Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"Whatever thou art, act well thy part"

Bueno, thank you Dad for always reminding me of that awesome saying. This week has been really amazing. For starters, if you couldn't tell by the pic, Carl´s Jr. opened this week here in the city - Me and the rest of the gringo elders couldn´t be happier with our lunch today. Something I haven't eaten in quite some time. 
            Ha allright, but for reals, today has been awesome. I had the privilege of going to the temple this morning for the first time in like 5 months! Man it was great. It´s amazing how much symbolism there is there and what you can really learn if you pay attention. 
            As for our area, it´s doing super well. We ended up moving Julia´s baptism up one week cuz the day of her baptism she fell sick.... we were kind of disappointed but it´s not that big of deal. She still has a ton of desire and she should be baptized this weekend. Another investigator I´m super pumped about is Gustavo. I don´t know if I mentioned him before, but this guy is great. He actually reminds me of Dad a little bit. He´s currently trying to get married to his already member wife - their marriage is the 8 of May, and he´s gettin' baptized on the 12th!! Yes!! This guy is the bomb. We've got him doing nightly prayer and scripture reading with his wife, Hna. Medina. One of my best baptisms I think it´ll be, priesthood-wise. Among others, we are working with Joli, Dimitri, and Josue (jovenes) and my favorite: with la familia Gomez - Soto, Adriana, and Davíd. 3 more baptisms that we hope to get in by the end of May. The Lord is blessing me right now with more prepared people than I think I've ever before previously received. It is such a great thing! I hope you like the pics from today, but I should be sending more in white clothing shortly. 
          Just like to share a short experience Elder Follette and I had a little while ago - we were listening to the iPod you guys gave me one morning - "Praise to the Man". We were taking a quick study break and decided to each lay on our beds and just listen to the Motab work it´s magic. Well, I don´t really know how to explain it but as we listened to that song, The Spirit just came into the room so strong, but SO strong! And I don´t know but it just helped my testimony of Josepth Smith so much! It´s not often you hear hymns here in english and I don´t know - the words just touched us both so much! I know Joseph Smith was a prophet and I´m so thankful he was. 
         Well I know that´s not much this week but I just wanna end with something funny: a few days ago in a visit, someone served us a plateful of cheese sandwiches. It just made me remember how I always used to eat cheese sandwiches when I was little - from what I can remember Mom telling me I used to eat one every day. Just so you know, I really enjoyed those cheese sandwiches. :) Well guys, do what you know you´re supposed to do, go to the temple, and I will talk to you in two weeks on Skype! Last time before I come home! WHooHOoo!  Ya´ll have a good week :)

-Elder Clarke

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mom, I liked the scripture in Mosiah... thank you! I love you so much and have so thoroughly enjoyed reading email today. Dave`s email was awesome. Unfortunately (but fun) I got an unexpected outpouring of emails this week - one from Elder Farnsworth, Elder Vernon, Jon Walker, Dave`s, Spencer Nelson.... a TON! It has taken so much time to read and respond to all of them today that I`m not gonna have time to write a big letter today. But, I`ll let you know we`ve got two baptisms coming up this weekend!!! :) 

I`m starting to have some really amazing success here. Elder Follette is awesome and I HOPE he stays another change. 

To answer your questions, I received the package recently with the medicine and the belt!!!! Muchisimas gracias :) I think it`s so cool you had a coworker going to Panamà! Cool story. I feel spoiled, truly. Also, I know you`re not planning on sending another package anytime soon, but when or if you do, I think I've actually changed my mind on the other pair of glasses...... the reason? My other pair of glasses got crunched recently.... I accidentally sat on them at a service project and they just busted. So now, I only have one pair - the panama pair - and I`m afraid what I`ll do if they break... I won`t have a backup! Mom, I love you so so much. Have a great week!

Your son,

Elder Clarke

Monday, April 15, 2013

Always Learning

Whoohoo! This week has been great. Sounds like it was a great one for the fam. too :) I´m SOO happy Dave left this past Wednesday. SO happy! Seriously! The joy I feel in the mission is a different kind of joy - I´m excited for Dave to experience it. I already sent him an email - I hope he gets to talk to you guys soon! Chuso, his setting apart blessing sounds like it was incredible!!! Really! Hidden people and such. I´m way excited for him.                   
                As for my week, it´s been another one of learning! Learning every day. To me, self - analyzation is the key. Always looking at what you´re doing/thinking, and WHY you´re doing/thinking that thing. Always trying to become better. Especially this week I've experienced some lessons in humility and patience. One trial that I wasn't expecting was the huge challenge of winning over the respect of a whole zone! Dang! Way harder than I originally anticipated. Leading them in public/P-days, teaching and grabbing the attention of all of them at district meeting, and getting them to want to respect and listen to your decisions - I´m not gonna lie its been a little tough for me! So ya that's a work in progress. 
                Something else that made this week memorable was.... dun dun dun dun..... a baptism! The baptism of Ana Carolina. We had put a fecha with her last week, took her to conference and everything, but I still thought she was a little ways off from being prepared for her baptism. But, Elder Follette was like "let´s go for it this weekend". I was like cool--let's go for it! She had enough attendance and everything, so what was stopping us? We taught her almost all the commandments in one week, had her interview Saturday, and baptized her after church on Sunday afternoon! Whoohoo! She asked me to baptize her, so that was cool...... which leads me to my next point.
                Not only is the baptismal font in my new chapel STUNNINGLY gorgeous, but my new ward is INCREDIBLE. Like..... don´t even get me started. Yesterday, the attendance was 170 here!! What?! There were so many people in the sacrament meeting I didn't know what to do with myself! SO many strong priesthood leaders and jovenes and everything! Wow! By far the strongest ward I've been to in my whole mission. The meetinghouse is so beautiful - it´s two stories! I´m still trying to figure out what to do with so many willing members here. I feel so blessed.
                In other news, we put a fecha with a recent convert's mother - Julia. She should be baptized the 28 of this month. Also, our last couple p-days have been sick! Last week we went to Panama Viejo (panamanian ruins) and then today we went to the "zona libre" in Colón. Tons of tourists! The mission is goin' good right now. I will write more next week. I love you guys so much! Have an awesome week. 


Elder Clarke

Monday, April 8, 2013

I´m in the ghetto baby!!

Yes. The mission is rocking. I´ve had a GREAT week.

So biggest news of all is that on Wednesday, we had changes. They sent me to Paraíso, San Miguelito!! Yeaaaah buddy. I am officially in a red zone - livin´ in the  middle of the ghetto! I LOVE it. I think I like places like Penonomé better to live in or visit after the mission, but I LOVE preachin in the city - especially now here in San Mig. The coolest part about it is they sent me here to replace Elder Rich as zone leader! So now I´ve got more responsibility. It´s been kinda cool to go to the area that he was just serving in. Something really incredible is that now since   I´m a ZL my ward is SUPER strong (usually the leader´s wards are). But like, REALLLY strong. Complete opposite of Penonomé. I´m sooo excited about that. The members are the key - I wanna take advantage of their help now that I've actually got a good base. It almost feels like being in an american ward. Such a blessing. Oh but wait! The good news doesn't end there! I have SUCH a great companion - Elder Follette. We met each other and became good friends while we were in the same zone together in Panamá. As you can tell from his picture - he´s a boss. He´s got 20 months in the mission and he´s from Springville, Utah. I´m so blessed.

                    Some other thoughts that I had from the changes meeting was a scripture President shared that I really liked - DyC 24:12 - talks about opening your mouth and talking to pple about the restored gospel - I´m always trying to become better at that - contacting at bus stops, etc. I´m not gonna lie, with more and more time in the mission, it gets harder and harder to do, but I´m tryin´ to do it! Also, in the meeting, President Ward did 100 push-ups in front of all of us. Yes, that´s right. He´s 66 years old. What a MAN. He did it to prove a point to all of us that we CAN do crazy, great things. We just have to believe and work HARD. He is such an incredible president. I´m gonna miss him when he leaves in a couple months :(

                    Ok it´s time to talk about conference.... who loved it?! I sure did. Even though I had to watch all of Saturday in spanish (it's so much better in english), I still loved a few talks given Saturday - specifically Quentin L. Cook´s talk about the "peace" found in the world, and the peace that can be found in Jesus Christ. Profound. Also, Deiter F. Uchtdorf´s awesome metaphor about the child learning to walk. Are you gonna get mad or impatient with your baby if he falls down?? Of COURSE not! Equally, God still loves us, even when we fall. To me, it also speaks volumes about how we should view others when they make a mistake. Are we gonna get mad with them? Well if God doesn't, we shouldn't either. View them with eternal potential, and only be disappointed when they fall, and then help them back up.... Uchtdorf - the mean lean german machine has done it again.

                    Sunday, I had a few favorite talks as well. Above anything, Sunday´s talks got me excited for MARRIAGE!!! Yes. Both Whitney Clayton and Elder Falabella gave incredible talks about the importance of the relationship between husband and wife. That´s what I want! I´m pumped for marriage. I loved Elder Clayton´s talk especially. And lastly, President Thomas S. Monson delivered a wonderful message straight from God. Of all the things He (God) wanted His pple to hear, He wanted His prophet to tell the world to be OBEDIENT. I can´t even remember how many times Pres. Monson said that word. Wonderful talk - just be obedient to the commandments! 

                    Well I´ve already gone over my time so I´m gonna wrap up. I love you all SO MUCH! Have a good week dropping Dave off at the MTC! I love you.


Elder Clarke

Monday, April 1, 2013

Family!! Yah. How was your week? Hope everything went well. Sounds like Dave brought the house down in AF. Glad to hear it. You´re gonna be the best missionary! Krissy, also, thank you for the awesome letter. I love your letters (oh and let me know how that watermelon turns out).
         As for me, not gonna lie it was a pretty tough week. Pretty tough. Our brilliant fecha fell....... José just found it too hard on his faith to get baptized. With Easter Sunday and all, he couldn´t find the strength to break away from his catholic faith in time. He said the catholic priest came and paid him a visit....Super sad.... I kinda let it bother me for a few days too.... man it made me sad. To see God answer prayers, and to see the love He extends to someone, and then have them reject it. Saddest thing.

                  In other more positive news, I am LOVING the new testament. Holy cow! Currently in Acts reading about the martyr Stephen, and also about Paul - his conversion and later preaching and miracles. Reading about the apostasy that started so quickly after the death of Christ makes it apparent that there was a need for a restoration. Ah! Which brings me to another point haha...... being Easter weekend and all (here we call it "La Semana Santa"), people try to focus back in on Christ and what´s important in life. The only problem? Every time they try to look for peace or comfort, they find it in the wrong way! Example: Friday night, we´re eating dinner with the flia. Arrocha, and they had the TV on. On the channel (it´s the channel that the WHOLE country watches every day), they are showing a "special" on Christ´s life, resurrection, etc. (kind of like a "The Passion of Christ" novel movie but really toned down.) Anyway, the show was a bunch of bogus!!! Seriously! Wow. Christ is throwing out false doctrines left and right - things that TOTALLY don´t line up with the bible. Like, Jesus choosing his 12 apostles at His sermon on the mount! Wha? So false. And not to mention the doctrines they messed up.... like Jesus came "only for the Jews" and not for the gentiles. This nation is being brainwashed! It kind of upset me. Another thing me and my comp. were talking about is how the film just mortalizes Jesus Christ. While it´s true He dwelt in a mortal body, he was not your average human! And that is what the films made Him out to be. Jesus Christ was PERFECT! Ah. Jesus was not your average mortal. He never sinned! If you want to watch a movie that emmulates Christ properly, you can pretty much just watch "Finding Faith in Christ" and that´s as far as you can go. Anyway.

                 Last thing for the day (I didn't have a whole lot of time but I sent pictures in return hope you enjoy them) is how I've been trying to implement while teaching that we teach the BLESSINGS first. When we arrive to a house, we bear testimony and teach what blessings are available to them. Elder Duncan taught us that that, more than anything else, will attract their attention and help them want to hear more. So, we've recently been showing more pictures of the temple, teaching about eternal families, and I've been talking more about my family to people and bearing testimony to them about how happy you all make me :)
                 Well I´m leaving Penonomé this week.... I´m sad but I can´t wait to see where I´ll be serving next! Just praying that The Lord sends me where I need to be and with who I need to be. Love you all! Have a fantastic week! And Dave, live it up there in AF for the next 9 days! 2 years is a long time!
Elder Steve Clarke