Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December 28

Surpringly enough, there was a big change for us about an hour or two after I hung up.  President Ellsworth called to say that Hermana Juarez is going to be in an english area and working in the visitor center for now. NOOOOOOOOOO! I'm not gonna lie I was way bummed. Though the last month has been pretty much, nothing short of insane, i felt kind of robbed having her taken away from us! My child! I felt like that woman in the bible that the lord asked to give up her son to serve in the temple (one day I'll learn bible stories ......) literally ... now she's serving in the temple. mi hija! Sister Everette, her new companion, was with her at BYU-I do (as she says it!) though and they were in the same ward and had a number of classes together .... so they're super excited to be together! just a little hard to hear the news, kill a totally chill Christmas, pack her up and send her off. She is serving in our stake though, actually part of our area ... so it's kind of funny. They're in our district. And for all we know ... she could come back in 2 weeks, but whatever the Lord has in store is ok with me. The past few days have been super sad. The Gordon's had lots of family for christmas too, and within 12 hours everyone left and suddenly it's just ... empty! Only Hna Mazariegos and I ... what do we do? Kind of funny to be back together again but it's fun! I just love her and I feel like the two of us alone work very differently than we did as a threesome.  We work differently now though from the things we learned from Hna Juarez! We're SO grateful for our time with her ... and I feel like I talk about her as if she died ..... but she's close! last night was her first night working in the visitor center and she totally blew all the sisters out of the water with how many referrals she got from people ..... figures - she works miracles! The whole mission will be blessed with her working everynight of christmas lights and not just a few! It's a good change because it came from the Lord, but I won't say it wasn't hard.

Christmas was fun, especially with our matching pajamas! Elephant gift exchange, breakfast with the Gordon's (waffles and strawberries .... YUM), lunch with the Larson's (STEAK and biscuits and gravy .... YUM!). TALKING TO YOU GUYS! That night we made Seviche (that's food) with Maria and Beto (investigators that are moving) and chocolate chip cookies.  Fun fun but sad they're moving this week to another area! I would say it was a good day but it felt so ..... lazy. I definitely enjoyed the caroling and Christmas spirit more than the actual day. Oh yeah and the night before we helped the Duartes, familia in the branch that live down the street .... make tomales. I did something with the masa and apparently worked wonders because it only took 10 minutes to mix until it would float when a little piece was put in water. Hna Duarte even gave me a big hug! Yeah, I felt pretty cool after that!

Yesterday, while directing a song practice, we received several desperate phone calls from our branch leaders, "Hnas .... this family .... they need to get baptized. It doesn't matter they're moving ... if they get married and baptized this week they can stay in the branch and move back soon." All I have to say is we have great leaders who love people and don't want to see them leave. The only problem here is that THEY are the ones that ultimately decide what they want to do.  We don't really think so, but we'll see!

Carlos came to church this week! It's been about 3 months since we've been asking him every week what we can do to help him come to church!!!!! Wahoo!!!! Each of us are seeing huge changes in him and we are soooo excited! He's putting his guard down, that we all have with new things, and is much more excited to have us come over and teach him!

We ate dinner with a family in the branch this week with 5 daughrters, a boy is on the way! While eating and waiting for the banana bread to come out of the oven, I felt impressed to talk about BoM story charades! hahaha it was fun to help them see the BoM isn't totally boring (the five girls are 10-20 yrs old) and talk about the importance of the stories after acting them out! Promptings from the spirit come in all forms!

Funny thought this week. We were given cookies from people this week. They look absolutely delicious but I think there's something wrong with the frosting and there's always a really bitter .... not great taste at the end. the beginning of the cookie is awesome but the after taste is terrible. Well I noticed it after the first cookie but refused to believe it because they looked SO RIDICULOUSLY DELICIOUS. Well I am sad to say, that after about 7 or 8 cookies, they are still not so good in the end. I thought it was so funny I kept eating them, kept hoping, "this one will be good." Made me think of Satan and how no matter what, no matter how good he makes something look .... you can't deny in the end it's bad! It just is! It'll never be good! Finally, I told my companions about it and they just laughed and asked me why I kept the temptation infront of me? Throw them out! What are companions for ..... helping you stay away from sin .... throwing out cookies .... all in the day of a missionary :)

Love you all! Glad the Christmas was wonderful - white christmas? Blizzard Christmas? And yes Spencer, you can be Elizabeth JUST THIS ONCE. :) Love you all! I felt loved receiving lots of cards from people for christmas!! Until next week! 2011??? YIKES!

con mucho amor, Hermana Clark

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December 21

Another week in history! I LOVE being a missionary in the Christmas season.  I think it helps we live in Mormonville and are spreading christmas cheer .... but seriously ... it's the best! Pretty much every door we go to we sing! Most are people we know and then some .... are new found friends! Right now instead of asking members, "do you know anyone who we could teach" (ok that is not how you ask for a referral ....) we ask, "who could we go sing to?" and we've gotten some referrals from people! Horray!

The line "tenia miedo" is from Friday. As a missionary I've lived in 3 peoples basement now.  All of them I have worried about falling down the stairs as we are constantly running up and down them.  I was on the phone Friday with a member and hung up and swung around to bajar and completely slipped, sliding down the bottom 4 stairs. My first thought was, "well that didn't sound good" and then I realized after such a traumatic experience the only thing that hurt was my pinky finger that smacked the wall. No worries though, my two angel companions came in a heartbeat to hug me and help in whatever way possible. In that moment I knew I never had anything to worry about ..... I always have them to take care of me! They laughed when the first thing I said was, "tenia miedo" .... "i was scared" ..... the rest of that being .... "of falling down the stairs .... and it happened!" We all just laughed!

The only downside of christmas is the fact that no one has time for ANYTHING. That's ok though ... we'll sing at your door, wish you merry christmas, remind you to read the Book of Mormon to feel this peace everyday, and set up a time after christmas! That's life though!

We saw a family a few months ago that we knew we needed to go teach and this week that came to an end. Oh how sad to be dropped by someone. They're a young couple, Reyna and Manuel, with two little kids who are adorable. they don't really have a religious background except catholic by tradition. We had a few quick visits with them and were super excited after a great lesson last week answering questions they had ...... but went to the appointment and Reyna didn't even open the cage (pretty much all places here have these "cage" "storm" doors .... definitely NOT a fan. They scream get away from here) and just said, "look, my mom is Catholic and she got mad at me as to why I would be learning about Mormons if I'm not Mormon. So, don't both coming back." Oh it was sad. First experience for Hna Juarez with that as well and it really suprised her. todavia, we love God and others and this work will go forward. I love Alma 32:39.  la semilla will always be good. The BoM will always be a good seed. If you don't fertilize it though ... you don't give place to be good in you. you cannot have that joy if you don't nurture it.  But in the end .... it's good! No matter what! One day they will act on the Spirit they recognized and receive more blessings!

We had a branch activity on Friday where we ate elote (i don't know how to spell it .... corn with mayo and cheese .... for the record it's REALLY good!) and hot chocolate at Pioneer park across from the temple.  We had about 20 people there to eat and then go walk around the christmas lights at the temple. We had some investigators there but felt that they were in good hands and we could go try to contact some more of our referrals we haven't contacted yet.  We said goodbye to everyone and walked away, only to return about 5 min later with a family we met in the park and invited to eat! How fun it was to just meet people and say, "hey, I know you want some hot chocolate and elote. come eat some! we have plenty!" The branch was super welcoming and they accepted missionaries in their home - saying they had some living across the street from them but had no idea what they were! HA but yeah! We walked away knowing, without a question, that we are missionaries. No matter where we are, we are doing this work! It was so fun to be able to do that and invite them to join the branch!! It felt like one of those movie experiences ..... you always wish missionary work is like that!

We went to the temple on Thursday with half our mission! Before and after we sort of had zone conference ... in anycase learned from President and Sister Ellsworth. We have banished the idea of counting TTIs because it takes our focus away from our purpose of baptizing ... as we're just focusing on talking to people. Now our focus is on new investigators and bringing them to baptism.  It's a REALLY good change for the mission. I remember coming in the mission and being bewhildered as to why we were counting how many people we talked to each day - it's a measure of how big OUR effort is as missionaries .... not to the progression of the people we're teaching. anyway, it's good. Really nothing changes because we still talk with everyone!

We stopped and talked to a woman yesterday that testified to us that we were sent to talk to her. The reason WHY we were sent to talk to her apparently wasn't so important though because she didn't want to hear our message. Do those not go together?

We have wonderful families we're teaching right now! One family committed to be baptized but are praying about a date. They also decided, in front of us, to get married!!!! They are wonderful - the brother of the woman just got home from his mission a month ago. Sadly though, they are moving out of the branch and so at the very least we are praying to prepare them with this firm desire to be baptized!  We were there saturday at night though and it was a little depressing hearing about lost hopes with the law not passing. Ay what a sad thing that that law did not pass. You could feel the broken hearts in people in telling us it didn't pass. Ohhh!

Christmas is here! We will also be helping out in the calling center in the Visitor Center to call the referrals received from Christmas lights!!! Now I get to do them in Spanish - in the MTC I couldn't get past "hola, mi nombre es Elizabeth." hahahaha We're excited! I'm still conducting a small group for the song "What Child is This" for New Years Eve when all the missionaries sing for the last night of Christmas lights. Ohhhhh man I am soooo excited! it is a beautiful song, the missionaries are good singers, and that night will just be amazing!

This is the Lord's work! With three of us it's always a party, but it's also the chance to talk to more people, more ideas, and bless more people! FELIZ NAVIDAD! Jesucristo vive! I love you all!!!! Talk to you Saturday! Love always, Hermana Clark

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December 14

First of all, I will say a few things.
First mom, yes that was kind of interesting reading grandma's letter, dad's letter, then yours. Thank you for explaining things to the daughter that is out of contact of all communcation and worldly ways of finding out anything! Glad you are healthy and we have wonderful tecnology and medicines in these days! I hope your blood sugars stay ok. Will this medicine be something your on forever?

Second, you all know I love the topic of dating and what not. Well right now I have the privilege of witnessing the drama but not being directly involved, just the trainer. An elder went home in november and was an excellent missionary - my zone leader and AP for the majority of my mission. Well, he left, but told people about a new missionary that was coming. He even told Hna Mazariegos and I because she is originally from Guatemala. What he didn't tell us was that they dated .... sort of. But he didn't seem to feel that needed to be hit with just about every other missionary in the mission. Now we're seeing all these missionaries and they all go up to her with a big smile and say, "it's so good to meet you" and some have the guts to say, "i heard about you" I got a call the first day from a missionary, "has she told you? has she told you how she's going to be elder young's wife?" OH MY GOODNESS. I thought I got away from all that drama as a missionary. Well, apparently not! Hna Juarez had the difficulty of having about 30 marriage proposals, one an hour before getting set apart. She, however, KNOW that she is on a mission to help people find the gospel. She has a vision of people she will find and anytime that vision gets cloudy she reminds herself of them. Anyway, this missionary though. Great missionary, awesome. Everyone goes up to tell her ,"he was a legend". plus, we're working at christmas lights and people see how much success she has - LOTS. Anyway, last night this missionary walked through the lights on a date with someone we all know in our branch.  I'm pretty sure I would've died if someone I had wanted to marry showed up at the lights on a date. She was a little in shock but was bold in saying, "you're distracting me".  yikes though. just when you think you're away from everything you know .... something comes and hits you where you're not ready.

THIS WEEK WAS JAM PACKED! Sunday was miracle of miracles when 4 complete families showed up to church - 15 people! More than half had never been! Elder LeSuer (I have no idea how to spell his name) of the area presidency was in the branch for two reasons: the show love from President Smith and the show love for our branch. He spoke to all the Priesthood and said a few things about politics in saying that he prays that our leaders will make better choices. his love was DEFINITELY felt though and it was a wonderful meeting! We had a big lunch after as well and all the investigators mingled well with the members.

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS ARE AMAZING! My two companions work miracles! We have a meeting before with other missionaries to prepare us and help us remember why we're here and what not. Every meeting I take a moment to plead for forgiveness and pray for the Spirit to touch these peoples hearts. WE. ARE. SEEING. MIRACLES. I would say the majority of missionaries are pretty content with a few people who are willing to receive missionaries in their home and a few referrals from members. The other night our companionship alone, talked to 26 people who were willing to invite missionaries into their home. and about 38 referrals from members. most of the referrals were Hna Juarez doing (those youth just whip out their phones!) but the three of us equally did our share of people inviting missioanries in their home. We have very limited time to talk to these people, seeing as they came to see the lights, not to talk to missionaries. We've been working on being bold and testifying and helping them recognize the spirit. Well, it works! It's so cool! So many times I feel like I see someone and we start talking and I say something so weird, yet it's by the spirit, so it's right. I don't know what they're going through, but God does. I'm here to help them feel God's love and guide them to feel it every single day. We come home exhausted at 1030 those nights, but oh GOZO! no hay otra manera a decirlo! I love being on temple grounds, I love helping people feel God's love, and I love testifying of the Savior and His Church, with living prophets on the earth today!

We went to lunch with Crandell's (who we used to live with) and it felt like we were going to eat with our family - kind of strange, "is that allowed?" Anyway we showed up and they received a few more days of mail ...... a lot of it! It felt like Christmas! I got your package mom, a big envelope filled with Christmas memories from the whole Clark family from Janae, my MTC teacher wrote, the Stake Presidency, Butters family, natalie Buttars. WOW! Kind of crazy to get them all in one day, but none the less, I certainly felt loved! Thanks to all who have sent me a letter and to those who will send me one. It is a joy to read about your lives and see that God is blessing each of His children! This Christmas season is WAY TOO FAST. Someone asked me if I was excited to talk to my family - yikes that's way too close.

Ok no time. Went to the dentist and got a filling. All free - our high counselor is a dentist! he had a cool dental assistant that is not mormon but not wants to go on a mission ... haha we'll go roller blading after the mission together!

We're all FINALLY recovering. We ate a dinner friday that we all just looked at the wanted to barf. 130 the next morning .... hna Juarez was throwing it up. YUCK.

I love you all! I am praying for you and your success in everything!!! Good luck with finals ABby!!!!!!!!!! love love love Mormon 8:16 Love always, Hermana Clark

still going strong

I got a new computer and for some reason the way to transfer text to the blog isn't the same...give me some time and I'll figure it out. In the meantime, here are some fun Christmas pictures to hold you over. Oh and yes, she's doing well.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 30

Sunday we went to the Christmas lights and it was BEAUTIFUL!! More beautiful than last year! It wasn't completely traumatizing as Hermana Mazariegos thought it would be, having to speak english to people. We were successful in testifying of the teachings of Jesus Christ and found 6 families that were willing to accept missionaries to bring this same spirit they can feel here ... to their home! Horray! I think the best story of the night, however, was an Elder that asked me if i remembered an Andres in my old area. Couldn't think in the moment but I went home and remembered who he was! Hna Nielsen and I taught him last February and he ran away after accepting a date and being really interested! But Elder Crook talked to him and evidently he had to leave the country but wanted missionaries again!!!! HORRAY! He was prepared in February ... I have a feeling not is even better! Oh joy!

We were freezing by the end of the night though. I had socks and two pairs of tights, some stretchy pants, and sweatpants under my skirt. Then a shirt, a really warm sweater (that I pretty much wear close to everyday now under whatever I'm wearing), a jacket, and another jacket! My orange birthday gloves were kind of funny and one guy wouldn't accept that you, mom, had sent them to me for my birthday. He was confident they were hunting gloves - yuck no. But... they were funny. Who knows when we're working the lights again ... but it's fun! Talking to so many people ... I'm already losing my voice!

Probably the biggest news was on Saturday about transfers! I was pretty confident we weren't being changed .... but it was a big surprise that I'll be training! We already have 6 full-field spanish sisters (usually it's never more than that) but .... now we'll have 7! We think she's American ... which will be interesting. When President called he said, "Sister Clark, I know you'll kind of be on double duty, still with Hermana Mazariegos, and your new companion." Quite the contrary! I am sooo excited to STILL be with Hermana Mazariegos and to get a new companion. I will say, I've always been weary of trios though .... so I pray that we can work well together with the spirit and help this sister feel confident as a servant of the Lord! And the whole language thing .... will be difficult but oh I pray that we are flexible and this will definitely introduce more opportunities to speak english. We're excited! We'll have 6 hermanas in the rama - the other sisters are training too before Hna Cochran goes home in 4 weeks (4 hermanas are going home before christmas so they can be with their families) so ... this transfer is a bit hectic. I can't really imagine the logistics of President Ellsworth!

Our area is amazing .... lots of potential. We have three families we're working with that basically just need hermandad and they are receiving it! We are soooo excited! We might not see the fruits of our labor with them right now .... but they are changing and it is the most exciting thing to see!!!

We are getting better at using time better as well as staying under miles as well as staying under minutes for the phone! Horray! They still don't have a home for us and right now we're just kind of ...waiting. If they don't find a home by next Tuesday we'll be moving into an apartment (noooooo!!!!) I feel bad for our new companion though ..... ok here's our home .... but we're moving soon so ... don't both packing up ... and that also means we don't have too much food because we don't want to move more than we need to .... WELCOME! hahaha but it'll work out!

I cannot tell you, mom and dad, how awesome you are! Seriously! Anything you want members to do .... you are doing it! Even, Dad, if it's awkward! Good job! I still get scared to talk to some people (mostly english) but I've learned to just GO and I'll think about being scared later! This message is for ALL!

So we're excited for our new companion! Sadly we won't be making a green cake for her, like I received when i came in the mission, but we be going straight to work! today we're also hosting a sister (someone else's greenie). New missionaries are taken around by leaders the first day and so they chose us to help with that since there aren't really sister leaders (except the VC ....). So it'll be a great week! Pictures to come next week! And it's December tomorrow!!!!!!! Oh my goodness it's already Christmas! HOW. EXCITING!

Glad Thanksgiving was great - Abby and kenz you'll have to tell me about yours. Oh yeah that day was this week. We went hiking at 6am and it was world's easier than my first time doing it - such a joy! Then we played volleyball with our zone and then watched the Best Two Years. That movie was SOOOO interesting to watch while a mnissionary. basically poking fun at our lives .... but wow. I understood it so differently. And yes it's still a great movie!

Well I love each and everyone of you! A WHOLE LOT!!! Until next week! Love always, Hermana Clark

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

November 23 - Happy Tonksgibing

Well it's another Tuesday. Weird one though. We had an appointment at 9 but the woman wasn't there. We're emailing and shopping today but going back to work because Thursday is another preparation day.

Thursday we're thinking of hiking Cambelback otra vez (I really hope sooo! I've wanted to for a long time!) and we might have a zone activity ..... and dinner with the Gibson family (young family in the branch). We're super excited for the festivities of the holidays to begin!!! Christmas lights start Friday!

This past week was LOCA. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday was leadership training for all Zone Leaders, District Leaders, Trainers, and Trainers in the VC. For those three days we were with Hna Alvarez, Hna Nielsen's companion!! I must say, it was a challenge to be in a trio.  We all love the Lord's work! We've all been called and set apart! We all, however, have not attained the level of comprehension nor love for each of our new languages. Hna Alvarez has only been out 4 weeks and .... like all new missionaries learning a language ... IT'S HARD. You want to fall asleep in every lesson because you don't know what in the world is going on. You can smile for so long ... but .... it's a challenge.  Hna Mazariegos has been out for almost 8 months and though we are in los estados unidos ..... don't have too many opportunities to practice her english.  We had 3 successful days together.  I think each of the sisters gained a new appreciation of someone learning their own language and not loving it how they love it, but sometimes dreading having to speak it. For a few hours on Thursday, the two of them even went to Hna Alvarez area to find more people to teach. It was good, but it was hard. We had fun together. When those two were together, I went with an english sister, Sister Dyer.  So incredibly weird to be the only one who speaks spanish beyond "bueno ... me llamo Hermana ......" I have actually learned a language ... to be able to communicate fairly well .... in a year! Gosh if that's not a miracle ... I don't know what is! The past two weeks has been the first time I've been with sisters who speak less spanish than I. Thursday, especially, with a sister that's not even called to teach in spanish. Anyway, great experiences with different comapnions and I definitely learned a great lesson that practicing, with a whole lot of patience, is necessary!!

Sunday we gave talks in church and honestly, both of us ended and asked each other, "what did I say?" We both had outlined notes but didn't follow them too closely. We felt the spirit, so I'd say they went well. I shared my experience of giving a bom once to a friend and not really having a testimony of it .... therefore going on to talk about gratitude for my testimony por medo del espiritu santo.

We had a lesson with a Jehovah's witness this week. This is a little older than us and was a reference we've been trying to contact. The lesson was going well and as noted by the member that was with us "she has a noble heart" but a woman that lives with her came in midway through .... and the spirit left.  Therefore, we followed suite. She expressed her knowledge of the Bible and we testified to her and asked her what she knew by the spirit. I've learned a lot recently at how most people are just fed up. Here in Mesa, because there are sooooo many of US, there are so many others who are on the defense of things and then turn into attacking. Lots of other missionaries.  So many people are just fed up. Therefore the ONLY way we're any different than all these people and other churches is that we have a LIVING PROPHET, the priesthood on the earth to guide the Church of Jesus Christ. La mayoria de las personas han escuchado este mensaje. they know it in their head .... bom .... prophet .... temple .... lots of commandments. Ok but their heart hasn't quite asked questions yet.  Oh to all the wonderful people in our area! In the world!!!!! Friday starts Christmas lights and it is incredible to feel the Spirit and testify of truth and see how people recognize that something is different.

Saturday we also find out about transfers. I've learned really well ... that my ways are not the best .... so I'll leave it up to the Lord to make the decision and I'll accept that plan! I don't need to worry about what could happen ..... I love being with Hermana Mazariegos and yes, of course, I would LOVE to be with her for 3 more months ... but I also know that I've had 2 wonderful months with her that I have learned a whole lot and gained a much greater testimony of the Book of Mormon and the reality that this is the Lord's church on the earth! VAMOS A VER!

When I was set apart, President Carmack said that I would have energy to get up each day and I would never be sick in the apartment.  I think he said that so that if I ever felt sick enough to even think about that, I could know it's not even an option to go home. After those days of intercambios and talks in church and a fireside in Phoenix, my body was not functioning yesterday. It just felt vacio. sin fuerza. Keeping eyes open.  What better opportunity to be humbled and call on the powers of heaven to give me strength? I have a feeling the rest of my mission I will be sin fuerza and you know what .... I'm ok with that. I am humbled. I'm grateful for trials, whatever form they may be in. I have a whole lot more to learn in my life and I know that trials are one of the best ways to learn how to be happy and serve God and His children.

We received the conference issue last week in english, but are waiting for spanish. I decided to read all of them in english. I am about 70% finished. I love conference. I love reading the words of living prophets. They speak to us because they speak by the Holy Ghost.  I loved President Utchdorf's talk in Priesthood on pride and his pen example! Hahaha That's how we need to be! And President Eyring opening the Sunday morning session conference!

no creo que hay mas. HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I'm pretty sure the Gibsons told us we'll be eating something with turkey and chicken and duck all in one. HAHA We're excited. Oh and this week we each had a whole fish for dinner. It wasn't too bad and it was better with salsa. hahaha no worries mom and dad, my eating preferences have alll completely changed! Plus the next day we had crab and that was good too!

Love you all!!!!!! It's cold here now ... 55! Love always, hermana Clark

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

November 16

Something ALWAYS happens Tuesday night or Wednesday that I want to write about. ALWAYS, no fail. This past week we went to a less active family to teach them the Restoration (something Pres Ellsworth has asked us to do .... teach to their needs but teach restoration, plan, gospel of Jesus Christ) well we couldn't go far because Hno Rodriguez expressed his beliefs that there is not a church that Christ has and that there is no way we can trust in a prophet. It seemed any testimony, answer was disputed. It wasn't said in a "no, you're wrong," but oh how our hearts just ached walking out of there. We testified of the book of Mormon. There's not much you can do if someone doesn't want to accept something new and is not willing to pray to ask God about it. Ouch. They did, however, give us a referral to their neighbor who is struggling with cancer as a young mother.

We had exchanges this week which is always exciting, nerveracking, different, strange, great .... but a relief when we get back to our areas with our propias companeras. I was with Hermana Nichiguchi from bountiful! Oh what an awesome sister she is! She has about .... 4 months in the mission? so 6 on her mission? She struggles with spanish and it was the first time I was with someone with less spanish that I have. Very interesting! Pretty much every exchange I am with natives! I love having a day though to serve with someone different to kind of take a step back and look at how we're doing the Lord's work and see how we can do it better. 

The thing that made it interesting was the night before and the night after (we exchange at 9pm). Hna Mazariegos was with Hna Chaca from Peru ... so they can't drive. We picked up another bike so those two could bike the next day. Their apartment was about 30 minutes away. But they're living at a members house (who has other sisters) because they have bed bugs in their apartment. So they moved for the next ..... 3 weeks. Well I pick up Hna N and we get back to the apartment about 1015. Next night we're at her house super early to make sure we get back in time .... but the housing coordinator comes to talk to the sisters and he says that now our house has bed bugs! Ay! That night we got home at 1030 and had to wash all our sheets and clothes and dry them 3 cycles and vacuum bed.  Wow it was weird to be up so late again. I vote ..... early to bed, early to rise. During exchanges I also got a call from the mission office telling us we went over miles. We thought we had 1500 miles. Nope .... 1250. We thought we were close last time. Ohhhhh great! So pretty much .... mom and dad. You both have told me about something that I've read and thought, "glad we don't have that problem" and low and behold .... haha we have the potential of the problem.

We haven't had problems with bed bugs ..... so we're thinking no tenemos!!! We have been finding rides places and cutting down on our miles. So far so good .... but we're being careful. With Christmas lights starting in 2 weeks .... YES CHRISTMAS LIGHTS .... we'll be gastando mas miles and that'll be interesting. plus, I've been asked to lead a small group for new years eve when all the missionaries sing at the christmas lights. that means we'll be gastando (i don't know what the word is in english) more miles to practice singing. It will all work out, we'll do what we can, pray for help, and ask for members to give us rides .... and come with us! We see it as a blessing because our area is so big that it can be hard to use time well. So this will force us to stay in an area for a while and find those who we normally would not find.

In the midst of this, the Crandall family also told us their daughter and son-in-law will be moving in in December. I think it will be a whole harder for them than it will be for us to move out. Man we just love them though! They are our parents and are always asking us what they can do for us. Gosh no - that's what we're supposed to be doing as guests in their house!!!! I have also been enjoying their piano and playing "The Olive Tree" one of my favorites!

Anyway, it was an up and down for a week. Last Tuesday seemed to be super and I knew things would happen to try and bring our faith down ..... no doubt they did. The mission can be rough, but the Lord is always there to give us the strength we need, as long as we rely on him. In one moment I just prayed, "help us, we don't know how we can do this and be obedient" I opened up to jacob 3:1-2. I just pleaded with the Lord to help me be pure of heart so that I can have a "mente firme" and do this work as He would like it done. Yay for prayers being answered.  The Book of Mormon continues to be a huge strength.

Yesterday we met with Carlos and Mari and Carlos basically told us he knows these things are true .... but doesn't want to act on them.  "I don't want to be baptized as I am now" No and our Heavenly Father doesn't either! So we're thinking he needs some priesthood to be his friend, invite to things on Saturday (instead of Sunday) and help him see the great blessings of getting baptized and preparing to have an eternal family!!!! Oh I just love them!

One last thing. No ... I forget now. Something with the Book of Mormon. Nope, I can't remember. I love reading it though.  I feel like Satan is working harder on us, especially me right now. Well, one thing was we had stake conference with 90 stakes in Arizona. Sister Thompson talked about reading the BoM - suchhhhhh a need! No matter if your new in the church or all your life! And President Monson talked about rescuing the lost ones. That was great to hear becasue we have about 10 less actives in our area and ...... that'll be good.

I liked one response this week from a sister that's newly called as a branch missionary. She asked us about people she has been told to teach and we talked about it for a bit and in the end she said, "I don't want to burn!" hahahahaha ok yes so we will continue to be diligent in our callings and do what we can in the Lord's work! This is the Church of Jesus Christ on the earth! President Monson is the prophet of God today with all keys and the authority to guide us back to live with our Heavenly Father once again. The Book of Mormon has answers for all of our problems. I will delight in its words and never let it wrest. Love you all! Thanks for your hard work! Keep. it. up!! Love always, Hermana Clark

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

November 9

THIS WEEK WAS HUGE! I don't know where to start... chronologically.

TUESDAY Mission tour (basically just talking about everything in the mission from teaching to finding to being obedient to having problems with companions to ..... anything you can think of) with Elder Evans of the 70. He was super friendly, very real, and a great encouragement on the things we can do better to help us have more success. The big one was ASK REFERRALS FROM EVERYONE. The guy who doesn't want to talk to you, recent converts, active members, ..... SIEMPRE. I always think of Hna Nielsen - she once goes a referral from a preacher and the referral got baptized! The other thing he really stressed was the BOOK OF MORMON. I've felt a little frustrated about the BoM and not feeling like I use it enough for quite a while now. The answer is simple - read it. Study it. I'll find the things the people we're teaching need! Simple commitment of reading the Book of Mormon for 30 minutes each day in personal study has changed everything. This morning I felt like I stood up after kneeling in prayer, finishing personal study, and then had to remind myeslf that I am in Arizona ..... not being taught in Jerusalem by Christ by his parabolas or by Moroni recounting all of the examples of faith that caused things to happen (Ether 12). My love for the Book of Mormon and the scriptures has grown IMMENSELY this week. We also made a point of testifying of it in close to every person we talked to on the street. It's easy to agree that God loves us, but we are hear to teach others about the church of Jesus Christ that is on the earth and the BoM is evidence of it! I read notes of a blessing I received just before leaving the MTC from an elder in my district (my companion and I received blessings before we left the next day). One thing that was said was something to the extent of "you will know more than ever before that this is the church of Jesus Christ." That was close to one year ago and I have DEFINITELY seen how that has come to be true. This last conference as well as my testimony of the Book of Mormon. WE not only teach the gospel of Jesus Christ .... this is HIS church that's been established on the earth by a prophet of God! Anyway .... yeah .... it's just so exciting! It makes me so sad when people don't want to learn about people that also received the teachings of Jesus Christ .... the same teachings.

WEDNESDAY Zone Conference. I will note, I felt incredibly weak in strength Wednesday morning. All day Monday I was sooooo excited to be taught and therefore all my energies are kind of taken up and heightened. By the time Wednesday rolled around ... I didn't know if I could get out of bed. My whole body ached! Then I thought of President and Sister Ellsworth ..... I laughed thinking I didn't know if I could get out of bed. Zone Conference was great and we talked a lot about the mission tour. I am pretty sure the way we're having meetings is different. It's not so much, "you must do this, you cannot do this" It's "cultivate the spirit, and work by that. This will help you. Meet the needs of your investigators. In this situation ... this might be right .... in others .... it won't be." I don't know ... but it is changing. In Zone Conference we also talked for a good hour about using money well and budgeting, using phone minutes well (because pretty much all over), eating well (you need fiber .... nothing was said of losing weight as is what EVERY sister thinks of. My theory is I will never have this oportunity to eat great, free food again. I can say that because I'm not gaining weight ..... because I exercise!). Anyway ... interesting to think about these things that are important, maybe secondary to preaching the gospel, but necesary in order that we can preach the gospel with all our heart, might, mind, and strength.

At the end of these big meetings, we had to recoup and talk and get out from frustrations. Oh my dear companion really struggles with english. It is so difficult and she feels like the walls of Satan are just closing in anytime someone speaks english to her. She is such an example to me though! Last week we were in Walmart and put her arm around an elderly woman and asked, "can we help you?" I don't think anyone could've said it with anymore love than she did to that woman! Who cares if we can't understand each said said, the language of the Spirit and love (not romantic .... brotherly love) is universal. Hermana Mazariegos is amazing!!!!

DOMINGO Claudia came to church!!!!!!! WE've been teaching Claudia on and off since June?? She, with her 4 songs, is living with a less active. She's never shown great interest in the church, but goes to the english classes and church activities (boys are in scouts). We brought a family with boys around the same age about 2 months ago and slowly but surely this family has been working with her. They drove to her house Sunday morning so that she could follow them (so she would know someone was there waiting for her) and she came all by herself!!!!!! And she loved it! And said, "next week, all the boys will be here with me!" We're not really sure what changed but we are sooooo excited to see her progress! That is in comparison to a woman that came with her 2 boys who had come only once before as well. They were bored before. We saw them this week and SHE suggested (after we asked how we could help) we come by Sunday morning to clean up after a birthday party for her son so that they can go to church. Wahoo - exciting right? Well they show up to church, she doesn't even come into the class, and after an hour the boys decide they're bored and so they go home. HOW SAD! Ay Nevertheless we had a Missionary farewell. Us 4 sisters sang a song about finding those friends we had in the Pre-existence. My piano skills are definitely improving and I plan on improving more when I get home. I played it before to get to know the song better and just cried reading the lyrics. Though the majority of the people will reject us ..... those who are searching for this are ETERNALLY GRATEFUL. That night there was a "noche de valores" or Standards Night for the youth. Claudia and Carlos (bf) and the 4 boys came, long time investigating family came, Jose and Aracely came (never came to church, she was baptized when she was 8 years old but doesn't remember anything). SUCCESS that they came. As all standard nights, we talk about things as they are, but with the Spirit. The law of chastity and dating. Music and entertainment. The role of parents and being friedns but also setting limits and having the courage to say no. Each family investigating the church really enjoyed it - even Jose and Aracely ... who just that afternoon were talking about how they don't really want to get married .... what's the big deal. And drinking alcohol and smoking. Last night we went over and we talked about what they liked and it was awesome. Besides a few things ..... they're trying to live the higher law of raising their kids well and having a good relationship with them and as a family. What a testimony to me that people are prepared and have tendency to do good!!!! They just have not been taught all the principles of Jesus Christ! ]

LUNES The Hernandez family. We're teaching Carlos, the dad, (family was baptized 22-10-10) and oh we are so excited! Yesterday we talked about the Apostasy and how it was necesary for a restoration. Then testified of eternal families. They are an incredible family and have been prepared to receive the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Carlos is still kind of sitting on it ... but is coming to activities and reading the BoM with the family every day. The next step is for him to come to church! He knows it's in his hands and that we're here to help him along, not pressure. Mari, oh Mari. She is soooo wonderful. In watching the movie about the amazing family that's such a great example of reading scriptures everyday (yes that is the Hernandez family .... but referring to the movie that we were in yesterday) it was mostly about being patient parents and when our kids make mistakes we first love them and tell them how great they are but also tell them of our concern for a decision that maybe wasn't wise. Last night we went over and Karla (10) had done something bad in school, so much Mari was called and met with the teacher. Naturally, Karla was really ashamed and when we came over was crying and mad. Mari took her to the other side of the room and said very calmly "My dear Karla, I love you. I will never be able to tell you enough. You know this was a bad decision, and so we can work our way to pay the consecuencias and make up for what happened.... but I love you". .... and gave her a giant hug in the end. I learned about this principle that morning in the movie about families and then saw it in action at our recent converts house. Oh how great they are! What great examples to me!!

The gospel of Jesus Christ will change your life. You might say you don't need to change, but with that attitude you probably do. The ways of Jesus Christ was humility and love. The Book of Mormon has answers to our problems. I never want to look away from it. A member this week referred to a story in the BoM that related to the problem she's going through .... Hna Mazariegos and I just looked at each other .... that's how we want to be .... always! Not just as misioneras!

I think that's sufficient for the week. Lots. Yesterday was really funny though to see the family! I laughed the whole day! We were soooooo young! And so weird to think that an apostle is saying the things we need to do ... and then they show an example of our family! Horray for righteous parents! We might be living in the world, but I'm glad to say we don't have to live of the world! I love you all! Thanks for your love, examples, and EVERYTHING! Until next week! Love love love! Love, Hermana Clark

Monday, November 1, 2010

november 1

Why is time running away? The temperatures have officially cooled off and I can say I will probably never see another 100 day again (PHEWWWWW!). It was in the 90s the other day and it felt gross .... oh how I will NOT miss those hot summer days! We left our house this morning and it was a chilly 63! The more I live in the Crandells house the more I think I'm in Seattle. The mornings feel like a cool summer morning in Seattle. We keep the windows open. There is a little airport nearby and so we constantly are hearing little plans fly by (they're not sea planes though!) The basement smells like grandma's basement (that sounds like it'd be really gross ... typically people grandparents houses don't smell good .... I beg to differ) Last night I even had a dream that we went running (we always try to find somewhere new to run ... I get bored running the same route most of the time) and we passed Pronk's house ... in Seattle. Then I pinch myself and remember I am ON MY MISSION in MESA, ARIZONA! But yeah .... I don't know what it is ... smells, sounds, and looks like Seattle (except no pine trees ... mostly palm trees here!) OH and plus people here have boats. I am definitely glad we're not near a lake though or I'd look at it everyday wanting to go swimming.

This week felt kind of weird. Last night our district leader asked how our week was ..... I don't know ..... it's over? We are in the process of trying to look at our area and find the people who are READY to keep commitments and prepare for baptism. Right now we're working with a lot that aren't ..... which is about 99% of people. I hate to use the word weeding out .... but you can't just keep going to houses that keep letting you in. OF COURSE we are here to bless people and help them strengthen their faith in Christ but we also have the blessing of being surrounded by lots and lots and lots of members. We can all do this work together!

Something we want to try this week is share miracles. We are excited to bring more of the spirit in their home and to help them fulfill their purpose as parents, children, family, leaders, neighbors, etc.

Today and tomorrow Elder Evans of the 70 is here training our mission. We're meeting with half the mission tomorrow from 8-2. We're excited!!!!! Then Wednesday we have Zone Conference with President Ellsworth! Wahoo for being instructed by our leaders on how we can be better! I think I only have one more zone conference after this one. Yikes my time is limited. I'm excited to have these trainings now so that these last few months we can be more effective than ever!

Yesterday church was just ... awesome! We were asked to speak, all 4 of us misioneras, on la obra. 2 weeks ago we'd mentioned it was something we could do and that whole week all I could think about was church ... bringing investigators to church .... helping members see the importance of bringing people to church and helping them enjoy their experience. Needless to say, when they said, "yes we want you to speak" .... I knew what I'd be talking on. I studied a lot about the sacrament and a talk Pres. Bassett gave us a few months ago on how "el poder de la divinidad se manifiesta en las ordenanzas" (DyC 84:19-21). We went to church and had an incredible lesson on reverence by the 2nd counselor in the bishopric in RS/P. Kind of a .... we can do better .... we NEED to do better. It was good. The Spirit was felt and I think we all recognized things we can do better. I just hope the two mothers whose kids are always running up and down the aisles in Sacrament meeting weren't offended and rather took it as the branch is going to help out. I kind of worry about that one day ... how will I keep my kids reverent? Teach them, be reverent, but also be patient. It is appropriate to take them out so others can enjoy the meeting and the spirit there. I was a little nervous after that before if they were listening ... it meant they'd all be very reverent and try to listen to the sacrament talks ...... our talks?? Well, turns out it was High Councilor week and they'd forgot. We'll talk another week! He and a recently returned missionary de Guatemala spoke on the importance and great significance of la ley de diezmo. Awesome.

We went on splits this week. I was with a sister who's been a member 2 years. Her daughter (16) loves seminary. Her son got baptized just this past year but at the age of 14 is falling into inactivity. Her husband has a hard time with the word of wisdom and though recognizes the church is great, can't find the willpower to overcome an addiction. She and I were accompanied by our branch president and well as the 1st counselor in the stake presidency. What a strange night it was! Strange because we're rarely with Priesthood members .... let alone two leaders! It was SWEEEEEET though. We had an appointment with a family and we were going to go bless their home with the desire to learn of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The wife was not there however so we will return. We were left with an hour to contact people I know. We talked to everyone who passed by ... including the men hauling their budlight into the house who pretty much just mocked us. We knocked on a door of a family who is attending another spanish branch. The mother answered the door very flustered because she just had word her husband was in a car accident. Lucky for her, President Smith is an accident laywer. We began talking to her and invited her to the rama, now that she knows the branch president and Pres. Stoker of the Stake presidency. After all, the Priesthood authority keys are here in this branch. We continued talking and President Smith asked the heaven-sent question - have you received your patriarchal blessing yet? She stopped and just said ... ok .... you got me. It has been on my mind for weeks .... months .... I know I need to get it! Well, here we are, ready to help you! It was wonderful to visit with her and our leaders. The Spirit was felt, she felt loved. That's what this work is about.

We visited with Florita de la Rosa. She was offended a long time ago by a leader and since hasn't returned. We watched the Restoration movie and she immediately brought up .... why did the blacks not receive the Priesthood until 1978. She didn't accept anything we taught, but I certainly learned a lot in that 20 minutes that we discussed how our Heavenly Father loves us. I'm pretty sure nothing changed for her ... but the spirit testified to me of something I've been wondering for a long time. That's exactly how the Spirit works. I love 2 corinthians 2:14 (or 1 Corin? no recuerdo) Spiritual things can ONLY be learned by the Spirit.

Guess what? I'm 3 for 3. Jehovah's witnesses have knocked on every single house that I"ve lived in and I"ve been the one privileged to answer everytime! This time was a little different through. I was making a taco in the kitchen and heard Sis Crandell talking with men about the kingdoms. Usually they're listening to conference talks or something ... but this sounded different. My first thought was Is she .... learning about other churches??? Should .... we be living here? HAHA no the Jehovah's Witnesses were at the door and she always wants to hear the message they share. It's not that they're wrong ... they just don't have the full truth. I did testify to them about the need for a prophet to help us interpret the scriptures.

Success ... Mari Hernandez (was baptized 10 days ago ...) went Visiting Teaching this week. Booyeah! She's awesome! We're teaching Carlos .... he came to the Halloween party! Progress!!!!

I love this work! It is certainly hard. I am remembering who I represent and how it wasn't easy for Him ... so how can I expect it to be easy for me? Thanks for your examples, love, and prayers! Love always, Hermana Clark

october 27

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! 51! I used to think of 51 as being old ..... nope! It's still young!

THE HERNANDEZ FAMILY (minus Carlos) got baptized on Friday! As usual, baptisms are always a little hectic before but wonderful and Spirit-felt in the end! Horray! After they got baptized, they were welcomed into the branch and were asked to stand up there so everyone could see them. Oh how happy they were - the light in their eyes!!!! Carlos will not be long behind. He just needs a little help with recognizing and opening up to the Spirit (that's the only secret) - [I guess that's with EVERYONE in the world too.....]. It's like President Packer's comments once in a talk - a testimony is well hidden ... no one that is prideful or egotistical can find it. It can ONLY be found in humbly seeking the Spirit. That is what I've learned if nothing else with their family and the Vargas (baptized in September). If you're humble and seek the spirit, it will testify of things of truth. Baptism, therefore, is only the beginning. As we talked to the Hernandez (especially the kids) about the "interview" (in quotes because they were sooooo nervous when we said that word!) it's not about what you know; it's what you're willing to do to and what you know to be true from these feelings from our Heavenly Father. They will be an incredible strength to the branch and they continue to learn, grow, and serve! And Carlos!

This week felt really short thinking I was just here .... but sooooo much happened. Something we saw this week was lots of sadness. We started talking to a woman who is going through a divorce after 8 years, 3 kids, high school sweethearts. She feels like she's starting over and everything she knew has abandoned her. Well .... that's why we're here! :) One day we didn't have dinner so we called a woman in the rama [PARTLY because we didn't want to eat our food ..... but also because she is in primary and can't sign up and would like to]. She really just opened up expressing her trial of patience while serving in primary. She knows english well enough ... but she's not being challenged in this calling. She just sits through 2 hours of primary .... she doesn't have a class or anything ... serving in the Primary presidency. She wants to learn and be fed the gospel! She struggles with patience "why do you think I only had 2 kids." She knows she struggles with it and recognizes that for some reason she is in Primary ... again .... but it doesn't mean it's easy. Oh this dear hermana! It made me so sad to see what is going on in her heart. I started realizing this a few months ago. As we do a better job at being representatives of Jesus Christ and more worthy of the Spirit, we speak more to peoples hearts and we learn how we can help them. We find out their concerns, struggles, problems. Oh all the hurt in this world! It is so amazing though to be in this role as a representative of El .... to testify to people that there is a way through (maybe and most of the time not out). That is why we invite people to come unto Him - because he can relieve us of our cargas, debilidades, affliciones. He can help us, if we let him into our hearts! How can we let him in? we can learn about him in the Book of Mormon, the Bible, living day prophets.

We saw a family a few weeks ago that looked hispanic so we wrote down the address and came back this week. Getting out of the car we went and talked to a man outside. No doubt in my mind, we were sent, at the very least, to talk to him. What is success in missionary work? That peoples burdens are lifted. His mom was just leaving as we came to talk to him. We were worthy of the Spirit and asked a heaven sent question, "Have you had a lot of change in your life recently." A few minutes later he told us he had just told his mom he didn't want to talk about God - he was mad at him. The Spirit was there, however, so we were able to testify of our loving Heavenly Father and his plan for us. Central to the plan is our Savior, Jesus Christ. No he didn't accept that missionaries come by his house, but he was lifted.

We went to the temple this morning as a zone and Hermana Nielsen told me that they visited Doris in the hospital this week. Doris is a woman we saw one day (we were always right by her house ..... I only saw her once) when we were leaving a note for a woman. I remember it like it was yesterday. That day we had practiced and promised each other we wouldn't let anyone pass without asking them a soul-searching question (yes it's always easier to just give them a card to the Visitors Center but that's like telling someone you have something really special but not letting them see that it really IS something they want .... like a billion dollars). Hna Nielsen was writing the note and I saw Doris walking her dog. I knew I had to talk to her. I walked up to her .... had a little conversation ... knowing that I HAD to ask a soul-searching question (yes sometimes it is awkward/weird to ask people we just met about things that are really close to their hearts) .... and I don't know what I asked her but she opened up to us. She invited us in and told us that 20 years ago she'd lost a baby and she still feels that sadness. She's tried many things but hasn't found any relief from her pain. She said she's not really willing to go to church ... bad experiences. We taught her about the plan, testified of Jesus Christ, prayed, and were off. [gave the referral to the Elders - english] This week she called Hnas Nielsen and Alvarez asking if they could come visit her in the hospital [besides losing a baby ... she has every health problem known to mankind]! When they went, she said, "I know this will really surprise you .... but I want to go to church!" I'm pretty sure Doris doesn't remember who I am, but I remember her. She was looking for something and we have it! I am SO grateful and feel so privileged to be a messenger, angel, representative in this GREAT WORK!

I love this time in the mission. I love this work! I love Hermana Mazariegos! I love the Valencia branch! My prayer is that we can be God's hands here in our area. I know we will continue to be guided to those seeking relief as we are obedient and follow promptings of the Spirit. I am learning more about myself than ever before. It hurts but it feels soooooo good. Breaking out of that chocolate shell that you always say, "I can't do that. I'm just like that." No, we can change for the better (or the worse ... but hopefully the better). I recognized this week that I've really changed. I don't know how exactly .... but I have. I am a different person. One thing I've learned is that there are MANY ways to love people and the secret is to find the way that they need to feel that love our Heavenly Father has for them. When that love is felt, the Spirit can testify, we can be edified, we will acercarnos a Dios, seremos felices! We will all be winners (thanks grandpa!). What a glorious thing to be taught from on high in the temple!

I love you all! Thanks for your love! Keep being facilitators of miracles with your great faith! Love always, Hermana Clark

october 19

I heard this date almost a year ago as the day Hermana Ghan would be going home. WHERE DID THE TIME GO?

Transfers came and went and we're staying!!!! Wahoo!! Hermana Nielsen is training and we are SOOOOOO excited! I cannot imagine trying to figure out transfers for casi 200 misioneros. I received a call from the Assistants the other day asked about my greenie area (10 months ago). It was so interesting for them to ask "would an area between these streets be large enough to sustain work" One question I thought no. Another question, I thought and then said yes. It was then that the Spirit confirmed that these two missionaries are being guided by the spirit to establish certain areas where certain misioneras will be serving. WOW. My testimony this week of leaders - in the mission and in our areas - has been strengthened. We talked to them again another night and it was only confirmed .... people are in leadership positions to bless. All the Assistants to the President, Zone Leaders, and District Leaders I have had have been a blessing to me, my companion, and/or to the area in at least one way or another! Organization! Namely the same organization that existed in the primitive church .... I won't go on. But yes, Priesthood leadership and callings.

We had exchanges on Friday and I was with Hermana Lopez who I dearly love! She is from Bolivia and is in medical school and was in this area before. She is a REALLY hard worker but had been really sick, and so I was under strict orders to not work hard (what the heck???). It was so interesting to talk to her during our time together. Again, through our leaders, we were assigned to be together for a day. We were able to lift each other and help each other improve. I learned so much from her. She understands the principle of repentance and that our purpose is to help people come unto Christ aka help them repent. Aveces I feel like when we're doing that is like strangling someone and saying, "you're not living right." Obviously that is NOT how Christ would do it and therefore not correct (why is that in my head). Obviously I need to repent and do it as the Savior would do it. She had such a wonderful way to invite people to better their lives! We discussed the principle of success - as a missionary - what is success? In the mission it's really easy to look at how many baptisms you've seen. Everyone knows those are the absolutely sweetest moments but they also come in the little everyday things. She has been out longer than I and only seen two people enter the waters of baptism. In this mission, that is very little. In others, that is more than a whole missions work! I remember a few months ago feeling discouraged and we went to a meeting with the Stake President. Elders had white washed and didn't have any investigators. We didn't have any dates. President Ostler spoke of a Sister that had just come home and never saw anyone enter the waters of baptism. No one. Her mission was a success! One reason I can also see that the mission will be a success is if we use the things we're learning and are good member missionaries after. (Thanks Sister Tara Morton, that's from you!)This is something I am SUPER excited about - I can hang out with someone and be that friend that the missionaries are always searching for. This was something that Hermana Lopez had never thought of and it was really cool to see that in a small way I was able to be an answer to her prayers. In my mind, success = having and following the Spirit. That means your doing the Lord's work in His way.

We talked to a really frustrated step-father at an apartment complex this week. About 30 minutes later we talked to the step-daughter who's really frustrated with .... life, especially the parentals. She opened up when I told her I was an EFY counselor [speaking of ... I couldn't not buy it .... this morning I bought 2010 EFY CD .... ] and I testified of how much our Heavenly Father loves us and just like our parents here, they want the best for us and THAT is why they advise us in certain ways (no one is a perfect parent). You could tell she has been really hurt. The only one that can really help heal that is the Savior. I love youth and my heart just about breaks when they are victims of tragedy, sadness, violence, and/or poverty. Driving back from the Distribution Center today I saw a name that was in my old area that I just love. His name is Sean. The Elders have taught him a lot, now works at DI, has contemplated baptism but has a hard time accepting Joseph Smith. His wife died in a car accident 10 years ago and his family has literally been scarred ever since. His sons have problems in school and with friends ... and it all goes back to 10 years ago. Anyway, yeah, he's awesome. Every person is so special and has been subjected to so much hurt. I think I started this with youth. Youth and children are so special and need all the help they can get .... at least all the help they will accept.

Last night we were with Mari Hernandez and her 4 kids. She was so excited at the end of the night to round up all her kids (11,10,8,2) to say, "Now kids, do you see .... if we're good examples ... Mia (2) can have the gospel in her life always. She will not know any other way! Oh I love the hope she has! They will be getting baptized on Friday and we are SOOOOOO excited! Oh my goodness! More to follow with them ...... Just another example of a family just waiting for the light to come to their family. They love reading the Book of Mormon! The kids are excited to learn! This last Sunday was the first week they went to all three hours. They were all super nervous for their classes and what not. Cesar (8) after said, "That was so short, Can I come to church every week?" Oh my goodness! Haha I have never heard an 8 year old be so excited to learn and go to church!

I remembered this week that before I received my assignment to come to the Arizona Mesa Mission, I feared (I know that's not a good word to use ..... ) being sent to a country that I didn't know the language, culture, anything, and feeling alone. Well, I have been sent here, but my companion is pretty much in that situation. Pretty much all the people we talk to on the streets only speak English. Pretty much all the other missionaries we talk to only speak english. Someone referred to her this week as "the missionary that hardly knows any english" That hurts when you're working hard at learning a language .... but sent to teach in spanish. I have realized ways that I've been really selfish. Maybe I won't have as much time to do the things I want to do, but I can serve my companion. This week I was praying to find more ways to serve her, especially in the category of english. I thought of something one morning and dismissed it after a moment and then stopped. Have I not be praying for ideas to serve her? Did I not just get an idea? I did it and last night she found the little thing I'd done - after a hard day of being frustrated with english. The Spirit works in the littlest ways. We played soccer for the last time this morning (lots of elders in the area are being transferred) and one of them made the comment "remember when you came and you couldn't speak any english? Look how far you've come." I think we both wanted to cry hearing that. I want to be more perceptive and sensitive to the needs of others. I am SOOOO excited to be with Hermana Mazariegos for at least another 6 weeks to have the chance to serve her.

Random question, but did we ever had a lay over in the Phoenix Airport? I remember sitting in a large food court area (I couldn't have had more than 10 years???) in an airport with cactus and such all over the walls and I thought it was so strange. I remember sitting there, however, and thinking something along the lines of living there one day. That memory also makes me think of the University of Phoenix. It is such a vivid memory. I don't know what it has to do with anything ..... but you know ..... the Lord works in mysterious ways.

Thanks for the prayers. I LOVED reading the success of so many other missionaries this week - especially Lauren Anderson! WAHOOO!!! There are people out there who have been prepared! I love this work. I know it is the Lord's work and that any success is His! Love always, Hermana Clark

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

october 12 - crazy weather and crazy piano playing


These are just some of the things I wanted to say in this weeks letter. I feel like I've gotten a little better of being able to write each week.... but I guess I'm not the one receiving it so not totally sure.

I thought of Dad on Saturday when walking to an appointment we rain into 7 Jehovah's Witnesses. They were also teaching Hispanics in the apartment complex. I guess you could say they're our "competition"? Hermana Mazariegos and I talked about it after though and that is totally not how we feel. They were very nice, courteous, even complemented me on my spanish (I've been getting that a lot lately ..... horray!!!) and it was only in the end that one of them asked what we teach, The Bible? We said yes, the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Luckily though, we parted with great big smiles! I thought of Dad with public relations. Hahaha With our nametags people literally run, "oh the mormons" quite interesting. I have found there are two ways to teach. One is with information - so you understand a religion and what we believe. Second is by the spirit - so you understand how God is and what He has instore for us. I think there are times where you have to teach the information first .... so their minds can accept some of these things, maybe clear up some miscommunications. Then they're open to learn by the spirit. Something I'm trying to learn. Maybe they're not open to learning by the spirit .... but how can we help them open up their heart and their mind?

Last Tuesday it rained just after we finished our 18 hole miniature golf game. It was lots of fun with lots of missionaries in our Zone. We're hoping to go hiking soon again. The summer heat is killer and nearly prevents hiking unless you want to die (I for sure, will dehydrate). My plan is to go hiking on Thanksgiving ... hopefully we find others to come with us! Anyway, the rain was horrible and at times it was hard to even see while driving! We were waiting with Sister Czappa and Hill for their car to return and decided to just go enjoy it. I was glad I had glasses on because it was pelting us and hurt! So much fun though to just get wet and love it! Fun jumping pictures! It was a great out-of-the-ordinary stress reliever! That night it started hailing (is that what it's called .... little balls of rain-ish? It was about 840pm and we were only 10 minutes away from our house. We couldn't even talk it was so loud while sitting in the car. All night when it wasn't pelting rain the sky lit up with lightning. Arizona sky is incredible! Sunsets are beautiful!

This months Liahona is on the temple and oh my goodness it is sooooooo good. Oh I love the temple. I love reading the scriptures and learning more about the temple. Even just the fact that this is something God has been doing .... always ..... having his servants (prophets) build temples. I can't wait to go to the temple every week again. Even just pictures of temples ... you can feel the power and the beauty of temples. Why are they so beautiful? Well, they're the House of the Lord. Heaven is right there. I can't wait to study the BoM again and focus on the temple - and also read Grandpa Clark's comments on the BoM. I remember him talking about it there. Yikes way too much to read ... the rest of my life!

Sunday we didn't have any investigators in church and our hearts were broken! Even the Hernandez family! They went to a baptism Saturday and we were sooooo afraid something had happened after! Yesterday, however, we went to their house and they had just had a really rough morning and at the last minute Mari just said, "No, we're not going to church." the kids were going crazy ..... BUT she did say that Saturday they all read the Book of Mormon together and wrote down comments from every single verse in the chapter so that they would undestand what is going on. They even made a binder so they can continue writing about each chapter and verse. Oh my goodness this family! We are so excited for their baptism in two weeks! Carlos, husband, knows a lot about the church but doesn't seem too interested to really learn with his heart. We will keep working with him! Oh yeah, Mari even wrote on her facebook about reading the BoM. HAHA Oh I just love the family!!!!!!!

The Valencia branch continues to be a wonderful help! Some things are trying to still be worked out from two branches merging, but things are progressing! Sunday and Monday we had 2 members each day. Monday we had families coming with us to teach other families! The leaders really work hard to find families and it's amazing how we actually DO find families! Oh the joy in seeing families learn of the love our Heavenly Father has, embracing it, and doing everything to keep that in their lives. AWESOME!

I haven't even made a food note here. I eat REALLY different here in the mission. Staple foods before were PB&J and apples. Now it always begins with a tortilla and avocado. I LOVE avocado. It goes on pretty much ... everything. And Salsa goes really well on a lot of food as well ..... including chicken. I didn't really like chicken before ... it was so bland and boring .... oh but I like it now with Salsa! I still love all breakfast food and I don't think that'll ever change. But the avocado and tortillas are a change for the better. YUM. I know how to make really REALLY good quesadillas now. Oh and yeah, no worries I'm not gaining any weight (that's a miracle), probably testimony to the 6am soccer. :)

Finally, another miracle of the week was that I played the piano for a baptism, Sociedad de Secorro, and SACRAMENT. Want to hear a little tender mercy? Hymns for sacrament are picked way in advance and usually the wife of the Branch President just shows up and plays whatever they have (she's the only one in the branch that plays). Well word got out I can KIND OF play, so now they ask if she's not available. She called to ask if I could play in Sacrament. I went to the piano and found 3 songs I could tell them I can play if the ones they have are not easy. I called the executive secretary .... and what are the chances .... 2 of the 3 songs I picked were what they had scheduled???? Sweeeeet! Playing in Sacrament wasn't as scary as I thought it would be but I think I can attest that to the fact that I practiced. "Jesus es mi Luz" we were singing for days on end. We had a referral named Jesus and when he didn't answer the door we're sing, "Jesus es mi luz ......" ahahahahahah It's true, God helps us when we prepare and ask for help. Wahoo! Hopefully my ability to play the piano after the mission will be better .... I really want to be able to be someone that can play the piano when someone is needed.

The work is moving forward! We met with our Branch President this week and we're going to start having a NDH (FHE) every week and every Tuesday the ward missionaries are going to go to members homes and talk to them about doing missionary work, investigators homes to excite them about the gospel, as well as find more families and bless their homes to have the desire to learn the truth. As missionaries, we will also be more involved in training the branch missionaries. We will see how it goes. I am studying ch 13 and learning. I love realizing (especially thinking about when i'm NOT a full-time missionary) that full-time missionaries are in the area helping the MEMBERS with their friends. We simply preach. The members find. The members friend. The Spirit teaches. This is how the Lord's work goes forward - when all are involved!

I love this work! I love the Lord, I love my companion, I love this area! Saturday we find out about transfers .... we don't really think Hermana Mazariegos is leaving .... but the mission always involves things we don't expect. Who knows! Whatever happens is the Lord's way!

I love you all! Thanks for the pictures, letters, love, prayers, jokes, stories, and being YOU! Good luck this week Kenz and Spencer on finding out about jobs/interviews and such! Congrats Lindsay and Luke!!!!!!!!!!! Love always, Hermana Clark

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

october 5 conference

Conference was incredible. If I had to put a picture to Conference it would be a large perfectly spherical (I don't think that's a word .... hopefully you get the point) metal ball. It was smooth, it was simple, the basics, the CORE. Pretty much everything talked about the things we teach about. Lots and lots about prophets. I loved the talk by Elder Oaks (maybe?) about two lines of communication. That is what people have issues with. "God is with me ... why do I need a prophet" Oh Conference was just wonderful. It just seemed so simple and pure. Bold and powerful. Though I still have some talks to finish from last conference, I can't wait to read these again! Watching conference now with families and such reminds me of how grateful I am to live in a time like this. How grateful I am we can watch them later, read them. It really provides a way that EVERYONE has access to these messages from a prophet from God. I just think of one day having kids and they will not have patience to watch conference .... but that's ok. I love conference, I always have, ever since Camey Hadlock shared her thoughts on it when I was in YW and I always wondered WHY she liked it so much! Wahoo!

There is an apartment complex we're in a lot named San Fernando. Nice apartemtns (in comparison to my other area .... the 2nd lowest rent in Mesa) and lots of people that speak spanish. We knocked on a door of a man we met one night as he came home from work. He was so excited to meet two missionaries that were girls, talking about la palabra de Dios. Unfortunately they weren't there for the appointment last week, but we found them this week and taught them! They are such a great family! One thing we worked this week in training was inviting the head of the household to offer the pray at the end, kneeling. An act of love of God. Most people resist, but oh how much love was in this home! This family, Carlos, Paty, Carla, Angela! In this area we do much better at finding/teaching/baptizing families! Oh what joy to see a family learning about God's ways! Last night we also finally taught a family about prayer and the power of the Book of Mormon. The mom might have been baptized when she was 8 in Mexico. Last night though they were so excited to say a family prayer every night and read the Book of Mormon! We left soooo excited for them!!! Oh man! The gospel is amazing to see how God knows each of His children and wants them to be happy. There's no getting around that!

We stoped to talk to a man yesterday and he started asking us, "when the Mormon church treats women as equals, that's when you can come talk to me." I was really confused how he, a man, could talk to me about how the church that I belong to, treats women wrong and unequally. His comment was, "look at the news" Oh my heart hurt. Where do we look for truth? I certainly hope it is not the news. I have a feeling he is confusing us the polygamist but possibly with the notion of women working in the home. Oh my heart hurt. I pray that people learn truths from God - the Holy Ghost; his servants, the prophets, those with authority to teach; and not from any other source. Yikes. The world has so much evil and yuck in it. No thank you. I think of one of the homes in my last area (granted ... pretty much every home is like this ... but one home especially). The home just felt like burdens were lifted. The Spirit was there. I don't know if it was becasue of what was said .... but that home is such a refuge and safe haven! That's how I always want my home .... even if it's a little apartment somewhere!

We are searching for a lot of menos activos right night and it is so sad to hear of their stories of things getting too hard. Our hearts just sink. Sin is disobedience and distances us from God. I want to be close to God!

We had Zone Development Meeting (while we're having interviews) and it is so great to hear missionaries testimonies and experiences of what worked. Ultimately it's the Spirit. You can never say, "this worked before so it'll work again" from your head. If you think of it by the Spirit, it'll work. Anything from the Spirit will work ... even if at first it doesn't seem so. Joy is a feeling of the spirit!

Better run to play miniature golf. Reminds me of a time I was on a date and something funny happened .... and it was really funny. I think you can guess the rest of the story :)

Love you all! So happy to hear things are going well! Mom and Dad, you're awesome! Mackenzie and Spencer .... I love your little family! I hope it's not too cold yet and December will come soon enough with news of schools! Abby you rock my world! Love you love you! Hermana Clark

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

september 28 "a successful week"

There's a section in PME that talks about "a successful missionary" and as a missionary .... you ALWAYS want to be one. We took a quiz yesterday for Elder Evans, a general authority, who is going to tour our mission in a few weeks so he could know about where we are as a mission. This week, we definitely felt the help of the Spirit guiding us. In one instance we had about 10-15 minutes to contact a referal. I was driving .... [I am always driving ....] and turned onto a street ... not really knowing which street it was (in 4 streets ... I knew it was one of them .... most of our referrals are on this one particular). Found the numbers that were close to the address. We parked the car, prayed, got out, and realized it was the wrong street (usually we're a little more smart about it .... but) Right when we realized it was another street, we heard someone say, "Sisters!" The Spirit told us this was why we were here and had driven on the wrong street and gotten out. It was a member from another stake who was picking up a friend for the RS broadcast. This member who lived there has a new roommate who has made lots of recent changes in her life, read the Book of Mormon, and wants to know more. She speaks english but we were able to give the referral to the sisters! Wahoo though! We've being guided by the Spirit! The end of most days this week we came home exhausted, working hard.

Hermana Mazariegos and I started something new this week. Instead of saying, "we're missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" at some point of meeting people, we now say "we're representatives of Jesus Christ." Instead of people responding with "I have a church ..... or no thanks" it has opened people up. Yesterday we talked to a man and it was like we could see the hurt in his eyes. When people recognize who we are and that we are there to serve them, the Spirit comes and testifies.

We meet with the Branch Council every week to discuss missionary work. Right now we are in the area the whole time and the other Hermanas are only there half time. In November (I can't believe I'm saying that's soon) they will have, at best, one night a week in their area. Christmas lights is a HUGE thing here for referrals but work in our areas suffer as we focus on finding. Each Visitor Sister has to work every night. We only work 2-3 times a week. The Branch, however, is ready to step up to the plate. We reconized something this week. We teach as missionaries. Sometimes we're teaching people who aren't quite ready to accept the gospel. That is why we introduce them to members. The members invite them, excite them, share miracles in their lives, become friends, and THEN the people are more willing/open to accepting the gospel. Estabamos tratando a ensenar una familia for lots of time and they really weren't too open. Our WML met one of these families this week and he become instant friends. He will be working with them so they are more open to hearing this message that will inevitabely bring more joy in their lives.

A family came to church on Sunday that is soooo excited to get baptized the 23 of octuber (....and I will ALWAYS remember this date because it is Mckenna Clyde's birthday .... so I'm glad we can celebrate her birthday here in Arizona too!). Mari, the mom, at the beginning of one lesson this week, just turned to us and said, "I feel something. It's different. I really like it. I want to get baptized! I want to be the new Mari!" Oh man! I felt like I was watching one of those moments you dream of as a missionary! It was brilliant! They were investigating the church a while ago (a year or two) but now she just ..... she wants this! IT IS THE SPIRIT!

Relief Society Broadcast was incredible and we are soooooooo pumped for conference next week! I'm excited too because this time I will understand at least a little more than last time! I am still trying to finish last conference's talks too ..... oh man!

This week I realized more that I don't understand/know too much stuff in Spanish. Hermana was talking to me a lot this week and at the end of something ... so many times .... I had to stop her and just say ..... "no comprendo!" I don't know how we're such good friends. No ... I do. Love and the Spirit is part of every language.

I love this time I have. An impression I had a few weeks ago was just confirmed this morning. We'll see how this week goes with tragic news of Hermana Mazariegos's sisters boyfriend being stabbed and killed (I think I have that right .....). This is the Lord's work! I love each of you!! Mom and Dad, we look forward to hearing about you meeting Hna's parents on Sunday! Love always, Hermana Clark

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

september 21 "you're ruthless"

"you're ruthless!"

That was sadly a conversation with someone in an apartment complex that did NOT want to talk to us. I don't know how I had the guts to say that to him but it was what we were supposed to say. I pray it was said by the Spirit!

I talked to a young mother yesterday of 5 kids. All her kids are in custody by the state because she doesn't have a home nor job. Her family isn't really supporting her partly because she doesn't want to half to deal with them. Her uncle just committed suicide last month. Her youngest, 13 month old son, has 3 life-threatening diseases. What do you say to someone when they don't see any hope. I asked her what she would say if she had an interview with our Heavenly Father (she's met many times with Bishops to get help .... she's thinking that's her only chance right now of getting anywhere). She said she'd ask Him, "WHY? Why me? Why my kids?" Life is not meant to be sad. Though I am positive she has made some very good decisions, she has also made some poor decisions and she and her kids are paying the price for it. I read the talk from E. Carlson (maybe him?? not sure) about keeping commandments and the reasons we don't. 1. We don't think they apply to us. 2. We think it's not important 3. We think it's too hard. In my highlighting ways, the talk was covered in blue (things not to do). To me, it gave lots of examples .... this is an example of rationalizing for this reason or another. It is simple though, if you keep the commanments, you will be blessed. Even eternal life! Obedience is soooooo incredible important! Number one law in heaven!

We are seeing a lack of commitment from lots of people this week and it is really heartbreaking. We taught a lesson to a family and told them that we would not be coming by because they are not "dispuestos a actuar" They were very nice but testified to us about their beliefs. It was hard for Hermana Mazariegos because it was the first time she had to do that. I think of when we were yelled at by an investigator (now a member ..... 6 months later) .... it feels like a heartbreak. It hurts. A lot. We are afraid that might be where some more families might be heading right now. We are also, however, contacting lots of people. The area book was a bit disorganized and so we're trying to get things in order and help all misionaries in the future know what we're doing now and how people are progressing. We pray they will be open to these things in the very near future .... but some won't budge.

You know when you walk out the door and you leave the comfort of AC and realize it is blistering hot outside but you're going to love it anyway? It's hot but the job will get done? That is how I feel about the work. The heat really isn't too bad anymore. Every morning I wake up though and just think, "who are we going to find today?" It has become my daily goal. Find at least ONE person each day who is sincerely seeking for something better in their lives and help them feel the Spirit. Before my goal was to talk to 20 people everyday (that is a challenge many times .... we just end up pulling to the side of the road). That's like playing a game of chess with your eyes closed and hoping you win. What good will that do? No. If you do not have the Spirit, we will not have success. We taught a family this week that is in that situation ... looking for something. Three little girls and a boy is on the way. Oh how incredible is the joy to see people feel, recognize, and act on promptings of the Spirit! I just pray and repent and pray and plead and repent ..... so that we can have it as we are in the service of our God. These are His children. He knows them!

Something I am really trying to repent of is people smoking. I think I talked about this before. President Bassett asked the question, "what if all our sins were like smoke ..... we wouldn't be able to see anything ... let alone breath ... in this room." Honestly, when I see people smoking, my thought is, "ok, yeah, we have something for them. They need help." As if they want an ugly addiction of needing to smoke every few hours. I have started to pray earnestly as I walk up to them to them. It's cool; people aren't so defensive of their very obvious addition to nicotine when I at least attempt to love them. It all reality, we all have things like that, they just might not be as obvious. I talked to a boy who scared the gabeejies (I have no idea what I"m trying to say .....) out of us when we were praying in the car before getting out of the car. His name was Tim. 18 years old. Asked me for a cigarette and then saw the tag and said, "oh .... you probably don't smoke." We only talked for a bit but it was so cool to literally see his eyes searching for more meaning in his life. He's a super senior and really struggling with who he is. I saw the light of Christ in him.

The Valencia branch is A.W.E.S.O.M.E. The leadership is very aware of missionary work being a priority. I'm pretty sure that is why they have so much success in the branch. People are willing to help and find and do it by the Spirit. Not just to do it so the missioanries have work .... but so people who are unhappy can be happy. People can be filled with the light of Christ. The members aren't perfect but they're excited to bring their friends to things.

The work goes well! Our faith is being stretched in extending dates to people and families on the first lesson. What is faith? My favorite object lesson (there were many more I liked) was .... "do you have faith to move that book closer to you?" Any ordinary person says ..... ummm, no. I don't. "I know I can by my faith ... and my works" And he picks up the book and moves it closer. James 2:17-18 in action. We are trying to help investigators reconize and impliment this scripture.

I love you all! Birthday was definitely fun fun fun!!!! Big box from mom that we just laughed and bring toys for kids in our lessons! Even the elders enjoyed some ferrer rochelle ... or however you spell it. And a package from Kenz! And grandma with lavender!!!!! Yum! And yes grandma .... Goodwill is in our area and I bought some great new clothes last week! Hasta la proxima semana!!! mucho amor!!!!! Hermana Clark

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

september 14 - birthday!

Besides today being birthday, Thursday is one year in the mission. I was set apart a year ago today!!!!! WOW Strange to think that was the last time I saw you all! Feels like AGES ago! Oh much I love each of you so much more than when I left though! And my Savior! Oh how grateful I am for this time in the Lord's service! Things are happening that I know are preparing me for next week as well as things in the next couple years.

Oh where do I start? Hermana Mazariegos! Oh I just love her! She works hard, is an amazing teacher, always aware of people needs and trying to meet them, and is so excited to be a missionary! This area has lots of investigators and is .... about 3 1/2 times the size of my other area. HUGE for me ... tiny compared to any other mission. The branch is awesome (I already knew that though)! We also had consejo con la presidencia de la estaca. I even was able to see the stake president from the Hermosa Vista stake and thank him for all he does! Oh how I love that stake and that rama .... but I am so excited to be here!

Hablamos en espanol ... todo el tiempo! Yesterday we did some hablando though and decided all prayers in the house will be in english. Lunch time will also only be in english. Hermana Mazariegos said her first prayer and I wanted to cry. It made me think of my days in the MTC and in the beginning of the mission when you just don't know how to say anything. All you really know how to say is "bless my family" "thank you for this day" "please help us find people". It makes pray so simple, so humble, OH! It is fun to be able to help each other though because we both are learning and have a long way to go! She told me she feels comfortable practicing english with me. That is wonderful because I know how scary it is to have a companion who has no confidence in you. Not. cool. I know we have been put together for a reason.

This is kind of strange, but I have decided that I have a birthday wish. [I don't know if I've EVER had a birthday wish .... maybe since every year asking for a CD player and ipod ... and thanks to Abby's trash were received] Hermana Mazariegos is from Guatemala and her parents are not members. She grew up though, with her grandparents, who are members, while her parents are living here in the states. Where do they live? STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT. My birthday wish is that you, Mom and Dad, can meet them. They know english and I don't know how much time they have there .... but yeah. It was crazy last week to see a letter on our pingpong table with an address in Stamford, Connecticut! Yikes I've been in that area a number of times!!!!! Their names are Angel y Carmen Mazariegos.

Besides having lots of work here and having to figure out how to deal with so many investigators (deal with ... that's the wrong word .... love and care and help them progress is what I'm trying to say ... prepare them for baptism) we have about 6 sets of missionaries in our area. A couple times a week they (all Elders, I believe?) like to play soccer. So we've been playing soccer at 6am! This morning we played and when we walked in the door they all yelled "Feliz Cumpleanos"!!! Haha And they came bearing gifts! Macaroni and Cheese, Phase 10, checkers, a little Christmas story leg-lamp ... thing, golf ball, cookies for everyone! Classic mission gifts - food and games and stuff from the apartment! Boy was I wrong thinking no one knew it was my birthday! We came home and the Crandell's had breakfast for us! They are off to work early in the morning so they didn't have tons of time but they are such a great couple! Sister Crandall just turned the big 50 this week so they had lots of birthday stuff that was fun to have for a last minute birthday they found out about last night!

I saw Hermana Nielsen for about 2 seconds ... twice on Sunday. I just love that girl! And I love Hermana Ghan! And all my companions! Man I didn't think I could love so many "Hermanas" ..... I suddenly have more than just 2 sisters. And I love Hermana Mazariegos! What a blessing to serve the Lord for a year and a half and be able to serve with so many leaders in the church and teach! I absolutely LOVED studying this week. I think part of it was because I was studying for new people. My testimony is growing of having specific questions, needs, and finding answers in the BoM and words of living prophets in general conference! I have seen it just happy though and it is increible!

I think that's all for this week! I love each of you! Fun to get a letter from you each and more this past week. Spencer ... good luck in Tokyo! And Abby ... like I told Mackenzie, I've been listening to music in Portuguese. :) Thanks for the birthday wishes!

Love you love you lots! Hermana Clark