Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Oi Família!

Wow... this whole new working schedule is sure tiring. This whole week I spent traveling around the mission doing companion exchanges with the zone leaders. When it was all said and done, I finally got to stay in my area and rest a bit. And when I say "rest" I mean go back to work with my own investigators in my own area. I really do love doing these exchanges because I get to work with some of the best missionaries on the mission. I learn a lot and I have a bunch of spiritual experiences with their investigators. Just this Wednesday I went back to the zone where I first started the mission. I went and visited their investigators and we invited them to be baptized, but at first they said that they weren´t ready, but then we worked with the Spirit and they ended up accepting the invitation and were baptized on Sunday! Then I got to go back to my first area in the mission to do a baptismal interview for the Elders that are working there now. I got off the bus and I looked around and remembered all the things from my first months on the mission. It was like I was homesick or something. I felt like I had just gotten home from a really long journey. It had been almost a year since I´d left there and I got to see a few of the members that helped me learn Portuguese when I first arrived in the area. When I knocked on their door, one of the brothers came out and looked at me for a while and said, "Whoa! Young man are you a little lost around here?!" He came out and gave me a big ol´ hug and I got to talk with him about all the things that had changed and stuff like that. I got a tiny glimpse of what it will be like when I come back home to my REAL home.

I really don´t have a WHOLE lot to tell about the week other than that I am really grateful for this new calling because I am learning how to be more firm and forthright with my standards in the Gospel and my work. I know how important it is to be obedient and to be a good leader, because if we aren´t good leaders and if we don´t show the example to the other missionaries, the work will never move along. I see how I always need to be motivating these mission leaders to do their best because it is through them that the other missionaries are going to do better in their own areas. I see how important it is to always do my best because the reward for hard work is really gratifying, but the consequence for a lack of work is sadness and disappointment. The beautiful thing is that is all up to us whether we have good or bad results. I love the examples of hard work that I´ve had in my family. Thanks for all the help you´ve all given me! Keep up the amazing work at home! I love hearing about all the good stuff you´re all doing! I love you all!

Elder Clark

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday, Sept 19th 2011

Oí Família!!!

Can I just tell you all that I am amazed at how fast a week can go by on the mission. My duties and responsibilities are a WAY different than what I am used to as a regular mission leader. I finally got to go to the temple this last week as well. It had been almost one year and 3 months since I last went to the temple! I had missed those peaceful feelings of the Spirit each time I used to go. We went with all the American missionaries that were going home and I was able to reflect on a lot of things when we were in the Celestial room of the temple. I was extremely nervous for my new calling in the mission and I was really doubting whether I´d be able to do a good job or not, so I asked Heavenly Father if He had really called me to be in this position. I love the fact that I have a Father in heaven who loves me, because I felt so good inside afterwards and I left the temple feeling more confident than ever. I know that God calls people through revelation and now I just need to find out my specific duty that I need to fulfill while I´m serving in this spot. I am so happy and excited to work side by side with one of the smartest men in the Church, my mission president. He is one out of 6 people in the entire world who is authorized to teach Isaiah in Europe. He is extremely intelligent with the scriptures and I hope that by the end of my time here, I will have even 10% of the knowledge that he has. I know that that is one of the greatest reasons why I am here as well.

Life as an assistant is way different than what I am used to. I don´t have an area to take care of anymore... I have a MISSION to take care of! Any type of little problem that happens with companionships or certain missionaries, we have to go out and ressolve the problem ourselves. Whatever assignment our president gives us we have to stop everything we were doing and do what he´s asked. This week my companion, Elder Fassini (another Brazilian), and I need to prepare a training segment to give to the entire mission! We have an hour a piece to teach about how we can improve our relationships with our bishops and our members. It´s a little stressing at times with all these extra tasks on the side of our other missionary responsibilities such as teaching and baptizing, but I know that all of this is going to help me learn how to be a better person after the mission. I imagine that real life afterwards is about as rushed as life as an assistant. Even more rushed when you live in the third biggest city in the WORLD!!!

Speaking of where I live right now, I am sure Uncle Jeff can explain to you all about my new home. It´s called Heliópolis. It´s the second largest favela in the world. If you don´t know what a favela is, you should all ask Jeff lol. It´s supposedly one of the most dangerous areas in São Paulo, but I have never felt more safe in my entire life. Everyone loves the missionaries and they always ask us if we need any help with anything. It´s really great actually. As a kid I always wanted to know what it would be like to live in a big city like New York or something like that. Now I am living in the center of São Paulo! I see how crazy of a life it is to wake up and grap the metro then grab two more buses to get to a big office building to start working. I see how so many people are just doing everything through the motions and I stop to wonder... "How happy am I to know the Gospel." I know why I need to wake up every morning and I know what my goal is after this life is over. How many more people would be happy if they also knew about Heavenly Father´s great plan for us. I have such a great desire to share these things with all of them because I know that it will benefit EVERYONE! Everyone would be happier if they would just learn to live and keep the Lord´s commandments. Choose liberty! Not Eternal misery! Heavenlly Father must get pretty sad when He sees so many of his children sad. I know that every single person deserves to know what I know, and I have until May to tell as many people as I can! That´s not a whole lot of time lol. I love this new calling that I have and I am so happy that my president felt like he could trust me enough in this spot. I love my family and I know that it´s only because of you that I am here.

I love you all! have a great week!

Elder Clark

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday, Sept 12, 2011

Oí Família!

Hello everybody!!! Well we have hit the end. My companion is finally headed for home. I will be getting my new companion tomorrow, whom I don´t know yet, and he will be grabbing the next plane to Fortaleza. Elder David is a very special missionary and has become one of the people whom I respect the most. He has been a great partner here in this ward with me and I can honestly say that I have never helped SO many people with him than I have in my entire mission. We have baptized families, sturdy and solid priesthood holders, husbands of member families, and we were able to change the reputation about the missionaries of the entire stake. My companion has an amazing story as well and I would love to tell it to you all.

When he was three days old, his mother became extremely depressed and decided to take away his life. A stranger offered to take care of him and raise him instead of letting him die with his mother. So this man raised him, but wasn´t the best thing for Elder David. This man mistreated him and beat him and forced him to beg for money on the street. At nine years old, Elder David ranaway from home and lived alone on the street for three years. After these three years he was found and put in an orphanage. He joined the circus and travelled around the world with them. Through a friend, he was apresented to the missionaries, where he was baptized and followed strongly. Then he joined the marines and had a very good job through them, including a house. He battled with himself whether he should serve a mission or not, but finally decided to go and now he is finishing a very honorable mission. He has been my favorite companion thus far and a very, very good friend of mine. I have marvelled at his faith and I wish that I could have as much faith as he has. When times of much doubting came over my head, I looked at him and he always believed that we could do anything we wanted to. I will never forget my good ol´ buddy Elder David.

Well, as I am typing this e-mail, I just got off the phone with my mission president... I will be packing my bags... He called me to be his assistant. I need to be in São Paulo tomorrow to meet with him. I am still a bit shocked and I am hardly able to type this e-mail.

Love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Clark

Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday, Sept 5, 2011

Oí Família!!!

Hello everyone! I just have to warn you all that this letter may not be extremely lengthy because it is my companionś last P-day, so I gotta be fast.

This Sunday was by far the BEST day of my entire mission. The entire day I felt as if I were living a dream. Everything that happened made me feel like I was litteraly in a movie. Elder David and I have baptized 11 people in this ward in these past two months here. With these 11 people are fathers of families who had been praying for such a long time that their dad or husband would accept to be baptized, others were mothers and children being baptized together, but there was one that makes me even more proud to be a missionary. We baptized Benjamim last month. Benjamim is a father of a huge family, but only he was interested in the Church at the time. He was baptized and automatically made friends with the Stake Presidency and everyone in the ward. He got so enthusiastic about the Church that he has already made goals to help his entire family come to Church. This Sunday was an experience that I will never forget. We were in the bishops office with Benjamim and we were ordaining him as a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. But do you know why? Because his 15 year-old son had chosen his own recent-convert dad to baptize him! I had never baptized anyone who ended up baptizing another person, let alone his own son! I was so happy and emotional because of the amazing work that is beind done in this ward that I felt a huge urge to bare my testimony in Church. I told everyone that when it comes my time to leave this ward, I will leave crying because I have never helped so many people, nor met so many families who have changed my life than I have in this ward. I know that the Church is true because of these experiences. When I see my converts growing in the Gospel, the Holy Ghost testifies to me that this REALLY is the Church of Jesus Christ! This IS HIS WORK!

After Church, we had lunch at the Stake Counselorś house. This was what just topped off the day... He started to express the feelings of the Stake President about our zone and the work that we are all doing in their stake. He started to get a little teary and said that they were so proud of the things that have been happening in the stake since Elder David and I had arrived. This stake had had a lot of problems in the past with bad missionaries and they were pretty fed up with what was going on, but he looked at us and said, "We know that all missionaries are special and good... but some are just a lot better than the others. You two are amazing missionaries. There are some who fake humility, but you are two Elders with truly humble hearts." For me, there couldnt be a better compliment than what he told us. I left his house feeling like my leaders were happy with my work, but more importantly, I know that my Heavenly Father is happy with what we are doing. My whole life, I have always searched for approval from my Heavenly Father and yesterday I truly felt Him telling me that He was proud of me. There really is not anthing better that a child looks for from his father... to know that he is proud of his son. My father and mother here on earth have taught that so well to me. I am so extremely grateful for this chance to be a missionary. I am so happy that I didnt let this opportunity slip away. My life is set from here on out. Celestial Kingdom or nothing! I love you all and I hope you all have a great week! Remember who loves you!

Elder Clark