Friday, May 27, 2011

probably the longest letter of my whole mission. Ready?‏

....I´ve been sitting at this screen... trying to think of what to say or where to start... because my head is reeling... my heart is racing... and I feel like I should be running around a track instead of sitting at the computer. Thank you sisters for the beautiful letters.. for sharing your experiences. I am so blessed to have such angels in my family. It`s ridiculous how blessed I am. You are my best birthday presents that I will EVER get.

This week has been... as Hermana Coleman has put it, ¨a character builder¨. I am unexpressably grateful for weeks like these... and I am trying to build that character of mine through them! :)
We visited Sandra and her family earlier this week... and when we walked in... the air was so thick... we weren`t greeted with screaming kids running to play with us... but rather with a mother with swollen tear stained face. Her husband drank again. Just when they thought they made it out of the clear.... he fell. We sat with them for an hour... and then he came home.... very drunk. This man that I love so very very much... came sauntering in... in such sadness, defeat, and shame. He said, ¨Wow... it feels like someone just died...¨.... and then collapsed sobbing. We sat on the couch with the three sobbing kids.... and cried with them. Then... we sang hymns for the next 30 minutes... and the Spirit just washed over me... and when I looked at Mauricio... I saw him again... and again... and again... in this drunken man... I saw him with more respect and love than I had seen him before... and I saw him in white all over again... and I knew that he would make it. This was not the end. This is NOT the end. I started thinking of the COUNTLESS times the Lord has forgiven me... the innumerable times that I have fallen... seeing this man in such dependence on the Atonement... I felt like I was looking.. at myself.... because I am equally nothing without my Savior and His mercy.
It`s been so beautiful to see the ward just jump in and support this family... with everything. There are men that have had such similar obstacles in their conversion and begining in the church... that they are so anxious to help and understand their brother. The last 2 days... he has been in his room... fasting, praying, and reading the scriptures- really engrossed in studying and applying the Atonement. This family has so many stories about the reality of demons at their door... and they have learned to depend so deeply in praying personally, as a family, and as a couple. When they started to slack off for 2 or 3 days... is when the darkness entered their doors again... and he fell. I know that the Atonement is real... and that this humble man will recieve the strength needed to continue forward. His testimony and humility astounds me. His mother, who faught their conversion this whole time and has done nothing but try to impede our visits, has told lies and rumors about the church to the kids..... is changing drastically. Through this sweet and difficult experience this week... she was so touched by the patience and perseverence of the members and missionaries with her son... that she started listening to us. She and her other grandaughter came to church this week... and they loved it. I know they will get baptized. I love this family more and more every day. I have hurt so badly for this this week..but my love has just exploded.... and I am determined to go with them to the temple in a year.

We had so many investigators that we loved... but weren`t progressing... and after praying and fasting... we`ve dropped a lot of them and have been on the hunt to find people that really are ready and willing to follow Christ. Hermana Coleman and I were contacting all day the other day... looking through the Cime... really trying everything we could think of... with such little success. As we came to a door... I was telling her that I didn`t understand... because I woke up with such a jolt of confidence and inspiration... that something really GRAND and SPECIAL was going to happen... and that we would find a FAMILY.... but many many doors later... I was starting to doubt those thoughts and feelings...... when suddenly... a woman answered the door, told us she had a migraine... and when I told her I had exceedrine migraine... she let us in! We found a FAMILY. The missionaries had come to that home 4 years ago... left a book of mormon... but never came back. The family Rincon started reading it... but when they never came back... they stopped reading... and life continued. They are MARRIED... and go to a Christian church and have such faith and the Mom is SO SO SO wonderful... she begged us to wait an hour with her so that we could meet her husband. (well... she didn`t have to beg too hard! :) ) They are reading... and I know that once they pray... they have the faith to follow it.
We have hit such a trend here... that so many in this city like to read... know a lot... say they have faith... but no one believes it`s important to ask God if it`s the truth. I don`t understand. I know that every single person that reads the Book of Mormon and asks our Heavenly Father if it`s true..... will receive an answer from Him. People say that they want to hear more.. want to study more... but I often feel like we are wasting so much time with them... because if they don`t PRAY and ASK for themselves... we cannot help them. We do not have the power of convincing... we are not the Holy Ghost. I hurt for my dear brothers and sisters here that for whatever reason don`t want to ask God for the truth... because they are missing out on.... eternal bliss.

The wonderful angel in our ward, Hermana Araceli has continued to teach me SO much and I am continually in awe by her example. She was took all of her money of her account to pay for the house, utilities, and food for the month.... when someone assaulted her and robbed her. I don`t know what she is doing to provide for their needs.... but I do know that I have seen 2 different families with hungry children from the ward leaving her house with bags full of the last of her food storage. I do know that she is still continually serving eVERYONE around her... and we have are having an FHE at her house tonight with a family that she is trying to introduce the gospel to. The more I learn about her situation... things that have been happening in her life... and seeing how she is fighting her sadness, fear, and loneliness with service- that her love and service is NOT conditional on convience or opportunity........ the more and more inspired and determined I am to become an Araceli. I love her so much.

We just got another missionary in the house with us! They were going to join the two areas in this ward into one... but once the other mission realized how really huge it is and how the ward is on the verge of being about to divide........ they sent Hermana Lopez from the Dominican Republic to come learn the area too. This sister is SO SO SO fantastic. I guess I`d never met someone from the Dominican Republic... and she totally surprised me. She is so beautiful- so dark, like she nearly looks African. More than that... she has an accent of an African American... and the spunk and attitude of one too! It is so crazy and fun for me to hear spanish with a black accent... and she is so expressive and passionate and FUN! I guess the Dominican Republic has a lot more of the culture of the states... so she even uses english words.... but in a spanish way. For example, just last night she said, ¨ y ellos se freakaron¨ ( translation: and they freaked out)- I nearly died of laughter. I want more time with her... she is a hoot- not to mention that she is here to WORK.

I continue to walk into strange situations.... and since Hermana Coleman is almost always with me... we just laugh A LOT. The other day, Hermana C needed the bathroom, so we stopped by a convert`s house. All the boys are baptized... but the mom hasn`t never given us the time of day.... but let us come in to use the bathroom. While waiting... I started talked with their sister who is 23... and I think has some sort of Autism. I was trying to chat it up... get to know her... when I suddenly saw HER FINGER. She had a ring from a key chain wrapped and contorted SUPER tight on her ring finger... and apparently it had been like that for over a month and had swollen up.. cut into her finger... and appeared to be really affected. As I tried to get her to let me look at it more... it became apparent that she had a serious phobia of going to the hospital.... and was not going to budge. I tried to explain to the mom how she could lose her finger over something like this... the mom just said, she doesn`t want to go! I can`t get her to go! SO... Hna C and I spent 30 minutes using some theuraputic communication... and finally convinced her to go to the clinic for a ¨quick cut of the metal¨.... and we eased her in to the street... and she nearly wouldn`t get on the bus... then wouldn`t get off... then wouldn`t go into the clinic... then the doctors in the clinic freaked out.. freaked her out... and here we are this gringas that really don`t speak spanish that well.... trying to help everyone understand they they needed to shut their mouths, and play along that it wasn`t that bad so that she wouldn`t sprint out. ANYWAYS.... loooong story short... we ended up on the other side of town- I don`t even know where... waiting OUTSIDE the hospital because they wouldn`t let us in... teaching a suffering family in the street... taking 2 wrong buses and getting really lost, midly scared... but eventually back in our area safe. The point of the story is... that now the mom loves us... and we`re going to teach and baptize her. - did that story make any sense?

So many weird things happened this week... I think the favorite of Hna Coleman was when a drunk followed me in to the chapel yesterday... and of course I invited him in to sit with during sacrament meeting. (I have a cold and couldn`t smell how plastered he was. All the same... I think the chapel should have a lingering stench of smoke and alcohol- because if they`re doing it... that´s where they need to be- in church. ) Yet... he just stared at me ALL DURING SACRAMENT MEETING.... until the closing prayer... when he fell very asleep. Then later he came up to me in the hall... being very drunk and awkward. A priesthood holder kindly escorted him away as he was wailing, ¨but I`m in love with her! I`m in love with herrrrr!!¨..... awkward. I think that one will be funnier in 4 months.

The zone planned a free carwash this week.. and we were all super stoked... and told everyone about it... so many of our investigators were gonna come...... when the morning of... the water went out. Apparently the iron er, steel? pipes of the city were STOLEN.... so we`ve been out of water for 3 days and don`t know when we`ll have running water again. (don`t ask about showering or flushing the toilets....) So... we traveled 30 minutes to another chapel in another area... and as we had 2 cars all soaped up... the water died there too. As we trying to figure out how to get more water.... a drunk came and started walking off with our signs and supplies. Awkward. I love the mission. We laugh A LOT.

With ALL that said... (this is a really long letter... my hands are about to die.).... the biggest new of the week!! Today we went and played soccer with all the sisters in El Salvador and the President (just what we want to do when we have NO running water. :) Whadya do, right?)... when the topic of changes came up. As we were eating lunch... the sisters started begging to know what sisters were going to Belize- a hot topic of the mission because 2 sisters are going home this change. (There are only two zones there... and when sisters go there... they usually stay... forever. Until the end of their missions... so everyone wants to know who goes.)... I basically wasn`t listening... because I get tired of mission rumors and the assumptions about changes... and it didn`t concern me because I already knew I was leaving my area and going somewhere in Santa Ana... Belize never was my calling. During lunch, President was teasing sisters that had gained weight that they like the papusas too much... when he turned to me and asked me how I like El Salvador and the papusas. I replied that I liked them well enough... but didn`t find myself eating them very frequently... when he replied, ¨oh good, then you won`t miss them too much when you going to BELIZE.¨- then there was a heavy moment of silence... and I really thought I misunderstood his spanish... but as I stopped chewing and blankly stared at him... I reminded myself that I actually did understand spanish and that my brain couldn`t use that excuss for not understanding and accepting things that I didn`t want to hear.
SO... here we have it! I will one of the 2 sisters leaving El Salvador and going to Belize for who knows how long! I`m sick of guessing.. I don`t even care about changes! I just want to WORK! SO... I am packing my bags... leaving my brown latins, papusas, and spanish... and jumping on a plane to the world of blacks, english/spanish/kreol. I have a million and a half mixed feelings... but like Dad always said, ¨I don`t care how you feel about it! Just do it!¨ . :) I will go and do... and I am happy to know that there is revelation running in the fibers of the mission... and that I have no reason to fear or regret ANYTHING. I have LOVED El Salvador... and I will LOVE Belize... because the gospel is needed EVERYWHERE!
I love you all!
Hermana Clark

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