Monday, September 30, 2013

La hora para esforzarme

Bueno, pues.

This week . . . . what a fast one.  SO fast!  I am really starting to get nervous about my mission ending.  I'm now down to 10 P-days and counting!  That's . . . . nothing.  Oh man.  Such a good week though.  Oh how I will miss the mission.  Something that Elder Whitcomb once tried explaining to me that I didn't understand until recently was how great the mission really is.  In what sense?  let's think about it . . . . when I go home, I have to start worrying about money, work, school, homework, church callings, college "life" (girls and dates and such), buying gas for the car, etc, etc, etc.  The list is endless.  Here in the mission?  All you've got to worry about is your investigators and your zone.  Punto.  QUE FACIL!!!  I'm by no means saying the mission is easy, cuz it's not, but, dang.  The mission just seems so much easier and better than life back at home.  All I have to do here is worry about other people.  When I go home, it seems I'll have to be worrying about myself a lot of the time.  I've gotta value this time.  I'm sad it's ending!  So, I just wanna say real quick: 1) Adam, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  9 anos!!!  Dang, man!  How do you fell?  I'm so excited to see you, go on bike rides and play ball with you and Scotty.  Also, 2) Dave, CONGRATS on training!! Dang, bro! I've never seen a gringo train that fast here in my mission.  How are you such a good missionary already?  I look up to you so much.  You're gonna have to teach me Spanish when you get home.  So this week blew by -- I think I already mentioned that.  But it's cuz we did so much service this week! Man! We also put 4 fechas.  Elder Saavedra is a blessing fallen from heaven.  He is SUCH a tight guy!!  He's already turning into one of my favorite comps.  Such a stud, and more than anything, he's motivating me so much! He was exactly who I needed. It's great how God just helps you out, giving you exactly who you need.

Elders Saavedra and Clarke at Jeny's baptism

The two huge services we did was one in El Silencio, El Empalme on Wednesday with Elderes Aguirre and Serna (helping a family move into their newly purchased home) and then Saturday en las 30's.  Allright, ya'll gotta understand how much I love this place -- Las 30's. It's a part of my area that's like 30 minutes hidden into the banana fields.  Those that live there are pure indians, and it's so dang sweet!  Mom, Dad, we're totally coming to Las 30's when we come to visit. Hermano Bonilla, one of the coolest members in our ward, lives out there, so we helped him help one of his neighbors move a GIGANTE pile of dirt with shovels.  It took us from 9 AM - 2 PM.  Just pure dirt and shovels -- I felt like I was in the movie HOLES.  Elder Seegmiller and I even started singing the song.  Hahah. Hermano Bonilla is so sweet though.  He is Dad's latin twin.  When I get my camera back, you best believe I'm sending ya'll a foto of Hermano Bonilla.  He reminds me so much of Dad.  His personality, his laugh, his stature, everything.  He's even a convert that went on a mission!  Can't wait for you guys to meet each other.

So, for our fechas, we should have a couple baptisms come from out there in Las 30's -- the Bonilla family is doing their job out there and is befriending people and bringing them to church.  One of our greatest difficulties in our area is that we're so dang far from the chapel, and a lot of our area is poor natives, they don't have money for a taxi and don't want to walk.  It makes things tough.  But, in the morning yesterday we woke up super early to go find Daniel and we walked to church together.  He stayed all three hours!  He's 16 and such a good guy!  Not like most teenagers.  Definately a escogido.  Our two most positives right now and probly him and Lorenzo, a friend of Hno. Bonilla.  Things are looking up!  Even if I don't have any more baptisms here in this area, I know Elder Saavedra will after I leave.  He deserves them too.  The im,portant thing is that we're finally jumpstarting this area after it having been dead for so long!  Like Alma, I give thanks to my Heavenly Father for letting me be an instrument in His hands to do good work here among His children.  Well, this next week should be the fastest one of my life!  We're traveling to Panama this week for consejos, we get back Thursday, work for two days, and then . . . . GENERAL CONFERENCE!!!! It's like the NBA finals.  I'm so dang pumped.  The hours for the sessions here are weird though this time!  Here is Bocas Saturday the first session starts at noon, the second at 4, and the Priesthood session goes from 8-10 at night!  Crazy!  Party!  I love the mission.

Love you all so much and hope you're all safe and sound this week.


Elder Clarke

P.S. . . . Elder Seegmiller and I planned a double date we're gonna do back at Provo someday . . . . . it includes seronading mexicans outside the mexican stores with our spanish music solos, and then using the money to go buy plantains and cook patacones with our dates.  Ya!

Monday, September 23, 2013

What a week!! New companion and baptism.

Oh man. This has been one of the greatest weeks in recent memory!! La verdad que si.
So, first of all, changes were this week and I've got a new comp! Elder Saavedra from Nicaragua! He's my first Nicaraguan comp in the mish! Such a sweet dude. He is one of those dudes that I know was the top dog of his high school. I was his ZL in Paraiso, and we already knew each other. I miss Elder Olivas, too. He went to go be comps in Tocumen with Elder Kniff! Elder Saavedra goes home in December with me, so that really lowers my chances of being able to finish here in Bocas... man.  I'm entering my last 12 weeks of the mission, can you believe it?!? 80 days. 

Anyway, Saturday something monumental happened: Changuinola 3 had its first baptism ever!!!! What?! Yah buddy :) Hermana Jenny entered the waters of baptism after having investigated the church for nearly 3 years. It really just blows me away sometimes, really, how The Lord does almost all the work out here in the mission field. Just a little thought.... In Jacob 5, it talks about how The Lord of the vineyard comes down to work WITH His servants, right? I kinda feel like it's more like He comes down and just shows us how to do everything, meanwhile practically doing a lot of the work for us himself. I relate this a little bit to my own dad. My whole life, he was always teaching me how to do stuff, whether it was yard work, teaching me how to fix the car tire, or how to tie my shoes (I still remember that, by the way). What ended up happening on most of these teaching occasions is that my dad ended up doing most of the work himself. I truly feel like this is similar to the mission field. Our Heavenly Father knows SO MUCH that we don't know, and is constantly trying to help us and teach us. He has called us as His servants to help Him in His great work, but really, that's all we are - servants. I feel like His hand is so involved. It's practically all Him! We just walk around, obey His orders, wear a nifty badge, and wa-la! He works miracles through us. I feel SO grateful that The Lord provided this baptism for us here, and hope He will continue to let us be part of His work, (and come down from His vineyard and help us out) :).

Well I'm practically out of time for today but I must comment on President Carmack's visit here to Bocas this past weekend. He came for District conference, and meanwhile gave the zone their interviews while he was here. Man! What a great interview we had! For real, just a great conversation. He helped me out a lot, too. I left that office feeling 'aliviado'. He`s a great man - I wanna learn as much as I can out here from him before I leave. The conference was great too - everyone spoke well, and I was especially impressed with Pte. Brown's talks in all the sessions (he's Carmack's counseler). The priesthood session was in the morning, and was great. Elder Saavedra and I are excited to start working with menos activos.

Well, I'm gonna wrap this up for now. Hope you all have a wonderful week! Say hi to the german girl for me in german please, Katie. :) Love you all!
-Elder Clarke
P.S... just so ya`ll know..... I`ve been taking HOT SHOWERS for the past couple days for the first time in my mission. The reason? Elder Barnett. The new guy in the house (Elder Seegmiller`s comp) is a genious from Layton, Utah who TOTALLY hooked us up by going and buying and installing a shower water heater. Just preppin` myself to get back home :) Oh how that shower is glorious.
P.S.S.... guess who else is in the new zone? Elder Aguirre!! The one I trained in Penonome! So fun to have him around again :)

Monday, September 16, 2013

22 months!!

Man... I can't believe I left home 22 months ago....I'm so glad they're giving me an extra month - I'm definitely gonna need it.

So this week was a pretty good one - we didn't have a whole lot of time in the area because of travel, but it was a good week of reflexion and helping me prepare for this upcoming change. I only have 2 left!! We got the news on Saturday that my comp. has changes and will be leaving Tuesday afternoon to Panama.... I'm grateful I get to stay behind and wait for my new comp. with Elder Seegmiller. That bus ride is brutal. This could possibly be my last comp. of the mission! Crazy.

So, when we went to Panama, while waiting all day for the bus and meeting to start, I aprovechared the opportunity to go to.... Barrio Centro! Yep! I went and visited with Hna. Carmen again. Man how I love that lady. Really, I do - when I went back, I felt like that was my home here in Panama! I most definately will go again before I leave. 

Afterward, we had the consejos meeting in Cardenas by the temple - it was a good meeting. It's amazing to me how much and how fast Pte. Carmack is changing this mission. His authority here is so obvious - it's a testimony builder to me that he was called by revelation. He's beginning to implement exactly the changes that this mission needs to grow and become more successful - the thought even crossed my mind that it's kind of a bummer I won't be here too much longer to see Pte. Carmack's vision totally come to pass! He's a great guy. He's also coming this weekend to Bocas for our district conference, as well as renew my temple recommend that expired last month, and interview Jenny for her baptism! Should be good.

So, after the meeting in Cardenas, we drove back to the other end of the country (the other zone leaders flew by plane - we're special like that) with the assistants, Elder Hawks and Elder Laurino. They are both great. Elder Hawks, you guys know, was in my MTC district, and we continue to be really good friends. I actually look up to him quite a lot. He's a very humble person that I'd like to be like someday. We all enjoyed the all-night drive before arriving in DAVID at 2 am (Yes, Mom, I finally went to David) only to sleep a few hours before the multi-zone conference at 9 am. It was pretty amazing as well! Elder Ochoa came, and he counseled us all so well. Also a very obvious servant of God, called by revelation. 

Multi-Zone Conference with Elder Ochoa

Well, that is all I think. If all goes how it should, Jenny should get baptized this weekend. Pray for her please! I'll let ya'll know how everything goes. I'll miss Elder Olivas and Elder Houghton (Elder Seegmiller's comp.), but at the same time I'm definately ready to get crankin with my new comp. Hope you all have a good week!

Elder Clarke

P.S.... this morning was reading Alma... man! Too good. 38:5,14 39:12-19, 40:9. The Book of Mormon is so dang true.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Una semana de aprendizaje

Guys, isn't Dave the best?? I just got done reading his weekly email - he`s such an awesome missionary. He inspires me, for real. You guys are all so great, too. Dad sent me possibly the best letter I've ever received today. I don't know what the heck I did to deserve you guys as family, but I feel like God has spoiled me a little bit. 

So this week has been kind of a tough one, mainly because we've been a little uptight about all the conferences, interviews, zone baptisms, and leadership meetings that are coming our way. When you're 13 hours from the city, things get a little stressful when you have to travel - a little bit of pre-planning is required. Haha. But it's good. As for our investigators, we weren't able to find too many this week, but we made progress with both Jenny and Maria. Maria won't be getting baptized now for a while longer than we thought.... the reason? Her "spouse" turned up out of no-where (he'd been missing for a month) and they are set on continuing to live together. So, we're going to have to go through a long process of divorcing and marrying them first. But hey, it's all good! They both came to church yesterday!! They want it - it'll just take a while. Jenny also came to church - she seems to be on the right track for the 21st. It'll be harder to be there to support her with this crazy week ahead, but I feel like if The Lord permits it, she'll be prepared for that day. I can't even tell you guys how bad I wanna baptize in this area. 

So I've come to a conclusion.... looking back on my mission, I have learned QUITE a few things. After now having read what Dad wrote to me, I know (and was reminded of the fact) that God has sent me here to Panama for a purpose. It's because the things I've learned here, I don't think I would've been able to learn them in any other place - Panama was the designated place for me to learn them. He had things prepared for me here to learn. Now, these things I've learned are obviously supposed to help me later on down the road in life. But you know what? If I don't APPLY them and make them part of me here on the mission, what good are they gonna do me back at home? From now until I leave, I need to review all the things I've learned and put them into practice here - now! I feel like I've now been here for so long I sometimes just fall into routine. I`m talking mainly about Christlike attributes. Charity and love, patience, and humility. I have to work to make them part of me before I arrive home, so that God can use me how he has always intended to after the mission. I just wanna be the best prepared I can be after the mission to serve Him and help His fellow children here on earth. 

Well, I know I didn't write a whole lot today, but my time's up. I`m excited for another week! Buying our tickets to go to the city today - we leave tomorrow! Being a leader is fun, but it's hard to do a good job at it. I'm always trying to do better!
Have a wonderful week!
-Elder Clarke

Monday, September 2, 2013


This week was a good one - I really feel good about what we`re doing here in Bocas. The area is finally starting to show some investigators and I'm confident we'll have the area's first baptism soon (this area has never baptized since opening). 

Before I tell you why I'm confident, I need to first tell you all of the EXCELLENT news I received this past week. 1) I don't know if you guys remember when I always used to talk about Monica? She was an investigator I had in Penonome..... well, she got baptized!!! And her little brothers have fechas, too!! It made me so dang happy. Also just a testimony builder to me that God's children get baptized on His time, not ours, and that also, we missionaries are sent here especially to help certain people. Cuz dang! I did everything in my power to get that family in the water w/ Elderes Castejon and Aguirre, and to no avail! Then, President put Hermanas in that area, and BAM! They decide to get baptized. Everyone has got there special time and situation. I was really happy to see the fruits of our labors finally blossom...... secondly 2) Do you remember la Hermana Emilvia?? From Juan Diaz? That made that Indian dress I sent home?? Well, I called her this past week, and....... she's getting ready to take out her ENDOWMENTS!!!! She is waiting to complete her one year mark in the church so that she can take out her endowments!! It's coming up soon, too! Within the next month! I REALLY wanna be able to attend the session with her if I can, but I'm currently on the other side of the country, so that makes things a little tough. Also, her grandson, Ariel (baptized him with Elder Stegelmeier) is very active in the church is thinking about a mission within the next year or two!! MAN! Isn't all of this so great?! I was jumping for joy, I tell you.

Allright so I gotta tell y'all right quick about la hermana Maria. She is so great!! We got a baptismal date with her this week for the 22nd of September!! We originally talked about it for the 14th, but then she asked if she could change it cuz her birthday is the 22nd!!! Ah! She's been investigating the church for almost 2 years now, and she's finally going forward with the decision to get baptized!! Again, every missionary is sent to help certain people. God is so good to permit us to help His children in special ways! In the lesson where we put the fecha especially, I completely felt the whole thing guided by The Spirit. I felt that when I talked, it was just the power of The Spirit of God working through me - like I was literally just the instrument. Being a tool in The Lord's hands really is an incredible thing. So ya, keep your eyes peeled for Changuinola 3's first baptism come September! Si Dios quiere, pasará. You've always gotta remember to approach every baptismal date humbly - cuz it's not you that is getting the baptism - it's all on The Lord`s time! Humility.

Among other news, we met and visited a guy this week who's inactive in our area.... man it was the saddest thing. Such a great guy, who has simply let go of the iron rod of faith, so to speak. He's having a hard time believing the basic principles of the doctrine such as José Smith, Libro de Mormon, etc. It's so sad! We`re tryin' to help the guy. Dear Eduardo Williams. We gotta utilize the gift of faith!! 

Well, I would write more if I could, but I'm all out of time today. I was thrilled to see you guys had a fun time at Timp. Such a great memory I have with you and Dave, Mom. I'm gonna take my wife there too. Also, Katie, I can`t believe you've got your driving permit. ¡¡¡TEN CUIDADO!!! (Be careful)

Love you all! Have a great week. 


Elder Clarke

P.S.... attached some pics of our P-day today.