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