Sunday, December 18, 2011

Love You All!







Hello!!
I'm not sure where to start or what to say. I just... feel SO MUCH love for my family right now... I hope to someday find some way to adequately express it all. (without the "verbal vomit" as Andrew accurately calls my letters. :) haha I feel the Christmas Spirit. I don't think it's much different than the same incredible Spirit and joy I've been feeling the last 16 months... but it's still just as sweet... and it's how I want to feel every Christmas... and always. Despite the perfectly "mild" weather (I won't go into how cold 70 degrees feels to me now.. it's been shocking to this already acclimated body)... it really does feel like Christmas in my lovely little world.

This calling, especially this assignment really keeps us guessing. You know me... I can never follow the normal routine and keep it regular. The Lord has continued to spoil us. For the last 6 months we've been hearing about this "SOY" program "Strength of Youth" that they're having for the first time in Belize. It's like a mini EFY. This is HUGE for the members here- because they never have anything like it here. They've been planning and preparing it for the last year... and things just started going wrong... so now they're suddenly sending Sister Rodas and I there for a week to do the music and maybe some medical stuff? We're not really sure what's going on.. but we're SUPER excited. The youth need SO much support here... and I am feel so blessed to be given the opportunity to be with them and be a part of such a great work with them. SO... I'm not sure when/if I'll write next week. We'll be in Belmopan all week... I might freeze. yikes.

I LOVED Joel's letter- about the silly little sheep running away when all you want to do it give it food and love. haha... oh how true it is. Oh how I love these little sheep. They are not my herd, nor am I their shepherd... but I hear the Shepherd's voice calling for them so loud and strong... and it's really difficult sometimes to see how deaf and cold they are to His voice. I don't think I've ever understood charity like what I've learned here. I often wonder if this stubborn and cold heart of mine could have ever been impacted and molded to be filled with so much love.... in any other way than the daily fight and grind here. Though, it does no good to wonder... because I am here... and am I slowly learning. I am so grateful for the love that I have received throughout my life... and I am realizing how ungrateful I have been. I marvel at the wonderful life God has given me... as I see so much pure hate, greed, selfishness, lust, pride, and abuse all around me. Something especially painful and torturous in my experience here is the incredible child abuse that we are constantly seeing. I won't go in to it much... I don't think I'd ever like to really share what I've seen... but I have been enriched with a greater desire to have a family, and to truly love, nuture, and raise my children how the Lord would have me do it. It's so hard as missionaries not being about to really just grab these sweet children and just... cuddle, kiss, and heal these beautiful angels that are suffering so needlessly and intensely. I cannot work in Pediatrics. I couldn't stand feeling this way every day. I'm just not strong enough for that yet.

In the last 2 weeks we've seen 2 families be baptized, and other families are coming to church... and the work is really starting to progress- because of families. I've been doing a lot of reflecting on families and the gospel, and all that I've been learning... and I found an incredible scripture yesterday... that answered so many inquiries or worries that I had. Deuteronomy 4:9 " Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest though forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons". That is exactly what I intend to do.

Despite the disapointments, frustrations, battle, creepers, pain, and exhaustion.... I am in love with it all. I love this work, my life, my family, the gospel.
Have an awesome week. Remember the only important part of Christmas: Christ.
Sista Clak

"It's the Most Woderfull Time of the Year"









What? December? AHHH!! Wha' happened? I keep wishing that this month... just this one time... only this December... would have 60 days. I just... want more time... but it's like trying to hold water it my hands... and it's painful watching slip through my fingers. Way to fast. Yet... I'm still trying to savor every drop... because it is ever so delicious to me. My mission just... because sweeter and more sacred every day.
Being in the same area for so long is not easy... but it is SO good. Especially with this assignment. I am continually so amazed every time I look at the map or open the area book... and see just how many people God has led us to... and to run through all of the stories... and with just about every one of them... there is a tender mercy, precious moment... powerful lesson... astounding change... and in every single one... a building block of my testimony of the Atonement. Sometimes I go a little obsessed and crazy constantly thinking about the HUNDREDS of people we know, love, and are trying to help progress.... it's a never ending concentration of what their needs are... and it's so neat to see how revelation strikes in the most expected and especially unexpected moments. I love feeling the Lord's love for them... and His constant confirmations to me that He knows them and what they need... and that if we keep working and are willing... He will reveal it to us. He's even leading us to find new people to teach.. so we're always teaming up with the Elders and the members... and it's been an awesome experience to see how the Lord uses the right people at the right time.
We saw miracles with Ericka, Sister Smith, T White, Silvia, and Sis. Turner's family.... someday I'll tell you all about it. We had an awesome wedding and baptism of a family.
We're running, (er, pedaling) with everything we've got in this last stretch of Sister Rodas' mission. I love her. Have I mentioned that? I love Christmas even more this year. I think I'm starting to get it. I love love love it. I love you all and you are in my prayers continuously. We are so ridiculously blessed.
Sister Clark

Saturday, December 3, 2011

This has been a Good Thanksgiving!

Another marvellous week full of twists, hurdles, surprises, and miracles!!!
This assignment has definitely been a test of endurance, patience, and charity. There are many people that we have been working with that have not progressed despite bold teaching, loving, and support. Yet, these are not just anyone... these are members of the church and have a lot more on the line... and despite the lack of visible results... we just couldn't leave them. Then... sunday... many of them came!! When my darling Dorothy walked in the chapel... I thought I was seeing a vision... more like a mirage... my imagination playing tricks out of overwhelming thirst and desperation for them to come.... but nope. It was VERY real. A number of our families came... there are people that have continued to return and are so happy and becoming very involved in the work and relishing the changes and blessings they're experiencing. It was a sweet sweet sunday. Perhaps the best part... was when Emma and Calbert came.
We found Emma when we went to eat lunch in the market when we first came here- 6 months ago. She is an incredible cook- I think I may have sent pictures of her gourmet presentations. We felt something so special with her, and fell in love immediately. We kept eating with here, and she started to read the Book of Mormon. I few months later, we met her husband, Calbert... and it got even better. They are a dream family. They are complete- the love each other, their kids, and the Lord. Calbert is the top chef in Belize 2 years in a row... and they are all just wonderful people. Emma's brother had come back from Costa Rica very sick and we had visited him in the hospital. The Elders gave him a beautiful blessing that promised him more time on earth to learn about the Plan of Salvation.. but shortly after he went in to a coma, the doctors told the family his brain had shrunk and that he'd never wake up and that he would die that day... but "miraculously"... he came out of it and is doing great- and all are confused and befuddled.. but us.Yet, despite 6 months of visiting and encouraging them... they hadn't yet come to church. (They live in a village out side of Belize City) Sunday, as I was sitting in Sacrament meeting, Elder Rabanales whispered in my ear, "Tenemos una supresa para usted..." and then ran off. I sat confused, wondering if I had really heard that... but when I looked back again... in walked Emma, Calbert, and their 3 beautiful children. I became very emotional... and knew without doubt that the Lord had heard and answered my prayers. They plan on coming this week again. For 6 months I had been hoping and praying for them... and it's all been totally worth it.
Speaking of families... we are working with some true jems right now. As I've said before, Belize is a seemingly impossible place for families..but the Lord has truly guided us. We continue to work with Irma and Paul... and had an AWESOME FHE with them last night. Paul was "randomly" inspired last April to marry Irma, the mother of his 4 kids. He listened to us so well last night, and the Spirit was so strong... we are very excited to watch Irma continue to return to activity and for Paul to be baptized.
We came across a family of all investigators... but they are so precious and we love them so much... we just... felt that we should continue to teach them instead of passing them to the Elders. Shenique is a superwoman and we were so impressed by her the first time we met her in the home of an inactive sister. She said her husband is very anti-church for a difficult childhood from a supposed "christian mother and diligent church-goer". So... having 2 female missionaries at their house did not impress him, and he did not want to listen to us. We prayed and sought for inspiration to be able to get to him... but when we went to do FHE last night... he wouldn't come in the house still. I kept praying and pleading that the Lord would soften his heart and allow him a chance to feel the Spirit... when all of a sudden- the electricty went completely out. :) He eventually came in, and we started talking with him... and we and his wife were stunned when he really opened up, and we realized how much he truly loves his family, and we were able to testify of the blessings of the Gospel for the families. The Spirit was so beautiful in that pitch black house... and when we got to teach him and his son how to pray... and hearing his son (that has been through a lot) pray.. I thought I would burst. He said that he will allow us to meet with them again. The Lord is SO merciful- not to mention... creative. :)
The temple in Xela, Guatamala is having it's open house and Sister Roda's family has been helping with the tours and celebrations. It's been so neat to hear all the miracles and sweet experiences they are having there. I love love love the temple. I LOVE preparing people for the temple. Brother Jex, Myvett, and Nelson came back from their temple trip... SO full of joy and the Spirit. I was so grateful for the Lord's guidance despite our oblivion to find those brothers and the inspiration given to realize their need to go to the temple. Brother Jex, who usually has a beautiful talk or testimony prepared and given... was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude and left speechless. Brother Myvett, who is 84 talked about how difficult the 15 hour bus ride to Guatamala was, and how cold and shocking Guatamala was for his body... but in the end, it was all worth it and that he would be saving and scrimping EVERYTHING to be able to return next year. Big strong and masculine Brother Nolberto... wept when trying to describe the love and joy he felt there... and how precious the temple is to him. We have seen so many changes in the Valario family that we've been preparing for the temple. They have had so many obstacles with passports to be able to go to Guatamala... but these trials have caused their testimonies to blossom... and they are ever more determined to make their family eternal. Visiting their family is one my mission tops. I love them SO much.
We are happy happy happy here!! Love you all! I am so grateful this thanksgiving!!
Sister Clark

BLessings!

I know I've always been called the "spoiled princess" by the family... and definitely the Lord has continued to spoil me more and more. I feel like Sister Rodas and I may be breaking a mission record... because we will be having our FIFTH transfer together- a total of what, 7 months? HOW BLESSED AM I!?! She is the companion of my dreams- we have learned and experienced SO much together... we're completely different but totally unified... and we continue to learn together. We both have the same vision and passion for this work, city, the branches, the members, and the changes we want to see. The more time we are given here, the more we are inspired and feel responsible to make a permanent difference, and leave these sweet little branches far better than how we found them.
With this unique assignment, we were given very little instruction, goals, or outlines from our leaders to work with... and it has been a beautiful experience to fast and pray for the needed inspiration to know what the Lord would have us do here. When we came, there were nearly 700 recorded members just in the english branch, but the attendance was averaging in the 80's. Technology and organization hadn't been a big focus, and so we've been inspired to edit the records and update.. and most of all.... seek out the lost sheep. There used to be 4+ branches here, and when they combined it all... many people were lost. Right now we are working on making a map correlated with the correct information of all the members we know and are continuously seeking more. It's incredible how the Lord has guided us. I wonder if it's something like what happens with genealogy workers... when they see a name... and feel a Spirit and a soul connected with that name.. and are inspired and urged to... find them. It's complete detective work as so many people have moved and changed... but again... the Spirit has guided and inspired us to ask certain questions, certain people, go to different streets... and now hundreds of mysteries have been solved. The Lord has protected us in neighbourliness more than we may ever realize... and my understanding of the Lord's love for His children continues to open. The scripture "Remember, the worth of souls is great in the sight of God".... has always been a beautiful one to me... but during this last few months... it has sunk even deeper in my heart... and taken on a very tender and sacred meaning to me. So many people have become emotional when they find us on the their doorstep and ask, "How did you find me?" ... and I love testifying to them.. that the Lord knows them individually and personally, loves them ever so deeply, and wants them back.
We brought our map to church on sunday... and when members saw so many people marked in their neighborhood they got excited and wanted to know, "what? Who lives by me? We have to go find them and bring them back!!!"- the Spirit is catching. In this conference, the work of reactivation was addressed many times... because it is SO important- and is the work of ALL members of the church. I have a sure testimony of this work. I believe in and LOVE visiting and home teaching. I'm starting to really understand what Christ meant when he said, "Feed my Sheep". If we truly love him, we will continuously and forever seek out His children... and care for and nurture them, and bring them to Him.
We found a dear sister two weeks ago, "Shanique". She was baptized when she was little and grew up in the church while living with her faithful grandparents. When they moved the states, she fell away from the church... and had only occasionally come to church to bless her 4 babies. When we came, she said, "wow... I was JUST thinking this morning that I should go back to church". The Lord totally knows, huh? She explained to us the incredible trials that she was facing... how only she was working and was making $200 American dollars a month- and with a family of 6... it was a very difficult situation. As we shared with her the promises of the Lord for obedience... she decided to put it to the test. We had a beautiful family home evening with them last night, and with tears in her eyes, "after 2 weeks of going to church... everything has totally changed. I'm happy again... and my husband just got a job!! The Lord truly does keep His promises." We have felt the Spirit so strong and are excited to watch her keep growing and learning... and most of all.. teaching her kids.
Today we are sending off our members to the temple to receive their endowments. :) This work is so fulfilling... and I never want to, and never will stop. I love you so much family. Keep up the good work and the service you are doing there. I got my package yesterday. Thank yooooou! We love it! I'm loving the book "Daughters in my Kingdom" and have already used many sections of to teach some of the members.
Sister Clark

Transfers, Transfers!







Thank you family for all your beautiful letters. It sounded like an incredible week, and I'm so glad everything turned out so well!!
I can't believe we're finishing ANOTHER transfer. Sister Rodas and I have had such a time together... and we are daring to ask for more time together! It's her last transfer... and we just... wanna be together... here. I don't want to be anywhere else but Belize City. It's definately the hardest, hectic, challenging, and testing area I've ever been in... and I love it so much. I'm trying to give it, the members, the branches, the families... everything I can. After 5+months here... there are so many things that I would want to be different... and so I'm constantly trying to evaluate our efforts, personal obedience, righteousness, charity, and Spirit.... figure out what needs to change or be better... then keep running.. but faster. We have had so many tender mercies, despite the frustrations and dissapointments... that there is no way to deny the Lord's hand in all of it. We often sit and talk at night... reflecting on the incredible changes we've seen... and just say, "Wow... President Lopez was truly inspired by God to send us here." What I have learned about the Atonement here... is the most precious treasure and reward... that I will never let go of. We've seen so many examples of those that are not using the Atonement, those that are starting to understand and apply it, and those that have captured the reality of it's power... and have their wounds bound up, have been cleansed, and healed- just as He has promised.

We've been working with a recent convert from the spanish branch, Marisol, who is continuing to learn, apply, and live the gospel. She said that as she was preparing a primary lesson about the Atonement... the Spirit hit her, and she realized that she hadn't truly given her hurt from past family abuse over to the Lord... because she hadn't been willing to forgive, and despite many years past... she hadn't yet truly forgiven. She prayed, then called her family in Honduras... and she told us of her personal miracle. She said that as she was talking... she felt all the hurt go away... then she overwhelmed with true love for them... and was able to, for the first time, say with complete sincerity, "I love you". Then she bore to us... a beautiful testimony of the power of Atonement.
We visited a sister that is going through a divorcement with her husband. We have been truly worried about her... but when we visited her... she taught us. She said that she used this opportunity to evaluate her personal obedience to the Lord, and then decided to continue on trusting in Him... and doing what He has asked. She said that as she has focused more on the Saviour, on serving, on spiritually strengthening her children... she reported- a miracle. She said that after a powerful personal moment... that the hurt of much abuse, abandonment, and disappointment... was lifted, and totally gone. She testified to us so beautifully of the the Savior "succoring" her right now in her need.
We've been working with "Tim" and talking a lot about the Atonement with him. He reports a peace and new found hope seeping into his soul and his life. He says that his perspective is changing... and he is feeling the "scales fall" from his eyes. He is experiencing a "might change of heart".
We've been working with a sister that has been wronged, and has chosen to be severely offended. We have taught much about the Atonement.... and that through living the gospel, keeping the commandments, and putting our trust in Christ... he will heal our hearts and carry our burden. Yet... she openly refuses to do so. She is suffering greatly... and her sliver of offense has become greatly infected, and is spreading to all other parts of herself, life, and family. She has hardened her heart... and even admits that she cannot feel the Spirit in her life anymore... but that she can work it out on her own... that she needs "time"- not the gospel.

This sunday was very exciting for us and the members as multiple families and individuals returned to church for the first time. There is something SO incredibly rewarding in seeing the mother, and father, and their 5 or 6 kids linger into the room and be bombarded with the joy of the members. I love sitting behind the piano and see them so content... and to watch the Spirit working within them.
We have be giving temple prep classes to a DARLING frail old man of 74 years, who was baptized 10 years ago, and is going this week to receive his endowments in the Guatamala City temple. He is always early to church, and VERY strong and faithful... so though we had always talked to him at church... we had never sought out to visit him. We were lost on the street... and inconspicuous house completely grabbed my attention. As we stood at this house... looking through the member list to see if it was significant or if I was crazy... we heard a familiar dear voice yell, "Sistas!!!"- and out came little Jex Roberts! As we got talking, Sister Rodas and I had the same impression to talk to him about the temple. Turns out... he had not received his endowments. Since then we've been preparing him... and this sunday he gave the sweetest and most bold testimony about the temple.... that left me very weepy. He expressed his gratitude and excitement to be able to travel to the temple and be in the house of the Lord... that it truly means everything to him. I love this man... and as Sister Rodas said, "If I came here and did all this,.... just for Jex Roberts... it was beyond worthwhile." I will send pictures of him soon.

Welp, keep up all the good work and diligence over there! Love you all!
Sister Clark

Friday, November 11, 2011

(:

Hello Family!

Myldsmail.net just started working, so this is gonna be short. Lucky week, huh fam? :)

We had a beautiful district conference- all the members from Corazol, Orange Walk, and the Island of San Pedro came in, and it was so wonderful! It's so neat to have everyone together, and to see that we're truly not alone! One of the newest converts of Belize City branch gave an incredibly powerful testimony and shared his conversion. Benny is SO on fire and is one of the meekest and kindest people I may ever meet. He spoke so powerfully of the blessing that tithing has had on his business, his life, and his faith. I want everyone to have a Benny experience.

About 2 weeks ago, we heard, as we so often do, "Elders!"- but then that familiar zing of the Spirit hit me again... and I halted to a stop and looked around to see who it was from. We then met our new friend, "Tom". He is a man in his 50's who spent 30 years or so in the states in the military engineering weapons- especially bombs. He had been to Iraq several times... and has had a life full of trauma, sin, and heartache. He is now in Belize for the same reason that so many are- to "get away", or to... hide from themselves. He is very wealthy, and still receives money, lives in his mom's old house... but still works 2 full time jobs... just to distract himself from... himself. He started talking to us just to say hi to a fellow American .. but as I started asking questions... his story came out. All I could think as I listened to his experiences and saw the pain in his eyes... is, "Only the Atonement could help this man". He is VERY VERY intellectual, and has read nearly anything under the sun... except the Book of Mormon. We gave him a copy and invited him to read. We pulled up to his work a few days ago, as when he turned around... I barely recognized him.. and doubted that we were approaching the right man. He glowed. He smiled- not just with his teeth this time.. but with his eyes and his soul. He immediately and enthusiastically declared, "Hey! I am reading that book- and it's CHANGING EVERYTHING!" He said that even his students in the high school as him, "Hey... what happened to you?"- as he is filled with more patience, love, and concern for them. He says that he's starting to see himself differently, and he is the happiest he's been in 30 years. He reported that "before, the first thing I did what I came home late at night.. was eat.- now... I race home.. and open the book first". He says he reads until he falls happily asleep- and that's the miracle. For the first time in years since he went to war- he sleeps. This was certainly not the same man we ran into 2 weeks ago. This is a man that is starting to understand the Atonement. I love love love the Book of Mormon. We got to teach him the Plan of Salvation yesterday... and he was SO thrilled, "I can't even count how many pastors I've talked to and asked these things to... and NO ONE has given me a real answer like this!" I am so grateful to have the whole truth. I love seeing it sink into the hearts of those we teach. I love seeing those blinding scales slide off from their eyes.. one by one.

The mission is just a beautifully trying "blast". One of my missionaries decided not to talk to me about a mysterious lump on his head... and decided to cauterize/brand himself with something random and HOT- resulting in a very awkward and obvious bald mark and battle wound. They're just preparing me for motherhood, huh?
oooook! Love you all! Have a BEAUTIFUL week! Enjoy all the celebrations! I will be trying not to think too much about Haley getting married... but I will be praying for her to feel better and have the BEST DAY OF HER LIFE.
- Sista Clak

Mission

I forgot I had even mentioned the hurricane... but thank you so much for all your prayers... it was headed right here... but took a sudden turn and went up to Mexico. All is well here, sorry to get you nervous!
I know I just keep saying over and over again... every week... how the mission is the greatest... how much I love it, how I'm learning and experiencing so much... but I think even an explosive, gushy and drawn out letter every week for 14 months doesn't even come close to truly expressing how precious this time has been for me. It is seriously... the greatest thing I could have done in my life thus far... and my only complaint is that it is flying by too fast.
I LOVED Joel's letter. He is in for a really hard and incredibly special experience. His description is just like Belize. Belize City a lot more founded and has more members.. but the other parts of Belize.. are just about like Joel's little area. It's hard for missionaries... but the work of reactivating and establishing the gospel in little remote areas... is so rewarding for the missionary. It becomes so much more than numbers and throwing people in the water... but to truly establishing Zion... eternal families... and an appreciation for the perfection and inspiration in the organization the church... explodes. One comes to really realize the power of the priesthood... when it's so sparse. Seeing so people that have given up their promised blessings by breaking their covenants... and seeing the devastating and painful results of inactivity and rebellion... does wonders for one's one personal appreciation and loyalty to their own personal covenants.... and opens the vision to see the reality of the Lord's promises in their life.
I can't seem to really find the words right now to even begin to express all that I experienced and felt this week. I just... hope, and am determined... to never be the same again. Not after what I've seen, learned, felt, and experienced here. With so much false doctrine and confusion here... we've met many people that are firm believers that Belize literally what the bible is referring to as "hell". - That's it's in this country where we're living. Yet... not only is that doctrinally false... but even more.. I've had a "waters of mormon" experience like in Mosiah 18, when it speaks of where they had learned the gospel, "How beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer." Belize could not be more glorious in my eyes.
- Sista Clak

Friday, October 28, 2011

(:

Family,
Thanks so much for all the wonderful letters! Where's Elder Clark's letter? Is he ok? Did he get to his new area? I thought of him this morning, as I often do... but with much more sympathy.. as I woke up SO COLD. I think it's gotten into the 70's... and I'm here with my comp's long sleeved shirt and a sweater. uhoh... wha' happened to me? It's supposedly winter here... and we're waiting for a hurricane class 2 or 3 tonight or tomorrow. Sister Rodas and I get to experience a lot of "firsts" together... she says I'm really teaching her how "to live life"... haha... I love her SO much- did I mentioned we got spoiled again and are on our 4th transfer together? How often does that happen? She is SO special... and I hate thinking of the moment they have to surgically separate our hips. Again... the Lord sent me exactly who I need.
I've been reflecting lately on how I have never been SO exposed, harrassed, and surounded by satan before.... it's an incredibly sobering and real experience... and truly... we are at war. Yet, the part that astounds me... is that I have never been so happy, at peace, and felt so safe in my life. I've never been so engulfed in such wickedness and darkness before.... and yet I've never had the companionship of the Holy Ghost so clearly, strongly, and beautifully before. I have so much respect for the members here... because we are truly so so so many few in number in such strong influences of evil... and yet, we are not weak, and we are not alone. I used to have a gnawing fear of the future, a trepidation of marrying and raising a family in an increasingly dangerous world... but the experiences I've been having here have been such a catalyst for my faith... and the fear is demolished, and I am being remodeled and upgraded with such excitement, zeal, and courage for the future... and especially for my future family. As President Monson said, "the future is as bright as your faith".... and I'm starting to really understand that the Lord's repeated promises are the eternally sure.
Something that has definitely changed and morphed, and we just realized this week... is that the Law of Chastity... has become one of our favorite lessons to give. Yo no tengo pena. In this culture... so exposed to every possible way and mode of breaking this commandment... I started realizing that if satan is going to be SO direct, clear, and obvious in his tactics... we were going to need to be equally direct, clear, and obvious in our fight against him. SO... we have come to truly relish and enjoy putting everything out in open... and repeating the bold and prophetic warning and commandments of the prophets of old and of this day concerning media, modesty, pornography... everything. Helping them break DVDs, burn pictures... could not be more fulfilling. It is so tragic to truly see that these are totally new principles and ideas for SO many people here... and I am so grateful to have a living prophet to help us see beyond the mist of darkness.. and to keep ahold of the iron rod. We feel the Spirit so strong as we teach youth, adults, and families alike about these precious truths... and we are seeing the light filling their lives as they start to live this commandment with exactness.
I could not dream of a better calling than to spend all of my time working with innactives, new converts, and those preparing for the temple. We have three precious families preparing for this november and january and many individuals. I couldn't every stop counting my blessings... I lost the count a lot time ago... and the Lord keeps them coming all too fast. Yet... I'm not ever going to complain. :)
Sister Clark

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Short and Sweet

Hello Family!

Nothing super different or HUGE happened this week... but it has seriously be wonderful struggle and beautiful bliss. Not much time to write today... you'll all be glad to hear. :)
"Sister Smith"- the angry woman that didn't want to even let us in her yard 2 or 3 months ago.. but after some miraculous inspiration we were blessed to teach her, hear her offenses, gripes, pain, and ANGER..... and we left on good terms... but with her assuring us that she would "call us". Welp, we've been waiting, and praying... and I had been feeling for the last few weeks that... she is one of the reasons that I'm here... and as scary as she kind of is... we had to jump into the lions den again. So... we kept passing by her house... but with such little success. Then... I felt prompted to just leave at her door the talk "and Nothing Shall Offend Them" by Elder Bednar... with surety that it was a spiritual prompting.. but knowing all too well that it was very probable that more and severe offense would be taken (like has been in the past with that talk.. yikes, stories to tell..)... but we cannot disobey the Spirit. So... I dropped it with a note... and ran. We prayed and prayed.... and a week later... she called! She asked us to come that afternoon. So.. with excitement, gratitude, and a little trepidation... we went. The moment we walked in... she picked up the talk and with her voice raising to the climax... I wimpered, "uhh.....let's sing first!"... then after singing... she a little more calmly started right in " I was reading this talk...and I don't know what you're playing here..." with her voice raising, and I squeeked, "leeeeeeet's pray first!" after I prayed so earnestly for the Spirit... she totally changed. My trepidation was gone... and was again flooded over with such indescribable love for this self-proclaimed, "big angry black woman". We then had such a beautiful lesson- perhaps one of the best of my whole mission. She really opened up to us, and expressed her sincere desire to return to church... and her incredible yearning to be sealed to her beloved spouse that had died 12 years ago... and she knew that it could only happen by coming back... but she just felt so lost and trapped by the anger and heart that had been festering for so many years. Oh how I love the Atonement. It truly is the ONLY way.

Just has been recently put so beautiful... that though this may be dark and dangerous territory that I am in... it it truly become my sacred place. It is my new Jerusalem. I am starting to see.. that I will forever love and revere my Belize.
Sister Clark

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Oh Home!

Wow! Thanks for the great letters! Just like Joel said... even on the best week... letters are always looked forward to and appreciated. Megan and Mandi... pulling my move... I was just remember the other day the look on Dad's face when he came into the kitchen and I was suddenly in there making french toast... haha... priceless. I can imagine Jared's scream.... hahahahaha. I love my family. Sorry, I won't be pulling any surprise visits any time soon. :)
Fall? Hmm.... I would love fall. Not for me- but for my Elders- the fungus here is out of control with nonstop sweating. I don't know how I've magically missed out on it... but everyone seems to take turns with it. We just sent an Elder back to El Salvador because his skin couldn't take the incredible heat. Yikes. Speaking of nursing... I've been having a battle with doctors here... like... there are none. Those that are here have been trying to play games... and I'm grateful for the Spirit to help me see things clearer- even in this department.
Umm... it was such a great week... and I can't even begin to describe why. So many things went wrong or just crazy... but despite Sister Rodas totally eating it on her bike in the street, falling into a crocodile, garbage, and parasite filled-swamp (running off of pure adrenaline to pull her and the bike out, yikes)...everyone running out of phone minutes in the middle of the night with a medical crisis across the country... we're planning a wedding and baptism for a part member family for the end of the this month or beginning of the next... and I looooooove weddings. For dreading receptions and all wedding preparations in the past... I surprise myself with how thirsty I am for weddings in my mission! :) It's the companion of a an inactive member that is coming back to church with her 6 kids... and we've been working for them for months now... and our prayers and fasts are so clearly being answered. He lost his job, and it totally humbled him, he started reading and praying, came to conference... and miracles are happening within him. Douglas is one of the most humble, sweet, and pure men... and total diamond here. We love this family.
A huge theme we've been running across with our work with the innactives, of course, is offenses. I am so grateful for a mother that didn't cater to my childhood self-absorbed sensitives... and I find myself saying the very words that her voice is still replaying in my mind, "No one can MAKE you feel anything! You are CHOOSING to be hurt." - and it's so true. I'm in loooove with Elder Bednar's talk (well, really anything from Elder Bednar..) "And Nothing Shall Offend Them". It's been ridiculously perfect for so many situations here. Oh how Satan uses these petty situations to complete destroy families and eternities and lead people to deprive themselves from these eternal blessings. In a culture so passionate and headstrong... this is a big big big termite in the building of Zion here.
Satan is SO obvious here... and families are prevented or destroyed left and right. Sometimes it pulls me into a sudden anxiety and panic... and I instictively want to run to my house, gather all my kids and husband onto our bed for an emergency family home evening... and then I remember: oh ya... I don't have a family yet. I've always had inner conflict... but this is a really new and bizarre one for me!
We're waiting to hear about transfers too. Being the nurse... I'll probably stay here in Belize City until the end. It's not for sure... but I'd be more than ok with it. My vision of Belize is expanding as my love and compassion for the people grows every day. There is so much more I want, plan to, can do, and will do here. We are hoping so desperately that Sister Rodas stays with me another change. We are SO different and have learned SO much together. I'm much more calculated in my actions, and she is the boldest and most direct she's ever been in her life! We are finding the need to do every day exactly what Enos did in his exceeding "harshness"... continually remind people of death and the duration of eternity, the judgments of God to remind them to fear God. We should obey out of love of course.... but if they're not willing to love Him... then for their sake, as Enos did with the hardness of his people... speak the solid truth with clarity to help them realize the eternal consequences. I think I've woken up myself more than anyone else... but we are seeing changes and spiritual awakenings within many people and families... and we will continue to teach in "plainness of speech". I am truly experiences that same kind of joy that Enos had too... that "above all the world". I think another year in the field, at least, is necessary for me. We'll see how the Lord feels about that! :)
Sista Clak

More Brief!







What a wet and beautiful week! Haha... I'm still laughing at how perfectly Andrew stated my disease- that I chronically puke out all my thoughts at one time when writing my letters.... hahaha... and I'll try to be more organized, and at least, more brief. :)

Conference was exactly that "spiritual spa weekend" that I had been promising everyone else it would be. It was just what we all needed, huh? The past two weeks I had been greatly tempted with frustration. Despite the leader's declarations and assurances of visible changes... I in my impatient nature... was getting a little down and frustrated with the little progress we seemed to have been seeing in so many of the people that we have been working with for months. I related all too well with Nephi while reading in 2 Nephi with his mourning for his people because they didn't want anything to do with spiritual things, they didn't seek learning or understanding... and even Nephi... couldn't make them wake up. This has allowed me a lot of self reflection and analyzing of my service, purpose, expectations, desires, and dreams as a missionary. I found so much comfort and direction in Conference. I thought... if I can feel THIS good sitting in a nearly empty Belizean chapel watching a TV but feeling so close to the Savior... imagine how it must have been and WILL be to sit at the Savior's feet? mmmm... :)

The beautiful talk from Elder Yamashita brought a huge and beautiful wake up call to me. It was one of the moments when one knows he is talking to the whole world... but you feel like you're in a personal interview with only him talking to.... you. Hearing him talking about his missionaries... and the clear assurance that though they don't understand and get all the doctrine all at once... what truly makes the impact... is the love that they can feel from a missionary. The next few talks were all a blur after that... as my thick head, through my stiff neck, down to my hard heart... were melted, morphed, and caught up into a replay hundreds of memories and moments from my mission... and the undoubtable and overwhelming love I have felt. The famous phrase from Elder Maxwell fit perfectly... "moments are the molecules that make-up eternity". As hard as Belize has been... I couldn't dream of more precious material to construct my eternity. I realized this weekend... how much I deeply I really do love and adore these people that we're working with. It is a love that I had really never experienced to this radical degree before my mission. My frustration has been taken and through the Atonement, replaced with that vital love.
Oops... I promised a shorter letter... so I'll leave it there.

I put in pictures of how wet it is... I haven't had dry shoes all week... but the rain feels so good to sleep, run, and ride in. Another is a picture is of the famous "Sister Clark Surgery" for the all too common ingrown toenails.

Sister Clark

P.S. oh! We're trying so hard to get visiting going here.... could you all send me whatever stories and experiences you've had with visiting teaching? It would help SO MUCH. They need it desperately. ASAP. Thank you!!

Temple Blessings

I was just going to leave it there with the Kriol letter... but we had such a beautiful experience with our district conference this week... I have to share.

President and Sister Mask from the Guatamala temple came and spoke at our district conference. Members from Corazol, Orange Walk, and the island of San Pedro came in and filled the chapel. (Like it should be EVERY WEEK) The spoke about the temple, covenants, and sweet experiences they had had. A great perk I have of playing the piano is that I get to peek out and see everyone's faces. I saw so many people with different situations, trials, needs, and dreams that I knew... and I loved watching their faces change as the Spirit sweet over them and filled them with even just a baby glimpse of the hope and comfort of the temple. I closely watched a man who is not a member, but his faithful and diligent member wife had just passed away a week ago. Watching his before saddened and droopy eyes fill with tears of joy and gleam with hope as he eagerly and attentively hung on every word being spoke of eternal families, and the ordinances of the temple. I watched a sister that is coming back to church and building her testimony all over again after Brother Nicholas die... and seeing the Spirit work within her... I could see the lights coming on and the understanding of covenants and what she needs to do to be with him again... all settle and comfortably sink in and sooth her.
Sister Rodas tells me stories of her parents piling her and her sister as children into the crowded uncomfortable buses (the ridiculous buses that were difficult for me to ride 40 minutes in El Salvador) for 9 hours each way... just to visit the temple regularly in Guatemala. For being so far away from the temple... I am learning so much more about the temple. I am so grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ who has made all of the promised blessings of the temple possible. I am grateful for parents that have been sealed in the temple and are trying to do their part to be with us for all eternity. I have played the piano for 4 funerals lately and like you guys over there... it really makes one ponder... and marvel at the perfect of our Father's plan.

Have a beautiful week!
Sister Clark

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Memories!




Hahahahaha... Megan and Mandi are having too much fun. As usually... they make me giggle and giggle. Remember our giggle attacks we always have over... nothing?

This week we had a sweet beautiful baptism of Shemareum- the 10 year old daughter of a sister that is being reactivated... and the great-grand-daughter of the late and wonderful Brother Nicholas that just recently passed away. It's been so beautiful to be teaching this family- and seeing the promised blessing to Brother Nicholas through the blessing and the covenants that HE made.. radiating throughout the generations of his family. Shemareum has an incredible spirituality beyond her years! She and her sisters were so close to their great-grandfather... and his passing really woke them all up. She has asked us some of the deepest and sincerest questions that I have ever relieved from an investigator before! We mostly focused on her mom... and I've been learning SO SO SO much about the role of parents and the divine honor of parenthood through my assignment here. I've been engrossing myself in studies of words of the prophets about families, and especially about parents. I love love love the talk by Elder Ballard "Mothers and Daughters" and shared that with this family. It was so perfect.

As we've been focusing so hard on parents to strengthen families... I find myself basically repeating the words of Nephi, "I... having been born of goodly parents"- and I'm realizing more and more how ridiculously true it is. Sister Rodas also comes from a gospel-rich home... and despite our personal parenting experiences... we've been enjoying the opportunity to teach, train, and testify to these parents the importance of "courageous parenting". Studying and teaching the words of the living prophets.. and calling parents to action stirs within me the most dormant memories of hundreds of long past but precious moments when my young malleable mind and spirit was lovingly molded and enriched by the example and teaching of my own parents. I tell stories about how my mother boldly modesty, the dilligence and exactness my parents heeded the sabboth day- and the blessing my family has received....I reflect often on the perservance of mom and dad... making sure each one of their kids got up for church or got up to seminary. I use the example of Dad and Joel often... to show how a parent show love by helping their children make and KEEP covenants... and then the miracles and impact it can make. As I teach these gospel principles... I sometimes ask myself.. "how and when did I first learn that?"... and it almost always comes back to... "because I saw my parents LIVE it." I'm grateful for parents that have made and are keeping their oh so sacred covenants. I'm grateful that they weren't and aren't perfect... and never professed to be so... but always taught and testified of the Atonement... which has helped me to personally and frequently repent. I LOVE sharing the story of the 2,000 stripling warriors with these tired and frustrated single mothers... and my own soul declares with the ancient jovenes.. that I do no doubt that my own mother knew it.

We're trying SO hard to WAKE UP these families! President Eyring called us to truly study the words of Isaiah.. and little by little they are totally coming to life to me. I was reading in 3 Nephi 22:1 his prophecy of how more children would be born of "desolate than in marriage"- and it perfectly captures what is happening here. I read in Jarom 1:1,10-11 about how truly wicked the Lamanites were... and how hard the prophets and teachers dilligently worked to diligence and repentance... and I have related all too well to it all. Being in so many broken homes with so much anger, selfishness, abuse, yelling, drugs, witchcraft... makes me pine for and feeds on an ever growing determination to build my own celestial home. I am so thankful for modern revelation... that the heavens are still open... that God still speaks through His living prophet today, Thomas S. Monson... to guide us as families and to be truly protected. As we teach families about temples... it settles within me deeper and deeper the reality of what the ordinances of the temple means... to families. President Cordon told us that when he was an older child in Guatamala... he suddenly realized that his parents had been sleeping on the floor for years. When he asked his mom why... she happily explained that when they were ready to go to the temple... they sold their bed to pay for the trip to Arizona. So.. I ask these families... and then I ask myself...."What are we (I) willing to do or to give in this life to have an eternal family?"

I am enjoying my new friendship with Isaiah. Even he got frustrated and down when he was seeing little immediate changes as a result of his work and teaching. He said in Isaiah 49 " I have labored in vain.. I have spent my strength for naught and in vain... surely my work is with my God. ....
Though Israel (Belize) be not gathered... yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord... and my God shall be my strength."
We are seeing changes and miracles everyday as families start feeling the Spirit again and people start turning to God again... and start reading again. Though not all are yet gathered in... it is not ever in vain. :)

Sorry if my letters are ever so preachy or long winded... I don't know what else to talk about now. :) I love you all and love hearing about all the beautiful things happening over there! I would love to hear from my long lost best-friend... at least to know she's still alive. I'm not sure how many guilt trips it'll take... but I'll keep trying. :)
Sister Clark

What an incredible week we have all had, huh? I had been thinking a lot about Sister Paventy the last few weeks... reflecting on the life she has lived, and the way she served and handled her trials. We work with a lot of people in a lot of trials.. and when we teach on how to turn to the Lord... I have repeated thought on the example of Sister Paventy. As I was mediating this week... the Spirit washed over me, and I turned to Sister Rodas and said, "ya know, I think Sister Paventy has passed away this week." (Even Sister Rodas knows and loves her) - That confirmation caused me to reflect again... and I remembered the story told in a conference when a faithful man was passing and his family was gathered, and he looked at them all and ask, "does anyone here have some problem with Plan of Salvation?". I was blessed with the opportunity that day to share the Plan of Salvation... and felt something even more and understood and loved this perfect plan even more as the Paventy family floated in my mind and lingered on my heart and helped me teach and testify of the truth of this plan.

This week we had such sweet surprises! Many people came that... honestly surprised us! These innactive members aren't like investigators- that if they're not seeming to progress... you move on to those that will. We try so hard to work by inspiration... to understand who the Lord wants us to dedicate His time to... and sometimes we're puzzled, frustrated, but carried by hope.. when we find ourselves repeatedly returning to people that are not progressing, are not responding, and are so difficult. Yet... they were baptized, they became part of the fold, their names are recorded, and their importance to God- though beyond our comprehension- is undeniable. So... we keep going. We keep praying, serving, teaching, loving... and it's honestly a test of patience sometimes. Of course we'd love to see everyone jump back to church, start reading their scriptures and praying every day from our first visit with them... have them all work towards being worthy to take the sacrament... and have all these families flocking to the temple next month... BUT.... it's not like that. Yet. :) These are not easy 2-week baptisms.. but I am SO SO SO incredibly grateful for the blessing to have this assignment here. The focus and lessons that we do every day are so different than before... and I am so grateful for the guidance, teaching, and strength of the Spirit that helps us every day to teach things that I could never understand or teach alone. Through these special situations that we are working with... I have been my biggest reactivation and progressing member. What I have been learning of temples, covenants, the Atonement, families, priesthood, parenthood, and marriage from working with struggling couples, reactivating families, new priesthood holders, strayed leaders, future missionaries, investigators, innactive members... has all become so sacred and precious to me. The Lord has blessed me with so many beautiful and hard experiences that have these eternal principles finally seep deep into my hardened heart... and my perspective is eternally altered and refined.
I'm so excited to keep learning throughout all my life.I fall more and more in love with the scriptures every day. I found something so true and so beautiful in a conference talk the other day... when Elder Christofferson said that the scriptures help us remember things that we once knew in the premortal life. I love love love that. I have had so many moments when I feel it so clearly- like once another little scale of thousands has fallen off from my eyes, and I learn something "new"... but it just feels... SO familiar.

I love love love Belize. Sometimes my hands pine to be thrust into tortilla dough or a trough of dirty soapy water and a mountain of clothes... but my heart is almost totally here... and I know that a big part of my soul will always stay here. I love how Paul expresses his love of the people that he served... and it reminds of Elder Clark's letters lately. In 1 Thessalonians 2:8,
" So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only,
but also our own souls ..... because ye were dear unto us".

Sister Clark

Wow! I Really Love My Mission!

Oh what a life this is!!! I just realized this morning that the mission can be a lot like.. pregnancy. Not that I know what pregnancy is like.. but it's beautiful how these women go through so much pain and discomfort for so many months.. and then such agony in labor.... and then God blesses them with overuling love to help erase from their memory the excruciating aspects of pregnancy... so that they miraculously want to be pregnant again and are excited to have another baby. I feel like it's like that on the mission. We can go through so much during a day... so many painful and trying experiences... but the blesses and fortifies us.. so that when the alarm buzzes at 5:50 the next morning... we jump up and do it all over again... and with excitement and joy.. like the pain of the past experiences was removed. Like pregnancy?

The Lord put a man in our path this week. Well.. many men, women, people... but this one special man has especially retained much of my contemplation since. He struggles to walk, his body is covered with open sores from his head to his feet... he is in constant pain... and he tell me he lupus and has 4 years to live. I think to myself, "This is a job and a case that only the Atonement can address". As I attempt to receive inspiration and share it with him... he stops me and tells me to just save my breath. He informs me that he knows the bible, but has spent his whole life in cheating, drugs, and womanizing... and will not now suddenly turn to God because he's dying. He continued to share with me the falsest and saddest philosophies that one can have... especially with a death date posted. He talked about his kids, and his wife having increasing breast cancer.... but he remains insistent that he would not turn to God now. My heart broke for him... but especially his family. What a blessing such a situation could be to bring one into humility and allow the Atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ to work His miracles perhaps physically, and undeniably spiritually. I just prayed that this poor man wouldn't require more compelling to come to the Lord. I though of Sister Paventy, of the peace and humility and joy in that beautiful family... of the death of my own grandfathers....- that is how death should be. This quick conversation has really penetrated me and blessed me with the opportunity and guided meditation on what I am doing and will do with my own short mortal time.. and my personal humility and application of the Atonement in my own life. I am renewed with a desire to choose to be humble... despite how unnatural humility is to me... I'm realizing more and more how much I lack and need it in myself.

During my whole mission... but especially in this assignment the last 2 changes... obedience has been a huge hot topic..and even obsession to me and with the needs of the people here. It's just that... I really don't think the Lord is lying when he clearly repeats over and over and over and over and over again in the scriptures that if we obey him... he will bless us. I'm terrible at math.. but I'm really starting to figure out that equation. I'm so grateful for parents that usually so patient in teaching me this divine, celestial, and eternal principle... but I know that I still have so much more to change and become to really understand what is it to be perfectly obedient. YET, I have seen in myself, and especially in the lives of these families... and when they really do experiment with their little seeds of faith and test the Lord and obey his commandments... He has ALWAYS held true to His word. He truly does bless us for obedience. SO... we are always testifying and teaching the commandments and the principle of obedience to these families... and we try to do it so clearly, boldly, and strongly, but still allowing them to CHOOSE to obey God. The commandment in D&C 66:11 when it says to "push people to Zion"... I see myself doing just what mom did to us... literally- sunday mornings going into these homes, singing hymns at the top of my lungs, turning on the lights, even throwing off the sheets...haha... just like mom. Yet... from what I've learned from myself, experiences in Israel, and here.... the true reason for obedience shouldn't to get Sister Clark to stop singing... or even to get the anticipated blessings... but for love. Love of God. "If ye love me... keep my commandments". Simple as that.

Sometimes we feel like we're right in the heart of Sodom and Gomorrah in the nights... but in the daylight here. They had a big parade.. and we got sprayed with beer and smelt like it the rest of the day. I was really inspired this week by the example of the Lamanites when they were converted in Helaman 6... and they HUNTED the robbers and sought out and taught the most wicked parts of them. The only difference here is... we don't have to hunt them.

George has continued to progress.. and the healing, purifying, and miraculously power of the Atonement is SO tangible in his life right now. He is engrossing himself in the scriptures...and he is totally changing. I will send a picture next week of what we saw when we surprised him at this house. Without expecting us.. he was out reading the Book of Mormon. I snuck up and got a beautiful picture. It totally captures the reason I'm here and loving it. I love this man. I love what the Lord is doing for him. I love that I get to see it.

Welp... we're happy happy happy here. I love Sister Rodas. I hope marriage is truly like his- because every day I learn something more from her... I see something new in her... and she becomes more and more beautiful in my eyes. I am so blessed. Every time I blink, I see another blessing. It's totally ridiculous... but I'll take it. :)

Have a wonderful week! I love you all!
Sister Clark


P.S. Banana, wha' happened? Your turn!
Hailey- you know. Now! and... CONGRATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Flour Game

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(:

Helllooooooo!!!!

Like Elder Clark said.... "What a week!" We just heard that we are staying together in Belize City with the same assignment for another change! I think I will end my mission here working with inactives... and I think I would just loooove that. Though people aren't making the instant changes that pray and would hope that they would make... we are seeing daily tender mercies that keep us running (pedaling?) every day.
I added pictures of the Smith family. We were visiting a sister, and she told us of the Smith family down the road that hadn't been to church in.... far too long. We get so excited with such "references"- because for us right now- they are as golden as new investigators! We went to the door... to be greeted by a very unhappy women and an immediate, "no. Nope. No no no. I do not have time for this, I do not want you here, I am not ready for this. Nope". I said a quick prayer... and opened my mouth... and as we talked a little more... she continued to hard... and we had no idea why... but by the end.. she softened a bit, and agreed to think about talking to us in 2 weeks. We left her our number (totally assuming she would burn it afterwards…) and told her to please call us if she ever needed help. We returned 2 weeks later, and she wouldn’t answer the door. We kept praying for her… and passed by many times… with no success. Then.. weeks later… we received a phonecall… from Sister Smith. When she said who it was.. I saw the heavens open… and I tried not to start dancing and shouting! She asked us to visit them the following night. These are pictures of the sweet FHE that we had- and we played the classic flour game. Turns out that this family is INCREDIBLE- that they still have testimonies, but Sister Smith is frustrated because she only has every 7th Sunday off of work… so she packed up the scriptures and put them away. They are such a beautiful family and I have fallen in love.

The family that I had told about before with the 6 beautiful and hungry children and tormented parents… continues keep us running. The father came back… and the mother took off. The father is so broken and hurt…and started talking about doing things that one should never think of… and it was scaring us. We starting leaving him BIG BIG BIG reading assignments… since he doesn’t have work or anything to do… we’ve been leaving him to absorb himself in the scriptures. We have seen such changes in him. I love the scriptures SO much. He finally came to church this Sunday- after months of praying, working, and fasting. I love fasting. I KNOW it works. Sunday was a huge triumph with him and a number of people that came back on Sunday.


Last P-day we had a zone activity and went to the ruins of Lamoni. It was SO neat to the see the work of the posterity of the Lamanites. I feel like I personally know the people in the scriptures… and I was living the dream out there. I added pictures of the Mennonites in their buggies. We passed through their land to get out there. It was in the jungle, so Morgan, I took clips and pictures of the howling monkeys we saw. You would have LOVED it. We saw other tourists and took the opportunity to teach them about the people of the Lamanites and explain to them how important such sites are to us. They were all very interested in the Book of Mormon. I love being a missionary.





I could go on forever more... but time is short and I still need to file nursing stuff. Hardly anyone came to church this last sunday- only the forever devoted ones (I put in a picture of beautiful Brother Wallace Bellgrave- he is a celestial man and deserves a whole seperate letter with what I could rant about him and all that he's taught me)- and our baptismal dates and the ones that are starting to return to church. It was frustrating, because we taught the most lessons in the whole zone, and of my whole mission- we ran ran ran and had so many great lessons and saw progress...... and then I just learn more and more about... hope. I hope to make a difference here. I imagine I'll have another 6 months... so I've been doing a lot of reflecting of how much I need to change and what more I can give to these wonderful people here. Oh how much I love this time of my life. How continually precious it is to me.
Love you all!
Sister Clark

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Oh boy how I love this place.

I suddenly noticed that my planner is heading towards the last few pages... which brings me to the cold and painful realization.. that ANOTHER transfer has nearly flown and ended... and it just getting out of control.

It has been a total roller coaster-week... and I, as usual, have so many mixed feelings and thoughts.. that have been stewing and blending in my mind... and might come out a little.... mixed. Belize is such a beautiful place, so unique in SO many ways... the kind of place that no one will understand until has personally and fully experienced it- no matter the attempts I make to paint it out... the colors are too vibrant, exotic, and bizarre to fully capture in any way besides one's personal eyes. I feel like serving here as a missionary has only 2 possible and strong effects. It can complete smash one's testimony.... or it can build it to be unbreakable and eternal. I feel like every day... my experiences are carving my heart.. sometimes I wonder if the carver is applying a little too much pressure, that the tender heart might be penetrated too hard and break.... but I have faith that in the end... through the expertise of the Carver's hand... that as long as I make my heart available to His work... it will eventually become the masterpiece He had initially imagined and intended to make.

We watched the dedication of the temple in El Salvador, and I have so much to try to say about it... but... even in the little chapel in Belize... I felt a taste of the temple. It's true as they explain, that in the broadcasting of this sacred ceremony, that the chapel becomes an extension of the temple. I can testify of that. I wept with such relief to feel the familiar security and warm of the temple... like we had our own oasis of Heaven here. It was so beautiful. I think sometimes the missionaries here are a little tempted to feel a little alone, or that they're carrying a huge load. Like the Elders that serve on the far out islands or as branch presidents in other areas of Belize... because the church is still so new here.. and Satan's presence is so strong. He's becoming more and more obvious and dummy to me... and doesn't strike me with fear.. but with a big tweak of frustration to see his deceitful and relentless work with the leadership here. He is constantly busy. We are so busy too, trying to do clean-up work, and build up the "fortifications" stronger. It reminds me of the hurricanes here... but that's another theme. Anyways... to be able to participate in the dedication yesterday what just what this weak little missionary needed. It was just as an angel was telling Sister Clark personally," lift up your head, be of good cheer, turn back, and get to work!!" It refined and broadened my perspective, and was such a tender mercy to me at this time when so much is happening here.

We were blessed to watch the big cultural celebration on saturday night and then the 3 dedication sessions. I fell in love with the people of El Salvador all over again. Oh how I loved them. Watching these youth in their costumes, performing the dances that they had labored for about a year to organize and perfect... I saw a big part of my heart in that stadium on the big screen. These people are so happy, and SO grateful for their temple. The dances they performed told their history, starting from the Lamanites to today. Watching the light beaming from their faces, the happy tears they shed, and the joy they expressed in their dance... the words of the prophecy of Doctrine and Covenants 49 floated in from my memory, that the Lamanites would "blossom like a rose in the desert"... and we are so clearly seeing that revelation coming to pass. They are such a chosen people. Listening to the promises completed and more given to them in the dedication, I could almost feel and hear my good friends Mormon, Moroni, Nephi, and Enos... who had all so fervently prayed that these people would again come to the fullness of truth and would again be a "delightsome people"- I know they were rejoicing and celebrating with us to see so clearly the completion of the promises God made to them because of their faith and prayers on behalf of their people. They truly are once again, a delightsome people... and will continue and blossom and grow more than we can imagine right now.

There are so many things that have happened this week that would just be too hard to try to explain... and I feel like prophets when they say, "I was going to write more.. but..." .... so we'll just leave it there. :) I love this gospel so much. It truly is my life. Not just because I'm a missionary... but it has become who I will always be. I realize every day how much I needed to be out here... and I just hope and try to give even it everything- even if it's just a fragment in comparison of what I have ultimately received.

I love you all! Thanks for all your support and good work over there!
Sister Clark


They were playing baseball with sticks and a flat basket ball.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Time? I know not of what you speak of!

What? Another week has flown by...AGAIN? Wha' happened?

Someday I will write a letter in Kreole. I'm still trying to learn. Someone tried to teach me.. and told me not to form any consonants, and then to just not think before I spoke. Ya... I'll keep practicing. People just think I'm from England and always tell me what a funky accent I have. haha.

We have had such a great week. What week in this last year has not had contained something ridiculously great and beautiful? Ya.. the mission is hard.. but it is out of control sweet. I love what I get to do every day. ....will I ever get tired of declaring that? :) This week I was was dancing behind the piano to see the big Usher family come in. They're a huge inactive family... and when we finally found them... Brother Usher was drunk, smoking... the wife wasn't talking to him, the kids were happy to see us, but had such sadness in their eyes... and it was a rough sight. We've been working so hard with them.. trying to help Brother Usher understand the Atonement (he, like so many people say, "I'm just not worthy to go back to church yet." - oh that gets me going! We shouldn't wait to loose weight before going to the gym, right?) and get everyone excited again.... and they came this week! They were SO happy... and though the fight isn't over... we definitely won this round against satan this week. Also, one of our past and fallen branch presidents came to church this week- after almost 2 months of working with him.... he came. HE CAME! It's been so wonderful to work with him... these kind of men.. when they let satan in just a little in their lives... it's more destructive than these famous hurricanes here. This brother had fallen into some hard things- being a sea captain and out in sea for weeks with a dark dark social atmosphere... made it so so so hard. I have learned so much with working with him... trying to help him believe in, understand, and apply the Atonement in his life... has brought so much personal healing in my own. We are starting to see true fruits of repentance with him... and sunday was a joyous occasion.

The Lord has continued to put people in our path... and our prayerful pleas are repeatedly answered. We were lost the other day.. and we heard, "Hermanas!!" .... and to our surprise we found a man with crutches calling out to us from the other side of the road. He was one of THE FIRST baptisms in Belize in 1982, and was the first branch president of one of the branches here. Many tragic things happened to him that were out of his control... but the depression influenced him into a big and dangerous fall... and he's one of the most broken men.. I have ever seen. He still remembers his covenants, knows and truly believes the doctrine..... and hardly lives any of it... and it has brought him nothing but misery. Also living with him is member that too still has a testimony... and the both want to return.. but are in such a weakened state from years of sin. I am so grateful for the cleansing, purifying, and edifying power of the Atonement in my own life... that has helped me enter these homes with such confidence and surety that no matter how far one has fallen...that the Atonement can reach way down there. I continually ponder Christ's order to His disciples to "cast into the deep"- and I feel like that applies perfectly to what we are doing here... every single day. We are seeing so clearly the results of sincere repentance... and the sweet joys of when one has been truly forgiven..and the healing and hope it brings to the lives of these families.

The young women of the spanish branch have been working and saving their "shillings" for months and months to be able to go to the Guatamala temple- 9 hours away- to do baptisms for the dead. Many adults went for their first time... and sunday all that had gone shared their testimonies. It reminded me of when the Jaredites finally made it to land, and they fell to the ground and wept with joy and gratitude. I feel like Belize is so much like what it may have been like crammed in and tossed about in those tiny little boats- with the temptations, depression, poverty, anger... you name it- it's here. - So... the experiences that these saints had in going to this heaven on earth- was like when the Jaredites hit land- they were finally safe, comfortable...and most of all... in the place the Lord had prepared for them. The gratitude and overwhelming joy that these sweet members tried to express on sunday was so touching..and it made me homesick- but for the temple. I love love love teaching these temple preparation classes- I would LOVE to have this calling after my mission. Though it's almost been a year since I've been in that sacred place... my understanding, appreciation, and love has blossomed. Sometimes I think about how if I were still El Salvador I'd have taken investigators to the open house... we'd be participating in the cultural celebration and the dedication... but I hardly affects me.. because I am constantly reminded that HERE is where my Heavenly Father wants me- and it's far more important to me to prepare these families to get there.. than that I be there myself right now. We will watch the dedication of the El Salvador temple this sunday... and I am SO SO SO stoked- for myself, but especially the members and recent converts here. We're counting the days! :)

Having hit my one year mark has brought a lot of reflection of the incredible year the Lord has blessed me with. I really couldn't dream of anything better. I am excited for the next 6 months. I feel like I've grown, experienced, and changed so much in the last 6 months... I'm so anxious to see what the next 6 bring.. and what I can bring to them. I got a call from El Salvador yesterday.. giving me the option of ending my mission the transfer before, since my 18 months ends in the middle of a change. I burst out laughing... and nothing more to say but, "What kind of question is that?". :) I will be staying. I love this work. There's no possible way to describe it. I think the closest is what Nephi said when he stated that God had filled him with such love even to the "consuming of my flesh". - I often feel like that.
- Sister Clark


Sunday, August 14, 2011







I Love My Mission!

What a difficult and delightfully blissful week. Can my life always have such a balance?

We had so many tender mercies and saw such huge miracles this week.... I am so overwhelmed with gratitude.. I don't even know where to begin. I think I'm the most excited to talk about how about 30 people came back to church this sunday! It all started on entering the chapel and finding a guy that has been inactive for like, 8 years that we have been having mildly frustrating visits with... who has been so hard, stubborn, difficult to understand, and impossible to focus.. and the unthinkable dream... happened- he came. He even bore his testimony in fast and testimony meeting... I, for one of the few times in my life, was totally speechless. woah. Three huge families came- ALL of the members of this families... like.. the parents got up, got them ready, and they all came and loved it!! It was so satisfying peeking out at the congregation from behind the piano... and seeing these families that we have been visiting and working with for months.... sitting so cozy and happy together on the pews... I even giggled with delight to see Brother Nolberto with his arm around his wife... just after he had told us days ago that there was no hope for her of coming back.. she was just too hard. Hope is so understated in the world today. It is not an idealistic, outdated, or oblivious state of mind..... with faith in the Lord... it is perfectly logical and valid... and I received a million more reasons on sunday.. to be filled with a "brightness of hope". Happy happy happy.

With that hope, must come the patience. I am trying to take more personally the commandment that the Lord gave the sons of Mosiah, to be patient in their difficulties with Lamanites... and to keep showing them for good examples.. and He promises them they'll be the means of bring salvation to them. Being here... has really helped me understand the way the Lamanites are described in the Book of Mormon... because the culture here is so eroded with such vile fast traditions. Just as the Sons of Mosiah went out to change such traditions... we are learning that that is a big part of our role here... is help incorporate celestial traditions into the culture. It's not easy... but cultivating my personal faith has blossomed within me an inextinguishable hope that carries me everyday. I am trying to keep the ultimate vision of actual wards in Belize...return missionaries...strong families in the gospel... a Stake... then multiple stakes... and a temple. Sometimes it's tempting to question if these little sprouts will bring forth fruit when the ground is so dry and lacking in nutrition... but I love the commandment in Jacob 5:22 when the Lord says, "Counsel me not; I knew that it was a poor spot of ground... I have nourished it this long time, and though beholdest that it hath brought for much fruit." I didn't realize how much this hope had grown within me until President Cordon and Sister Cordon came again this week... but this time to really get to know Belize. We took Sister Cordon to meet the families... and she was really shocked and deeply touched by the incredibly difficult situations here. Seeing her so overcome.. made me question if I had become more than acclimated to these circumstances... that maybe I had become... hardened. I had to really analyze myself... and I realized that I wasn't in emotional shambles every day because I don't see or feel the reality around me... but because the Lord has heard my cries... and has truly given me the hope and ability to endure these things that we hear and see every day. I am so grateful for the changes in vision and enlargening of heart and soul that He gives me every day. I know that I could not do this every day without the miraculous interventions that he has had within me.

Earlier this week... we were riding along... and struck with the impression to change plans and visit a sister that has been reactivated and has been doing so well... that we still visit.... but had no logical reason to race to her home that night... more than just.. a clear inspiration. We got there... and felt to teach her the Word of Wisdom... though I mentally assumed there was no problem. Her mother started texting us at 5 in the morning the next day... telling us that she had been praying all day yesterday that we would come... but we had no appointment and her phone didn't work at that time to call us. She said that there were big temptations coming for her daughter...with the Word of Wisdom... and that every time we have come over to their house.. we have taught just the thing that she had been wanting her daughter to hear. It was such a beautiful reminder that this is the Lord's work for HIS children. He knows their needs. I am SO grateful for the Holy Ghost. We would be so useless without it.

Something difficult that we face every day that I don't think I've mentioned... is racism. I didn't think it would be so big... but it really is. Many don't want to talk to me...because I'm white. Many yell things out in the street... and we often hear that it's the "white people's church"... but our investigators have been puzzled and said, "woah... almost everyone is black in here"- well ya- we're in BELIZE! I didn't really understand or know what racism was before my mission... and know I know it better and understand it less. I echo the declaration of Nephi in 2 Nephi 26:33, that God invites ALL to come unto Him and partake of his goodness, and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female." I know that is not remotely racist... so why would people think it's ok that we would be?

I have been thinking a lot about children. They flock to us. They LOVE us. I have been thinking about how... they are THE FIRST ones in the family to recognize that we are sent by their Heavenly Father. As I have been pondering this... replaying so many sweet moments and conversations I've had with these children...... seeing their faces and eyes in my mind... the way they look at us...I realized..... maybe they're not just communicating with us... they're connecting and associating with our guardian angels that they can see and only I can feel.

I love you all. Love this work... and I love my Saviour. Let's try to be a little, or, a LOT more like Him this week!
Sister Clark