Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday, May 30th 2011

Oí Família!!!

Yet another week has flown by without me even noticing it. I hardly even recognize Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday anymore. But yes it is true, this week was Hump Day for me. If you would have told me that the first year of the mission would pass so fast I would have called you a liar, but it´s so unbelievably true. Let´s see... what has Elder Clark learned in one year in the Lord´s service? I actually took a lot of time to reflect on this subject this week. What can I say about this year that has passed? The year was full of learning experiences. I learned of how I feel when I am not working very well and how the Spirit truly lacks in my words when I am not completely dilligent in what I am doing. And then I learned of how fulfilling it is when I can end a good day´s work and look back and say that we accomplished a lot because of our good attitude and the Spirit that was with us. I have learned about how good it feels to do a good thing for someone and have no one notice it, because you did specifically to help that person and not to gain recognition from others. I learned about how hard it is to learn another language, but the blessings that come when you finally get the hang of it. I learned that God has many, many, many gifted and talented children in every place on the Earth. And one the best things that I have learned out here is that when you try your best, the Lord makes up for the rest. There have been so many times out here when I really thought that I wouldn´t be able to pull through. Some of the difficulties that I have faced that really left me thinking that I wasn´t good enough really pulled me down to low self-esteem. But something that has been proved true through and through this year is that my Savior has put me on His shoulders and carried me through the storm time and time again. He is truly molding me into the person that I am meant to be after the mission is all over. Whenever I make a mistake, I am happy because I already know what needs to change in order for me to be the leader, the son, the brother, the husband, the father that God needs me to be in the long run. The mission is just the warm-up for the challenges that are waiting for me. The more time that I spend out here, the more time I have to perfect my character flaws that I have still. I am super glad that I have one more year to make these corrections.

Well, I did a companion exchange on the one-year mark this week. I hadn´t even realized it until my companion asked me when it was coming up. I told him that it was today and he took me and bought this huge thing of icecream called Açaí (ahs-ah-ee). It´s really good and the U.S. doesn´t have it unfortunately. It´s this purple looking substance that comes from the açaí fruit. You´ll all have to look it up haha I don´t know how to explain it. But that same day, we received a reference from a less-active member of their ward and we went looking for the house. The only problem was that they didn´t give us the house number, just the name of the road and the road had about 200 houses on it. We started walking... and walking... and walking... and all of the sudden I felt the urge to stop and knock on the door of some random house. This guy came out and ended up being the person we were looking for. They didn´t have time to hear our message that night, but it was really special to see how the Spirit helped us find these people.

I love the mission and I love the things that I am learning and improving every day. There are a lot of things to learn still, but I am ready for the challenge because I have a family that loves me and a Heavenly Father who wants me to be happy. I love you all and wish you all a great week! Happy Summer!!! It´s Winter here now!

Elder Clark

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday, May 23rd 2011

Oí Família!

Well, well, well, what a week it was. I don´t think I have ever felt so stressed out/frustrated/blessed in any other week of my entire life. We are in a very important month right now. Our mission president set a goal for us to baptize 300 of God´s children this month, so the pressure has been pretty tough thus far. We are pretty far behind our goal right now and there is only one more week left. We need to baptize 86 more people this week to reach it. Everyone is crazy to baptize everyone in every single area in the mission now, and with this type of work, you tend to get a little stressed out when things don´t go so well. Fortunately, we have been teaching a lot of people here in Lorena, so I wasn´t ever scared, but whenever you plan a baptism during the week, Satan always tends to work a little bit harder to annoy us. We had two men, father and son, who were planning on being baptized this week, but at the last minute, they told us that they didn´t want to make the decision at that time, so then I started to get nervous. We were visiting woman who was trying to make a come-back to Church this week. She went last week with her 10 year-old son and they LOVED Church again! We passed by their house and the first thing that happened was that we met all of their cousins who lived in the same house. One little girl offered to say the prayer and said a really good one too! The very next thing she asked me when she said, "amen" was, "what do we have to do to be baptized?" And then I thought, If only everyone could ask me that kind of question! We taught them about baptism and they committed to study with us that week so they could be ready to be baptized on Friday. They were all doing well, even gave up drinking coffee, which was a BIG thing for them, and were ready to go on Friday. We called the bishop, the primary president, and a few other members so they could be there to show their support for the inactive member and her family. When we left our house to pick up our investigators, we saw a great big rain cloud above our heads. It rained harder than I have ever seen it rain out here so far. All of the members told us that they weren´t going to the baptism anymore because of the rain and no one was able to take the kids to the chapel. I got so frustrated and mad and sad and all of the above because we had planned everything perfectly. The rain didn´t even reach any of the other areas in my zone either, and didn´t last more than an hour. It rained in just the one spot, at just the right time to disrupt everything. I got super upset with myself and didn´t know what to do, but we had faith that the Lord would prepare everything for the next day so that they could be baptized. When Saturday came, everything went perfectly. Almost half the ward was there and the inactive woman was extremely happy that the members still cared about her. I was super happy to have learned a great lesson about patience this week. Patience and humility are some attributes that I am striving to perfect in my life and work right now. To be a true follower of Christ, I need to know that everything depends on His own time and will, and I need to show my humility enough to show that I understand and accept that His thoughts are not my thoughts, neither are His words, my words, and that I am His servant and not the other way around. Missionary work will always continue... at what magnitude and success will depend on me being subject to the will of the Lord always.

I believe that this is something that we can all put into practice. Sometimes we get so upset when things that we plan don´t necessarily go our way. But if we really understand that when we do everything in our power to make something happen, and then it doesn´t happen, then it really wasn´t what the Lord wanted. He will help us and guide us in all that we do, but He will always do it His way :) His way is always best... even if we can´t see how.

I´m receiving barbeque classes from a member´s husband out here so I can come back home and show you how we do it Brazilian style! We have a barbeque with them right now, so I can´t spend too much time on the internet right now. I love you all and I love reading about what you are all doing back at home. I don´t ever get homesick, but I do love hearing all of the adventures that I am missing. Don´t ever forget that I love you all and am working hard to represent my Savior, His Church, and my family the best way that I can! Have a great week!

Elder Steven Clark

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday, May 16th 2011

Oí Família!!!

Well, we went through yet another transfer! I can´t believe how fast this time is flying by! My companion left the area and now I have the great privilige of training a new elder here! I am training for the first time in my mission! His name is Elder D. Silva, but he will probably be changing to Elder Felipe soon. He is from Recife! Recife is a huge tourist place in the northeast of the country. It has a whole bunch of beaches and beautiful places to visit. He is pretty much loving the cool breeze of São Paulo right now. He really isn´t much of a greeny though. He is 22 years-old and already knows how to teach and act like a missionary, so I will have a pretty easy job these next two transfers with him. It was quite the hassle going out to pick him up though. I was completely out of money last week and didn´t expect to have to travel all the way out to the city to pick up my companion, but then I found out that it was mandatory and so I had to take out all of my money! But it looks like Salt Lake is switching up the way that the mission works. Now, the most important designation in the mission is being a trainer. They have been having a lot of problems with the missionaries in the past because their trainers set bad examples for them. Our president told us that we are officially the missionaries that the Prophet trusts the most and that we have a very great responsibility. I am so happy that the Lord has trusted me with such a great calling and I got extremely happy and grateful to be able to train Elder D. Sliva. I know that it won´t be easy, but I know that it will help me grow to reach more of my potential as a missionary. Everyone has told me that training is a great big spiritual experience, but with every spiritual experience, you have to go through a lot of suffering as well, but I am ready for everything! :) My companion is really great and has great manners. We entered into a member´s house and the first thing I saw him doing was taking off his shoes to walk in. Haha I started to chuckle and the member started screaming, "what are you doing boy? This is a poor people´s house!" Haha She was joking but it kind of startled him haha.

As we were coming back out to the area, we were helping all the other trainers get back to the metro. One missionary was carrying a little cart with big brown cardboard boxes full of Books of Mormon. And what do you know? The cart broke! We had to carry four big huge boxes of Books of Mormon all the way to the metro which was about a half a mile away still. Everyone was looking at us like we were helpless young guys, but it sure was fun to be able to look back and laugh. We got a hold of another little cart, and can you guess what happened again? Yeah, it sure wasn´t a lucky day and I could tell that Satan wanted to discourage us really soon.

Sorry, I don´t have a WHOLE lot of things to write today, but I want to send my love and care to everyone at home! Thanks so much for the love and support I have from you all out here on the mission. These really are the best two years of my life and I know that I am being prepared for many things to come in my life. Know that this is the True Church of our Savior Jesus Christ! I know all this is true, without any doubts!

Elder Clark

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday, May 9th 2011

Oí Família!

Well, I am just about out of words to put into this e-mail. It was such a great experience to hear everyone´s voices again. I really can´t believe how quickly the time is flying by. The mission is such a great place to be. They say that you gain 50 years of experience in these two short years of work and I am a firm believer in that. I am amazed at the things that I learn every single day. I see all of my personality flaws and the things in my life that aren´t in harmony with what the Gospel teaches every single day, and I am able to work on these little (or big) imperfections so that I can be a better follower of Christ. The mission has been the best time of my life, but not because it has always been super fun. It´s the best two years because it´s like a refinery. I left my house and family as one person who knew very very little about the Gospel, and during these two years I am being changed and molded by the Lord so that when I come back I am still the good ol´ Steve, but the Steve that knows his purpose a lot better. I hope that I am able to share with all who read these emails a little of my changing process in hopes of maybe helping someone who is needing of a pick-me-up in the week or even a boost in testimony, but I hope that the Holy Spirit can testify to you all the things that I say.

This week we have transfers again! I think that Elder Rederson will be leaving the area this time. He is a great missionary and will probably be called to be another district leader. I am hoping that I get to train this next transfer. I have always wanted to train a missionary! Ever since I was a greenie I have wanted to be a trainer. I think it´s because I would know how to help the new missionary out with the difficulties of learning the language and getting used to the missionary life. I think the major reason that I want to train is because of the movie "The Best Two Years!" I think it´d be a blast to have an experience like that. Plus, all of the missionaries who have already trained have told me that training is such a great spiritual experience. I guess we´ll see what happens, right?

My funny story of the week was pretty good this time. We were walking down the street two days ago and the sun was extremely hot! It was so hot that my brain really wasn´t functioning correctly, nor thinking straight. We came up to the road that we were supposed to climb, like a 90 degree slope :( !!! This road was a one-way road and only let cars go down it and not up and we were wanting to go up, but we aren´t cars so the one-way sign doesn´t apply to us, right? So we get to walking and my companion thought he´d be funny and mess with my mind a bit and said, "Oops! We can´t take this road." And I said, "Why not?" and he replied, "Look at the sign. It´s a one-way street." And I turned around and started going back to look for another road! My companion just about died laughing on the sidewalk and he retold the story to everyone that we talked to that day.

Oh!!! I did a companion exchange the other day with an elder from Logan! His name is Elder Britten Schenk, really good guy. We´ll be going back to Utah State together! Well anyways, we went to a member´s house in his area and she started talking in straight English! She lived in Canada and speaks perfect English. She also brought a bunch of maple syrup and pancake recipes with her, so she made homemade pancakes for us!!! It was the most delicious thing that I have ever tasted! So, if you guys want to make an Elder happy, you could buy some pancake mix and maple syrup and peanut butter and send them with my white shirts if you want :).

Thanks you all for all that you do for me. I am fantastically happy out here and I am loving all the struggles and hardships that I have because I know that my family is always there behind me! Love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Clark

Monday, May 2, 2011

Monday, May 2nd 2011

Oí Família!!!

This week was a pretty good one now that I reflect on the things I have learned and experienced. We had another baptism in the ward here in good ol´ Lorena! His name is Jadson and his baptism completed his family! I have just baptized my first complete family here in Brazil! And how cool they are! They ride their bikes together to Church and love to watch and learn in Sunday School. The ward here got super happy when this family was baptized. Everyone is trying to have us teach their neighbors now! I won´t complain about stuff like that. This week there were a few pastors from the church they used to attend that were trying to persuade Jadson to not be baptized, but their visits just strengthened his decision! He is awesome and I hope he keeps going and eventually serves a mission as well.

We also found another family this past week. They have 13 people in the family who all live in the same house! Would you all like to know how we found them? I don´t think you´re all ready yet... are you sure? All right, but you´ll never believe it! We were talking with a member here one day and we were leaving their house. We saw their neighbors, just the mom and little 2 year-old son. As we were talking with the members, all of the sudden we heard the name Moroni, but no one from their house had said it. We looked at their neighbors and it was the mom who was calling her little son... Moroni! We asked if we could pass by another night and talk with them. When that night came, we met the father of the family. When we walked in their living room and met the rest of the family, we saw sitting on their coffee table, can you guess? A Book of Mormon! Everyone in the entire family has already read the Book of Mormon at least once, the father has already read it three times! He considers himself a "true witness" of the Book of Mormon. He knows that Joseph Smith was a true prophet and that through the Book of Mormon and the Bible we have the fulness of the Gospel here on Earth. The only problem is that they think that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints uses the Book of Mormon wrong. Because of a few passages in the book of Mosiah, he understood that there only exists one God and that God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are the same person. He is so dead-set on these thoughts that he is having a hard time accepting that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ restored on the earth because of this confusion. I have never taught anyone who already has a testimony of the Book of Mormon but won´t be baptized. It´s been really fun studying with my companion trying to find scriptures that could help him understand more clearly.

Today was actually a great P-day! We went fishing!!! We went out to the big river out here with a member who reminds me a lot of Grandpa Clark without all the cuss words :) love ya Grandpa! We got out there, got eaten alive by mosquitos, and got only one fish, but it was awesome! And you won´t even believe the size of the fish that I caught! It was huge! Like the size of my thumb! Haha I will have to send the picture to you all for you to see. We all got so happy when one of us finally caught something that it didn´t even matter that it was a baby fishy.

I hope that all is well there at home! I cannot believe that it´s already May! The time is passing by so quickly that I don´t even notice it. This next week is Mother´s Day!!! I can´t wait to hear everyone´s voice again! Hopefully Brady´s voice hasn´t gotten any deeper. If so, I´ll need to use a phone that is ready to support the huge baritone voice of his haha! Love you all and hope you all have a great week! Tchau! Beijão!

Elder Clark