Monday, May 28, 2012

I Am So Blessed!

Elder Clarke with Panamanian children
Wow, I am so blessed. Guys, every week when I get done reading your letters, I just feel so blessed to have a loving family who I know loves me. I hope you all know I love you too - and I´m so happy that everyone is doing so well!! Congrats Scotty on passing the sacrament - I´ll write you soon. Also, Mom and Dad! Congrats on the new callings!! You´ll be great. Also, I just wanna say that I REALLY wish I could´ve heard Alec´s homecoming talk - goshdang. He is such an amazing guy. I looked up to him my whole life growing up, playing bball and everything. He is soo awesome. Tell him hi for me.

Ok so you ready for this week? Man... it was a long week - poco deficil. There were a lot of highs and lows, to be honest. But I think I came out on top - I´m ready for Wednesday and to get my new comp.! Elder Hill will be arriving in Utah on Thursday evening - I wish him luck with everything!! He has taught me so much this change - so so much. 
Elder Hill & Elder Clarke
Speaking of the man, we celebrated his birthday (21st!) on Tuesday. We ate waaaay too much cake and ice cream that day. But it was cool :) Wednesday and Thursday we went on divisions - I stayed here in La Chorrera and showed the place around to both my District Leader, Elder Jensen (he is suuuper cool - from Harrisville, Utah), and one of my zone leader´s - Elder Biesinger - another super cool guy. I learned so much from the both of them. I seriously feel so blessed to have been put with so many ¨older¨ missionarys at the beginning of my mission so that I could learn from them and also have a good standard, a good goal to work towards.

So you wanna hear about my BOM adventure? I´m now into Jacob and I am LOVING it!! I think I´m reading faster in spanish than I´ve ever read in english. I just love it so much. I can´t wait to get to King Benjamin again - perfect example of humility. We´re lucky we always have his talk to look back at. Also in my personal studies, I´m also done reading the temple magazine that The Church published - and man, I know I´ve probly said it before, but temples are so DANG important. Like, I don´t think the world realizes it. Thanks again, Mom and Dad, for getting sealed. I think we don´t even comprehend right now what a blessing it is.

Allright, so I mentioned this week had been kind of difficult. To be honest, we really hadn´t found any good investigators this week, and nobody was progressing. It´s kind of lame, and it´s also really discouraging when you don´t feel like you´re helping anyone. Anyway, I was feelin´ pretty down because when my new comp arrived I´d having nothing for us to work with - and we´d just have to go contacting every day till we made some progress. Anyway, yesterday at church?!? We had THREE newbies show up - all 3 of them came with members. We got all of their information, and they are golden! Seriously!!! Wow I am so lucky. The Lord has blessed this area so much. Also, I think he blessed me with these investigators after such a hard week. I had been trying my hardest to keep a good attitude and work through it, but nothing was happening. Like the scriptures say, the blessings won´t come until AFTER the trial of your faith. I can attest to that. 2 of the 3 investigators are a couple!!!! Yes!!! Diogene and Tatiana. Can you say temple marriage? We are having a family night with them tonight at a members house (Dad, your advice about members rings so true). God bless these wonderful members who are doing their job and sharing the truth. The Lord will bless them so so much. I´m just the lucky one that gets to do the teaching and see the change in these people. Missionary - best job in the world I think.

Well, that is all I have to write for this week. I hope things continue to go well at home, and Dave, good luck on graduating! Lastly, I just wanna say that I got LETTERS this past week!! Yes! It´s like Christmas. I especially loved Grandpa´s letter - he inserted a part of his life history (Mom, you were part of it) and related it to The Atonement. He is amazing. I enjoyed the sports clippings too - lets just say when I get back, the Jazz are gonna be gettin´ in shape for a title run. Showed everybody up this year making the playoffs :) Thanks for all the letters, I loved them.

Have a GREAT week!

-Elder Clarke


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hello family!

Hello family!

It was wonderful to hear from you guys this week!!!! It sounds like everyone is doing so well. Congratulations to Scotty who had his birthday on Thursday, and received the priesthood on Sunday!!! Wow Scotty, what a wonderful honor that you are now worthy to hold the Power of God. Always stay worthy, and treat it as a privilege, because that´s what it is! You will use it to carry the gospel to God´s children, and to help build His kingdom wherever you go. I’m so proud of you :)
Elder Hill & Elder Clarke in their house.
So as for my week... it was really good!! Part of the week was really hard, but it´s crazy how fast The Lord will deliver us from trials if we humble ourselves and try our best. I think along with faith (I think I really learned about faith in the MTC), humility is quickly becoming one of the best lessons I´ve learned out here. Humility, humility, humility. I was so not humble before my mission!! I have come to realize and truly ingrain in my heart this week the concept of humility. We must ALWAYS remember that we are nothing without God and His Son, our Redeemer. We can do nothing without him. He allows us to live from breath to breath (I think that´s how King Benjamin states it)! I am so grateful I´ve learned this lesson and I plan on using it the rest of my life. Sorry guys if before, I was real, well, not humble. Hah - I´ll be better when I get home.

Allright, so now for some good stuff. We have been teaching a grandma and grandchild for a few weeks now, and I just love them!! Lucía and Michelle are their names. They haven´t come to church yet or anything, so they´re not super-progressful. But Michelle is so awesome!! She has so many ¨questions of the soul¨, as PMG says it. We love helping her with the lessons, and hope she will now take that next step of faith and go somewhere with it. The problem is, she´s kind of young, and so her grandma doesn´t let her do hardly anything without her. It´s kinda a pain. Anyway.

Ok so, another lesson - this one with Shaíd. He has struggled a bit since his baptism, entonces, we decided to go pay him a visit. As we were picking an opening hymn for the lesson, I suggested ¨La Barra de Hierro¨ (The Iron Rod). We went with it, and then started the lesson. The song ended up paving the way for the entire lesson, and we read together 1st Nefi chapter 8, and had an amazing lesson about holding to the iron rod. We also challenged him to read the Book of Mormon cover to cover before I leave here (La Chorrera). I decided to do it with him to help him, and I LOVE it!!!! I just started the BOM all over again, and this time I´m doing it all in Spanish. In a week, I´m already into second Nefi!!! Wow. Anyway, after the lesson, Elder Hill and I were talking, and it turns out that at the beginning of the lesson, Elder Hill was searching for the exact same hymn!!! I then knew that the lesson had been inspired and guided by The Spirit. Super cool. And, I´m loving the Libro de Mormón :) Can´t wait for the Isaíah chapters in Spanish..... yikes.

So that´s all for the cool stories. In other news, we had interviews with Pte. Ward, and they were really good. He gave me an AWESOME blessing. Also, we passed our house inspections and Elder Hill has been studying about marriage for when he gets home. Hahaha. Good week.

Love you all SO MUCH!!!

-Elder Clarke

Bug infestation!  Hard to believe they passed their house inspections!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It's a beautiful day here in Panamá!

Hey family! Long time no see!.... oh wait. I talked to you on Sunday!!!

It was so good to talk to all of you. I LOVED it! You all look so great and, more than anything, I just loved hearing your voices again. Mom, I hope you had an awesome Mother´s Day back at home, as well as Grandma, Kris, Monica, etc. It was great to talk to all of them, as well as Gramps, Ken, and Kory!!! What studs. I thought it was particularly cool that Itzel (daughter of Hna. Carmen) wanted so badly to see Grandpa - she's never seen a patriarch before, and she asked me if I could talk to him again just so she could see what he looks like. Super awesome. I got the final count if you wanna tell Grandpa - there are 7 patriarchs in the country.
Anyway, now for the good stuff. I had a really great week this week. Most importantly, we had...... two baptisms!!! Yes!!!! Elísa y Melany were baptized Saturday evening and confirmed Sunday morning :) So awesome. They came to us and wanted to paid tithing again!! They were so anxious :) Maybe a bit overly-anxious - we might go teach the law of tithing again. Haha. It just shows you how committed they are, though. They are fantastic young ladies, really. I want to see them both get married and sealed here in the Panamá temple in the coming years. Eternal families are the keystone to our religion, and in turn, will help the church grow even bigger and stronger here :)
These girls were baptized by fellow Ward members so that they will
 be able to help keep them active once the missionaries are gone.
Another awesome thing was that..... The Lou's got MARRIED this week!!! Yay!! One step down. We went to the court here in La Chorrera, and they were lawfully wedded on Friday. They did the whole "you may now kiss the bride" thing though and everything. Super sweet! I took pictures (as well as pictures of the baptism), but won´t be able to send them for at least another week because of my computer :(
The kiss makes it official!
Allright, so cool experience. Elder Hill and I went and visited a less-active member this week named Letícia - she is old and has a hard time getting to church. Anyway, we just thought we´d stop by and see how she was doing. As she welcomed us in, she immediately asked "do you think you can heal me?". We were like... um... ya? I think so - why? Anyway, it turns out she had been praying for a few days that someone would come by and help heal her head - apparetnly she had been having some massive pressure/migraines - that sort of thing. So that{s where we came in! She broke down in soft tears and thanked us for coming. We gave her a priesthood blessing (I gave it - my first one in Spanish!) and had a nice chat with her, and then left. She is now doing a lot better and it was just a great experience to be an instrument in The Lord´s hands!

Ok well, unfortunately that´s about all the time I have left for today cuz I wrote Dad back today - he sent me an awesome experience about his mission. I talked to you guys a few days ago though so I think we're good :)
Have a great week!
-Elder Clarke

Monday, May 7, 2012

Good solid week of learning.

Ahhhh, the mission. Another week has flown by and I get to talk to you guys so soon!!! I´m super pumped about it. This week I have improved even more with just about everything - from the language to teaching in lessons to contacting - just about everything. It has been a fantastic week of learning for me. Learning is one of the sweetest parts of the mission. Most importantly, I feel like I´ve finally reached the point with my comfortability (is that a word?) here that I´m getting my personality back!! It´s hard to be yourself when you can´t really express your thoughts and feelings correctly, but now I can! And I am really starting to get comfortable here. I love it :)

Ok, so. We´ve got two more baptisms this Saturday! Elísa y Melaníe! They are so so wonderful. We had their bap. interviews and they both passed with flying colors!! We had 3 lessons with them this week and all three were terrific. The last one especially before the interviews, we were teaching about repentance and baptism/The Holy Ghost, and The Spirit was so strong!! I loved it when Elísa said "every time we have these lessons, and every time I come to the church, I just feel peace.¨ The Spirit was awesome. It really amazes me how The Lord prepares pple. I know He is preparing the younger generation especially - I was told over and over again about that in the MTC - to look for the teenagers and the jovenes - they are very close to God. Closer to God than us older folks (ya, I´m considering myself ´´old´´ right here). ...... Allright, so are you ready for the kicker here about these two girls?? They paid tithing on Sunday!!! And they´re not even members yet!!! Wha?!? Wow... they are gonna be so blessed for that. They are now currently like 500% full-tithe payers. I was so impressed - they will be great members, and someday get married in the temple!!! And then someday in heaven, I´ll be able to rejoice with them!! So awesome. I´ll send pictures of the baptism.

Allright, more good news!! The Lou parents finally got their marriage date!! It is also this week - the 11th of May!! YES!!!! All this work, and finally some progress! I was so happy I clapped for Vielka for a full minute straight when she told me :) Elder Hill and I plan on getting real serious here with the lessons with her and Chino Lou.

I only have like 6 more minutes left on the computer before my time runs out, but I will send more sweet stories next week. I just wanna say real quick that Dave Clarke is one of the coolest pple in the world and is my role model - for various reasons. Also, Dad, I´m so happy you get to talk about Mom next week in church - talk her up for the both of us.

I love you all!!!! Talk to you Sunday!!!

-Elder Clarke

P.S.  Some pics for our SUPER sweet P-day today!! We hiked to Valle de Antón with a few zones today and were literally in the clouds! Like, literally. We were SO high and it was SO cool. It rained on us too, and everything got soaked including my scriptures and 3rd watch (they´ve all broken because of the rain.. .haha) I´ll send more pics sometime soon :) Love you!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Allrighty :)

Hello family, I love you so much! I´m soooo excited to talk to all of you on the 13th! Ahhh man it will be a great reunion. But, until then I´ve got work to do here in Chorrera with Elder Hill! We especially this week are gonna go at it hard to make up for this past week - For the past 5 days or so Elder Hill has been real sick :( I don´t know what it is with my companions getting sick.... maybe I´m bad luck. Hah - just kidding. But seriously, it really stunk!! I just had to sit at the house a lot and find things to do. The good thing was that we had Carlos come over a few days of the week in the afternoon and me and him just sat and talked on the porch while Elder Hill slept. It has REALLY helped my spanish improve. I feel like I can actually like, really speak it now! And I don´t need anyone to clarify or reiterate what I´ve said. The number one thing I have to do now is just remember who´s in charge here, and thank The Lord every day that he has helped me learn Spanish, and I just gotta continue to work hard at it and learn more every day :) That´s one of the funnest parts of the mission, is learning something new every day!

So ya´ll wanna hear somethin suuuuper sweet?! This week, we committed Elísa to baptism too, and her and her sister are planning on getting baptized the 12th of May!! We got their mother´s permission and everything, and we´re gonna do everything we can to help to make sure their family is there to watch them be baptized!! I love these girls so much, and Elísa and I especially get along well. They are going to be SUCH good mujeres jovenes (young women)!! Scratch that.... they already are good young women!! They attend every mutual, and every week at church!! I thank Carolíne and Michelle (the members) from the bottom of my heart for helping these girls find The Truth, and preparing these young ladies so well! Such an inspiration to me and proof that every member is, indeed, a missionary. I know they will be blessed for all their efforts in bringing their friends unto Christ.

I also just real quick wanna talk about the WONDERFUL Sunday that I had :) :) Ah! I don´t know, but it was just great. I felt like I understood almost everything that was said this time in Sacrament, and I just felt The Spirit so strong!! I was just so happy! I´m so thankful for this true gospel. I can now say that whether I´m in Utah or Panamá, or anywhere else, I can go to church and just feel right at home with my brothers and sisters :) At church, someone gave a discorse about Elder Uchtdorf´s talk from conference - the one about not judging others (don´t judge me because I sin differently than you.. haha) and it was awesome. Lastly, guess what? At church, Carlos blessed the sacrament for the first time, and did it perfect! What a great sabbath.

Speaking of Carlos, his family is doing allright. I am sorry to say that they did not recieve their marriage date yet.... the gobierno said they were faulting one bit of information..... so Vielka had to go and re-do part of their health forms for the marriage..... dang it all. Satan is workin´ hard to keep this family from baptism.... but with God´s help, I know we can overcome it! I cannnot wait for the day when all these guys are baptized. The joy I´ll have with them someday in heaven will be incredible (D&C 18:14-16).

Anyway, that´s it for this week. I apologize that the letter is a day late.... the reason being is because yesterday we had to travel to Chitré for Elder Hill.... he delivered a package to a family there that he baptized not too long ago! It was cool to see them - they are an awesome family and are so strong already! I was especially impressed with the 13 year old joven, Christian. Anyway, the trip to Chitré took alllll day and we never had time to stop by an internet joint.

I love you all soooo much! Mom, Dad, thanks for the update on evveryone, and the fotos too! Dave and Adam were both looking super hot. Haha.

-Elder Clarke