Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday, January 31st 2011

Oí Família!

Well everyone, I have officially found the place here in Brazil where I will retire and live for the rest of my oldness. We received a reference from a member of our ward who lives in the farthest place of our area. The town is called Agua Azul (Blue Water). I had heard that this place was pretty and just jungle! We got on the bus that just kept going and going... and going... and going, and when we reached the end of one town, the sign "Agua Azul" finally appeared on the trail and we kept going some more. We passed GIANT mansions with huge yards and soccer fields, a beautiful lake that had so many people fishing! It reminded me of Grandpa Clark and Grandpa Stevens :) It is a quiet place with absoutely NO pollution and just tranquility. The reference was all right. Not the most receptive people, but it was still a good experience and really nice to see the beauty of this place.

Last week was quite a record breaker for me. I bought a set of hair clippers to try to teach myself to cut my own hair because I was wasting precious money on haircuts when I could be using it to eat! I tried it out last Monday and... turned out perfect! You can´t even tell that I was the one who cut it! I was really quite impressed with myself. I will be saving so much money now... or I will just be eating a lot more. The two are both great things.

I was also pretty nervous this week because the bishopric asked us to give talks yesterday. I am usually nervous when I have to give a talk in the first place, but up until yesterday all of my previous talks had been in ENGLISH! I didn´t know how well a Portuguese talk was going to go down. I really prayed for help to think of a good topic and for the members to understand what I would be trying to say. I felt the need to talk about Pride and how we need to avoid it in our lives if we want to live with Heavenly Father. Pride will keep us from progressing but there are certain times when we should be prideful... like saying that you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ! It went well and a member that was in a different room listening told me that I sounded like a Brazilian! It was great!

This week I have grown a lot! I am learning so much each day here, or probably every hour. Thank you so very much for all the advice and love I get from you all. I love you all so much! Have a great week!

Love Elder Clark

oh and dad, can you forward my emails to Seth? Thanks!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Monday, Jan 24 2011

Oí Família!

This week we had another baptism! Her name is Andreza and she is 13 years-old. It was kind of interesting how everything worked out. We had been teaching her and her little sister Iris for about three and a half weeks. They started out really soft and never wanted to pray or read anything that we asked them. I really never thought that they would progress and was always hesitant going back to their house. That was a fault in my own faith. Andreza started to catch a fire. She started reading the Book of Mormon everytime we asked her to and even passed a great test of her own faith. She has a lot of friends who are from other evangelical churches (who do not like us at all), and they were talking to her this last week. They kept telling her that we are false prophets and that we are just trying to lead everyone to darkness. She told them, "if they were really false prophets, they wouldn´t be asking me to pray to God to find out if they are telling the truth." When she told me that, my spirits were lifted so much :) It was really something that I was needing. She was baptized yesterday and her little sister will probably be baptized with her this next Sunday. Their neighbor, as well, we have been teaching and after the very first visit he believed that there really is a prophet of God here on the earth and he was so excited that he told his wife all about it and they prayed together and got an answer! They have yet had the opportunity to go to Church, but we´re hoping this Sunday works out for them. It´s nice to notice the great blessings the Lord places in front of you when you aren´t feeling your tip-top best.

Oh so yesterday at lunch after Church, we went to a member´s house to eat. She had told me that there was some crab leftover that she had made the night before and that she save some for me because she knew how much I love crab! I was so excited to eat crab again because it´s been almost a whole year! I got there and saw these little critters on the plate and thought to myself, 'these aren´t nearly as big as the ones back home,' but I was happy still. I cracked into my first crab and started to search for the meat. I found a little bit, but these crabs here in Brazil are not nearly as good as the ones back home. I soon found out that here they eat crabs they find in the mud instead of the sea! That explained the taste of dirt. But I finished the crab anyways...

I really didn´t have too much of an interesting week. I kind of wish there were more adventure right now; the work is going really slowly as of late. Our forces for finding new people is really going down and not producing a lot of success. It´s been a really hard couple of weeks and I don´t really know when things will really start to get better. This is where the perseverance kicks in. It´s not worth it to just last through your troubles, you have to endure them well. This week will be my test to see if I can really put my strength in the Lord and let Him help me out.

Thank you all who are sending me letters and emails and packages. I really am so blessed to have people back home who want to help me and know how I am doing. I love you all and hope you all have a great week.

Elder Clark

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Monday, January 17th 2011

Oí Família!!!

We have passed another transfer and Elder Fernandes and I will be making a sequel here in the good ol´ Presidente Dutra area! He wasn´t too excited when he heard that he´d be staying here again because he´s already been here for four months and now he´ll be here for another month and a half. I find it very interesting here in the mission. There are missionaries here, like my first companion, who only stay with their companions for one transfer and switch for their entire mission, then there are others, like me, who stay with each companion for two transfers at a time. It gets rough the second time around, as I learned from my second companion, but at the end you always become closer friends when the one is transferred. It´s like any other friendship; you really get to know someone when you´re both at the end of your ropes and discouraged, and then when you make it through the rough times, you become better friends.

This week was really rough for me because Elder Fernandes got really annoyed with staying here for one more transfer. During the week, he didn´t say ONE word to me on the street walking to our next appointment. In the houses of our investigators, he was talking and joking, but when we left he turned completely silent! It was so strange for me because I want to talk on the street so I don´t keep thinking so much. When we are always silent, we let our minds wander and start thinking of things we shouldn´t; like home, what friends are doing, what I am missing at home. That is something that I tried to work on this week. When I found myself in a situation when my companion didn´t want to talk, I started to sing, or think about what I could teach my investigators, or anything else to not let my mind stay idle. Unfortunately, the flesh is very weak and I slipped up a lot this week and let my emotions get the best of me, but I was always able to bounce back and regain my strength in the Lord. I am so grateful for all the help that He gives me out here. I am thousands of miles away from my culture, home, friends, family, and if it weren´t for all the protection He gives me, I would be in quite a bit of trouble out here. But I know He cares, I know He recognizes when I am sad, and I know that He is ready to help me in my difficulties. I find it very interesting that whenever I need an answer to my prayers, He always puts an answer in the scriptures. Almost all of my prayers have been answered in my study the next day. It really amazes me at how much He does just so I don´t feel sadness. All the way to the very Atonement that He suffered for me. I know that all of this life would be in vain if it weren´t for that very act of pure love. It always gives me the strength to keep going. I fall... a lot... but I always have what´s necessary to get back up again because of Him. I feel bad when I have lapses in my faith because of my own weakness, but He is forgiving as long as we are willing to work harder the next time.

We ended the week on a very high note. We started an English Class here in the ward and our first class was this Saturday. A member made a poster for us to put outside of the chapel. When we told him what to put on it, we tried to think of the things that would drive the most attention of the people. We said things like, FREE, For Everyone, Teacher from the U.S., 6'3", blue eyes, sandy blonde hair, cute american accent... but then we thought that it would draw the wrong kind of crowd :) We had quite a few people and the class went really well! Everyone liked it and said that they´d bring more people this next week! I still really can´t believe that the Lord has helped me learn a new language. I am amazed that everyday I wake up and talk with my Brazilian companion as if it were normal to speak in Portuguese. This is just another piece of proof that the Lord loves His missionaries.

Well, that is about all this week! Thank you all for all of the emails you send! I am so grateful for the support of my family and friends. I am in the best place right now and all because of my wonderful family and Heavenly Father who love me. I love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Clark

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday, January 10th 2011

Oí Família!

Yet another transfer down! Today is the last day of the transfer and it looks like Elder Fernandes is leaving. We haven´t gotten our phone call yet, but he has been here for three transfers already, so all signs point to him leaving and me staying. This transfer has been a good one... no, it´s been a great one. I have learned so much from this transfer with Elder Fernandes. One thing about my personality; I have always been the kind of person who was nice to everyone and loved to make friends and hated making enemies. I always said soft things that always made people feel better, but not necessarily helped them improve. Elder Fernandes, one day, told me after a lesson, "man, you talk like you have cushions in your mouth." I looked at him and was a little taken-aback, but then I really thought about what he said. As a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ, we need to be as Christ-like as possible, but also we cannot let any opportunity to teach Gospel truths slip away. I took his comment to heart this past month and a half and I have been much more confident in my words. I am still the nice guy, but now I am the nice guy who knows what is right and will show you how to find the truth. This has always been something that I have wanted to develop, and of course I haven´t mastered it, but now I have a starting place.

Oh, just to give you all an idea of how my week started, I will tell you all about my trip home on Tuesday. So we pass through a jungly looking part of our area to get to the place where we usually teach. We cross a brigde that passes over a river, and the name of the bridge is "I hope it falls" and really is about to fall at any minute to my doom of walking the rest of the day with wet shoes and socks. Well, when it rains a lot (everyday almost), the rain fills this little river. Elder Fernandes and I were coming home from our day of work and we had finished passing all the mud and puddles and finally got to the bridge... yup, the bridge was now completely under the water, leaving now way to pass and get home. We turned around and walked the entire way back and grabbed a bus that took us home, but it was quite the adventure.

Well, I am quite short of words this week. I will have more to tell next Monday I hope! I love you all and thank-you so very much for all of your prayers and support! Have a great week!

Elder Clark

Monday, January 3, 2011

Monday, January 3rd 2011

Oí Família!

Happy New Year everyone!!! Wow I cannot believe just how quickly 2010 went by! I was sitting on the top of the roof of my house with my companion and as I was watching all the fireworks and festivities I thought to myself, 2010 really feels like a dream to me now, and just how quickly 2011 will pass by if I´m not paying attention. One thing that I have really noticed on the mission is that this time is SO precious. I will only be doing this amazing work for two years! Two years I can teach EVERYONE about the blessings of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Two years I can worry about nothing other than studying the scriptures and helping people being baptized into Christ´s Church. I can´t do this anymore when I come home, so I am going to focus everything I have to learn and teach this Gospel to everyone down here, especially this year!

So for some odd reason, I feel like talking a bit about the 13th Article of Faith today. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous and in doing good to our fellow man... As members of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ, we must always strive to be examples of Him. In a world that is dropping its standards, we must raise ours. We have a duty to fulfill that we promised to do when we were baptized into His Church; that we would take upon ourselves His name. What does this really mean? Sure, we can say that we are members of His Church, but are really trying to be more like Him everyday? How are we doing with our development of Christlike Attributes? Do we really ask ourselves, What Would Jesus Do, in every situation? We need to strive to adquire this persona so that we can truly be the "light of the world" that cannot be hidden. (Matt 5:14-16) We must be the example to the world of how Christ wants us to act. Absolutely anything in this world that is worth praise or good, we must seek it! I like to compare this to the company of a good group of friends and family. We must seek for positive examples in our lives so that we, too, can be edified by their light.

This week we had another baptism! This time it was the older sister of the little girl who was baptized last week. This just goes to show that everyone can be touched by this gospel because this girl wanted nothing to do with us at the beginning, the same with their mom. But now she is baptized and their mom is marked to be baptized this next Sunday! Families can be forever through this Gospel... I know that this is true because Heaven really wouldn´t be Heaven without my family! Thank you all for everything! And a very Happy Birthday and Long Sal Salefa to Aunt Mimi!!!! I hope I spelled that right haha. Love you all!

Elder Clark