Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 30

Sunday we went to the Christmas lights and it was BEAUTIFUL!! More beautiful than last year! It wasn't completely traumatizing as Hermana Mazariegos thought it would be, having to speak english to people. We were successful in testifying of the teachings of Jesus Christ and found 6 families that were willing to accept missionaries to bring this same spirit they can feel here ... to their home! Horray! I think the best story of the night, however, was an Elder that asked me if i remembered an Andres in my old area. Couldn't think in the moment but I went home and remembered who he was! Hna Nielsen and I taught him last February and he ran away after accepting a date and being really interested! But Elder Crook talked to him and evidently he had to leave the country but wanted missionaries again!!!! HORRAY! He was prepared in February ... I have a feeling not is even better! Oh joy!

We were freezing by the end of the night though. I had socks and two pairs of tights, some stretchy pants, and sweatpants under my skirt. Then a shirt, a really warm sweater (that I pretty much wear close to everyday now under whatever I'm wearing), a jacket, and another jacket! My orange birthday gloves were kind of funny and one guy wouldn't accept that you, mom, had sent them to me for my birthday. He was confident they were hunting gloves - yuck no. But... they were funny. Who knows when we're working the lights again ... but it's fun! Talking to so many people ... I'm already losing my voice!

Probably the biggest news was on Saturday about transfers! I was pretty confident we weren't being changed .... but it was a big surprise that I'll be training! We already have 6 full-field spanish sisters (usually it's never more than that) but .... now we'll have 7! We think she's American ... which will be interesting. When President called he said, "Sister Clark, I know you'll kind of be on double duty, still with Hermana Mazariegos, and your new companion." Quite the contrary! I am sooo excited to STILL be with Hermana Mazariegos and to get a new companion. I will say, I've always been weary of trios though .... so I pray that we can work well together with the spirit and help this sister feel confident as a servant of the Lord! And the whole language thing .... will be difficult but oh I pray that we are flexible and this will definitely introduce more opportunities to speak english. We're excited! We'll have 6 hermanas in the rama - the other sisters are training too before Hna Cochran goes home in 4 weeks (4 hermanas are going home before christmas so they can be with their families) so ... this transfer is a bit hectic. I can't really imagine the logistics of President Ellsworth!

Our area is amazing .... lots of potential. We have three families we're working with that basically just need hermandad and they are receiving it! We are soooo excited! We might not see the fruits of our labor with them right now .... but they are changing and it is the most exciting thing to see!!!

We are getting better at using time better as well as staying under miles as well as staying under minutes for the phone! Horray! They still don't have a home for us and right now we're just kind of ...waiting. If they don't find a home by next Tuesday we'll be moving into an apartment (noooooo!!!!) I feel bad for our new companion though ..... ok here's our home .... but we're moving soon so ... don't both packing up ... and that also means we don't have too much food because we don't want to move more than we need to .... WELCOME! hahaha but it'll work out!

I cannot tell you, mom and dad, how awesome you are! Seriously! Anything you want members to do .... you are doing it! Even, Dad, if it's awkward! Good job! I still get scared to talk to some people (mostly english) but I've learned to just GO and I'll think about being scared later! This message is for ALL!

So we're excited for our new companion! Sadly we won't be making a green cake for her, like I received when i came in the mission, but we be going straight to work! today we're also hosting a sister (someone else's greenie). New missionaries are taken around by leaders the first day and so they chose us to help with that since there aren't really sister leaders (except the VC ....). So it'll be a great week! Pictures to come next week! And it's December tomorrow!!!!!!! Oh my goodness it's already Christmas! HOW. EXCITING!

Glad Thanksgiving was great - Abby and kenz you'll have to tell me about yours. Oh yeah that day was this week. We went hiking at 6am and it was world's easier than my first time doing it - such a joy! Then we played volleyball with our zone and then watched the Best Two Years. That movie was SOOOO interesting to watch while a mnissionary. basically poking fun at our lives .... but wow. I understood it so differently. And yes it's still a great movie!

Well I love each and everyone of you! A WHOLE LOT!!! Until next week! Love always, Hermana Clark

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

November 23 - Happy Tonksgibing

Well it's another Tuesday. Weird one though. We had an appointment at 9 but the woman wasn't there. We're emailing and shopping today but going back to work because Thursday is another preparation day.

Thursday we're thinking of hiking Cambelback otra vez (I really hope sooo! I've wanted to for a long time!) and we might have a zone activity ..... and dinner with the Gibson family (young family in the branch). We're super excited for the festivities of the holidays to begin!!! Christmas lights start Friday!

This past week was LOCA. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday was leadership training for all Zone Leaders, District Leaders, Trainers, and Trainers in the VC. For those three days we were with Hna Alvarez, Hna Nielsen's companion!! I must say, it was a challenge to be in a trio.  We all love the Lord's work! We've all been called and set apart! We all, however, have not attained the level of comprehension nor love for each of our new languages. Hna Alvarez has only been out 4 weeks and .... like all new missionaries learning a language ... IT'S HARD. You want to fall asleep in every lesson because you don't know what in the world is going on. You can smile for so long ... but .... it's a challenge.  Hna Mazariegos has been out for almost 8 months and though we are in los estados unidos ..... don't have too many opportunities to practice her english.  We had 3 successful days together.  I think each of the sisters gained a new appreciation of someone learning their own language and not loving it how they love it, but sometimes dreading having to speak it. For a few hours on Thursday, the two of them even went to Hna Alvarez area to find more people to teach. It was good, but it was hard. We had fun together. When those two were together, I went with an english sister, Sister Dyer.  So incredibly weird to be the only one who speaks spanish beyond "bueno ... me llamo Hermana ......" I have actually learned a language ... to be able to communicate fairly well .... in a year! Gosh if that's not a miracle ... I don't know what is! The past two weeks has been the first time I've been with sisters who speak less spanish than I. Thursday, especially, with a sister that's not even called to teach in spanish. Anyway, great experiences with different comapnions and I definitely learned a great lesson that practicing, with a whole lot of patience, is necessary!!

Sunday we gave talks in church and honestly, both of us ended and asked each other, "what did I say?" We both had outlined notes but didn't follow them too closely. We felt the spirit, so I'd say they went well. I shared my experience of giving a bom once to a friend and not really having a testimony of it .... therefore going on to talk about gratitude for my testimony por medo del espiritu santo.

We had a lesson with a Jehovah's witness this week. This is a little older than us and was a reference we've been trying to contact. The lesson was going well and as noted by the member that was with us "she has a noble heart" but a woman that lives with her came in midway through .... and the spirit left.  Therefore, we followed suite. She expressed her knowledge of the Bible and we testified to her and asked her what she knew by the spirit. I've learned a lot recently at how most people are just fed up. Here in Mesa, because there are sooooo many of US, there are so many others who are on the defense of things and then turn into attacking. Lots of other missionaries.  So many people are just fed up. Therefore the ONLY way we're any different than all these people and other churches is that we have a LIVING PROPHET, the priesthood on the earth to guide the Church of Jesus Christ. La mayoria de las personas han escuchado este mensaje. they know it in their head .... bom .... prophet .... temple .... lots of commandments. Ok but their heart hasn't quite asked questions yet.  Oh to all the wonderful people in our area! In the world!!!!! Friday starts Christmas lights and it is incredible to feel the Spirit and testify of truth and see how people recognize that something is different.

Saturday we also find out about transfers. I've learned really well ... that my ways are not the best .... so I'll leave it up to the Lord to make the decision and I'll accept that plan! I don't need to worry about what could happen ..... I love being with Hermana Mazariegos and yes, of course, I would LOVE to be with her for 3 more months ... but I also know that I've had 2 wonderful months with her that I have learned a whole lot and gained a much greater testimony of the Book of Mormon and the reality that this is the Lord's church on the earth! VAMOS A VER!

When I was set apart, President Carmack said that I would have energy to get up each day and I would never be sick in the apartment.  I think he said that so that if I ever felt sick enough to even think about that, I could know it's not even an option to go home. After those days of intercambios and talks in church and a fireside in Phoenix, my body was not functioning yesterday. It just felt vacio. sin fuerza. Keeping eyes open.  What better opportunity to be humbled and call on the powers of heaven to give me strength? I have a feeling the rest of my mission I will be sin fuerza and you know what .... I'm ok with that. I am humbled. I'm grateful for trials, whatever form they may be in. I have a whole lot more to learn in my life and I know that trials are one of the best ways to learn how to be happy and serve God and His children.

We received the conference issue last week in english, but are waiting for spanish. I decided to read all of them in english. I am about 70% finished. I love conference. I love reading the words of living prophets. They speak to us because they speak by the Holy Ghost.  I loved President Utchdorf's talk in Priesthood on pride and his pen example! Hahaha That's how we need to be! And President Eyring opening the Sunday morning session conference!

no creo que hay mas. HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I'm pretty sure the Gibsons told us we'll be eating something with turkey and chicken and duck all in one. HAHA We're excited. Oh and this week we each had a whole fish for dinner. It wasn't too bad and it was better with salsa. hahaha no worries mom and dad, my eating preferences have alll completely changed! Plus the next day we had crab and that was good too!

Love you all!!!!!! It's cold here now ... 55! Love always, hermana Clark

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

November 16

Something ALWAYS happens Tuesday night or Wednesday that I want to write about. ALWAYS, no fail. This past week we went to a less active family to teach them the Restoration (something Pres Ellsworth has asked us to do .... teach to their needs but teach restoration, plan, gospel of Jesus Christ) well we couldn't go far because Hno Rodriguez expressed his beliefs that there is not a church that Christ has and that there is no way we can trust in a prophet. It seemed any testimony, answer was disputed. It wasn't said in a "no, you're wrong," but oh how our hearts just ached walking out of there. We testified of the book of Mormon. There's not much you can do if someone doesn't want to accept something new and is not willing to pray to ask God about it. Ouch. They did, however, give us a referral to their neighbor who is struggling with cancer as a young mother.

We had exchanges this week which is always exciting, nerveracking, different, strange, great .... but a relief when we get back to our areas with our propias companeras. I was with Hermana Nichiguchi from bountiful! Oh what an awesome sister she is! She has about .... 4 months in the mission? so 6 on her mission? She struggles with spanish and it was the first time I was with someone with less spanish that I have. Very interesting! Pretty much every exchange I am with natives! I love having a day though to serve with someone different to kind of take a step back and look at how we're doing the Lord's work and see how we can do it better. 

The thing that made it interesting was the night before and the night after (we exchange at 9pm). Hna Mazariegos was with Hna Chaca from Peru ... so they can't drive. We picked up another bike so those two could bike the next day. Their apartment was about 30 minutes away. But they're living at a members house (who has other sisters) because they have bed bugs in their apartment. So they moved for the next ..... 3 weeks. Well I pick up Hna N and we get back to the apartment about 1015. Next night we're at her house super early to make sure we get back in time .... but the housing coordinator comes to talk to the sisters and he says that now our house has bed bugs! Ay! That night we got home at 1030 and had to wash all our sheets and clothes and dry them 3 cycles and vacuum bed.  Wow it was weird to be up so late again. I vote ..... early to bed, early to rise. During exchanges I also got a call from the mission office telling us we went over miles. We thought we had 1500 miles. Nope .... 1250. We thought we were close last time. Ohhhhh great! So pretty much .... mom and dad. You both have told me about something that I've read and thought, "glad we don't have that problem" and low and behold .... haha we have the potential of the problem.

We haven't had problems with bed bugs ..... so we're thinking no tenemos!!! We have been finding rides places and cutting down on our miles. So far so good .... but we're being careful. With Christmas lights starting in 2 weeks .... YES CHRISTMAS LIGHTS .... we'll be gastando mas miles and that'll be interesting. plus, I've been asked to lead a small group for new years eve when all the missionaries sing at the christmas lights. that means we'll be gastando (i don't know what the word is in english) more miles to practice singing. It will all work out, we'll do what we can, pray for help, and ask for members to give us rides .... and come with us! We see it as a blessing because our area is so big that it can be hard to use time well. So this will force us to stay in an area for a while and find those who we normally would not find.

In the midst of this, the Crandall family also told us their daughter and son-in-law will be moving in in December. I think it will be a whole harder for them than it will be for us to move out. Man we just love them though! They are our parents and are always asking us what they can do for us. Gosh no - that's what we're supposed to be doing as guests in their house!!!! I have also been enjoying their piano and playing "The Olive Tree" one of my favorites!

Anyway, it was an up and down for a week. Last Tuesday seemed to be super and I knew things would happen to try and bring our faith down ..... no doubt they did. The mission can be rough, but the Lord is always there to give us the strength we need, as long as we rely on him. In one moment I just prayed, "help us, we don't know how we can do this and be obedient" I opened up to jacob 3:1-2. I just pleaded with the Lord to help me be pure of heart so that I can have a "mente firme" and do this work as He would like it done. Yay for prayers being answered.  The Book of Mormon continues to be a huge strength.

Yesterday we met with Carlos and Mari and Carlos basically told us he knows these things are true .... but doesn't want to act on them.  "I don't want to be baptized as I am now" No and our Heavenly Father doesn't either! So we're thinking he needs some priesthood to be his friend, invite to things on Saturday (instead of Sunday) and help him see the great blessings of getting baptized and preparing to have an eternal family!!!! Oh I just love them!

One last thing. No ... I forget now. Something with the Book of Mormon. Nope, I can't remember. I love reading it though.  I feel like Satan is working harder on us, especially me right now. Well, one thing was we had stake conference with 90 stakes in Arizona. Sister Thompson talked about reading the BoM - suchhhhhh a need! No matter if your new in the church or all your life! And President Monson talked about rescuing the lost ones. That was great to hear becasue we have about 10 less actives in our area and ...... that'll be good.

I liked one response this week from a sister that's newly called as a branch missionary. She asked us about people she has been told to teach and we talked about it for a bit and in the end she said, "I don't want to burn!" hahahahaha ok yes so we will continue to be diligent in our callings and do what we can in the Lord's work! This is the Church of Jesus Christ on the earth! President Monson is the prophet of God today with all keys and the authority to guide us back to live with our Heavenly Father once again. The Book of Mormon has answers for all of our problems. I will delight in its words and never let it wrest. Love you all! Thanks for your hard work! Keep. it. up!! Love always, Hermana Clark

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

November 9

THIS WEEK WAS HUGE! I don't know where to start... chronologically.

TUESDAY Mission tour (basically just talking about everything in the mission from teaching to finding to being obedient to having problems with companions to ..... anything you can think of) with Elder Evans of the 70. He was super friendly, very real, and a great encouragement on the things we can do better to help us have more success. The big one was ASK REFERRALS FROM EVERYONE. The guy who doesn't want to talk to you, recent converts, active members, ..... SIEMPRE. I always think of Hna Nielsen - she once goes a referral from a preacher and the referral got baptized! The other thing he really stressed was the BOOK OF MORMON. I've felt a little frustrated about the BoM and not feeling like I use it enough for quite a while now. The answer is simple - read it. Study it. I'll find the things the people we're teaching need! Simple commitment of reading the Book of Mormon for 30 minutes each day in personal study has changed everything. This morning I felt like I stood up after kneeling in prayer, finishing personal study, and then had to remind myeslf that I am in Arizona ..... not being taught in Jerusalem by Christ by his parabolas or by Moroni recounting all of the examples of faith that caused things to happen (Ether 12). My love for the Book of Mormon and the scriptures has grown IMMENSELY this week. We also made a point of testifying of it in close to every person we talked to on the street. It's easy to agree that God loves us, but we are hear to teach others about the church of Jesus Christ that is on the earth and the BoM is evidence of it! I read notes of a blessing I received just before leaving the MTC from an elder in my district (my companion and I received blessings before we left the next day). One thing that was said was something to the extent of "you will know more than ever before that this is the church of Jesus Christ." That was close to one year ago and I have DEFINITELY seen how that has come to be true. This last conference as well as my testimony of the Book of Mormon. WE not only teach the gospel of Jesus Christ .... this is HIS church that's been established on the earth by a prophet of God! Anyway .... yeah .... it's just so exciting! It makes me so sad when people don't want to learn about people that also received the teachings of Jesus Christ .... the same teachings.

WEDNESDAY Zone Conference. I will note, I felt incredibly weak in strength Wednesday morning. All day Monday I was sooooo excited to be taught and therefore all my energies are kind of taken up and heightened. By the time Wednesday rolled around ... I didn't know if I could get out of bed. My whole body ached! Then I thought of President and Sister Ellsworth ..... I laughed thinking I didn't know if I could get out of bed. Zone Conference was great and we talked a lot about the mission tour. I am pretty sure the way we're having meetings is different. It's not so much, "you must do this, you cannot do this" It's "cultivate the spirit, and work by that. This will help you. Meet the needs of your investigators. In this situation ... this might be right .... in others .... it won't be." I don't know ... but it is changing. In Zone Conference we also talked for a good hour about using money well and budgeting, using phone minutes well (because pretty much all over), eating well (you need fiber .... nothing was said of losing weight as is what EVERY sister thinks of. My theory is I will never have this oportunity to eat great, free food again. I can say that because I'm not gaining weight ..... because I exercise!). Anyway ... interesting to think about these things that are important, maybe secondary to preaching the gospel, but necesary in order that we can preach the gospel with all our heart, might, mind, and strength.

At the end of these big meetings, we had to recoup and talk and get out from frustrations. Oh my dear companion really struggles with english. It is so difficult and she feels like the walls of Satan are just closing in anytime someone speaks english to her. She is such an example to me though! Last week we were in Walmart and put her arm around an elderly woman and asked, "can we help you?" I don't think anyone could've said it with anymore love than she did to that woman! Who cares if we can't understand each said said, the language of the Spirit and love (not romantic .... brotherly love) is universal. Hermana Mazariegos is amazing!!!!

DOMINGO Claudia came to church!!!!!!! WE've been teaching Claudia on and off since June?? She, with her 4 songs, is living with a less active. She's never shown great interest in the church, but goes to the english classes and church activities (boys are in scouts). We brought a family with boys around the same age about 2 months ago and slowly but surely this family has been working with her. They drove to her house Sunday morning so that she could follow them (so she would know someone was there waiting for her) and she came all by herself!!!!!! And she loved it! And said, "next week, all the boys will be here with me!" We're not really sure what changed but we are sooooo excited to see her progress! That is in comparison to a woman that came with her 2 boys who had come only once before as well. They were bored before. We saw them this week and SHE suggested (after we asked how we could help) we come by Sunday morning to clean up after a birthday party for her son so that they can go to church. Wahoo - exciting right? Well they show up to church, she doesn't even come into the class, and after an hour the boys decide they're bored and so they go home. HOW SAD! Ay Nevertheless we had a Missionary farewell. Us 4 sisters sang a song about finding those friends we had in the Pre-existence. My piano skills are definitely improving and I plan on improving more when I get home. I played it before to get to know the song better and just cried reading the lyrics. Though the majority of the people will reject us ..... those who are searching for this are ETERNALLY GRATEFUL. That night there was a "noche de valores" or Standards Night for the youth. Claudia and Carlos (bf) and the 4 boys came, long time investigating family came, Jose and Aracely came (never came to church, she was baptized when she was 8 years old but doesn't remember anything). SUCCESS that they came. As all standard nights, we talk about things as they are, but with the Spirit. The law of chastity and dating. Music and entertainment. The role of parents and being friedns but also setting limits and having the courage to say no. Each family investigating the church really enjoyed it - even Jose and Aracely ... who just that afternoon were talking about how they don't really want to get married .... what's the big deal. And drinking alcohol and smoking. Last night we went over and we talked about what they liked and it was awesome. Besides a few things ..... they're trying to live the higher law of raising their kids well and having a good relationship with them and as a family. What a testimony to me that people are prepared and have tendency to do good!!!! They just have not been taught all the principles of Jesus Christ! ]

LUNES The Hernandez family. We're teaching Carlos, the dad, (family was baptized 22-10-10) and oh we are so excited! Yesterday we talked about the Apostasy and how it was necesary for a restoration. Then testified of eternal families. They are an incredible family and have been prepared to receive the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Carlos is still kind of sitting on it ... but is coming to activities and reading the BoM with the family every day. The next step is for him to come to church! He knows it's in his hands and that we're here to help him along, not pressure. Mari, oh Mari. She is soooo wonderful. In watching the movie about the amazing family that's such a great example of reading scriptures everyday (yes that is the Hernandez family .... but referring to the movie that we were in yesterday) it was mostly about being patient parents and when our kids make mistakes we first love them and tell them how great they are but also tell them of our concern for a decision that maybe wasn't wise. Last night we went over and Karla (10) had done something bad in school, so much Mari was called and met with the teacher. Naturally, Karla was really ashamed and when we came over was crying and mad. Mari took her to the other side of the room and said very calmly "My dear Karla, I love you. I will never be able to tell you enough. You know this was a bad decision, and so we can work our way to pay the consecuencias and make up for what happened.... but I love you". .... and gave her a giant hug in the end. I learned about this principle that morning in the movie about families and then saw it in action at our recent converts house. Oh how great they are! What great examples to me!!

The gospel of Jesus Christ will change your life. You might say you don't need to change, but with that attitude you probably do. The ways of Jesus Christ was humility and love. The Book of Mormon has answers to our problems. I never want to look away from it. A member this week referred to a story in the BoM that related to the problem she's going through .... Hna Mazariegos and I just looked at each other .... that's how we want to be .... always! Not just as misioneras!

I think that's sufficient for the week. Lots. Yesterday was really funny though to see the family! I laughed the whole day! We were soooooo young! And so weird to think that an apostle is saying the things we need to do ... and then they show an example of our family! Horray for righteous parents! We might be living in the world, but I'm glad to say we don't have to live of the world! I love you all! Thanks for your love, examples, and EVERYTHING! Until next week! Love love love! Love, Hermana Clark

Monday, November 1, 2010

november 1

Why is time running away? The temperatures have officially cooled off and I can say I will probably never see another 100 day again (PHEWWWWW!). It was in the 90s the other day and it felt gross .... oh how I will NOT miss those hot summer days! We left our house this morning and it was a chilly 63! The more I live in the Crandells house the more I think I'm in Seattle. The mornings feel like a cool summer morning in Seattle. We keep the windows open. There is a little airport nearby and so we constantly are hearing little plans fly by (they're not sea planes though!) The basement smells like grandma's basement (that sounds like it'd be really gross ... typically people grandparents houses don't smell good .... I beg to differ) Last night I even had a dream that we went running (we always try to find somewhere new to run ... I get bored running the same route most of the time) and we passed Pronk's house ... in Seattle. Then I pinch myself and remember I am ON MY MISSION in MESA, ARIZONA! But yeah .... I don't know what it is ... smells, sounds, and looks like Seattle (except no pine trees ... mostly palm trees here!) OH and plus people here have boats. I am definitely glad we're not near a lake though or I'd look at it everyday wanting to go swimming.

This week felt kind of weird. Last night our district leader asked how our week was ..... I don't know ..... it's over? We are in the process of trying to look at our area and find the people who are READY to keep commitments and prepare for baptism. Right now we're working with a lot that aren't ..... which is about 99% of people. I hate to use the word weeding out .... but you can't just keep going to houses that keep letting you in. OF COURSE we are here to bless people and help them strengthen their faith in Christ but we also have the blessing of being surrounded by lots and lots and lots of members. We can all do this work together!

Something we want to try this week is share miracles. We are excited to bring more of the spirit in their home and to help them fulfill their purpose as parents, children, family, leaders, neighbors, etc.

Today and tomorrow Elder Evans of the 70 is here training our mission. We're meeting with half the mission tomorrow from 8-2. We're excited!!!!! Then Wednesday we have Zone Conference with President Ellsworth! Wahoo for being instructed by our leaders on how we can be better! I think I only have one more zone conference after this one. Yikes my time is limited. I'm excited to have these trainings now so that these last few months we can be more effective than ever!

Yesterday church was just ... awesome! We were asked to speak, all 4 of us misioneras, on la obra. 2 weeks ago we'd mentioned it was something we could do and that whole week all I could think about was church ... bringing investigators to church .... helping members see the importance of bringing people to church and helping them enjoy their experience. Needless to say, when they said, "yes we want you to speak" .... I knew what I'd be talking on. I studied a lot about the sacrament and a talk Pres. Bassett gave us a few months ago on how "el poder de la divinidad se manifiesta en las ordenanzas" (DyC 84:19-21). We went to church and had an incredible lesson on reverence by the 2nd counselor in the bishopric in RS/P. Kind of a .... we can do better .... we NEED to do better. It was good. The Spirit was felt and I think we all recognized things we can do better. I just hope the two mothers whose kids are always running up and down the aisles in Sacrament meeting weren't offended and rather took it as the branch is going to help out. I kind of worry about that one day ... how will I keep my kids reverent? Teach them, be reverent, but also be patient. It is appropriate to take them out so others can enjoy the meeting and the spirit there. I was a little nervous after that before if they were listening ... it meant they'd all be very reverent and try to listen to the sacrament talks ...... our talks?? Well, turns out it was High Councilor week and they'd forgot. We'll talk another week! He and a recently returned missionary de Guatemala spoke on the importance and great significance of la ley de diezmo. Awesome.

We went on splits this week. I was with a sister who's been a member 2 years. Her daughter (16) loves seminary. Her son got baptized just this past year but at the age of 14 is falling into inactivity. Her husband has a hard time with the word of wisdom and though recognizes the church is great, can't find the willpower to overcome an addiction. She and I were accompanied by our branch president and well as the 1st counselor in the stake presidency. What a strange night it was! Strange because we're rarely with Priesthood members .... let alone two leaders! It was SWEEEEEET though. We had an appointment with a family and we were going to go bless their home with the desire to learn of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The wife was not there however so we will return. We were left with an hour to contact people I know. We talked to everyone who passed by ... including the men hauling their budlight into the house who pretty much just mocked us. We knocked on a door of a family who is attending another spanish branch. The mother answered the door very flustered because she just had word her husband was in a car accident. Lucky for her, President Smith is an accident laywer. We began talking to her and invited her to the rama, now that she knows the branch president and Pres. Stoker of the Stake presidency. After all, the Priesthood authority keys are here in this branch. We continued talking and President Smith asked the heaven-sent question - have you received your patriarchal blessing yet? She stopped and just said ... ok .... you got me. It has been on my mind for weeks .... months .... I know I need to get it! Well, here we are, ready to help you! It was wonderful to visit with her and our leaders. The Spirit was felt, she felt loved. That's what this work is about.

We visited with Florita de la Rosa. She was offended a long time ago by a leader and since hasn't returned. We watched the Restoration movie and she immediately brought up .... why did the blacks not receive the Priesthood until 1978. She didn't accept anything we taught, but I certainly learned a lot in that 20 minutes that we discussed how our Heavenly Father loves us. I'm pretty sure nothing changed for her ... but the spirit testified to me of something I've been wondering for a long time. That's exactly how the Spirit works. I love 2 corinthians 2:14 (or 1 Corin? no recuerdo) Spiritual things can ONLY be learned by the Spirit.

Guess what? I'm 3 for 3. Jehovah's witnesses have knocked on every single house that I"ve lived in and I"ve been the one privileged to answer everytime! This time was a little different through. I was making a taco in the kitchen and heard Sis Crandell talking with men about the kingdoms. Usually they're listening to conference talks or something ... but this sounded different. My first thought was Is she .... learning about other churches??? Should .... we be living here? HAHA no the Jehovah's Witnesses were at the door and she always wants to hear the message they share. It's not that they're wrong ... they just don't have the full truth. I did testify to them about the need for a prophet to help us interpret the scriptures.

Success ... Mari Hernandez (was baptized 10 days ago ...) went Visiting Teaching this week. Booyeah! She's awesome! We're teaching Carlos .... he came to the Halloween party! Progress!!!!

I love this work! It is certainly hard. I am remembering who I represent and how it wasn't easy for Him ... so how can I expect it to be easy for me? Thanks for your examples, love, and prayers! Love always, Hermana Clark

october 27

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! 51! I used to think of 51 as being old ..... nope! It's still young!

THE HERNANDEZ FAMILY (minus Carlos) got baptized on Friday! As usual, baptisms are always a little hectic before but wonderful and Spirit-felt in the end! Horray! After they got baptized, they were welcomed into the branch and were asked to stand up there so everyone could see them. Oh how happy they were - the light in their eyes!!!! Carlos will not be long behind. He just needs a little help with recognizing and opening up to the Spirit (that's the only secret) - [I guess that's with EVERYONE in the world too.....]. It's like President Packer's comments once in a talk - a testimony is well hidden ... no one that is prideful or egotistical can find it. It can ONLY be found in humbly seeking the Spirit. That is what I've learned if nothing else with their family and the Vargas (baptized in September). If you're humble and seek the spirit, it will testify of things of truth. Baptism, therefore, is only the beginning. As we talked to the Hernandez (especially the kids) about the "interview" (in quotes because they were sooooo nervous when we said that word!) it's not about what you know; it's what you're willing to do to and what you know to be true from these feelings from our Heavenly Father. They will be an incredible strength to the branch and they continue to learn, grow, and serve! And Carlos!

This week felt really short thinking I was just here .... but sooooo much happened. Something we saw this week was lots of sadness. We started talking to a woman who is going through a divorce after 8 years, 3 kids, high school sweethearts. She feels like she's starting over and everything she knew has abandoned her. Well .... that's why we're here! :) One day we didn't have dinner so we called a woman in the rama [PARTLY because we didn't want to eat our food ..... but also because she is in primary and can't sign up and would like to]. She really just opened up expressing her trial of patience while serving in primary. She knows english well enough ... but she's not being challenged in this calling. She just sits through 2 hours of primary .... she doesn't have a class or anything ... serving in the Primary presidency. She wants to learn and be fed the gospel! She struggles with patience "why do you think I only had 2 kids." She knows she struggles with it and recognizes that for some reason she is in Primary ... again .... but it doesn't mean it's easy. Oh this dear hermana! It made me so sad to see what is going on in her heart. I started realizing this a few months ago. As we do a better job at being representatives of Jesus Christ and more worthy of the Spirit, we speak more to peoples hearts and we learn how we can help them. We find out their concerns, struggles, problems. Oh all the hurt in this world! It is so amazing though to be in this role as a representative of El .... to testify to people that there is a way through (maybe and most of the time not out). That is why we invite people to come unto Him - because he can relieve us of our cargas, debilidades, affliciones. He can help us, if we let him into our hearts! How can we let him in? we can learn about him in the Book of Mormon, the Bible, living day prophets.

We saw a family a few weeks ago that looked hispanic so we wrote down the address and came back this week. Getting out of the car we went and talked to a man outside. No doubt in my mind, we were sent, at the very least, to talk to him. What is success in missionary work? That peoples burdens are lifted. His mom was just leaving as we came to talk to him. We were worthy of the Spirit and asked a heaven sent question, "Have you had a lot of change in your life recently." A few minutes later he told us he had just told his mom he didn't want to talk about God - he was mad at him. The Spirit was there, however, so we were able to testify of our loving Heavenly Father and his plan for us. Central to the plan is our Savior, Jesus Christ. No he didn't accept that missionaries come by his house, but he was lifted.

We went to the temple this morning as a zone and Hermana Nielsen told me that they visited Doris in the hospital this week. Doris is a woman we saw one day (we were always right by her house ..... I only saw her once) when we were leaving a note for a woman. I remember it like it was yesterday. That day we had practiced and promised each other we wouldn't let anyone pass without asking them a soul-searching question (yes it's always easier to just give them a card to the Visitors Center but that's like telling someone you have something really special but not letting them see that it really IS something they want .... like a billion dollars). Hna Nielsen was writing the note and I saw Doris walking her dog. I knew I had to talk to her. I walked up to her .... had a little conversation ... knowing that I HAD to ask a soul-searching question (yes sometimes it is awkward/weird to ask people we just met about things that are really close to their hearts) .... and I don't know what I asked her but she opened up to us. She invited us in and told us that 20 years ago she'd lost a baby and she still feels that sadness. She's tried many things but hasn't found any relief from her pain. She said she's not really willing to go to church ... bad experiences. We taught her about the plan, testified of Jesus Christ, prayed, and were off. [gave the referral to the Elders - english] This week she called Hnas Nielsen and Alvarez asking if they could come visit her in the hospital [besides losing a baby ... she has every health problem known to mankind]! When they went, she said, "I know this will really surprise you .... but I want to go to church!" I'm pretty sure Doris doesn't remember who I am, but I remember her. She was looking for something and we have it! I am SO grateful and feel so privileged to be a messenger, angel, representative in this GREAT WORK!

I love this time in the mission. I love this work! I love Hermana Mazariegos! I love the Valencia branch! My prayer is that we can be God's hands here in our area. I know we will continue to be guided to those seeking relief as we are obedient and follow promptings of the Spirit. I am learning more about myself than ever before. It hurts but it feels soooooo good. Breaking out of that chocolate shell that you always say, "I can't do that. I'm just like that." No, we can change for the better (or the worse ... but hopefully the better). I recognized this week that I've really changed. I don't know how exactly .... but I have. I am a different person. One thing I've learned is that there are MANY ways to love people and the secret is to find the way that they need to feel that love our Heavenly Father has for them. When that love is felt, the Spirit can testify, we can be edified, we will acercarnos a Dios, seremos felices! We will all be winners (thanks grandpa!). What a glorious thing to be taught from on high in the temple!

I love you all! Thanks for your love! Keep being facilitators of miracles with your great faith! Love always, Hermana Clark

october 19

I heard this date almost a year ago as the day Hermana Ghan would be going home. WHERE DID THE TIME GO?

Transfers came and went and we're staying!!!! Wahoo!! Hermana Nielsen is training and we are SOOOOOO excited! I cannot imagine trying to figure out transfers for casi 200 misioneros. I received a call from the Assistants the other day asked about my greenie area (10 months ago). It was so interesting for them to ask "would an area between these streets be large enough to sustain work" One question I thought no. Another question, I thought and then said yes. It was then that the Spirit confirmed that these two missionaries are being guided by the spirit to establish certain areas where certain misioneras will be serving. WOW. My testimony this week of leaders - in the mission and in our areas - has been strengthened. We talked to them again another night and it was only confirmed .... people are in leadership positions to bless. All the Assistants to the President, Zone Leaders, and District Leaders I have had have been a blessing to me, my companion, and/or to the area in at least one way or another! Organization! Namely the same organization that existed in the primitive church .... I won't go on. But yes, Priesthood leadership and callings.

We had exchanges on Friday and I was with Hermana Lopez who I dearly love! She is from Bolivia and is in medical school and was in this area before. She is a REALLY hard worker but had been really sick, and so I was under strict orders to not work hard (what the heck???). It was so interesting to talk to her during our time together. Again, through our leaders, we were assigned to be together for a day. We were able to lift each other and help each other improve. I learned so much from her. She understands the principle of repentance and that our purpose is to help people come unto Christ aka help them repent. Aveces I feel like when we're doing that is like strangling someone and saying, "you're not living right." Obviously that is NOT how Christ would do it and therefore not correct (why is that in my head). Obviously I need to repent and do it as the Savior would do it. She had such a wonderful way to invite people to better their lives! We discussed the principle of success - as a missionary - what is success? In the mission it's really easy to look at how many baptisms you've seen. Everyone knows those are the absolutely sweetest moments but they also come in the little everyday things. She has been out longer than I and only seen two people enter the waters of baptism. In this mission, that is very little. In others, that is more than a whole missions work! I remember a few months ago feeling discouraged and we went to a meeting with the Stake President. Elders had white washed and didn't have any investigators. We didn't have any dates. President Ostler spoke of a Sister that had just come home and never saw anyone enter the waters of baptism. No one. Her mission was a success! One reason I can also see that the mission will be a success is if we use the things we're learning and are good member missionaries after. (Thanks Sister Tara Morton, that's from you!)This is something I am SUPER excited about - I can hang out with someone and be that friend that the missionaries are always searching for. This was something that Hermana Lopez had never thought of and it was really cool to see that in a small way I was able to be an answer to her prayers. In my mind, success = having and following the Spirit. That means your doing the Lord's work in His way.

We talked to a really frustrated step-father at an apartment complex this week. About 30 minutes later we talked to the step-daughter who's really frustrated with .... life, especially the parentals. She opened up when I told her I was an EFY counselor [speaking of ... I couldn't not buy it .... this morning I bought 2010 EFY CD .... ] and I testified of how much our Heavenly Father loves us and just like our parents here, they want the best for us and THAT is why they advise us in certain ways (no one is a perfect parent). You could tell she has been really hurt. The only one that can really help heal that is the Savior. I love youth and my heart just about breaks when they are victims of tragedy, sadness, violence, and/or poverty. Driving back from the Distribution Center today I saw a name that was in my old area that I just love. His name is Sean. The Elders have taught him a lot, now works at DI, has contemplated baptism but has a hard time accepting Joseph Smith. His wife died in a car accident 10 years ago and his family has literally been scarred ever since. His sons have problems in school and with friends ... and it all goes back to 10 years ago. Anyway, yeah, he's awesome. Every person is so special and has been subjected to so much hurt. I think I started this with youth. Youth and children are so special and need all the help they can get .... at least all the help they will accept.

Last night we were with Mari Hernandez and her 4 kids. She was so excited at the end of the night to round up all her kids (11,10,8,2) to say, "Now kids, do you see .... if we're good examples ... Mia (2) can have the gospel in her life always. She will not know any other way! Oh I love the hope she has! They will be getting baptized on Friday and we are SOOOOOO excited! Oh my goodness! More to follow with them ...... Just another example of a family just waiting for the light to come to their family. They love reading the Book of Mormon! The kids are excited to learn! This last Sunday was the first week they went to all three hours. They were all super nervous for their classes and what not. Cesar (8) after said, "That was so short, Can I come to church every week?" Oh my goodness! Haha I have never heard an 8 year old be so excited to learn and go to church!

I remembered this week that before I received my assignment to come to the Arizona Mesa Mission, I feared (I know that's not a good word to use ..... ) being sent to a country that I didn't know the language, culture, anything, and feeling alone. Well, I have been sent here, but my companion is pretty much in that situation. Pretty much all the people we talk to on the streets only speak English. Pretty much all the other missionaries we talk to only speak english. Someone referred to her this week as "the missionary that hardly knows any english" That hurts when you're working hard at learning a language .... but sent to teach in spanish. I have realized ways that I've been really selfish. Maybe I won't have as much time to do the things I want to do, but I can serve my companion. This week I was praying to find more ways to serve her, especially in the category of english. I thought of something one morning and dismissed it after a moment and then stopped. Have I not be praying for ideas to serve her? Did I not just get an idea? I did it and last night she found the little thing I'd done - after a hard day of being frustrated with english. The Spirit works in the littlest ways. We played soccer for the last time this morning (lots of elders in the area are being transferred) and one of them made the comment "remember when you came and you couldn't speak any english? Look how far you've come." I think we both wanted to cry hearing that. I want to be more perceptive and sensitive to the needs of others. I am SOOOO excited to be with Hermana Mazariegos for at least another 6 weeks to have the chance to serve her.

Random question, but did we ever had a lay over in the Phoenix Airport? I remember sitting in a large food court area (I couldn't have had more than 10 years???) in an airport with cactus and such all over the walls and I thought it was so strange. I remember sitting there, however, and thinking something along the lines of living there one day. That memory also makes me think of the University of Phoenix. It is such a vivid memory. I don't know what it has to do with anything ..... but you know ..... the Lord works in mysterious ways.

Thanks for the prayers. I LOVED reading the success of so many other missionaries this week - especially Lauren Anderson! WAHOOO!!! There are people out there who have been prepared! I love this work. I know it is the Lord's work and that any success is His! Love always, Hermana Clark