Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Another tough but good week


            How are you all? I love you all so much and hope you´re doing well. I apologize for the letter a day late, but it´s because we went to the Temple!!!! So our P-Day got switched to today instead. Oh and man, did I need to go to the temple. It is such a beautiful place. I couldn´t help but feel the Spirit this morning as I walked up the staircase. The temple always helps me just take a step back and remember this great Plan that we´re a part of. It doesn´t matter what kind of trial I´m having, or how I feel - it doesn´t matter if I´m currently on a spiritual high or really down deep in the dumps.... He always loves me. And I always can feel that love at the Temple. It came just at the right time, and it was great morning.

           So this week blew by! It was another difficult week as far as investigators go, but there were some very rewarding moments as well. One of the best this week was our service project for Shaíd!! Dang!! Mom said you guys got those pictures from the ward so that´s great. It was such a great morning (Sat. morning)! Me, Elder Huallanca, and four other elders from the Elders Quorum helped build Shaíd a ramp for his wheelchair, so that he can get in and out of his house with this ugly rainy season. Most importantly, it will help him be able to come to church. The ramp is beautiful.... we did a pretty good job, if I don't say so myself. Shaíd was soo pleased!! One big smile, that man had. He used it the following day, and now he´s able to go to and from much easier. Such a worthwhile project :) I got sooo dirty though! I don´t know if my AF bball shirt will ever be the same... haha. My legs were sore for a few days, but man. Good good morning. It was great to get some of the other Elders there and involved too, so they can all be better friends at church.

             This past week we also had capacitationes (I think that means fireside in english) with President and his assistants. We learned all about how to become a better teacher from the assistants - It reminded me of how much I don´t know still... but that´s ok :) One of these days, I´ll arrive to be an amazing teacher. President gave us an IN-DEPTH lesson on The Apostasy..... I mean, really in-depth. It was really wonderful. Pres. is such an amazing guy. And he knows so much!! I know he truly was called by revelation.. the things he does here in Panamá on a daily basis for us missionaries... it´s incredible. Speaking of the man, he also came to our ward Sunday afternoon and spoke to all the youth about missions and missionary work. Got some youth pumped :) We helped him in the talk recite D&C section 4, and well as our missionary purpose. It was fun.

             Allright, so we´ve had a lot of progression lately with one of our investigators. His name is Kevins. 15 almost 16 years old, and has been assisting the chapel now for a few months with his buddy, Herman Rojas - he´s a priest in our ward. We've taught him a lot, and he´s learned a whole ton in the church. The only problem now is.... his Mom won´t let him get baptized. :( She says she wants him to wait till he´s 18 to make a choice. Mann... but we´re gonna keep talking to her, and we currently have Herman´s dad trying to help her as well. We invited her to church, but she won´t come :( It is discouraging. We could baptize him this upcoming Sat. if his Mom will just give him permission, but all in good time. The important thing is that his testimony is growing and he wants to get baptized. So whether it´s with us, or in a coulple years when he´s old enough, doesn´t matter. All in good time :)

             Ok so I said I was gonna share a cool experience this week..... it actually happened last week. But we started talking to a man in the street near the church. He told us he was on his way to go buy some drugs, and we were like "hey, we´ve got a better idea.... how bout you come talk to us about Christ at the church?" haha. So, we proceeded to go into a classroom in the church building, and shared with him the Plan of Salvation. He really enjoyed the lesson, but we have only been able to meet with him one time since then. Anyway, the spiritual part for me was when I shared with him the scripture Moses 1:39...ah man!! I can´t explain it, but like I said before, I just felt so much of Christ´s love for us in that moment! I almost cried! It was so wonderful. I don´t know if he felt what I did, but it really helped me and reminded me just how much Christ really does love and care for each of us.
Alright, our best investigator is still Melánia :) She is doing good. We had a brief setback during the week because her husband was telling her he doens´t want to get married anymore... but we think the problem has been solved. Elder Huallanca and I proceeded forth with the papers anyway, with the faith things would work out. When we took the papers to Melánia a few days later, she showed them to her husband that night and apparently things are going better now. I wish it wasn´t so hard to talk with him face-to-face. Things are looking like the marriage will just be a couple days before the 7th of July. Recently, Melánia´s ten year old daughter has started to join the lessons with us and has expressed to her Mom she wants to get baptized with her!! Yes!! It´s ALWAYS better to baptize someone with a family member - they´ve got constant support! So things are looking up with that :)
That is pretty much all the positive stuff that´s gone on this week here in Chorrera. Good solid week. Hoping that this week goes even better though. I´d like to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Mr. Stud #1, Dave! 18 years old. You sick man. Mom told me you´re workin like a work horse. Keep it up my man - can´t wait to get your letter :) Everyone have a good week! I love you dearly!

P.S.... Oh! I almost forgot! I wanted to tell you guys that a couple weeks ago I was able to watch "On The Lord´s Errand, Thomas S. Monson". Holy cow!!! It helped strengthen my testimony so much of our latter-day prophet! If you haven´t seen it, please watch it.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Feliz Dia, Papá!

Hey fam! I love you all so much and I've been thinkin' of you! I look forward to every Monday just to hear about you all! I love you so much!!! It sounds like everyone had a really good week. New cell phones, YW overnighter, Father´s and Son´s, and basketball camps!! Special shout-out to the man of the week..... Papá!! Dad, Happy Father's Day :) I want you to know you're still the best, and you´re still my hero. If if weren't for you, I wouldn´t be here. And it´s definately such a blessing to be here as a missionary. Dad, I owe you everything. Thanks again. We had an activity for father´s day here in the Ward and I thought about you a lot.

Ok, so I had an awesome week!!! Super awesome week. First off, I wanna share a quote that helped me a lot this week. Elder Rich had previously recommended me a talk to read, but I didn´t read it until this week. And dang! What a mistake. Everyone needs to read this talk. Entitled ´The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality´ by David A. Bednar, he had the following quote. ¨... pray and seek for strength to change our circumstances, rather than praying for our circumstances to be changed.¨ That is exactly what I did this week, and it helped like you wouldn´t believe. The talk was about the two functions of The Atonement - the redeeming power, and the ENABLING power - the second power that is not nearly as much utilized. Awesome awesome talk.



Another cool thing I did this week. I have been trying to stick closer to The Spirit as of late, so that I can follow it's promptings without difficulty or question. So, one thing I did to help with me that is I chose one hymn for every day of the week to sing. So, when we´re walking in the calle, or we have to travel a lot, I pull out my little hymn book, sing the hymn of the day, and sometimes even try to memorize those hymns in Spanish. I think my favorite day is Thursday - I´m Trying to be like Jesus. That's exactly what I'm trying to do out here! Be a representative of Him. It brings me a lot of comfort, and refocuses my mind on my purpose here. So, one of these Thursdays, if you get bored, sing I´m Trying to be like Jesus. It´s awesome.
Allright so this week was an awesome one. Lots of working, not a whole ton of success, but I felt pretty good at the end of the week. First off, I went on divisiones with Elder Oliva - de Honduras. He was Elder Paskett´s trainer! (and yes mom, I´ve seen him here a few times in the mission. He seems to be doing great now). But ok, dang. Elder Oliva? Chuuuso. Que prity, ese mann. This is his first change as a zone leader, and he is magnifico!! I want him to be AP. He is such an awesome missionary, and really taught me quite a lot in one day. Also, things are going well with Melánia :) She wasn´t able to come to church yesterday, because she was sick! Darn it :( But none the less, still progressing quite a lot. She's already read so much of the BOM!! I greatly appreciate the prayers for her, really. Oh how I hope that their marriage papers are processed before I leave the area - I´d love to see her baptism. We might just baptize her 10 year old daughter too that same day - she´s been coming to church with her Mom :)

Ok, so we got another fecha this week!! Hermelinda. She's awesome! A 50-year old lady but her sister is a member. So it's perfect! Anyone we can help receive the blessings of the Holy Ghost is awesome. Her baptism date is set for after I leave the area, but it's allgood! A very wise man once told me, ¨There is no limit to the success you can have if you don't care who receives the credit¨.
I really wish I could write more, but I'm all out of time! I didn't even have time to upload pictures... sorry. I will write more next week about a really cool experience I had this week. I love you all so much!! Have a great week and keep being righteous!

-Elder Clarke

P.S.... I think I´m starting to consider naming my boys after prophets... Abinadi, Enos, and Nephi Clarke. I just got done reading about Abinadi.... fetch that man. What a stud. Just tears those wicked priests to shreads with his words.

Monday, June 11, 2012

What a week!

Hoooola amigitos!

Dang..... this week has been a super crazy one. I´m not going to lie..... the mission is tough, and this week was especially real hard for me. It´s crazy how much and how fast your emotions change out here. You can go from cloud 9 to rock bottom in a day - hours even, sometimes. It´s a definate roller-coaster. Such a learning experience though, that´s what I love about it. I learn something every day.

So the past few days, Elder Huallanca and I have REALLY kicked it into high gear - worked real hard. Yesterday after church, we contacted for 5 1/2 hours and taught 10 lessons!!! Fetch... it was nuts. We´ve got some good return appointments to show for it though. We taught 40 lessons this week in all! That was our goal, and we had to work hard to get it.

Allright.... best news of the day? Melánia, if you remember she came to church last week, assisted church with us yesterday too!! And wow how she has progressed in one week. We met with her varios veces this week, and wait for it....... accepted a baptisimal date!!! YES!! The 7th of July :) We had a very special lesson with her a couple days ago and she spilled her guts to us. When we left her with 3rd Nephi 11 to read the previous appointment, we came back and she was so excited to tell us that she read the whole chapter and more!!! She had started to read the introduction and 1st nephi all by herself!! She also read Joseph Smith´s testimony and everything! Wow how we were pleased. She continued to tell us that while reading, she recieved her answer that the book is true. Without skipping a beat, she told us that she knew it was an answer because it came from The Spirit.... feelings of ¨peace, joy, love, faith¨ (Galations 5:22) - she had read that in the folleto we left her. We couldn´t believe it!!! She is so DANG prepared!! She wants to get baptized right now, but we have to get her married. She´s about 28 (?) years old and has 4 kids. She´s been together with her husband for 12 years! So we just gotta get the paper work done and wait on the time. That´s the hard part - I really wanna see her get baptized before I leave here, but sometimes the paper work takes a reeeal long time. I´m pretty sure I´m gonna be moving to a new area the 11th of July, so we´re gonna be cutting it close. She´s so amazing though!! She even brought a daughter to church yesterday and everything. Could be the family we´ve been looking for :)

Ok another cool miracle. Last P-day, we were on a bus going to Panamá with a bunch of other missionarys to go bowling. While on the bus, Elder Huallanca and I decided to contact it and hand out folletos. It was awesome. The cool thing though? While I was talking, a sister missionary (Hermana Fannin - Krissy knows her :)) had the impression to talk to the lady sitting next to her about what I was talking about up front. The lady responded that yes, she was interested, and she´d love to hear more. Now that´s great and all, but usually when we´re on buses, it´s hard to go teach them cuz they usually live in a different area - they´re usually just referrals for other missionarys. But this lady just happened to live exactly in Hermana Fannin´s area!!! That kind of thing is very rare. So we were able to get a great investigator for Hermana Fannin out of it - hopefully something happens there. I´d be thrilled to hear if she progresses and gets baptized.

Allright well, my time is just about up here. I just wanna tell you guys that this morning in the house, we heard ¨Love at Home¨, the hymn. Everytime I hear it I think of you guys :) I love you all SO much!! I don´t know if you understand. But really, another thing about the mission is it helped me realize how much you all mean to me :) I hope you all have a wonderful week.

Love, Elder Clarke

P.S.. awesome quote: ¨Parents and youth must stand together in defense against a clever and devious adversary. We must be just as dedicated, effective, and determined in our efforts to live the gospel as he is in his efforts to destroy it - and us.¨ -Elder M. Russell Ballard

Monday, June 4, 2012

What a week!

What a week it has been!

This past Wednesday, I recieved my new comp. here in Chorrera - Elder Huallanca (why-yanka). He is from Lima, Peru!! He is so inspiring - he is a convert of only 3 years!! (kinda like how Dad went on a mission after two years) He knows SO much for being such a new convert to The Church. I think he might be my hardest working companion that I've had! He works like a real man Peruvian. The cool thing? He has only 1 more change than me in the mission, so we are both really young. Both of us have less than 10 months in the mission!! We´re gonna do a lot of growing together :)
Elder Clarke & Elder Huallanca in La Chorrera
The first thing we did together was decided this change we want to find a family to baptize. We fasted a couple days ago and are currently looking anxiously. I know The Lord will help us find one if we are obedient and work hard. Another thing - remember Diogene y Tatiana? They are awesome!! We have since taught two lessons to them, and Diogene is especially positive and is loving the lessons. The problem? They´re not married.... that seems to be the problem with everyone here. Since fasting, we have found another great couple, but they are not married either :( The good thing is Melánia (the wife) came to church!! She stayed for all 3 hours and seemed to love it! If we can get her married and get her husband coming to church, we might strike gold. They have 4 kids!! :) Families are SO important in this gospel, we want to focus everything we´ve got in finding a family so that someday they can live eternally forever, and also short-term to strengthen our ward that is lacking families.

Something really awesome. Shaíd hasn't been able to come to church as of late because it's really hard for him to leave his house - there is a big hill and it's hard for him in his wheelchair. So.... we contacted the ward mission leader, and a couple of elders in the ward, and we've decided to have a service project and build him a ramp out of his house!!! As soon as we solidify where the funds are going to come from, we'll organize it. With Elder Huallanca, my spanish has sky-rocketed in the past few days, and because of that, I'm also gaining a ton of trust with the ward leaders that I didn't have before because my spanish was lacking.

Other than that, there haven't been many highlights this week cuz we only had a half-week. I also said good-bye to Elder Hill on Wednesday and he should be back in Utah by now-- I love that dude and I wish him luck :)  (and saw Elder Rich at changes - he is so awesome! It was a happy reunion :)).  Elder Huallanca and I have just done a lot of contacting and not really much else quite yet. But be expecting great things from us in the near future. On Sunday night, I felt The Spirit so so strong just as we walked to our dinner appointment. I felt as if The Lord was telling me I had done a good job the past couple days - Elder Huallanca and I working so hard. It was such an amazing feeling of joy - it definately inspired me to continue to work hard so I can feel that Spirit more often.

Well, my time is up but I just wanna congratulate Dave on graduating!!! It's a great feeling, isn't it? I love you all and wish you a great week!!!

-Elder Clarke