Monday, February 25, 2013

Great week.

Allrighty! Up front, Dad, I just have to say that you are the best father in the whole world. Your example of obedience and perseverance to The Lord over the course of your life is unmatched. Thanks for your example.
Ok! Entonces, que hay pelaos? I hope you guys are all doing as well as I am. I find it curious, we had some real tough breaks this week with investigators, but I`m continuing to be happy! I`m part of The Lord`s work! I`m doing my job! I`ve gotta be happy - I`m Mormon! No reason to get down. This week was changes, and I was granted my wish to stay here another 6 weeks in Penonomè! I love this place. However, we did have another big change here on the other end of Penonomè... Elder Kniff was transferred to my beloved Chorrera.... we will miss him greatly. And guess who came in his place? None other than Elder Huallanca. Yessir, we are back in the same area again! Crazy right? Super cool to work with him again, and see how much we`ve both changed in the span of 7-8 months. We`ll have a great opportunity to work together because we were called as co-district leaders. We`ll be in charge of the Hermanas in Santiago. Sweeet.

So I`ve been learning a lot this week in PME. My particular tema of gusto has been seeking and developing spiritual gifts. D&C 46:8 gives us great advice on how to do so, and I was also a big fan of D&C 63:9-12, explaining to us that we don`t develop faith by seeing signs, sino que the signs follow those who have first believe. A firm testimony first takes action and a leap of faith on our part. I will never forget this principle because of an awesome example Grandpa used with me when I was preparing to come here. It went something like this? Faith can be compared to us holding a lantern in a very dark place. We can only see where we take that light, and sometimes, in order to recieve a blessing or recieve a testimony of something, you have to take a step into "the dark" in order for your lantern, or "faith", to light that dark spot up. If it was all already pre-lit, there would be no necisity of faith. We must guide that lantern, and take it into unfamiliar places, before we can recieve a testimony of such a thing. Thanks Grandpa - I don`t know what I did to deserve him as a grandpa, but it must`ve been something good.

So yesterday we had District Conference in Chitrè. They called a new district president, and Pte. Ward came to officiate all that business. He and his wife gave great talks, as well as the others. Because of the 2 hour bus ride to Chitrè, we weren`t able to bring any investigators. Man, it`s been tough with them lately. It`s really funny how drastically things can change with them in 1 week. Monica`s parent`s had one final talk when branch president wanted to come meet them, and decided Monica will have to wait till October to get baptized. Also, Lina came out and confessed to us she had been "fibbing" so to speak, with her marriage papers, and is not going to take that step of marriage - she`s just not ready for that leap of faith I guess. Man I love those people and it makes me sad when they don`t take advantage of The Lord`s blessings. At least Estefany is still doing ok.

Allright last thing of the day is I wanted to share a mini-personal revelation I had yesterday. Almost everything we do is related to our PERSONAL relationship, and conversion to Jesus Christ, and our PERSONAL DESIRE to follow him. Examples: if members do or do not do their visiting/home teaching, if missionaries obey mission rules, if investiagators fullfill committments, might all lead back to how much we love The Savior. NOBODY can obligate you to obey, do your home teaching, or read the scriptures daily. That is the beauty of free-agency. But, we are all here to learn how to develop that PERSONAL COMMITMENT to The Savior. I know that if we develop it, we WILL do what is asked of us, and we will do the correct things. We should all evaluate our personal relationship and committment to Jesus Christ.

I love this gospel! I hope you guys all have a sweet week.

-Elder Steve Clarke

P.S.... started jogging in the morning again this week.... it`s been a long 5 month break.

Monday, February 18, 2013

¡Me quedo!

Fammmmmily. You`re the greatest!! I love you all! Sounds like Katie is just tearin` it up in high school - I give you props in german and choir especially :) As for Scotty, I feel your braces pain. I still remember the day I got mine on. Mom put roast beef and mashed potatoes in a blender my first Sunday with braces so I could enjoy Grandma`s and Grandpa`s famous Sunday dinner. Ah! Speaking of Grandma, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I hope you all had an awesome Valentine`s day as well.
Mission Confrence with Elder Christofferson
So, as for my week, it`s been a good one. Tonight, we are saying goodbye to Elder Gonzalez. It`s been a good 3ish weeks in a trio, but he`s headed back off to work in Aguadulce. Now, Elder Aguirre and I are ready to hit the ground running with another full change ahead of us together! Since Elder Rich, this will be the longest I`ve ever been with the same companion. I told President and the assistants that I wanted to stay another change here in Penonomè - our work is not done here. We`ve seen some sweet success with our investigators this week - especifically with Monica..... her mom said that she now has dad`s permission to get baptized! Like I mentioned last week, following the advice of Omni 1:26 has really worked. We`ve been fasting every Saturday/Sunday, and what do you know! We are going to visit them this week with branch President Archireali to get the final say. Pray for Monica!

Another fun success we`ve seen is with a girl named Stefany. She`s currently 8 months pregnant and we just found her - niece of a member. She agreed to a baptismal date and I think we`ll wait till after she gives birth to her first son :) Whoo! She`ll take him to church every week and then he`ll go on a mission. That`s the goal, folks. Besides her, Lina`s marriage papers are coming along.... slowly. But hey, 23 of March. That`s the day planned. We might move it up if it processes quicker. Lastly, our beloved Hna. Andrèa Quiros - our cocinera - did her part as a member this week! Gave us an incredible reference! His name is Norberto Castillo - man this guy is intelligent. He`s blind too - imagìnanse. The difficult part is gonna be getting him to church cuz he lives in a weird, rocky place - being blind, it`s kinda tough for him. But man - he is some priesthood material who could seriously help this branch. The other hard part is he can`t read The Book of Mormon because of his blindness. But hey! Is there anything The Lord can`t do?

So speaking of The Book of Mormon..... man. I LOVE that book. What a perfectly inspired, perfectly preserved piece of God`s history with His children that he decided to give us in these last days as PROOF of The Restoration. Reading that book is like my favorite part of the day. I`m currently in King Benjamin`s speech again and I can`t wait for what`s up ahead. Abinadi, and then, Alma and Amulek! The Book of Mormon.... I am so grateful for the testimony God has helped me to develop of it here in the mission.

Well this email is ending, but I can`t go another week without sharing with you all my recently new-found favorite quote of all time - thanks for "Stand a Little Taller" by Gordon B. Hinckley. Here it is: " Adulation is poisen. It is so very important that you do not let praise and adulation go to your head. Never lose sight of the fact that The Lord put you where you are according to His design, which you don`t fully understand. Acknowledge The Lord for whatever good you can accomplish and give Him the credit and the glory." Bam. Pride - the original sin.... don`t let it get to you.  I almost forgot!!! I recieved the GREATEST package in the mail this week..... the 2013 calender from Adam!!!!! Tell him thank you so so so very much. :)  I love you all so much!!! Have a great week and keep being the Clarke family that we`re all proud of.

Love you!

-Elder Steve Clarke

P.S.... My patriarchal blessing has saved me again these past weeks. What a blessing!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

¡Otra semana se ha volado!

Whoohoo! What a crazy week.

So this week has been pretty awesome. We have continued working in a trio this week and will continue to do so until the 20th, when Elder Gonzalez recieves a new companion and goes back to Aguadulce. But until that day, we will have to keep visiting his area (about an hour away in bus) about once or twice a week. I´m sad to say it, but this week has been super dead.... if you remember from earlier emails, we had been awaiting what were "las carnavales"...... man. What a disaster. Waaaaay worse than Chorrera. I saw up front evidence of the reality of the devil, and what he´ll do to a people if they give him any power. Talk about 4 straight days of drunk people and very skimpy dressed women. And beer. Man, I didn´t know people could drink so much beer. Haha. It is also because of these carnavales that we weren´t able to write our families on Monday.... all the stores were closed in both Penonomé and Aguadulce. Sorry! But I´m writing now :)

         So this week I´ve learned how to really trust more in God, and awaiting answers to my prayers - even just in daily decisions in life. DyC 6, 8, and 9 all have good scriptures about how The Spirit will talk to our mind, and to our hearts. I am now implying that in my daily conversations with God, and I´ve found it such a good help and comfort. I wanted to tell a short experience/example. Last week when Elder Kniff and I went to Panamá for migraciones, we also got my glasses and my E´ Aguirre´s glasses dropped off to get fixed by a member in the city (they broke). Anyway, getting ready to head back to Penonomé, we got stuck in traffic - REALLY BAD city traffic. To make a long story short, the glasses place closed at 5, and I told the guy we´d be there before then. Well, finally arriving at 7 PM (because of the traffic), it would´ve been kind of a risky move getting off the bus to go check the glasses place - after all - two hours late right? Of couse it´s gonna be closed. It would cost us another half hour of traffic to get off the bus. But, at the same time, we really needed those glasses! We weren´t planning on coming back to the city until who knows when. So, I said a prayer, asking The Lord if we should get off and go look for the glasses. Immediately, I felt (both in heart and mind), and yes, we should. Well, we get off, and wouldn´t you know it, we walk up to the glasses place as the LAST worker is shutting the door for the day, locking up the place. Man. WHAT a blessing. Both the glasses as well as learning how to recognize and follow promptings of The Spirit. Needless to say, both my comp. and I now have our glasses :) God is always looking out for us, and if we´ll invoke His help, He is there to help us! Sweet sweet.

         Well dang my time is like gone.... man. I have so much I want to write. Ok real quick. Jacob 7, Omni 1:26, and the definition of sacrifice I had great rants on all those things. Oh well, another day.

Love you all!

Elder Steve Clarke

P.S.... I felt a 6.0 earthquake from Columbia on Saturday! Sweet.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Good week!

Bueno pues.

This week was pretty great - I can`t think of a better way to be spending my life at the moment. It makes me really sad to think I`ve only got like 10 months left of this. I love being a missionary! I just recieved an email today from one of my old companions, Elder Avery Hill (he`s been home for a while now), telling me his reflections on the mission. I really really loved it! I love that guy. He just helped refresh my thoughts on the importance of taking advantage of the mission. I really look up to him. I also recieved an awesome letter from Adam, Scotty, and Katie (I loved the pokemon drawing, Adam - you`re the bomb). I also recieved a letter from Matt Maddix! I haven`t read it yet though and I`m really excited.

Anyway, this week I learned a lot. I`m trying to purify myself, and really love and look at people how Christ does. I`m tellin` you, it`s not easy! I don`t know how Christ does it. But Christ-like love is what I`m aiming for. This week, we saw a lot of investigators fall..... don`t you hate it when that happens? I remember back in the MTC my teachers told me one of the worst feelings on the mission would be when you saw people taste and feel of the true gospel, and then reject it. And it`s true! It really makes me sad. But, it just makes me wanna go find some people who ARE willing to change their lives, and follow Christ.

A few sweet investigators we found this week are grandchildren of an old grandpa investigator. Quick story: about a month ago, I felt the impression really strong to go help and teach this grandpa - his name is Russell. Really strong impression. Anyway, he hasn`t ended up progressing very much. I kept asking myself "why did I feel so strongly to help him if he never progressed? What was The Lord`s intention there?" But I think we found out this week when two of his grandchildren - Carlos, and Marìa, both asked us to start teaching them and Carlos even came to church!
He`s 16 and he thinks church is "cool". Man, it is hard to find
jovenes like that. Blessing from God and from following the promptings of The Spirit I think. Another investigator we have, Monica, is just waiting for her dad`s permission to be baptized, because she`s under 18. She wants to get baptized so bad! She`s totally ready too. Pray for her!

Well I don`t have a ton of time left so I`ll talk more next week about my new companion?! We just got put in a trio this week. Elder Gonzalez from Guatemala. Sweet guy. Also, we (Elder Kniff and I) went to the city this week for migrations. I`m finally legal! Got lots to tell next week.

Love you all!!! Have a great week :)


Elder Steve Clarke