Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday, Dec 27th 2010

Oí Família!

As I am sitting here thinking of what to tell everyone today, I am really drawing a blank because I basically said everything on Saturday on the phone. The only really cool thing that happened between that time was that we had another baptism this weekend! Her name is Vitória and she is an 8 year-old girl who is basically adopted by her neighbor who happens to be a very strong member of the Church. I will just tell everyone right now that this Gospel is extremely contageous! As we were at Church, Vitória´s older sister came to support her and her baptism. This girl´s name is Natália and she is 13 years-old and really loves the things of the world (if you know what I mean), but when she experienced how the Church was yesterday and after her little sister´s baptism, she automatically felt the desire to leave it all behind and now she will be baptized this next week as well! This entire last week she was always telling us how she didn´t like how we were teaching her little sister about baptism because she thought she was too young, but we challenged her to find out for herself how it is in the Church. After just ONE visit she was converted to the Gospel and now she will join her little sister. I just cannot explain how amazing it is to see people change so quickly because of this amazing Church that Christ has given us. I have yet to find another plan that brings more hope, more hapiness, and more love to our lives and the lives of our families.

Well, I have a bit of an anouncement to make... So, President Moreira, my mission president, made a goal at the beginning of the year of 2000 baptisms in the year of 2010. This Sunday was the last week of the year to baptize and we were short three baptisms. At the end of the day yesterday, we finished with 2,033 baptisms and reached the goal that the Lord set for us! I am very proud to have been a part of something like this because I know that it was not because this mission has better missionaries or anything like that, but that Heavenly Father had prepared so many people in our paths that we were able to do our part to bring 2,033 of his children closer to Him again. I know that His power is Great. I know that He is acting through me everyday as I continue to expand my knowledge of His Gospel and be more obedient to His comandments.

It was so amazing to hear from you all this Saturday. I am truly happy here as one of the Lord´s servants. I am learning things that I will take with me for the rest of my life. I know that I wouldn´t be able to do any of this without all of your support. Thank you so much for all the love and prayers that I receive from family, friends, and everyone else in-between. If things keep going this well out here, the next thing you´ll have to be worrying about is trying to get me to want to come home!!! (just kidding Mom) Happy New Year´s to everyone out there! This starts 2011 and my Black Year of the mission, or the full-year that I am out on the mission. I am so excited!!! Be good everyone and remember who you are and what you stand for. I love you all so very much.

Elder Clark

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Monday, Dec 20th 2010

Oí Família!

This week was great and tiring at the same time. We had three baptisms marked for this weekend but two of them ended up falling through. The one person who was baptized was Dion. Dion is a 12 year-old kid who really is something special. He lives in a very humble home (really really humble) with his single mom and three other brothers (all from different fathers) and he helps his mom out with all of the chores and even takes care of his youngest brother of four years when his mom is working. He is such a special kid and felt the Holy Ghost testify to him that the Church was true in the first night. We took pictures in front of the Church with our new Santa Hats that we bought and we all had a great time!

The sad part of this weekend is about the other two kids we had marked for baptism that didn´t end up being baptized. The girls are 11 and 8 years-old and both had extreme desires of being baptized with Dion, but when we talked with their moms, it was like Satan had possessed their point of view so much that they didn´t want anything to do with us. The thing that I don´t understand is that these parents will let their daughters run around at such a young age, doing whatever they want, and they never bat an eye, but when you tell them that their daughters want to follow Christ´s example and be baptized, they get all defensive and don´t allow it. This is something that Elder Fernandes and I have been talking about a lot lately; we really are in the final days because Satan has perverted the world so much that Godly things like baptism and Church are misconstrued as bad things, and bad things like drugs and sex are more accepted. We aren´t going to let these two girls go, however. We have a goal to baptize them the day after Christmas!!! Heavenly Father is more powerful.

Well, as far as the phone call goes for this Saturday... We don´t have many members who have offered to let us stay at their house for Christmas and so we aren´t quite sure where we will be, so I have two telephone numbers for you...

We should be in this house about 2 o´clock in the afternoon, so 9 o´clock for you guys. Mom, Dad, I will leave it up to you two to decide who will call first. If you call and the line is busy, just know that my companion is probably on the other line talking to his family still. We have rules on the time limit, and I will let you know when we are pushing it. Since I get two phone calls, President Moreira has asked that I try to split up the time evenly between the two houses. But don´t worry about the time, we will be fine :).

I´d love to be able to call on Christmas Eve and catch the whole family at home at Grandma and Grandpa´s house, but President Moreira moved our P-day to Christmas and we will be working on Christmas Eve, thus meaning that I won´t have any time nor phone to make the call because we have to use a member´s phone.

I am super excited for Christmas! I have really been waiting for this chance to share how much fun I am having out here. The mission is definitely the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but it´s also the best thing that has ever happened to me. I hope I can still remember how to talk in English. It´s been almost five whole months since I´ve had a straight conversation in English. Writing is one thing, but talking is completely different. Hopefully things go all right haha. I love you guys! Thanks for all the support, prayers, and love.

Elder Clark

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday, Dec 12 2010 - His 2nd Area

Oí Família!

Well, I will start this e-mail off with the things that I learned from this week...

So this area is SUPER blessed! We have a member in this ward who, just one year and eight months ago, was a pastor of another church that he started in this area. I think I already mentioned this to you guys, but this guy is unreal! He has so many ideas to do for this area and here pretty soon, we will be baptizing all of his former members! So we have been working our butts off with his references every night, but during the day we have been finding a lot of other people to teach as well. We had three baptisms marked for this last Sunday, but at the last second their moms wouldn´t let them be baptized because they were raised Catholic and would die Catholic (I get this a lot down here). The thing that really got to me was that these girls had really received an answer from Heavenly Father that this is the true Church and they really wanted to be baptized; nevertheless, their moms still wouldn´t let them. Then we had more people to teach who were progressing SO well and they had promised to go to Church with us and everything, but when we got to their house on Sunday morning, they had gathered up a few excuses for why they couldn´t go. I got so sad and confused as to what we were doing wrong. We had taught everyone as well as we could and they had all said that they would go, but still no results. I started to doubt that my skills were good enough and that I couldn´t speak this language very well, and guess what happened? I was right. I let myself think that way, and so I went in that very direction. I was tripping over myself with Portuguese and teaching really poorly. Then I remembered what Preach My Gospel says about the Christlike Attributes; especially Patience. When we don´t have patience, we are basically saying that what we think is more important that what God thinks; that His judgement isn´t as important as ours. Maybe things weren´t going well for us this week, but I know that God definitely has a plan for everything and I definitely have enough faith to know that when things get bad, there´s only one direction that they can go... up!

But anyway, I am so happy with this area. For those of you who want to look up my area on Google maps, the name is Jardim Presidente Dutra, Cumbica-São Paulo. It´s really nice here, even though it is extremely hot right now, because I get to see trees, cows, and horses! It kinda feels like home. This pastor that we have in this area is named Laércio, but everyone just calls him pastor here. He told me that he and his wife are building a bigger home right now, which will be finished probably by the time I leave this area, but whenever I come back to visit, they will build a room specially made for the missionaries whom they knew a came back to say "hi."

This morning we just barely got done doing another service project for this less-active member who is building a new house. He started from scratch, completely alone, and now he is about ready to finish. The only people who have been helping are the missionaries. He´s quite the goofball, but really loves the missionaries. He always calls us "oí missionários!" never Elder or anything, just missionaries. He is kind of stubborn and said that he won´t come back to Church until the house is finished; so you can see why we are trying to help him. We have been loading up wheelbarrows full of dirt and hauling it to the back of his house, hammering nails and hanging up shelves, setting up the tv and everything. I sure do miss doing all that hard work stuff.

I hope this week goes well for everyone! I love you all and am so happy that everyone is doing great and getting excited for Christmas!

Elder Clark

Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday, Dec 6th (His 2nd Area)2010

Tudobém Família!

Well, it´s official! I have reached my second area on the mission. I left my first area, almost crying, and felt so wierd because the thought of never seeing these awesome people again in my life really scares me. I never have been one to like separation. When I get close to people, I really don´t like to let them go. I think that is why I love the Plan of Salvation so much. I know that we will all see each other again someday. I am now in an area called Presidente Dutra in Cumbica. It´s not in the big city of São Paulo anymore and more in the greener area, which is really nice for me because I was missing the green. The area is really big and we walk a lot, but we walk through a jungle-looking area to get to where we need to go. I finally feel like I am serving in BRAZIL now! The first day, I got to the jungle area and said, "where is my machette?" It is really pretty. I am now companions with Elder Fernandes. He is a Brazilian from the northern end of the country, so he is quite accustomed to the heat because he lived on the equator for the majority of his life. He is really great and funny and we are getting along fantastic! We are teaching a lot of people right now. We have a recent-convert that just moved here from Campinas (a different state in Brazil) and he is a former Pastor of another church. He heard the message of the Restoration and was converted in an instant, and now he is giving us references like crazy! Can you guess who are the references? Yup, the former members of his church. I have a feeling that this transfer will be quite a good one.

We were teaching a family this week when I had one of the coolest experiences. Elder Fernandes finished teaching about prophets and authority from God and then he turned it over to me to teach the first vision. I started to explain to this family about Joseph Smith and the situation that he was in before he had the First Vision. I watched as the dad of this family, who was full of comments and questions before, sit in silence and tears filling his eyes as the Spirit of the Lord filled the living room. This family is on course for being baptized here this month, and how great would it be if they were to share this wonderful experience right before Christmas? I know that this Church is true and I know that I am doing the Lord´s work. At times I feel like I am not working my hardest and it´s these times that I feel the worst, but I know that everyone is here to improve and make better our mistakes. We all just need to keep remembering to use the power of repentance and allow the Lord to help us become better. Thanks to you all that have been sending me letters and emails. I love you all so very much! Have a great weekend!

Elder Clark

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday, November 29th 2010

Oí Família!

Well, like in the song... "It´s closing time..." I don´t know the rest of the words, but it is the end of the transfer once again and I am pretty darn sure that I will be leaving this area. We had a Stake Conference yesterday that was really really good! I will tell you guys a little part that I liked the most. So this guy was at a college of theology, explaining Gospel Doctrine to this group of theologists. He and this Institute teacher finished their presentation and they had some time left over, so they decided to introduce the first vision of Joseph Smith and Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Then the interrogating questions started flying in from this classroom filled with theoligists. "Where are the golden plates, now?" trying to catch these two guys in the middle of their words so that they contradict one another. The institute teacher wanted to answer the question... "I have them with me right now as a matter of fact." Everyone in the room gasped. Then the teacher placed a big box of copies of the Book of Mormon on the desk. "I have the translation of the plates right here and enough for everyone!" And then someone asked again, "but where are the actual plates?" So the teacher responded again, "Oh these ones are much better... they´re in Portuguese! You wouldn´t be able to understand the other ones anyways!" I was laughing really hard because so many people ask this question. It really doesn´t matter, because the plates where translated by the power of God and now we have means of understanding them in our own tongue. It´s a matter of faith for us to believe in the words that it contains. If we still had the plates, we wouldn´t need faith to believe in the truth of the Book of Mormon, thus, taking away our agency to make this decision, which is not the plan of God. He will not force ANYONE to believe that these things are true because He wants us to humble ourselves before Him and ask with sincerity if these things are true... or not. It´s simple, and it works.

I am sorry I didn´t have time to put anymore funny stories or interesting stories this week. I will tell you all about everything next week... or Christmas during the phone call... whichever comes first for me lol.

Love you all!
Elder Clark

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday, November 22nd 2010

Oí Família!!!

This week was a pretty good one. We met a few families that have a lot of potential of getting to know the true Gospel of Christ this week and I am really excited to teach them! The first family is one with a really young mom and three boys. These boys are so cool because they are not anything like the other boys here in Brazil. They actually really get along and don´t fight with each other. They were all looking for a Church to really start to follow and we were lucky enough to find them in this time of their lives (but I don´t think it was luck that we found them). The other family is a single mom with her 5 year old boy. Her name is Ilma and she has been going through a lot of problems with the father of her son and she just wants to know what Christ wants her to do. Elder Roblyer and I taught one of the best lessons about the Book of Mormon that I have ever been apart of since I´ve been here on the mission. We were feeling the Spirit so strongly and even Elder Roblyer and Ilma were crying because of the power that was in the room. It was so amazing and I really have a lot of hope that these families will take hold of this Gospel and run with it!

So a little bit on the funny side for this week. Every day we walk on the street and the little kids think that we are German, so they always yell at us, "hey! German! Speak English!" yeah, it doesn´t make a whole lot of sense, but they are kids, so what can you do? So we stop and talk with them and tell them that we´re not German, but we are from the USA and they get all wide-eyed and interested in the things that we have there. Then they all try talking in English, or at least the basics that they all learn here in school, like "what is my name?" and we always answer, "good question, I don´t know your name." We also try to teach a Gospel principle to them while we are with them. For example, yesterday I taught them all about the Law of Chasity and how we should all treat women as if they were our own mothers. So they stopped their dirty jokes about the women on the street... for about a half an hour at least. It´s hard to help them understand when they´ve been doing it for so long, but who knows, maybe one of those young boys thought that it was pretty important and he will apply this to his life. If so, I know that I have done my job.

I love this work and I love everyone who is helping me be out here! Thank you so much everyone! Have a Happy Thanksgiving! Eat a lot of Turkey for me because I won´t be eating any this year lol!

Elder Clark

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday, Nov 15th 2010

Oi Família!

You guys remember how I was saying that it is getting all hot and stuff here in Brazil? Yeah, we had one really hot day this week and the rest was pretty chilly. I don´t think São Paulo can make up its mind. But this week was amazing! We baptized another awesome person this Sunday, too! Her name is Madalena (my first woman baptism) and she is 56 year old woman who walked herself into the Church one day and fell in love with the Gospel. She started reading the Book of Mormon everyday the first day we left it with her. She was smoking and had already tried to quit but couldn´t, but we left her with a challenge last week that she would be able to quit this week, and she did! We almost ran into a snag with her this week however. It was Monday night and we were following up with her about her smoking problem and she had said that she was going well but she didn´t want to be baptized just yet. She was really nervous and I could tell she didn´t want to fall away and start smoking again. I looked at her and told her that she was probably one of the most faithful investigators I have ever had. She realized the blessings that come from baptism and she re-accepted her baptismal date. This Sunday she asked me something that really touched my heart. She asked, "You two can still come visit me even after I´m baptized, right?" I started to smile and laugh and told her that I will never quit visiting her, "you´re still my friend and my sister now." I don´t know if have ever been so emotional with any of my baptisms. I could just feel the joy that Madalena had when she was baptized and now she is just longing for all of her kids to be baptized too. I absolutely love the Gospel and what it does for people. This Church is true.

Elder Roblyer and I exlpored our area this week as well. We received a few references that we wanted to contact and they all lived in areas that I have never been to, so it was quite an adventure haha I will tell you that I can navigate myself successfully around a Brazilian map! I dare everyone to try to do this when half of the roads don´t even exist on the map. So now I have absolutely no excuse for getting lost in the US again.

Sorry today is so short, but I will try to utilize my time better next week! Have a great week everyone! I love you all with all my heart and I can´t wait to call you all and finally share a majority of my experiences with you!

Elder Clark

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday, November 8th

Oí Família!

Hello everyone! Yet another hot week in Brazil! We´re coming into the end of spring and the start of summer here, so that means that you all will freeze and I will be melting. I have a few photos of the snow from when I visited Bear Lake last winter and I like showing the people here because they get flabbergasted and say, "whoa! Snow must be terrible!" Brazilians do not like the cold in any way shape or form. At least I´m still in a part of the city of São Paulo, so it doesn´t get AS hot as it does in the areas closer to the coast, but I have a chance to be transferred out there at the end of this month, so maybe I just jynxed myself. I hear that it´s prettier out there, so maybe it´s just a small price to pay.

Well, this week was pretty neat for me. I learned a little lesson about faith with one of our investigators. We have a few investigators who have been investigating the Church for a really long time and I had been giving up hope on them starting to fulfill our committments we were leaving for them. I just wanted to start looking for more people to start teaching, but my companion felt like we should go out there one more time to teach them. Almost everyone of them had a change of heart. This 15 year-old daughter of a less-active member prayed to know if the Church was true finally, and got an answer that it is and that she will come back to Church and see if it really is, and maybe she´ll be baptized here pretty soon. Then there is this 14 year-old son of another less-active member and he had been investigating the Church for a long time and he never seems to have any interest other than soccer and the computer, but this last week, he had a really long discussion with his mom about where we go after this life and how he wanted to know how to live with his mom forever. His mom called us and we are going to go over there and help him clear up his questions and maybe open another opportunity for him to be baptized.

And last, but certainly not least, my grandma of my mission, Sister Penha, has been investigating for almost 3 and a half years but can´t be baptized until she stops smoking. Yesterday was fast and testimony meeting at Church and Penha´s son, Luiz, who had returned from a mission and everything, was saying that he had a dream about the temple and that it was something extremely special. After Church, Luiz pulled me aside and told me that I, too, was in his dream, as a missionary still, and that I had a good role in his dream, but he couldn´t remember what I did. I thought it was very kind but didn´t think too much of it. We then visited Penha that night and she told us something very interesting. She is going in for a consultation with the doctors to find out when she needs to have a surgery. When she has this surgery, she will be bed-ridden for at least three months and baptism will be out of the question for her physically. We didn´t know any of this before we invited her to be baptized at the end of this month. She said that if the doctor decides to do the surgery soon, that she knows that she needs to be baptized soon. I don´t know what I felt after I left, but I felt like there was something special in the making. I have had the feeling ever since I arrived here that Penha would be baptized before I left this area. I keep praying that it is in the will of the Lord to help her finally overcome her smoking problem because when I see her relationship with her son, Luiz, I can´t help but think of my own relationship with my mom, and I couldn´t think of anything better than to unite her with her son. I know that this work is true... I am a true witness of the fact that this Gospel changes lives.

Thanks for all of the letters and messages I received in my birthday package! I love you all so much and I can´t wait to share ALL of my amazing experiences I´m having here in Brazil! I hope everyone has a great week and stay strong!

Elder Clark

Monday, November 1, 2010

Monday, Nov 1st

Oi Família!

This was really great! We had a meeting with a member the Seventy. Elder C. Scott Grow came and spoke to us all and gave us some really good training. It was a great experience because I got to travel more towards the center of São Paulo and I got to see more parts of this HUGE city! It is really amazing just how large this place is!

Well everyone, I have a really funny story for you guys! Just yesterday, my companion and I were talking about how we wanted our suits to last a long time because we only use them on Sundays for Church and then we just leave them in our house afterwards, so they should last quite a long time, right? Well, as I was saying that, we were coming up on big pile of trash on the side of the road... I thought, there´s no problem here. I´ll just walk around the pile of trash and everything will be all rig...WHOA! Yeah, I tripped over the garbage in the street, right in front this court where these kids were playing soccer. I ripped a tiny hole in the knee of my blue suit haha I got up, brushed myself off, gave my companion a little jab in the side to get him to stop laughing so hard, and laughed it off as well. I guess there is such a thing as karma haha.

We are teaching yet another person who has a problem with smoking, but I had a very different reaction with her. Her name is Madalena and we have been teaching her for about two or three weeks now. She is a reference from God! One day, out of the blue, she showed up at Church and said that she knew that it was different than all of the other Churches here. We began teaching her and she prayed and already knew that everything was true and she wanted to be baptized. We then taught the Word of Wisdom to her and she said that she has a problem with smoking. We made some plans for her to quit and then ended with a prayer. I invited her to offer the prayer to ask for more help to quit smoking and she responded like this, "I don´t feel worthy or prepared enough to pray to God because of my problem with cigarettes. Let´s wait a little bit and see if I feel better about praying." I could feel that she really was hurting inside and she felt remorse because of her smoking problem, so I said the first things that came to my mind. "Sister Madalena, it doesn´t matter what you´ve done, where you´ve been, or how long you´ve done it, your Heavenly Father absolutely loves you and He wants to help you. All of us are worthy to speak to our Father in Heaven, and He is just waiting for us to open our hearts up to Him." She looked at us, smiled, and offered one of the most beautiful prayers I´ve ever heard. The next time we passed by her house, she expressed how much she has appreciated prayer and how it is helping her overcome here addiction everyday. She said at the end of this visit, "I will quit smoking, I will be baptized, and I will be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ!"

I know that this Church is true. I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ changes lives. I know that we all are a part of the great family of God. I am so glad that I have great family and friends to share these experiences with. I hope that each and every one of us develops a more close and personal relationship with our Heavenly Father. I love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Clark

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday, Oct 25th 2010

Oi Família!

Wow... I cannot believe that 20 years has already passed. I really don´t feel much different, mostly because we don´t have much time to celebrate, but luckily today is P-Day!!! Thank-you so much to everyone who sent me an email or letter or anything for my birthday! I really cannot thank my family and friends enough for the support that I receive from you guys. I am so grateful for these things that I have in my life, and more than anything else, my family. So, rest assured, I am thinking about you all today. Well, at least until 6 o´clock because I have to start working again lol.

Well, this week was transfers and the news... Nothing changed lol I am still in my first area with Elder Roblyer as my companion. This is good because we already know how to teach together and still have our investigators to help out here, so it will be a good transfer. It will be a really difficult transfer as well because Elder Roblyer and I have very different personalities and we a different point of view of how we should go about the work here. I know that Elder Roblyer is a great missionary and we are doing a lot to help the people here, but I need to find something to change about myself so that we get along better because I know that it´s not right to change the personality of someone else. He´s a great friend to me as well and he is really helping me learn the language, but as always, people have their differences.

We have an investigator in this ward that is in need of a lot of help. Her name is Penha and she has been going to Church for about 3 years now, but she cannot seem to quit smoking. She is so amazing and she is like my grandma of the mission. She knows that the Church is true and she is trying to quit so badly! It is so amazing to me that Satan, unfortunately, has so much power over us that it becomes extremely hard to let go of sin. I know that the power of prayer can help us so much! I love the help that the Lord gives us through our prayers. I know that Penha will overcome this problem and I would love to see her be baptized.

Thanks so much for all of the messages this week! Please have a great week and know that I love each and everyone of you guys! Have a great week!


Elder Clark

Monday, October 18, 2010

October 18th 2010

Oi Minha Família!

Wow, well you can chalk up yet another transfer come-and-gone already! Tomorrow is transfers again and I cannot believe how fast it went by. If all of these transfers go this quickly, I am going to blink and already be home! But as much as I miss you guys, I don´t really want it to go that fast. I am having the time of my life out here and I am learning so much! I never realized how much the mission really makes you learn and grow. The real trick is that you have to be willing to work your hardest and you have to WANT to learn. Studying the scriptures and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is something that has to be a desire if you expect to learn more about them. It can´t be a chore that we "have" to do everyday. I have always held to one lesson that I learned from you Mom; that the only things that we "have" to do in our lives are blink and die, the rest are our choices. I have made the choice to learn as much as I can here on the mission, and I have already seen the blessings from the Lord.

So I have a funny story for you guys that happened yesterday. So, Elder Roblyer and I were really excited for this Sunday because we met a lot of people, including a few families, to bring to Church in the morning, so we were pretty pumped! We had talked with some of the ward missionaries to meet up with them at the chapel at 8:20 and then do a division and we would bring all of the investigators to the Church. When we got to the chapel, we saw that there were a lot of cars there already and people in the classrooms. I was a little confused, but I didn´t think much of it. We poked our heads in and asked the ward missionaries if they were ready to go grab the investigators and they said, "Elders, it´s already 9:20" Turns out that it was Daylight´s Savings Time here in Brazil and no one, not even our leaders, bothered to tell us. We still went to grab our investigators, but no one was home, unfortunately, and I was pretty bummed.

The other thing that is getting to me right now is that all of the young men who I helped be baptized are already falling in-active because no one in our ward is visiting them. I get really sad because of this because there is only so much that we can do as missionaries, the rest of the work is up to the members and unfortunately we aren´t getting a lot of help from them with visits to recent converts. But I will keep my head up and keep working and bringing more people to the Gospel, and just keep praying that the rest will be taken care of.

So I am thinking that there is a theme to this week with everything that is going on with Jennifer (Jill's Sister) and Grandma Spears. I want everyone to know that I know that the Plan of Salvation is SO real. We are passing through difficult times right now with our loved ones, but I know that our Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us. This life is a time for us to prepare to meet our God, and in the end, we will be an eternal family in Heaven with Him once again. I know that life is not easy, but I know that we have a better place prepared for us after this. I love each of you and, I will keep saying this until the end, that I wouldn´t pick any other family to spend eternity with. I know that this Church is true because the things that it teaches gives us so much hope and happiness! I love you all and to Grandma Spears, I will miss you very very much, and God be with you ´til we meet again :) I will grab a lot of coins out of the big boot at Christmas Eve when I get home just for you!

Have a great week everyone!

Elder Clark

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday, Oct 11th 2010

Oi Família!

Well, yet another fantastic week as a missionary! This week was really funny with some of the things that Elder Roblyer and I did while walking back to our house one night. I will tell you one of the better stories... We were walking down the street when I saw this little cusion-looking thing on the road. It was block-shaped and perfect to kick around when you´re really tired and bored. We were kicking our little block of cusion down the street when we arrived at this tree that just so happened to be in the exact same shape as a fieldgoal post... well, I was thinking that it would be an absolute sin to not stop and kick a game-winning fieldgoal through our make-shift goal posts. We stopped, Elder Roblyer got down in the holder´s position and I took my steps back to get ready to kick the Superbowl Winning Fieldgoal! I launched a grand ol´ kick... wide right... but it was still good for a few laughs.

So this week I had a really amazing experience with one of our new investigators. We met this 42 year-old man, Ireton, on Friday and he had been explaining to us that he had been searching for a church here on the earth that had what he thought was missing. We thought it would be great to show him the film about the Restoration of the Church which has the story of Joseph Smith and how he came to know of the truth of God. After we watched the film, Ireton looked at us and said that he had the exact same doubts that Joseph Smith had and he really wanted to remove his doubts. We gave him the invitation to pray and really ask God to help him know that Joseph Smith really was called by God to be the prophet to bring His Church back to the Earth after centuries without it. I was sitting there thinking about Joseph Smith´s story... I know that he was called by God because of the way that this Church has been organized. We read in the Book of Mormon in 3 Nephi 27:8 that if a church be Christ´s church, then it should have His name. If it be Mose´s church, then it should be called the church of Moses. But everything that Joseph Smith taught, everything that he did, all of the persecution that he went through, he never called this work "his." It was all for our Savior, Jesus Christ. Because of this, I know that this is the work of God. I know that we are teaching people about the restoration of the true doctrine of Christ, not about Joseph Smith. I am so grateful for all that I have been given because of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ.

I love this work so much! I am finding people regularly who reject this message right in front of my face, but at the same time, another door is opened for me to find someone who is in need of help. For example, last night I was with a member on splits and we found someone on the street who was practically throwing out his information to us because he wanted us to visit him. I love the things I´m learning here and I am so grateful for this opportunity. I love you all family and friends! Have a great week! Tchau!

Elder Clark

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Monday, Oct 4th 2010

Oi Família!!!

Wow what a hectic week this was for us. To start it all off, we had a three-day training session take place for all of our trainers and district and zone leaders. So all of them went to another city and they received all of the new training from Salt Lake while the rest of the missionaries had to take care of the areas. We spent the majority of our time escorting missionaries back and forth from our area to their area to do a division with a member because we can´t leave them alone. We didn´t have near as much time to teach this week as we have had in the past, but somehow, we still were able to get a lot of opportunities to teach. The training kind of threw things out of whack for a while, but I know that it was necessary and the Lord took care of our areas. I know that He compensates for us when we are doing what He has asked.

As everyone knows, this weekend was like Christmas for missionaries! Haha General Conference was absolutely amazing! I have literally been waiting for Conference since the last one ended in April. I love to hear the words of the Prophet and Apostles because I am not a very good at setting my own goals, but they always seem to say something that I want to improve, so they basically set my goals for me. The thing that I was most excited for was to finally watch something in English! They usually set up a TV in another room for the American missionaries to watch in English, but can you guess what happened this weekend? The satelite signal from Salt Lake was only picking up Portuguese and Spanish. I was pretty bummed because I am still not completely fluent with Portuguese and I didn´t want to miss anything important during the talks, but I didn´t have any other choice. I said a prayer right before the beginning of the first session on Saturday to ask for more help with understanding the talks in Portuguese, and when the session started, it was like a light bulb had flicked on or something. I was understanding almost everything they were saying! I missed a few parts of the talks because I have to be paying extremely close attention to pick up everything, but for the most important things, I was completely in-tuned with the message the Apostles were trying send. I know that it was only by the help of the Holy Ghost that I understood as much as I did. I would like to share a few of the things that I learned this weekend with you guys.

I loved Elder Ballard´s talk about the fishermen. I think this should´ve been Grandpa´s favorite talk (haha). But as a fisherman, you have to know which bait will catch the certain types of fish. The exact same concept is applied with Satan. He knows what our weaknesses are and he is a very good fisherman. He will use exactly the right bait to try to lure us to committ sin. Our goal as children of God is to never submit ourselves to the temptations of the devil. Anything that looks dangerous our goes against the teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, STAY AWAY! The only difference between a real fisheman and Lucifer is that the fisherman will let you go, but Lucifer won´t. Trust in the teachings of Christ and you will never be snared by the bait of the devil. And if you´ve already been caught, Christ has given us a way to return.

I also loved President Monson´s talk on Sunday morning. We have been given so many blessings in our lives and if we can recognize how blessed we are, we are opening the windows of Heaven to pour out more blessings upon us. Our job is to recognize our blessings and show our utmost gratitude for everything! Gratitude is very important. Stay as far away from jealousy and pride as you can because they always drive away gratitude and bring bad thoughts. Always be thinking of someone you can thank or something to be thankful for, and then SHOW your gratitude to them. You never know when it will be too late to say "thank-you" or "I love you" to someone who deserves it.

I´d like to take advantage of this opportunity and put into practice what President Monson has asked us to do. I love you all! Thank you so much for everything you have all given me. This is to my amazing parents, step-parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles, and friends! There isn´t a single day that goes by that I don´t think of my family and friends and all the things that they taught me. I don´t want to be the person who waits to show his gratitude to those who deserve it, so this is to all of you. Thanks for being my support and teaching me how to deal with my stuggles with a smile on my face. I have the best family and group of friends in the world and I wouldn´t trade you all for anyone else in the world. I couldn´t have picked a better group of people to live with here on this earth and forever with Heavenly Father.

Hope you all have a great week! Remember the things that we learned this weekend and never stop trying to improve yourselves, because that is what life is all about (even though you´re already purty darn awesome). I love you all! Até Mais!!

Com amor,
Elder Clark

Monday, September 27, 2010

September 27, 2010

Oi Família!
Well, what a great week it was this week! We have been teaching this 16 year-old kid named David and he was baptized this Sunday. He is a really special kid and all through our visits with him, he accepted all of the commandments with an open heart and tried his best to fulfill our commitments we left for him. One of those commitments was to stop drinking coffee and obey the Word of Wisdom. He said that he has been drinking coffee since he was way little, but he stopped that very day and never went back. He´s been going to our English Class that we teach here in the ward and he has already made a lot of friends with some recent converts and members. At his baptism, I had the opportunity to baptize him, and after I said the prayer and baptized him, he came out of the water and said, "Ahh... Born again!" It was really funny and everyone was laughing in the room. The kid knows how to keep the commandments! We went to his house later that night and I asked him what his plans were for the future, and he said, "To be an Elder." I love this Gospel so much! I love what it does and I love the way that it touches the hearts of the people. I´m telling you, missionary work is addicting! Even with recent converts, they can see how important this work is. I know that Brazil is a very high baptizing area, but if I baptize the least amount of people in the history of this mission, but all of them stay firm and/or serve a mission, I will feel like I have done my part for the Lord. So far, all three of my converts have told me that they want to serve a mission and my first one will be leaving for his mission by the end of my mission! I love this work!!!
Well, to give an update on how I´m doing with the language, I am fairly confident in my knowledge of the language right now. Elder Roblyer and I only speak in Portugese and it is helping me out more than I can recognize. I know that it is only because of the help of the Holy Ghost that I am learning so well, and that is something that I will remember for my entire life, because the minute that I start to think that I am doing this with my own power, the help will stop coming. To give you bit of taste of how much we are speaking in Portuguese, we tried teaching the message of the Restoration this morning for companion study in English... it was a train wreck for me. The way I used to talk in English is being transformed into Portuglish. The phonecall for Christmas will be really interesting haha.
Well, that is all for this week! I am having a blast with my companion! We are doing a lot to try to strengthen this area and we are having a lot of fun at the same time! I love this Church and I love who I represent... My Savior. Right now, I have no other desire other than find more people and teach them. This is absolutely a once in a lifetime opportunity to serve a mission of the Lord. I love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Clark

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday, Sept 21, 2010

Oi Família!!!

Well this was a great week for me and Elder Roblyer! He and I are speaking in nothing but Portuguese, so I am learning twice as fast as I was in the first transfer. He is really awesome and it is really nice to be able to swap stories about sports and stuff like that with him. My trainer didn´t play sports at all so it was a little bit more different last month haha. But we are working a lot during the day and hopefully we will have three baptisms this weekend. We are teaching a 16 year old kid named David and he told us something really cool yesterday. He has been going to another church as of late and the Church of Jesus Christ as well, but his mom told him to make a choice between the two or else he will drive himself crazy. He told us that he chose the Church of Jesus Christ! I know that the Lord was there to help him make that decision and he is getting David ready to be a great member of the His Church. We are also teaching a mom and her daughter. Maria and her 23 year old daughter Amanda we have been teaching for a while now and they know that the Church is true and everything! But they have so much fear of being baptized. I told them that we really feel the love of the Savior when we fulfill what he has asked of us. Our test of faith really comes when we choose to follow the commandments of God, even when the reason doesn´t necessarily make sense to us or we are a little afraid of what will happen afterwards. The Lord will bless everyone who makes a sacrifice to follow Him.

This week is going to have to be a little short, but I just want to tell everyone back at home that I love them with all of my heart. This mission is the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life, but it is also the most rewarding thing as well. I am learning so much about my faith and personal level of obedience and I am seeing the Lord not only bless my life but also the lives of the people around me. This ward here in Brazil is making me feel like I´m at home. They are all very interested in my life and the lives of my family as well. I am so grateful that the Lord has chosen for me to serve His children here. Thanks for everything and keeping me updated on all of your lives back at home! Next week will be a longer letter, I promise!

Dad, you can use pretty much any of my letters that I have already sent to tell the ward back home. You can use that paragraph above as well!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday, Sept 13, 2010

Oi Família!
First of all, I want to apologize for not writing a lot in my last letter to you all. I was in such a hurry because that day wasn´t even my preparation day, but we are still required to email on Mondays, so I didn´t have a much time as I wanted. I pretty much spent the majority of the time giving Brady dating advice, but it looks like he doesn´t even need it! haha I´m glad you had fun Brady! I want to hear how school is going for everyone else! Only Brady is writing to me about these things lol Tambi is writing to me too, but she only talks about Kitty and Pumpkins growing in the front yard haha just kidding Tam :) But that fire pit in the backyard is a really good idea. Did you guys pull out that old swing set? I think we should have done the firepit thing a long time ago. Good idea Tambi! Sounds like Payson football is still limping around... I hope they end up doing well in Region-play. I heard that the Cougars had a bit of a hiccup with Air Force this weekend. What happened there? And I was in the house of a member yesterday and they were watching football... Yeah, American Football! I wasn´t watching, but I did happen to glance at the TV and see that the Rams were winning their game, did they pull it out?!
Well, my trainer Elder Stott was transferred this week and I stayed in my area. My new companion is Elder Jordan Roblyer from... go figure, LOGAN!!! How crazy is this? It´s like Utah State will never leave me, no matter where I go in my life. He has been on his mission for nine months now and he graduated the same year as me, so he was friends with all of my friends from USU. It is so weird that we have the same inside jokes between us and we never even knew each other before the mission. He is my exact height, my exact weight, and he played football and basketball in high school. When we walk down the streets here, we look like two big white giants. It´s pretty amazing. He is a really good missionary when it comes to teaching people, but he is a little loose with the rules and it is definitely taking a tole on me right now. He and I get along really well, but there is always something that we could do to make ourselves better. I just know that it is really important to not let the way others act influence your attitude. This will be a fun transfer, I am learning how to teach better and better each day, and I am speaking Portuguese better than I could have ever imagined. That is another good thing about Elder Roblyer; we don´t talk a bit in English. I can´t wait to call you guys on Christmas and show you how far I´ve come!
I have a cool thing I´d like to share that I learned from the Book of Mormon this past week. If you look in 1 Nephi 8 you will read about Lehi´s vision of the Tree of Life. The purpose of the Tree of Life is for everyone to taste of the fruit of the tree because it signifies the Love of God. We have the Iron Rod that is the Word of God that will lead us directly to the tree and we have the large and spacious building with the wicked people who are in it. Lehi sees great multitudes who are on the path to the Tree of Life so they can taste of the Love of God. They are progressing and finally reach the fruit and taste of it. In verse 28, Lehi sees people who have already tasted and known of the Love of God, but the people in the large and spacious building start to make fun of the people who are trying to follow God. Unfortunately, the people who listen to them fall away and start down paths away from God and are lost. Then in verse 33 and 34 we see that the people started making fun of Nephi, but Nephi did something to not let it get to him... he didn´t listen. Unfortunately, people will make fun of you because you believe the way you believe, they will try to persuade you to deny the very Love of God that you have already felt in your life. But we just need to do what Nephi did... don´t listen! We are children of our Father in Heaven and He wants us all to return to live with Him, so don´t let people persuade you to stray from that path. Unfortunately, some of that bad persuasion comes from within the Church itself as well. Stand firm and do what you know is right, and in the end we will have the reward of living together forever as a family.
I love this Church, I love this work, I love the scriptures, I love my family, and I love my Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. I know that They have given us a plan to follow so we can make back to him. I am so grateful that I was taught this plan and that I have the opportunity to teach it to the people here. I hope everyone has a great week! Oh and Dad, I didn´t get an email from you this week again, I hope everything´s all right! Love you guys!
Elder Clark

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday, Aug 30 2010

Oi Família!

So school started already? I cannot believe it! I want to hear about everyone´s first day! I already heard about Jessica´s fiasco with the schedule haha don´t worry, I did almost the same thing so it happens to the best of us! I was thinking about you guys all week long hoping that you´re first days of school were fantastic!
So this week was definitely a learning experience. So we did a last minute division with my District Leader this Thursday. His name is Elder Chad and he is one awesome missionary. He and I have been pretty good friends here on the mission because he lives in the same house as us and we talk about basketball all the time. I have been waiting to do splits with him for a while because I knew that I would learn a lot from him. Well, to start off the day, I completely lost ourselves on the streets trying to find a few inactive members so it was a good start to the day. Then we almost couldn´t find where the house where our lunch was, and then we had to stop by the chapel really quick for something... and I broke the key inside of the door, so we couldn´t get in. Then all of our other appointments fell through and then I got really down on myself. Elder Chad could tell that I wasn´t having a good day, so we stopped for a while and we talked about somethings that were just bothering me. We talked about what was really eating at me and I found out that it was really because I am afraid that my Heavenly Father is disappointed in me when things aren´t going so well. I know that I am supposed to be here working my hardest, and when things fall through, I feel like He is not happy with my work. That has been my theme for almost my whole life. I love to make my parents proud; whenever I did something that made you guys smile, I got the biggest joy out of it. It´s the same thing with my Father in Heaven; I want so badly that he is proud of the work I´m doing out here. After that day, I really felt like I had let Him down and it really got to me. Elder Chad told to me really pray for help that night and he gave me some advice on how to not get so down on myself. I was reading the very next morning in the book of Ether in the Book of Mormon in chapter 12. I read two verses in particular that helped me. The first was where is says the Lord gives and shows us our weaknesses so that we rely on Him for everything and thus we are made stronger through Him. So I prayed for His complete guidance and help that day. The next verse talked about how blessings only come after the trial of faith. I was so depressed after that one day and felt like I had let God down, but the very next day I felt like He had put a big arm around me and told me that everything was okay. We taught 11 lessons the next day and found more people to teach this week! Through the power of the Holy Ghost, I realized that if am doing my very best and keeping all of the mission rules, my Heavenly Father is proud of me. Just how you have only asked that I do my best and you´d be happy with me, my Heavenly Father is saying the same thing. I want everyone here to have this feeling of love and comfort from God, so I will be working twice as hard this week!
I love you all and I hope you all had a great time at school this week! I hope that this week is twice as good! Oh and Mom and Dad, I don´t know if there was a problem with my email or something, but I didn´t get a message from either of you two this week. I love you both with all my heart and I am so greatful for the things that you taught me! I love being a missionary! I am learning so much. Have a great week! Love you!

Elder Clark

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday August 23rd 2010

Just another day in paradise here in good ol´ Limoeiro! I am not sick anymore and I feel as good as new! I finally passed through all of my sickness and I am ready for another week of work. So, to recap this weekend... We had Gabriel and Eliane marked for baptism this last Sunday, and Gabriel was baptized and he is on his way to becoming another strong member of the Church, but Eliane ran into some snags. She had her baptismal interview this Saturday, but she told us that she had a few worries. She is going through a nasty divorce with her husband Silvio and the problem is that he will not move out of the house. Eliane knows 100% that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ, but I think she wants to put off her baptism until all of this messy stuff with the divorce is cleared up. I know that she will be baptized and the sooner would be better, but I know that the Lord is preparing her and protecting their family everyday. Gabriel told me yesterday after his baptism that he felt clean and also asked me how he can prepare to be a missionary. I love this Gospel and I love what it does for us. I told him that he just has to keep being the kid that he already is.
We also had a pretty good visit with one of our eternal investigators. His name is Valter and he is an attorney. His entire family are members and he has been coming to Church for the past few years with them. He has a testimony of the Church, the Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith, but for some reason he is still avoiding baptism. I think he is afraid of water, but that´s just my opinion. You´d be surprised at how many people aren´t baptized because they don´t like the water lol. We did a family home evening with him and watched the movie The Testaments with him (fantastic idea for family home evening), and he and his family loved it! The Spirit was there and we invited him to be baptized... and he danced around the question a bit... his 16 year old daughter gave him the puppy dog eyes... and he still shook his head and said not yet. That just goes to show that unless your heart is opened completely for an answer from the Lord, you won´t have the will to do what he asks. Valter is a great guy and I am almost 100% positive that he will be baptized before I leave this area, but he will need a little bit more time.
So one cool thing about my name here in Brazil... Everyone knows who Superman is, so when I introduce myself everyone says, oh yeah! Clark! Like Clark Kent! So now my name has changed almost permanently from Elder Clark, to Elder Superman lol. And now my entire zone is calling me that, so I think I want to get another nametag with that on it and send it home for you guys haha.
I´m having a great time out here and picking up on Portuguese little by little. It´s frustrating to say the least, but I have learned so much and so fast, and I know it´s only because of the Lord. I am loving the scriptures so much! I love my study time out here too! I wake up and go immediately to my desk to read my scriptures because that one hour is not enough. Good luck to everyone starting school out there! You guys are in my prayers! Love you all!
Elder Clark

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday, Aug 16th

Oi Família!
Well, like you all have said, another week has come and gone again! I really can´t believe how fast this is going. I had quite an uneventful week unfortunately. I got sick on Monday last week with a fever, migraine, and sore throat and I didn´t recover until this morning. I was in bed for two days straight because I was unable to work. Luckily, I was able to get a blessing from Elder Stott and the second counselor in the Bishopric earlier in the week. I never realized how much pollution was in the state of São Paulo, but it was so hard for me to breath this week! I love this place and all, but the thing that´s been an obstacle to get over is the pollution in the air. When I really take a look on everything, I am really blessed that the pollution is my problem right now, especially because it could be much worse.
For everyone who is wondering back home, I am not getting fat. I don´t know if anyone was wondering or hoping that I´d get fat, but I have actually been losing a lot of weight, which is weird and shouldn´t be because all I eat is macarroni and chocolate! I am about at 82 kilos (you´re going to have to do the conversion on that lol).
One thing about Brasil that is really interesting and hard for me at the same time is that all of the music that we have in the United States, they love down here! So I am sitting here typing this letter with Kesha on the radio. It´s hard because we try so hard to keep the Spirit with us, but this music comes on and we all start thinking about home again lol But it is so weird to hear music from the U.S. here.
Mardeson was confirmed this week and we received three more investigators and two more marked for baptism this next Sunday in spite of me being sick. Blessings still come even when you aren´t at your best; this is how we really know that the Lord loves us. The two who we marked for baptism have quite the story. So, their names are Eliane and Gabriel, a mother and son, and they were investigators of the missionaries before me. Eliane is a surgical assistant, one of very few in the state of São Paulo, so she is always on call and very difficult to mark any visit with her. Gabriel is a 13 year old boy who absolutely loves American music like Kesha and Pink, so everytime we go over there, he puts on one of their CDs. I would tell him to turn it off while we are there, but here is his story. His parents are still together, but his father is very abusive to him. His dad does not want anything to do with the Gospel. The hard thing for Gabriel is that he has a little sister who his dad absolutely adores and wouldn´t harm, but to Gabriel he is very different. Gabriel doesn´t many friends and doesn´t get to talk to many people during the day, so when we get there to share a message with him, we are his only friends that he has, so he wants to talk about other things than just the Gospel. It´s very sad to me, but I am hoping and praying that Eliane will be able to get work off this next Sunday so they can be baptized. I know that the Lord has great plans for his family, and he will have a better life within the Church. They know so much already and have great testimonies of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.
I love this mission that the Lord has chosen me to serve for Him. He is molding me everyday and helping me with the language day by day. I know that this Church is true, and I know that our Savior is leading and guiding it even today.
So school is starting up already??? I do not believe it! Don´t let Brady scare you Jessica haha you and Kailey are going to have a blast! Oh and Kailey, I had a half locker in D hall too!!! Brady is going to be a big bad sophomore already! I still remember walking into Payson High my first time... My advice is to notice how the seniors act. Not just the regular seniors, but the really awesome seniors, the ones that have plans to serve missions and be the type of man they need to be. I hope Brady finds a Derek or Dustin Rowley, or a McKay Massey. Good luck everyone! I love you all! Have a great week!
Elder Clark

Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday, Aug 9, 2010

Hello my Family!
Well, Mardeson´s baptism fell through... in the water! It was such a great experience this last Sunday. I was getting so nervous throughout the week as we were building up to his baptism, but when I arrived at the chapel on Sunday, I felt fine. We had nearly half the ward there at the service. It is so amazing to me to see the support that the ward members have here in this ward. All of them love to support the missionary program because almost all of them are converts themselves, so they were brought to the knowledge of the Restored Gospel by a missionary once before. Well, they don´t necessarily have water heaters here in Brazil, so our baptismal font was about as cold as Payson lakes in the spring. I only had to put him under one time, but I had to repeat the baptismal prayer a couple times because I couldn´t get his name right. Mardeson Lucio Almeida e Silva plus the rest of the prayer in Portuguese! Foi bom! haha We got out and were getting redressed in the bathroom and I asked Mardeson how he felt. He looked at me and said, "Puro, puro demais" which translates, clean, clean as ever... This kid is one of the elects that Heavenly Father has prepared to help build His kingdom here on the earth. I can almost bet money that Mardeson will serve a mission before I even get home from my mission.
Let´s see, what else has been going on here... So us four missionaries have been having a great time in our house after each day. As of late, we´re stuck on one joke in particular. It´s one that the comedian Frank Caliendo says when he is impersonating John Madden. He says, "the field is half grass and half turf... but Brett Favre is ALL man!" So now we add that into our work. We´ll be walking down the street after we had just been turned down by some guy, and we´ll say, that man was half catholic and half evangelico... but Brett Favre is ALL man! It definitely helps get through the day. We also made french toast last night! I´m having a great time out here!
I´m learning a lot everyday whether it be Portuguese or the Gospel, but I truly cherish everything that has come from my mission. The people here are extremely kind and it makes me grateful that I am in a great area or the world.
I cannot believe that Brady is already 16 years old! This is absolutely crazy... Happy Birthday Brady!!! Take care of the Jeep for me, even though you already have girl troubles haha That is so cool to hear about the things you all are doing right now. Keep me updated on these things. Thanks for all the messages Aunt Roxy and Uncle Bi Ri!
Love you all!!! Have a great week!!!!
Elder Clark

Monday, August 2, 2010

August 2nd 2010 in Limoeiro, Brazil

It has been amazing these past two weeks! I really do feel like I´ve felt like I was missing a part of my week without hearing from you all. Let´s see, where to start... Well, my last week at the CTM was pretty special. I was flipping back and forth from thinking that I was prepared enough and then thinking that I needed a little more time to learn Portuguese, but by Monday, the day before I left, I was just fine and extremely excited!
I met my mission president and his wife in our arrival meeting. They are so nice and Sister Moreira really helped me feel more comfortable about being here. The arrival meeting was my first real meeting that was all in Portuguese without any translation, so it was a little difficult to follow everything, but I handled all right I think. We learned about all the things that we need to watch out for and how to stay healthy and how to take care of our allowance for the month. We also met the Assitants to the President. The Americans were speaking in all Portugues as well and they were speaking exactly like a Brazilian! I was so impressed and a little bit envious that they could speak so well. It made me want to speak fluently already!
I met my trainer at the mission home a little bit later. His name is Elder Austin Stott from Idaho Falls! Elder Stott is really good at his Portuguese as well. He has been such a good boost of confidence with my Portuguese. He keeps helping me with my pronunciation and especially with learning five new words every day. He is extremely smart too! He went to a year of college before his mission in Daytona, FL, to study Aerospace Engineering! He knows that Utah State has a fantastic program for that too, so he and I have been talking a lot about USU and it sounds like he will be coming to Logan with me when we are both returned from our missions! He teaches so well and he allows me to participate in the lessons as much as I am capable. I am so amazed at how well he can relate the principles to the people and he is just an all around nice guy. Every one of our investigators and members loves him!
We are in Limoeiro, São Paulo, right now... my first area in the mission! We live in a... I guess you can call it a house... with two other missionaries. They are both Americans named Elder Chad and Elder Meilke. Elder Chad and Elder Stott both knew Chad Marvin from the CTM by the way! Elder Chad is our District Leader and he is a way nice person too! I really got lucky with my first area. I really found out that I´m in a foreign country when they told me about what we have to do for the bathroom. So, our bathroom consists of a toilet and right next to it is a drain with a small fosset above that is our shower, but wait! there´s more! São Paulo drains aren´t very big, so when nature calls and you need to do your business, you can´t put the toilet paper down the drain! Every bathroom in this city, even in the chapels at church, have a waste basket where you can dispose of your... stuff. Gross, I know, but you know what this means... I really am a missionary in Brazil!!! But anyway, about the city. If you thought that L.A. or New York City had dirty streets, I think that this place would win out of both of them combined. It´s very dirty on the streets and the houses are not much better. But the amazing thing about Limoeiro is that I absolutely love everything about it!
I went to church this week and met all of the members. Everyone was so kind and they really made me feel like I was at home. I even had my first "uh-oh" missionary moment this week. So the bishop intivited me to bare my testimony because I was new and it happened to be fast Sunday this week. So I got up there and bore my testimony in Portuguese and I felt so good. Not only did I feel the Spirit as I was speaking, but I was doing it in a different language! But when I returned to my seat, my companion told me that I completely butted in front of a whole row of people who were waiting to bare their testimonies... whoops!!! Haha, it was a little embarrassing, but I played the "I´m new" card and everything was fine. It made for a great story with the other elders when we got home for the day.
I have been having a hard time with a few things since I arrived last week. I really realized that I am not as good at Portuguese as I thought I was. I have a really hard time with understanding everything the people are saying and they speak so quickly that I need them to repeat a lot of things a little slower and I feel really embarrassed sometimes. It´s been a goal of mine to be able to understand as quickly as I can so I will be able to start being able to help people with their problems. But I know the Lord has been watching over me and after church this Sunday, I had nearly all of the members come up to me and ask me how long I´ve been in Brazil. Nearly all of them were shocked when I said that I had been in the field for only four days. They told me that I was speaking like I had been in for six months. I still don´t feel secure in my Portuguese, therefore, I will continue to work at it, but those compliments definitely helped me out at a time that I really needed it.
Oh, and I have one amazing story to tell you... On my first day, Elder Stott and I were knocking on doors and trying to make some contacts with the people. He was doing all of the talking and finally got a little tired of all the people saying no all the time, so he told me to do the next one. I clapped my hands and out came this really happy 18 year-old kid named Mardeson. I started to talk to him about our message and asked if we could come in and teach him more. He said yes and we walked in. I taught the first part of the message of the Restoration to him Elder Stott taught the rest. He was very receptive to the things that we taught and he understood that he needed to pray and ask God if these things were true. We returned the next day to see how things went for him. Mardeson told us that after he prayed, he felt like he was lighter and that he had received an answer from God. We continued to teach him about the Word of Wisdom and then the Law of Chastity. He understood everything and said that he already obeyed them. Well, to tell you the really amazing thing... He will be baptized this Sunday, August 8th! I cannot believe how prepared these people are. We truly found one of the elects of Heavenly Father´s children.
I love this work... I love being a missionary... I love my family... I love my Savior. This is definately the hardest thing I´ve ever done in my entire life, but it´s also the most rewarding thing I´ve ever done. I see how the Lord has blessed the people here in Limoeiro when they obey His word. The ward members´ homes are so clean and happy, even when they don´t necessarily have a whole lot of things or a big house (no one has a house much bigger than our garage). I see other places here where they are using a broken treadmil as a bed for their child, and even families who don´t have a lot of money for food, and yet they still offer to give us something to drink and eat each time we go there. I feel so guilty because I know how much I took for granted the things that I had growing up. These are the happiest people in the world, even when they don´t have much... just their families. That really shows me that they know what is important... the things that we can take with us to the next life.
Thanks for all of your love and support. I love my family so much! Have a great week! Fique forte!
Elder Clark

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July 20th 2010 in MTC

This week really cruised!!! I was just thinking about how long these last two weeks at the MTC were going to go, but they have not slowed down yet. Like I said last time, this will be my last week here and I am getting so anxious to get out. My district is now the oldest district in the building. It´s so weird to think that no one here has been here longer than us. I don´t know how my transfer will go next week, so if you don´t receive an email from me next tuesday, don´t be scared. Today for P-day, my district and I went to a place in town called Rodízio! It is exactly like Tucanos or Rodizio Grill, except better and way cheaper! I stuffed my face so much and I didn´t even care lol. I got to go proselyting once again this last Friday and it was such an amazing experience. I´ll tell you about one of the six people who we handed Books of Mormon. His name was Ronaldo and he was wearing his motorcycle gear and walking down the street, looking very intimidating. My companion and I just kinda were pulled to him like a magnet and we started to get to know Ronaldo. He said that he didn´t have a religion but he had studied the Bible for about a year. I piped up and told him how amazing that was and that we were here in Brazil for two years to not only study the Bible and about Jesus Christ, but to teach people about him too. We then introduced the Book of Mormon and said that it was another record of the teachings and life of Jesus Christ to the people in America and Ronaldo got very interested. When we finished he looked at us and said, what a coincidence it is that you two would stop and talk to me out of all of these millions of people in São Paulo. I stopped him and plainly said that this was not a coincidence and that, as representatives of Jesus Christ, we were meant to talk to him. I had no idea what I was saying, but it felt so good! Ronaldo accepted the Book and also agreed to call the missionaries´ number on the front. We saw him reading as we walked away... I know that this work is true, and I know that the Spirit of the Lord would not be with me if I was doing something wrong. My mission has only just begun but it means everything to me right now. I am amazingly excited that the language is coming along just fine and that I will be entering the field in week from today. I hear it all the time, but I will work my hardest so that I don´t regret one minute of this! That is so nice of the Darby´s to let you guys crash there. I am so glad you get to watch all of these amazing baseball games while you´re out there! I would love to do that someday. Please let me know how the temple goes! I hear that the Celestial room is so pretty there. You´re right dad, I do love going to the temple. I am eternally grateful that you were there to show me the ropes. You definitely started my fire to serve in the Lord´s house. I appreciate so much that you all do for me. I really do feel your love each day. Thanks for the support! Até próximo semana!!!! I love you guys!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

July 13th 2010 Brazil MTC

Well, I am officially starting my eighth week here at the MTC! How crazy is this? I cannot believe how quickly everything is going by. By the way, if you send me anything to the mission home, they won´t forward them to me here, but they will hold them for me until I get out there. I sometimes feel like my MTC depature date couldn´t come any slower though. Each and every day I get more and more anxious to leave this place, but I know that I still have a lot to learn, but on the other hand I know that I´ll learn more from the field than in this place. My Mission President came and spoke at a fireside here this last Sunday. Presidente and Sister Moreira are the coolest people I´ve ever met so far (no bias there). They reassured all five of us who are going to the São Paulo East Mission that we will be placed with an American as our trainer so we don´t get too overwhelmed about what we need to learn. Meeting them did not help my anxiety to start working like a realy missionary. It´s hard because we see all of these Brazilian missionaries come in and it seems like I blink and they´re already leaving for the field and I still have two weeks left! But next Tuesday is my last P-day and I probably won´t get to contact you on the day that I leave, which is the 27th of July. This week we will get to go proselyting once again, but this time it will be in downtown São Paulo! It will be so incredibly fun because I can speak a lot more Portuguese than I could the first time we went. I have this strong urge to tell everyone about the Restoration and how important this book is to our lives. I have learned so much about how the Lord really does prepare people in his own way. I had a "Best 2 Years" experience during last P-day. This guy pulled up to me and my district on his motorcycle and started talking to us in Portuguese and then he automatically switch gears and spoke in perfect English and I had no clue what he was saying for a little bit! He started asking us questions like how we study the Book of Mormon and the Bible together and that he prays for us every day because he knows that Brazil needs more people to preach about Jesus Christ. He asked if we believed in miracles by laying on of hands and if he could come visit church. Well, after I picked up my jaw from off the ground, we told him about the number that he could call for other missionaries to come and teach him more. He said "great! We can sit down, talk about Christ, have some coffee..." Hahaha He was extremely prepared for the message and it felt so good to be able to talk to him about what a blessing this Church has been for me and my family. I love being a missionay! I am way jealous about that San Diego trip Dad and Jill! That is so awesome! Tell the Darby´s that I say hi! Or Oi, I suppose haha. Sounds like my siblings are going to be twice the athlete I ever was! Not that it was difficult. I am glad that you all got my letters too! I hope you liked them! I am sorry if I ever miss any of your questions, I get so rushed with my shortage of time. I love you all! Have a fantastic week!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

July 6th 2010 in MTC

Oi Família! I hope you all know that you can translate my Portuguese sentences through the internet if you don´t quite understand them (except for Uncle Jeff, he already speaks Portuguese). This week was absolutely amazing! I felt like a real missionary, not just a missionary in training. We had the opportunity to go proselyting in the city around the MTC here and give out Books of Mormon, or Livros de Mórmon! My companion and I were each given three books to place and only two hours. I was a little apprehensive at first because I didn´t know what to say to people to begin talking about the Book of Mormon, even though we had been practicing that for the past four or five days. The first person we talked to completely shut us down and told us that we are devil worshippers and that we don´t really believe in Jesus Christ. That definitely knocked the cobwebs out of my head and I was determined to not let my testimony be bashed like that again. So said a prayer in my heart for Heavenly Father guide me to someone who would be more receptive, and sure enough we found him! We were walking up the street and this guy had his iPod in and I didn´t think he would stop to talk to us, but I stuck out my hand and said "Tudobem Senhor?" and he talked to us and I bore my heart to him about how this book, along with the Bible, has helped me grow so much closer to Jesus Christ. He took the book and said that he would read it and call the number if he had any questions about it. I was so happy and I smiled for the rest of the time. I didn´t care that nearly everyone else wouldn´t talk to us or were rude, because I knew that we had been accepted just once. We continued and ended up passing out ALL of our books and when we returned, we were the first companionship finished so our instructor gave us one more to pass out. We wanted to make this one extremely special, so we both waited until we felt the Spirit really tell who to talk to. We failed three times until we finally came across an old man waiting at a bus stop. I am not exaggerating when I say that he was litterally reading the Book of Mormon before we had even left. We were so happy to finally be able to practice doing what we had been called out here to do... to invite people to come unto Christ through His restored Gospel. This was a complete testimony builder for me, especially when I would see that these people were happy to take a book that they knew would help them grow closer to Christ. I love this country so much as well!!! Brazil is my home away from home and I love it here! It´s so good to hear from you all! I am really jealous that Brady is already taller than me and that he is still growing. And I am especially jealous about the Stadium of Fire! That is really cool! Dad and Jill, you guys are so lucky to be able to go to Cali and watch baseball!!! I love you all and thanks for the letters! Fique bem e eu amo vocés muito!!! Love, Elder Clark

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June 29th, 2010 MTC in Brazil

One more week down here at the MTC! Somente quatro semanas mais!!! The language is flying for me and I am getting so excited to get out there to start teaching real people. I understand that I have a lot to learn still because there are a lot of words and phrases that I don´t know how to say yet, but I know that with the Spirit of the Lord on my side, my lack of knowledge will be replaced with a will to learn. My district is exceptional at learning Portuguese. All of our instructors have told us that we have been learning at a faster pace than anyone else in the MTC, but we aren´t getting too big headed because that is when we will start to hit a wall. I was just made the new Assistant to the President this last Sunday and our branch is receiving yet another new district! It´s so funny to watch these new elders come in and see their faces after they get off the plane. I just remember how crappy that day was and I feel like I need to go let them know that everything will be all right. We getting two more elders from Provo to come into our district tomorrow and I´m pretty excited about it because there is a good chance that one of the elders could be a kid who I went to high school with, but we´ll see. So this is a pretty big week for us because this Friday, each companionship will be getting six Books of Mormon and like two or three hours to go out and place them with the people around the MTC. My companion and I have been practicing this for the past few days now and we feel pretty confidant that we will be able to place all of our books and then some. Our Portuguese is good enough to carry on a conversation with Brazilians, but our vocabulary isn´t very big yet, so that hinders some of the small talk. I am so excited to get out there and practice this because I will finally feel like a missionary instead of a student. But I do appreciate my time here because I get to study so much. We will get another opportunity to do this again in two more weeks when they will take us out into the BIG city of São Paulo and we will get to do the same thing but with less time and more books. Tell Spensor to expect a lot of weird smells around the city on P-day, and yes they let us out on the town every P-day so we can stretch our legs and speak with some of the locals and purchase really neat things. That is where my money went last week lol. I bought these leather scripture cases for my english scriptures, but I won´t get them for another three weeks or so, but I will take a picture and send all of my MTC pictures to you guys so you can put them all on the blog. I have been enjoying myself so much here, especially when I remember how blessed I am to be in this great country and be able to have the power of God with me. Sometimes I don´t know why Heavenly Father would trust me with so much responsibility, but then I remember that He is forcing me to grow up everyday, so I will be prepared. Dad, thanks for helping me with everything and keeping me updated with all of the things that are going on. Love you all! Keep pushing along and know that I love you and appreciate your prayers! Até Mais!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

June 22, 2010 From MTC in Brazil

Hey Everyone!!! This week was so great for me and my learning here at the MTC. We are starting to learn how to teach in Portuguese and I was freaking out about it all week because I didn´t really think that I was quite ready for that. When we started forming our lessons, I was so surprised at how easily the words were coming out. The more I practice, the more confident I am in my abilities to communicate with the people here. It is so nice to have Brazilian missionaries here to help us with our language. I have two Brazilian roommates and I am constantly practicing my Portuguese with them and I help them with their English as well. It´s so crazy to think that in just 4 short weeks I have been able to come so far with a language that I knew nothing about. I know that the Lord has had His hand in all of my progress and work throughout my time here. I absolutely love this country! The World Cup is going on right now and the streets are absoulutley crazy! Car horns, blow horns, screaming, and celebrating each time Brazil scores a goal. I have never seen a more proud country for their soccer team. Brazil is 2-0 so far and in first place in their pool. We aren´t allowed to watch the games of course, but we can tell whenever they score because we will hear this erruption of craziness from all of the apartments and houses around the city. I took a picture from my room in the MTC of someone´s house that is just really poor and rundown, but it has the biggest satelite dish I have ever seen, just so they can watch the games... absolutley amazing. This story grabbed my heart this last week: As we were walking around on P-day last week, we were passing this old house and we heard so voices from above. We looked up and saw three little girls in their Brazil soccer jerseys smiling and waving at us because they knew that we were missionaries. I love being a missionary so much and that experience just solidified my testimony of the love that comes from being in a calling that is meant to serve people. Jesus Christ was loved by the children and because we are His representatives, we have the same love from the children here. This country is so loving and there is a lot that I can learn from the people about how to love. It´s a good thing you´re such a great teacher huh dad? haha I thought about you this Sunday for Father´s day. There isn´t a single experience that happens here that I don´t want to share with you Dad. I wish I was able to call you each day and tell you about every spiritual experience I have, but that will make my homecoming that much more special. Thanks for being a great example to me and teaching me how to work my hardest, even when things and people aren´t neccessarily helping you out. You have taught me more than you think. Thanks! I love you so much and I am eternally grateful for the family that you´ve raised and allowed me to be a part of. Every day here at the MTC is a spiritual experience and I fell myself grow closer to God each day. I love you all and thank you so much for the emails and letters! Keep them coming because I love to read them! Até próxima semana! Fique forte!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June 15th 2010

I guess I was just in such a hurry to read all of your emails last week that I must have accidentally skipped over them. But thanks so much for all of the messages this week! They always lift me up and help me remember why I am so happy to spend eternity with you guys. That is so awesome about Matt and Payton! Please tell them to keep emailing me, but let them know that I won´t be able to email back. Tell them to send me their addresses so I can write back. Brady is a stud! I cannot wait to hear about his football games and whatnot! Tambi is still my bestest friend! Good job Austin for hitting the ball! You will be on the REAL Rockies in no time! And I am happy to hear that Jessica and Kailey had a great time at girls camp! I love you guys. So this week I had a great time bonding with my district. It seems like every week we grow closer and closer. I am so blessed to have been put with such a great group of guys. It looks like the AP in our branch is leaving next Tuesday, so all signs point to me to fill his position. It´s really nothing to brag about, especially because all leadership positions in the church entail that you become more of a servant than a leader, but that is why I´m here. Christ was a leader through serving and loving His people. This morning was our day to go to the Federal Police station so we could do something with our visas, so in order to make sure we were processed today, we had to be at the building and wait in line 4 hours before it opened. So we all woke up at 3 this morning so we could wait in line for 7 or 8 hours. I felt like I was waiting in line for an Aggie game all over again... except it wasn´t nearly as exciting and I couldn´t understand all of the swear words. I have been learning so much Portuguese over these past 3 weeks and I am totally and completely amazed at how fast this is coming. I hit my walls every now and again where I feel like I could be much more useful as a missionary in my native language, but it´s those good times when everything clicks and I have another peice of hope that Heavenly Father has a plan for me to be fluent in this language. It´s World Cup time around here and Brazil is playing today at 3:30 and as I am writing this message in the MTC, there are horns and stuff going off because people have been pregaming since 1. I never realized how important this sport is to the world, but I love it! Now I wish I could play it! The MTC is so amazing here. Everyday is a spiritual experience for me. I can find something to make my testimony grow with relative ease. We have devotionals and firesides every tuesday, saturday, and sunday nights and all of them are so great for learning. We even have Elder Neal A. Anderson coming to talk to us this Thursday! I go into each of these meetings waiting for the Spirit to tell me how I can become the best missionary possible, and I leave humbled because I realize how much of a blessing it is to know what I know. Each Sunday afternoon after church, there is an optional movie we can go to. This week´s movie was the Joseph Smith Restoration Movie. There is no way that this church and its ordenances aren´t from Christ... they are too perfect to be made up by a 14 year old boy. Our ancestors would not have suffered so much pain and affliction for something that wasn´t as true as the Book of Mormon. I love this church and I love my Savior, and I especially love all of you! Thanks for all of the messages! Keep going strong and keep growing your testimonies. They will carry you through any hard time you face in your life. Read Helaman ch. 5 together please. Has Brady been reading the Book of Mormon while at camps? That always helped me stay focused. Love you guys! Can´t wait to hear from you again! Ate´ Mais! Eu amo vocês!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sao Paulo MTC Week #2

You guys have no idea how happy it made me to read all of your emails! I have been missing you guys so much over these past two weeks and I love to hear how well everyone is doing. I am only allowed 30 minutes on the computer each week, so I will try to give a summary of what I´ve been up to, but if I don´t get everything, please don´t be mad. The food here at the CTM is so amazing! I love how authentic they make everything. I have dropped a few of the pounds that I initially gained because I didn´t want to come home looking like a fatty. Each time we get on the bus to go to the temple, I get to have a great tour of the city, or at least a small part of it. The pictures that I have are so amazing and I can´t wait for you all to see just how beautiful this place is, in its own unique and special way. I know that the Lord loves all of his children, especially his Brasileiro filhos! Like I said last week, everyone here is just so friendly to us. This week was a rough one. I found out just how patient you have to be in order to let the Lord do his work on you in order to learn the language. I am picking up on it very quickly, but I get frustrated because I just want to be able to speak it fluently right now and just get to work. But I am very grateful that I am facing the majority of my challenges like this right now, instead of out in the field. I am learning a lot about myself in here. I am realizing that now is the best time for me to grow up and become the man that Heavenly Father wants me to be. I kept looking back at my life in high school and the majority of college and I see how all of my spiritual experiences have prepared me for this work. At times, I am so excited that I want to just leave right now and get to work, but then there are other days when I am humbled and find out that I don´t know enough quite yet. My main goal while I´m here is to be maticulously obedient, so I can have the Spirit with me at all times when so my learning is benifited by the Holy Ghost. I need His help now, more than ever before. Thank you guys so much for the emails! It really made my day to hear from all of you! Like I said before, I only have 30 minutes to write, so if you could keep the messages more condensed it would help me out a bunch so I can read them all and still have time to respond to them. I love you all and thank you so much for supporting me through all of my life. I want to tell you all a scripture that has been very near and dear to my heart for a very long time. D&C 121:7-9 is when Joseph Smith was in Liberty Jail and he is asking God why things have been so hard for him and the rest of the LDS members. The Lord says, You will be okay, these hard times are only for a small moment, and if we make it through, then we shall find our reward in heaven. We have friends who are here to help us through everything! I love this Gospel, and I love my Savior Jesus Christ, for everything He did for us. I never really thought about how amazign His sacrifice was, and how grateful we should be. I am so happy that families can be together forever. I would hope that we would always remember that whenever you are feeling even the least bit of unhappiness, because that thought always keeps me going stronger... Love you all! Love, Elder Clark.

There is so much I want tell you guys! I don´t even know where to begin! I could tell you about the plane ride. The minute I got on the plane to Sao Paulo, I didn´t really know how to feel once it took off. The feeling is so weird to know that I won´t be in Utah for the next two years. I really don´t think I was completely in my right mind when I left because I just had the excited missionary attitude and the knowledge of being away for so long just hadn´t sunk in yet. On the plane, the excited feeling still didn´t go away and I sat next to a guy who was from Cortutiba, Brazil, and he was so nice and friendly to me. His name was Jonas and he was a businessman. He was asking me about why I was going to Brazil and I got to explain my purpose with him. That kind of got the early jitters out of my system because I really had to reflect on the reason I was going to serve a mission in some dangerous place that I´ve never been to in my life. He gave me his business card and said that if I was ever in Cortutiba, that I should call him and he´d show me around. Now, even though I won´t be I won´t be able to see him, I still took it and gave him a pass along card with a picture of a temple on it and told him that there was on like this in his state, too. He took it and told me to keep in touch with him. I won´t lie, it was scary to just give him the card, but I knew that I would have regretted it if I hadn´t. When we arrived at the MTC, or the CTM as they call it here, there were 13 of us all together and they split us up into two different districts. My district included me and five other elders. Elder Smart is from Dallas and he is very knowledgeable in the Gospel. Elder Jackson is from Boise and he is really quiet but he works hard in class to know the stuff. Elder Thomas was the one from Taylorsville and he is a really cool guy. Elder Walton is from Atlanta and he and I get along the best because we were both three sport athletes in high school and he even played baseball at BYU this last year. Then there is my companion, Elder Bracken. He is from Salem and he´s a very nice guy. He wants to work so hard at learning the Gospel and the language that sometimes he frustrates himself, but he always has a good attitude. Our personalities don´t really mesh well, but we both want to be obedient and work hard while we´re here, so we get along just fine. We had interviews this Sunday with our branch president to see how we were doing, just in case any of us wanted to pack up and go home because we missed our families too much. When it was my turn, he asked me about you guys, and I don´t know what it is about you guys that gets me so emotional, but any time I get to share my feeling about my family, I can´t help but breakdown and cry and bare my testimony of how grateful I am for teh sealing powers of the temple that bind us together forever! Our branch president then later told me that the Lord had impressed him to call me as the district leader. I know that it doesn´t mean that I´m better than anyone else in my district because all of these elders are so talented, but I just have a little more responsibility now. I think that the Lord called me to this because he knew that I´d be thinking about you guys too much if I didn´t have something else to occupy my mind. I love teh elders in my district and I´m very grateful that the Lord feels confident in my abilities to be a district leader. My teachers here are great! We are learning so much and very quickly. I can already pray and bare my testimony in Portuguese. Both are very simple in words and sentence structure, but I´m more confident in my ability to learn this language now. At first, I was a little doubtful, but I know that the Lord will help me with whatever I need. The food here is so good! I say that now because it´s my first week, but I really like the rice and beans and all of the meat they feed us. There are some things I cannot tell what they are or where they came from, but I usually end up liking it anyways! This may turn into a very bad thing because I have already gained about four or five pounds here... not good. This city is huge! Seriously! I see so many tall buildings everywhere and most of them are just apartment complexes FULL of people! I love the humidity right now, but they say that it´s the dry season right now, so I´m in for more change by the time I get out of here. The warmth is nie because the toilet seat is never cold when you sit on it in the morning. Yet another blessing from not going to Provo... I love this place so much and I am really beginning to love my mission and my whole purpose for being out here. I was really doubting my faith at the beginning of this whole adventure, but my prayers have become so meaning full out here. I feel closer and more receptive to God´s love out here while I am learning how to do his work. I love this church, and I love my Savior so much! Everything he´s given me is a blessing that I know that I will not take for granted for the rest of my life. You guys are one of those huge blessings, and I love you all so much! I hope you know that I miss you and love you very much! Love Elder Clark...