Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June 29

The famed Bassetts

practicing safe driving methods in their mission shirts...nice.

Thursday we officially said goodbye to the Bassetts. Sad, hard, good. I don't really know what to say about it, but that I love them. It feels like we're losing our parents. Kind of wierd because we're being sent new parents though. I don't know. Zone Conference was awesome. Different than before and just perfect for this transfer and them leaving. I thought Pres. was so funny to say, "if I can give you any advice ... take the advice you give to everyone .... read and pray."  President is just awesome. I can see him going back and helping lots of returned missionaries continue on with their lives.  We ate lunch after going to the temple and he got up and made some announcements and just said "when you get home .... text me. I want to hear from you. I want to hear from each of you. I want to know what you're doing, where you're going, who you're going with."  That only made him feel more like a loving parent leaving his child. Oh they are so great. The temple was incredible to be there with so many missionaries. I don't know how to go on about that except that ... it just was. I don't know if I said this before but what I learned from the Bassetts is to BECOME LIKE CHRIST.

We had a tragety in the stake this week.  Sunday morning just seemed heavy. A 2 year-old little boy drowned in their own pool.  The mom is 8 months pregnant and has 1 or 2 other kids. Yikes. Oh just ..... what do you say? What do you do? Yes you know the plan that God has but as one woman said, "her arms will just ache to hold him."

We saw lots of miracles this week and found people who needed someone right in that moment. I love seeing that happen. NO such thing as a coincidence, especially when we are preaching the gospel.

I love this branch we are serving in! Arboleda! I just love it!!! We know the members and they are getting much more comfortable with us.  I remember someone saying, "if someone in the branch asks you to help out .... do it. Don't say no."  I feel like we've been able to help out in some strange ways (we've folded napkins 2x now ..... don't worry we're pro's now :)  ) but that it is in serving that people come to see that we are here to help in any way possible, whether it's sharing a scripture, thanking them for having a home with the Spirit in it, whatever.  We ate at the Lee's house again this week. Our 3rd time with them. It felt like we were visiting family, no joke. Pretty awesome! We even took pictures after!

Weird week with changing Presidents. Very excited to meet President Ellsworth on Thursday! We know there will be changes and we will stand behind him 100%! This is the Lord's work - no doubt. I pray we are humble enough to do it in His way because without his work we might as well sleep all day.  Poco por poco.

Ok I have some more time. This whole changing president thing is even more weird because I came on my mission knowing that this would be my halfway mark. Ok so evaluation time: how has the first half of my mission been. I feel pretty confident that I have given my heart, but I know that I have learned a lot and I am capable of doing a lot more the next half of my mission.  More than ever though, it will require humility and relying on the Spirit. I can get really caught up in things, be it things that happened before the mission, things I want to happen after the mission, different investigators, members .... the list could go on, but I also know that I have been set apart from the world to be a messenger and representative of Jesus Christ. We helped Claudia and Ashley Granados move this week and before we left we all shared our favorite scriptures. She read a scripture and just said, "this is talking about you hermanas. you are angels." It was so special to see how we're able to bring the world God's truth through our simple ways of doing what we can and leaving the rest to the Lord.  Remember the One, as Elder Wirthlin counseled.  One thing I've been thinking a lot about is comments from President when he says, "maybe you don't want to talk to that guy ... because you know he'll give problems to the EQP and the Bishop .... the gospel is not for him.  NO, the gospel IS for him." It is about lifting those where we stand and inviting others to come unto Christ, wherever they may be. We are denying the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ when we make judgements like that.

We talked to some 16 year old boys this week who are up to no good. I pray they come to understand of these things one day. As of right now .... they are enjoying their ways of finding "pleasure" and it makes me sick. It is just wrong. They have no idea though. They haven't had anyone teach them what is true and good.  Oh how important the youth are!

Ok I love you all! Time flies! Great work and great miracles going on! Thank you for you love and prayers! Until next week! Hermana Clark
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

June 22

Hermana Nielsen and I made a deal that if we were together again, we are speaking in spanish to each other, in the house, when we walk up, running, in the car, everywhere! So ... today I am here to say we did it for a week and we have 5 more to go! It has been kind of hard! I am really really bad at telling stories or trying to explain something. I don't think it was coincidence, however, that we were asked to translate twice this past weekend. Our skills are being put to the test, so we must be prepared!

We had few lessons with members with week but I'm happy to say all but one were with members!!!!! Yeahhhhh! And all the members seemed to be really well matched for the investigator (usually we have a good person in mind ... but they are not able to come with us).  We had some awesome lessons and are excited for the people in this area!

When we went to go pick up one of the members, she insisted on feeding us (it doesn't help her food is ALWAYS really good ... I didn't care we had dinner an hour later .... same hermana that we ate with after we were already really REALLY full one night) and we had tacos with some meat that was the head and the tongue. Hermana Nielsen was hesitant to eat it. I think I forgot that they'd said that and just dove in. It was pretty good! I liked the other meat better though.  Hermano was hilarious though because he kept saying "I like the ojos!!!!!!!" Oh it was funny! Horray for good Mexican food! Hermana Nielsen and I have our own ideas of selling tomales, Mexican hot dogs, and carne asada. We'll see ... if nothing else we'll have some Mexican parties. The food is to die for!

This week we came to the conclusion we need to drop one of our investigators, Fransisca, who we've been teaching for a pretty long time. We went by for an appointment one night and only her sister was home. Her sister is a member and just entered the temple a month ago.  We talked to her about it and it was established she knows and has miedo to make the decision. Alicia (the sister) was asked to share her testimony in church though, so we all planned on going to church with her so we can translate for Fransisca.  Sunday we show up just as the english ward is beginning. Alicia is sitting on the stand.  The chapel is PACKED. The last time I was in an english ward was a little less than a year ago and wow is it different! Weird ... very weird. Fransisca was sitting in the middle row, in the middle, 3 rows from the front. We felt super strange ... no one knows sister missionaries here! We don't even eat in this stake! We kind of felt like celebrities walking in .... it's funny being a missionary in Mesa. Anyway, we sit with Fransisca and all of the 6 crazy kids! most of the time we're trying to entertain the kids. I happen to be sitting next to Fransisca so I ended up translating. I remember Dad's stories of translating and just said a prayer for help. Well, it came! Wahoo! The topic for the day was faith and hope! Good topic for someone we've been teaching for a long time who has no hope in getting baptized because she doesn't want to get marry or get rid of her boyfriend! Alicia got up and said something to the extent of, "I was asked to share my testimony on this topic.  My sister is here and she is learning about the gospel. Today I want to bear my testimony to her: I know this is the truth.  The Hermanas came to talk to me this week and said they are worried for you.  I love you, Fransisca. I want to tell you that I know this is the way and we do not need to fear it."  Fransisca couldn't even look at her sister, she was just balling. Alicia, at the pulpit, was crying. It was a really tender moment though. And to be translating this to Fransisca? No doubt, the spirit was there! We haven't found the time to talk to Fransisca about it but as of Saturday, she was telling Alicia that anything Alicia claimed to be the spirit was just coincidence.

Oh how much I've learned on my mission to know that promptings from the Spirit are not coincidence and that it is a manifestation of the love that our Heavenly Father has for each of his children.  Most of the promptings received are to help someone else come closer to our Heavenly Father through His Son, Jesus Christ. Hermana Nielsen and I have been studying the spirit a lot this week and working hard to explain it so those we teach will be able to recognize it and hopefully decide to follow it more.

The Bassetts are leaving next week.  In 9 days (creo?) we are meeting President and Sister Ellsworth. I cannot even begin to capture how grateful I am for the Bassetts. They were called here to Mesa, Arizona by God! They have truly blessed my life! No one else could've done this here quite like they did! It is good and bad seeing them leave.  So sad because things will change, but so good because it is on the Lord's time. This Thursday we have zone conference with half our mission. Our last time with them. We then are going to the temple all together. My first zone conference in the mission was set up like this and I just remember walking into the Celestial Room and receiving a hug from Sister Bassett and feeling closer to heaven than ever before. While talking to Sister Bassett, just a few of us a few transfers ago, she commented, "I don't know how anyone that is old does this .... we're tired!"  They are just amazing. In my last interview with President he just said, "there's a lot to do in this last month."  PERSEVERAR HASTA EL FIN. They are amazing examples of that to me. I think I struggle in that area. I get weary and give up, whether at the end of a day or a week or a transfer.

One of the Hermanas that went home last week was Hermana Guzman. It was a bit of a shock to talk to her the day before she left, but it was for some good reasons. She didn't realize that something that happened a long time ago was still haunting her (someone offended her and it really rocked her) and so she's going home to hopefully get better, work this out, and then return.  I worry for her. We had our moments of brilliance together and just became really great friends. This is a huge blow for her though, especially for these reasons. I think of others who I know who have come home early and the struggles they had. It is for the better though and I pray things only go up from here.

Ok time up. Love you all! Thanks for the many packages this week! After transfers they hold mail and when we got it .... Hermana Nielsen and I received some great amounts of love (in the forms of packages!)! You are in my prayers! Keep up the hard work! I love you!!!!
Love always, Hermana Clark

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June 15

Saturday was kind of a miserable day becuase I was preparing to leave (we've been together for 3 transfers now, in our second area).  We came home to an empty house and planned and just waited for the phone to ring. Aye was it nervewracking (sp?). Elder Pebley, our district leader, called and was so happy and laughing. We were so confused and he said "Hermanas, you're going on for another transfer!" We went crazy! We screamed and hugged and high fived! WAHOO! Dream come true! Same area, my amazing Hermana Nielsen, oh sweetness!

Most of our investigators we've been teaching have kind of dropped us or moved. Sad and discouraging, but the work will go forward! We are excited we know the area, la rama, and go forward with faith finding those who are dying without the gospel in their lives (technically ... that's everyone ... but some are ready to realize that more than others that it is their spirits that need to be nourished by la palabra de Dios).  Anyway .... we are excited! Strange excitement, but good! Our branch president came up to us on Sunday with the branch list and said, "Hermanas, who is this? And Do you know him?" This last transfer we regularly went through the rama list and made sure to know who everyone is and have tried to visit each family (still have some more, but we know who everyone is!).  We were so grateful to report we did know who those people were he asked about and that we reviewed the list often.  We're thinking this transfer we need to apply all that we know and help the members increase their missionary efforts. We know by doing so, their lives will be enriched. Even if everyone is going through a crisis, we are still called to serve. Lehi was given praise from the Lord, and then called to serve in other duties. It's a constant cycle or continuing to serve.  It will be exciting now that we have the trust of the members to really be able to help them see the vision of missionary work in their own lives!

Due to transfers and random stuff, this week was a little strange. Two Hermanas went home due to illness and we were relatively close to both of them. We found out about both the same day and .... just strange to see them just pack up and go.  In all reality, the mission is not everything. It's certainly a good thing, but everything is in the Lord's time and for them, maybe they only needed to serve for 9 or 11 months. Oh how I pray for them though! I've seen people come home from missions and really struggle.  "I went on a mission, why am I having a hard time with this." or "What do I do with myself now .... I used to have this purpose and now I have to think about myself again."  Both of them felt very strongly that this was the right thing though and for that I am so glad. Just a weird wake up call that the mission is not real life and that things can change in a matter of moments. All we can do, like I've said, is keep the commanments and trust in God.

Due to one of these, we had an Hermana with us the past few days.  Now, I say this in all seriousness, knowing I am a missionary, and not feeling like we weren't missionaries, but it has felt like a party with 3 of us! Everything is just so exciting with 3 of us! And Hermana Scott has been a blast to be with! Yesterday we worked half a day in our area and half a day in Liahona 3.  This was Hermana Nielsen's greanie area so she was in heaven! Remeniscing old times with her trainer and talking about all these people Hermana Scott didn't know of.  It was so exciting! We worked so hard yesterday, yet taught only one lesson to a woman who is not able to go to church because she is working in the afternoons. We came home exhausted and beat, but we love it. It will be sad to send her off after our few days together!

We went to dinner at a members house in the middle of a crisis. They were watching their aunts dog and it had escaped and run away. They literally had been looking for 10 hours.  They made fliers, talked to everyone, made phone calls. The mom broke down in tears when we walked in and asked if there was anything we could do.  They are a wonderful family of 3 kids.  Their father is currently working in Afganistan as part of the army ... but different than combat or anything. He comes home in a few weeks and it will be a huge event for them. This was the first time he's been away from his wife in 15 years. Oh this family! You knew this was such a hard time for them, but yet, they will keep going. A neighbor boy came running by to say they might have found the dog and so everyone jumped up and ran outside to see.  10 minutes later they came back with no dog. Wrong dog. We were sad, but were grateful that we could empty and load their dishwasher while they were gone. Oh the things that happen in our lives.

I am soooo SOOOO excited to be with Hermana Nielsen again. This next transfer will be the strangest of the mission seeing as we're getting a new mission president in 3 weeks. We are incredibly sad to be losing the Bassett's, but they have served faithfully for 3 years. The Ellsworth's will be great! We actually got a letter from them a few weeks ago, Hna and I, because we sent them a picture of us saying we were excited and praying for them!

Oh how wonderful it is to be a missionary! I never want to stop serving. I pray that when my time is up as a full-time missionary, I am ready to go home and move on with the next part of my life. As for now, we'll work hard, give it our all, and pray for the Lord's help in finding his children who are thirsting for the gospel right now.

I love talking to people and I secretly like talking to people when they don't want to talk to us.  I want to bring the spirit and let it touch their hearts, leaving them wanting more. We got cursed out the other day by someone we've been trying to teach and that was .... funny .... but you just go on. It is SUCH a joy be a misionera! Love all, Hermana Clark

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

June 8 - muscles, goodbyes and heat

not just spiritual muscles here folks...did you know in 2nd grade she did 16 pull-ups???!!!???
work it.

saying goodbye at Marta's apartment

saying goodbye to Evelin and Claudia


What do I say about this week? I am literally sitting here ... drained. I question where I'll get strength for the next 8 months of my mission .... let alone ..... rest of my life. This week was a week of amazing miracles and some very hard goodbyes.

We did not have the baptism of Claudia and Evelin. Evelin loved girls camp but went to Mexicali two days later. Claudia went to California Saturday (?) .... still a little up in the air because she's hard to get a hold of ... but could just be gone. Though we were extremely sad, we realized it is much better for them to simply get out of Mesa and start over in California. Claudia was sad when we told her we will not be able to go to her baptism in California, but we all agreed to meet at the temple in a little over a year :D  Bitter sweet. The branch will miss them, her neighbors will miss them, we miss them! It is all in the Lord's hands though.

Marta, Jenny, and Melissa are progressing.  We taught lay de castidad this past week and made sure to prepare well.  We really focused on the temple and its beauty and purity and the Spirit you're able to feel there.  It went well in that they didn't just kick us out of their house (they love us! They fed us last week!) but they weren't quite ready to live their law.  It will take a big change.  They will though, soon. They know it is on the agenda.  On Saturday we went by to confirm someone will be coming by to pick them up for church on Sunday and they were outside .... packing their things in their truck.  They moved, yesterday, to Phoenix to live with Marta's sister for a while until they can get on their feet again. On Sunday we helped them clean their apartment for a few hours.  Why is everyone moving? They will grasp the gospel one day soon. I can see it. I'm hoping to serve in Phoenix in my short time here .... but there aren't any Spanish sisters there right now so that might not happen. Like I said before, they're in the Lord's hands.

We had an incredible miracle this week, just one example. This week we seemed to have miracle after miracle after miracle. We felt so ..... fumbled as to why so many things were falling into place, at least for the moment. Here is one example. We serve in two stakes, Hermosa Vista and Mesa East. Our branch is in the HV stake so we live in it and eat in the stake.  It is a pretty wealthy stake .... very wealthy I'd say. Lots of people remind me of Summit .... if you know what I mean. We constantly see people in our neighborhood on golf carts.  It's funny because it doesn't surprise us.  In that stake, we rarely go anywhere but the trailors. The other day we were driving through it though and noticed some apartments we'd never seen before (or at least taken notice of).  Just about 24 apartments, not too many.  We had some time one afternoon and planned to search a member out and ask them what their neighbors are like (we're stalkers ... pretty much).  We found there was only one member that lived in them (that's really low for here in Arizona......) so we knocked on the door. He answered and was in the middle of something so we asked him really quickly if any of his neighbors spoke spanish. She pointed to the door next to his and so we knocked.  A little boy answered the door and then his mom came and chided him for answering the door (all in spanish .... yay!) She hadn't heard and had told him not to open the door for anyone.  She saw it was us though and immediately invited us in.  After a minute she told us she had just gotten back from Salt Lake late last night. They had visited Temple Square and just loveeeeed all of it! They love the Visitors Center here and she was so excited to see us at her house. Apparently in Salt Lake none of the Sisters spoke spanish so they weren't able to see any of the presentations. [I have a feeling they didn't ask .... ] We had a lesson set up for last night and she wasn't there, but something I've found is that everything happens in the Lord's time.  The miracle was that she has been found (she might not be excited about that .....).  Everyone is known by the Lord.

We went by a woman's house this week who we've had a hard time going by.  Her name is Isela.  We taught her about the Restoration in some caois ... I have no idea how to spell that right now ..... but finally were able to see her again this week. She was so happy to see us, though she confided, she hadn't read any of the BoM.  We talked about it a little and we testified of families and how important they are. She has been struggling with her 16 year old son, he ... like most .... rebel.  We talked about families. By the end, she fed us delicious fruit and had showed us pictures of her entire family! We are excited to go back this week and give her even more hope in God's plan for us! She was like a breath of fresh air and such a joy to testify too! She, like many, is seeking for something and she doesn't quite know where to find it. I feel so humble to say that it is here, the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored in full.  It is here for the taking, come and enjoy!

It finally got hot this week. YUCK. YUCK. YUCK. Remember summer time when you go to the pool and you've been working outside for a few hours just sweating and you look at the pool just before you dive in and think, this is gonna feel sooooo good.  Well, that's how sweaty I feel everyday in a skirt and shirt, but there's no pool I want to go in as a missionary.  [Liza wants to go swimming .... but then I remember that's not my name right now....] Oh man it is draining in the heat! Yuck! Luckily though, Hermana Nielsen and I took a trip to goodwill last Tuesday and we got some awesome Arizona summer missionary clothes! Horray! So, yeah.  Everytime you walk out, it hits you. A wave a heat. It feels kind of good for all of a minute, and then you feel bad talking to someone and telling them you have this amazing message, while you look like a popsickle.  Never before have we glistened so brightly as missionaries! hahaha No it's not horrendous .... but it kind of is.

I love you all! Thanks for your love! We went to the temple this morning and sat in the Celestial Room for .... oh about an hour and a half. :) I love Hermana Nielsen and I pray next week I am not going somehwere else. We will see ..... it's all in the Lord's hands!

Love always, Hermana Clark

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June 1

Sorry I had to put that as the subject, random comment from this week. Lots of random and crazy stuff this week. Where do I start?

Evelin is the big one. Girls camp started on Saturday and even Friday night we didn't know if she was going to Mexicali or girls camp. Well, she called us Saturday morning to ask when they're meeting. We said 8 (it was 745) and we were elated she was going! la la la la la we go through the day and go by a members house who just moved and they just happened to mention to us that the girls left at 7am .... not 8am. YIKES! We made a few phone calls .... scrambling ..... But ... would she be going to Mexicali? When is her ride coming? Did she still want to go? We stopped by their house every moment we could (yes we stalk) and called a couple times during the day with no reply/response. What the heck do we do. If I was Evelin ... I would be a little ticked off with the irresponsible sister missionaries. AYE. All the Bishops and their wives were going up for Sunday to be with their girls, as well as the Stake Presidency. Bishop Higgin's wife (the only bishop we know ... since we're really only connected to the Branch) said they could bring her, but they were leaving at 6am Sunday morning. As of 9pm Saturday night, we had not heard from them.  Alas prayers are answered! As we were driving home, Claudia called and said she still wanted to go and she was really sad this morning but she'd love to go tomorrow! So we agreed to all meet at her house Sunday at 6am with Bishop Higgins and his wife. HORRAYYYYY! I have never been so happy to be out and about at 6am on a Sunday morning! We saw Evelin off to girls camp!

Their baptism is scheduled for this Saturday. Evelin is coming back from girls camp Wednesday and her ride to Mexicali is coming anytime Thursday, Saturday, or next week. Claudia has found a ride to California for Saturday or maybe next week. They certainly want to get baptized, but so far, these are the only people they are able to get to help them move/leave. Not to mention, the boyfriend came back and half kicked them out of their apartment. Yikes. I don't know a prayer we've said that doesn't say their names in it.

We had another miracle this week! We've been teaching a family for a few months that don't seem to be progressing. We planned a lesson about la expiacion is necesario y leads us to baptism for a remission of our sins. Therefore making promises with God that if we strive to keep the commandments, He'll send His spirit to guide/help us.  After, dipping a qtip in handsanitizer and lighting it on fire. We have to get baptized to be saved. (if you just light a qtip ... it burns. it is spared if you put handsanitizer on it).  Kind of expecting to drop them.  Well we taught them, and they slowly got more and more intune with what we were teaching.  Marta got a little defensive about baptism but we asked if when they got baptized before, it was how Jesus Christ was baptized. "No, it wasn't."  There is one way to be baptized. By the proper authority, by immersion. Anway, Jenny committed to be baptized! We set the date for June 12, but we are going to be pushing it back. Anyway, EXCITING! The end of the night even ended with us planning a dinner we ate last night! YUM! Mexican food is good. But baptisms are even better!

Our Branch mission leader is awesome and he has been a huge help this week with all these crazy CRAZY things falling through and not happening.  Miracles though. We are seeing miracles. We are finding more people to teach and finding ways to serve.

We had interviews yesterday and it happened to be after a meeting (kind of like a really long district meeting) that I just felt completely worn out. The fact was I just needed to eat. Being tired, exhausted, and hungry are not a good combination. President Bassett is amazing though. Right now is such precious time with Hermana Nielsen. I don't know how much more of my mission I will be with a companion that literally ..... we just work well together. It provides for good time to identify weaknesses and improve them, together. Pretty awesome! President always teases us about not getting along. We hope we're staying together for 2 more transfers, but that might be asking a bit much. Whatever the Lord asks, we will follow.

I love this area. I love the members. Lots of them are struggling right now in the branch. Divorce from not faithful/righteous husbands, losing homes because money is not coming in, homes you're renting that the owner are paying for so you're on your own to find another one, being sick, family member suddenly passing away. No one in our branch presidency was even there on Sunday.  Our joint RS/Priesthood lesson was on adversities and all I could think was "yes we have lots of adversities and desafios and such .... but what really are we preparing for? ETERNAL LIFE. Mateo 6:33.  I think that mindset comes much easier as a missionary.

I love this work! I am so privileged to be serving here as the Lord's servant for the spanish-speaking people! Language is coming, with His help! This work will continue to go forward!

Love you love you love you! Thank you for your prayers, love, letters, pictures, todo. I love it all!
Love, Hermana Clark

PS June 4 is always my halfway mark. And Sarah's Birthday. and MOM'S 50TH! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!