Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Missions are the best thing ever!

ahh... I never know where to start... but... here I go!

Banana- I got your letter and it made my heart frolick with glee! thank you! I will be scribbling a letter to you as soon as I can! I love you!

Um... I am so happy to be a nurse.... but there is such a wicked and selfish part of me that isn´t antsie to be the mission nurse right now! I´m not the nurse yet... but Elders in my zone are already calling me in the middle of the night with questions and aches and pains... and don´t want to listen to me! Then... I start thinking and worrying about them and their problems throughout the day... and it´s a lot of stress! I love love love these Elders... sometimes almost as if they were my own Elder Clark serving with me... and so it´s hard to see them suffer with things... and then to hear that they didn´t take my advice... and are worse now. I´m learning a lot about control in life..... and how I have none. Though I had orginally heard that I´d start training to the be the nurse this next transfer... I feel like the plans are changing... and I´m going to be blessed with more time here.
I don´t KNOW...but I feel like I´ll be staying en Candelaria.. or going to Pajonal! We´ve been hearing from the bishop and stake president... that they´re talking about opening up Pajonal as an area for missionaries really soon! Oh how I would love that! It´d be SO hard in so many ways... but, as I think I´ve mentioned already... I LOVE PAJONAL! I can´t explain why... but there is such a purity and beauty there- and not just the mountains- it´s totally the people. I feel like I´ve stepped back into the 40s when I go there- everyone on their horses... everyone is so clean and nice.. and... pure! I am so excited to see how the gospel will flourish there and would love to be a part of it! Yet.... we´ll just have to see! For now... I am in Candelaria... and am loving it more and more everyday... it´s unbelievable how much love a heart can bear. Does that even make sense? It´s like... my love for this ward, the people, the families.. just keeps growing when I wonder if it´s maxed out! It´s such a different kind of love- and I love it. It´s exhausting and exhilerating at the same time! For instance...
Last week I was on the bus and sat next to this little man that I had seen before in the street with a little cart and bell to sell icecream. The first time I saw him in the street, I loved him! When I got to sit with him on the bus, I thought... ¨this is fate! He is so darling... and I´ll bet he´s ready for the truth in his life!¨ haha... and as we were talking... he was so nice and tranquil... and asked, ¨when are you going to visit me?¨ - how perfect! I was so excited! I got his ¨directions¨... and though a little confused... I was determined to find him and teach him! SOOooo...for days I was telling Hermana Bautista about this ¨lindo¨ icecream man... and how I have such hope for him! We knew his lived a little far out.. so we left the house at 7 in hopes to make it to his house at 7:30 before his left for work- the only time his had available. We took the bus for 20 minutes... and got off in front of a little dirt road... and... started walking in the direction that we knew he lived. (this is in the opposite direction of Pajonal, mind you. This area is HUGE) He told us his lived by this certain school.... and after we walked for 20 mintues, we asked someone where the school was.... and kept walking... and after an hour of walking- we found the school! We asked EVERYONE where his house was... and after 20 minutes of searching... TADA!! We found him! woohoo!!! Though he told me he didn´t have a ¨spouse¨- he did. - weird? As we started to talk and teach... it went so weird. I think... I think he was a pastor. Which is totally fine! I would love to talk to more pastors!....but this was so weird. For the next hour... Hna B and I sat in akwardness as my darling icecream man ranted and raved with his arms flailing in such furious passion... and then he would sprint to the outhouse (I think he had some sort of parasite).. and would run back and before we could really get a word in... he would start again. I don´t really know what he was preaching- and it wasn´t because it was in spanish- I got his spanish.... but his train of thought or flow of his preaching........ I was so confused. After a while... I was finally able to say so quietly that he had to stop to listen.... ¨Hermano... Hermano! I´m sorry about my spanish... it´s probably really hard to understand... but this is so important that you understand what I´m saying. I have a sacred responsiblity to testify to you that Jose Smith was a prophet called from God and we have a prophet today. Do you understand me when I say that? You can chose to accept it or not...but I am called to make sure you have the fair opportunity to know the most important message in the world. Do you understand me?¨- He finally let his arms down... looked at me dumbfounded for a few moments.... and said that he understood... but.... then he went on about the beasts noted in Revelations. As bizarre as it was.... as I listened to his unlogical tyrant... though confused... I couldn´t help but smile and smile.. and not just because I was supressing giggles- but because I had this growing burning of love within me. Only the love of Christ could help me feel that way in that situation. That is NOT a natural reaction of mine in an instance like that. We walked away a little bit sad... mostly startled.... but determined to find someone that really wanted to know.

I am learning something new about the Atonement everyday. We´ve been working SO HARD with Gudiel- boyfriend of a member. This whole time he has said that he wants to see the golden plates of the book of mormon so that he can believe. He reads it all... and is so anxious for more information and intelligence...but getting him to seek spiritual inspiration and confirmation from GOD- has been the hard part. I LOVE that he can comprehend the message in his mind.... but with a closed heart... he can´t fully understand or accept anything! Last lesson... he started diving into deep doctrinal things from the very start- which I love to talk about and think about... but that is not what he needs! He just needs the basics of FAITH. So simple.. but not. After a while.... I stopped listening to him... and started feeling and recieving questions and insights very clearly from the Spirit. I was finally able to get a word in... and said very simply, ¨Gudiel, what do you believe?¨ .... he stopped... a little confused. I don´t remember exactly what I said... but something to the point of... ¨You know this is true. Your doubt is not in the validity of the Book of Mormon... or of Joseph Smith. Your doubts are not of the church... but of yourself.¨.... after a while of silence.... he started to say so sincerely and meekly- a side of him we had not yet seen- that he KNEW so surely that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that this Church is the organization of Christ...... but that his flesh is stronger than his spirit... and that he doesn´t think he can change. In that moment.... I saw him SO different... and I loved him even more. As we taught him about the Atonement of Christ, and tried to build his faith in his Savior...... I felt like the words I was saying were more for me. - truly this- ALL of this- is centered on the Atonement. There are so many layers and principles in the gospel... but the core, foundation, heart of it all- is the Atonement. I LOVE teaching it.. and watching hearts, lives, and eternities change through it. - we are praying and fasting with Gudiel that he will be ready for baptism the 29th.
Another high for the week. I don´t know if I´ve mention Javier... but he´s a 12 year old kid that has been coming to church sometimes- when he can dance around his mom. We don´t support deception of parents.... and we love families... SO... we visited his family a few weeks ago. I don´t know why his mom didn´t want him coming to church before... because she and her companion were SO receptive and positive! We had such a beautiful first lesson with them... and they desired to prepare for baptism. I guess it was a miracle that we found them in the first place... because they are cutting coffee right now (like everyone else in the area! So hard to find them during these times)- and are never in their house. They said a few weeks ago that the first time they could go to churchwas the 16th. We have been watching and praying for the 16th for weeks now. Hna B and I did divisions with some young women sunday morning so that we could cover more ground. When we got back to the chapel... Hna B wasn´t there. Sacrament meeting continued... and she wasn´t there! I had to give a talk... and I didn´t know how to find her.. and I wasn´t getting nervous and scared... but didn´t know how to find her! Yet... 40 minutes into the meeting.... in walked Hna B with Javier and his family. I swear I heard angels singing when I saw this sweet, humble, simple, but powerful family of 5 walk into our little chapel. In their tattered jeans and coffee stained hands.... they were the purest people I have ever seen... and all I could see was them in white. They stayed for all 3 hours... and really liked it. (of course!)- and we´re so excited for cutting season to be over so that we can find them in their house!
There are so many other people, families, stories, lessons learned, miracles witnessed and experienced... but I gotta go! Next time I HAVE to tell about what I´ve learned about the temple here from the couple missionaries ¨in charge¨! I feel SO SO blessed to be here to help prepare families for the temple here. WOOHOO! ETERNITIES!!
Hermana Clark

Friday, January 14, 2011

Time Literaly Flies!

Hey- Anna Daines- are you alive? You have been sweeping into my mind many times this week...and I would love to know that you´re ok!

Another week has just flown by- I feel like I was JUST at this computer an hour ago... not a week ago! This is getting ridiculous how fast this ride is! I don´t even know where to start with this week! I feel like I´ve hardly been with Sister Bautista this week because we did divisions every day! As a zone we visited each other´s areas and did contacting activities- but because our area is so far away from civilization... and we have SO MUCH work to do (seriously- it´s so full of potential.... I never want to come back to the house at night!)... we´ve been doing divisions. When I first came out to the field... I had some faithless insecurities about doing divisions (Way to go Joel! Divisions your first month! Good boy!).... so now it´s cool to see that I can go out with 17 year olds who aren´t super comfortable with contacting and teaching.... and the Lord has truly provided the way for me to fully communicate, connect, and effectively teach in this language. I KNOW this is not me- the Lord´s hands are SO CLEARLY manifest in my life every day- it´s blowing my mind.

I feel like this has been the week of drunks! Everyday we have found someone new that is so caught up in alcohol.... I´m doing a lot of studying on addiction recovery. If anyone has tips or super good information- I would love it! It´s so sad to see their pain... and it seriously hurts me to see them like this...... and I´m really starting to understand the power of the Atonement... and how it applies to EVERY THING in this life! So... I am loving and relishing my drunken brothers... and am having to really focus in on the Spirit to know how to help them.

We are continuing to recieve answers to our prayers- every day. For example... Juan Carlos. As I have said before... he lives REALLY far away. Hour long bus ride and 30 minute walk. We know that he has to be really strong and secure in his testimony to continue to wake up early, walk, pay the significant price for the bus (.75 each way really adds up for them)- every week. We have tried to teach so clearly the need for personal testimony and the vitality of studying the scriptures and praying EVERY DAY.... but we know that this is new... and we love him so much..that we have been praying that he will continue to have the experiences necessary to build a strong foundation and that he can continue to spiritually grow. We are really seeing the Lord´s way of answering our pleas.
First of all... I wanna explain where Juan Carlos lives! He lives in the beautiful/secluded mountains of Pasjonal. ( I sent pictures of the mountains and his house nestled in a few weeks ago..) It is a little tiny town with a view and ambiance that I can´t explain. I LOVE IT THERE. It is SO magical... and I have serious fantasies about having a little house there... and living in such peace and tranquility that is found there. The first time we ventured out there to find Juan Carlos... I was so enchanted...but more than that... I felt so strongly... that Pasjonal would have a strong presence of the church there in the future. I didn´t know if that was the Spirit or a dream... but every time I go there... I just feel like the gospel will blossom there... though there aren´t any members there- until now! Then... a few weeks ago... a family moved there from Santa Ana (this main city)- and they are SO strong in the gospel and are making the travels so dilligently for church and activies in the future. A few weeks ago when we went to visit Juan Carlos... Sister Ayayi (the mother that moved to Pasjonal) was on the bus... and when I shared with her my dream for Pasjonal- she said that she has felt very strongly the same. She said that she was prompted strongly to move to Pasjonal...away from Santa Ana where the church is pretty strong... to Pasjonal where there is NO ONE and the nearest church is Candelaria. She said that she knows she´s supposed to be in Pasjonal for a very important purpose. Then... as ¨luck¨ would have it... a family came to church yesterday- and they were from Pasjonal. CRAZY! A member from Santa Ana wanted his family to know the church and the missionaries... so he brought them yesterday. We have work to do!
SO... yesterday was ward conference... and all the leaders of the stake were there. It was an AWESOME meeting... and the Spirit was nearly tangible! Juan Carlos was confirmed... and he GLOWED. In his blessing... he was told that he would he would be a tool in the Lord´s hands to help the gospel spread to new areas.- woah! After church... the stake president wanted to know where Juan Carlos lived. SO... the whole high council and Juan Carlos jumped into the back of a pickup... and we drove the hour plus drive to his home. I could tell that Juan Carlos was really blown away by how much these men loved him... and all this attention! haha. We hiked up to his house and they took pictures of the ¨first missionaries and member of Pasjonal¨... and Juan Carlos talked about wanting to serve a mission... and the Stake President talked about starting a branch there soon. The Spirit was so tender... and I could see that Juan Carlos was very moved.... and I know that our prayers were answered. I am so excited to see what fruits are to come forth in the future years and generations from Juan Carlos in Pasjonal.

We are working with some GREAT families right now and having some really powerful lessons and experiences with them. It´s so true and evident that Satan is really focusing in on families.... but we know how to fight him... and that we will!

Life is still so different here... but I feel like I´m almost totally acclimated. I even asked myself this morning... ¨what was it like in my past life to shower alone?¨ ..because I feel like I´m living the discovery channel every morning with my colony of scorpions, geckos, spiders spiders spiders, cockroaches, misquitos, and flies to keep me company!

The Lord has truly blessed me with energy and abilities beyond my own- I can NEVER deny it. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this work... I love spanish, I love these people, I love Hermana Bautista, I love El Salvador, I LOVE this gospel.
-Hermana Clark

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My Sister Missonaries

I love you all!

Oh hiya!!!!
Mom and Dad.... thank you thank you thank you for your letters. It is seriously such an emotional rollercoaster to read your letters... but so so good. I am so inspired by the stories of those around you... and what you guys are doing. Seriously... I feel like our family is continually stronger and stronger with the distance. The saying ¨distance makes the heart grow fonder¨....or whatever... is kind of true... but it´s what we´re experiencing together is purely from the gift of missions. I love testifying to families that families can be eternal- because I´m really learning how incredibly precious and true that is. I am SO grateful for my family!!

Woohooo!! Juan Carlos was baptized!!! Presidente drove like...3 hours from the Capitol to our quaint little Candelaria to our humble little chapel and interviewed Juan Carlos after sacrament meeting.... and it was a goooo!! So... we asked Juan Carlos when he wanted to be baptized... and he said, ¨now!¨.... so... the second the third meeting ended... we started to fill up the baptismal font. Little did we know... that the faucet doesn´t work... so we were using the trinkling hoses from outside through the windows and the bathrooms... and again.. Hermana Clark had to learn some more patience. It didn´t matter.... I was so happy and relieved. I have seen so many miracles with Juan Carlos- every time that I fast for him. My testimony of the power of fasting is continually strengthened- because I have experienced and seen such undeniable miracles EVERY TIME. I love fasting. Anyways... his service was simple... but so sweet. So sweet. Not just because it was my first... but because... it just was beautiful. The Spirit was strong.. the talks were perfect... and he seemed to soak it all in. We hope to baptize Gudiel at the end of this week!
Another huge miracle happened. We´ve been working with a family in which the two kids are members... but their parents aren´t married... and haven´t been interested in the church or marriage... or any of that. Yet... we´ve been continuing on... and making progress with the dad. He keeps wanting to come to church... but just hasn´t. He sees and wants the light and happiness that he sees in his kids... but hasn´t believed he can have it for himself. He finally took the challenge to read in the book of mormon... and... he prayed. He received an answer... and he knows it´s true. Yet... the mother doesn´t have much interest... at all... and she doesn´t want to marry.... it´s a complicated situation with the marriage deal. SO... we keep praying and fasting and teaching with faith and hope. We were walking towards the church... when we saw down the road...... Carolina y Herrardo.... walking towards the church... with their kids... as a family. We audibly gasped... and I may have had to stop a moment to compose myself again- because it was such an unexpressibly powerful experience. I know it sounds so simple and maybe silly to some..... but for us... understanding the situation and the countless prayers and intense pining for those moments......... it was a beautiful miracle.
I am so grateful to still be in Candelaria with Hermana Bautista. We have SO MUCH hope for this transfer...I feel like we´re really seeing progress.... and it´s like familias are just falling in our laps! Such miracles. Hermana Bautista and I return to our house every night... just in awe of what we´ve seen. For instance... the family of Francisco y Anarut. Their son Emerson (9) is a new convert... but the only one in the family. His sister Marjorie (13) wanted to be baptized (like... months and months ago with the Elders) ... but she was baptized in the catholic church and her father didn´t want her to be baptized. So... we prayed to find the father... and one day... it happened. He was so receptive... and as we taught about the Restoration... the Spirit was so strong. He has been reading and absorbing every reading assignment we´ve given him... and is SO receptive when we´re there.... the only thing is....... he has not yet prayed. He wants to know EVERYTHING and feel like he understands every doctrinal point perfectly BEFORE he prays... so we´re trying to teach faith...and the reality of prayer. Last night... we had such a beautiful discussion with them... and the mother told us that she knows it´s true- that she has family in the church and has seen the difference and joy in them- and can´t deny that that she knows it´s true. Marjorie wants to be baptized and every time we come she is the first to pull out all the scriptures with eager anticipation to read. I can see this family in white- in all 3 of those occasions- baptism, temple, celestial kingdom. They just need to pray about it. They just have to pray and ask!! It´s so simple! We have SO MUCH hope for them... and I was speechless when we left their house last night- and not because I didn´t know spanish- but no language can express what we felt as we knelt together and prayed with that family. Lives are changing... and I am so blessed to be a witness to it.
The other day... this man pulled me into his house so excited to practice his english... and as I was trying to explain that we had to go (we had 12 missionaries- all of our zone- waiting at our chapel to contact our area) but that we would return to share our message... his wife started bringing out pictures of their son. I was so confused between his broken english and the pressing need to leave... but as the wife started talking about her son.. how he left for the states... and died 10 days later... she began to cry. I suddenly found myself testifying of the Plan of Salvation and eternal families with this little sobbing woman in my arms. She said that she knew it was fate that we were in her home... and needless to say... we were significantly but happily late to be with the Elders.... and I am SO excited to return tonight!! Again... another miracle!
Speaking of miracles.... I still have the gift of tongues. I realized the other day... that I have stopped acknowledging that. It´s becoming so much more comfortable... that I´ve neglected to continue to be grateful for this HUGE MIRACLE! When I can answer phones without panic and confusion... and Hermana B and I can mouth things to eachother...jokes are funny- and not just because I´m confused.... I forget how EPIC that is for me! I´ve finally gotten so absorbed in the PEOPLE here... that I´ve forgotten that I ¨can´t speak spanish¨- I can´t tell which is the greater miracle- those moments when this selfabsorbed princess forgets herself... or the ability to speak spanish. - both are HUGE- and none from me. The hands of the Lord are SO tangible in this work.... it blows my mind EVERY DAY.

I continue to be me.... and as entertaining as it is... sometimes it´s just plain distracting and not conducive with the work. For instance... we were SERIOUSLY sandwiched in a bus the other day... like... I didn´t have to hold on to anything or anyone despite the jerking and winding of the bus... because the was no way of moving... or using my arms. So... when people were trying to exit and had to squeeze in between us... by the time I went get off the bus... unbeknown to me... my skirt was at my ankles!! Thank goodness I had my slip- eek!!

Oh! Blayre! I got your e-mail! thank you so much! what a fantastic surprise!! I can´t e-mail you back... but snail mail would be great! I am so excited to hear about your married life and your mission advice! You´re my hero! I´ve always looked up to you! Oh, and ya... that spider-frog-aligator thing... was a scorpion! haha!! Love you!

This mission gig is just the best, huh? Sometimes I just want to skip and frolic in the streets singing hymns... haha... and if Hermana Bautista would allow me... I probably would! I love her so much- we are SO SO SO different- and that is fantastic. I wouldn´t like to work with someone exactly like me... woah no. I am so happy happy happy!!
-Hermana Clark