Thursday, September 30, 2010

Good and Bad News

Dearest family and friends,

Almost 7 weeks in.... I was scheduled to leave today... and...... my tonselitis is back.

Of course I'm a baby bit bummed- I spent the last week and 1/2 anxiously anticipating teaching real people, being flooded with Spanish, getting a real companion.... ya know- all the great things about being hitting the real mission field! But... last wedensday as I hit the two week mark since stopping my antibiotics... I prayed that if my tonselitis was going to come back... that it would make itself manifest clear and soon- and boy did it ever!!!! I can't deny that at first I was moderately "miffed"- I even dared to ask, "Am I not on the Lord's errand? Am I not going trying to do His work? Why is this impeeding my progress?"- but... as I've been praying about it... it's become clear to me- that this is not a "hinderence". I know that I have been called by God through His prophet to serve the people of El Salvador... and this is the Lord's way of preparing me physically, but especially spiritually to go and STAY in El Salvador. I know that weeks before this... that I received that clear and profound answer to my prayers and fasting to stay here. This is why. I needed to have this tonsilectomy. I'm going to the ear nose and throat specialist tomorrow and I'll hopefully have surgery tuesday. The doctor I talked to today said that it's usually a 3-4 week recovery for adults- and there is a big risk for hemorraging in the first two weeks. He said that it's a pretty traumatic and painful event for adults- but I'm hoping and praying that I can be ready to go in 2 or so after surgery.
I can't believe I'm saying this... but I'm actually grateful for this experience! My faith and especially patience is being tested big time. It is not in my nature to calmly wait to go when I have been so set on going for so long. I'm so glad the Lord is providing me an opportunity to starting changing my nature. I am trying to learn to trust in Him- to not just "endure" in all things...but to THRIVE no matter what!! :)

Despite how much I would have loved to fly to El Salvador this morning... I can honestly say that I love the MTC. Though it sounds like recovering from the surgery will be miserable... truly there is no better place to heal and allow a miracle to occur than the Lord's missionary training center- a place founded in faith, pulsing with the Spirit, running on revelation, and filled with thousands of pure and faithful disciples of the Lord that have all been endowed with power from on high. I am continaully amazed and honored to be in this sea of valient and worthy priesthood holders- there is great power on these grounds.

I know I kind of ranted about this last time.... but can I do it again? I LOVE LOVE LOVE meeting so many inspiring people from all over the world! One of my greatest highlights was meeting this Sister from... Fauwati- (I don't even know how to spell it!!) - some little country in the South Pacific West that isn't even on most maps!! She is the first from her country to serve. She is a beautiful dark sister with such immediate love and humility- I was overwhelmed with love and gratitude for her the moment I met her. I happened to meet her the other night when I was going to talk with some Mongolian sisters I had met that day... and she was their roommate. She had traveled to Fiji to go through the temple.... and she hugged me the moment we saw each other. She is here to learn english and then to serve in the New York North Mission. I LOVE HER.

Hey Joel! I met your friend Elder Thomas from He's great! We took an awkward picture just for you!

Two Elders stopped us the other day to bear their testimonies to us to practice English. One was from France going to Africa, the other from the Philipines going to Salt Lake. I met two Elders learning Greek going to Greece- one was from Scotland and the other from Hong Kong. The one from Hong Kong was Elder Lee- his parents were baptized years ago and had 6 kids (wow for China!!) and he is the 5th missionary to serve from their family- and he's learning Greek from his second and scarce language- English! He bore such a beautiful testimony to me of the gift of tongues.

I met an Elder that reminded me so sweetly of Tae Jang. He was baptized when he was 20, and had to serve two years in the Korean military- and never saw another LDS person for 2 years- but remained strong. He is now 26 and going to the Philipines. I met a sister in the bathroom the other night who started speaking to me in spanish... and after a while I asked her where she was going to serve- and she said "Belgum"- and I said, "what language?" - "Dutch!" - and I said, "Where are you from that you can speak Spanish?"- and she said, "Hungry"- and said, "WHAT?!" haha... she was from Hungry and spoke English, hungarian, spanish, french, and was now learning dutch!! WOAH!

I love the promises from Doctrine and Covenatns 90:11 being manifested before my eyes every day- that the fullness of gospel would be preached in everyone's native tongue. I love being a missionary- even in this little bubble that I feel like I've been trapped in forever! :) No where else in the world could I get so used to hearing an opening prayer in hungarian and the closing in swedish and so on.

I ask for your prayers for my surgery... but most importantly for the people of El Salvador. I keep on hearing of a lot of things going on there. Right now in the west mission... missionaries can't be out past 5:30- and the buses aren't even running. They're in a safety and economic crisis. I already love them and feel like they are my people. Please pray for peace.
Love this gospel and you all!!!!
Hermana Clark

P.S.- My dearelder still isn't working AT ALL. You can try and use my full name and mission! Sorry if I haven't written you back if you've written me- because.... I haven't gotten anything. LOVE YOU ALL!!!

The Lord is Great

Hola mi familia y amigos!!!

It's been almost 2 weeks since I've been off the antibiotics... and no tonsilitis!! WOOHOOO!!! Hopefully I am cured and it will no longer be a factor. Even if that is not the reason why I stayed.... I can see many possible reasons I was supposed to stay here... and have experienced many blessings. (I'm sorry if my letters are cliche missionary sermons.... I really don't know what else to write! As Alma said, "this is my life, my light, my joy and salvation"- I have nothing else to talk about- and I LOVE it!! )

I have been feeling better and better about leaving in a week. Sometimes the reality of cutting my language study 2.5 weeks shorter than the training that everyone else gets... gives me a jolt of nerves.... but then I am reminded of the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 67:10 that talks about fear and pride. My fear comes from my pride- relying on myself and my own abilities. No- I CANNOT naturally speak spanish right now... but I am gradually learning to trust in the Lord... and have faith that I will be able to be a competent productive missionary in the field as long as I am obedient. ....but too often my pride creeps back in.... and I fear.

Sometimes I feel like I could jump on the plane TODAY... but when I look around as see all the beauties of this little compound... I know that I will miss many things about it. The missionaries here are SO inspiring. I meet people from all over the world- like just yesterday I met an Elder from Ecuador going to serve spanish speaking in Salt Lake Utah, and Elder from Brazil going to serve in Japan, a sister from Honduras going to serve in Arizona, Sisters from Russia going to serve in Russia..... - it is SO fun. Relief Society meetings (the meetings for all the women) are unbelievable. We get to hear from lots of people. Last week Sister Dalton, the president of the Young Women's Organization spoke to us. During her talk, she started saying the young women's theme... and one by one... sisters rose up and joined with her. Pretty soon there were nearly 500 sisters saying " We are daughters of a loving Heavenly Father, who loves us and we love Him. We will stand as witnesses of God at all times, in all things, in all places..." in many languages. I could see and hear the YW theme being said in Portuguese, spanish, english, indonesian, Korean, Japanese, Ukrainian, Russian, tagolog, and bulgarian. The spirit was SO powerful. The prophecy of the gospel being brought to all the corners of the earth was so tangibly manifested in that room at that moment. WOAH.

In relief society, we always have a convert sister share her story of how she found the gospel. This week, a bulgarian sister going to serve in Sweden gave an incredible story. She told of being raised in a good and strong Christian home, and going to school in Germany. She came back to her apartment one day and these elders were meeting with her roommate. She could barely speak German, and the Elders didn't speak that well anyways... and though she had never heard of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and was VERY skeptical... she could somehow understand everything they said. She said that she had NEVER spoke german that well as she did when she was talking about the gospel with them. She resisted... but the missionaries found her a Bulgarian Book of Mormon... and she started to study. She went to a fireside and the Apostle Elder Jeffrey R. Holland spoke- in english. She hardly knew any english- but she testified that at that meeting she could understand EVERYTHING Elder Holland said. She bore such a powerful witness of the Gift of Tongues and the reality of Holy Ghost in our lives. It was AWESOME.

Of course, I've been thinking a lot about the Gift of Tongues... as that is a huge quest in my life. My old roommate that was going to temple square told me an AWESOME story a while ago that has really stuck with me. The sisters visited Temple Square for a day to practice what they had been learning. My roommate, Sister Moore, was teamed up with a sister from Sweden. The sister had learned english here... and when they had started their day in prayer... This sister prayed for the gift of tongues. At that moment, sister Moore was confused... because this sister seemed totally competent in English now. Later on in the day... they were walking and saw a family from Guatamala... and this Swedish Sister said, "let's go talk to them." - and Sister Moore was like, "well... let's get the spanish speaking sisters..."- but the Swedish sister kept walking. She went right up to them and started speaking to them in...... spanish. This sister was from Sweden... English was her only other language.... but she felt, obeyed, and trusted in the Lord and was able to speak in SPANISH!! WOAH!!!

All insecurities aside... I am anxious to get out of here and get teaching. Even just meeting someone in the airport and being able to testify of Christ... gives me the chills. I am SO anxious to meet the people of El Salvador that I already love. I cannot wait to tell them of their ancestors- that they had prophets in their land... their ancestors knew of Christ... and that He did truly visit them after He was resurrected!!! I can't keep it to myself that our Loving Heavenly Father reveals all things to a living prophet TODAY... and that this joy and happiness can be given to EVERYONE.

I love love love being a missionary. I LOVE the peace and comfort of knowing that the Lord truly has guided me to be here right now and continually sustains me and can, has, and will, make all things possible.

Love you all!!!

-Hermana Clark

Monday, September 13, 2010

Thankyou for your Prayers

"In the strength of the Lord, I can do all things" -Alma 20:4
Dear Family and Friends,
Let me first off thank you all for you prayers- I cannot deny the support and power I have felt throughout this week as a result of your faith on my behalf. Thank you Thank you. I am so overwhelmed with joy and gratitude right now... I am not sure how to explain the source and the events that have caused this fountain of emotion.
Since my first district left two weeks ago for the Peru MTC... I have been in a different district in my zone- that are 5 weeks ahead of me in training. I was only supposed to be in it for less than a week- when my plans were to go to Guatamala for the rest of my training. Yet... as previously discussed... tonsilitis changed that... but I remained in this district. Can I testify again of the truth of Doctrine and Covenants 46:30, "He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; wherefore it is done even as he asketh". I still feel that I have been prompted to specifically pray for those things- and I being blessed with exactly what I asked for. I cannot deny that it is not the way I asked it to happen... nor can I deny that these things are the answer to my prayer. I guess I should explain a little more.
I prayed to progress in Spanish- to be challenged- and to have the gift of tongues- to learn to truly rely on the Lord and allow His power to be manifested through me. Tall order, ya? Well... I went from a learning enviroment where some spanish was spoken... and everyone else in my class was in the beginings of learning- some even more behind to that...... and then I changed to a district where EVERYTHING is in spanish... they have "english fasts" - in which they don't speak a word of english all day. I am the only Sister in my whole zone (about 55 elders) and the least able to speak in Spanish in my new district. It has definately shut me up! :) It's been very overwhelming and humbling... certainly a challenge.... but I have learned more in the last 1.5 weeks than I have in the 3 weeks before. There have been moments in class... when I suddenly understand everything the teacher is saying... and I can start to express myself in spanish... even in practice teaching... when I can say things that I have not really studied before... or have certainly never said before- I cannot deny the clear glimpses of the gift of tongues already. It is so humbling and awe inspiring. The Book of Mormon in Spanish is starting to make sense.... I know that the Lord has truly blessed me in great progress.
Yet... I am not humble... and I am even less patient. Despite the miracles that I have experienced... I somehow have moments of frustration, impatience, and lack of gratitude when I remember how little I actually know and how far I still have to go. I fall back into relying on myself and my own abilities... rather than relying and trusting the Spirit to teach me... and especially my future investigators that I will teach. I was having such a period of torment the other night... and as I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth.... pitying myself.... my Sister missionary friend from El Salvador came around the corner and all in spanish said, "I found you!" She proceeded to only speak to me in Spanish... and I understood it. Before I could even tell her what silly things were bothering me... she said, "I want to tell you my story."- she told me about her conversion story- how the Sister missionaries found her- but especially about her favorite missionary from Georgia, USA. She said that she did not speak perfect spanish... hardly any... but when she spoke- the Spirit was SO strong. She said that she expressed her love SO clearly in all that she did and even in her face... that Sister Arriya felt the Lord's love. She told me that I needed to stop worrying about the language... and just keep loving. (Remember- I told her nothing of my "worries") - I know that Sister Arriya was prompted by the Spirit to come find me- and tell me what the Lord wanted me to know. It was SUCH a tender mercy- one out of HUNDREDS that I have experienced here in such a short amount of time. I cannot deny the Lord's mercy and grace on me. It is overwhelming.
So... I have been with Elders ALL day EVERY day... and it's been very humbling and interesting. :) I love them. Yet... they leave today for their mission fields... so I had to find another district. I needed to find a district according to how long I'd be here- but I didn't know how long I'd be here! Today in the temple ( I LOVE LOVE LOVE the temple... It will be difficult to not have the opportunity to go every week when I'm in the field) I had this beautiful peace wash over me as I asked if I should leave here soon. I left the temple this morning with full confidence and trust in whatever was to come. I met with the doctor again today- and we decided that if my throat hasn't exploded by next week... that I'd be good to get on a plane and go to Guatamala!! I thought this was the answer to my prayers... that this was the magical solution. Then...
I just got called to the district presidency's office- they called the Area presidency of Central America and my Mission President and had a "phone conference" about me... and they decided to skip the Guatamala MTC and just send me ASAP because they don't have a mission nurse right now- so they want me NOW. SO... I will be entering in the field September 28th- two weeks earlier than planned. This means that I will have an inconsistent and TWO WEEK SHORTENED language training. The District President asked, "How is your spanish?" - and I tried not to burst into tears. I said... "oh... well.... umm...." and then he asked, " How is your faith?" - and then the emotions flooded in. I knew that THIS was the reason I was delayed... THIS was to be the real test of faith. I am not confident in Spanish. I am not confident of my health, I'm not even that sure of my nursing skills.... but my true confidence does not root in myself.
I am confident in the Lord. I have been praying for faith.... and now I get to exercise the faith that I have to let it grow. I will walk off that plane with fractured Spanish... and abnormally short language training....... but with confidence in The LORD. I am so grateful for a merciful Heavenly Father that truly does hear and answer my prayers for my benefit. I am SO grateful for the opportunity to be on His errand- and I know that as Christ said in
Moroni 7:33, " if ye will have faith in me ye shall have pwoer to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me"
I know that I am called to His work. My abilities are minimal, but His power is great.
I love you all.
Hermana Clark

Monday, September 6, 2010

Blessings in the MTC

Dear Family and Friends!!

What a week WHAT A WEEK! oi! Where to start?

I'm not sure how to tell my tales without getting a bit personal... but I have been feeling compelled to share some sacred and personal experiences from this week... as my sincere and bold witness that the power of prayer is real. I know with a surety, that God hears and answers our prayers exactly how we need- and not how we "think" we want it.

First of all... since I got here... I was missing work a bit. Loving it here... but missing being useful and serving others. Also... I did not feel like we were sufficiently practing spanish in our district (or, class)... and I wanted opportunities to be challenged in Spanish to practice and grow. So... I prayed to be able to identify opportunties to serve, and to be able to practice spanish. A few days after I started this search... my companions and I walked into our room to find a Guatamalan sister in one of the beds recovering from knee surgery in our room!!! It could not have been a more perfect answer. SUCH a tender mercy. Hermana Paz needed supervision and to have her medication administration controled... and I needed to practice spanish. She has been so patient with me... and I hardly did anything for her compared to the example and help that she has been to me the last few weeks. The Lord CLEARLY heard and answered me.
My time here in the MTC thus far seemed too easy. I had awesome companions, I felt the Spirit all the time, the schedule was constant... but not overwhelming compared to what I had done at work right before coming..... and I was getting skeptical of myself. I fear that I would not be sufficiently humble, exercise faith, and become the dilligent and inspired missionary I wanted and needed to be. I wanted to learn how to "pray by the Spirit"- I kept reading throughout the scriptures about "it being given what ye shall pray for" and "he that asketh in the Spirit"- and I didn't feel like I was doing that. My prayers were sincere... but guided by the Spirit? So... I started searching this out... and truly trying to pray by the Spirit. I started to see a change- I was filled with more gratitude, and I asked for very different things in a very different way- and I felt the Holy Ghost fill and guide my prayers.
This led me to pray for trials... with the intent to obtain humility, faith, and patience- all traits I know are essential to fulfilling this great work ahead of me- but that I feel that I still lack. I know that it is better to "choose to be humble" rather than being "compelled to be humble"- but... you all know me.... and so as I struggled to "choose" this... I knew I needed to be compelled. I know that the Lord heard my plea.
Monday morning I woke up with the all too familiar swelling and discomfort in my tonsil... and I knew that my tonselitis was back. When I went to the Doctor and explained that this was the third time I was having this infection in the last 5 weeks... but that I was scheduled to leave to Guatamala this tuesday 9/7- a decision needed to be made. Two doctors and I discussed the situation- and the possibilty of it just clearing up with a new and different antibiotic... or it returning repeatedly and a need for tonsilectomy in the future. If I needed this procedure once I got to El Salvador... I would need to insist on returning to the states for surgery- and there is a possibility I would not return to El Salvador. The Doctors said they were fine with me going or staying... that I should get a priesthood blessing, talk to my Branch President, and most importantly- pray about it. This was an unmistakable answer to my prayers.
I recieved a Priesthood blessing from my branch councilor- and I testify that the power of the Priesthood is Real. I was promised that my body would attack this organism with the help of modern technology. I was chastised for breaking the Word of Wisdom- do not run faster than ye have strength- and when we do not keep the commandments- we have no such promise. Yikes!! I had never thought that working 60 hours+ a week was breaking the Word of Wisdom!!! I was also promised in my blessing that I would received a clear and sure answer and be able to make my decision in confidence and peace.
This week has been hard... but so beautiful. One of the best of my life. I wanted to act in faith. I wanted the faith that I could go to Guatamala and be healed- but also the faith that I could stay here in Provo and rely on the Spirit to teach me Spanish- that all things would be possible through the Lord. Most of all... I learned to truly and sincerely want to know and do the Lord's will above mine. Of course I wanted to go to Guatamala- I'm already tired of the food here and it's getting SO cold and I packed for HOT HOT weather... BUT- it mattered less and less what I wanted as I dilligently searched, fasted, and prayed to know and do exactly what the Lord needed me to do. I wanted to be where I was supposed to be no matter the risk or sacrifice.
Even when I didn't have an answer and was so confused and constantly flipping between the options... I was filled with peace all week. It's my nature to freak out and stress about things like this and try to control everything... but I had peace. I knew that this "trial" was a blessing from my merciful and loving Heavenly Father- all for my benefit- and I can honestly say that I am SO grateful for tonsilitis, frustration, and confusion. :)
I learned to "ask in the Spirit"... and as Romans 8:26 says, "Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered".
I am learning to trust and act in faith. I don't need to know exactly HOW I will be healed or HOW I will learn spanish... only that it is possible through the Lord's grace. Romans 8:28 " all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are aclled according to his purpose."
I am grateful for "trials"- which hardly seem such compard to the resulting blessings. Romans 8:18 "For I reckon the sufferings of this present time are not worhty to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."

As I ended my fast yesterday... I was flooded over with peace, joy, and excitement and it was confirmed to me... that I needed to stay here. I don't know all the reasons why... I still suspect that these antibiotics will clear up the infection... but I know that the Lord has reasons beyond my comprehension or sight right now... and that I don't need to know all the reasons WHY I need to stay- only that it is His will. I am grateful for the answers to my cries in all their forms. I know that I can learn Spanish because I'm on the Lord's errand- no matter WHERE I am.


I don't think my Dearelder is working.... at all. SOOoo... if anyone's been trying... try again by putting a "Y" in front of my name. I don't know if that works... but it's not working at all right now- so sorry if I'm not responding.

I love you all. The fullness of the Gospel has been restored... the Atonement is real...... so what else matters?!!?
- Hermana Clark