Monday, April 23, 2012

¨Welcome the task that takes you beyond yourself.¨ - Louise Yates Robison

Man..... the mission.
This week was SO awesome!! First off, you´re probably wondering who my new comp. is..... His name? Elder HILL. (he tells me he has no relation to the Hill´s in our ward) This guy..... dang. What an amazing missionary!! Mom, I loved how you shared that experience with me last week about how The Lord knew exactly who I needed as companions - and I can TESTIFY to that!!! Elder Hill came exactly! the right time, and was exactly! who I needed as a companion. Some of the things he´s already taught me I will use for the rest of my mission. Elder Hill is another gringo from Kaysville, Utah, and he has 23 months in the mission. I am his last companion in the mission!! Last change, he was a zone leader, and has been for the past 6 months. He KNOWS his stuff. Like... wow. He is SUCH a good example to me. Farewell to Elder Rich... I will greatly miss him here in Barrio Centro, but he is now off to bigger and better things in Davíd - working as a district leader.

So about our investigators.... The Lou family should be recieving their marriage date this week!! :) :) We are so dang excited for them. They have been together now for 18 years and finally getting married!!! Elder Hill became quick friends with them, and we can´t wait for these guys. Just last night, we started delving (?) deeper into the lessons - this time with both Chino Lou and Vielka together, and we read 3rd Nefi when Christ comes to the America´s. The Spirit was there and I KNOW Chino Lou felt it. We could both see it in his countanence. He knows he needs to get baptized in our church, it´s just a matter of them (his wife included) changing some of their old ways and really receiving a confirmation from The Spirit through prayer. After we read the chapter, we had a very progressive lesson with the both of them where we talked about the importance of families and why a truly happy family with The Spirit in their home is the best kind of family. I pray for them every day - please pray for them!!

The sad news.... Aldaír didn´t come to church again for the 2nd straight week.... we met with them this week and asked him why, and he told us he´s been thinking about it and he wants to stay with the catholic church.... gah.... we told him all we could do as missionaries and as representatives of The Lord was encourage him to just ¨probarlo¨ - just test it out for himself!! The Lord wouldn´t try to force/pester anyone to do anything, so we´re not going to either :( He´s closing the book before he´s even read anything, before he´s even attended church!!! We are somewhat discouraged but hope he will just probarlo.

The good news to even out the bad news.... remember those girls I was telling you about? 12 and 16 year olds, friends of a member? Well, we got one of them to commit to be baptized the 12th of May!! Melanie, the 12 year old :) we are so so excited for her and really have high hopes that her sister, too, will commit to do the same. They have attended church and mutual every week for about a month now! I´m so happy - seeing people come unto Christ is easily the best thing to be a part of!! Baptism is such a incredible step. It´s like I think I mentioned last week - it is everlasting, o sea, it is not a temporal thing. I am continuing to try to be ¨temporal¨ in all things, and focus on the things that matter most - the eternal things.

I´ve also had a few rough days here the past few days.... when people say the mission is hard, they are definately not lying. With Elder Rich gone, I am the one right now who leads the planning, calls the investigators, and directs where we go every day (cuz I know the area). I also am trying to insert myself more in the lessons. It´s all very hard right now, but I know it will bless me in the long run. Just like dad counseled me in one of his letters in D&C 122 - our trials will be but a small moment, and if we endure them well, we will be delivered and strengthened! I have already seen some of that in the past couple days - The Lord lifting me up when I had nothing left. I am ¨welcoming the task that takes me beyond myself¨ - Louise Yates Robison. (Mom - I read that quote in the quote book you sent me for Christmas - thank you).

Well I´m gonna try to write a personal letter to Mom before my time is up here, but I love you all so much and I´m excited to talk to you soon!!

Love, Elder Clarke

P.S..... in other news, the sink broke this week in our house.... water flying everywhere....but we got it fixed.... haha. I had to spend $11 more dollars of my own personal money... I´m sorry. Haha.

P.S.S.... Tell Matt CONGRATULATIONS for me!!! Bulgaria! Yikes.... dunno what language that is. How exciting :)

P.S.S.S.... Mom, I´m glad you got a shout-out from Elder Alley!! That´s exciting. Yes, I did meet him at changes and he seems like a real great guy. He was happy to hear you follow his blog. Haha.

Monday, April 16, 2012

4-16-12 Changes are coming!!

Hello family!!!!!! I love you so much!

So this week has been a lot more normal than last week.... just goin' out workin in the hot sun (rather than being rained into the house/being taken over by flying ants) haha. Contacting doors and continuing to work with the good investigators we have.

First, I mentioned I went to the temple last week (and seriously - what an experience it was.) A couple days after, I read an article titled ¨Prepare for the Blessings of the Temple¨ by Elder Russell M. Nelson. WOW!!!!! (and yes Mom, I´m shouting.... haha jk). Ok but really, guys! I´m SO grateful for the blessings of the temple that our family has received. Just the fact that our parents were married in the Temple, is amazing! Please - Dave, Katie, Scott, and Adam - thank Mom and Dad for doing that. More than ever now, I am so grateful that this true church has temples on the earth where we can ultimately recieve all the earthly blessings possible with the ones we love most. Just another bonus for being part of the one and only True Church :)  Being married in the temple will be amazing. But thanks parents - really. I kinda owe my eternal gratitude to you for that :)

Speaking of marriages....... THE LOU PARENTS ARE GETTING MARRIED!!!!!! Wha?! Yes yes yes. Elder Rich and I have been working SO hard for this. Elder Rich especially, even before I arrived here, had been so loving to them and bringing them along slowly. Finally now, with Elder Rich leaving (so sad :(), Mama and Chino Lou are scheduled to get married in the Panama court in the next two weeks. How amazing, eh? We have to remember this is just the first step though. Once they´re married, they can qualify for baptism - but we´ve still gotta teach them all the lessons and make sure they´ve both got their own personal testimonies. Pray for them, will you?

Our other real serious investigator right now is Aldaír. Man oh man is that guy cool. Problem is...... he didn´t show up to church yesterday :( mannnn. The biggest letdown!!! Once Elder Rich leaves for changes on Wednesday, we´re gonna go visit that guy and see what me and my new comp. can do to help him out. We´ve got Carlos to help us out with this guy too :) The members. BEST tools in missionary work.

So I´ve mentioned a few times now that changes are coming, and that Elder Rich is leaving. So sad. Seriously - he is a good good missionary and I´ll miss the friendship we have gained. No worries though cuz I´m pretty sure our friendship will last forever - we´ve already planned to watch the 2014 NBA playoffs together. He´ll be at my mission homecoming too, so watch out for that kid. He´s awesome :) We celebrated his 20th birthday together this past Saturday too! So ya, Happy big 20, my friend. Not a teenager anymore.

Now, at the same time, I can´t wait to see who my new companion will be!!!!! I REALLY hope it is a latino - he´ll help me get the language down pat. My language has made some improvements this week, but I now feel like I´m at the point where I can and should speak it full-time. So.... cross your fingers my new comp. is a latino!!

That´s about all I have for this week! I hope you all have a fantastic week and I love you all!!!!

-Elder Clarke

P.S...... I almost forgot!! On Saturday, I contacted a whole bus for the first time!! I stood up at the front of the bus and invited the whole darn bus to church, and bore my testimony. Such a cool experience!! I felt like a true servant of Christ in that moment. Elder Rich and I passed out folletos to the whole bus :)

P.P.S..... Dave, sing your heart out on choir tour and make sure to shave your legs into a candy-cane pattern.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Family!! Hello!

It´s been an interesting week.... but another good week of learning in the mission. We didn´t get to do as much work this week as we wanted for 3 reasons:

Number 1) Elder Rich got sick this week and we had to stay in the house for about a day and a half..... que triste. I gave him a blessing though (my first blessing ever in english - haha), and he´s doing fine now. For the time he was sick, I basically just studied all day, but I learned some fantastic things as I studied the Ensign issue about temples - preparing myself for the temple. Family is so much more eternally important than we can even grasp!! I had great insights. I´m so thankful each one of you is part of our wonderful family :) I´m so lucky to be a part of it!!! And we all have the privilege of loving each other and being part of each other´s lives FOREVER!!! After this life and forever. Fam.... I love you :)

Reason number 2)........ ¨AGUACERO¨!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Guys..... holy COW. The rain season really came with a bang. Like... dang. It rained so hard for a couple days that there were times we literally couldn´t leave our house. Flooded the street, and even a nearby house! Quite a shock to me really - I´ve only seen rain like that a couple of times in my life.

Reason number 3) Our house um........... got taken over by insects. We had to sleep outside for a night cuz it was so bad. I´d send you pictures, but the computer I´m on doesn´t give that option. Anyway.... just know that it was bad. Haha.

The good news? We have recovered from everything, and life is wonderful!!!! We had a good couple of days of work, and even got another baptismal date! Aldaír is his name. He goes to his grandma´s every day after school and takes care of her - he is such an example! He´s ripe and ready for the gospel. About 17. Our goal is that he be a future priesthood holder and strengthen the ward here in Panama (not to mention he could be friends with Carlos Lou - another recent convert about the same age.).

We also have a wonderful investigator named Elisa - a 16 year old friend of a young woman in our ward named Caroline. Caroline got her to come to church with her, and Elisa loved it!! So much so that she made it known she wanted to meet with the missionaries and learn more. Caroline and her mom are present at our lessons with her, and they are going super super well! We are planning on getting her a fecha soon too - we feel strongly she´ll get baptized. The members here are absolutely wonderful and such a help :)

Ok so Sunday.... Happy Easter everyone!!!! I loved my morning - nothing can ever take away that feeling of peace and joy of knowing there is still a day where the whole world acknowledges the birth of our Savior :) It turned out to be a FANTASTIC day at church. Carlos Lou recieved the Aaronic Priesthood and was called to be the 1st counseler in the teacher´s quorum!!!!!!! He is AWESOME. I love that kid. (P.S.... Dave, keep writing him - he is legit.) Also??? Shaíd recieved his temple recommend today, and is planning on going to do baptism´s for the dead soon with the ward!! SUCH a rewarding day to be a missionary.

So you´re probly wondering why I didn´t write until today, instead of Monday. The reason being? Today, I went to the TEMPLE!!! YES! Finally!! A session in the Panamá temple. It was so great. Just what I needed actually. I didn´t understand quite everything since it was in Spanish, but nothing can take away from the love I feel there while in The Lord´s house. I recieved some much needed guidance there this morning and I can´t wait to get started working tomorrow!!! It´s really amazing how much The Spirit will guide your thoughts and feelings if you are trying to live worthy of It and doing all you can to be the best you can. Especially in the Temple - I wish we could go there every P-Day.

Anyway, that´s all the time I have for today!! I love you all and hope you had a great Easter!!

-Elder Clarke

Monday, April 2, 2012

4-2-12 Conference . . . WOW!

Greetings family!!!!

Wow, it's already April. Crazy how time flies... in just about a month I'll be calling home for Mother's Day!!! :) Sweeeeet. Can't wait to talk to all of you, and Dave, I still wanna hear that piano piece :) Also, Happy April Fools!!! It also marks the 12th anniversary of us living in our home in American Fork!!!! Good ol´ AF :) 
Ok, enough of the silly stuff. WHAT AN AMAZING WEEK!!!!!!!! Seriously! This past weekend was quite possibly the best of my mission with our baptism of Shaíd and CONFERENCE!!!! I´ve never been more excited for conference in my life, and it definately did not let me down! Such amazing messages. My two favorite talks were Neil L. Anderson and Richard G. Scott. Elder Anderson talked about the ever-famous but perfect question of "What would Jesus do?" and also talked about our daily duties, and my favorite.... miracles. And Elder Scott? I LOVED his discourse on recieving revelation and tips of what to do and not to do to better recieve it. It´s especially such an important topic for me right now, being on a mission and all. Ahhh :) They were all so fantastic though. I also really loved Elder Russell M. Nelson´s.

Conference was also cool cuz I got to watch it in English!!! They had a seperate room set up for all the gringos in the stake so we could watch it in english :) It was perfect. It was so clear to me the most important topics of the conference: sacrifice, prayer, and most of all, FAMILY. Family, family, family. Biggest topic by far. I just might refer back to this conference's notes when I have a family of my own. Haha :) Anyway, I´m just so excited moving forward to re-read and ponder the talks to help me come to a definate answer on my question I brought to conference, which was how I could become more like Christ and represent him better. I fasted for my answer earlier in the week and everything. Ah. I really just loved this weekend.

Now, for the baptism :) First off, I got to conduct the music for the whole meeting! That was fun :) I'm just trying to be like Dave. Anyway though, because Shaíd is wheelchair-bound, Elder Rich and I had to carry him into the water, and place him in a plastic chair that was pre-placed in the font. It was so precious to help that man not only become spiritually clean and make an amazing change in his life, but to have to physically carry him into the water. It was really quite amazing. Elder Rich performed the ordinance while I held his lower body and legs down. We had to perform the ordinance 3 times before finally getting his whole body under the water, but it was awesome. We then confirmed him yesterday in between the Sunday sessions. This guy Shaíd....... future bishop I´m thinkin. He has SUCH a powerful testimony and is already so strong in the church!!! I love and respect the guy.

Anyway, sorry the letter is short this week but I'm all out of time! I hope everyone is loving life and keep reading your scrips and praying!!!! It is the base of your relationship with God and His Son.

Have a great week!

-Elder Clarke

Scroll down for more new pictures sent by Elder Clarke this week.