Monday, January 28, 2013

"Sea Feliz, Sea Mormon"

Wow, I just got done reading an amazing news article from Jeffrey R. Holland. Thanks Krissy - that was just what I needed today.

 Allright, so this week has been brilliant. I finished reading Luke this morning - reading Christ`s life is incredible. If only I had more study time, I would devour Jesus The Christ. It`s hard though - I`m currently reading the Bible, the BOM, PME, and "Our Legacy" during studies. I think studying may be one of my favorite parts of the mission. Also, we just got done with an AWESOME P-day....... we played kickball! Yeeeeah. Reminded me of 4th-6th grade times. It was way fun though. I even had a home run!

So man, this week I`ve learned a ton. Learned from my comp. too - Elder Aguirre is awesome. I admire his work ethic. His english is improving so rapidly! He will definately be fluent by the end of his mission. That guy is goin` places in life. But anyway, I think I`ve adopted a new theme to my mission. "Be happy, be mormon". The old propaganda of the church totally rings true for me right now. I`ve gotta constantly be keeping with a positive attitude! It`s something I`ve stuggled with lately - no one knows why. Maybe Satan is tryin` to play with me or somethin`. But man! We`ve got the gospel! The restored gospel of Jesus Christ! The gospel that Isaiah prophesied would go forth in the last days! Wow! We don`t have any reason to not be constantly rejoicing and happy! Share that happiness with others! With the world! That`s what we`re called to do as missionaries! "Sea feliz, sea mormon." That`s the key right now. Keepin` the positive attitude. District meeting helped me realize that today too - Elder Kniff and the rest of our district.

Another great lesson I learned this week is there is a very big difference between being humble, and having self-confidence. Self-confidence is the middle ground between humility and pride. I am striving to acheive that perfect balance - sometimes, I think I don`t stand up for anything I know because I`m "trying to be humble". No, I`ve gotta cut that out! One can be humble while at the same time being self-confident and trusting in what they know.

Ok so this week, we did some sweet divisions with the ZL`s. Elder Larsen (from Alabama - cool guy) came to my area and we stayed together for a couple of nights. While together, we put together another awesome "Missionary Wednesday" and then had a sweet group night the following night - human foosball! Elder Kniff`s idea. It was way fun.

As far as investigators, we had 5 in sacrament meeting! Lina and her daughter, Abdianis, Russell, Monica (soooo close to baptism - just waiting for her dad`s permission. Pray for Monica! A friend of Abdianis also came to church :) The Soto family, sadly, is losing interest fast. This makes me sad. That`s one part of the mission work that I don`t like - doing all you can to "invite" and help them come unto Christ, and then in the end they don`t choose to follow. But we`re gonna keep givin` them chances until we`re sure they`re not interested!

I`m looking forward to an awesome week - we`re trying to get in as much work in before "las carnavales" hit in the coming weeks. That is gonna be a total disaster. Here in the interior things get crazy. President Ward isn`t taking us out, either. I`m excited for another week! I hope you guys all have an awesome week too. You guys are the best.


Elder Steve Clarke

Monday, January 21, 2013

Special Witness of The Lord.

Que xopa pelao?
Bueno fam, I love you so much. I have had one extraordinary week. Things I`m learning on a weekly basis here are just amazing. This week especially, I gained a stronger part to my testimony of the fact that God gives us trials to HELP us, because he LOVES us, and he KNOWS us - much better than we know ourselves. And finally, He will never give us anything we can`t handle. He relieves us from the trial when we most need it. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father.


So man, this week has seriously been action packed. We`ll start with the ward weekly activities we`ve started - they are becoming some of my favorite days of the week - Wednesday and Thursday. Miercoles con los misioneros, us 4 in the branch (Kniff, Carrillo, Aguirre, and I) went out to Churuquita Chiquita and had a great family night with the Arias family! We watched "Only a Stonecutter" in spanish and had a great talk about faith and trials. The next night, we had 47 people at group night in the church!! We`re bound to break 50 this upcoming week. The members are getting so involved! I`m loving that part of the work right now.

Allright so some other great news among investigators. It`s looking like the Soto family might be coming around... we were able to put baptismal dates with all three of the kids! But then they didn`t come to church yesterday, so I don`t know what to think. Also, Monica and Lina and Abdias are all doing very well - but especially Lina. This week we were able to put a bap. date with the couple for March, and we had a great discussion with The Family: A Proclamation to the World (thanks so much for sending them - they were very much needed for this lesson) :). Also, yesterday, when we talked to Lina yesterday, I`d like to tell you guys it was one of the most spiritual lessons I`ve had in a long time. We talked with her about faith, and obedience to God`s commandments. More than anything, it helped me appreciate even more (I didn`t think it was possible) my family, and the eternal blessings we`ve recieved from The Lord. Lina went on and on and on about how badly she wishes her family was like us missionaries. She said her and her husband anylized us one night, and came to the conclusion we turned out the way we did because we were brought up with good values, and more than anything, our parents taught us correctly. There, she realized the faults her and her husband have made in raising their kids - because it wasn`t in the way of God. Wow! It was so bittersweet for me. So sad for her, but SOOO grateful for my family and the things I have. You`ll never understand how grateful I am for our family. That was the first lesson in a long time that actually brought me to tears! We then continued with the lesson, teaching her that because of our Savior, Jesus Christ, all those past mistakes can be corrected, and she can put her life in the way of God right now! As we talked about Christ dying and suffering on the cross for us, I started crying again! What an unbelievable Spirit I felt.


Ok, finally, I gotta tell you all about Saturday. Elder D. Todd Christofferson came to the city and we were allowed to go see him speak!! Totally worth getting up at 3 in the morning. Not only was he there, but there were 5 general authorities and their wives present. Such a great morning. My favorite talk actually didn`t come from Elder Christofferson though - it actually came from Sister Maine - the wife of seventy Elder Maine. She talked about being an example to all as a missionary, and that the mission should be something between you and The Lord. Finally, something she said that I really liked was this: "Be the missionary your parents think you are." Yeah! I loved it. I just want you guys to know I`m committed and trying my best to live like you think I do. Anyway, her husband, Elder Maine, also gave a really good talk - the point I loved most was that everything in your mission has to do with your DESIRE. Being self-sufficient. Super sweet. Elder Christofferson was really incredible though - he started out his talk teaching us all a priesthood principle found in the Doctrine and Covenants, and he talked about sanctification. Whoa. I`ll never look at 3 Nephi 27:20 the same again. The man is without a doubt called of God. Not to mention his spanish is flawless. Before he arrived, Pte. Ward shared with us something cool about what it means to be a special witness of Jesus Christ. So sweet. The gospel is so dang sweet. I love it! And I love being a missionary.

Well, I gotta go now - my time is up. But I love you all very much! I hope you all have a great week.

-Elder Clarke

P.S.... my branch president finally got back from Venezuela! Now the fun work begins.

P.S.S.... challenge this week: if you haven`t already, go to the temple!

Here is a link to a you-tube video made by our zone today:

Monday, January 14, 2013

My parents are one year older!


I was so pleased to open up my email and read that you guys (Mom and Dad) had a great birthday date. Dad is a stud.

Allright well the letter might have to be a little short this week cuz I was writing to Dave about our wonderful family. Anyway, this week has actually been kind of rough. We saw a few baptism fechas fall..... but now we´re working on recuperating them and looking for news. I´m also making some personal changes to try to follow The Spirit more, and we even started contacting a little more! Gotta love the classic knocking on doors. It´s somethin you can only do as a missionary :) Basically, I´m working on putting my trust in God, looking for those that are prepared. According to The Spirit, and those who follow through with their compromisos, that is who we are working with. We are also SUUUUUUUPER (did I mention super?) pumped to hear from Elder Christofferson this Saturday. What a blessing.

So for a cool experience this week. On Saturday night, we were fasting, and we went to Lina´s house (I don´t know if you guys remember her but she was an old investigator who wasn´t progressing because she wasn´t married). Anyway, we went their house and talked with the Dad..... showed them A Proclamation to the World and had a kneeling prayer!! He responded very positively.

Wow I´m so sorry but that´s all I had time to write. I just wanna say that Jesus is the best teacher and Luke is amazing. I love Luke 15-17.

Talk to you all next week!


Elder Clarke

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Feliz año nuevo! 2013! Y feliz cumpleaños abuelo, papá, y mamá!

So much has happened this week! I hope you guys are doin´ awesome. I am learning good things here in Penonomé every day. Sorry I didn´t write yesterday... I wanted to apologize. Here in Panamá, yesterday was a holiday and so all the internet cafes were ya. Nos toca ahora.

So first of all, I hope you guys had a HAPPY NEW YEAR!! I can´t believe it´s 2013. What´d you guys do? I´m happy to say we worked the best we could that day, although there were quite a lot of people sleeping or recovering from their night-long party. Fun new years day fact: a drunk guy came up and kissed me on the arm, and asked me and my comp. to accompany him to Chitré.... he seemed a little homosexual as well. Hahah it was funny.

Allright a few quick things back from Christmas that I forgot to mention to you guys: I was finally able to watch Dave´s mission call opening! Yes!! It teared me up a little bit. I appreciated that gift maybe almost more than any other. Thank you so much for sending it. And thank Amy for making it! I really loved it. Also, Christmas day we were able to paint the house! Way to stick to the panamanian tradition right? We painted it blue. I´ll send pictures. Finally, I also recently recieved the Christmas letters from Grandma, Grandpa, and our family Christmas letter! Man - grandma and grandpa´s letters were the bomb. Tell them please that I loved them. Grandpa´s temple experiences especially were great. I can´t wait to read his book.

Ok so we´ve been seeing lots of success in the ward recently. Sunday, we had 91 people in church!! Usually it´s like 65. Attendance is going up, and I think a large part has to do with what we´ve started here in the ward amongst the members. First, Elderes Aguirre, Kniff, Carrillo and me have started a fun program called ¨Miercoles con los Misioneros (Missionary Wednesday)¨. What we´re doing is every Wednesday night, we go to a different member´s house and hold a family night, where they invite friends, neighbors, and there is food and games. Then, we post on the bulletin board every week a big picture we print out of the family night, along with a little description of what we did, we the lesson was about, etc. It´s looking to be really successful. Also, the other thing we´re doing to help the branch is reviving ¨group night¨ every Thursday. Last week, the attendance had tripled from the week before! 38 people! Us missionaries are really looking to make it more exciting, and get the member´s support behind it. We wanna turn this place into a ward - not just a branch.

Allright well I thought I should probly mention the progression of some investigators: I wanted to let you guys know that Edelsy, José, Karol, and Michael are really progressing. I know they are gonna get baptized - now it´s just a matter of when. We´re aiming for the end of this month - the 26th of January. Also, we have a lesson with la familia Sotto tonight - Mom - thank you SO much for fasting for them. I know all our sacrifice for them will not go in vain. They are great, that family. Lastly, I don´t know if I´ve mentioned Luís before, but he´s the husband of a less active mother. Anyway, he´s a BALLER at basketball. Like, probly the best panamanian I´ve yet seen here. So anyway, we´re trying to get them married and decided it would be fun to use bball to have a lesson with them. So, a few days ago, us 4 missionaries, along with him, played bball at the church, and then had a lesson about marriage afterward. It was pretty successful, and I REALLY wanna baptize him. I asked President to leave me here another change so I can see all these guys get baptized. I don´t know if you guys remember ¨Carvinales¨ from a year ago, but it´s like the panamanian Mardi Gra - everyone takes like half a week to drink and just do whatever they want. It´s get pretty ugly - especially here in the interior. Last year in Chorrera it wasn´t so bad - it doesn´t get too bad there. But here, President takes us out of the area for like a week, and that´s gonna hurt our investigators too I´m afraid. But just pray for em all :) They´ll be ok.

Lastly, I just wanted to mention a cool experience from Sunday. We walked in a little late to church cuz we were waiting for and brought an investigator. Anyway, when we walked in the first thing I hear is that the guy at the podium said I was about to give a baby blessing. What? Hno. Castillo wanted me to bless his baby. No sé. So with literally like 5 seconds notice and without having ever done it before, I walk up and give the baby blessing! And gave him a name and everything! Aaron Enrique Castillo Morán. I didn´t do it perfect, but it was a really really cool experience and I felt The Spirit work through me. I loved it.

Anyway, I´ve gotta go cuz my time is up, but I hope you all have a grrrrrrreat week! Grandpa, Dad, and Mom especially!!! Happy birthdays!! I´ll talk with you all next week!

-Elder Clarke

P.S... I was THRILLED to see that picture of Whitcomb with you guys on Sunday. That made me so so happy. He´s a stud huh?

P.S.S.... guess who´s coming to visit the mission is a couple of weeks??? Elder D. Todd Christofferson! Yessir.