Tuesday, December 28, 2010

One of The Best Christmas Ever!

Whew! What a Christmas! What a WONDERFUL Christmas!!

It was SO good to talk and even SEE you guys! How great was that?? Sorry I was so akward... my brain gets confused still... I´m still trying to do the whole flawless language switch... but I´m not there yet! It´s just the hardest to be in a room surrounded by latinos... hearing spanish all around me... and then trying to speak english. My sad squishy brain is so used to working so hard to muster something in spanish... that it´s forgot how to chill out and do what is natural. Hard!

Nana, thank you SO SO SO much for sending the hymn books! You were truly inspired- and they are and will be much appreciated for years and years and years to come. I had been trying to find some... because there were some special people in mind that needed them... and then... TA DA! You sent them! THANK YOU!

Hearing Andrew Fairbanks mission call is the BEST THING I have heard today! HOW GOOD! WOOHOOO!!! Seriously... this mission thing is THE BEST. I loved my Christmas... and I want to do it like this EVERY YEAR. I can´t imagine a better way to celebrate the birth of our Redeemer than door to door testifying and teaching of Him. There is no better way to feel ¨the Christmas Spirit¨ than to be a witness of lives changing through Him. This opportunity to serve Him, to learn more of Him, take this little steps of progression in my comprehension and application of the Atonement, to feel Him so close, to taste the smallest sabor of His pain, to catch the slightest glimpse of the reality, intensity, and glory of His uncomprehendible love for His children...........- this is the greatest gift and Christmas I could ever dream of. Like Elder Holland said, ¨Missions are the greatest gift God could possibly give to 19 year old young men and 21 year old young women¨- and this Christmas season...... I am unexpressably grateful for this precious gift that I have everyday. I am experiencing and learning things so sacred and beautiful here that I can´t even try to describe.... things that confirm to me every day that- the Lord loves me, and this is EXACTLY where He wants me right now. Someone wrote me, ¨this is where you want to be right now¨- and I want to clarify, that yes- this is where I want to be... but more importantly and undeniably, this is where the LORD wants me to be. I couldn´t want more.

Hermana Bautista thought I was nuts Christmas morning to pounce on her bellowing a chain of Christmas carols... but... it is just SO HAPPY here for me! I can´t describe it... but it´s like... the garbage filled streets seem to me the yellow brick road... those icy showers at five in the morning are ridiculously refreshing... and though the scorpion in the shower did give me a fright... even that had a charming humor to it! (or maybe it was the screaming from my companion that made me laugh... haha- I have a part time job as an exterminator in our house- I´m definatly the man in this relationship) I guess people don´t say ¨Merry Christmas¨ in greeting each other all day like in the states... so again.. I was that awkward funny and overzealous Gringa all day. Anyways... it´s a beautiful life... and as perfect as I want to see it.

I´ve attached pictures... a lot actually. It´s because... I don´t have a golden baptism picture yet... so I tried to compensate with a bunch of silly, moderately pretty, but mostly pointless ones- but it´s definately not the same. I took a picture for Hermana Blanca and her husband at their home- because they desperately wanted to remember it always. Aren´t they beautiful people? Also... there are pictures from our Christmas multizona- super fun... but I would still rather have pictures of the baptism of Juan Carlos. We went through all the baptism questions with him and it was fine, and he was ready to go! So... when the district leader interviewed him... he told him some things of his past that he didn´t want to tell us. He wants more and more to be baptized... but as of right now, he needs an interview with president. We anticipate to do this FOR REAL this domingo... and I am SO excited for him. He´s doing so good with quiting coffee (yes mom, cafe. haha) and is so studious in the scriptures... and is really excersizing su fe. He is totally worth the travel a hundred times over!!

Questions- how is my Banana? How is Victor? Is Laura still in NY??

Umm...a chicken pooped on my head. We were teaching... and I felt something wet and moderately warm land on my head. Yup... a chicken was sitting on a wooden beam directly above me (chickens here are CRAZY! I guess I didn´t know how coordinated they were... or that they could actually fly?)... and alas... my life continues.

I´ve been thinking a lot about the scripture in Mormon 9:31- and trying to really apply it- and it totally works! I am taking baby steps in gratitud for these opportunities to see my PLENTITUD of imperfections... because more than ever... I KNOW the Atonement is real. I am SO grateful for the Plan of Salvation. I LOVE teaching it- because it makes SO MUCH sense. It hurts so much when we teach it... people say, ¨wow! this is so clear!¨and we ask them where they want to live in the end, and they say, ¨Celestial, of course!¨and we ask, ¨what do you need to get there? What is the next step in your spiritual progression to live the Gospel?¨ and they quickly say, ¨Baptism!!¨.... when we KNOW that they get it... and we again invite them to be baptized........ and despite their understanding of the need.... they just plain don´t want to. We have heard such painful reasons like: I don´t want that responsibility, I don´t want to quit cafe, I´m just not baptized kind of person............... and I just don´t want to. There are always many reasons behind these simple answers.... but ultimately... they have their agency- what a gift... but hard for me to accept sometimes as a missionary. The more I teach the Plan of Salvation... and start to see others and especially myself with the clarity of the Gospel.... I am more and more aware, in awe, and gratitud for the perfection and completion of the Atonement. I am excited to spend the whole rest of my life learning of, applying, and changing through the power of the Atonement. Elder Holland told us, ¨teach that they are in trouble and there is only ONE WAY OUT- the Atonement.¨ THAT is the true gift of all of this.... the reason for ALL of this. I am grateful to see my innumerable flaws, weaknesses and sins..... with the hope and comfort that the Atonement brings. That is the fire in me that fuels my desire to dominate this natural man and real live and be what I´m teaching every day.

I can´t believe I have what, 4.5 months as a missionary- how sick is that? I really feel like I just barely stepped into the MTC- wha happened? They told me that time would fly.... and not that I doubted it.... but I never REALLY expected it to fly SO fast! I never want to leave this world of roaming cows, choruses of goats, flying chickens, the smallest women carrying the BIGGEST things on their head, the melody of patting tortillas all along the streets, the power of the hymns sung to the ¨wrong¨ tune, the feeling of family every sabboth, the purpose of EVERY DAY to be a worthy instrument in the Lord´s hands...... gosh- this is THE LIFE.
Speaking of which....I gotta go live it!
Love you all!!
Hermana Clark

Monday, December 20, 2010

Oh the Spirit of Christmas

Hola Familia!

We continue on working this week... and loving every moment of it... almost every moment. This week... was suposed to be the baptism of ¨Pablo¨... but it didn´t happen. He didn´t pass his interview. My fear of him entertaining us, and reading, and praying... just for his son- was right. He knows everything... he understands the doctrine, the need to be baptized, the commandments- he gets it. - almost. He just... doesn´t want to let go of his problem with chastity. He told our district leader that he prefers fornication to the gospel... and that he doesn´t want to be baptized because he knows he´s not going to try to live the gospel. ---this was very hard for us to hear. Not incredibly surprising... but a struggle nonetheless. I love that man. SO MUCH I love him. Yet... I can´t force happiness upon him.

On a happier note... we were also suposed to have the baptism of Juan Carlos this week... and though that didn´t happen... we´re not out of hope! For a few days he avoided our calls... and because he is so far away... it´s hard to find him. Yet... we just decided to show up at his house (the hour and 1/2 travel) with hope that he´d be there... and he was! Yet... he was very distant... and we just couldn´t figure out what was up... what the grand change was. He allowed us to come back the next day.... and we taught the Plan of Salvation..... and that spiritually hungry and prepared person returned. He undeniably felt the Spirit... and said, ¨Wow! This is SO clear! This totally makes sense! YA!¨.... and asked us if we could hold a baptism the 25th. ----duh.. of course we CAN!! woohooo!!! SO.... we are anxiously awaiting the 25th!!!

Also... Gudiel is progressing adelante and we´re on the brinks of water with him. He is so mentally hungry for knowledge.... we´re working on engaging the faith and heart part of the deal- for that is truly the most important and powerful.

Thank you again for those gifts for the kids. We distributed them yesterday and it was definately some blissful moments. We entered this area of poverty and went shack to shack singing carols... and kids flocked to us- running to find the missionaries with the treasures! haha... it was so fun- I wish you all could have seen their faces when they received these simple humble gifts. Thank you family.

We still don´t know about transfers.... but I am selfishly still hoping to stay here. I know we can´t really make bargains or deals with God......... but I am determined to be more dilligent and effective in teaching her english if we are permitted to stay together! I love Candelaria... and I don´t feel ready to leave this sleepy little town just yet. There is such a charm with the mountains and volcanos.... with the men and their cowboy hats and horses... waking up to roosters and cows every morning.... so many idiosyncracies... that I´m still enjoying... but especially- the people. There are so many astounding spiritual giants in this ward- so many valient youth and old.... people that really GET IT... and are hanging on to the iron rod... and eager to help others on their way. EVERY WEEK in sacrament meeting... I feel like I´ve just walked into the Clark house... to shake hands and kiss everyone... I can almost hear Jared squeeling and Morgan telling stories..... I feel so at home. The Spirit is so universal.

My perspective is changing- too slowly... but it´s starting to happen. I used to be slightly traumatized to see how dirty my hands were by the end of the day....... but now I relish seeing the nearly black water stream down the sink- knowing that is a sign that I traveled a lot... shook a lot of hands... hauled some corn... whatever- now I need to have dirty hands. Blisters are no longer so much of a bother... but almost an honor! For a while... I was a little frustrated to be covered in tortilla dough.. because I´m not yet very good at hand washing clothes... but now it´s a sign that I slacked off that day if my skirt isn´t covered in mesa. haha... I don´t know what´s happening to me... but I´m turning crazy in a different direction!!
I´m also learning more skills that I didn´t expect... but am enjoying. I´m learning to strip corn, wash clothes BETTER than a washing machine, eat with my hands (ok...so I´m not enjoying that one as well.... but it´s borderline offensive to eat with a fork for some things...), and make tortillas. We have taught many lessons over a fire slapping tortillas in our hands. These wormen work HARD HARD HARD ALL day! I have more and more respect for their strength every time they allow us to work by their side. They are amazing.

I have to tell about the Marinksa family- my inspirations. There are these two kids in the ward- Stefani and Maucori... that are always SO HAPPY and SO enthused to see the missionaries! Their mother is a return missionary, and so solid and firm in her faith... this family is SO joyous in the gospel! I had no idea that they had recently ¨lost¨ their father- because they speak of him- his charity, faith, love- as if he was still walking amongst us. They radiate a faith and understanding of the promises of the temple... and are relishing their mortal lives with anticipation to be with their father again.
We went to their house to teach their friend... and I felt the Spirit SO strong the moment I walked into their humble home. They have so little of material wealth... but as I sat on a cardboard box on the dirt floor and taught this sweet woman about Joseph Smith....... I felt like a guest in a palace.... for truly I was in the presence of royalty. It has been strangely ¨chilly¨ here this last week (I won´t complain to you all about that.. haha)- but people here think it´s FREEZING. So.. when we walked in... they ran and grabbed their little blankets and so sweetly wrapped us up. When we went to leave... Hermana Marinksa came out with 2 turtlenecks for us- saying that we´re going to get infections in our lungs... and if we do- we can´t do the Lord´s work! So.. she kindly demanded that we keep her daughter´s sweaters. I can´t express how deeply this gesture touched me. She said, ¨We don´t have much... but we don´t need much.¨ My husband taught us this through his example- he never owned ties- not because we didn´t buy them... but because he was always giving them to others that needed them at church. ---this family is SO rich. SO wealthy. SO gracious.

Another one of my many heros is Hermana Blanca. I see her at church- and she GLOWS. She is always expressing love for others... and completely enthused about... EVERYTHING. She shared experiences with us from her mission... and I was so enchanted by the powerful Spirit that she carries with her... and her perspective on life. She invited us to her home to teach her brother in law. She comes to church with a flock of neighborhood kids every week- like snow white with animals! She becomes an instant aunt, or even mom to them- because she can´t have kids herself. Again... I felt like I had entered a castle as I walked into her home of tarp and sticks- and AGAIN had that familiar warm peace wash over me- as if I was home.
After the lesson... she told us of the miracle of her home. I´m not sure what happened... but somehow they had lost their other home... and the ward quickly pitched in to get sticks and tarp... and make this home and dig their well... and help them get back on their feet. Her eyes welled with tears as she expressed the miracle of it all... and how much she loves her home... and knows that it is because of the law of tithing that they have what they need. She told how wonderful it is not to need an alarm.. because she gets to wake up to the roosters and cows around... and how everynight is like a symphony with the crickets and goats... and how she feels like she´s in heaven... when she´s in her beautiful home.
I want so badly to be like these bold, valient, humble, and gracious women. I have so far to go... but I am SO grateful for these opportunities to know and experience such greatness.... to taste of royaltly. Like the hymn ¨call to serve¨ says, ¨Called to know the richness of His blessings¨- I am tasting and trying savor every morsle.
Hermana Clark

P.S. I have NO IDEA about calling on Christmas. No clue! Sorry! Just.. if I catch ya´ll home... that´ll be great fortune! :) Love you all! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Navidad en El Salvador

Merry Christmas

First... Aunt Jeanie... THANK you for your letter. I needed that. Thank you thank you. How is my cousin Haley? I´ve been meaning to throw that question out for a while!!

Also... family- thank you SO much for the packages. They were brilliant- and we are SO excited to give them to the kids!! We spent the morning arranging them... and we know exactly where we want to distribute them. There is an area that we pass by in bus that is a little... umm... I forget words... colony, villiage... I forgot how to call it...but... ya.. of ¨houses¨ that are literally sticks with plastic/tarp or bags used to haul corn. We´ve seen kids running around there.... and we are thrilled to be able to do something with these for Christmas!!!! I feel like you were inspired. Thank you!!
Also... thank you SO much for the cleaning supplies!! Hermana Bautista was really confused as to why you sent them... and then as to why I was SO stoked about sponges, gloves, and wipes.... but she said that it didn´t take long for her to put it all together- that if my family sent that for Christmas... then who I am and what I do makes more sense. pf... whatever that means, right? Thank you!!

Dad.. you asked about nursing... and I´m sorry- I thought I had said something about it in the begining... but I was probably too frazzled with everything else! A transfer or two before I came... they realized that they had a nurse here- Hermana Woods- so she took over in August. SO... this is perfect... because I can have time in the field to do what I love the most and to stabalize my spanish... and then in February we´re going to be companions she that she can TRAIN me.. and then I´ll take over after that so that she can go be a regular missionary too! It´s such a blessing... and when we see each other at meetings... she assures me that she is organizing everything and has so much to teach me and warn me about... and a plan to prepare me. HOW GREAT IS THAT?? I feel so much better knowing that I´ll have a yoda for that- because it sounds like a really heavy load. Really heavy. So heavy... that I hardly ever allow myself to think about that... because I´m often a bit overwhelmed as it is... and it´s super hard to imagine doing what I´m doing right now AND handling all the physical and mental needs of the mission. YET.... I´m trying more than anything else... to build my faith so that such miracles will happen in the future... and present. :)

We continue to work towards bautismo with Juan Carlos and ¨Pedro¨.... but as expected yet unexpected... there is such incredible opposition. I can´t express how much I love these men... and all of my investigadores... these moments to pray, fast, and work for their happiness.... are so much more fulfilling than all the tests I passed in nursing school combined... this really matters. We have some other people such as Javier y Gudiel that are getting so close to accepting this invitation to be baptized.... SO CLOSE. This whole thing is such a roller coaster. Like... sunday... we nearly jogged door to door for 2 hours straight before church trying to remind and help people get to church... and hardly ANYONE would open their door for us. We were just a bit disheartened... but then to walk into the chapel and see all the youth GLOWING from the EFY El Salvador... and hear their testimonies... and to see Javier and Gudiel in church... and have little tender mercies totally showered on us...... quick change of heart. Yet... despite the efforts of the ward (They put together a bunch of groups every saturday to go pass by homes of innactive and investigadores to invite for church- how great is that?) and our running...... it´s cutting season. Many are gone cutting cafe or frijoles... so it´s a bit difficult to find anyone home... let alone in church. Yet.... miracles come after the prueba of our fe.

I have the commandment and blessed opportunity to teach Hermana Bautista english. I have such guilt that I have been so awful about this. President Lopez is SO passionate about the latinos learning english in their mission- because really... that isn´t just for a hobby. He tells us gringos that if we help them with ingles... we are changing their future... and blessing a future family. So... we´re working on that... and I´m still so amazed that now it´s way easier to just speak spanish... and now the temptation is to just speak spanish..... how weird?

I sang with an Elder at the stake christmas devotional- which was completely darling. (the devotional- not the song. The song was totally akward with the electric keyboard.... roaring wind... one microphone for this elder that is like 6 4¨... and me... and... ya... bad bad... but they were super stoked about it.)

We have cambios... um.. transfers, right?- we might change companions and/or areas- the 22nd. I have such mixed feelings and apprehension about it. We know that Hermana Bautista is going to serve in Belice in the future....but we don´t know if this cambio or the next! We just opened this area.. and are still working on knowing everything and fixing all the problems that existed here before. HErmana Bautista is the senior comp and has been such a champ about everything. I´m still trying to be competent in spanish...and I´m still directionally impaired.-... and even worse with names in spanish. People have been ¨joking¨ about me training this next cambio- because president seems to do that to ¨newish¨ gringas- and that´s what happened to the last nurse. So... I have this nightmare that I´m going to train here next cambio. I need more faith. I´m a bit scared of continuing in this area with Hna Bautista... because I still get so lost!! YET... I know that president is inspired... and that it will all work out. I just... think too much... and rely too much on my own abilities. Really.. I know that if I humble myself and really allow the Lord to work through me... obviously... His power will superar all else! What else matters!??

Sorry this is so scattered. I don´t even know if it made sense. I´m gonna send pictures of soccer, our household pets (I know that´s against the rules to have pets... but I we can´t seem to get rid of these HUGE spiders. I´m learning to embrace and borderline adore them), and Christmas. I loved the nativity scene of corn husks.
Hermana Clark

Monday, December 6, 2010

English, What is this?

Hola familia!
English is getting more awkward for me... but my spanish, though moderately faster... I doubt is remarkably better. So... I am constantly asking for patience!
Speaking of patience...
I´m seeing... and hearing... that I have none! Haha... I love Hermana Bautista... and it´s such a blessing to be with her... for many reasons- she has such a stellar testimony and knowledge of the scriptures.. and love for the people- and that is always such a priviledge to witness every day. Yet... there are such cultural differences... which... I have always loved differences in cultures throughout my life... but sometimes it affects the work... and it´s hard to find common ground for how to work... with such different mentalities.... and then with...women. This week I´ve been having very similar experiences to Joel´s story of his companion sitting him down and telling him that he expects too much. Many times durng the day... every day... I am lovingly reminded by Hna B- to calm down. I am never aware that I am ¨stressed¨- because I feel like this is the most consistent and stable my life has been in... maybe ever! - but... from the latino perspective... the Clark ethic and drive......... is totally balistic. I´m constantly confused! arooooooo!!! I am here to work with all my might, mind, and strength... and I have always imagined my mission as busy and exhausting.... and so when it is... I am so happy. Yet... Hna B told me the other day that she wonders if I love my mission just because it´s such hard work.... and... I have to think about that a lot. I really feel like I love my mision because I love the people SO much- apparently more than I can express. I am now constantly questioning if these people can truly feel of my love for them... and if I´m helping them to understand the Lord´s love for them.... because that truly is more important than being a work horse- I know... but am I demonstrating that knowledge? arooooo.... Can a missionary be too intense... as I am claimed to be? How can I ¨calm down¨... without calming down the work that I am here to do!??
Enough of my self doubt and selfish rambling....
We have 2 dates for bautismo! ¨Pablo¨ that I had previously mentioned........ we were advised by others to leave him and move on... but through fasting and prayers... we really felt like he did have a desire to change... and with that.. the Lord works miracles. So.... we continued to love him... and boldly help him to see the situation as the Lord sees it.... and....... there was a moment very tender and intense... when we basically asked him if he wants eternal life or not... segun a scripture..... and.... after a while of silence... I felt prompted to offer him another date... for the 18th of this month. He smiled.... and ACCEPTED!!!!! woohooo!! ¨Victor¨... his son... will be doing it. This sunday... Victor´s mom and siblings... all attended sacrament meeting... where Victor gave such a powerful and humble testimony- I can´t express how much I admire and see in Victor... it is such an honor to witness these miracles and changes in his family.
The other fecha is such a miracle too. As I think I had mentioned before... in our moments of frustration.... I kept feeling SO distinctly... that the promises in D&C 111- that there are people here for me....were very vivid here... and that we were to prepare to meet that person that was VERY ready to recieve the fulness of truth. So... it happened. Juan Carlos- 25 yrs old- showed up to sacrament meeting last week... and it was his 2nd time of independently coming- but had never talked with the missionaries. He read the assigned parts and more in the book of mormon... prayed about it... had AWESOME questions.... and was so ready to accept and follow his answer from the Lord. We... have hardly done anything! He happily accepted the date for THIS SUNDAY- his only obstacle is cafe. He has dranken coffee since he was a child... but he has such incredible faith and is eager to keep the commandments- and sincerely believes the promises of the Lord with the commandments. HE GETS IT!!!!!! We went to his house this week- an hour bus ride.... (playing sardines like crazy in the bus... sometimes hanging out of the bus while it´s going backwards up a revine- super fun)... and then a 30 minute walk up a mountain- and I am so excited to do it again. He is SO ready.
We working with the wonderful Hernandez family. The mother, Norma, is an inactive member (for right now)... and I think it´s because her husband is a devoted catholic. So... we´ve been talking with him... and he is a VERY intelligent man and strong father and leader of the family- and has tremendous faith and knowledge of the bible. - HOW PERFECT!?? SO... we´ve been working with him... and the first lesson, we showed the DVD of the restoration... and he had many wonderful questions... and was open to more information.... and by the end... the Spirit was so strong and thick... I felt like I could reach out and touch something tangible. Hna B and I walked out of that appointment and again- cried. - but this time for VERY different reasons. Purely from gratitude. We had another lesson with him last night........ and he gets it....almost- he just.... hasn´t PRAYED about it yet! We can read all the prophecies in the bible and rationlize it all day.... but until he prays sincerely and recieves that confirmation- he can´t know. Yet... everytime I think about the Family Hernandez... my heart wants to explode with excitement... because all I can imagine is... then in white in the temple. They are ready... and almost there!
The other day... we were teaching the parents of 2 boys 12 and 17 that are members... but the parents are not. It was SO touching to listen to the 12 year old who only has 1 yr in the church... teach his father about faith, Joseph Smith and the Restoration... and in the end.... he taught his father how to pray. I almost lost it when this sweet, pure, and valient 12 year old prayed so sincerely to our Heavenly Father... that his parents would be married so that they could be baptised and an eternal family. Woah Woah Woah.

Gotta go! Love you all! We´re having a girl party today with all the sisters in the mission. I´m struggling to rationalize 2.5 hr bus ride each way to play soccer when we have clothes to wash....butta..... I´m trying to learn to ¨chill out¨- if not for me... for the sake of my darling companion!!
-Hermana Clark


Oh my family and friends.... I think only those that have been missionaries can really understand how wonderful it is to get letters. It feels SO good. Thank you for the updates, inspirations, and support!!! - and in english! THANK YOU!!

Hermana Bautista and I continue to chug along.... trying to conquer our territory. This week has been a total roller coaster... as is this life!! Like Elder Holland said to missionaries....
¨Why should you expect this to be easy when it wasn´t easy for Him? The road to salvation carries with it a cross.¨

I am trying to be grateful for every experience I have. Truly... these experiences have really caused me to seriously reflect on those basic but precious fundamental principles of the gospel.... and especially the plan of salvation. Even in the last few weeks... my perspective, understanding, and conviction of where we were BEFORE this life, WHY we´re here, and what is to come AFTER..... is changed and strengthened. Missions aren´t ¨sacrifices¨- not possible when we get back so much more than we could ever give.

Our zone had interviews with President Lopez this week- such a tender mercy... because I had some questions weighing pretty heavy on my heart. I continue to have those specific concerns about... a true change of heart. I worry about so strongly encouraging someone into the waters of baptism... that they´re doing it more for me than for their testimony, fire in the soul knowledge that THIS IS TRUE. I realize that not all investigators are going to be like Kyle Brown the day of their baptism... and that baptism is our first step for a lifetime/eternity of learning.... but the pain that I´ve seen and felt in the lives of those that have fallen away from these truths after baptism... is sometimes so heavy that I struggle to get myself off the floor and out of their house. Like it says in Alma 24:30- the hearts of those that have fallen AFTER they have received this enlightenment.... are so much harder. Of course I´ve met people like this before... even in my own family... but to face it in the shoes of a missionary... sometimes it´s a baby bit traumatic for me. (but honestly.. not as hard as in the perspective of family.)

YET... on a positive note.... there are so many people here that uplift me the second I see them. Such as... my dear friend that we shall call in this letter.... Victor. Victor is my inspiration. SO much like how I imagine Captain Moroni when he had 17 years. Victor was baptized when he had 14 years... and is going SO strong. I can´t explain or express the purity and light in his face... but it´s incredible. His siblings were baptized 9 years ago... but weren´t active. (until now!! :) ) His parents are seperated... and not members. We´ve been working with his dad... ¨Pablo¨. He is such a nice man... so sweet... and he knows. He knows this is true... we´ve been with him... kneeling in prayer... and felt the Spirit SO STRONGLY confirm the truthfullness of this message.... but the painful part is.... he still doesn´t want to change. He has... a dirty little secret... and it is so hard for us to address... and even harder for him to want to change. He has a serious problem with the law of chasity... and despite his acknoweldgement with the VERY clear commandments from the Lord throughout the bible... he just... wants to wait to be baptized. To hear Victor try to teach his father... counsel... and even boldly scold his father in such love and tenderness........ is really touching to witness. Victor SO BADLY wants an eternal family- he truly has that perspective.... and to see Pablo dance around this reality... is really heart breaking. We´re not sure how much more time we can spend with this. This is a common case from the last few weeks- people have read, and prayed, attended church... obtained confirmation and knowledge................ but don´t want to change.- and almost all is with the law of chastity. (I meant to make this story inspiring and focused on the glory of Victor... but... this is also part of the story- his father.) I can´t express how much I love Pable... how much I see in Pablo... but no matter how much faith I have in the Savior, and the hope that I have through the Atonement for Pablo..... we cannot change his agency.
Hermana Bautista is really struggling with this too. We walk away from some appointments... and she is welled up with tears. I am continually trying to express my love for her.... but I´m not enough. Truth is.. we´re hitting some walls left and right.... but maybe because I´m green... or whatever... I still have so much hope here. There are so many members of the ward that are SO SO SO STRONG- I KNOW that the Atonement is real... and that change is possible. We´re determined to find those that are TRULY prepared... to use our time FINDING those that desire these blessings in their life... and are willing to follow the Savior in their lives. I keep dreaming (like every other missionar) to find that King Lamoni that says, ¨I will give up everything I have to know the truth!¨
There are so many religious people here... I thought they´d be a little more receptive to the words of the Lord. We are finding lots of people that attend church- churches that we can hear all the way across town- bellowing out their expressions of praise and dedication for ALL to hear from all corners... but when we invite these people to personally pray.... they tell us they can´t- that.... they don´t know how. It is so sad to me to see that they´re uncomfortable to converse with their Heavenly Father. Even if these people don´t accept that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that the Book of Mormon is true, and that the Church that Christ established is again here for us................ I am determined not to leave their house until I have done everything in my power..... to help make God more real for them. To help them know that He truly listens to their simple and sincere prayers... that they CAN PRAY.

I forgot thanksgiving! My zone leader from Arizona called that night to say ¨Happy Thanksgiving¨- and I totally melted to hear something so familiar. Yet... don´t get me wrong- I LOVE spanish... and MANY things about the culture here. It´s getting better and better and more natural.

This week the ward is busing up to Guatamala to take a soon to be missionarty to the CCM and attend the temple. The buzz and fervor about the temple is contagious... and a bitter sweet for me. I miss the the temple SO SO SO much. I am continually more and more excited for the dedication of the temple here- and it´s become more for the people here. Oh how they love the temple and relish every opportunity to learn, talk, and visit it. I am SO grateful for the focus my parents made the temple in our family and my life. Thank you!

The youth of this generation are truly the examples for this whole area. They are SO strong. When so many of their parents have fallen away... are breaking the law of chasity... drinking every night..... with darkness all around them... they beam out so brilliantly. I am so humbled by their examples.

Kylene! You´re leaving SO SOON! I need your mission address! Send it to my family, please love?

The other day... we walked by a man sitting alone with his head down. I thought his was praying... and was really excited to use that opportunity to answer his fervent prayer an question. I ran over, ¨Hermano! Como esta!¨.... oops... he wasn´t praying. Just severely drunk.
Thus is this beautiful life!

Love you all!!
Hermana Clark

English, at Last!

Oh boy... this is gonna hurt my brain. I haven´t spoken english for... I dunno... something like 8 days... which is, obviously... a record for me. I don´t really feel like my spanish is much better.... but for sure my english is worse. I can´t pray in english anymore... which is... good for the purpose here. I did find an english ensign in the bottom of our Liahona box... which was like... better than Christmas- I teared up a little. It was like seeing a long lost childhood kindred Spirit. Though Hermana Bautista and I are getting along miraculously well... like... really really well (I still cannot believe how well we communicate and work through very very sensitive matters and affairs in spanish... it blows my mind how united we can be when she doesn´t speak english... and my spanish is laughable..)... sometimes I selfishly pine for english. I can understand. I mostly know what´s going on now- hallelua- but spanish is not the language of my heart. ....yet.
Though I understand... sometimes I get frustrated that I don´t have the exact words to express myself. Twice this week... I had moments when... even if I could speak spanish... that wouldn´t be enough. We were in a lesson with a woman named Espiranza- whose family were members... but she had many obstacles to overcome before she would even listen to us. The first time we vistited... she hardly looked at us.. and was very cold. Yet... we weren´t defeated. ;) The next time we came... we showered her with love... love love love... love and some more love... and she started to melt. Yet... when it came to discussing the church... wow she was fiesty! She was SO determined that we didn´t believe in the bible or Christ... and we really couldn´t get a word in... she just went on tangents. I started to become filled with a determination that if she was not to accept the book of mormon right now.... we would certainly at least leave her without a doubt that we believe in the Bible.... and undeniably... that we know our Saviour Jesus Christ. When she was taking a breathe.... I nervous interrupted (a definate plus with being the slow kid on the block... is people listen. I mean... the have to listen close to get what I´m saying... but especially- how rude is it to walk over the delayed child? - this is my role. To get people to listen... even if it´s out of sympathy..) - and said something like, ¨Espiranza... I wish I had the words to explain to you how I read and believe in the bible, and how deeply and truly believe in Christ. I know the Atonement is real... and I have learned so much more fully of this and how to appy it... through the Book of Mormon. But... I don´t have the words... and you can tell- I can´t speak. But.. I do like to sing.¨ - and I sang Ï Believe in Christ¨. We were all choking back the tears.... and she couldn´t talk... and finally- the Spirit could settle over her. She agreed to come to church and read the Book of Mormon after.
The next day... we contacted into a family... very cool... very positive. The father is Evangelical- which I am super stoked when people have a foundation of the bible and faith... because logically- they´d be more ready to accept the Restoration when they already understand the words of the prophets in the bible! Yet... similar experience... he went on tangents and tangents... and we could hardly get to the Restoration. Finally... the ¨slow child¨ spoke.. and I tried to tell about the first vision... and the hymn ¨Joseph´s First Vision¨ rang through my head and body SO strongly... like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was right there in my chest... and though I felt a little silly... I just had to say, ¨There´s a better way to testify of this.¨- and while showing a picture of the first vision... I sang that song. Truly... this is not me- purely the power of music. Aga

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

English, No Comprenda Porfovor

Oh boy... this is gonna hurt my brain. I haven´t spoken english for... I dunno... something like 8 days... which is, obviously... a record for me. I don´t really feel like my spanish is much better.... but for sure my english is worse. I can´t pray in english anymore... which is... good for the purpose here. I did find an english ensign in the bottom of our Liahona box... which was like... better than Christmas- I teared up a little. It was like seeing a long lost childhood kindred Spirit. Though Hermana Bautista and I are getting along miraculously well... like... really really well (I still cannot believe how well we communicate and work through very very sensitive matters and affairs in spanish... it blows my mind how united we can be when she doesn´t speak english... and my spanish is laughable..)... sometimes I selfishly pine for english. The scriptures in english are truly such a comfort.. and more than ever... they speak the language of my heart. I am studying in spanish too...but the moments that I can read in english... are so so so nice. I can understand spanish. I mostly know what´s going on now- hallelua- but spanish is not the language of my heart. ....yet.
Though I understand... sometimes I get frustrated that I don´t have the exact words to express myself. Twice this week... I had moments when... even if I could speak spanish... that wouldn´t be enough. We were in a lesson with a woman named Espiranza- whose family were members... but she had many obstacles to overcome before she would even listen to us. The first time we vistited... she hardly looked at us.. and was very cold. Yet... we weren´t defeated. ;) The next time we came... we showered her with love... love love love... love and some more love... and she started to melt. Yet... when it came to discussing the church... wow she was fiesty! She was SO determined that we didn´t believe in the bible or Christ... and we really couldn´t get a word in... she just went on tangents. I started to become filled with a determination that if she was not to accept the book of mormon right now.... we would certainly at least leave her without a doubt that we believe in the Bible.... and undeniably... that we know our Saviour Jesus Christ. When she was taking a breathe.... I nervous interrupted (a definate plus with being the slow kid on the block... is people listen. I mean... the have to listen close to get what I´m saying... but especially- how rude is it to walk over the delayed child? - this is my role. To get people to listen... even if it´s out of sympathy..) - and said something like, ¨Espiranza... I wish I had the words to explain to you how I read and believe in the bible, and how deeply and truly believe in Christ. I know the Atonement is real... and I have learned so much more fully of this and how to appy it... through the Book of Mormon. But... I don´t have the words... and you can tell- I can´t speak. But.. I do like to sing.¨ - and I sang Ï Believe in Christ¨. We were all choking back the tears.... and she couldn´t talk... and finally- the Spirit could settle over her. She agreed to come to church and read the Book of Mormon after.
The next day... we contacted into a family... very cool... very positive. The father is Evangelical- which I am super stoked when people have a foundation of the bible and faith... because logically- they´d be more ready to accept the Restoration when they already understand the words of the prophets in the bible! Yet... similar experience... he went on tangents and tangents... and we could hardly get to the Restoration. Finally... the ¨slow child¨ spoke.. and I tried to tell about the first vision... and the hymn ¨Joseph´s First Vision¨ rang through my head and body SO strongly... like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was right there in my chest... and though I felt a little silly... I just had to say, ¨There´s a better way to testify of this.¨- and while showing a picture of the first vision... I sang that song. Truly... this is not me- purely the power of music. Again... he couldn´t talk during the song... and had to listen to the words... but especially- the Spirit. He commited to reading the Book of Mormon after that.
So.. I´m finding ways to communicate- whether in song, charades, or spanish. Yet... sometimes people really can´t understand me. I get so frustrated when in lessons... people continue to smile and nod their head... but then can´t respond to my questions- and when I ask, ¨me entendio?¨... they smile guiltily.. and say no. Hermana Bautista swears that they can understand me... but it´s easier to pretend not to understand than to dig deep and answer personal and ponderous questions. Or... they just don´t expect a gringa to speak spanish... so they have a mental block when the listen. - so says Hermana Bautista.
Speaking of being a gringa... I am! Purely! Well... actually... I feel like my heart is much more at home here in a lot of ways... I can smile and greet EVERYONE with joy and enthusiasm here and not be considered drugged- aspects like that... I fit in better than America. Yet... I am SO frustrated that people only see me as ¨that gringa¨. I feel like I´m not seen as a representative of Jesus Christ. People are must more enchanted and interested that I am white, from America, and have blue eyes. Many people have never seen a gringo woman before, and most people have never seen blue eyes before. These mundane traits become distractions from my purpose with the people here....and I really struggle with the attention sometimes. I want to be different because I have the light of Christ and this calling... not because I´m white! I´m trying so hard to turn it around to focus on Christ... but it´s hard for some people to grasp.
Sometimes I feel like part of my biggest problem to fit in is my perspective of time. I struggled with this in the city... but here in the country... time doesn´t exist! I feel so out of control of most situations here... I kind of recognize that its likely healthy for me... but I hate it. Hermana Bautista says almost every day, ¨be patient!¨... but in my head... I want to respond, Ï don´t wanna be patient- I want to be on time!!!¨ haha... gah! Plus... everything is so far apart. It takes us 30-40 minutes to walk to appointments sometimes... and then the people aren´t there. Patience... patience... ahh!! The other day... we ventured through the mountains to find recent converts and innactive members. It was SO beautiful. I wanted to just... camp there... stay there... meditate there... but that was not my purpose there. Yet... it was SO SO SO gorgeous. We definately came out looking like we had camped up there for a week... so.. it was close enough. Did I mention how beautiful it is here? We have orange, coconut, papaya, banana, lemon trees... pinnapple and fijole fields.... and... a volcano... and... lots of cool things here. The other day, my companion wanted me to try a native popsicle... WOAH. NOT WHAT I EXPECTED! It was a lemon popsicle. She was in hysterics over my reaction for the next 20 minutes. It was a sour surprise.
I´m learning a lot from Hermana Bautista. It makes 2 years since her bautismo and her faith and strength blows my mind. She is so elect and SO perfect for me right now. She was catholic before, so she has such a great perspective and connection with so many of our investigadores. I love her so much. I´m teaching her how to do pushups and blow dry her hair... and she´s teaching me how to eat frijoles and platnos in the morning and to use tortillas as eating utensils. haha. We laugh A LOT.
I am constantly humbled by the humlity here. I love that the ward has a program to teach people to read- because there is such a need. It´s difficult to teach people that can´t read- because the need to gain a personal knowledge and witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon from personal study is so GREAT. Yet... there are people that can´t read... but are endowed and devoted in the work- like our ward mission leader. He is studying and trying to learn... but we are having to adapt our strategies for this obstacle. Yet... Hermano Dias is so pure and wonderful and willing to serve. For our investigadores... there are hurdles like... women not wanting to come to church because they don´t have a skirt, or because they´re afraid it´ll all be reading... things like that... that I have never thought of before. People will say things like, öh! I´ve heard of that church- I heard it has really nice bathrooms!!¨ (when we might be able to compare the bathrooms in this chapel to those of a clean but small gas station in the states) ---I can´t express the purity and greatness in these people. It is such and honor to be here... and especially to serve them.
Yesterday in sacrament meeting.. bishop had the brilliant inspiration in the middle of the meeting... to ask me to come bear my testimony. I was already feeling the Spirit so strong, and honestly a little overwhelmed with emotion from reflecting of the week and working through things..... that when I got up there... I could hardly speak. I can´t really describe it... it was this tiny tiny chapel, with about 70 beautiful people... and I was trying to express to them the reality of the Lord in my life... and my love of life with this knowledge. It was such an honor. Then... in relief society... We were learning about Gifts of the Spirit, which includes the gift of tongues. So... the relief society president asked me to bear my testimony of this...... I guess as a demonstration of the gift. No pressure. ;) I am here to testify... and I love that. Love it.
We had a little interview with our dear bishop... and it was so beautiful. He is SO SO SO humble. He is in his late 20´s or early 30´s, and told us, ¨I lack experience and bountious knowledge... but I am here to serve. Please, tell me what more we need to be doing to help you. Thank you thank you THANK YOU for being here- we can already feel of your strength here- and we need you.¨ - I may have wept a little.
I think the HARDEST thing this week... and probably will continue to be THE HARDEST part of this calling... is witnessing so intimately and repeatedly... the pain from not living the commandments. We visits innactive members that stopped attending and living the gospel because of offense, distraction and/or apathy.... and how different their life is now. My heart hurts for them so deeply. I am anxious and quick to invite others to be baptized- for that is my purpose... and I know that the Lord won´t send those prepared to come unto Christ if I am not prepared to invite- yet.... I have this ever growing fear... that they won´t be prepared for baptism when they are baptized. I read in Luke 14;27-30 about the man that was to build the tower... but never finished. There is a quote from Bruce R. McKonkie that talks about how converts need to fully know what they are commiting and embarking into. It is so serious to break these convenants... and I am so afraid that these converts won´t fully understand.. whether it´s a lack of time or teaching from me. I am seeing too many people that were converted to the friendship of the missionaries... and were baptised without seeking to receive their own personal testimony of Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the reality that this church is the only one on the earth that is exactly the one that Christ himself established. They HAVE TO KNOW THAT!!!

Oh boy I love this life and this work. I love wanting to collapse at the end of the night... and waking up to do it all over again! ;)

We have a few people so so so close to the waters of baptism! Thank you for your prayers!

Hermana Clark

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Love Everyone in ElSalvador!

Wow!! Don´t even know where to start!!! WOW!
Last week... I was loving everything more and more. I was finally getting acustomed to the area... feeling like I was FINALLY finding some sense of direction, knowing the people.... and we as a companionship were finding people to teaching... and having AWESOME experiences.Like... this one man.. Jose.. we came to his casa the week before to visit his inactive sister. He answered his.... gate?... and was very VERY mean and rude. I wanted to scurry away with my tail between my legs whimpering... but Hermana Bush was so inspired and patient... and started asking him questions. He was gruff and RUDE... but Hermana Bush was truly inspired. Then... I felt inspired to bear my testimony of prophets. I thought ¨oh gosh... this is gonna be awkward with my spanish...¨-.. but as I spoke... there was such a tangible change in him... in his face. He softened... and answered my questions... and after a while... he came out from his... fence?... and we taught him the first lesson. I saw such vulnerability,kindess, and tenderness in him... and this last week, we taught him again. In moments like those... I´m glad I don´t speak perfect spanish. :)
On monday.... we had some stellar lessons...and I fell more and more in love with the people. Transfers were coming... but I was so sure that I needed to stay there... that I loved them so much that I would stay with them and watch them progress... and I was new and couldn´t speak spanish... so I´d get to stay with Hermana Bush there some more. Then... monday night, we got the call that I needed to pack my bags and leave at 7 the next morning. UGH!!!!

Yet... of course... it was all for my benefit. Of course!!! My new companera is Hermana Bautista- from the East part of El Salvador. When I first heard that... my stomach kind of knotted up... and I thought,¨ öh... poor dear... she prayed for patience, huh¨. She denies doing such a thing... but certianly she has the opportunity to learn more patience... because she speaks NO english... so our communication, unity, and ability to function as a team... depends on the Spirit... and my Spanish. Truly... we´ve both been given the gift of tongues... because she can understand me!! I have said some awkward things on accident like... I was trying to tell her the first day that ¨it´s amazing how much I love you already!!!¨ but what I said was... ¨it´s amazing that I still love you!!¨ ha... we laugh... a lot.

Hermana Bautista and I are opening this area. We know NOTHING and NO ONE. It is such a different experience trying to work though all this... organize things... and understand.... and totally in spanish. I cannot believe how well we work together. So often... I forget that she doesn´t speak a word of spanish... and I don´t realize that I´m speaking spanish!!!
The first night.. when we walked into our casa... it was like walking into Dad´s most horrific nightmare. Woah woah woah!!! I had a freak out session with bleach... and it felt good... but.... woah. I´d go into details...but I´m still trying to get over the trauma...and discussing it further would not help the progress I´ve made with this the last few days.
Um... it´s SO SO SO BEAUTIFUL here! Everyday... when we finally leave our ¨casa¨.... I have to take a moment and catch my breath! We´re like... 3 or 4 hours away from my last area in the city... and definately in the country. It´s a GORGEOUS valley called Candelaria... nestled and surrounded by green velveted mountains.... right by the border of Guatamala. I guess the mountains are still part of our area- this is known as a HUGE area for missionaries... and really difficult to get around in. Oh joy! But... the members here are SO AWESOME... and part of that is... they don´t want us out far. They are so eager to help with the work and keep us safe- their eager and sincere love is almost overwhelming sometimes. I have never been immersed with such humble, simple, kind, faithful, dilligent, and LOVING people before. The little chapel here is the smallest but the most lovely chapel I´ve ever seen. Again... it felt like home the moment I walked in. There isn´t even a piano! Well... I guess there was one before it was stolen... but there isn´t now... but they continue to sing with such gusto and sincerity... that I melt every time... and the need for technical musicality doesn´t matter when such heart is in it. My first night...this 12 year old boy came up... and with such sweet sincere eyes... asked, ¨will you please come teach my mama?¨- and my hopes of belonging and loving it here... were totally confirmed.
It´s definately different here. I can´t even begin to explain how many things are just...bizarre for me!! Yet... I´m learning that... really- I am the bizarre one. My native comps are such befuddled by ME... by... my meticulous flossing, weird exercises, what I eat, that I shave my legs, what I think is funny.... I am such a weird alien to them. I guess I am in the states too... but here... I am so peculiar. Hna B thinks I´m so tall because I don´t drink pop and drink straight milk in the mornings.... after I taught her about calcium and the process of osteoperosis. haha.. she wants me to teach her about nutrition... and how to produce more blood.... and... everything I love to talk about... but it´s a total cherade and dictionary game for me in spanish. haha
I don´t know if anyone will care about this like I do... but the geriatric population here is THE MOST PRECIOUS. Oh... something just explodes in me everytime I see them. I am so in love with this tiny tiny little 96 year old woman that squeals, ¨hermanita!!¨ every time we see her! haha.
Yesterday was stake conference... and it was so fun to pile the whole ward into a bus and drive for an hour to this HUGE and GORGEOUS stake center in Santa Ana! SO COOL! We had 6 investigadors show up and have good experiences. I guess there is a high baptism rate here... but retention is a problem. That is a fear for me. Baptism is SO important... but certainly just the first step! There are SO MANY blessings to come... and knowledge to obtain... and it breaks my heart to visit people that are refusing them because they lack the desire and don´t understand!!
Life is so humble and simple here. It is exactly what this spoiled american princess needed to experience. I am so humbled to be in the presence of such greatness here... in such pure packages. There is such a tangible difference in the homes of members here... To walk in to homes and feel the Spirit so instantly.. and then look around and see pictures of the new temple tacked into the grout between their brick walls.... knowing and feeling that the family within is so focused on the eternal riches. Truly... this is where I am supposed to be.

quick story... the other day we went to teach Diego a lesson... and we were peeling frijoles with him... when I felt something scurry by my leg. I brushed my leg.. and continued on. Then... we started teaching... and really getting into it... when I felt something scurry up my leg in my skirt. I jumped up... danced around a bit... and thought I was fine.. and felt bad for disrupting the lesson. Then... I asked Diego a question... the Spirit was there... he was pondering.... and then I felt something scurrying around in my skirt around my stomach. AHHH!!! I jumped up and sprinted to their outhouse up the hill. I threw off my skirt and shook it out... bt there was nothing. I returned and apologized and swore there was something... but probably I was crazy. So... we continued. We were about to hit a climax in the lesson... when undeniably... SOMETHING WAS IN MY SHIRT!! I jumped up AGAIN and screamed, ¨HAY ALGO!! HAY ALGO!!! ¨and ran off again... yelling to Hna Bautista, ÄYUDEME! AYUDEME!!! We ripped off my shirt in the outhouse..... and yup... there was this brilliantly bright and beautiful GECKO in my skirt. Oh gosh. Sister B screamed, I laughed, and threw it off.... and we still randomly say to each other, ¨HAY ALGO!!¨(there´s something!!!) haha... There are ALWAYS disruptions during our lessons- like any missionary will attest to. Twice in a row... it was roosters! Right when I start to tell the Joseph Smith story... a rooster would show up and start screaming SO LOUD!! haha... we are swimming in dogs, roosters, and cats here. How fun!
Ok! gotta go!
Love you all!!
Hermana Clark

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Scariest Halloween Ever


First of all....
Thank you SO MUCH Kipps for that AWESOME letter! I cannot tell you the delight and uncontrolable squeal of laughter that your letters provoked. THANK YOU for sending that sunshine and inspiration. I LOVE your family. Laura- NYC!??? SO COOL. So perfect for you! Now... I´m dying to hear about your adventures and halarious stories told in your fashion. Please. :) I am searching for a post office so I can sent you a letter. Thank yoooooou!! :)
Does any one have Kenny Adam´s mailing address?(Not that I can even mail right now... but in the future..) And Marcelus´??

Umm... I had the scarriest Halloween of my life. I had to give a talk in Sacrament meeting! But... you may ask.... how? I don´t speak spanish?- exactly. Mostly. I have never really minded giving talks... often I fancy the opportunity to prepare and testify.... but this..... I struggled not being insecure and prideful. Yet... as I prepared... for the first time since I was probably 12- I wrote out a talk word for word... and was resigned to just read it and just try to get through it... knowing that I would sound silly, and probably no one would understand me.... but hopefully they would be patient and by some miracle... the Spirit would be there. So.... sunday came... and as Hernana Bush was giving her talk... the Spirit flowed into that meeting... and I was washed over with peace. As I looked out into the faces of the ward members....... I was filled with this overwhelming and indescribable love for them- I think the only word for it would be- charity. Finally.... for the next 15 minutes... I was remarkably free from my pride... and I stopped thinking that this was about..me. When I stood up to speak... I felt like I was in a home ward... speaking in english. I started to learn what it truly means when the Lord promised, ¨Open they mouth and it shall be given thee¨- because....... I got up and spoke for a while... and suddenly realized... that I hadn´t even opened my prepared talk yet. I don´t really remember what I said... and I know it wasn´t perfect.... but there were a few seconds during my talking that I had an out of body experience.... almost like my body kept talking... but I was able to step back and listen to myself............. and it did not sound like me....especially my spanish. I glanced at my prepared talk some.... but the message I gave was significantly different from what I prepared... and I know that the only way I could have said anything different than what was on the paper... was through the Spirit... and the gift of tongues. Afterwards... people said that they understood EVERYTHING I said- except 2 words. :) Truly- this is a MIRACLE.

Contrary to my past life..... I think one of the biggest temptations of Satan for me... is the temptation not to speak. My pride gets in the way... and I don`t want to sound dummy, I am led to think that I will just hinder the work and make things awkward... but I have been blessed with humbling experiences that remind me that I am send here to testify, teach, and love- in spanish. I have had a number of such moments of inspiration, clarity, and communication like this last sunday.... but not always. I am learning that this gift is much like the Liahona for the family of Lehi in the Book of Mormon. My ability to speak with the people here is SO closely linked and dependent on the needs of the people, my faith, obedience, and... charity. I am learning that when I truly and wholly love the people that we are teaching....... I am finally able to forget about myself... I stop caring about how silly I sound... and the most important thing is to say what the Spirit gives me. It was said in a devotional in the MTC that, ¨You will get to know Him as He works through you¨¨ and ¨He needs your weakness to show His power through you¨. Welp... I´ve got the weaknesses.... and I am undeniably seeing His power.

A definate bonus of this language test... is that I am a source of great entertainment for everyone around me. I told a women when I first got here that her dog was very very pretty- but she didn´t have a dog. I was talking about her hair. When trying to ask someone if they were hungry... I asked if they had a man. When trying to ask two men if they had wives.... I asked if they were married to each other. When teaching the Plan of Salvation to an investigador... when the Spirit was so strong and things were going so great..... I taught her that God has a body of meat and eggs.
- but I´ve done far worse in english- right? hahahaaaa

Morgan: You would love it here! I think about you all the time when I´m walking down the road- it´d be Morgan heaven! There are dogs, cats, chickens, lizards, geckos, and exotic beautiful birds EVERYWHERE. I have seen the BIGGEST ants EVER- like I thought I´d only see on discovery channel. Lots of people have big beautiful parrots. You´d love it. :)

I am still love our humble little abode. President Lopez wants us to be looking for a new ¨house¨.... so we´ve been trying. I think some of my biggest frustrations have not been the language. My main tests of patience are time. Our area is SO big.... I feel like we´re walking FAR more than talking and teaching. It´s often pretty commical with the three of us- Hermana Bush who is almost 6 foot with wonderfully long legs, me with the innate drive to walk compulsively fast, and dear Hermana Ramirez who is probably 5ft 2¨ has to try to keep up. I´m trying to be patient... but I feel like we´re always late! It´s definately not Hermana Ramirez´s fault though. The beautiful but nonfunctional (for missionary work) aspect of the culture here is the love of shootin´the breeze and talking. I so often hear Dad in my head as I look at my watch and see how time has flown.... but I don´t know how to leave!! It´s such a difficult balance of truly enjoying people, being polite and understanding the culture, and... utilizing the Lórd´s time HIS WAY!!! On a few occasions I´ve gotten my comps to literally RUN house to house to be on time.... but we do look silly and it´s hot.... so it´s not a preferred fashion... for all. :)

After my sandwich nightmare... I am trying SO HARD to be more flexible with the food situation. I tried pupusas the other night- and I am still alive to tell about it. It´s ever so polite to over soda for guests... and so I´m trying ever so sincerely to acclimate to that too. uhh...yup. My companions are so great on so many accounts.... but I could just worship them in the moments that the host turns their back and they give me their vegetables that they don´t want.. and they take what I need taken and they want! :)

Ok... I just wrote too much! I love you all dearly!!! I love being a missionary!! I love El Salvador... life is so great.... woohooo!!!! :)

Family: I NEED JOEL´S EMAILS! ok! tata! I´ll send pictures


We were having a meeting with our ward mission leader... and we were at a new convert´s house. She was being so nice and made us a snack...dinner...? She put in front of each of us... two of my favorite kind of sandwhich.............. white white white processed bread... with plenty of mayonaise, bologne, and my favorite processed American plastic cheese. -uhoh.
I was/am SO determined not to be offensive with my compulsions... but this was... a lot to handle. Some of my top loathings... all on one plate... and in plenty. I wasn´t even remotely hungry...but I was determined to try. I became flustered, diaphoretic... so hot and clammy... trying to get myself to pick it up and take a bit. Painful... but I did. I was immediately nausious... and did NOT know how I was going to eat two. I tried to play it cool... show no such inner struggle... but after 30 minutes and only two bits taken... and I was sweating (which I don´t even sweat during these hot hot days when everyone else is dripping... and suddenly I´m sweating in the cool of the night... suspicious) anyways... they all thought I was sick... and I didn´t know what to do. I could hear mom in my head, ¨EAT IT. Don´t be so rude! You are SO silly!¨.... but... AHHHH!!!! When the host had left... my Guatamalan Comp grabbed it and ate them two days later. Gosh I am silly. I really am trying so hard not to be a spoiled American girl..... trying.

Speaking of the weather... haha... CRAZY! I have not found it THAT hot or THAT humid. We´re out of the ¨wet season¨- or... so they say. Yet, I´m learning never to leave without an umbrella. Yesterday we were leaving an appointment... and it had been the hottest and sunniest day thus far for me..... when the moment we opened the door.... SO QUICKLY... it went dark- just like someone had turned the light switch..... and it just started DUMPING. It was windy, lightening, thunder, and POURING. I have NEVER seen a storm like that, or any change in weather that rapid. We say the weather in Spokane is unpredictable...but WOAH. I heard today that there was an earthquake- and that such weather changes happen when there´s an earthquake. I felt nothing besides being wet. Best part of it- we had planned and were excited to go contacting for that time. haha.... it was SO fun. Good thing I love the rain and don´t melt.

Heaven On Earth


Wow... so much to say... where to start??

Thank you Dad, for the letter. It was very emotional but perfect for me to read about such sweet experiences with Joel and the family in the temple and Jared´s baptism. I had an investigator ask me last night if I missed my family. I had to stop and think... and then try to explain my multilevel ¨no¨¨. I got to explain to her that.... my family is founded and centered in Jesus Christ. Everything that we are, all that we should do, and all that we are working towards together.... is centered in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I tried to help her understand that as I am very far away from my family... as I grow closer to Christ in this work every day... my love for my family exponentially grows... and I feel even closer to them. Teaching her... really taught me the soul peircing but liberating truths of this principle. I am so grateful for the Christ-like examples of the people I love the most... and have the opportunity to spend eternity with.

Speaking of that investigator... her name is Claudia- and she is the highlight of my week. We received a reference (YOU ALL HAD BETTER BE GIVING REFERENCES and LOOKING FOR OPPORTUNITIES TO FIND AND GIVE THEM!) from a member of the stake presidency. They had talked to a man at work that said, ¨I think your church can help my family¨ and asked for the missionaries to come. (What a dream, huh??) So... We came, but he wasn´t home. Claudia was though, and she enthusiastically invited us in. As we talked, and explained our purpose here... the Spirit flooded... and she became very emotional. She explained that 3 years ago she had been looking so hard for the right church... and went to many, but didn´t feel it was right. The last two weeks she had been praying earnestly that the Lord would send someone to help her with things that she had been struggling with... and that she could learn more about Christ. She cried and said that it was such a clear answer to her prayers. (yup. wow.) Teaching her about the restoration... how we have tangible evidence that the Lord loves her because he has sent a prophet to reveal the mysteries of God to HER... that truly Joseph Smith saw her Father and her Savior... and that all of her questions can be answered through personal revelation and the Book of Mormon.... and that she could be happy..... was a humbling and breathtaking experience. We invited her to learn more, receive an answer from her Heavenly Father, and to follow the example of Christ and be baptized. She had so many AWESOME questions- truly she has a sincere heart and true desire. We ended up dipping into many topics and lessons... and before we knew it- 2 hours had passed.
She is a onocology doctor and bien intellectual. When we met with her again, she had intensively read the introduction and all the testimonies at the begining- meticulously pondering every line and highlighting specific parts... and even reading into the index in the back and looking online. She was full of incredible questions again. She is SO smart and curious... but has such purity and faith... such a great balance. We read parts of the bible testifying of the Book of Mormon... but really... it just comes down to her reading it for herself and praying about it. We really can´t give our testimonies to others... or at least, they can´t live off of them. Yet... her situation is complicated. She lives with her 8 year old daughter and the father of her daughter... that is not her husband. They are not married... but not even together. They live together for the sake of their daughter, but have seperate bedrooms.... and totally seperate lives and want nothing to do with each other. Yet.... living together unmarried cannot be in any condition. SOoo.... we´re not sure how it´s going to pan out... BUT... both parents and the daughter are coming to church this sunday!!

I cannot deny how difficult the language is for me sometimes. I am so glad I´m learning another language and having these struggles- it is the ¨compelled humility¨ that I need. BUT... I refuse to be frustrated. I cannot be. I have seen too many miracles to be sincerely impatient. When I am in lessons with people... I want SO BADLY to understand them and help them... so I listen close. When I say close... I mean... with my eyes, ears, mind, body, heart, and SOUL. I am SO intensively focused on them... that they can feel me trying to connect with me... so what do they do? They talk to ME. They look at ME and tell ME their long random stories... and ask ME what to do or what I think... or what is right- but after exhausting all my physical resources... I still don´t fully understand what they´re saying. At first... I used to panic... because I acted SO interested and like I was understanding...but it only seems so because of my intensive efforts... not because I´m really with them during their stories. Yet... I am learning... that I am listening to THEM... to start listening far more to the Spirit. Instead of trying to organize it all in my mind... to just focus in on the Spirit for understanding and revelation. I testify- that it works. No... I don´t suddenly start understanding everything... or speaking profound and elaborate spanish.... but many a time... random questions come to mind... or sentences that I ´don´t know know what they mean.... they just elevate to the top of my mind with undeniable peace and confirmation from the Spirit. SO.... I just take a leap of faith... open my mouth... and try to say the words I had been given. When I understand what I´m saying... I´m often shocked and nervous at the BOLDNESS of them- I can´t say much... so I just cut to the chase. Often... people pause... for a long time... and I think that it´s beacuse I just said verbal diahrrea.... but then they respond with something sincere... and I´m blown away that.......... it worked. No... I don´t feel like I´m doing much here- I´ve never been so silent in my LIFE...... but there is no way I can deny such clear answers to prayer... and gifts given to me beyond my natural ability. I KNOW that the Gift of the Holy Ghost is real... as is my calling and authority from God as a missionary to, as Elder Holland said,¨¨BE APOSTOLIC¨.

On a lighter note... as my life would go... last week my permanent wire retainer on my bottom arch... totally popped off. I was flossing my teeth (Like I have been every day with this retainer for the last 7 years with NO problem...)... and one side just... came out of the cement. At first I wanted to scream... but it came out as hysterical laughter. I had to rip the other side off. I took the bold chance... and went to the niiiiiiiiiiiice part of town to an Orthadontist. I was so nervous and determined to just get a plastic mold. But... the orthadontist spoke some english... and I took the chance and had him chizzle off my glue and put in a new wire. We´ll see how it goes!!

We got to see the temple today. SOOOOO COOL! It´s in construction... and they expect it to finish in July! I will try to attach fotos. I am so excited for the families here to have opportunity to partake of the UNFATHOMABLE and ETERNAL blessings of the temple. Many people have already traveled to Guatamala to go through... but the difference it will make in their life to go through on a regular basis and receieve a greater understanding... is SO EXCITING!!!

I love it here. It´s hard and exhausting sometimes...but that´s a big reason why I love it SO MUCH. I am TOTALLY green... but we all have a good laugh at it. I love my companions Hermana Bush and Rameriz. I have it so good. They´re both so different from me and from each other... and I think it´s a beautiful balance. I LOVE hearing their testimonies every day... and to watch them love the people.

Oh boy.. so much I could say.... butta..... yup... gotta run! Work to do!! ;)

Oh! Kylene- THANK YOU for your letter! I cannot tell you how STOKED I was to get that yesterday! Also... what ended up happening with Ally? That was such a cliff hanger? I can only e-mail family... so.....

Family: Try to express to Arturo how HAPPY I am about his baptism... and that I expect and DEMAND pictures. Also... tell Victor and Teophilo that they owe me an awesome letter.

Jared: YAY!! Write me about your baptism and how you felt! I´m so proud and happy for you!!! Baptisms are the best, huh?

Umm... we can´t find a post office... so I have no way of mailing anything in return. Sorry BananaBunny!!! How is Jenna and the baby??

Jessica- THANK YOU FOR YOUR LETTER!!! I´ll try to write you back ASAP... but it´s super dificil right now!

Ok! I´m gonna try to add pictures!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Finally Here!

WOOHOOOO!!!! I am FINALLY here! No- really- I am!

After I wrote my graphic tale this last monday.... I went to my specialist- for the last time! I had been doing great, it looked great, felt great... and it was time to go. I went straight to my District President- and we made a plane ticket- my 6th or 7th..... haha... but it was FINAL and FOR REAL this time. (Salt Lake joked that they weren´t going to make it until I was physically at the airport that morning to ensure that it would be a done deal. )

I was SO SO SO SO excited. I was already basically packed... not that I had much to pack.... I said my goodbyes (it was definately bitter sweet parting from so many kindred Spirits from all around the world that I can assume I will not see again until the next life)- and I was off!!! When I got to the Dallas airport... wandered around lost for a while... looking for my terminal... and turned a corner- and knew I was at the right place. The waiting area was full of the most beautiful and wonderful El Salvadorian people- and I was ready to get to work! Hahaha.... I was even laughing at myself in the moment... but I laugh especially hard now (Not in embarrassment... but because I was a real life scene out of ¨The Best Two Years¨- just as my family had predicted)... because I was out of control! I sat by everyone... talked to everyone... totally unashamed of my ridiculously pathetic spanish- not caring that I sounded like a delayed five year old.... saying, "It´s my first time to El Salvador! Hi Hi Hi! How are you? Oh, WHY am I going? Let me tell YOU!!"- I was rejected many a time... but I did end up with 4 contacts and many new friends by the end. :)

I arrived in the airport... just totally on cloud nine- SO happy after 7 weeks of trying to leave the states..... to be finally right where the Lord has called me. It was so fantastic to be wandering around... moderately lost... unable to speak the language I was swimming (actually.. drowning is a more accurate term) in... in a 3rd world foriegn country... trying to find my bags... and having a completely euphorical, celestial, and blissful experience in my head!! So... I´m waiting for my lugage... waiting... waiting some more... about 20 minutes go by... everyone else from my flight is gone... and I have memorized every physical characteristic of the 2 bags left on the belt...-that are assuredly not mine. Yet... no one spoke english... and I no spanish... but... nonetheless! No worries! I am here- that´s all that mattered! I seriously did not care about my bag... haha.. but I assumed I would later. So... I started asking where it was... saying I couldn´t find it, asking for help... all in my silly spanish. They took my information and the President´s number and said they´d find it later. So... I walked (more like floated...) out and found the President´s assistants waiting for me.

We went straight to a stake center where they were having a big fireside with the area general authority Elder Martino. I was in HEAVEN. Afterwards... people were so kind and excited to meet me... and even their laughter at my spanish was sweet and understanding! :) I finally met President Lopez and his wife and they are the dearest. (sidenote: For some reason Provo didn´t call Prez Lopez about my hemmoraging and canceled plane ticket- so he waited for me at the airport for THREE HOURS) I had cake and hung out with Elder Martino and his wife, and President Lopez and his wife... and then we went back to the President´s house to find clothes for me. I just got my luggage today... so for the last 3 days... I´ve been wearing the clothes of Hermana Lopez and my companion- both little Guatamalan women! Somehow it worked though... and I didn´t care about anything- I was just SO green and SO SO SO EXCITED! hahaha My Mission President is a native Guatamalan... and he speaks some english... but spanish is easier... so even our first interview was in complete spanish- and it went... great? I was amazed that I could understand and respond to him... and we were talking about real things... goals, life experiences, family, purpose here... nursing... it was great!

Speaking of my companion.... I have 2. Sister Bush from Colorado and Sister Ramirez from Guatamala. I love them. We´ve been getting along great. I definately have the best of both worlds.. I get to listen to and talk with a native... and I have a gringo to translate and explain to me. Sister Bush speaks great spanish- she even started the MTC in the intermediate class... and she´s been here for 11 months. They´re so patient with me and my complications, spanish, and overwhelming zeal. They´ve been great. They just opened this area 3 weeks ago... so the people and the area is kind of new to them- but I am impressed by how much and well they know the people here and are in the loop.

I was so excited my first night... that I fell so in love with our nasty, sketchy, getto ¨casa¨ ( I don´t know what to call it. It´s not a house... not even an apartment... it.... a hole inbetween two other buildings... surrounded by barbedwire with hardly any amenities). My president was so apologetic that it was so sad... but I wouldn´t trade it. :) I was still on cloud nine the next morning... that the freezing shower was wonderfully refreshing, the shard of glass for a bathroom mirror was exactly what I wanted... The stale air of rotting trash was so sweet... .. even the cockroaches scurrying around and over my feet as I washed my clothes by hand had a sweet charm to them. :)

The buses are a dangerous and confusing experience for me... but such a great opportunity to contact. Granted... my contacts have not been the most effective... - even when I get them to write their address and number for us to visit them... the bus is so bumpy and loud... that I can neither hear them... nor read what they wrote later on. BUT- I´ll get it. :) It really is so different here... but nothing that is too shocking, scary, or disgusting. Granted, I am still on cloud nine- but I intend to never come down.

We had a zone conference with the General Authority Elder Martino- all in spanish. I think about 75% of the missionaries I met were natives... and I am SO impressed with them. They were so pure, radient, focused, kind, stalwart- wow. So... ALL morning... about 7 hours of talks and discussions- all in spanish. I CANNOT believe how much I understood. ONLY through the Holy Ghost could I understand what was going on, what was being said, and what was being taught. Wow wow wow. It is exhausting though. Working so hard for the Spirit, listening so hard to the Spirit, then listening intensly to the language, translating it in my mind, and then listening to the Spirit again to obtain the Spiritual langauge and message from it.... my little flabby brain was SO tired by the end- but very contenta.

We´ve been teaching lessons and contacting- visiting investigators, less active memebers, and new people. I´m usually lost. We´re in a corner of the city... and I just feel like we´re jumping on random buses.. hoping off... flying back on to another overcrowded, bumpy and noisy bus- full of children of God that need to hear the gospel. :) I am finding that one of the many gifts I need to pray for and work for... is not just the gift of tongues- but the gift of dicernment- especially with maps and directions. I still get lost in SPOKANE...and I would get lost all the time in Idaho FAlls and Rexburg....... I can and will get lost any and everywhere- and that´s in America with legible maps, road signs, stop lights, and a language I can understand. It´s hard for me to ever imagine myself being able to manuever myself around all of this chaos with confidence, clarity, and accuracy. - It´s such a crazy dream. Yet... I am doing more right now than is naturally possible... and I know that if I do my part of obeying and being dilligent... the Lord will surely complete me... and give me the power and gifts needed to complete and do His work for His children.

Wow... giving me more than 30 minutes on e-mail is not a good idea--- I write WAY TOO much. We can only e-mail our families and the President. Since I have to write the President in spanish... it didn´t take very long. :)

A few times I´ve gotten borderline frustrated and impatient that I am not able to express myself fully when I teach the gospel... but I am learning that it does not fully matter. Though I can only speak simply, humbly, blunt and true..... that is what is required. Truly, the gospel is simple, blunt, true, and understood and taught only by the humble. I will work SO hard to learn this language and teach in the fullness... but this is my greatest lesson this week, that:

The gospel is simple, blunt, and true. We have a loving Heavenly Father who has given us the opportunity to learn and grow in this life. We can return to Him after this life by following the example of His Son- Jesus Christ. We come to truly know our Savior Jesus Christ through the words of the Prophets in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and the Prophet today- Thomas S. Monson.

This is a message of simplicity, clarity, and soul penetrating truth.

-Hermana Clark