Sunday, December 18, 2011

Love You All!

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


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