to administer all of the ordinances of salvation and exaltation that will one day bring us back to his presence, to live together in a fulness of everlasting joy.

Keep smiling.

Elder Fagersten

September 20, 2010

Hello everyone. Almería is fantastic. We are continuing to know the city better and better, as well as the people here. Dad, you were right, it does take about 6 weeks to get an idea of where things are, meet the people, and figure some things out. I enjoy this so much!

The other night, Elder Adams and I went to the house of a family in our ward, and when I say house, I mean apartment. Hardly anyone has a house. That's one thing about Spain - there are bunch of apartments and hardly any houses. Anyway, we went to this family's house, Jose Manuel and his family, and guess what I ate... OCTOPUS! ( I wish I could better understand what they were saying while describing how to make these things and what was in it, but I'll do my best...) He caught the octopus a couple weeks before. He told us that you need to let the octopus sit in the fridge for a week or so, then you cook it (not sure how) then you cut it up and put it in with onions and tomatoes and peppers - kind of like salsa but not really... there's other stuff in there too. I guess it was a recipe from the north of Spain, and yes, it was really good.

Right now we are teaching a man named Jesús. He is preparing to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost the week after General Conference. It is amazing to feel the responsibility and love that come with teaching people the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Elder Adams and I continually work on helping these people come unto Christ. It is true joy to see the gospel change lives, including my own.

I love you all and hope that you find joy in every day.

- Elder Fagersten

So much love!

Just a quick thing - in the Spain Málaga Mission we are allowed to email our mission president and immediate family. I can recieve emails from anyone, that's not a problem, but I will need to write to everyone else by hand, so, I will do that, but it will take some time. Just to let you know I'm not ignoring you and I still love you!

From the Mom

I forgot to attatch a couple of photos that I thought you might be interested in. The first is a photo of the cost of Almeria along the Mediterranean. Joe is currently serving in the city of Almeria. The scenery is breathtaking!

The second photo is a picture of a bull fighting ring. . .they do not get to watch the bull fights, but they were able to check out the bull ring. It looks like some of our sports stadiums here in America!

Thanks for all of your love and support,

Septemeber 9, 2010

We had another great week in Almería. Elder Adams and I are working really hard to find more people to teach. Last Monday, we went to Telepizza for lunch (it wasn't as good as Little Ceasars but it was a lunch buffet...) and we met a guy named Jesús. Elder Adams and I taught him once and we're planning on meeting with him again this week. He is really cool.

Elder Adams is awesome. He is really patient with me and he has a great attitude. He continually strives to improve and become better. I feel so blessed to have him as my companion and trainer. While we were walking one day he said to me, "Elder Fagersten, I just want you to have an awesome mission. I just want you to have the best time ever." He always helps me try to do that, and together, it has been awesome.

On Wednesday we went up to Granada for a special fireside. Bishop Richard C. Edgley, Elder José A. Teixeira, and Brother Joseph B. Wirthlin Jr. spoke to us. The ward here in Almería rented two buses and we all made the trip together. It was great and I really enjoyed it.

Something about Spain: There are a lot of dogs here, and when people walk their dogs, half the time the don't even have a leash. Still, they never run away. It's pretty crazy.

I love all of you so much. Continue to look to the Lord. Heavenly Father's plan for us is to be happy. Living the gospel of Jesus Christ is how we do that. The atonement of Jesus Christ is central to the gospel, and thus, central to our Heavenly Father's plan. You can do a lot to help His plan take effect in the lives of his children here on the earth. Love and trust and help the missionaries. They work hard and they want to do everything they can to help this work go forward.

Elder Fagersten

Mon, Sep 6, 2010


Well, this past week was quite an adventure. Elder Adams, my trainer, went to a special training at the mission home in Fuengirola along with all the other Trainers, District Leaders, Zone Leaders, and Assistants in the mission. Elder Hurley, Elder Marchello's trainer, went to Málaga on an exchange so that Elder Adams would have someone to travel with. This left Elder Marchello, who arrived the transfer before I did, and myself, to handle the entire city of Almería from Tuesday until Friday night. We survived. : ) Haha. No, we learned a lot, but it certainly was not easy. We would talk with people on the street, look at each other, neither of us not exactly sure what the person just said, but did our best.

Really, that's what the Lord asks of us, that we do our best. He wants us to learn and grow, and when we do our best, He is pleased. I'm amazed at all of the blessings He so willingly gives us.

Something about Almería: This is true for all of Spain too, but the cars here are tiny, as are the streets. And talk about parallel parking - there's no other kind of parking here. Dad, I think you would be impressed by their parking skills.

Also, I need to find a map of the United States, one with Iowa, so I can show people where I'm from. I have yet to talk to a person that knows where it is.

There are so many experiences to tell about, but the most important experiences here, and in all of our lives, are those that bring us closer to our Heavenly Father. The truth is, all of our experiences can bring us closer to Him when we choose to look to Him.

I love you all and hope you're doing well.

Elder Fagersten