Monday, August 27, 2012

Whoo! Family, I love ya all.

What a crazy week. Last week started off with a scare when I woke up and couldn't hear anything out of my right ear! Again! What the heck right?! I was so so scared I would have to undertake another surgery, be sent home, or something crazy like that... I didn't know what to think! It was a very tough few days for me until I could get into a doctor's appointment here in the city. On Tuesday, I was able to meet with Doctor Castillo, who informed me I just had a very bad ear infection, and it had disabled my eardrum de nuevo! Also, the little ear "tube" they put in my ear in the MTC was coming out. Dr. Castillo took that out too. I am currently taking a big anti-biotic and my ear should be back to normal again in about a week. Gah... thank goodness. Let´s hope I don´t have anymore scares like that.
So, a day later, I recieved my new comp!! I don´t know if you guys remember me mentioning an Elder Whitcomb (picture is attached) a few weeks back?? My old zone leader from Boston, who´s friends with the Parson family? Well, HE is my new companion. Am I the luckiest elder in the world or what?? Elder Whitcomb is going home October 4 - he currently has 23 months in the mission. This will be the second elder I´ve sent home in such a fashion, if you remember Elder Hill back in Chorrera. I feel so blessed to be able to learn from him (as well as I learned from Elder Hill). It is also a bit odd that thus far, I´ve had more gringo comps. than latins - that hardly ever happens. I should be expecting many more latin comps in the future. Elder Whitcomb is known by many as the best missionary in the whole mission. He previously shared a house with the assistants in the heart of the city, and is coming from one of the strongest wards in all of the country. The Lord has blessed me so greatly to have him as a companion - I´ve already learned so much! And I´m so excited to be able to learn all his tips and tricks. Pres. told us he was excited to send two good elders to this tough area - I know together, we can see miracles.

As for the work here, it has already started to improve! My last change was definately the hardest of my mission, but I feel as if a few of the trials I was having have past and I´ve now come out stronger and having learned so much. I am a strong believer that if we show to The Lord that we´re willing to sacrifice and willing to work, as well as if we´re capable of bringing people to Christ through teaching, The Lord will put people in our path to help. Elder Whitcomb and I have already fasted once that we can meet our high goals for the change - we are looking for baptisms, and more specifically, families. I am soo hungry for a baptism. Right now, we are currently working to reactivate less-actives, and looking for part-member families (including menos-activos as well). Some great news is that on Saturday, we contacted a reference from Penonome, and it was a family!! Jorge and Shelby - wow. So awesome!! They have been together 3 years and already have 3 children - Nuemi (2 years old), Elísa (1), and Jorge Jr. (15 days old). We have already been able to meet with them thrice and they came to church with us yesterday!!! YES :) We will be talking to them soon about marriage, seeing as they are not legally married. I am super excited to see what´s up ahead :)

One thing that I thought was cool was we had ward conference yesterday too!! How sweet is that?? We had a meeting with the bishop after church and we plan on working with the bishop and the ward mission leader like this ward has never before seen.

That is pretty much all for this week, but some awesome bonus news!! You ready? I got a call from Hna. Carmen (Chorrera) this morning and she told me she is getting sealed to her husband and daughter in the temple tomorrow!!! YESSS!! Made my day. I love that family.

Anyway, I hope you all have a good week, I love you and pray for you. My prayers are with Grandpa as well. I know he´ll be allright. I sent him a letter a little while ago - it should be arriving in the mail soon.

Love you!

-Elder Clarke

Monday, August 20, 2012

por fin.... fotos para ustedes :)

Man... family!
This week has been a really long one with a lot of changes and challenges, but I think I came out on top. Changes are this Wednesday, and I will be getting a new companion. Right now, I´m just trying real hard to re-focus back in on being a representative of Christ in everything I do, think, and say.
The biggest change of all is that midway through the week, Elder Ramos and I recieved a third companion! Elder Loaisiga from Nicaragua. We were put into a trio for the last week of the change because Elder Loaisiga´s companion went home with a bad illness. Elder Loaisiga was our district leader and was in the area right next to us. However, he is also leaving his area Wednesday (changes), which means my new companion and I will be in charge of both areas. This is a very tough assignment, because the our area essentially doubled in size. We´ve spent a couple of days there having Elder Loaisiga just try to teach me part of the new area, where his investigators live, etc. Our workload is MORE than enough now, besides the fact that neither I or my new companion will know the new part of the area, nor the members that live in that part of the area. We will definately have our hands full.

Another cool thing was this week, I did divisions in Bella Vista with the zone leader, Elder Guerrero de Mexico. What a great missionary he is, and the advice he gave me was great. Someday, I hope I can become a great missionary like him. I know the key is just to forget about myself and work, work, work. There is no satisfactory substitute.

One miracle that happened yesterday is that a new ward mission leader was called, and we had a two-hour long meeting with him! Hermano Santos seems like the real deal. We are so excited to present the new ward mission plan to the ward with my new companion - I can´t wait.
Well, that is kind of it for today. I just want to bear my testimony to you guys that I know Heavenly Father and our brother, Jesus Christ, love us more than we can possibly imagine. They have created this Plan of Salvation to help us all reach our divine destiny, and it is through obedience to the gospel that we will obtain that. I also know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only church on earth with all the keys, power, authority and rights of the priesthood of God. I know that the same church of Jesus Christ that existed when Christ himself walked on the earth was restored by the hand of God through the prophet Joseph Smith. I know that the Book of Mormon is latter-day evidence of God´s love for us, and that the book is completely true. I am so grateful for all the blessings and knowledge I have, and I know I can only be saved with the help of my Savior, Jesus Christ.
I hope you all have a wonderful week!
-Elder Clarke
P.S.... The news about Grandma! Give her a big hug for me. I really hope she gets better soon. Also Mom, I´m so glad to hear that your wrist will heal on it´s own! :)

Monday, August 13, 2012


Man, what a long week it has been. I really needed this P-day. This week has been pretty difficult for me personally, but I know I´ve just gotta put that aside and work. Work is the best formula to make myself happy, and forget about myself.

So perdoname if the letter is kinda short this week, it´s just that not too much has happened. This week, we´ve tried to apply the new mission emphasis on placing baptisimal dates and bringing people to church, and it´s gone.... ok. We didn´t have anyone with us at church yesterday, and that made me real sad. However, we did find a few people this week who are decently interested with our message! One is a mother of 2 named Elizabeth - she is a baptist lady but she is really enjoying learning about our church, and even committed to read the BOM and pray for an answer! We haven´t been able to get a hold of her in about half a week though, so we´ll see what happens.
Another cool dude we met is named Carlos, and we´re pretty sure he used to be a drug addict, cuz he´s a little bit on the crazy side. The important thing though, is he has shown real desire to change his life around, and we told him the way to do that was through baptism (trying to apply the new emphasis). He told us he wants to get baptized, but then he didn´t show up to church yesterday :(
So I don´t know if I´ve mentioned Ester before, but she´s an older lady who had previously come to church twice, and wanted to get baptized, but she was going to have to divorce herself. Anyway, talking with the zone leaders and such, she may not have to divorce herself because the man no longer lives with her. So.... if we re-teach her all the lessons and she still has desire, we may have a baptism coming up quick with her! :)
Well, I´ve almost told everything for this week, but I just wanna talk about a SUPER sweet part-member family that we´ve met with a couple times this week. The dad and one of the kids are inactive members, and the mom isn´t a member. Anyway, a few years back, the mom attended church by herself and wanted to get baptized, but couldn´t because her inactive member husband didn´t want to get married to her (sidenote - if you haven´t noticed, legal marriage is kind of the biggest problem here in Panamá... no one is married. And if they´re married, they wanna get divorced. Haha.). Well..... now, the husband is coming back to church and wants to marry and baptize his wife!! Hno. Ruíz. He is such a freaking stud. The hard part is now the mom doesn´t really wanna go to church or get baptized. But this is an eternal family we´ve got on the line here!! Elder Ramos and I have got some big dog work comin´ our way to try and help this señora. If you could pray for her, that would be awesome.
Well that´s pretty much it for this week. Mom and Dad, I want to congratulate you on 22 years of marriage. Good job for entering into the most important covenant possible here on Earth. I love you both so much :)
P.S... Congratulate Ryan Kitchen for me on his farewell talk and wish him luck! He´s a good hero of mine.
P.S.S... Favorite scripture for the week: Alma 37: 44-46

Monday, August 6, 2012

Good week I think

Hey hey hey!

 Allright so I think this week was a good turn for the better. We´ve found some great newbies to share the gospel with, and I think The Lord is starting to trust us more as we work harder and teach with more true love and concern. Something great this week has been that I have found such strength and power in sharing specifically the message of the Restoration. Sometimes when teaching and contacting, we get all wrapped up in trying to teach the person a gospel principle according to their ¨needs¨ or something that relates to what they´ve told us. But (more specifically in contacting), I have found lately that as we share and testify specifically that the restored church of Jesus Christ is again upon the earth, with the same prophets, apostles, and authority that Christ possessed when on the earth, The Spirit is so present! Holy cow! It´s something that has helped me this week.

 Ok, so a couple cool experiences this week: we contacted and taught a really wonderful woman named Betty. She was actually very knowledgeable with the things of the Bible, and very intelligent (by the way Mom, she works in a call-center - haha). Anyway, we taught her the message of the Restoration, and when we got to the part about the Book of Mormon, she proceeded to ask us ¨how much would a Book of Mormon cost me if I wanted to buy one?¨ Like, what?! That was the sweetest music my ears have heard in a very long time. I happily handed her the book and told her that for her, it was free. Haha :) We have yet to been able to visit her again, but I´m excited for our return appointment this week.

So I had a very sweet experience Thursday night. Elder Ramos and I had just finished dinner at a member´s house, and it was around 8 o´ clock at night. Well, we were kind of discourged because we had nothing else planned, and when that happens, you´ve got to contact. Usually I wouldn´t have minded, but here in Panama, once it´s dark outside, you just don´t contact if you can help it. By that time, people have settled in for the night, and you hardly ever get into a door. Well, we could´ve easily just gone home early, but I suggested we go visit a weak investigador that we hadn´t seen in a while. It was kind of far, but whatever. So, we trudged over there not exactly with the most hopeful spirits. When we arrived, she wasn´t home. Mannnn. As we thanked the young man (a friend of someone else who also lives there - about 20 years old) at the door and were turning to leave to go home, he stopped us and asked ¨Hey um, I´ve got a question.... don´t you guys ever rest? Don´t you ever get tired? It´s 8 o´ clock at night.¨ My goodness. It may not sound like much, but I know with 100% certainty that it was The Lord´s way of telling me personally that he was grateful we decided to work until the end. As soon as he said it, I felt an enormous amount of The Savior´s love come into my heart, as if The Lord was just telling me ¨thank you.¨ It was beautiful, and an experience I won´t ever forget. Plus, we were actually able to have a decently positive lesson with him afterward. It helped me so much to gain a better testimony that The Lord is with us wherever we go, and is always watching over and helping us. He is the Head of this work, and is so grateful when we are willing to sacrifice.

Lastly, we had another investiagator (Jacolín) in church this week!! What?! We contacted her last Tuesday, and she agreed to come to church without us teaching her hardly anything! We were so happy. I was kind of nervous because yesterday was fast Sunday, and therefore the sacrament meeting is pure testimony-bearing. I don´t know why, but a lot of investigadores don´t like the fast Sundays too much. Anyway, during the meeting, one of the ward´s best young men - a wonderful 17 year old - got up to bear his testimony, and BAM!!! The Spirit immediantely was everywhere in the room. His testimony was so powerful!! Anyway, I looked over, and Jacolín was crying!! The Spirit was working within her so strongly!! Wow :) All I could do in that moment was look up at the heavens and say ¨thanks.¨ We are looking forward to our return appointment with her as well - we´ve hardly taught her anything yet!

Anyway, that´s kind of all I have time to write this week, but I want you guys to know I love you soooo much! I appreciate the letters of encouragement Mom and Dad, really. Thanks :) I hope you guys have fun at trek and have an amazing week!

Love, Elder Clarke
P.S... I read Elder Uchtdorf´s conference talk from this past conference again this week and chuso... that guy is fabulous. ¨The merciful shall obtain mercy.¨
P.S.S.... I splurged a little bit this week and bought a box of cereal and a liter of milk...... wow. Possibly the best breakfast decision I have made in my mission. ¨La Lechera¨ cereal. It brought back all my memories of eating cereal in the morning at home....