Monday, July 30, 2012

Tough Week!

Familia!! Les quiero demasiado.

Bueno, first I just wanna say FELIZ CUMPLEÄNOS to Katie!!! 15! Whoa!!! How do you feel, sister? I hope you had a splendid day, and I have a birthday letter that I´m writing you - expect it in the mail someday. Speaking of birthday´s... fam, I would really appreciate it if you´d wish my 4th brother - Matt - a very happy 19th birthday. I hope you guys have all had a great week. Mom, I just want to tell you again, that I am forever grateful for the shoes you sent me. I think now between the pairs, I might have enough to last the rest of my mission! You´re the best.

As for me here in Juan Diaz, it´s been kind of a hard week. Actually, a decently hard week. The rain season is comin´ on strong and as a result, I´ve been blessed with a cold and nasty foot problems.... my feet can never dry off! I have open sores and stuff, hurt´s to walk - it´s kinda gross. But I´m good. Haha. Also, the work here is moving so slow. It really makes me sad. It seems like nobody wants to hear us. And if by chance they let us in, they´re not willing or ready to change their lives. Alma 17:11 brought me comfort again this week - I know I´ve just gotta push through. Something that I know is that God blesses us with trials - they essentially are a gift, not a burden. Trials are a gift from God that help us learn, and ultimately, become better people. I know The Lord is preparing people for me here - I´ve got to continue to prepare myself for them.

A couple things we´ve been trying to implement this week is increase our faith, and put more emphasis on baptisimal dates - even putting baptisimal dates in the first contact or first lesson. It´s helping me I think. Pres. gave an amazing message in the zone conference about how faith, really, is power. We cannot even exercise our priesthood without faith. Faith, truly, is one of the greatest power´s there is. I am continuing to work on my faith.

So this week, I did divisiones with the zone leader´s here in the city - can you say sweet?! Dude, really. I stayed the night in Bella Vista in the assistants house with Elder Whitcomb (the assistants and ZL´s share a house). He´s a new missionary hero of mine. He´s a fantastic missionary. Anyway, in Bella Vista, we worked the day in part of their area that is in the straight up GHETTO. Two gringos - I was kinda scared. I did not feel like I was in the right place. I think it was the most poverty I´ve ever seen in my life, it made me so sad. I don´t know why those people live that way, and I wish I could help them. If we could all just live the law of consecration... man.

Well, my time is just about up, but I will say we had one investigador in church yesterday! She´s come the past two times - Esther is her name. She´s an old investigador from missionaries here before. She´s positive, but we´ve got to get her divorced before she can get baptized.

I hope you guys all have a great week :)

Love, Elder Clarke

Monday, July 23, 2012


Man, I just love you guys :) Mom and Dad, you are the best letter-writers in the world. I want you to know your letters are seriously a strength to me every week. I love them - thank you so so much. I wish I had time to respond to everything.

Allright, the highlight of my week? We had a big zone conference with all of the city missionaries as well as the missionaries in Colón, and guess who was the head speaker? Elder Carlos H. Amado, of the first presidency of the quorum of the seventy. WOW!! After hearing from him, I think (and hope) he will be an apostle someday. He´s been in the seventy for 20+ years, and his manner of teaching was truly incredible. He said all the right things to boost my enthusiasm, renew my spiritual side, and give me hope. A couple things he said that I really liked: "You can´t teach something by The Spirit unless you have learned it by The Spirit¨. Also, he asked us why we thought Christ was compared to ¨The Lamb¨. He went on to explain that the lamb, of all other animals, is the most indefensless animal. I thought it was so cool because of all people who have ever lived, Christ was the most powerful and defensible being. But yet, he humbly and willingly submitted himself, with all power to deliver himself out of the situation. What an incredible comparison. Elder Amado went on to teach us how to become better teachers, and then gave us advice for after the mission: get married, study, work, and fulfill church callings. It was the best conference of my whole mission, I think.

So here in Juan Diaz, this was a tough week - this place is totally dead - deader than I thought beforehand. Basically all we´ve done this week is contact and visit old investigators with little success. I am hoping for a miracle soon - I have gone awhile without a positive investigador. One fun thing, is now that I´m in the city, contacting is a little different. My new favorite thing to do is teach a lesson to whoever is sitting next to me on the bus. Get their name and number, and reference them to the missionaries whereever they live. We ride the bus a lot and for a long time. With traffic, it takes us two hours to get to the heart of the city (where we have district meeting), when in reality we only live about 30 min. away! Man. Oh! Before I forget, tell the Parson family in our ward that my zone leader is Roger Whitcomb from Massachussetts - he´s a friend of theirs.

Another cool thing is I spoke yesterday in sacrament meeting for about 15 min. They gave me the topic of ¨whatever I want¨ and so after talking with Hno. Marín (strongest member here in the ward I think - total stud.), I decided to talk about progression in the church, and enduring to the end - specifically the importance of family, fullfilling callings, and remaining worthy of the priesthood. I feel like it went ok, but I will deliver a better message next time.

Allright well I´m just about out of time for today, but I love you all so so much and hope you have a wonderful week. Mom, all that stuff in the package is for you guys - I kept all my stuff here with me :) That tie is for Dave. Did the navitity arrive in 1 piece?? Love you all.

-Elder Clarke

P.S... Wish Krissy a happy late-birthday for me :)

Monday, July 16, 2012


Chuuuso, it has been a wild week! Sounds like it was a wild one back home too, with Dave working a 16 hour shift (sweet) and Mom taking a hard fall.

First off, changes were this past Wednesday and I was changed to Juan Diaz, Panamá City! I´m in the city!!!! I live in an apartment!! I ride the MetroBus every day!! Everything is modern!! It´s sooo sweet. It´s like New York City, but Spanish! I really really like it here so far. My new comp. is Elder Ramos, from Celaya, Mexico. He is a sweet dude. He came to the mission with Elder Rich, so he´s got about 15 months in the mission now. Something cool about him? He played professional soccer in Mexico before the mission! So he´s pretty much a sick baller with his feet.

The only bad thing about this new place is supposedly we have a really hard area. It´s been a ¨dead¨ area for about a year or more now, and I think it´s gonna be really tough to get things goin´ again. Of course though, if we´ll just be obedient, work hard, fast, and pray, things will work out! If we are prepared to teach and bring pple to Christ, He will more than willingly put prepared pple in front of us, and help us find those who are ready for baptism. I´m super excited to see what´s up ahead. For now, I´m trying real hard to learn the new area and all the new members and such. It´s kinda like I started my mission all over again. Not really though - now I can actually speak spanish, and have the confidence that The Lord is with me in whatever I do and say (as long as I´m living worthily). Tomorrow we have our first district meeting with the new zone - I´m excited. Elder Ramos told me I´m the only gringo in the whole district!! Sweeeet. Looks like I´m gonna learn how to play soccer on p-days, whether I like it or not. Haha.

I just wanna share real quick, these past few days as I´ve been getting to know the new members, it has been SUCH a testimony-builder to me about the truthfulness of prepared saints. Everytime I enter a new member´s house, I ask how they were introduced to the church (almost everyone here in Panamá is a convert because the church is so new), or how they came to know to be baptized. Their stories are INCREDIBLE! Really! Ah, I wish I had time to write all their amazing stories, but just know it´s really awesome. It has inspired me to work harder so that I can enjoy and see those same kind of miracles here in my mission! Hno. Perez and Hno. Marín especially are so great - probly my early favorite members here in the ward. I just know they were prepared in the pre-mortal world to come and help the church grow here in Panamá. They are wonderful men.

Lastly, I just wanna say Jesus The Christ by James Talmage is incredible. The Church could pronounce that book scripture and I wouldn´t have a problem with it.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!! Keep praying and reading the scriptures every day. The basics that help you to qualify for a testimony.

With much love,

-Elder Clarke

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The last few days 7/9/12

First off, Happy 4th of July! I hope you got my pic. I drew an american flag and let it fly on Wednesday :) I hope you all had a great holiday. Obviously, living in a different country has made me all the more grateful to live in the U.S.A. What a blessing. When I think of the 4th, I think of hot dogs and hamburgers and soda at Grandma and Grandpa´s house. If you were wondering, I also celebrated the holiday this week by having my first dream in spanish!!! Super sweet.

Anyway, this week has been a toughie. I had two different days of divisiones with Elder Jensen (he is the bomb), so my comp. and I weren´t able to hone in on our area like usual. Also, in a very odd chain of events, Melánia moved to Colón this past week with her family.... there goes our best investigador :( They didn´t have enough money to pay their rent (algo asi), and had to move back to Colón where they have a sure house. It all surfaced in the span of a few days and they are gone! The good news though, is that we called her there and she has already found the missionaries there (Elder Mendez from Puerto Rico is one of them - lucky guy) and is planning to get baptized there in Colón! So it´s all good :) I kinda wanna get transferred to Colón now....haha. Other than that, the mission work has been kinda slow and it makes me sad we haven´t had a baptism this change. When I get to my new area, I just wanna go nuts and contact every door! I will be leaving on Wednesday morning to my new area... I´ll letcha know how it is next week! We had a few investigadores at church yesterday though, and even revisited Vielka Lou! It´s been a while since we have been by their house. Of course I see Carlos more often, but I truly love seeing that whole family.

Speaking of that man, Mom, you truly went above and beyond with the package :) Wow!! Thank you! I recieved it this week, and already gave the shirt to Carlos. He loved it :) I also gave the aceitero to the ward member, and Elder Huallanca. Elder Huallanca was so grateful! He wears it every day. He loves our whole family, and wants to come to Utah someday. Also, let it be known that he´s in love with Katie. He loves her red hair and always looks at our family picture. Hahah :)

So I had a super sweet study about Alma 5 this week. Alma 5:27 - if you died right now, could you say you have been sufficiently humble? Alma taught me in that chapter, that as a missionary, I must be more bold in everything I do, and I need to put emphasis on the doctrine of Christ as I teach and preach. I am just trying to better myself every day here and trying to be an example - a representante of Christ - to all. I consider it an honor to serve a mission, and I´m trying to improve myself every day here. Like I mentioned a few times ago (?), we can only become who we want to be through the ENABLING power of The Atonement of Christ.

I hope you all have a great week, and Adam and Scotty, I love you!

-Elder Clarke

P.S.... tell Nick Clark congrats for me!! Tahiti! Fetch! I sure hope they speak Spanish there...
P.S.S.... Mom, I eat Reeses every day for breakfast now. Ohhh how I have missed them.

Monday, July 2, 2012


Family! Ah man I just love you so much. I know I´ve said this before but I love Monday just to hear what you guys are up to. Dad, I loved your letter this week. Every time I read your letters I just picture you saying it all in person, like we´re having a conversation :) You´ve got some serious ´voice´ in your writing. It makes me miss you a lot. Also, Mom, Katie, your letters were great as well - loved the quote by Maxwell, Mom. Thanks for your spiritual thoughts. Congrats to Scotty for completing his first scout camp and Dave for getting another job! Way to go, bros.

Well, this week has been crazy! They are starting to pass faster and faster. I take it as a sign that I was putting my thoughts into the work better this week. The suggestions have really helped as of late with saying silent prayers, singing hymns in the street, and memorizing scriptures. Thanks Mom and Dad - you´ve both counseled me to do that before and the silent prayers especially have helped me as of late. Also, Elder Huallanca taught me `The Army of Helaman` song in spanish! That is one of my very favorite songs ever and I love singing the spanish version now.

Allright, big news with Melánia! She is doing the marriage exams THIS week with her husband, and they should be married and baptized not this weekend, but the following weekend. The sad part about that is that I won´t be here..... :( But hey! It´s ok. I know I will see them again someday and we´ll talk then. I have LOVED teaching her though - her and her husband have overcome so many trials during this process... I haven´t mentioned any of them previously because I didn´t know if the baptism would fall through, but nope! We have seen the hand of The Lord help them overcome not having a job and their car breaking down, almost being forced out of their home because they had no money, and ya. Lots more. Someday I will explain the beauty of it all. Hopefully they can get sealed in a year before the end of my mission so I could assist their sealing in the temple. That would be raaaad :) I have absolutely loved teaching this lady - you wanna know what? She just finished the Book of Mormon. She read it the entire thing is less than a month! Chuso... every time we go to visit her she´s in a new book. My favorite part of this whole process has been seeing the Book of Mormon literally change her life around - 360.

Oh! Speaking of the Book of Mormon. We taught a SUPER sweet lesson about The Book of Mormon to a wonderful lady named Vanessa this week. At the beginning of the lesson, she told us she tried reading the BOM but didn´t understand it. So, we explained a little bit of the background of the book, and read the first 3 chapters together. Man, there is nothing better than being a missionary when you get to teach pple the truths and they actually want to hear them! Talking about the BOM, for example, is so fun! It has changed the world, and when someone asks about it, I get to explain the world-changing power that it has! I dunno if that made a whole ton of sense, but ya.

This week not a whole ton of exciting stuff happened, but it´s all part of the mission work. You´ll have some less-progressive weeks. Of all the investigadors we now have besides Melánia, number 1 is probly Kevins. Just last night, we had a member of the bishopric - Hno. Rojas - accompy us to visit his parents. They still don´t wanna budge - it´s understandable. It was a very long lesson and can´t say it was very productive. But oh well. Kevins is a very good kid and I know The Lord has a plan for him. If not now, somewhere later down the road, he will be baptized. A little bit about Hno. Rojas though - the guy really impressed me last night. I didn´t know him very well before, but he is so knowlegeable! And so experienced in the church. I think he knows The Church here in Panama better than just about anyone. He was one of the pioneers of the church here, and he´s seen the growth here from when The Church first started here! He actually reminds me a lot of Dad. He has a lot of the same characteristics as Dad, and even kind of looks like him! Panamanien version. Idk if you remember the picture of when Melany and Elísa were baptized, but he was that man in the photo - he baptized one of the girls. Anyway, he told Elder Huallanca and I something last night that I LOVED. You ready? `Dios nunca va a bajar y darnos cosas si él ve que podemos hacerlo por nosotros mismos`. Translation: `God will never come down and give us things if he sees that we can do them ourselves`. Wow! Right? It´s a really simple concept, but rang really true to me. God will never give us anything or do anything for us that he already sees we can do for ourselves. I just thought I´d share that little quote - I loved it.

Anyway, that´s enough for this week, I will write more next week. I´m excited to head into my last full week of being here in La Chorrera!

-Elder Clarke

P.S... Mom, thank you for remembering, recording, and giving to me some of the blessings from my missionary setting-apart blessing. I read it often and it helps me a ton!

P.S.S..... last quote: `Do you want to know the truth of the holy scriptures? Do you wish to break the barriers that seperate mortals from the knowledge of eternal verities? Do you wish to know - really know - the truth? Then follow Moroni´s counsel and you will surely find what you seek. Be sincere. Study. Ponder. Pray sincerely, having faith.` -Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin