Saturday, January 28, 2012


Wow! For true you all heard Elder Holland? I was hanging off of every word of your beautiful letters. What a sacred experience, huh?

It's makes me a little anxious to realize that it happened yet again right under my nose.... that another precious week has flown by. I'm learning that the only possible way to truly control time... is to use it. I've been reading and reflecting on the sweet works of Paul in his parting in 1 Thessalonians 2 and 3... his reflections on his service to the people... his joy in his labor, love of the members there, and his final exhortations. His desperate desire for them to just have faith, be obedient, and to "increase and abound in love on toward another".. as he had loved them. That is my greatest burning desire... is for the members here to love and take care of each other. Truly what we have been called to do here in Belize City... is what each and every member has covenanted to do ALL their lives with ALL that we have- to "bear one another's burdens". People keep referring to me "finishing my mission"... but it's entirely false. I'm SO incredibly grateful for these daily sacred wake up calls and hard lessons that have stirred within me a greater realization of what my covenants truly mean- and this "contract" did not have an 18 month expiration. I only wish for the members here to do what have have done unto them- love them. That's exactly what the Savior has asked of us all along, huh? How come it took so much to get me to get that?
I sit at night and look at our map... reflect on our huge and ever growing list of people to teach and strengthen... and I run through hundreds of memories and miracles... and my heart gets that familiar expanding and near exploding sensation. I feel like a mother about to have her second child... and wondering, "can I possibly love my next child as much as I do my first? Do I have more room and capacity to love and nurture?".... can I love others like I have come to love my Belize City members? If I serve like He has taught me to..... I hope to ever grow in this love for all no matter where I am or what my calling is. How much did I need to go on a mission!!!
I am still so happy happy happy... and learning so much with my new companion and all the daily adventures. haha... oh stories to tell. (To be told when Grandma isn't reading. ;) )
Sister Clark


Wow, what a week we have had! Though sometimes I may get a little tired.... I will never be tired of this work. It's hard for me to imagine a better calling and assignment than the one that I have right now. This is such a dream come true... and things greater than dreams have come to pass... and I continually stand all amazed.
I was in the Spanish branch this week... and kids were running every where... way too many adults talking... it was painful for me to realize how the Spirit wasn't there... and I began to pray that the members would wake up and remember why we were there. As I was praying... the Spirit sweetly, softly, but ever so clearly told sing. I didn't have anything planned, didn't know what I should sing... but I sent a note over to the brother conducting, and offered to sing the intermediate hymn. I started praying some more... asking what He wanted me to sing.... when the Elder that was talking read a few lines of "I Stand All Amazed"- my favorite hymn. I stood up... not nervous.. but knowing that it was a sparadic effort... but undoubtedly inspired. As I started to sing acapella... I started to feel and truly mean every word I was singing. "I Stand All Amazed" has always been so dear to me- I remember when it first touched me when I was probably 9 or 10... but in that moment... as I sang... reflecting on the Atonement, my own repentance, and all I have seen here... it sunk deeper than it had ever gone before. As I was trying to sing, "siempre jamas le agradecire"... The Clark genes overcame me... and I choked on the words and after many pauses and fighting to squeek something out.. I finished. I don't think I could ever possibly thank my Heavenly Father and my Saviour enough for all He has done for me... and I will truly be forever amazed.
This week has been so dear and sweet. When missionaries hear how long I've been in my area- that half of my mission will have been in Belize City working on reactivation and retention... they shake their heads with sympathy- but how little do they know. I feel SO blessed to have had so much time here. To get to know so many people on such personal and intimate levels... and most of all... to see their change. Even in these last few weeks.. I have seen true and pure miracles that I had always prayed for... but doubted I would be blessed to witness the answers.
There is a family that we have been visiting for about 6 months... the father was coming about 1 time ever 1 or 2 months... and when we asked about his wife, he only shook his head and said, "man... she is a hard one."- and of course... that kind of response always sparks my interest. We started visiting her and her kids... and she didn't want anything with us! So... we started coming on surprise.. and just helping her wash clothes and clean. She tried so hard to avoid us... haha... but that is only more inviting to me! I could feel the Lord's love for this family SO strong... and He clearly guided us with them. One time her little son came out and said, "She dun gon ou" (She already left)... the Spirit told me otherwise.. and I felt strongly impressed to barge on into the house and poke my head out the back door- only to find my dear sister knee deep in the nasty garbage and alligator filled swamp with her back pressed up against the house trying to stay quiet until we left. :) It was an awkward moment... but a sweet one all the same... and over weeks and months as we continued to patiently love and teach... she started to listen... and they all started to change. They have now gone to church 5 weeks straight and are SO SO SO happy and are experiencing miracles and blessings in her husbands new business as he is using his priesthood again and recieving a calling. We just taught her about temples... and the Spirit was so sweet and strong... and they are preparing to go to the temple this year. I am so grateful to been here to see such sweet fruits.
My dear "G-Family" (Elder Holbrook will know who this is) is another marvelous transformation. This family has been a true test of my patience and charity... and I have left that home heart broken and frustrated...but not without hope. I have truly startled my dear Sister Rodas with my bluntness in teaching... but there was no other way. There clear rebellion was out of control... and though they too avoided us, ignored us, and totally reject the visits of the members... we kept... chugging along. After 7 months of warning, teaching, serving, loving... doing everything we could think of... and all the Lord inspired us to do.... Brother G is bound and determined to jump back in. He is going through the process of repentance, and we helped him yesterday write out a family home evening agenda and lesson to teach his kids and wife and get them preparing for the temple. I have seen an INCREDIBLE change in him... and I am so grateful that my Father answered me and the prayers of many missionaries... and has allowed me the opportunity to see His hand moving working miracles. There are many members that have been reactivated that are now preparing themselves to go to the temple this year. There are powerful converts that are now getting callings and working on hauling back the inactives too (Just like the story in Helaman 6! I LOVE IT!)
Sister Villatoro is such a, may I say, BABE. She is the woman. She is so determined to learn english, she super optimistic and has so much zeal for the work- especially this calling. Her personal experiences of inactivty and reactivation are super powerful, I know she was called by inspiration for THIS assignment... and we are enjoying our time together. She jumps out of bed at 5:30 ready to run all along the shore with me... and keep running all day. Belize is SO different from El Salvador... and our calling doens't come with clear lesson plans from Preach My Gospel... or much guidance... but just true reliance on inspiration and the Spirit. We have had some pretty crazy but beautiful lessons lately... and it's so neat to see her enthusiasm. There are so many startling factors of the culture of Belize... but she's learning and using her faith... and I am learning a lot from her. She is GREAT.
Thank you for all your prayers, faith, fasts, love, and support. I feel it every day.
Sister Clark

Monday, January 9, 2012

I Love My Mission... still!

What a beautiful and emotional week this has been. Sister Rodas' last moments have been so tender and special. We've been trying to take pictures with those that we have worked with and come to love... and it's really made me reflect and start to catch a glimpse of the bigger picture of what has happened here with hundreds of people in the last 7 months... and what it has done to us.
Although it's overwhelming to try to count all the tender mercies witnessed, changes experienced, love felt, tears shed, prayers answered, lessons learned.... Sister Rodas made a quick tally and we realized that we have taught a total of 1,177 lessons together. Numbers do not matter at all... but it does start to give a slight glimpse on what we've been through, done, and learned together. I love this girl. My mission has been overflowing with blessings and joys... but my precious time with her is one of the most precious gifts my Father could have given me. She is just who I needed at this time... and hundreds of people here needed.
Watching Sister Rodas say goodbye to all these people has brought me to realize even more how much I truly and deeply do love these people. With some bitter, mean, stubborn, hardened people.... it is a true miracle and answer to prayer how much I care for them.. and how their rages and errors don't phase me or change one fiber of my tender feelings for them. No other way... and perhaps no other place, culture, or calling could have taught me this kind of love and patience. The longer I'm here... the more I realize that I lack of these celestial qualities... and the more it brings me on my knees pleading to be completed in countless holes I continually find in my own character and soul. I am eternally grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ that has forever and is continually changing my perspective, daily purpose, and myself as a whole. Have I mentioned how much I love teaching the Plan of Salvation? Every time we get to share this perfect plan... the more the pieces of the puzzle start to fit in and sink even deeper in my heart of the role that the Atonement plays in our eternal progression and destiny. Even in my short 16 months on the mission... it has blessed, strengthened, and changed me in so many ways. I look forward to the future with peace and excitement... knowing that if I do my part... the changes, progression, and joy will continue. It is my greatest desire each day of my mission and for the rest of my life to obtain a greater understanding and application of this infinite gift... and to do whatever the Lord allows me to do to help others use it too.
This is a joyous work. I wish and plan never to stop. I loved what I read in 1 Thessalonians 2:9,
"For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God."

There will never been thanks sufficient to my Heavenly Father for this inexpressible joy.
Sister Clark

More Photos!

I Love My Companion!

Hello Family!
It was so good and neat to see and talk to you all! The best news of the week is the AWESOME news I received last night. The Martinez and Cardona family that I taught in Candelaria are going to be sealed February 18th!!!!! Right when we're there!!! The Lord has continued to spoil me time and time again... for than I could ever deserve... but this really does top it all. I love these families SO SO SO much, and it's my greatest mission/life fantasy to have seen their weddings, baptisms, and now their sealings. What a blessing!!
Yet, it can't all be lollypops and gumdrops, huh? When I think of sweet Candelaria.. I am often startled back into the reality... of the Jaredite world I live it. I refer to it as Jaredite in the sense of the curse that the land had at the time... when they couldn't set anything down... or it would's a great description of my beloved Belize. After receiving my awesome package full of gifts for the kids... Sister Rodas and I stayed up way too late saturday night wrapping them and preparing about 15 packages for our dear families and their children. We put them in big inconspicuous ugly black bags, and thinking ourselves very careful and wise... we hid them away in the library at church- knowing better than to leave them at our bikes or even bring them into the sacrament room. When we rushed to collect and distribute them after the sacrament meeting... despite our supposed previous ingenuity... Our hidden treasures where now hidden from us... and mysteriously no where to be found. We were mildly disappointed, but not the least bit surprised. Then... satan stepped it up a knotch. Not in creativity, mind you, but in severity.
Just last night, we were leaving our last appointment, as we descended down the stairs and went to unlock and mount our iron stallions... when we realized...that we would not be riding out bikes home that night. (See sad picture) It was classic Belize. We had just been saying to ourselves how incredibly hard the Lord must have been working for us and watching over us the last 7 months because despite all that goes on here...we have not been touched... and though all the other missionaries have had their bikes stolen, or they've been robbed... we've only lost minor things...that only by pure grace have we been so incredibly preserved thus far. Yet, it's Sister Rodas' last week... we had to get a taste of reality. :) Yet, really... Satan's gonna have to get a lot more creative than taking out our tires from underneath us to frustrate us. Seriously.
Christmas was so so so SO wonderful. After 7 months here... we had WAY too many people visit and share the time with. It was my favorite Christmas EVER. We felt the true magic and Spirit all week as we raced home to home to remind and teach of the true Gift our Father gave us when Christ was born. I've never like commercialize... but it's never pained me so terribly as it did this year to see so many blinded from the truth by the glitter, toys, and parties. We heard many say, "I couldn't go to church because I had to cook... I was tired... my family was over...." so many awfully lame excuses. Not even on the day universally dedicated to remember and celebrate the Lord could His children make Him a priority. It is so tragic. This Christmas really made an impact on me and has helped me understand what I want and will do with my future family.
We've been having so many special experiences... I can't even start to relate them... but I will try. We've been working with the "Johnson family"-we shall call them. They've been struggling to keep the commandments... and we've come to really love them as we've jumped into the fighting ring against satan with them. Bro J has an awful propensity for alcohol... but we had been seeing great progress with him for many months... until Christmas came. I really don't understand how it's remotely appropriate or justifiable to celebrate the Lord's birth by breaking His commandments and intoxicating yourself. It makes NO sense. So, when we visited them Christmas eve...we found him disgustingly drunk. We were trying to help Sis.J and the kids feel the Spirit as we taught them the BOM Christmas story... when we he stumbled in being very obnoxious. I have never yet seen my companion be so stern and bold as she demanded that he leave NOW. It was a really sad scene.. and broke my heart... and those of his family. We returned yesterday and found himwith a double broken jaw and very humbled and sober... and had an incredibly powerful lesson. We read with him Sister Dalton's talk and called him to be repent, be a man, and to be who his family needed. I love that family so much... it made me even more grateful for the real man I have had in my life as my father. I would not be here without him.

We were at a baptism for the Spanish branch, when the branch president called on Oscar Valerio to give his testimony. It was a total mission high to listen to this sweet humble man talk about his past of constant drinking, darkness, and confusion… and how he and his wife were married and baptized… and the changes and miracles they’ve experienced in their lives and how happy he has been this last year… and how excited he is to be sealed with his family. I loved watching Lucy’s face… in total shock… this being the first time her shy and tough husband had ever given his testimony. She was so in love. It was an INCREDIBLE moment.

We get to work with the Espinal family… who were just married and baptized. They are fighting against cancer and many financial crisis… and have experienced the healing miracles through the priesthood, and have incredible peace and joy despite the ragging struggles they are fighting every day. I am so humbled and astounded by their humility, patience, faith, and love of the Lord. I am learning so much from them. They are a beautiful couple and wonderful children that truly love each other. That is what I want. They have so little of worldly things… but they are some of the wealthiest people I have ever met.

It doesn’t feel like Sister Rodas is leaving. I feel like I’ve always had her, and will always have her. The Lord has been SO gracious and generous with the time He has blessed me with her. You’re right Dad… she deserves a LOT of respect for the time she has put up with me. I will always be in her debt. I hope you get to meet her some day.

Love you all!!

Hermana Clark

Sorry the Post is Late!

Hello Family!!!
Thank you Morgan and Jared for your awesome letters! The ALWAYS make me smile and laugh. hahahaha thank yoooou!

One of the BEST experiences of the week.. what definitely with a very special sister that I will lovingly name "Patty". Patty was one of the first people we met here in Belize, and it was love from the very start. When we got here, she was already coming back to church and we were just supporting her in the process. She had an untameable testimony, and it was awesome to watch her dive back into her scriptures and bring her daughter to be baptised... and it was going so great. Then, of course, drama within family and other members of the church happened... and all too often, she got offended. She was, as she stated, " I AM A BIG ANGRY BLACK WOMAN!!!! I AM ANGRY!!" These last few months working with her has been a HUGE learning experience that has truly opened our eyes to incredible danger and poison, offenses, anger, and most of all... pride. She was so full of hate, anger, and darkness.... she even admitted that nothing spiritual made sense to her anymore... she couldn't understand half of the things she once comprehended. It was incredible. It was a pure miracle the patience and courage that the Lord gave us to keep returning to her house to listen to her hour long venting rages and not to shink into a little ball sucking our thumbs. I'm not sure if I've ever experienced such hurt and anger caged up in one person before... but it was truly right on with so many of the Book of Mormon accounts. When we would plan... we kept on being impressed and guided to share with her really gutty and bold topics and talks from the Apostles on offenses, repentance... and every time she would get upset and offended even by the topic of... not being offended. She refused to read the scriptures or touch anything spiritual.Yet... we kept seeking and trusting in the Spirit... and little by little... she has calmed down. We talked to her on the phone this week... and I heard the concourses of angels singing as I heard her say softly and mildly, "I've been reading the Book of Mormon. I'm coming this week". We felt that we should share with her President Benson's wonderful talk, "beware of Pride".... though knowing that it could truly blow up on us... but without a doubt knowing it was the Lords will... we entered the Lions den. Yet, when we walked in... it's like we were visiting a totally different person. I almost popped my head outside to check the house number. She was calm, peaceful, and most of all... receptive. As she read with us this talk... she would read lines over again and say, "wow, ya... that's for me... yup, that's talking about 'Patty'...". I almost wept for joy and relief to find her so softened. It is a huge testimony to me the incredible and immeasurable power of the Book of Mormon. It TRULY changes people. It brings the Spirit into our lives like nothing else can...It's the universal antidote to all hurt, anger, pride, rebellion, misery... everything. Next to the Spirit, it is our greatest tool to teach. We could never do anything without it. She and her children came to church yesterday... and to see them walk in filled me with joy and pure gratitude for the Lord's mercy for them... and for us. I will never forget this miracle with her... and within us. She was one of our blessed refiners fire on our missions.
This work is not a quick nor an easy one... but it is beyond worthwhile. Words like patience, faith, charity, and hope have taken on such different definitions and meanings to me. Like my dear sister Joana. She told her boyfriend 6 months ago, "if you see missionaries in the street, give them my address. I need them." Her boyfriend found us in the street a few days after, and we have been working with her even since. She was raised in the church, but rebelled in her youth, and is now living with her boyfriend and 3 children. We loved her from the very start... but it has been slow progress. She finally came to church yesterday... and it made it all worth it.
It's all worth it. Whether we get to see our fruits right now, or not... it's undeniably fulfilling. I love this work. I love looking out at the congregations on sundays, and knowing and sincerely loving each one of these members. Even if I often stabbed with pain for those that did not come that day, knowing what these choices are costing them... I'm truly experiencing what I am teaching... that the Atonement heals every kind of pain.
This is the best Christmas ever. As I have been so blessed to know my Savior more personally, deeply, and sincerely... I am filled with more joy and light this season than all those in the past.
Talk to you soon!
Hermana Clark