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