Thursday, June 30, 2011

Oh, Thanks!

Thank you so much for the letters, family. I just burst with excitement and joy to read about all the awesome things you're doing, and most of all... your beautiful testimonies. My siblings are the greatest friends I could ever ask or dream of. Though... it wouldn't hurt to hear from Anna Daines someday. she still alive? I sure love her.

This sunday was so much better... as we saw a number of families and many people come back to church... and to see the warm welcome back the members gave them.... to see how happy these branches were to see their long last "family members" return to the fold. We still have so much more work to do... so many lost sheep to find and bring in... and we are itching and running to do it! We are finding part member families and are seeing some serious miracles... as these "impossible" people are actually listening to us... and more than that... are allowing the Spirit to touch them... and their change is visible. We are meeting with families that have hit the year mark since their baptism and are ready for the temple... and I feel so SO SO blessed to be able to help them receive the temple prep classes. We are loving reading and preparing lessons for them.. and my testimony and appreciation of the temple is continuing to blossom. I get so emotional to try to explain to these families what the temple really means for their eternities... because it makes me think of my experiences with my parents... and that just takes the words from me and turns on the water works. I am such a Clark.

I am seriously enjoying my time with Sister Rodas. She has brought so many new traits and flavors to my mission experience... and the Lord continues to spoil me through my companions. She is kind of shy, and is learning english.. but we're seeing miracles and having beautiful experiences with the gift of tongues.

I've been pondering a lot on the Plan of Salvation... one of my favorite mental themes... and it's just more and more perfect to me every day. It reminds me so much of the day when I was entering the MTC... and was saying goodbye to the parents. I will never forget how emotional dad got... and how he struggled to even say, " Be sure to come back. Come back." .... the love that I felt from my dear father... was a pure and blissful sample of the love that my Heavenly Father has for me... and how that moment at the veil may have been with Him. His greatest desire is that we... come back. The commitment I have, and the promise that I made in the beginning of my mission, and every single day... to be perfectly obedient, have success, and return as a new and better person.... is like the promise that we made with our Father as we left His presence to cross the veil and enter this life... as we may have looked into his tear filled eyes and said, "I will. I promise I will come back." I have felt that yearning of our Father for the return of His children so strongly as I am with them... and try to help them remember their promise... and prepare them to make more promises through baptism... and keep their promises by enduring to the end. I want to go back... and I want to see everyone I love there. I know this is more than a crazy and naive fantasy..... I know it is possible. God made it so possible when He sent his beloved Son to the earth for us. How grateful I am for this perfect plan of pure, true, real, and eternal happiness. How grateful I am to know it... have the chance to live it... and better yet- share it here in Belize.

I am loving every day. Hope you all are too. We have no reason not to!
Sista and Hermana Clark

P.S. Did Nana get back safe from China?

Yes Matt, there are TONS of rastas here. They're so bad rad

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"People... I just want to help you!!!!!!"

This week has been so frustrating, beautiful, painful, and spiritual. Have I mentioned how much I dig my mission??

I think the main theme of my recent experiences can be better stated by the words of Alma in Alma 13:27 when he says that he wishes from the innermost part of his heart with great anxiety unto pain that they would repent. Sometimes when I leave homes hurting, or return to the house and hold it together just long enough to pray with my companion before bursting into tears... I question if I'm doing this right. Of course the mission isn't supposed to be easy... but I just hope and pray that the daily soul stretching is making me stronger. Yet, it's usually just a lot easier to see how much I lack... how far I have to go... than to see the personal progress that I may have made in these last 10 months.
I am SO grateful for this special blessing of being able to really specialize in the inactive members here. I've learned during my mission that seeing someone come back to church, remember the truth, repent, and be able to receive the blessings of the gospel all over again after hard years of spiritual darkness and starvation....... feels so much like having a baptism. I've realized that I really have such a passion for new converts and inactive members... and I am seeing so many prophecies and promises from my blessing coming to fold even in these last few weeks.
I am humbled for the weekly, daily, hourly, moment to moment guidance and help that the Lord has given us in this calling. We wander out to find streets and houses of people that we have never met before.... just with the list of members and a map (how come THE MOST directionally impaired one keeps opening areas? What is this?)... and with the best compass- the Spirit. We have been so blessed to find them. More than that... the planning is different because we've never met almost everyone on our schedule... and so we're never totally sure what exactly they're going to need, what language they're going to speak, and so planning and making lesson plans for the day is totally impossible without the Spirit. It's such a humbling and edifying experience to sit and listen to these people that have just met... and to recieve revelation to know what their problems and needs are... and to suddenly be filled with scriptures and/or things that I had heard years ago... drift into my head and flow out my mouth. I love love love knowing that it is not me that is speaking... that I have so little to do with anything that has happened in a lesson... but that it was the Spirit guiding it all. We have had so many sweet experiences with people that have had hurt or SUPER HOSTILE feelings for the church... and seeing them soften and change as the Spirit enters the room and touches them. I guess I'm just realizing more and more how little the conversion of these brothers and sisters has to do with me.
Yesterday... we found a house that we had been looking for. A random family on our list that we knew nothing about... and wanted to know. So.. as we were parking and locking our bikes outside... an angry woman came out and asked what we were doing. "oh... just.. umm... are you Sister Smith?" ...."Who wants to know?" ... yikes. " umm... Sister, we're missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ----" " NOT interested. You can leave now. I want NOTHING to do with you." - in that moment... my heart suddenly swelled with love and compassion for this big angry woman.... and I don't remember what I said, or what really happened after that... but just that I opened my mouth, and as the Lord had promised... it was filled... and we found ourselves in her house... as she was yelling and ranting about offenses that she had experienced and that she was just a big angry woman that could never forgive them.. that she knew for these feelings that she had that she would be going to hell... but that she couldn't care less now....... all I could hear was, " I'm hurt." ... and as we talked... she shared that she was once the relief society president, one of the first members in Belize in 1982, and that her husband had recently died and she wanted to do his work, and wanted an eternal family... but with the anger and hurt in her heart... she didn't feel worthy to go back to church. .... we had such a beautiful lesson with her... and by the end she gave us juice and tried to get us to hold her grandchildren... and you could cut the love in that room with a spoon it was so tangible. - it was truly a miracle.
The other day... we went to visit another name on the list... not knowing what we would find. We wandered through a sketchy neighborhood... and my heart grew heavier and heavier. Belize is beautiful... and there are wonderful people here... but it's hard. There are hard hard hard people here. I think they're just like eggs. I'm trying to figure them out... and I'm thinking that they just have cement shells... and once you've chiveled your way in... they're goo inside.. and it's all good. So.. sometimes it's hard to feel super good with the comments yelled at us (it's way worse in english I think), the things we see and hear...... so this day.. I was feeling a little bit heavy of heart. We found the apartment of this sweet Sister Vernon... and she met us with such joy and tears in her eyes... and told us her story of how the Lord sent angels to her house 3 years ago, and though she struggles that her husband isn't a member.. and getting her 5 kids on the same path... and reading the scriptures and praying every day... and having family home evenings... is so hard doing it alone.... that she has seen so many miracles. She sobbed as she told us that "I have new eyes. I see things I never saw before... and I see and feel the spiritual things. I can never forget what I have been given." ... We just... sobbed together. The immediate bond and love that we had... was so incredible. I can't explain exactly what happened in that house... but it was so powerful and continually impacted me every time I reflect of what she said and what I felt during that lesson.
We are meeting so many people that gotten caught up and dragged down by the worldly temptations... and have taken their families with them. I was kind of bummed at first to be leaving El Salvador... knowing that I would miss the temple dedication. What a sweet opportunity it is to take your investigators... families... to the open house and let them get a taste of what the Lord wants to give them. Yet... my disappointment has been replaced with the joy of visiting families and trying to help them make those "celestial traditions" again... and trying to help parents establish a "Christ-Centered Home". It's the best. I'm a family addict. I'll admit it. My perspective and appreciation of the family is blossoming.. and I love it. I look forward to my own future with excitement and definite goals... because I know so much better now what exactly I want... and what I can have if I do my part.

Mom, you asked about the weather. It's hurricane season... so the rain is coming. I guess Belize City used to be the capitol until it kept getting washed out every season... so they moved it. So.. we'll see what happens. It's "cooling down" they say... so I feel great about that. Culture note- there is a big colony of omish people that speak german that come into town in their horse and buggy. I found a lebanese restaurant. They speak arabic and have divine hummus. I was so happy.
Ok! love you!
"Sista" Clark

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Wow. I love Belize. Totally love it. Where do even start with all that has happened in the last 11 days??
First of all, it's a whole new show on the discovery channel... it's SO hot and SO humid... but I'm not dying. I don't think I've ever been so tan and sweaty in my life.... but I've already been so blessed not to have died. I thought I was still in Central America... and this has been a quick surprise... that suddenly... I'm actually serving in the CARRIBEAN. I totally didn't get that before.. but with the jamacin food, everyone black with dreads.... the language and culture..... it's just what I'd imagine Jamaica to be. Weird. Wha happened? There are the BIGGEST iguanas here...they're like the deer of Spokane... the geckos are a lot more sociable here.... we have a family of them in our sink that I'm very fond of. I got bit by a tiny little red ant that resulted in a stellar swelling of my wrist and break out of insanely itchy hives all up my arm. There are so many different people and cultures here- I love it. There is a population of muslims- there is even a muslim school here..... almost every little store is own by chinese people that can only count money in english..... there are latins from all over latin america... and then mostly everyone are the beautiful black belizians. I'm still one of the only white girls here... and am constantly reminded... cruizing down the road in my bike and fashion helmet... fighting with my skirt (not an easy or modest task..)... and everyone yelling, "Hey white girl!!!" haha...
When I got off the plane... I was so lost. I felt like I was starting my mission again... suddenly everyone around me was talking a language that I didn't understand. I thought Kriol would just have a funky accent in english... but WOAH. It is a DIFFERENT LANGUAGE. Even their english here is so hard for me to understand... and I wish they would just speak spanish! Please!! We went to the produce market at the canal yesterday... and everyone spoke spanish... and I felt like I did when I found someone in El Salvador at the beginning of my mission that spoke english- such a relief to find someone I could communicate with. - but now it's finding spanish in a world of english that makes me feel at home. Weird.
The culture is so different that what I'm used to. When I started hugging and kissing everyone... they acted really violated and weirded out... so I've been learning the hard way that I am not in El Salvador anymore. Belizians are so nice and so wonderful... they just express it in a different way... and I have to learn how to read them. Yet... almost instantly... I love them. Look at my pictures... could they be more beautiful? I knew I wanted black babies before... but now it's a set determination. I have to have one.

I know this is where I'm supposed to be. I wake up so hot and suffocating... and so happy that the blazing sun has again brought a new day and so grateful for the work I have here. My companion, Sister Rodas from Guatamala, and I have a really special calling here... that I feel so honored and excited to fulfill. President told me before I came, " Your focus, your job, and your calling... is to REACTIVATE REACTIVATE and RETAIN." So we are here working with the english and spanish branches... to hunt out those that have fallen away... and to help them come back into the fold, and to help the new stay. - something I have always had a passion for. We have been here only a week... and yet have already had so many beautiful and special experiences that have repeatedly confirmed the inspiration presidente received to make this calling for us. There are already 2 missionaries in each branch that are working like normal and crazy hard.... and so we really do get the unique opportunity to completely and wholly focus on the hard and complicated, or just forgotten people and families that have drifted off. As we have been visiting these people and families... we have already seen so much pain and such grave consequences of sin.... and my appreciation and love of the Atonement is continuing to grow and grow every single day. I couldn't imagine or dream of anything I would rather do...but to be in these homes... testifying of the reality of the Atonement, the opportunity to repent and come unto Christ again despite the past...... and to sit and cry with my brothers and sisters.... and watch the hope and joy of the Atonement seep into their lives.
The church in Belize is still so new- it just came in the 80s and has been growing. Yet... the leadership and priesthood still need more people and more support. These people are so humble and wonderful... I am again in the presence of greatness. They have been struggling to establish the programs... and so the retention of members has been on the downfall. The culture here... is so opposite the commandments of God- the rampant drugs and immorality in almost every family.... so many "false traditions of their fathers" - that our quest right now is to support the relief society, priesthood, and youth programs... and help the leadership understand and fulfill their roles. We are trying to get creative and follow inspiration to know exactly what it is that the Lord wants us to do. We're definately obsessed with families, and we're gonna work so hard on helping youth get on missions. One of our great projects right now that I am SO SO SO SO SO excited about... is to give temple preparation classes. There are families and people that can go to the temple... but have had the formal preparations. I am SO SO excited to help these families "seal" the deal... and make it to the temple. We're starting to teach the Branch President's wife... and it's so exciting!!

A sweet experience... an example of what we have been blessed with....
A sister that has been showing us around and helping us find houses... her name is Julie Smith. She is my hero. I can't explain all that she has done and is... but believe me... to be half of her would be a big achievement for me. She has a daughter that has been inactive for the last 10 years ago... fell away in her adolescence... and is now pregnant with her 3rd child and is back in her mother's house. She has struggled with having any desire to return to church and hasn't been willing to listen to her mom about "church stuff". She has gone through so much... and when we met her... I felt something SO powerful and SO special... and the Lord blessed me with immediate love love love. We talked to her only a little bit... but to our surprise.. even with her mom on the other side of the country... she came to church on sunday.....alone. She then invited us to her house yesterday.. and we had family home evening with her. She told us that she too felt something so special when we first met... and she found herself with a new desire to come to church. She said that she felt something so good at church... and she knows that the Lord called us her to find HER. We cried and rejoiced together... and had such a powerful lesson on the power of the Atonement... and we are so excited to see all the greatness that comes of her. :)

I am again so honored to be able to work with some of the best missionaries out here. It's apparent that they send the Elders out here that can be entrusted to be 2 countries away. The missionaries here are so great. One of my zone leaders is Elder Holbrook from the Spokane Stake- and though I didn't know him before, it's been awesome working with him. Between my friends and him... it's so obvious that Spokane has spit out some ridiculously good missionaries. :) I'm the nurse over here... so that's a new twist. We just got authorization to take out ingrown toenails ourselves- and I'm pretty stoked. Not only do I get do minisurgery with injecting lidocaine, doing an phenol burn, cutting and ripping out a toenail... we get to save thousands of precious tithing funds. :)

I am loving my mission more and more every day. My perspective of the gospel, the plan of salvation, and the appreciation of family is blossoming. It makes me appreciation every moment of the mission, and look forward to the future with excitement and hope. I love the gospel.
Sister Clark

Sister Clark
P.O. Box 1123
Belize City

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Hello! I`m with Hermana Woods again, who has her P-days on fridays, and since I don`t know when I`ll write next week... I`m writing now! They pulled out all the missionaries from our West misson from San Salvador, and I`m here in Santa Ana, Trebol area for the week before I fly out to Belize. Leaving was hard again... lots of tears were shed from oth parties... but I`ve been blesse to so quickly fall in love with this area in Trebol... and to be with Hermana Woods (I love her so much- she`s basically a glorified and perfected version of me. We have so much in common... but she`s SO much better htan me... she inspires me every day). We`re definately not in the city anymore... and I feel so much beter here. We`re back to making tortillas and washing clothes... and being filled with the light and purity of some beautifully humble people. I feel so much more at home here amongst the neighborhoods of hundreds of tarp and stick houses. I am slapping myself for daring to have a bad attitude for not having water for one measely little week without water... when every day for their whole lives it`s a fight to haul barrels of water on their backs or heads from the far away little faucets. Beng here kindly but bluntly reminds me of the princess that I have been... and how much I truly have to learn.
There is a beautiful little branch here that I have instantly adapted as mine in these last few days. We went to ^the chapel^ for ward counsel the other night... and it was such a good experience for me. First of all... their chapel is otside of a little house up in the mountainous jungle. I feel like I`m in a secret tree hut... but with a hint of the traditional church with wooden blackboards and plastic chairs. When I got there.. something felt SO familiar as I started to meet some of the ward members and the family of the home of the ¨tree house¨. These people had so much light, enthusiasm, and joy... and I was having major dejavu... as if I had already met them before. I met the father of the family... and as I shook his hand... I was penetrated with the Spirit, without words, and on the verge of tears- but didn`t know why. A son of the family told me that he served in the Guatamala North mission and that his younger sister served in the same mission and in the same area. I told him that that`s so funny, because that happened t the wife of my bishop in my old area! ....the it started to connect... that his sister was Claudia- the bishop`s wife from Candelaria... and that I was there with her whole family!! They told me that their father had just been ordaned as the stake patriarch- which makes so much sense why I felt like I was with grandpa and so overwhelmed with emotion in tat moment. During the meeting... I was replaying all the gospel principle lessons that Claudia had taught- all the stories that she had told of her families conversion- that her father drank and smoke... that they had SO many struggles and obstacles... but that she recieved her testimony and answer from God when they knelt together as a family and asked God together. Being surrounded by these radiatingly pure and spiritual giants... and remembering all that I ahd learned about their struggles and triumphs... knowing a little bit of who they were before they learned the gospel... and seeing them now... and seeing how they are building up the kingdom of God here... and are on their way to being an eternal family... just filled me up with so much love and appreciation for the gospel, missionary work, the ordinances of the temple, and the purifying and enabling power of the Atonement. Looking at this patriarch... a truly beautiful man.. it was hard to imagine the hardened, drunken, and addicted lost soul that once existed.. because he nows carries such sacred keys and responsiblity so worthily. This is what the gospel does.
Yesterday Claudia came to visit her family, and I got to see her. It was such a sweet reunion... and again, my joy could not have been greater to hear of the successes of the families we baptized, reactived, and loved. The family Martinez and Cardona are just blossoming- both the wives have callings in the primary, and the husbads are the first and second counselors of the Elders quorum... and they are happily working towards the temple. :) There s another family that we had found that are getting married and baptized THIS WEEK! It is so sweet to hear about hese seeds bringing forth such sweet and eternal fruit. The attendence has continued to soar.. and they`re starting to build a new and bigger chapel- because they`re now busting out of the seams of the chapel that was only half fll my first unday there. I love love love this work.
Even in these last few days here... we have been having such sweet experiences... and are recieving such clear answers to our prayers! They have an investigator named Pati- and she is my inspiration. She is finally movnig on from a painful and dark past of prostitution, alcohol, smoking, witchery... basically any dark method of Satan... she ha fallen victim to in her life. She has quit smoking and drinking alcohol, and this week she has given up coffee. She is fighting and winning living the law of chastity... and is clearly a changed woman. We have been working with her to help her ee herself with the hope and love of God.... and I get giddy to see the light enter her eyes as she is really starting to believe that she has divine value, and despite the past... she has limitless potential. She is so humble and eager and willing to make these sacrifices and changes... and it just makes me ask... if she can use her faith to leave behind all that she has ever known to follow Christ..............what reason have I to not change in such a drastic fashion also?
Yesterday... as I was praying... I was filled with an even greater hunger and thirst to find a family. I recieved a weet confirmation that if we listened and followed His promptings.. that we would find one of the families that was waiting for us that day. So... as we were walking through these neighborhoods... I saw a man moving junk ouside of this tarp house. I asked him if he needed help... and he refused... and we told him we would do WHATEVER task he needed done... and he sent us to the neighbors to wash clothes. We went... but she didn`t have clothes... nr interest in the message. When we were walking back... the same man beckoned us over. He said, you said any task, rght? We quickly answered, ¨Whatever you need! We`re here to serve!!!:) ¨... and then he asked us if we knew how to take lice out of hair. I can`t deny... that Hermana Woods and I paused.. and looked at each other with hestitancy and a little doubt... nearly loosing our enthusiasm... but when apparently clean daughter whipped open the door and denied having lice... we started to realize that maybe he wasn`t serious. We still don`t know who or if someone had lice...becasuse all this kids came pouring out of this little shack... and we found ourselves pulled into this whirlwind fo chaotic excitement that we were american.. and when his wife came around... it really hit me SO STRONG... that THIS WA THE FAMILY. I found myself yelling over everyone, ¨WE HAVE A MESSAGE FOR YOUR FAMILY!¨... and before they could started jumping and screaming over us again... we whipped out our hymn book and started singing ¨Families can be together forever¨... and the mom totally melted. They finally realized that we sent from God for them... and they started to listen. The mom said that that has always been her dream for her and her 6 kids and her husband... is that they can all follow God and be together forever. There is no better feeling than to tell a mother fighting to feed her kids every day... that it`s all for a reason... and that the celestial inheritence that she has always wanted... can be hers. The Lord SO CLEARLY answered my plea.

Welp... I fly out El Salvador tuesday morning. It`ll be a change... but change is so great when it`s the will of God. It`ll be weird to be with just one other sister all the time. I`ve gotten acustomed to changing companions almost every ay... and living with 5 or 6 sisters in the house. It`s been such a good experience to live with SO MANY different people with such different cultures, opinions, work ethics, ideas, histories.... but all united in the same cause and fight. I`ve learned a lot from every single sister I`ve been blessed to work with... and have come to love them so indivdally and deeply. It`s hard to imagine being one of 4 sisters in the whole country... but I`m down for whatever, right? Probably my only apprehension is riding a bicycle again... I still get flashbacks of my near death incident just to think of bicycles... but despite my inclination for disaster... I know the Lord will take care of me. :) (funny that I have more temor of a bicycle than of the rampant gangs here, huh?)
Ok! Love you all! Bye bye!
Hermana... soon to be: Sister Clark