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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