Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January 26 - a wet week

Que paso esta semana? No recuerdo pero yo se MUCHO.

First thing. This week it RAINED. I have some great pictures of Hna Nielsen just ... LOVING the rain. haha slight joke but it was fun for a change. Certainly didn't feel like we were in Arizona. We left a families house one night and we park a block away in a church building. We walked out of their apartment and literally could not see sidewalk -> it was a complete puddle! And when we walked on the sidewalk on a pretty busy street there was no difference between street/sidewalk because there was so much water! Puddles everywhere. I guess it's a good thing we're wearing skirts all day or we would've gone out and had some fun in it. We'll save that for after the mission.

We had a recent convert tell us she needs to talk to the bishop. That's heart breaking. It's one thing to tell someone their past sins can be forgiven and they can be clean if they have faith, repent through the Atonement, and are baptized. But someone who has already been baptized. Ohhh man. We did not know what to do after leaving her house. She already struggles so much. It is one of her sons though, that every time I see him I see the face of a Stake President. Kind of weird since he's only 4, but oh I pray that she is able to repent and make her way back and shortly be able to go to the temple. We will see. Satan is hard at work with those who don't keep their guard up.

DOMINGO was an awesome day. We have investigators we really want to come to church (for various reasons ... one to feel the spirit and see others living the way we are teaching them) so before church and after our meetings we went by a few peoples houses to see if they were coming. We went to a woman's house who we've been teaching named Karina. She is the mother of 6 kids and is expecting her 7th .... sometime this year. Church is at 9am so we felt bad knocking on these doors but ... hopefully our smiles that early in the morning will help them see how important it is to come to church. Anyway, we knock on Karina's door and after a few minutes her son, Nahua comes to the door. We had definitely woken him up. He said that she was not here and we kind of just sighed (we'd gotten a ride for her and her 6 kids). I asked him what he was doing today. He said nothing, so we invited him to church. He, to our surprise, said yes! The ride we had for Karina and her family was there in a few minutes and we followed them to church! Soooo Nahua came and all we knew was that he was 14 and he's in 8th grade and doesn't like science but likes to do math. We got to church and I walked up to a boy that looked about 14 and said asked him to be his friend and take him around church. After church we talked to him for a bit and he said he really liked sacrament. He wants to come again next week. We asked what the mutual activity this week was and he thought it was something like cleaning the church. We asked, doubting anyone would willingly desire to come clean a church, if he wanted to come if we found a ride for him. Once again, he expressed interest. Nahua is a pretty shy teenager, I'd say. Man did we see a smile on his face though when we went by his house later to day to find his mom. He loved church!!! That was INCREDIBLE to see, literally, change in him. We also met his brother Heider, who is 12, and he wants to go to the activity on Wednesday too because he heard Nahua liked church. Needless to say ... we are excited. These two young men are excited and both have great attitudes and desires to try something new. I don't know if they know it yet, but their lives will change forever if they keep on this path of being willing to try these things out. We watched Finding faith in Christ with their family (great movie by the way .... all Christians really like it, even if they have no interest in the church) and we're not even sure if Nahua and Heider were there at the time (lots of kids are always there .... I think I'm their younger sisters new best friend too :) Declaire? Not sure how to spell it ... their names are awesome!) Anyway ... wow are we excited about that!!! We literally were just in the right place and the right time - we did absolutely nothing! We're trying to find where the YM president lives though and getting them a ride from Jose (recent convert who changed his life because he felt something he wanted in his life everyday at church .... if you remember that story). Yeah, way excited for them! I pray I keep writing about them every week!

Then later on Sunday we went by a woman's house who we'd talked to before and set up an appointment with but wasn't there. Let me explain the situation. Dalia is a young mother (19) with a 2 year old who's expecting another child this next month [we are currently teaching 3 pregnant women right now and trying to teach another woman who just had a baby!]. We only spoke to her in Spanish before but she said she had real desire to learn about this plan God has for us. Well we went by again Sunday and kind of talked about things, with our broken spanish. Then she said something in english and we talked .... about everything. She asked us all these questions she has. She explained her fears for her children. She doesn't want them to grow up in the same environment she did. We taught how the gospel of Jesus Christ helps each of us be better people, mothers, children, etc. How the home is the place where we can teach our children good morals and such. Her desires seem right in line with teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ (hmmmm wonder why?) She's been reading in the Bible and saying ... I guess I shouldn't be living with my boyfriend then, that's wrong isn't it? Anyway, yeah. She is so much fun to talk to, has desires to be better, and we are super excited to teach her and have her come to church next Sunday.

So ... hopefully .... next week you'll hear more good news about Nahua and Heider and Dalia. Oh I pray we have more write to write about them because they will all see great blessings from this gospel! Oh it makes me soooo excited!!

Yesterday we had Zone Development Meeting (extention of Zone conference ... go over same things/practice them/discuss how to be better). We talked a lot about how to effectively use members and get to know Bishops and such. What an incredible opportunity we have here in Mesa. We have members. Lots of them. Yet we have investigators. Lots of them. Something that's brought up a lot here is the need for missionaries here in Mesa. All the English members think everyone is a member. Well, truth be told, there are lots of english and spanish speaking people learning about the gospel everyday and being baptized every week. 20-40 people are baptized each week in our mission. The members are seeing more and more opportunities for missionary work in their everyday lives and it's fun when they recognize and share them and then want to do more! Member missionary work is REALLY where it's at. Full-time missionaries take them after they've been found (it sounds like we kidnap them .... nevermind). anyway, member help is CRUCIAL and HUGE. It is so awesome to see it in full effect here in Mesa!

Que mas? Since ZDM is a refresher from Zone Conference we talked more on faith and miracles. Sister Bassett shared a thought about the man who came to Christ to heal his son. She talked about grace and how yes, we need to have faith in Jesus Christ. What we need to ask for help with though is the same thing this man asked. "Lord, I believe, help though my unbelief." or something like that. Mark 9:2 something??? Anyway, doubt. Miracles are wrought when we focus on the Savior and put our faith and trust in Him, admitting our faith is not perfect and with all of us, we still are not able to do it all. It is only THROUGH the Savior that miracles are wrought.

Ok. Yes this week was hard with the rain. The sweetest moments, however, make any moment of frustration forgotten. It is a cycle and we must continue pressing forward, with a steadfast faith in Christ, no matter what happens. 10% of life is what happens. 90% is what we do about it. These moments were the most sweet and bitter. Sunday night I just about died from exhaustion. Somehow though we were able to find strengh to crawl into bed :)

This is the Lord's work. I am his servant and I know only through His help can people come to taste of this sweet joy offered if they will simply come unto him (Matther 11:28 .... Alma 7:14 ... there are more). The Bom of the word of God. Jesus Christ is our Savior.

I love you all. Thank you for prayers and your love!
Amor siempre, Hermana Clark

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January 19

Rubbing it in all of our faces (especially mine here in Cleveland) that she is out at night without a jacket!


It's Tuesday ... already! Where does the time go? It seems most afternoons go by slowly when no one is home and then all of a sudden it's the next afternoon ... and then the next Sunday ... and then I'm writing these emails home again!

I've officially been in Arizona for 2 months now. Feels like it's been a lot longer but I'm glad the year of 2010 means a full year of missionary work in Mesa!

This week we were reminded very poignantly we are missionaries, daily. (I don't know what that p word means but I thought it sounded good in the sentence). This week we had incredible trainings and very uplifting meetings. It started with Zone Conference last Wednesday. We were asked to prepare by reading Moroni 7:20-43 and we talked a lot about what real faith is. What type of faith produces miracles? What must we DO to develop this faith and continue nurturing and let our faith grow? It felt like everything that was said was something Hna Nielsen and I had been thinking/wondering about and how we can work to be better in those areas. Funny how that works: revelation. Our leaders are our called of God and teach us very specific things. I am humbled when I can tangibly see that evidence, of their calling of God, right before my eyes. President and Sister Bassett, our Zone Leaders. I am reminded of a book that President Eyring wrote where he talks about how we can know if our leaders are called of God. All we have to do is listen to their words with our hearts and with our spiritual eyes look for Jesus Christ. Whenever I have desired to know this, I have felt an overwhelming love from the Savior and our Father in Heaven that they are His children and have been called to this position. Anyway, random thought.

In Zone Conference we also talked about the different perspectives that Laman/Lemuel have in comparison to Nephi. Yet, they went through the same things. Strange? I think not. It had to do with their attitudes. "having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God" (1 Nephi 1:1) as opposed to "they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them" (1 Nephi 2:11). I am still in 1 Nephi 2 in my study of the Book of Mormon and finding treasures each time I open the pages. We CHOOSE happiness.

Sunday we also had Ward Conference. I haven't realized it, but I guess church is a little frustrating because I don't really understand it yet, with it being all in Spanish. I understand some, but not all. Usually I end up piceing (I have no idea how to spell that) what I think they're saying and thinking about the topic and trying to find something in the scriptures concerning it or how I can improve in that area (and ... there's always lots!) Anyway, this past week most of it was in English and then translated. Though it is slower that way, I really appreciated it, along with the great efforts of the stake to meet the needs of the ward. The topic was "como podemos obtener y seguir el espiritu santo" how can we obtain and follow the spirit. Everything that was taught was with so much humility and love. We we taught to Ask, seek, and knock. It was very powerful and simple instruction that I wish everyone we teach could've heard. The leaders invited the Spirit with their love and humility and allowed the Spirit to be the teacher.

Reading through a conference talk this week I found a quote that .... (when I do not say this?) ... I love! Reading it I felt like it directly applied to us, yet then I realized it applies to everyone, everyday.

"Remember that you are entitled to our [Heavenly] Father's blessings in this work. He did not call you to your privileged post to walk alone, without guidance, trusting to luck. On the contrary, He knows your skill, He realizes your devotion, and He will convert your supposed inadequacies to recognized strenths. He has promised: 'I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.' " -President Thomas S. Monson

This week I remembered what a break up feels like. It's rotten. You don't want to do anything for a while. You don't want to feel this way. Seferino, an investigator, told us he doesn't want to get baptized. Ouch. There are many things that went into this decision, as he said. I came across a scripture the next day that I helped me clearly see why this is so difficult: "I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost (Alma 36:24). The only way this felt different from a break up with a boy is that this is, essentially, salvation. We are saddened that we were not able to help him see the reason we go out as missionaries and preach the gospel.

Makes me think of how I can better explain our purpose to people so they can know we are different from every other church. This isn't OUR church, it is the church of Jesus Christ! He is the head of it! Ay! Oh how frustrating it can be to see people have this before them and not realize the innumberable blessings waiting simply for them to grasp it and begin to fill their whole souls.

Anyway, that is missionary work. It is the greatest joy and yet the deepest sorrows. I love the opportunity to serve and do the Lord's work. When else can I forget myself (still trying to do that ....) and help others come unto Christ? Oh it is brilliant and I enoy it. Even every bit of chipping off my shoulder to become who God needs me to be to better build His kingdom on the earth. Hna Nielsen and I are seeing the Lord's hand in His work. Miracles are everywhere if we will but look. We are being molded to become more like our Savior, Jesus Christ. Only through Him will we be able to accomplish this great task we have ahead of us.

Thank you for your love, prayers, and support. I wish I had more time. I think I will send some pictures. Oh and yesterday it was in the 50s and I was cold. HAHA I don't even want to think of Utah or New Jersey right now!

Love siempre, Hermana Clark

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

January 12

This week we worked hard. Last night I think I threw my planner on the table and slid down off my chair to say a pray to end planning. Hahaha Exhausted. We taught more lessons than I've ever taught in a week and 2/3 of them were with members (WAHOO!).

We started teaching a family that has just been waiting to learn about the gospel; thirsting .... starving. Their names are Reginaldo and Alondra and they have a 1 1/2 year old son and are expecting another one in July (I think? I don't know my months in spanish yet....). Last night we have an FHE and invited another family over to their house.  Reginaldo asked questions the whole time and wanted to know more and more. Only Reginaldo was able to attend church this week but Alondra is very excited to go this next week. They are just feasting! It was great to get another family (who Reginaldo met in Church Sunday) and tell them what the gospel has done in their lives. A bit crazy with all of their (I think) 4 kids under the age of 9, but esta bien! This week we're planning on extending the committment to be baptized in February. We are supppppper excited for them!

Bad and good news. Erin ... is in jail :( Something happened a few months ago and she'll be there for a few months.  Good news is now Reynaldo wants to be baptized. We extended the commitment and he didn't have to even think about it - of course! I want this! My life is different now. He and Seferino are getting baptized the same day and both excited for it to be coming up. Wahoo for helping people make covenants.

Bad news is the less-active family didn't come to church. It's not as easy as switching on and off a light bulb though. There is always more to understand and learn - in our heads and in our hearts.

We had a really cool lesson with a woman we've been trying to contact for a while. The Stake President in the area saw her and her friend unloading groceries so he offered to help. They got talking and found out one woman was a less-active and the other didn't know anything about the church.  They all ended with a word of prayer and our now investigator became interested.  We taught her about the Restoration and while reading she read a verse in the Book of Mormon and told us she felt something different.  We asked if she'd ever felt this before. She said she did when President Wright said that prayer with them that day.  Wow that was cool. She is moving this week though and always hard to keep in contact with so we're praying for a miracle she can continue to learn how she can have this wonderful feeling always and every day. Her 10 year old son, Angel, is awesome and he will be instrumental in helping his mom grasp this truth.

Que mas? We know even more spanish than we did last week! Wow it's cool to see it coming so much faster and quicker. Some things I have a hard time saying in english and it becomes really funny.

Hna Nielsen. Oh how we have fun together! We were looking for a referral on a Hill Ave the other day and had a bad address but were trying to figure out if we had the wrong number or something. In our excitement, Hna Nielsen asked "is it thursday?" I responded with, "Yes, so ... maybe it'll exist on Friday?" We laughed and then she said, "let's try to look for her on another hill."  That probably isn't that funny to anyone else, but we just laughed, I was probably crying. In my head I pictured Dr. Suess and his versions of hills and imagined us going to another "hill".  Anyway, my attempt at being funny definitely did not succeed.  Wait I'll try once more. This week I made the comment "here in Mexico ..." I stopped realizing we are NOT in Mexico. Hna Nielsen and I laugh. We have fun together! :)

I don't even know what to say from this week. We taught a lot and they were really great lessons. It was about 75 this week and just beautiful. Slight breeze. Oh my gosh I love the weather ... in the winter. Give it a few months and I won't be such a happy camper, but all is well.

We got a referral for a family that just lost a sobrina en Mexico. We ended up attending a vigil, I guess, last night.  We're going to stop by after they have a vigil every day (9 days after she died) and share our testimonies again of God's plan and see if we can come by and share it with them. We talked to them two nights again and you could feel how much sorrow they felt from this death. What hope we have! I love teaching the plan of Salvation!

We eat at members home pretty much every night here and are treated like royalty. I don't know if the families realize though what examples they are to us. Most of them have a few kids. One families house we ate at this week had kids running around, sometimes with no clothes. It was pretty crazy ... but it's a kids house. We just walked out of there though admiring the parents for their exemplar attitudes and love for their children. When the children got upset or something happened, they were patient and helped them work through it. Wow, every family we are with though. It is so neat to be in so many members homes and get a taste of so many amazing examples!

Anyway, times almost up. Love love. This is God's wok! D & C 130:20-21. Obedience to God's commandments brings blessings.

Love, Hermana Clark

Friday, January 8, 2010

January 5

ALL the full-field Spanish speaking Sisters (it's always a tongue twister saying that) Yo, Hnas Nielsen, Stephensen (I was in the MTC with her for 3 weeks!), Voigt, Ghan

I forgot it's dry here and didn't notice my knuckles were that dry until we were in a lesson and I looked down and my hand looked like it has been shot by a pellet gun or something. hahaha yes I have lotion and I promise to use it :)


It is 2010! Wow how time has flown since 2000, since graduating high school, since 2009 began, beginning my mission ... WOW. Weird to write that date in my journal each day!

2009 ended with a fun concert by all the missionaries in the Arizona Mesa Mission! We sang a few songs all together and there were some small musical numbers. Crazy how it all actually came together because I didn't know the songs/parts very well at all .... after though we had some food (after 5 hours of singing, everyone is hungry!) and it was crazy and fun to see ALL the missionaries!

Hna Nielsen and I are being incredibly blessed. We both have less than 5 months experience in the mission and have always been the junior companion ... for everything .... including the language. There is only so much we know how to say. Our first few days together were super frustrating because we had no one to teach and I was the only one that knew the area and I guess I felt a little flustered trying to figure it all out. Since overcoming those first few days though we are seeing people come out of the woodworks. Literally.

Something that has been promised to us is if you go through former investigators, someone will be ready for the gospel now. So, we are going through former people. Some were taught 2 years ago and some just a few months ago. Many people have been receptive to hearing about the gospel again. We will see.

We have seen miracles literally, hourly. I feel like I've always heard stories of missionaries saying "we were there in the right place at the right time" and the last 6 weeks I felt frustrated not feeling like I ever did that. Well that's exactly the thing, I DON'T and CAN'T do that, it is when we rely on the Lord that those things can happen. The other day some of our appointments fell through for various reasons and literally for all of those we had decided on other places to go and had really good visits with people or met someone that was interested in being taught. This past week ... I can't even explain where this is all coming from. All I can say is most of our prayers are pleading with our Father in Heaven for help because He knows His children and we are His hands in this area. It has been incredible. I prayer is that we continue to rely on the Lord for help. This is His work! Who does their work without consulting the boss first?

One experience I want to tell you about that is only in the beginnings. We taught Reynaldo and Erin the Plan of Salvation. We made some visuals to help see it easier and understand and were excited for the visit. Fyi this was one of the first lessons we taught without the help of a member who's been in the church more than a week (Fransisco was there!). Anyway, we're excited to teach about the Plan of Salvation and we get there and all the chairs are ready for the lesson. Erin and Reynaldo literally have notebooks to write notes about the lesson and from what they've been reading in the Book of Mormon. Everyday we return we talk about the reading assignment and who happened and how it helps us learn how to live the gospel better. This lesson was incredible, not being of anything that was said, but because of the spirit. It was there and you could tell because of how much Erin and Reynaldo desired to learn more. It was like seeing children at the ice cream truck. [Especially when you think of how the children see ice cream; to them it means they'll always be happy]. The difference is this is REAL happiness. Anyway, it was sooooo cool to see them learn about the Plan of Salvation and desire to learn more, understand it, and know it for themselves. Oh it was so cool! They are changing before our eyes! We taught that lesson Sunday and it was the first day Erin had been to church. She was so excited at church that they went out shopping so she could have more skirts and shoes to wear to church in the coming weeks (Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy is a lesson coming up soon :) ).

Oh how wonderful it is to see them soaking in and desiring to live the gospel of Jesus Christ! Erin saw a picture of the temple in church and asked about it and I told her how it's a place that's very sacred where by the priesthood power, families can be sealed for eternity. Her eyes lit up and ... need less to say (I thought that was 4 words? no?), she wants that! I am beginning to experience the joy felt of in D&C 18:15-16.

Another story that literally made my heart jump for joy last night. There is a less active family that lives in our area. While Hna Ghan was here they never attended church and we think it's been a few years. Great family, both grew up in the church, served missions, so when we visit they know they're "projects". Hna Ghan would go there with other companions and teach. I had met them once because we stopped by and she edited a talk I gave in sacrament, but we never planned to see them again because they were not expressing any desires to change. One personal study while reading some talks from conference, I couldn't get them out of my head. We decided to give them the conference issue and write a note in it giving the talks I was thinking of in connection with them. We went there (this was a few weeks ago) and they knew it was us and didn't answer. Not fun. So, we enlisted the English ward's help (they used to attend the English ward, fluent in both English and Spanish). Well, last night an appointment fell through and so we decided to go knock on their door ... maybe this time they'd at least open. OH my they did. We got to know them a little because Hna Nielsen is new and I barely knew them. We asked them if they'd received the conference issue. Me, with little faith, doubted anything had been done with it, but to my dismay she had read them! She expressed her love of reading the conference issues and we talked about one of the talks in particular, Elder Anderson's about healing. Then we told them why we were there, to simply tell them church is at 9am now (time changed). They looked at each other and kind of laugh and said, I think this is a sign, because we made a goal to go back to church this year. And, apparently, we weren't the only ones to come to their house this week to say hi. They do still have to decide English or Spanish ward. They said they had a lot more friends in the English ward and they were always very friendly, whereas hardly did anyone from the Spanish ward come by (interesting to hear these comments from people who are inactive but know how the system is ... ps the word inactive is a terrible word. I'd rather call them ... another name I haven't thought of yet .... anyway ....) We talked to them about how the Spanish ward could use their help and that if they felt better going to the Spanish ward, we know that the ward could use their strength, talents, experience, and there were specific people they would be instrumental in helping. Somewhat like a promise. Anyway, they committed to going to church on Sunday and oh boy I hope they are there! Answer to so many prayers! I am excited to call the bishop of the English ward to tell him of our visit and thank him for sending so many people over to see them!

I wish I could actually explain how I feel. Last night was incredible to see this before our eyes. Strengthens my testimony that this is the Lord's work.

Que mas? Espanol. I already feel like I know so much more than last week because we are forced to use it so much (both Hna Nielsen and I feel that way). We love serving in this area together because we're both being stretched and having to go out of our comfort zone, yet it's never as "awkward" as we might imagine. Then again, sometimes it is and we just laugh later at the funny things we said or at least attempted to say. She is super creative and so we've been having fun making visuals for lessons.

Oh and something funny. She lived in Kenz/Spencer/Oriah/Ashley's ward summer of 2007at Mountainview Condos and then I almost moved in with her last summer because I was going to take her roommates spot (who I'm friends with) and she almost moved to my ward this past year. So OBVIOUSLY there's a reason we are now FINALLY together. Good times. good times.

Life is good. It's about 72 degrees. I don't wear a jacket. I am just kind of terrified that I'm saying that in ... January. Getting weary ... already about the summer here. Ugh.

Thank you for letters, pictures, love, and prayers! The work is definitely moving forward and we are way excited for it! We pray for the gift of tongues and that we can be put where God needs us to serve his children. I hope that all is well with everyone (I don't even know who all reads this ... haha funny to think about) and you are able to see the many blessings God has for each of us. (I don't know if that makes sense but I think you get the gist of it). I love you. I love my family, I love friends, I love people because they are all children of God. It is so cool to meet people and just love them. Crazy how that can happen. Our God is a God of miracles, if we will but have the faith.

Love love elizabeth Clark

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