Tuesday, August 31, 2010

august 31 - kicked out of the house

Another Tuesday ... already? Last weird was weird and every other day felt like Monday. Rosa Mercado was confirmed and it reminded me of the reason we have such a big push of getting investigators (anyone for that matter) to church: to witness an ordinance. DyC 84:20. I felt the power of it! She walked back from the front with a little smirk of a smile. She's not a big smiler .... but has a really cute one when she does! It was wonderful!

Elbia and Manuel! Their baptism is scheduled for Saturday and oh I just love them! The Elders that interviewed them last night came out and just loved them too! They have changed their lives in FINALLY finding this peace they've been seeking for years. We realized we taught them first August 4. This Saturday is September 4. One month. They have been PREPARED! We went by the member who referred them. Well, it was actually his mom that told them to talk to us. She happened to be there [I think I said this last week] but she was so happy to hear they were getting baptized. What is with soooo many future members referring people to get baptized? We have 3 investigators who have done this. One day they will realize it is for them too!!!!!! (I hope that day is SOON!)

One of our members gave us a big box of about 100 Ensigns, Liahonas, New Era, and Friends so kids could look at something while we're in Sacrament (it was a week after some crazy things happened with investigators kids :) ). Well, we weren't going to give up this chance to get great pictures for planners, great talks, etc. It has seemed the past 2 or 3 weeks they've been sitting there ... but this week I was not found without one in my hand. I have officially finished looking through all of them. WOW. I love the Ensign. What did I learn from all of them? Teach by the Spirit, Follow the Spirit, the Book of Mormon is the place of answers and the best missionary. I love being strengthed from others testimonies! It was also fun to read stories of some of my friends from BYU! I probably found about 5-10 articles of people I knew at BYU! Too funny! Small world!

Next week is transfers and sometimes I forget that means a lot more than just moving missionaries around. We got a call Friday saying we need to prepare to leave pretty soon because the Bryson's had something coming up that would inhibit them from letting us live there. Okkkkkkkk, so we wondered. Elder Alldredge (housing coordinator) even asked ... "have they mentioned it?" No they had not. For two days we went in and out of their housing saying hi to them and wondering when they were going to mention this change that was going to happen. I almost started to get mad .... do they not like us here? Was it not just last month they asked us to ask our leaders if we could just stay because they liked us two? My mind was going crazy ... without knowing anything of what was really going on. Sunday, I mentioned it to Sis Bryson and she said, what? So soon? They thought their housing "contract" (if you will say) was only for a year, so they told them that October 1st is the date they would need their house. They are having a huge 30th wedding anniversary their kids are doing and since the time was around then, it would be better if they had those rooms for the week for all the family coming into town. But that's in October?! So we're all a bit surprised and shocked .... but yeah. Along with that, our stake leaders are trying to find housing for Elders who are going to serve in the stake as well. Their splitting the english area. The sisters don't have enough time in the area (they serve in the VC ... and right now are probably less than half time in the area) and so they're splitting it. Interesting, just 2 months ago the Elders were tracting for 5 hours straight. Anyway, changes are happening. As of next week ..... it's pretty sure I'll be moving to another area. I say that in hopes that because I write that, it won't happen .... but yeah.

I love this area. With having baptisms the members seem even more enthusiastic about the work. What I've noticed though is the amazing joy we've had in helping these people and help them grab on and live the principles of the gospel! No matter how many members come up to us and say, "wow! That's so great you're having all these baptisms," it will never compare to seeing these people and the way they've changed their lives for the better! DyC18:10-16. YES.

We are teaching simpler and more bold. The Spirit is in our lessons more readily and testifying of truth. My testimony is being strengthened everyday in talking, teaching, and testifying to people in the streets and in lessons. What a rare time in my life to nourish this great thirst I've felt while trying to accomplish other things in my life.

I love you all! Thanks for your love and pictures and thoughts and comments. I love hearing about it all and knowing what is going on with each of you. I know the Lord blesses us with patience and the strength to continue forward, no matter what our carga .... burden?! Love always, Hermana Clark

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

August 24 - Rosa

Thursday afternoon Rosa Mercado had her baptismal interview. Her baptism was set for the 21st but she didn't come to church the week before because of work and so we were counting on pushing it back a week. She also thought she'd have to work this new job the next Sunday. Well, after the interview, we asked. She said Nick (her english teacher's son, was ready to baptize her Saturday). Soooooooo with no ward mission leader, most of our branch not knowing we were planning on having a baptism, and 2 days, we organized a baptism!!! We made lots and lots .... and lots and lots of phone calls. As Hermana Nielsen said, right now it's hectic, but at the baptism it'll just work - and it did. ALL of the members that live in the trailors, as well as all the investigators we're teaching, came to the baptism! That is 3 families and one family of investigators (Elbia and Manuel)! We also finally met Rosa's english teacher. They were soooo excited to have introduced her to the church and it was a thrill to see her get baptized! She was nervous not knowing exactly what to expect, but she definitely felt loved! It WAS a bit scary though, when Nick baptized her because it was more of a tsunami than anything else. We laughed in the bathroom after because she didn't know what happened. Even President Worsley talked about it, "this was memorable. I didn't know how much muscle Nick had!" In any case, the spirit was felt, our faith was strengthened in witnessing an ordinance by the proper authority, and it was wonderful! Our leaders were supportive and the members were happy to help! One family made the program and weren't even able to attend. I LOVE this branch.

Sunday I sat there thinking about my numbered days in this branch. We were in PEC that morning and I just have never loved a branch more than I've loved this one. Each leader is so concerned for the welfare of the people they are over. Our Branch President started the meeting by going around and asking each person in the room (there were about 15) how their quorum/auxiliary was doing and following up with how each of their families are doing. The love that is in this branch is the love of Christ, Charity. I will weap leaving this area because I love each and every one of the members. Don't even get me starting thinking about leaving Hermana Nielsen. Yikes. At least I know we can continue our good times at BYU and road trips to meet each others families. Arboledy Branch though. Oh my goodness. I've never felt so much at home where I am such a transplant as a missionary. I have learned so much from the members!

There is an Hermana who is waiting to die. When I began serving here she would be at a lot our dinner appointments because the members liked to invite her. Now she is in the hospital, accompanied by her family - blood and from the ward. Hermana Casas! What a wonderful life she has lived. It will not be long until she will leave this world and she will go on to do more of God's great work on the other side!

It makes me think more of Ryan. He is serving. It is like we are serving side by side.

Yesterday we ran into the woman that talked to Elbia and Manuel about coming to church and inviting us to their house (by the way, the Branch loves them and they are so excited to get baptized in 2 weeks!!!!). Tony, not even a member, has struggled. We had the great inspiration yesterday to talk to her son (long story ... she doesn't even live there) but she was there and were able to reminise about her late husband who died one year ago the day we talked to her. Cool to see we were instruments in the Lord's hands.

I love you all! I pray for you! I hope I get to send some pictures in the last 2 minutes. Keep up the good work. Matthew 6:33 -> read JST. Serving is how we will get there! Love always, Hermana Clark

august 17

Seferino's baptism

We found out a lot about our neighborhood this week. Aparently, [we've never seen him but we are hoping to soon!] John Travolta, or as they call them, "Uncle John" hangs out just 2 houses down from us on a regular basis. He's friends with our neighbors and he plays with their kids. In case you were wondering, we're being taken care of if a movie star is coming to visit. We live in a palace.

Elbia and Manuel. OH they are so exciting to teach! Elbia sits there and is so surprised to see all this change in Manuel. Manuel can't stop smiling. It's contagious! They both committed to be baptized the 4th of septiembre!!! WAHOOO! Both understanding, they will have to make a few changes in their lives. We taught Manuel la palabra de sabiduria and he has not drank and smoked once and then remembered and didn't smoke again. Elbia was a little upset to hear she can't drink coffee and tea in the winter [because it's sooooo cold here! it does .... for native arizonians! 60 is freeeeezing!] but last night I testified to her and she said, "oh honey, I know this is a commandment." Manuel was also able to come to a baptism on Saturday and a fireside on Sunday. He just LOVES it all. He can't get enough.

Baptism on Saturday was for a man you might remember (prob not ... I never remembered who missionaries were teaching). Hna Nielsen and I taught him back in January. That was after Hna Ghan taught him .... twice .... and Hna Nielsen and Voigt taught him. Since us Hna Ladd, McBride, Rodeo, and Nishiguchi, and a set of elders have taught him. He has officially been baptized! I will remind you how it ended with us though ..... he yelled at us and said he doesn't want to be a part of this church. He was offended by something a member did during the lesson and .... a number of other things. So, quite a different story seeing him get baptized. We pray he continues and strengths his testimony and knowledge of our loving Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Right after he got baptized, Manuel, with a smile, said, "I like it" in english! He's great! Oh yeah and to get him there .... we probably called 10 p[eople ... and finally went to dinner and the father spoke spanish and could bring him. Miralces happen!

Fireside was put on by an english ward in the other stake we serve in. They were SUPPPPPER excited to do this and it was a success. It wasn't a huge turn out, but those who came were greatly enriched, as well as those who shared their testimonies. We had 6 people there who we are teaching or have taught (one part member family, in particular). Horray for the spirit and for hard work in helping people! I also played my favorite "yo se que vive mi senor" efy version. I love that song .... english and spanish! Even more now!

We met with an english ward mission leader this week. Apparently there has been a huge road block between our branch and this english ward, though we both cover a huge apartment complex. I have been reading chapter 13 and realizing that these relationships with leaders are crucial for the work to move forward. This english ward has really put their feet in this apartment complex and do lots of activities and such. Why have we not been a part of this .... most of the people that live there speak spanish anyway? They did a Thanksgiving potluck last year and Bishop Louden was to the side. A little girl (7 or 8) came up to him and said thank you so much for the food. I haven't eaten for 2 days and this makes me feel much better. OH! They have home teachers assigned to each building in the complex (about 25 buildings) and they make visits .... basically as friends and share a message of Christ each time. Once again, a blessing of serving in Arizona with SO MANY GREAT MEMBERS! Horray!

That is all I can think of. We struggled this week on being motivated as both of us started feeling sick. Not cool but again, it gave us an opportunity to repent, change, and improve.

OH how did I forget? Zone Conference this week. Way different and soooo good! I feel like a different person after Zone Conference. We are extending baptismal dates on the first lesson .... if it is not done with the Spirit, they will throw it in your face. If the Spirit is there .... hence how we should always be teaching .... if they are ready they will accept and prepare. We will find those who are ready. We haven't found Juan Herrera but still praying for him.

Love you all! Here are some pictures! PS yesterday we ate dinner with a woman who was mission companions with the missionary who found my MTC companions parents and brought them to the gospel. The world is sooooooo small. Love you all! Hermana Clark

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August 10 "I will have to pray about marrying you"

We had a day this week that we were whistled at and asked if they could wait for us to not be missionaries to marry us. Hermana Nielsen was asked "God told me I should marry you." She responded with, "I'll have to pray about it" or something like that. Funny funny. Entertaining. After a bunch of men yelled "I love you" we heard another man yelling from the pool in a very sweet voice, "there are my two favorite young ladies." His name is Barry and he is from PA. Whenever we're in the area he comes out and talks to us. Very nice man .... not interested in the church. Glad we put a smile on someone's face!

What happened this week? We got a call from Elbia and Manuel Sunday morning and I didn't hear it. 10 minutes later I checked the message and they said they were outside. I grabbed an hermana in the branch and we searched the parking lot and they weren't there (nor did they answer the phone). My heart sank. They are the cutest couple. I have never seen two treat each other with so much respect. Both probably in their 50s or 60s with health problems. Both searching for something more. She's the one who said "every mormon I talk to is so peaceful. Why?" So we were SOOOO EXCITED they made it to church ... but then I didn't hear the phone? Yeah I was kicking myself. Anyway, sat through socidad de socorro and right before Sacrament las hermanas en la rama next to us called and said, "I think you're investigators are here". OUr buildings are SUPER close and theirs is actually closer. We ran out and drove over to them and stayed for their sacrament. hahahah sometimes you just .... ajust to the needs of the investigators. For some reason they needed to be in Valencia this past week to hear two really good talks about the family and husbands and wives. :)

the Branch here is awesome. they sometimes call us telling us about our investigators. Sunday, we found out that Rosy and Armando went on the campout! We couldn't get a hold of them this past week and sometimes get a little chided if we just stop by. So .... cool! The branch certainly fellowships!!!! Still planning on two baptisms, one for the 21st for Rasa Mercado, and sometime on or before September 4th for Rosy (and Armando??) Anyway, the work is going well. It is exciting. I have less than a month left here in the area. We ate at a family's house this week (first of all ... every family is AWESOME here ....) .... but we were talking about some of the people we're teaching and mentioned we needed a large print libro de mormon and they said, here ... give them these reading glasses and we'll try and find the right prescription! then they gave us a tent for Rosa Mercado to go on the campout (turned out she didn't go with her boys ... but it wasn't because she didn't have a tent!). Yeah, anyway, cool members who just offer up anything that is needed.

Recently, it seems, maybe it was all at once, we've talked to lots of people who have lost children when they are teenagers. Yuck that is so hard. I canNOT IMAGINE. That with others stories, it made me ponder a lot on the plan our Heavenly Father has for us. It is perfect and complete!

Last night we talked to a young man in a parking lot. It was dark and so we identified ourselves and he said .... yeah ... I usually go to church. He was completely embarrassed he was smoking a cigarette. Ashamed. He was only 14. We told him very bluntly, we do not think of you any different, Shane. You are a son of God! He loves you no matter what you do! The decision you've made to smoke that cigarette, and presumably others, however, is a decision he is not pleased with. He promised us he would not by another pack. I pray he keeps that promise. The Spirit testified to me of that principle. God's love does not correlate with our decisions. He loves us no matter what. His blessings, however, are contingent on our obedience. 3rd article of faith.

Love love. Thanks for your love, prayers, examples, and hard work! I love each of you!! Love always, Hermana Clark

Saturday, August 7, 2010

august 3

What a SWEEEEEET week this was! To be together, again, Hermana Nielsen and I have discussed some things we are going to work on this month [we no longer call these transfers, all reporting systems refer to months now]. We have been humbled by some things we know we can improve on and have seen changes already. We also had our district leader ask us about how our practices are in companion study. Needless to say, it was cool he completely pinpointed us, but we also felt a little stupid, after being together for so long we still really struggle with the simple act of practicing (I can't even say it's something we've gotten lazy at or something ... we just have never quite developed that while we've been together). We plan lessons but rarely will practice teaching the investigator and such. Well, we have 5 weeks to improve! We focused on practicing this week and never have been able to teach the lessons we did practice ... but we know it will improve our teaching! Faith! So, we've been humbled and it feels good.

I will say, one day this week was suuuuuuuper long. We had one appointment and one service activity (we're teaching Fransisca's brother, "Chango," how to read english out of the Book of Mormon) and both were cancelled. I don't know what it was with the day but it was long. I got tired. By the end of the day, I won't lie, I looked forward to not being a missionary in 6 1/2 months. Ok I repented of that thought though because the next day was Sunday and we had 5 people in church and it was craaaaaazy!!

Rosa Mercado changed her date to August 21! Wahoo! Nothing is in the way, she just has to check if her english teacher's son can baptize her that day! We're hoping she gets to the branch campout this weekend with her boys. It'll be a miracle ... but we have faith and have seen many miracles!

We went by Rosy's this week to have a lesson and she was in a mad rush and we didnt' know what was happening. She drove away and and were a minute or two behind and saw her pull over to the side of the road and saw Armando run across the street and watched the first few moments of them embrace. He's been in Mexico for a month and it has been a very VERY long month for her. That was tender to watch. Like a soldier returning. Anyway, hopefully tomorrow we will be talking to them to see if they would like to get married and baptized the 21st as well!!! She was excited to see when we can come by again! Glad to see that family all back together again!

Now for the most exciting thing that happened this week. I've noticed in teaching, that when lessons are taught with the Spirit, I feel like I am watching Hermana Nielsen and Clark teach, and I am somehow a fly on the wall. It is ... incredible. We taught Juan this week [the referral I talked about last week who was given a ride by a member because he felt impressed to stop]. Well come to find out, Juan had NEVER taken the bus before but is unable to use his car for this month. So he made the journey to the bus stop for the first time ... and Jeff found him! OH MY GOODNESS I have never seen a man so prepared to learn how we are children of our Heavenly Father and how he has a plan for us and has sent lots of help for us to know the way. He said as he walked into church last week with Jeff (knowing very little about the Mormons), he felt all of his worries and burdens lifted and literally left outside. He could NOT wipe the smile off of his face. He was so excited to find out that church was not only an hour long, but 3 hours long!

We taught him last night, again, in the Kurocik's home and WOW. Celestial lesson, as we call it, in a members home. He could recognize the spirit there as well. The Kurocik's will be great friends with him, seeing as they are both converts, Hno Kurocik after studying to be a Catholic Priest and finding doctrinal inaccuracies. Hna Kurocik shares her testimony of studying the scriptures to find answers through the Holy Ghost. Oh my goodness. We cannot walk out of those lessons without saying a prayer of complete gratitude for helping Jeff find Juan! WOAH! Juan last night pretty much told us he knows that all of this is telling him he needs to keep going in this way. Oh wow ... pretty much he is golden. He is soooo ready for the gospel in his life to lift burdens and have that hope that the world is just sorely lacking. Funny part of last night was also when we were talking about food and our health before the lesson. Hno Kurocik turned to Juan and said [after Juan had said he loooooves sugar. He's a cook at the Hilton and so he's always around good food], "You're a dead man." Oh man it's just so amazing to see members click with investigators and help them. We are doing pretty much nothing in this .... we preach ... it is the spirit that teaches and the members that befriend. THAT IS HOW MISSIONARY WORK SHOULD BE DONE. The end.

Hermana Nielsen and I. Have I told you all of the near misses at BYU? First, living. He lived in Mackenzie and Spencer's ward in Moutainview condos. I sometimes went to that church and we both remember going to the outdoor church that one time on a fast Sunday. I almost was her roommate at the last condo she was living at, but at the last minute opted not to take that contract [I know her roommate] ... which brings up the whole roommate thing. We both worked with each others roommate. I worked at the MTC with Alicia and she worked with my roommate Emily at Brick Oven. Then WE both did early morning custodial winter semester in buildings right next to each other. Our bosses were really good friends and often doing things together. We both took nutrition 100, Judaism and the gospel, and Presidents of the church (all from the same teachers). ANYWAY small world. We know we're here now for a reason and it is so cool to see how the Lord's hand is in our lives and those we're able to serve!

I love being a missionary, and I am grateful for these trials and opportunities to serve and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that we have been given the authority to bring the world His truth! Thank you for letters. I was chided this week by a friend for not writing back. In truth, I should be by all my friends. Thank you for your love and prayers. Love always, Hermana Clark