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