Tuesday, September 28, 2010

september 28 "a successful week"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

september 21 "you're ruthless"

"you're ruthless!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

september 14 - birthday!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love you love you lots! Hermana Clark

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

september 7 - new area

I don't know if I've said this before .... but here in Arizona we're basically in Mexico. [I like saying Arizona with a really hispanic accent]. As of today at 2pm I will be going to my third area in Mesa. No worries, I am following all patterns and just moving east again to the next branch over! The Arboleda branch (where I just served for 7 months) and the Valencia branch used to be together but split about 2 years ago. The leadership know each other and we frequently hear about each other, so it should be fun! We once even saw the Branch President in Walgreens and he insisted on buying us each a half gallon of ice cream! My companion will be Hermana Mazariegos! She is from Guatemala!!! She's been out on her mission for 5 months. I went on exchanges with her about 2 months ago and she is just awesome! You would never know she is fairly new in the mission! She is a convert (I forget how many years) but joined with her brothers. Her parents have yet to join. She is smiley and a wonderful teacher. Oh I am excited. For being so sad to leave Hermana Nielsen, I am pretty excited to be with Hermana Mazariegos.

AND guess what .... spanish. She knows very little english. And we eat with our branch every single day. No more english dinners :) I am sooooo excited! I love Mexican food! And I will not be communicating in english very much. We'll probably be trading off using english and spanish so we can both work on our new language .... but wahoo! She's soooo sweet! I am excited! And the area is booming right now! This change will be hard .... but I am super excited for the challenge!!

Ok let's talk about this past week. The word ORDINANCE will never be the same for me. We attended church on Sunday and partook of the SACRAMENT. Elbia and Manuel were BAPTIZED on Saturday and I have never seen someone so eager to be baptized and soooo happy and elated to receive the GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST!! Manuel also received the AARONIC PRIESTHOOD and is currently reading up on what this exactly means. He avidly studies the "gospel principles" book. Before we started teaching him, he would be caught dead rather than reading a book. They have changed and are so eager to learn more and more and more. Yesterday we talked about the temple and the opportunity we have to give our ancestors the chance to have this peace they have found. They are so excited to go do baptisms and a member they met a few weeks ago (not even in the branch) is going to take them!!!! Oh I am sad I don't get to see them progress ... but it is ok. Oh I just love them! My life is forever changed because of what I witnessed in them, a change in countenance!

Last Tuesday we also went to the temple. We went in the afternoon which is really weird as missionaries ... usually it's morning activity. We also went on a week we would never go but went after many trips with others fell through (but it's ok ... 2 new people received their ENDOWMENTS this week from our branch!!!! One recent convert and one guy going on his mission to Guatemala) So we went around 2pm. We thought for our last time going together we would do sealing. Yeah? And as missionaries we can only be sealed as daughters to parents. We didn't really know how they did it at the Mesa temple but we went to the sealing office and asked if they were going to do some sealings soon but that we could only be daughters. They looked at us and said "Yes! We just received 45 daughters to seal to their parents! Go change!" As we walked out they said to each other (a couple), "The Lord knows what he's doing!" We were supposed to come in the afternoon last Tuesday! We were able to take part in many sealings, some even done in Spanish because they found out we were missionaries speaking spanish! The coolest thing though was that we were able to take part in a family of a mother, father, and two daughters being SEALED. Have you ever been a part of a deceased family being sealed? Really cool. They do it different than if it's just one child. So basicaly, Hermana Nielsen and I were even sealed as sisters ... proxy. Oh man! Definitely made for a sweeeeet last temple trip! Plus after, we were able to go to the Celestial room and enjoy the peace and beauty! I love the temple! I know part of the reason I came here to Mesa was because there is a temple so close :) Week of ordinances was such a sweet experience. The temple was so special! The baptism and confirmations though .... WOW. Many tears of joy were shed ... by all [even Hermana Nielsen - she never cries!]!!!!!

So yes, that was our week. We came home last night and had a fun little get together party with the Bryson's as well. Hermana Nielsen and Ghan (my trainer!!!!! H Nielsen is "killing" her this transfer!!!) will be moving next week to a new house. Bro Bryson also gave us blessings which was a special thing with their family! They are such a tremendous family! I will miss them so much! I will be living with the Crandall family now though. I am glad ... I don't like living in an apartment as a missionary! I like being with a family!

It feels like I am leaving home. The difference is I won't be coming back and so it is very sad. I bore my testimony on Sunday and was just overcome with the love I have felt from the people as well as the love I have for each of them. I just love them, each of them. I see the face of Christ in each of them seeing them serve their families, other ward members, neighbors, investigators. Coming back to visit ... this will be where we will go for church on Sunday :)

Leaving Hermana Nielsen. We discussed how we won't be with anyone for such a condensed time as we have been. 6 weeks and then 5 1/2 months of everywhere ... non spot contact. It has been wonderful! Oh my goodness. it isn't too hard to leave her though because BYU is in the future and ..... we'll do all that together! It is just weird to think of the mission without her though. Out of 10 months of being in the mission, 7 have been with her. Just .... strange. Weird. It happens though and it will be good! We are sisters ... pues Hermanas (Not Eldas as someone thought our names should be this week). We have seen incredible miracles, learned more about the Savior, laughed, and become best friends!

I love the gospel of Jesus Christ! I cannot believe I will have been a missionary for a year as of next week! I know there is more I need to learn before I take the reins on my life again though! I will trust in my God and do His work, by His power, in His way!

Love you all, Hermana Clark