Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday, Nov 29, 2011

Oi Família!

Sorry I didn´t my e-mail off to you guys yesterday. There is quite the epidemic here in the mission. Everyone is catching the Chicken Pox! It all started last month with one Elder, then it spread to another... then to another... and pretty soon we had to put about four or five missionaries in quarantine! Seriously, we had a house right by the Mission Office reserved for the sick Elders and no one could go in if they hadn´t already had the pox. So why does this have anything to do with me not sending an e-mail... well I have a companion who is deathly afraid of getting the chicken pox, so instead of sleeping at the secretaries´ house we had to go all the way back to our area which is more than an hour away from the office. Therefore, I did not get to use the computer there. End of story. The funniest thing is that Elder Fassini is paranoid at the fact of catching the pox that I see him scratching a little bit and he already starts to panic haha.

This week was a great experience for me. This Sunday was the Primary Program for the ward, so we got to see all the kids singing to us. It was such a great program that they all put on, and I was so happy to have brought our investigators to watch it. They all told us afterwards that it was really cute and they all felt really good inside. I know that Christ wasn´t joking around when He said that the little children are heirs in God´s Kingdom. You can just feel such a great Spirit when little kids are singing and baring their testimonies about Jesus Christ or the Book of Mormon or the Church. They really are the most pure at heart. It kind of makes me want to go back to that stage of life. The best part of the program, I thought, was when they invited all of the full-time and returned missionaries to come up and sing "Called to Serve" together. I saw more than 20 men and women up at the front with us all wearing their missionary name-tags, some a little older than the others. I looked out at the congregation and saw about four or five of our converts looking at us. I recognized the look on their face because it was the same look that I had when I saw the returned missionaries that I knew before the mission. That look of "I can´t wait to be a missionary like him!" It was impossible to not notice the way they were feeling because I still feel the same about my own dad who I am so proud to say that really was a true missionary of the Lord. The fact that I am going through similar problems and situations that he, too, went through helps me have a lot more respect for him. Knowing that I am almost finishing this part of my life is something very sad for me, but I am so glad they called me on a mission.

Hope you all have a great week and that the Spirit can help you all in every tough decision you make. Always rely on the Lord and everything will turn out all right. I love you all! Thanks so much for everything.

Elder Clark

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday, November 21 2011

Oi Família!

This week was rather full of events and then at the same time very still. I did an exchange with another Elder this week who had begged us to come help him figure out what to do in his area. He was opening an area in a ward that hadn´t had missionaries for about seven months now, and he was getting pretty nervous. I went there and the exchange was awesome! We were able to find out a few great things that he could do to help his area. I really love being able to help these missionaries out. Sometimes I think that I am still extremely unqualified to give advice because I don´t see myself as anyone full wisdom... very far from that! haha I see how our exchanges always leave the missionaries more excited and happy, so I know that the Spirit really does work with us. When you have two Elders who really want to make a difference in an area and are willing to be obedient, the Lord is obligated to bless us. I told this Elder that that blessing wouldn´t all come at once; he´d have to work a bit, but they would be blessed by their obedience. I truly love the experiences I have doing this job.

This week was rather bittersweet for me. I learned a very good lesson about obedience through things that happened this week. With my calling, my companion and I handle almost everything that happens in the mission. I am so very grateful for the mission rules. I see how they really do protect us here on the mission. When we look at all the commandments of God, they really are here to PROTECT us! Sometimes, we look at commandments as RESTRICTIONS that God has given us to make our life hard and difficult. We think that we cannot have fun AND keep the commandments at the same time, but in all reality, God only gives us these commandments because only He sees the horrific consequences that will come if we decide not to be obedient. It´s just how our parents work. They tell us to not do something because they already know what will be the consequence for that action, but we question them still and think that we know what is better. In the end, we are hurt... sad... repentant... alone... and we only wish that we could go back in time and take that thing back. Heavenly Father gives us commandments because He doesn´t want to see any of His children sad OR hurt! I know that if I smoke, I will have bad health and I will die early. I know that if I don´t keep the law of chastity, I will hurt my family. The problem is that we don´t see the consequences from not keeping the small commandments like going to Church or paying tithing or reading scriptures or praying everyday. I know that the Lord sent me on a mission to learn these things. I know that while I am here, I need to realize how Heavenly Father is opening my eyes to how obedience to even the smallest rules will save me from a world of pain and misery. I´d rather make the little sacrifice right now to obey the small things, than disobey the small things and sacrifice my happiness in the future. Just how Alma taught us, "Wickedness never was hapiness."

I hope you all have a great week and I hope that we can all think about how our Heavenly Father loves us SO much and how much it hurts Him to see us suffer. Let´s all together make the best choices so that we can all prepare to live with Him once more after this life. I love you all! Thanks for everything!

Elder Clark

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Monday, November 14 2011

Oi Família!!!

So the ward here went to the temple this Saturday. All the youth planned to meet at the chapel in the morning so that everyone could get up and go together on the bus to get to the temple. Around 15 youth went to the temple that day. Of the young women, the majority were members with more time in the Church, but the young men didn´t have any experienced member with them, but seven of our recent-converts went! Our converts are LOVING the Church and I am extremely happy with the work that my companion and I are doing here. It´s really rough sometimes having to take care of so many things at the same time, but the Lord has really been blessing us with His elect children to teach and baptize! We have quite a few young men who have already made plans with the bishop to serve a mission next year! So I will be sending a lot of mail to Brazilian missionaries this time of year next year!

Just to show you all just how blessed this area has been, I will tell you that we broke a record in our mission today. Today, we baptized 11 people! The ward was SO surprised and happy to see so many people in white and excited to be baptized. There were youth and a mom who we had been able to help this week. I felt so happy seeing all of them taking such a big stride in following Christ. I just cannot explain just how much Brazil has been a blessing to me. I see so many humble people here who are looking and searching for an exit to this corrupt world they live in. SO many people have been accepting our message and it´s been such an overwhelming feeling to me. At times I get to thinking how the Lord prepared His children and then puts them in our path for us to find.

I´d like to share something very spiritual that happened to me this last week or so...

On my birthday in 2010, I had just gotten out of an interview with our mission president. He had asked me if I had set a goal for how many of God´s children I wanted to baptize on the mission. I told him that I hadn´t ever thought about setting a goal of baptisms yet. I looked at what I had done in the mission until that point. I went home and started studying the scripturs a lot about baptism and whatnot, and I decided that it was time for me to set a goal with Heavenly Father. I got down on my knees and asked Him how many people I should baptize from October 2010 until October 2011. I threw out a fairly low number to Him first, and I didn´t feel good about it. I threw out a number a little bit higher... still nothing. I threw out a number that I thought was absolutely ridiculous, but when I stopped and waited for an answer, I felt a burning in my heart that I had never felt before. I knew, better than ever before, that God had told me that that ridiculously high number needed to be my goal to reach until October 2011. Well, I wrote down the experience in my jornal and made some plans. I went to work and the very next month... we didn´t baptize anyone. Then next month... about the same thing. Then the next month... one person. Can you feel the discouragement coming in? I started to feel like that answer from God that I had received really wasn´t God talking to me but just my own head messing with me. I started to really doubt that God really could answer my prayers and I got really discouraged on the mission. You can all read my letters in about January and February and you can see how I really wasn´t happy. I even remember telling Dad how I didn´t have a single spiritual experience to tell about my mission with almost one year out. I read letters from my friends in other missions and it seemed like they were all having great chances to baptize families and whatnot, and I was the only one not doing anything. I decided to change my attitude a little bit. My new companion and I started to work better and we baptized a little more. Then I was called as a leader in the mission. I saw how my spiritual experiences were happening more often as I continued to work harder and harder. When I was looking at the list of all my recent-converts last month just after my birthday, I started to count. When I was counting, my hands started to sweat and my finger started to tremble as I passed it along the page. When I came to the end of the list, that ridiculous number that Heavenly Father had confirmed to me... had been reached. That exact number that Heavenly Father showed me was the number of people that were on my list. I felt the Spirit fill my heart and show me just how much Heavenly Father loves His children. When I was unbelieving, He still answered. What I learned from this experience was that when Heavenly Father gives us an answer to a question we have, His answer is ALWAYS true, and He WILL fulfill what He tells us.

I love the mission and I love the experiences that I am having! I love you all!

Elder Clark

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday, November 7th 2011

Oi Família!

Let me just start this e-mail off telling you all just how great of a week we had! After all of our work throughout the week we were blessed with the opportunity of baptizing 8 people this week! Would you all like to know how? Of course! haha Well since we arrived in this ward, we have started a weekly schedule of activities in the Church. Monday we have Jiu-Jitsu classes in the afternoon, on Thursday we have English class, on Friday we have soccer, and Saturday has Mutual with the youth. We go through the neighborhood inviting all the youth to attend these various activities and they go crazy for it all! They all say stuff like, "I have never seen a Church do such cool things. I am SO going on Sunday, too!" The youth are so enthusiastic here about the Church, a LOT more than the adults in the ward, and we are able to help a lot of youth start preparing for missions! We have already baptized a group of friends here in this ward that are absolutely amazing. We have Diego, Paulo, Roseval, and Patrick who are all close friends, but the thing is that they are all our recent-converts and they weren´t even friends before they joined the Church. They met each other in Seminary and all the other activities and now they are stronger than ever! Yesterday, after Church we saw that there was a bunch of cars in the parking lot at about 5 o´clock. We walked in to see who was all there and it was just the Relief Society Choir, but we were looking in the other rooms and we saw our converts there just playing the piano and singing hymns! They even wrote on the blackboard "Elder Moreira, Elder Jappah, and Elder Mascarenhas". I am so proud of these guys! We even have a family that is starting to come to Church. We baptized the children these last few weeks and they became fanatics for the Church. They came to Church yesterday in dresses and everything! They even saw us and showed us their new purses they bought to carry their scriptures to Church! And next week we are going to baptize their mom!!! There was even a young man yesterday who came up to my companion and asked, "Hey! How many times do I have to come to Church before I can be baptized?! I have been here three times already and I want to be baptized!!!" We just thought that he was a member already! So we went to his house after Church and we met him mom and his older sister. They loved the message so much that they also accepted to be baptized in two weeks! Another whole family!!! I am really just astounded at the many blessings that we are receiving here in this ward. The members are extremely happy, especially the youth leaders and seminary teacher! And we are feeling the Spirit so much! I give all the credit to obedience and hard work, because I know that the Lord would not trust us with His children if we were slackers, especially these special children! I love the mission SO much!

Well, last Monday we had a Family night in a recent-convert´s house. So we ended P-day and went running there. I got there and started to tell that everyone was acting funny. When I entered the room, everyone turned on the lights and yelled, "Surprise!!!" They had thrown a delayed surprise birthday party for me. They made a cake and gave a few small gifts that were amazing! I really did love it. But the best part wasn´t even that. Here in Brazil, there is a tradition here where on your birthday you get eggs smashed on your head and then they throw flour all over you, but usually they don´t do it, they just threaten you... but I got egged anyways! You can see it from the pictures that they didn´t spare any part of my body. I got ambushed by my companion and converts with eggs and flour and my clothes were completely covered! We all got a big laugh until I started threatening to hug everyone! Haha It was fun!

Well, that was my week! Hope ya´ll liked it! haha I love you all and hope and pray that we can all keep working hard in school and at work so we can feel good about our work at the end of the day. Heavenly Father really does reward His children who try their best with amazing results. I am seeing this every day here on the mission. Have a great week! Love you all!

Elder Clark