Tuesday, March 27, 2012



I love you so much I LOVE reading your emails :) Dave, Mom, and Dad, thank you so much for your emails. They really make my day :)

Anyway, I have SOOO much to say this week!! I hope I remember everything. It has been a WONDERFUL week! The Lord has blessed me so much this week as I´ve tried to push through the hard times and replace it with working. ¨Work, work, work. There is no suffiecient substitute.¨ (In Preach My Gospel - I love it). He is so merciful and will sometimes bless us and help us even when we feel like we´re not deserving of his blessings. This week Elder Rich and I have been working on truly taking Christ´s name upon us and take our calling even moreso to heart. It has been such a good experience. Striving as hard as we can to be better representatives of Christ in everything we do, say, think, and feel has been so rewarding!! More than anything, it has helped me to gain an even greater love, respect, and reverence for my Savior.
Shaid and Me at the Panama City Temple
Ok so probably my highlight of the week: we went to the temple with Shaíd (I figured out this week I had been spelling his name wrong all this time). Guys ah, I can´t even tell you how amazing it was!!! The Spirit was SO strong and powerful!!! I was so happy to not only be edified myself, but so grateful because I knew the experience helped Shaíd so much. I´ve attached a picture of us at the temple. He´s an amazing man - such an example to me. He is so prepared and we CAN¨T WAIT for his baptism this Saturday!! Because of his paralysis, we are planning on both (Elder Rich and I) getting in the water with him for extra support as we baptize him. And yes Mom! We´re planning on doing the exact same thing as Elder Alley - using a chair in the water and everything :) So stoked.

Also happening this week, we had a multi-zone conference with President and the assistants! The message I took away from it was a needed reminder of the importance of the Book of Mormon both in teaching and in the conversion of our investigators. Good good stuff.

A tender mercy we had this week was the renewed success we started having with the Lou family! On Wednesday, we had a GREAT talk with Vielka (the mom) about her desire to change and basically how we love her and THAT´S why we want her to get baptized. I shared D&C 18: 14-16 (my mission scripture) and just bore my testimony to her that I love her and I want to have that joy with her in heaven someday, and that is why I want her to get baptized. It was spiritual. She is now onboard - we´re working on her husband - Chino Lou (I don´t know his real name - that´s just what everyone calls him. Haha...) The problem is we have to get them married before they can get baptized, and Chino hasn´t filled out the marriage papers - he´s had them for weeks. We ended up having a fast for him after reading Isiah 58 (the law of the fast), and a few days later, he agreed to finally fill them out and work with us again!!! Now if we can just help him see WHY it is important :)

So I found a new favorite chapter: Corinthians 15. It talks about the 3 kingdoms of glory, and baptism. So good!!
Ok my time is almost up so I´m gonna have to write the rest reeeeallly fast.....

1) Mom, I got your DearElder! I LOVED LOVED LOVED the letters from Elder Hyde and Garner. Elder Hyde especially´s was incredible. He is an example to me and I can´t wait to see him again someday.

2) KATIE!!!! I got to see you!! Hna. Carmen let me watch it last night on lds.org before dinner. You did amazing!!! It was really cool to see everyone there. I bet it was such an amazing experience to sing for the prophet.

3) Elder Rich became a District Leader this week!

4) Tell Nathan Garner happy b-day for me and that I remembered :)

OK fam I´m all out of time, but I will try to write more next week individually!! Mom especially - expect a letter soon.

Love you!

-Elder Clarke

Monday, March 19, 2012


Hola familia!!!

Happy St. Patricks day! Haha. We celebrated here with our first rain of the season! The rain season starts at the first of April next month, and I hear it gets pretty crazy. So we´ll see soon enough :)
This has been another hard long week, but a good week. Elder Rich and I are striving to edify ourselves before The Lord so that we can be more receptive to The Spirit and be better instuments in His hands. I have grown alot this week though, and I love how the hard times build you up higher and stronger.
- Shaít is at the top of the list right now - he is on FIRE!!!! He´s keeping almost all of his commitments and is attending church every Sunday. He has truly had a change of heart and we can´t wait to baptize him on the 31st!! We´re planning on baptizing him in-between sessions of General Conference :) (I have more to say about that later.)

- Melissa is coming along..... we haven´t had as many lessons this week with her as we would´ve liked to, but there is progress. Right now we are trying to help her keep the Word of Wisdom. She struggles a bit with it - she usually likes to chill out every weekend with friends and with a beer or two. I know as long as we stress to her gaining her own personal testimony though, The Lord can help her if she has that desire. We are only instruments in The Lord´s hands - we will do everything we can to try and help her gain a personal testimony.

- Rod..... eh..... has not answered any of our calls this week. Haha...we are beginning to think he just wanted to speak english to someone? :)

- New awesome investigator:: Jenny!!!! Wow. This lady is real awesome. Elder Rich and I are SO excited to start teaching her. We got her as a reference from the sisters (Good ol´ Hermana Lopez) and we weren´t able to get a hold of her for a few weeks, but this week we finally tracked her down and she is amazing!!!! Very humble - and that is what The Lord is looking for. She has a 10 year old daughter as well that we would love to baptize also! Hopefully things continue to go real well with her in the coming weeks.

        All right, so Friday, we had a stake activity, and it was SUPER sweet! The stake is putting on a cultural month where we will celebrate different countries and cultures once a week, and they are PERFECT activities for investigators to come to. This first week they celebrated Dom. Republic and Columbia. We brought Shaít along and guess what?? His Dad is from Columbia!! We got his Dad to come too!!! And man did Shaít love it. A good, good Friday night, folks.

        Ok and yesterday..... what a GREAT Sunday! It was a televised conference from SLC for ALL of central America!! I didn´t understand all of it cuz it was all translated to spanish, but holy cow it was sweet :) The speakers were Ann Dibb of the Young Womens, Don R. Clark (One of the Seventy representitives for Central America), L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy, and Boyd K. Packer!!!! It was seriously like General Conference - but it was only for central america!!! Super awesome. Such a testimony of how this is The Lord´s true church to me - the church works in such proficiency (I really forgot how to spell that word). But anyway.... my favorite part of the conference? The closing hymn :) It was ¨Grande Eres Tu¨ (How Great Thou Art) and I was singing with Shaít. The Spirit was SOO strong!!!!!!!! Wow!!! While singing, I just pictured Christ up front at the pulpit smiling down at all of us Panamanians and being so pleased as we praised him through song :) The Spirit was so strong to me, and I know Shaít felt it too - which was a great testimony builder for him. After the hymn, he turned to Elder Rich and I and commented on how powerful the song had been, and that he loved it! He also asked us if we could somehow get him a hymnbook - we´re hoping to when we go to the temple sometime. I keep hoping we´ll go the the temple one of these p-days as a zone, but it´s hard to set up an appointment, and you have to go as a zone. I really wanna go before I leave Chorrera :)

       Another reason I loved the conference yesterday is cuz it got me SOOOOOOOO excited for General Conference!!!!!!!! It´s only like two weeks away!!!!!!!! What a blessing it is to have a modern day prophet who recieves direction straight from The Source of All Truth, our Savior, and then tells the whole world!!! The church leaders and Apostles are so inspired and I´m so dang excited!!!! I´ve been told we might even be able to listen to it in english too, which would be cool so I could catch every last word :)
I love you all SO MUCH!!!! Keep doing well and praying and reading and I know The Lord will bless us for our efforts.

-Elder Clarke

P.S...... Katie, I want to see you perform SO BAD!!!! It´s so good to hear you have been doing so well with the singing and such with the YW conference!!! Good luck with it this upcoming week, and I will really try to write back in the coming weeks. You´re a studdette :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Hello family! This week was probly my hardest one yet.... a lot of hard hard work and a few small trials here and there - but a good week nonetheless! I know trials make you stronger so I´m not worried :)

So I had immigrations on Tuesday - had to go back to the city and fill out paperwork with a new group of missionaries that arrived. It was fun - except for the fact I was seperated from Elder Rich for a few hours and I started to miss him!! Hahah.... it was a weird feeling.

The next day (Wednesday) we had changes - LUCKILY Elder Rich and I have another change together. We´re really grateful and excited - we´re gonna do WORK! our goal is to have 3 more baptisms together before we part. Wednesday though, Elder Magnusson chilled with us for the first half of the day while his comp. went to the city for changes. We had a great morning study together, and I liked seeing how another missionary worked other than Elder Rich. Later in the day, we met our new zone - they are awesome!!! I LOVE our new Zone Leaders - Elder Villalobos from Puerto Rico and Elder Biesinger from Utah. They are sooo sweet. Our district leader is sweet too - Elder Lainez.
Here is a picture of my house.
So I mentioned we´re gonna get three more baptisms...... let me introduce you to some investigators :)

1) Shaít (pronounced Sigh-eat). About 50 years. He is amazing!!!!!! So amazing. We are for sure baptizing him on the 31st of this month. He has been so prepared by The Lord - I feel so blessed to teach him. This guy had an accident about 10 years ago that paralyzed him from the waist down - so he's in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. When all that happened, he started drinking hard core - he was always drunk. Ever since I arrived here, Elder Rich and I would pass him and see him at a Chino (just a little shop they have everywhere here). We would always just tell him to stop drinking, haha. But this one day he told us he would do anything to turn his life around - he told us he knew we could help him, and he was just miserable. We told him that we could only teach him when he was sober, so we planned a day to go and teach him..... turns out, he wasn´t drunk!! We took advantage in that first lesson, and challenged him to baptism and to stop drinking right there! The Spirit was so strong!!! Elder Rich and I were on the same page and everything. So where is Shaít now? He stopped drinking COLD TURKEY. He hasn´t yet taken another drink of beer! Like, seriously? After 10 years of drinking every night, he hasn´t! WHAT AN EXAMPLE. His desire to change and strong will is unbelievable. We made a compromiso with him that if he couldn´t drink beer - we couldn´t drink soda..... Elder Rich and I haven´t drunk soda in two weeks! Haha! He´s so awesome. Also, he hasn´t missed church yet! Wow! What a guy.

2) Melissa. About 40-ish. This girl...... awesome. Again, we feel like she´s been prepared. She is really good friends with the Lou family, and so that´s how we met her. Idk why, but we never thought to contact her or teach her. We thought maybe the missionaries before us had or something, idk. But anyway, one day she was like "so when are you gonna come teach me?" haha! What the! She contacted us! She is awesome - she has a desire and has been to church before with the Lou´s. We´re gonna start teaching her the lessons cuz we just got serious with her this week.

3) Rod. My man Rod :) this guy is like in his 30´s, and he´s the MAN! And the best part? You´ll never guess but... he speaks english! I´m really happy about this cuz I can say more in the lessons and stuff. Rod is from the states (I think Louisiana?) and he came down here for work since the economy is so bad in the states, and he also has some family here. On a p-day, we were eating at our favorite chicken joint by our house (the chicken here is In.Cred.I.Ble.... they work magic down here with it.) and he came up to us to see if we could speak english! (Anyone and everyone that even speaks a little bit of english always wants to talk to us.) Your best contacts always contact you. He has been so prepared too!!! He had really good questions about our church and has done a lot of research on religion! He wants to know the truth, and we´re giving it to him. Haha :)

So ya, those are the three investigators we´re most excited about right now. The Lou family has really been struggling lately - they won´t come to church and just don´t have time to sit down and listen to the lessons.... it makes me so sad.

Anyway, it sounds like everyone is just doing WONDERFULLY back at home! Seriously, I love to hear that everyone is doing so well. Mom and Dad, you both seem to be recovering from your injuries well. I love you :) Also, AWESOME news about my tax return!!!! Seriously! I am so blessed. I´m gonna thank Heavenly Father for that in my prayer tonight :) Dad, thank you for your letter and i´m really workin on writing back. You guys are the best, I love you so so much and I´m so happy to be on a mission! Bros and Katie, I love you too!

-Elder Clarke

P.S.... this week at investigators, I ate cow liver and octopus. Sweeeeet. Haha :)

This is a picture of my ear soon after surgery.  I wasn't able to send the picture until now.
A few questions & answers---sent by Mom and answered by Steve this week:

Q:  Are the Panamanian people nice to you? You know, on the streets and at church, wherever you go? 
A:  Everyone is so open! So different from the states, really: And EVERYONE beleives in Christ and openly lets it be known. Pictures of Christ everywhere, and almost in every home. Very down to earth and religious people here. I love it!

Q: Do you sleep well? Are you well-rested? 
A: I hit the bed every night like a ROCK. I¨m soooo tired after the day is over. I get tired throughout the day too - missionary work is rough! I sleep really well all through the night (except for the nights when Elder Rich and I have to keep an eye out for cockroaches on our beds... .yikes) haha.

Q: What do you do on P-day? Do you ever have combined activities with your Zone?
A: Ya, sometimes we have combined activities, but Elder Rich and I haven´t been to any lately cuz we...... play BASKETBALL!!!!!! Yep, that´s right. We´re SO LUCKY..... there´s a court by our house. So we do that. :) It´s the best. I´m hoping to go to the temple soon on the p-day (but you have to do that one as a zone since it´s outside of our area). I´m really so lucky I have a companion that´s so alike me.

Q: What has been your favorite food you have eaten there? What has been your mosted disliked food? 
A: PINEAPPLE!!!! It is CANDY here!!! OH my gosh seriously I love it so so so so much. It tastes nothing like the pineapple in the states. It´s soooo good. Gosh. My most disliked food here is I had to eat some "chocolate flubber" thing - but the reality is I had no idea what it was. I could barely swallow it. haha. This past week though, I ate octupus and cow liver at investigator´s houses. They were pretty good! And ya, coconut water is pretty good!! I like it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

First Baptism! 3-5-12

Hello hello hello! Thanks so much for all the emails this week you guys, I will try to reply to them in the coming weeks when I have more time! We don´t get too much time on the computer and so most of my time is taken up reading them and then writing this big one to all of you! But thanks again, it sounds like everyone is doing awesome :) So first.... Mom, I HAVE to know! How are you doing?! I have been thinking about you a lot with the surgery and all. I´m sorry you´re in a lot of pain..... that really does not sound fun at all. I will pray for you! You are such a trooper... I don´t understand how you do all that you do. Way to go :) I really hope you start feeling better soon! (until then, Katie can keep doing all the laundry, hahah... jk).
Allright, so yesterday.... I HAD MY FIRST BAPTISM!!!! Wow.... it was so amazing. The Spirit was so strong during the whole service! I baptized Narciso´s cousin - his name is Rigoberto Palacios Abiego. What a stud. I was really nervous because names here are REALLY hard for me - the pronunctiation and everything. But I said everything right the first time! The whole baptism prayer and everything! It was awesome awesome stuff. During the service, Elder Rich and I did a special musical number. We sang "Joseph Smith´s First Prayer" - we thought it was fitting because of Narciso´s huge Joseph Smith experience and all. We sang the song to the tune of "Come Thou Fount". It was super cool cuz a lot of latins haven´t heard that tune since Come Thou Fount isn´t in the hymnbook. The Spirit during that song...... oh my gosh. Seriously, it was crazy. And the Lou family heard it! They walked in right in the middle of the song! It was all so perfect. They got to see the baptism too. I feel so blessed that I was able to be part of Rigoberto´s salvation. And also that he was given The Gift of the Holy Ghost. A few days before, I was reading in "Our Search for Happiness" by M. Russell Ballard - it is a fantastic book. Anyway, there is a part in the book where he talks about the importance of The Holy Ghost.... after reading it, I have never been more grateful for that gift as well as for my baptism. And now one more person in the world has that gift because I was able to baptize them! Ahhh. Definately an experience I won´t forget.

After the bap. service, we took the Lou family to the temple with Pres. Ward. That was really really good for them. At the temple, we talked about the importance of temples for families and Pres. Ward did a great presentation. The Spirit was so strong there too! Just a super spiritual day. We are going to the mall with the Lou family today for preparation day! We love them haha.

During the week, we helped the Garcia family in our ward move to Panama City - hooooly cow. Hardly anyone from the ward showed up, and no one could go to the city with us, so it was pretty much just I and Elder Rich doing pretty much the whole thing. It took 11 hours round trip! Daang it was a long day. I was happy we could help though, cuz without us, they wouldn´t have had anyone to help them! They are a good family, and they´ll be good in the city.

Ok, so guys............... remember the animated book of mormon videos we used to watch as kids?? (Dave, you especially). With Ammon and Nephi and the gold plates and everything? Well uh.... guess what we found in our house?! Yep, 9 of those animated movies on DVD. Elder Rich and I are ADDICTED. He used to watch them as a kid too! We decided we´re having a animated BOM movie marathon together after our missions. We´re gonna watch every single one we own!! All thanks to GRANDMA.... she bought all those wonderful shows for us. Thank you so much, Grandma. Haha. We can´t put those movies down.

So I´m all out of time, but I´ll write more next week and try to reply to everyone´s email! And Mom, if you´ve got a lot of questions, it might be easier just to put them all in one big email and then send it to me - that way I´ll remember to answer them all? Sweet :) And by the way, get better!!! I´m gonna pray for you and I love you so much.

Love you all!!!

Elder Clarke

Thursday, March 1, 2012

PANAMA!! 2/27/12

It has been a GREAT week! I learn so much everyday with the language and the people. We contacted a lot this past week, and then yesterday at chuch was awesome! We finally got Chookie Lou to come! His family is tough though.... we couldn´t get them to show up. Mann. No worries though! We got them (the Lou family) to commit to coming to our baptism which will be held next Sunday. We have two baptisms - one for a REMARKABLE man named Narciso, and the other for his cousin, Rigoberto. Which brings me to the amazing miracle story I promised....

Allright, so on my 3rd day here in Panama (the 17th? I think it was) Elder Rich and I were out contacting with a recently baptized member named Carlos. Carlos is Chookie´s brother - he is a STUDLY 16-year-old. Elder Rich baptized him the week before I arrived here. Anyway - we were on a bus going out to a random part of our area far away, because we had an appointment drop. While we were on the bus, Carlos was holding a church pamphlet to fan himself (cuz you know, it´s a million degrees here). So.... a man behind us asks Carlos if he can buy the pamphlet he´s holding. What?! Haha. So of course Elder Rich and I turn around, and tell him he can have it for free! He was very grateful, and started reading the pamphlet. Then, Elder Rich turned back around and asked the man where he was going, and if he had time to talk. The man replied that he was just getting off of work and was headed home for the night. Elder Rich then told this guy "Ok well we´re gonna come to your house right now and talk with you then." It was really random, and almost kind of forced. Ha... the man was like "Right now?" and Elder Rich is like "Ya - right now." I was just thinkin´ "What is this guy doin....." haha. So we proceeded to get off the bus with him at his bus stop and walked (Yes Mom, to answer you question, we walk a good portion of our day :)) back to his house with him. When we got to his humble abode (I´m serious, it was humble. Made out of tin), we sat down on his front porch and asked him why he wanted to buy the pamphlet or something like that. He then responded with this anwser (and forgive me I´m paraphrasing here - my spanish still isn´t that great):
"Well I recently moved here from Bocas about a month ago, and I had seen you guys (talking about missionaries) before, but I never had a chance to talk with them. I know you have a message about God, and I want to hear it because I had a dream about God." Before we started the lesson, we asked him to share with us his dream, and this is what he said........... "Well about a year ago, I had a dream that God appeared to me and showed me a man. The man was really important in my dream, and I wrote his name down when I woke up so I wouldn´t forget it..... I don´t know if you guys have ever heard of him or anything, but his name was JOSEPH SMITH."         
WHAT?!?!? Was that for real??????? It really happened. I had heard countless crazy stories like that before in church and stuff, but this thing happened right before my eyes!!! We were completely stunned. I was lost for words. Haha. So we then taught him real quick that WE DID, INDEED know who Joseph Smith was, and we taught him the lesson of the restoration. During the lesson, he also told us that in this same dream God told him that he had a gift to give him. When the man woke up, he went and told his cousin that in about a year, messengers from God were going to come find them. That´s when things just got crazy. A legitimate miracle. The Lord made me an instument in one of his miracles!!!! I feel so so blessed and honored that I was part of fullfilling that miracle in that man´s life. At the end of our restoration lesson, he told us that he would do anything he needed to do to get baptized in our church because he knew our church was true. Like, really? We didn´t even have to ask him to be baptized! He asked us! We told him we´d be pleased to baptize him after he´d heard a few more lessons, and that we thought baptism might perhaps be the gift God was telling him about in his dream. This man´s name is Narciso, and his cousin Regoberto. And we´re baptizing them this upcoming Sunday!!!! Crazy right?! I was so lucky to see a miracle like that so early in my mission. I really feel so blessed. I can´t wait for his baptism next week! I´ll send pictures! That experience just helped me to know that if we will edify ourselves, The Lord will make great tools out of us and work miracles among us (Remember Josh 3:5). My latest favorite scripture on miracles is found in Mosiah 8:18 (thanks for Elder Rich - he found it :)) Ahhh. It was soo cool.

In other news, we´ve started a sweet workout program, Elder Rich and I. We run to the nearby waterfall (It´s the waterfall that our city - Chorrera - is named after) 3 times a week and do our studying there. It is absolutely beautiful. It´s really peaceful and quiet too. I´m tellin ya, you haven´t read King Benjamin´s address in Mosiah until you´ve read it next to a sweet waterfall haha... it´s the best. I will send pictures sometime if this computer starts reading my SD disk - internet pubs aren´t always the most reliable computers, haha. I am particularly excited about this running stuff though--it´s fun to run here in Panama though because we´re right by the sea, and it´s much easier to breath than it was in Utah - I feel like I could run for days! Ha yep, nothin like a good early mornin´ run in Panama...... sometimes I still can´t believe I´m on a mission. It´s the life.

I am getting accustomed to everything here in Panama - I love it! Remember how I always said I wanted to live in a little shack with dirt floors? It´s not quite that bad, but it´s still definately a lot different from the states haha. For example, we share geckos and cockroaches as roomates in our home, and I have a cold shower every day (I like the cold shower though - it cools me off). Now Mom, to answer a few questions, no I haven´t seen Elder Alley. We do have changes in a few weeks, but I think Elder Rich and I will be staying together for another change. As for the food, I haven´t had to cook for myself once since arriving. We have a cocinera once a day for lunch, and then the ward members take turns feeding us for dinner. As for breakfast, we have a panderia (bakery) closeby our house so if we´re ever hungry in the morning, we go buy some bread or a donut. Dave would LOVE the bread here. It´s amazing. Also, my buddy Matt Maddix would be happy to know that I eat RICE with every single meal. Haha. It´s super sweet.

Anyway, my time is up, but I will start writing back to all you individually soon! I promise! Do you think you could send me Scotty´s and Katie´s individual emails? That way I can just write back to them individually. Oh, and tell Dave to check his email.
I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!! Be good!!

Love, Elder Clarke
P.S...... shout out to my boi Jeremy Evans!!!!! Scotty told me he won the dunk contest!!!! Way to represent them Jazz. That´s how we do.