Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday, Aug 29th 2011

Oí Família!

Just to start off, GOO PAYSON FOOTBALL!!! Brady gave me a perfect description of the game and I was sitting here in my seat sweating and full of goose-bumbs! What an awesome game! His description made me a little homesick for football haha. It´s so great to see that everyone is starting school again and super happy. I hope that this year you all can reach your goals that you set and that you can all have a blast because "Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have JOY!"

This week I received the compliment that I have been waiting for so long on the mission. I was interviewing a young man that the Sister missionaries had been teaching when I had the chance to meet the entire family. The mom and dad were baptized in 2006 but unfortunately had fallen away since then, and their two children that they had at that time weren´t old enough to be baptized, so the Sisters went after them and reactivated the entire family! I was talking with the dad and we were just chatting about the Church and about soccer (the two main topics here in Brazil), and out of nowhere he asked me where I was from. I said, "Utah." He then gave me a wierd stare and said, "Wait... you´re an American?!" He told me that I didn´t have an accent and that I was talking exactly like a Brazilian so much that he thought I was from the southern part of Brazil where there are a lot of whites. I got all red and embarrassed, but I felt really good that the Holy Ghost has helped me so much with the gift of tongues. I thought back to when I was in the MTC, depressed and pessimistic to whether I would be able to learn the language, and I recognized one of the biggest blessings that the Lord has given me in my life so far. One of the hardest things I have had to overcome was the language barrier and now it is not even a question. This goes to show that the Lord really does help us in our weaknesses, so much that they can become strengths. (Ether 12:27)

I have also developed a talent here on the mission. I am now the barber of the house. I bought clippers last year for like 12 dollars and they are still going strong! It´s almost been a year that I haven´t paid for a hair cut and I am not half-ugly! But one of the other Elders asked me to cut his hair and so I did. The only problem was that I didn´t have my glasses on and I was tired. We left the house and I saw that I had completely butchered his hair! But I tried being the nice Elder and kept telling him that the people were only laughing because I am American and super white. Then that night I suggested that I make a few touch-ups lol. Now his hair is good!

I have yet another thing to credit to my wonderful and loving parents. My house here is one of the WORST in the mission. It is small, the sewage blocks ups constantly, one room doesn´t have a light socket nor light bulb, and the bathroom always wreeks of... four men. I dedicated last Monday to a super fixer-upper day. I started with the sewage. I went out to the front of the house and opened up the sewage to see what was causing the cloggage. I stuck my hand in the pipe and guess what I found... a sock! Some smart Elder had put a sock down the drain and forgot to tell anyone. I took it out and the clogging stopped. Problem number one solved. Then I went to the store and bought a light socket and lightbulb to fix the lack of light we have in our study room. I had to tear down a chandelier that the other Elders had broken one day from playing soccer in the house, and then I messed around with the wires and found the right ones to install the new socket. Then I put in the light bulb and turned on the lights and, "Let there be light!" Problem number two solved. Then I bought all sorts of cleaner and whatnot to get rid of that smell in the bathroom. I spent the entire afternoon scrubbing and now we have a bathroom clean enough to eat in. The other Elders in the house just sat there and looked at me while I went to town on all this stuff. They asked me, "Why do you clean and fix stuff when it wasn´t even you who made the mess?" I love these Elders who live with me, but this is one part of responsibility that they haven´t learned yet. Sometimes we pay for the ignorance of others, but that doesn´t mean that we have to live with the mess they left behind. I felt good afterwards and now the house is pretty respectable.

We had another baptism yesterday! The man´s name is Sílvio. Here´s a little bit about Sílvio´s story. We met him about two months ago when we were at Church. He showed up out of nowhere and asked for some help from the bishop. He lives in a very poor house with no running water, very little food, not very many clothes, and five dogs. The bishop gave him a basket of food and other necessary items and he kept coming to Church every Sunday. We taught him a few times, but he had a horrible problem with smoking so he didn´t really progress very well, so we had to stop teaching for a while, but he never missed Church on Sunday. One day, he stopped me and told me that he had quit smoking and that he wanted to be baptized. We got super happy and organized everything for him. This past week, the life of this man changed. The bishop got him a good, steady job, and bought him a suit and tie to go to Church. Sílvio was MORE than ecstatic for his baptism and the bishop was able to baptize him. The members showed so much love and respect for him and I was extremely impressed by the bishop and all the care and love he showed for this poor man. He may be poor financially, but once he left the Church yesterday, he was the richest person spiritually. I love this Church and I know that God calls His servants to work in this great work. I am so honored to be His missionary and for all the opportunities that I have to see lives be changed. I love you all so much and hope everyone has an amazing week once again!

Elder Clark

Monday, August 22, 2011

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Monday, Aug 22nd 2011

Oí Família!!!

Can I just tell you that I am getting quite confused nowadays. I left Utah for sunny Brazil and I still feel like I am in Utah with this cold weather all the time!!! Oh well, I know that I am not here to enjoy the weather. So school has started once more? To tell you all the truth, it´s extremely wierd for me to think that this time of year has already begun. It´s almost surreal. I know that this year will be better than the last if we all remember to do the simple things everyday; reading the Book of Mormon, saying family and personal prayers, having family home evening on Monday night, going to Church every Sunday, and always trying to be like Christ. These are all the things that I wish I had learned how to do BEFORE the mission. I was talking with a brother from the ward last night about this stuff because his family is starting to get sluggish with coming to Church every Sunday. I told him that before the mission, I really slacked off when it came to this kind of stuff. If I missed one Sunday, I was all right. But now it is TOTALLY different. I KNOW just how important it is to be at Church EVERY single Sunday to take the Sacrament. It is the absolutely most important part of the week! I will only miss going to Church when I get home if I am on my death bed because I am litterally addicted.

Well, I did splits with the assistants this week. His name is Elder Fassini and let me tell you all that he is an amazing missionary. He has a bad reputation on the mission because he has a personality a little rough and thick headed, but he knows how to teach with the Spirit and how to ask the right questions to get the investigator thinking. I learned a lot with him and I am now working hard to be able to teach at his level and beyond (always gotta try to better, right?). We visited our only investigator that we were preparing for baptism. His name is Sidney and he is the husband of a member with two kids. The elders have been passing his house for YEARS and he had never accepted to be baptized because he just never felt the need. When we got there, we started with a great conversation and I looked at him straight in the eyes and asked, "Sidney, what do you think about becoming a member of the Church?" He started to think and said that he needed to know for sure that it was the right thing for him. I then challenged him to pray that night to ask Heavenly Father if his time to be baptized had arrived. The next day we went to his house to see how the prayer went. He said that something had touched his heart and that he had a dream. In this dream, Christ was standing in front of him and said, "So many people rejected me and continue to reject me... will you be another one?" I looked at Sidney and invited him to baptized that Sunday so that he could finally tell Christ that he accepted Him. He sat there in silence and it felt like an hour to me, but it was really just a few minutes. He looked up with a smile on his face and said, "All right, let´s do it!" I leaped up for joy, litterally, and gave him a huge hug right on the spot. He told his wife and she started to cry and the rest of his neighbors who are members also started to get really happy. I felt the Spirit SO strongly in that lesson and it was such a great experience for me. Then, at the baptism, his wife and two kids were there to take pictures with him and he asked me to baptize him. The testimonies were great, but the best was his wife´s testimony. She told him that she had been praying for seven years for this day to come and now that it had come, she was so eternally grateful. They had gone to the temple that afternoon before the baptism and they both knew that they would be sealed there as a family in a year from now. His wife told me thanks after the baptism and I told her that I would be following her family for the rest of my life. What a great chance I have to be a missionary. I left my family for two years to help other families become eternal. THIS IS THE LORD´S CHURCH. I KNOW IT! There isn´t anyone in this Universe that could make me deny what I know and feel everyday here on the mission. Families can be together forever.

Elder Clark

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday, Aug 15, 2011

Oí Família!!!

Well how exciting it is! I still can´t believe that everyone is getting ready to go back to school! It feels just like yesterday that everyone was just starting last school year! The time is going by so ridiculously fast that I am not able to keep track of things. I will actually be back home before this school year ends. How weird is that?! I also got the goosebumps hearing about Brady´s Green-and-White game! He tells the stories so well that I get imagining everything in my head and I want to be there watching in real life. But I will be back for the senior year! And now all the girls are in braces hahahahahaha I already went through all that. Oh all those school days after orthodontist appointments where I could only eat the Campell´s Chicken Noodle Soup that Mom made me... :)

This week was pretty interesting. I actually felt super strange because it finally came to the time for me to renew my visa!!! It really hit me because I can still remember when I went to the Federal Police Station the first time in MTC!!! I couldn´t speak and I felt so stupid around all the Brazilians, but not this time! This time I could actually communicate my way to wherever I wanted to go. Then, to make it all better, we saw about 30 missionaries there from the MTC as well. They all looked at us and we looked at them and we already knew that they were from the MTC because all of their white shirts were still white! Ours are turning that yellowish color already haha. They all asked things like, "Is the language hard?" or "Does the mission go by fast?" All the things that we asked when we were in their place a year ago... poor things lol. I learned so much after the MTC. It was a great learning experience in itself, but I learned much more in the field and I know that my testimony grew more in the field. I met up with the secretaries from the Brazil São Paulo North mission there as well, and he let me call and say hi to all of my friends in that mission that I met in the MTC! It was just a big day of remembering things from the past! I was going back home and I saw a McDonald´s on the side of the road. I looked at one of the other Elders that was with me and said unto him, "Let us partake." It had been just a little over a year and three months that I hadn´t eaten McD´s! It´s super expensive here, but it was SO worth it! A Big Mac has never tasted so good.

We also had a blast today for our Zone P-day. We all got up early and went fishing and caught absolutely nothing! Imagine the Spring Lake Trout Farm only really dirty and no trout... ya that was pretty much it. My pole broke and it was a grand ol´ time! We all left happy and cheery still. Then we went to a barbeque (churrascaria) and ate a ton of meat! Then we went to a big park and played around and took pictures with everyone! It was nice to get out and enjoy the sun today... but I think I enjoyed it a little too much because I got burned again. The downside of being a whitey haha.

Well, we had an amazing baptism this Saturday. His name is Benjamin and he is the friend of a member. He is the father of a huge family and he is SUPER spiritual. When we invited him to be baptized, he told us automatically that he knew that he needed to be baptized in this Church. He got all prepared and stopped drinking alcohol and coffee right off the bat. The only problem that came up is that when it came to the baptismal day, his family didn´t want to come and watch. They all told him that they had better things to do. I found it so sad and odd because it is so hard to get men interested in the Gospel, so when one does want to follow, usually the rest of the family is behind him, but this was a different case. He got a little discouraged, but didn´t let it affect him. He showed up in the chapel with normal clothes and when he was baptized and came out of the bathroom, he had put on a white shirt and tie and social pants he had bought the day before. He said that he is here to stay. I saw a future Elders Quorum President in him.

We also saw that one sister of the ward brought her husband to Church for the second time in a row. We decided to ask if we could pass by their house and talk with him and he accepted! He later told us that night that Christ had appeared to him in a dream and asked him a very serious question. Christ asked, "When I was on the Earth, everyone rejected me... Will you be the same?" Him telling us that allowed us to help him realize that he had been called to follow by the very Savior. He accepted to be baptized this weekend! I can feel the work that Heavenly Father is doing here in this ward! I love it! I know that what I am doing is true! I wouldn´t rather be anywhere else! I love my family and I am so grateful that I had the chance to grow up in this Gospel. It is the place that my future family will be forever! I love you all and thanks so much for the thoughts and prayers you all give me.

Elder Clark

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday, Aug 8th 2011

Oí Família!!!

Unfortunately, we did not baptize this week. There was a little hiccup in the work this week and we ended up not having anyone prepared to be baptized this week. But the good thing is that we have a father of a family who we are teaching. His name is Benjamin and he is a member´s neighbor here in the ward. He went to Church with the member and fell in love with it at first sight! He came to Church in a suit and tie and scriptures and everyone started asking him which ward he attended, as if he were already a member. In the classes, he answers all of the questions and reads and participates and loves to go to Church on Sunday. His member neighbor got him a job this past week as well where he works and they talk about the Gospel during their two hour travel from home to work every day. Benjamin set a goal for himself. His entire family is split. One goes to one church, another goes to another church, some don´t go to church at all, and he really wants his whole family together one day. He told us that as soon as he is baptized, Heavenly Father will start to work miracles in the lives of his family, so that everyone can go to the same church... together. It´s been rather simple and easy teaching him because he is so willing to do what the Lord asks of him. He stopped drinking coffee and beer when we challenged him and he is already praying and reading the scriptures everyday. When I look at him, I see the next Elders Quorum President. He will be baptized this Saturday and we are hoping that his whole family will come and support him.

Well, I feel rather old on the mission now. My trainer just went home and my companion is going home next month. It´s already been a year and two months that I have been out here and I don´t even believe it! If I were a sister, I would be home in four months! I also met someone from Chad Marvin´s mission here. The next time you see Chad, tell him that I met Elder Carlos, his assitant to the president. He just got home, too, and he was telling me how well-loved Chad was in ALL of his areas. I told him that not too many things change about good ol´ Marvin.

Well, what did I learn with my mission president this week? One thing that I really appreciate about being a leader in the mission is the chance I have to listen and be taught by my president more frequently. He started to explain to us about Cain and Abel. I will quickly explain the story of these two for those who don´t know too well. Cain and Abel were Adam´s sons (Adam and Eve). The two of them were high leaders in the Church because they sat in meetings with Adam while they would be taught by angels from on high. So Cain and Abel both had a GIGANTIC knowledge of what was right and what was wrong. In fact, Cain was supposed to be the prophet after Adam died, but what happened? Cain and Abel were commanded to give a sacrifice to the Lord. This is were things get interesting. Why did Cain fall? Because Abel gave a bigger sacrifice than he? No. In fact, Cain and Abel both gave the EXACT SAME THING. But now you ask, "Then why was Cain banished and condemned as the son of perdition?" Because Abel gave the sacrifice with his whole heart, and Cain was tempted by the devil and didn´t give the sacrifice with his whole heart. So... They both did the same thing, but one was punished and the other was granted eternal life. The thing that we all need to understand is that we can do exactly what the Lord has commanded, but if we do it the WRONG way, we are doing it for our own condemnation. For example, if we do not magnify our calling, or if we lie about what we are doing or just try to do it the quick and easy way just to gain recognition, it´s better to not do it at all. Just how President Packer said in Conference this April, "It´s not easy to be a Latter-day Saint, but this is the only true path that will lead back to Heavenly Father´s prescence." We need to do everything with our WHOLE heart so we can help our Heanenly Father build his kingdom here. I loved this training that President Moreira gave us this week and I am trying to apply it in everything I do now. Am I really doing things the correct way, or what do I need to improve?

I love you all and I am loving the mission! I hope you all have a great week and get ready for school!!! P.S. my house is super clean! So I know that my shorts have gone missing in the suitcase of a few slick and sly Brazilian companions lol.

Elder Clark

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday, Aug 1 2011

Oí Família!!!

All right, just to let everyone know how this month started for us, our mission president put an extremely outrageous goal for us to reach this month in baptisms. Anyone want to guess how many we had to baptize?... 300 sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father in the month of July!!! Crazy huh? 300 is a lot of people, but we all were ready to accept the challenge and we started working really hard to help our mission president baptize these children of God. Well, we had our ups and downs this month, as usual, and we ended up finding, teaching, and baptizing... (drum roll) 314 people this month of July!!!! We broke the record in this mission. Never has Brazil São Paulo East baptized more than that! We are making so many big steps and it´s all because our president knows that if we work hard and keep the commandments, we will have the Spirit. And if we have the Spirit, we can teach the people the Truth. And if we teach the Truth, they want to be a part of it! My president gave a huge congrats to us and told us that because we accomplished such a huge goal, we now know how to accomplish whatever kind of righteous goal that we set with our Heavenly Father. If our goal is to graduate from college with good grades so we can support our family, if we keep the commandments and do our absolute best, God will help us reach that goal. I am saying to everyone that EVERY righteous request or goal that me make with Heavenly Father, He is willing to help us if we do our part.

Last night, there was another person who was getting baptized and we had to heat up the font for this little kid. He was 9 years old and had a huge fear of cold water! We went to fill the font, but the heater wasn´t really working very well. I got super discouraged and didn´t know what to do. The sister missionaries showed up at the chapel and asked what was wrong, and I explained the situation. Then I had an idea to go to the kitchen and start to boil water and throw it in the font. I went to the kitchen, and guess what... no pots or pans. I gave up and almost called it quits on the baptism, but the sisters told me to wait a little bit. The left for about 10 minutes and came back with three big pots! I asked where they found them. "We borrowed them from the neighbors!" They went and knocked on the neighbor´s door and borrowed their pots. We heated up the font perfectly and the kid was baptized without any problems! I was so impressed with the sisters! They are really amazing missionaries.

We had one of the best baptisms ever this week! Just this month, we started talking with a family here in the ward. Almost everyone in their family is a member, except one son and one son-in-law. We made a goal with them to baptize the two of them. The son-in-law got married to their daughter in the middle of the month of July and we started teaching him immediately! He fell in love with the idea of being able to baptize his entire family in the temple, and accepted to be baptized on July 31st. He automatically stopped drinking coffee and committed to not go to parties anymore and to stop playing soccer on Sunday, which is a HUGE thing here! He said he would rather sleep now haha And he went to Church yesterday and after sacrament meeting, the ENTIRE family was there and we took a picture outside under the sign of the Church. After the baptism we all walked back to their house together. The entire family lives in one apartment complex together. The guy we baptized, Sérgio, told us that now he will help us teach the son of the family that isn´t baptized yet. He said, "I want to baptize him!" We invited him to hear the messages and he ACCEPTED! We are going back to their house tonight to teach him for the first time! I am so happy to see all these blessings falling from the sky! There is also their neighbor who we are teaching who told us that he LOVES the Church and that he will be baptized this month of August and then we can baptize the rest of his family! He has a wife and 6 kids!!! Life really doesn´t get any better than this :) I left my family for two years to help others be together for eternity. This couple is now preparing to be sealed next year and I am so tempted to extend my mission two more months just to see it. If only it were possible.

I love the mission and I am learning so many great and wonderful things. And I love my family so much too :)

Elder Clark