Monday, September 24, 2012

The Book of Mormon is the key.


Hello wonderful family. I sure hope you´re doing great! I am doing awesome. It´s a great day here in Panamá. Nice, rainy, cool morning we had. This week has been a sanctified one, I feel like. I am learning so much :) But hey, before I get goin´ here, let me answer a few urgent questions for Mom :) 1) my favorite P-day in the past little while was when we went bowling!! Here in the city, Albrook Mall is the place for everything - and bowling is the hot thing to do lately. Hah. 2) the craziest food I´ve eaten is called mondongo - it is the insides of a cow. It´s really gross. When members ask me if there is anything they shouldn´t give us, that is the only thing I insist on them not feeding us. Hahah. Lastly, I wanted to tell you that I recieved your letter from August 8th this past week!! It was so nice. I told Elder Whitcomb that he has to give you a hug for me for that letter - it was exactly what I needed and it´s still sitting on the desk by my bed - I´ve read it a couple times. Thanks again :)

So I was reading through my journal this morning to get some ideas of what I should write to you all, and I realized that I learn so much every day! I wish I could write it all - but just know that every day this week has been awesome. Great week of learning. I feel like now, comes the trial of diligence - of putting all these lessons into practice, keeping them a part of my daily routine throughout my whole mission and whole life. Of course it won´t be easy - Satanás is always there buggin us. But I love the challenge.

Allright first I told you that I´d tell you about our temple trip last week with Pte. Ward. It was so good! We went two Friday nights ago with the Rodriguez family and they even brought Aerton - their autistic son. It was special. Elder Whitcomb and I stayed with him just outside the temple grounds while Pte. Ward and Roberto and Heidi went on a walk around the temple and talked about what we do there. He is so amazing. Man - when it was time to leave, Aerton didn´t want to leave - it was so great. He wanted to go into the temple so bad and even tried to walk in a few times! I know it´s because he is a special child of God and could feel the love of his Savior there. The Spirit there we felt - the three of us - was so beautiful. There was hardly any talking - just sitting there, looking at the temple :) The love of God is special. Afterwards, Pte. Ward took my comp. and I to Dairy Queen - haha. He has gotta be the best mission president ever.

This week we´ve seen a lot of our investigators continue to progress - our baptisms are looking more and more secure! Knock on wood. Ruth, Sofía, Emilivia, and Rachel. The only problem there is we are missing men - missing priesthood. We´ve gotta find some men to baptize. Pero no importa, we are changing lives and saving people in the kingdom of God!! How sweet. Isn´t it cool I get to be the tool through which God works to bring people into His kingdom? Best job in the world!

Well, my time is just about up, but I just wanna let you guys know that I love the Book of Mormon. It is the physical evidence of God´s love for us in these latter days!! It was saved by the hand of God up until now to be a guide to us in THESE LATTER DAYS! More than anything else, it helps people to draw closer to Christ and become converted. Since bringing people to Christ is my purpose, I need to make sure I always help them understand the importance of the BOM. I am amazed how after just reading a chapter or two in the morning changes my whole perspective on the day - it just makes me happy. It gives me The Spirit. I know The Book of Mormon is true.

Allright well I hope you guys have a great week and READ THE BOM! Love you all.

-Elder Clarke

P.S...... my comp. and I spoke in church yesterday with the stake president of the Panamá stake. It was so sweet. I spoke about becoming unified as a ward through missionary work.

P.S.S...... I forgot to mention... um.. I think our baptisms now are actually going to be the 30th of September, and not the 29th... :( Adam, I´m so sorry!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Que xopa!

Family! How are we doin´? I am doing great. I have had a wonderful week. Another week of learning and growing - best part of the mission. The rate at which I learn out here is unbelievable. Elder Whitcomb is a great example too.

So this week has been a huge testimony builder to me of the concept ¨testimony doesn´t come until after the trial of your faith¨. As you all know, we´ve been working with a TON of people this change - and all have been mas o menos positive. Sometimes they come to church, sometimes no. Sometimes they keep their commitments, sometimes no. And really it had been like that the whole change up until this week when we found 3 people who truly are positive. Committed to learning and finding their own testimony. This week was the last week to find news before the limit of times someone would need to attend church to get baptized would end. So, it was kind of like do-or-die. Anyway, we found Hna. Emelvia last Sunday, who I previously mentioned, who is so dang prepared. This week, we also found a single mother of 4 named Sofía. We were contacting in an apartment complex, and when we got to her house, she told us she had been praying for direction and guidance from God for the past month or so. Well, I guess in that apartment complex soliciting isn´t allowed, and no one like that had ever ever knocked on her door in all the time that she had lived there. Well, when we showed up and told her that we were representitives of Christ, she took us as an answer from God, and has already accepted a fecha! Her mom has since then gotten on board, and we had 3 people at church yesterday! It was such a testimony builder to me that God was just pushing us every week with those so-so investigators to see how hard we would push ourselves to find those he had truly prepared for us to find. If we hadn´t continued to push ourselves though, we wouldn´t have been worthy or prepared to teach those who are truly prepared.

Dang it... I have alot more to write but I just got talkin´ with Elder Rich here.... he´s here visiting in the city. My time is all out! Next week I´ll write about our temple visit with Pte. Ward and my revelation about the BOM. I love you all so much and hope you have a great week!

-Elder Clarke

P.S... yes mom, I miss your haircuts :(

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Whohoo Con Pics

Whoo!! I loved the letters today fam :) You guys are the best. Mom, the pictures were great too! Except dang.... Adam is getting way too big! He´s not a little kid anymore! Adam, I hope I can still throw you around when I get home. But, just so you know, I throw the little panamanian kids around out here (members little kids and such - haha). Glad to hear that Grandpa´s doin´ better, that Dave is liking school, that Utah lost to Utah State, that Scotty is a beast at football, and that Katie is goin crazy with flag twirling. You guys are the best.

Elder Whitcomb

Anyway, as for me, it´s been a great week. Such a great week of learning and growing. Elder Whitcomb and I learn so much together - but mostly he just teaches me. He´s the best missionary I´ve ever known out here. So perdon if I don´t write a ton this week, but it was a great week. Our investigators are coming right along! Some slower, some faster, but they´re all progressing. We´ve set goals with God about the baptisms we want to see this month, and it´s looking like we reap the fruits - only if we continue to work hard. Zariyet, Shelby, the familia Rodriguez, and a new great newbie - Emelivia. Wow - what a gift from God. She was a reference from Balboa and has already gone to church in a different ward more than once! We contacted her yesterday, and set a fecha for the end of the month. What a prepared gift that God has entrusted us with. I am so lucky to be able to teach God´s prepared people. Something great that has been happening recently is The Spirit I´ve been able to feel more in lessons. I have started to study the ¨How to recognize The Spirit¨ chapter in Preach My Gospel and wow, paying dividends. There is nothing funner than teaching a Spirit-guided lesson when you and your companion are both in tune.
Well, I told ya the letter was gonna be short today. I just wanna end with a scripture that I really liked in my personal reading this week - Alma 60:21. This is when Moroni is ripping apart Pacumeni unknowingly, but I love the principle behind it. Do we really think God will free or protect us if we just sit around and do nothing? It is quite the contrario - the adversary will take us as his. We must always remember to do our part if we are expecting God to help us with our daily tasks. What is our part? Reading and praying daily, fullfilling our church calling, and being a witness of Christ at all times - completing with the covenants we have made with The Lord.
Allright well that´s it for today. I hope you like the photos :) I love you guys so much!! Be safe.
-Elder Clarke
P.S... sorry the letter is a day late - we went to the temple today!!! Man. When I go home I wanna go every morning.

P.S.S.... Tell grandpa I got his letter - He is the best - such an example to me. Mom, I got your sweet post-card too!! From the Utah Railway! Hope you guys had a fun time out there.

Monday, September 3, 2012

''God is in you''

Family!!! How are you! I love P-day's, just so I can hear what´s goin on with you guys. I´m glad to hear that Grandpa is back home and that everyone got my letters! The trek pictures were super cool too - Dave needs to look into modeling. The Jordans were the perfect touch. I have had such an amazing week - truly a rewarding week to be a missionary. Can´t wait to tell you about it!

           First of all, Mom, Doctor Castillo is one of the best doctors in the whole country - he was educated in the U.S. and recieved his degrees from St. John´s University. He speaks perfect english, and if it makes you feel better, he personally attended to Pres. Ward a few months ago with a big sinus infection. I´m happy to tell you that the antibiotic that he gave me has worked wonderfully - my ear is already back to normal. He did tell me the same thing though - that these types of ear infections have a high probability of happening throughout the rest of my life, and that I need to be really conscious of colds, sicknesses, etc. Thanks for sending the pills - you are so nice. 
           So I´m dying to tell you about so many of the miracles I´ve seen this week - especially Saturday. The hard times in the mission are SO worth it when you get the reward of seeing and being a part of God´s work among His children, seeing The Spirit change people, etc. Definately the biggest lesson/reminder I learned this week was that this is GOD´S work, not ours as missionaries. If we always maintain that train of thought, the work runs so much smoother and stress-free. Sometimes as a missionary, I begin to think that it´s my fault if I´m not having success, and I feel sad and stuff like I´m not a good missionary. However, the reality is that it´s nobody´s fault, rather that God, for whatever reason, maybe just isn´t putting prepared people in our path in that moment. I always have to remember that He is the one in charge. If I will submit to His will humbly and recognize that I am only a servant, only a tool in His hands, things are much better. 
           Allright, so. The Lord has blessed us so much this week - we were able to put 6 fechas, including the completion of 3 families!! The downside? Only one showed up to church. But no worries!! All in The Lord´s time. First of all, I´ll continue telling you guys about Jorge and Shelby who came to church last week. Well, they´ve been having a lot of relationship problems, and it´s been mas o menos ugly as of late. Anyway, Saturday, we go over there, asking God in prayer beforehand for help, and we sit em down real good, and just start to talk like, straight-to-the-point with them. Just about what they are looking for in a marriage, what they want for their kids, etc. The super sweet part is in part of the lesson, I found myself talking uncharacteristicly stern and straight-forward with them, like something that I would´ve never done on my own. I felt myself working, truly, as a mouthpiece for God. The words and ideas just came to me as I talked, and it ended up being exactly what they needed! They looked at each other after we spoke to them and agreed to ¨start over¨, and make sacrifices to put one before the other in their marriage. It was so cool. When we came out of the lesson, Elder Whitcomb and I both knew the lesson was completely guided by The Spirit, and us talking in there was really just us working through The Spirit. Although it seemed a little stern to talk to them in such a manner, I know God knew it was exactly what they needed to hear, and it helped them so much! We continuing to work toward getting them married and baptized. 
           Ok, another cool story that happened the same day. We went to the Rodriguez home to talk to the parents. They have had contact with the church for many, many years, but have never taken the leap of faith to get baptized. They have a very difficult life with their children - they have a daughter that is deaf and a son with Autism. They live close to the church, but it´s very hard for them to go on a regular basis. Well, E. Whitcomb and I taught them a lesson mas o menos about following spiritual impressions, and how to recieve answers to prayers. The coolest part of the lesson was at the end as we were about to say the prayer. I felt The Spirit so so so strong!! That´s another great thing about being out here on the mission - The Spirit you are able to feel on a more frequent basis is great. Before we said the prayer (I knew they felt The Spirit too), Roberto turned to us, and after a bit a thought, said to us sincerely: ¨You guys have God in you. God is in you.¨ Ah!! It was so sweet. To have someone actually tell us that was such a testimony-builder to me. I felt like Ammon - I wanted to boast of my God! Needless to say, they weren´t able to come to church yesterday, but I´ll keep you posted. 
           In other news, Zariyet has decided to get married to Adrian, and they came to church with the whole family! We were even able to have them sit down and talk with the bishop. Sweeeet. Also, we had a super sweet contact Sat. night named Cesar Selva. From Nicaragua. He looks golden - he said when we came to his door it was an answer to his prayer. Can´t wait to go meet with him this week. 
          Well, that´s all I have time for this week, but I want you to know I love you all!! Very much! Have a great week. 

-Elder Clarke

P.S.... guess what?! I´m in the war chapters too!! Alma 55 - around there. All I can say is they need to make a hollywood film of the lamanite/nephite wars. It would be epic. Mom, thanks for your awesome insight on the stratigies used by the armies - I´ll be paying closer attention to that now.