Monday, October 29, 2012

Panama is becoming my home.

Ah man. If you guys only knew how much I love reading your emails. It just makes me so grateful for all the blessings The Lord is blessing our family with. It´s awesome to think that pretty soon our family will recieve twice the blessings!! DAVE! I´m so dang pumped. You ready for my guess? Japan. I really feel like you´re gonna be a 12 weeker in the MTC - if it´s not japanese or chinese, it´ll be some other hard language. You´ve got brains for a reason, my man. Anyway. I can´t wait to find out this upcoming week.

So anyway. I´ve just gotta tell you guys first thing. Panama is becoming my home. Last night we were out visiting with a member in the cool night, and it just felt homey!! It reminded me so much of a peaceful sunday night walk back in American Fork. Except the members like my friends and family. The neighborhood just like my neighborhood at home. Man. It was weird but it just helped me realize how much I am loving this place! Being a missionary is the best.

Allright so best news of the week - we had a baptism Saturday!! Síria. The other fecha - Ariel - we had him postponed till the 10th of November cuz he wasn´t quite ready... and the 3rd of November - this upcoming Saturday - is indepence day here in Panama. Their celebrations are crazy too - just like the 4th of July. Sooo.... we figured no one would really show up to a baptism that day. Haha. But anway... the baptism of Síria was awesome!!! Elder Stegelmeier´s first in the mission :) Him and I sang ¨I like to look for rainbows¨ (Cuando me bautice) for the special musical number, and Síria chose me to baptize her. It was a great service.
Also. I don´t know if you guys heard or anything...... but recently there has been a lot of issues here in Panama. The government had temporarily passed a law to sell of all the extra land of the panama canal.... and the people went bonkers. Protests, food hoards, robbings, etc, and even a couple deaths broke out throughout the country, but mostly just in Colon - the city closest to the canal. Anyway. as a result, the missionaries in Colon were pulled out for safety, and dispersed throughout the rest of the mission. We were lucky enough to have 2 more Elders accompany us this week in the house as a result!! Elder Olivas and Elder Mendez - from El Salvador and Honduras, respectively. We did splits and stuff and it was really awesome. We also had a huge noche de hogar (multi-family night) this past Thursday and it was a huge success. The work is going wonderfully here, and I´m focusing in on trying to find some new investigators for Elder Stegelmeier and his new comp.... I think I´m leaving the area the 14th of November. But knock on wood.... who knows... maybe I´ll stay! That´s pretty much all the news I have for you guys. Oh! Actually... I got my birthday package :) I sent a pic of it waiting in my closet..... haha. Super excited. Lastly, I would just like to say that I love my bishop. Obispo Sanjur. What a man.

Allright well you guys have a wonderful week! I love you all and can´t wait to hear about Dave´s mission call!!! Chou!

-Elder Clarke

Monday, October 22, 2012

Convertido al Senor

Man. I love Lunes. I have the best family ever!! I hope everyone is doing well. Dave, I can`t BELIEVE your getting your mission call already!! Man! It will change your life. One word of advice: before you head out, talk to Dad about his mission. That is one thing I most definately would have done before coming out. Such a mistake on my part.
Allright, well this week I have grown quite a lot I feel like. Lots of things that will help me in the future. Numero uno? All the worldly and godly things in this world and in heaven are too astoundingly big to comprehend. I say this because I spent a couple days trying to...... haha. The conclusion I came too is something I`ve always heard. Do your very best - because there is no way you can come close to comprehending the things of God (think of If you could Hie to Kolob). We are all in debt to Him. We are His children, and as such, he knows everything we can and can`t do. All he asks of us is to do our very best - obey him and try our hardest to truly become converted to Him. Converted. That`s a hefty goal, but it`s what it`s what I`ve got in my sights. Truly converted to The Lord. I heard a talk by David A. Bednar about this once in the MTC, and at the time didn`t comprehend it. But I was enlightened a bit more yesterday in our stake conference of Panamà City. (By the way, our stake conference was incredible - I`ve never seen so many LDS members in Panama in one place in my life.) Anyway, what I was saying: a testimony alone will not save us. A testimony can be shaken, forgotten, and eventually can leave you if you do not attend to it. However, what will never leave you is a true conversion to THE LORD. Jesus Christ. It is something hard to obtain - it might take me awhile. But ya. They don`t say Christ is the center of the gospel for nothing. He is the way. That was the biggest lesson I learned this week.

Real quick, I just wanna say I have found my favorite person in Panama I think. Her name is Ruby, and she is a 75 year old grandmother in our ward. She helped me realize this whole revelation of conversion. She is truly converted. I am going to take a picture of her and send it to you guys. I love Hermana Ruby.

Ok, lastly, cool finding this week: we were contacting yesterday and ran into an awesome menos activo. Paula is her name, and she has such a sweet 12 year old named Luis Antonio who is not baptized. Our plan is to activate the mom and baptize the kid. Yesssss. Meanwhile, our other two fechas are progressing very well. Sìria should be baptized this Saturday. Ariel is doing awesome. Tomorrow is our multi zone conference. I love it. I hope you all have a wonderful week. Adam`s socks are awesome. And... is Scotty really as tall as Krissy says he is? That`s crazy. Love you all!

-Elder Clarke

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bueno, pues.

Bueno pues. That´s usually how I start all my journal entries. It just means like ¨well.....¨ Haha.

So this week has been crazy. Kind of a hard week, won´t lie. But, really, I have reason to be happy about that. Trials help us grow - we all know that. One thing that happened for the first time in my mission this week was we were actually thrown out of a house..... yikes. Kind of scary. We were having a wonderful spiritual lesson with a middle-aged lady, when about half-way through, her old grouchy ¨proclaimed devout catholic¨ husband came out of another room and demanded, shouted at us that we leave his house that instant. Man.... so sad. It really just made me sad. But at the same time, The Lord prepares His people in their own time and place. We saw that guy a few days later in the street and went up to him, shook his hand, asked him how he was doing. Ya know. You gotta treat em how Christ would´ve.

Allright so Elder Stegelmeier is awesome. He is teaching me so much. I love how much you can learn from every companion. He is fresh out of the MTC and has The Spirit with him so strong!! I love having him as my comp to bring back some of that MTC goodness. :) We have put lots of baptismal fechas - and a lot have fallen. But, we will continue to work until The Lord puts people in our path. One thing that is so obvious here is that it´s The Lord´s work - not ours. We just do what we´re supposed to, and The Lord blesses us - with or without baptisms. It´s all about what The Lord needs or wants in that moment. I´m so lucky to be a missionary. Our two strongest bap. prospects right now are Ariel - a 16 year old grandson of Emílvia, and Síria - a 14 year old niece of a less-active member. Looking for more. :)

Well I really didn´t have too much time to write today, and I apologize, but I´m doing well, learning and growing. I loved so much and appreciate the letters from Mom, Dad, and Dave this week. Dave, I am seriously so excited for you. Wow. Sorry about your tooth problem though. Mom, I´m glad Elder Whitcomb was able to speak with you. He is the best. May you all have a wonderful week! Love you all.

-Elder Clarke

P.S.... I´m sending a pic of one of my recent trials..... my first pair of shoes is officially wasted. Don´t worry about sending me any more pairs though - I´ve still got two more to bust up :)

P.S.S..... Another fun trial this week: hardly any water in the house the past 4 days. The running water hardly runs... if you get what I´m saying.

look for more pictures added to the last 2 posts below!

Monday, October 8, 2012

I´ve never felt more joy. 10/8/12


I have so many feelings going on right now and so many things to say - I can honestly say I don´t think I´ve ever had a more joyful time in my life. True joy. Not temporary pleasure, no, but pure joy. More than anything, however, before I start, I just want you all to know that I love each and every one of you so so much.

AHHHHHHH. Ok. So I cannot write anything else before saying that I AM SOOOOOOO HAPPPY and EXCITED FOR DAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WoW!!!!! My goodness. When Pres. Monson got up and started talking about missionaries, like Mom, I already knew what was coming. All of us missionaries all felt it coming, and we were hanging on to every word, like it was the last thing the Prophet would ever say. Maaaaaaaaaaannn. When he finally said it, the first thought turned to Dave. I wanted to cry!! I couldn´t even say anything. My heart was so full of joy. Dave, I truly am so excited for you to join the ranks as a representative of Jesus Christ. It´s not easy - but worth every minute. I´m also so proud to have a brother - such an example to me - that was so willing to answer the call right away. I love you, and I know The Lord will bless you in your mission. I can´t wait to hear where you´re going!!!!!!! Ah!!!!!!!!! (p.s... if you came to Panamá, I wouldn´t be disappointed. And if you don´t come to Panamá - sorry - it´s the best mission in the world :))

Allright so this week has been wild. But like I said before - probably one of the most truly joy-filled weeks of my whole life. So I waved goodbye to Elder Whitcomb on Wednesday. He´s now at home in Boston with his family. Congrats to him - he baptized his 8 year old brother this past Saturday. How cool.

So Tuesday morning I got some suprising news in a phone call from my ZL´s - they informed me that I´d be training this change. Crazy right?! So Wednesday morning, I was introduced to my new companion - Elder Stegelmeier - fresh out of the MTC. He´s awesome! He´s from Dayton, Idaho, and was a potato farmer. AKA..... super hard worker. I LOVE it! He has already taught me alot. We are gonna see miracles together. I only hope I can teach him as much as Elder Rich taught me. But more importantly, I hope I can teach him what God needs him to learn.

Anyway, back to conference. I LOVED it!! Wow! Conference just keeps getting better and better. With the big announcement and all, and even all the talks afterward as well, it suddenly became so much more apparent and inspiring to me at the rapid pace the Church is now moving. This IS the last days. There are battles to fight against Satan. There are people to inform, souls to save. Satan has made great strides in the past little bit, and now we see the Church making their move. The reality of the fight against Satan in the last days is really starting to roll. I love it and I´m so grateful and blessed to be alive at this time. I will fight until the end for truth. I will step up to the challenge. And there are so many more who are willing as well. I know we will not lose this battle.

Ok, so conference. My favorite session was by far the Sunday afternoon session. I´m sorry, but I just could not decide on a favorite. Every single talk in the last session was my favorite. Ruth was able to come, and I accompanied her in the spanish session Sunday morning. So awesome.

Anyway, I have SOOO much more to write, but I´m sadly out of time. I love you all and hope you all have an awesome week.

-Elder Clarke

Goal completed! from 10-1-12

Man, I´ve been missing you guys. First and most important, I want to congratulate ADAM!! Yes!! Your baptism on Saturday!! Way to go dude :) It is a saving ordinance, and one of the most important things we can do in this life. You have now taken upon you the promise to be a witness of Jesus Christ at all times, in all things, and in all places - as well as keep his commandments and honor Him through your obedience to His commandments. Maybe you could read Mosiah 18 with Mom or Dad one of these days, and read about those who made those same promises at the waters of Mormon with Alma! Congratulations dude :) I can now say that everyone is my family is a member of the church! That makes me so so happy. Nothing makes me happier! Again Adam, congrats. Your party looked super sweet too. Isn´t Mom amazing? Not to mention Dave is The Man. The only thing is um... where are the pictures of the baptism? The white clothing? The font? :(
Well, I am pleased to say I had quite a great weekend too. Elder Whitcomb and I completed our goal for the change of 4 baptisms!! Just like Adam - Sophía, Ruth, Emílvia, and Rachel made the covenant of baptism. So awesome. We held the service at 8 AM before the sacrament meeting - that way they could be confirmed as well, instead of waiting two weeks because of General Conference (I´ll get back to that). So Ruth asked me to baptize her, and we also had E´ Whitcomb, Bishop Sanjur, and Rachel´s big brother baptize. I helped make the program too. It was just a great thing to see our goals realized after so much hard work and hard times. I was hungry for a baptism!! I hadn´t had one in a really long time. I´m just grateful The Lord was confident enough to leave 4 of His children in our hands to teach and help to perform their saving ordinance. Unfortunately, I wasn´t able to get a picture of Rachel in her white gown, but perhaps I´ll send a pic on another occasion.

So I´m actually really really sad to say goodbye to Elder Whitcomb - he has taught me so much, and we´ve grown so much together. I am really happy for him though - he will be landing in Boston to see his family this upcoming Thursday. I love that guy. I´m looking forward to chilling with him at BYU. Double dates and such. Don´t worry Mom, I´ll make sure to give him our phone number. :) I will say though, with changes this Wednesday, I am super excited to get a new comp. - I am fully expecting another latin comp. - which will be awesome for my Spanish. President has also told me he´s bringing in two more elders into the Ward to help us with our gargantuin area. So I´ll be showing them around the area a little bit too. I can smell good things comin´. Haha. Lastly, I just wanna say I'm SUUUUUPER excited for General Conference this weekend. I can hardly wait!! I wish the whole world would watch it - it would do the world a whole lot of good. I´m way excited to get counsel from all the church´s leaders on what I can improve and such. You can bet I´ll be bringing a few questions to the meetings too.
Well, I´m gonna end this letter now, but I hope you enjoy the pictures and that you all have a fantastic week.
Love, Elder Clarke
P.S.... Ah almost forgot! I got my package this week!! I LOVED it! All the reeses and cookies are already long gone. And the socks? Fetch they are nice. Thanks soooo much!! :) Also, someone please tell Bro. Scott Harris I recieved his letter and give him much thanks. I loved it - I keep his coin in my right pocket every day now.