in her own words, "I dropped my camera and planner in the dumpster...need I say more?"
Nope, pretty sure the picture shows it all!
This week was incredible. We worked harder than ever and the Lord blessed us richly with the energy to keep going. We talked to literally every person we saw. That included stopping and talking to people we saw on the side of the road while driving. Sometimes that seems awkward but in reality it wasn't at all. People search for a message of hope and a sense of belonging. Knowing we are all children of God is something not everyone realizes.
Friday night and afternoon we rode bikes again. The nights here can get cold so we made sure to wear all of our warm clothes and clothes! I had a good laugh though when I pulled up to a red light next to a man on a really nice motorcycle. He didn't have a helmet, but had a hat and face mask with a skeleton on it. When I turned to him and saw his "face" I had to repeat in my head, "I am not afraid ... I am not afriad .... haha and somewhere within me I had the guts to turn to him and say, "my bike is almost as cool as yours." Hahahaha He responded very quickly, I think with a smile, saying "Almost." It made for a good laugh.
Ok now to the work. We ate dinner with a family this week named the Odoms. I must say, we eat dinner with the most incredible people. From young couples who just got married and are scraping by to families in mansions who have lots of stories of their kids and grandkids to single women who have 5 dogs and are more talented than anyone you've ever met before. Anyway, we LOVE the members here. In our ward and in our stake. Soooo we ate with this family and literally you walk in the door and love just hits you, HARD. Their Christmas decorations were up, my favorite ones: snowflakes. They had snowflakes hanging in all of their main rooms and they were beautiful! They had made them years ago and had continued adding to them every year until they had this many and not simply put them up every year now! We had a delicious dinner and talked about the mission field. Their son had just come back from his mission last week and the father teaches mission prep. We discussed one topic that we all decided was MUCHO IMPORTANTE in missionary work: LOVE. You must love the people. Granted, there are so many things to work on as a disciple of Christ, but as it says in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 "if ye have not charity, ye are nothing" (or something like that ....). It was so incredible to be with that family though and not only discuss the topic, but see that love in action. You could see how much they treasured their own family members, how much they loved their neighbor who had just moved who we had worked with a lot, how much their son loved his mission in Ghana, the list goes on. We are so blessed to get to know so many members here in Mesa and it certainly buoys us up and provides a support system for new members. Wow was I wrong in thinking as missionaries we would be uplifting the members; so many times it is their example and their experiences that provide tremendous examples of faith and miracles to us.
We worked the Christmas lights again and saw so many miracles. Ok I must make a comment. The first day I got here, we ate dinner with our new all the new missionaries and their companions. Elder Coffman, on of the APs, sat near Hna Ghan and I and we began talking about miracles. We left the conversation in a desire to notice the miracles everyday in missionary work. In our heads, we thought of simply meeting people who were ready to learn and live the gospel of Jesus Christ. O ye of little faith. Those these miracles certainly do happen, there are so many other miracles that happen everyday that when missed could make a day very bland. We began to notice these miracles everyday, such as someone being home when generally they are not, someone being receptive to learning more when before they hadn't been, knocking on someone's door that needed a friend, etc. The list could go on. We've noticed miracles all around us. The more we've noticed, we feel the more often they come.
Anyway, Christmas lights. I spoke with a couple who had found each other and couldn't be happier. He works for the airlines but has done a lot in the peace core and mission work in Africa. She works with the homeless and helping people get back on their feet. They were not members of the church but have great faith in the love that God has for all of his children and feel very fortunate to share what they have (time, talents, etc) with others. Though they have no interest in learning more about the gospel, I loved learning what instruments they've been in the hands of God. I ran into another woman who had just moved to Mesa from Michigan who was looking for a church to attend. I taught her about the First Vision and how because God loves us, He called a prophet to guide the church on this earth. She was intrigued and very believing in modern day revelation.
I must say, life is so different than it ever has been before. I am involved in something way beyond my capacity to understand, yet what I do understand I know is very beneficial to all of God's children.
I think I have said this before, but more than ever I am learning how we can be instruments in the hands of God. It is not us, it is the power of God. There are days you wonder if anyone knows you're there. Heck, yesterday, I talked .... haha by that I mean TRIED to talk to some people. Two people in a row completely ignored me. Didn't even look at me. My first thought was ... "am I invisible?" (The image of this on numerous movies flashed through my mind .... ) But then you run into someone whose eyes light up when you say something they desire in their life - more than anything. I am simply the messanger. It is humbling, yet overwhelming to recognize the great influence that God's love can have on others. One 17 year old completely changed his life. He was .... doing pretty much everything you could to get into trouble. He went to church one week, invited by his basketball coach, and felt this love that he wanted in his life, ALL THE TIME.
I don't know if you've noticed, but a lot of this week has been about love. Not sure why, but it has made a huge difference in the work. And one thing I have loved is it's not on focusing on loving the people, it's focusing on loving God (this is the first commandment, no?) and naturally we desire to be filled with His love to share that with others.
Ok that is the report for this week. Christmas is soon! The work in Mesa is moving forward, even if sometimes we wonder if it is.
Thank you for your letters and love! I am going to send some pictures now! I love you all and though I miss the first 21 years of my life, this is where the Lord needs me right now. It is a privilege to be serving.
Love, Hermana Clark
PS there is so much more I could write in here. Every night I come home and try to capture emotions/events that occured that day and it just is not possible.
Elder Walter F. Gonzalez came to our stake for stake conference and to begin his talk he called up the man who was his missionary. He confirmed him a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He didn't baptize one person, he baptized now thousands. And now Elder Gonzalez is in the Presidency of the 70. In the same theme of love ... President Utchdorf's talk in Conference and the scipture Isaiah 61:1. Ok bye . picture time