Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday, Feb 27th 2012

Oi Família!!!

I am sorry for not sending an email last week! I sat at the computer just replying to all of the personal emails that I actually forgot to send a letter to you all! So last week was pretty interesting. I had just passed the entire week before traveling through the upstate of São Paulo doing exchanges, so when I got back to my actual ward, I didn´t know any of the investigators that we were teaching and I even had to find more people to bring to Church that next Sunday. So I went to work like a mad man and we found a few people who were interested. Just as I was getting into a groove and finding new people, I got a call from my mission president. "Elder Clark, we need your help in another stake." He told me that he was going to send me to work with another zone leader because they were having difficulties in finding new investigators and taking them to Church. I thought, well that´s all right. I´ve already done a lot of exchanges, one more won´t hurt. But little did I know that my president would put me there for the entire week! I got there on Monday and didn´t come back until Sunday! It was a long time away from my area, but I actually enjoyed everything that we accomplished. Right on the first day of work, we were walking down the street and we saw a man walking his dog with his two kids. We stopped to talk with him and he said that we could come over to his house. We went there and they fell in love with all of the things that we taught them. They started reading the Book of Mormon and got really excited to go to Church with us that Sunday. His wife told us that it had to be God who put us in their path because usually her husband doesn´t like church. haha There was another man whom we found and he was willing to give up his job on Sunday so that he could go to Church. He was very easy to teach because he always asked us questions and always read the Book of Mormon. The best part about all these people is that they will all be baptized this next Sunday. Even though I won´t be there to see the baptism, I am still very happy that I was able to be a part of their first few steps into the Gospel.

Another story now... When I was in Lorena, a city WAY far away from São Paulo, about 10 months ago, there was a family who treated my companion and I extremely well. In fact it was that family that spoke to uncle Jeff on Mother´s day last year. Well, the dad of the family is not a member but always goes to Church and everyone loves him. He and I had a really good friendship but he never committed to be baptized. Well, I went back there two weeks ago and I saw him again. I invited him to be baptized once more and that time he actually accepted to at least try. I put his date as February 25th. Well, I received a phone call this last week from his wife telling me that I needed to buy a bus ticket for this Saturday because I would be baptizing her husband. My heart dropped and I got this feeling as if finally a huge prayer had been answered. I went back out to this little town to see my big friend Sérgio all dressed in white waiting for the baptism. I also saw the support that he had because half the stake was there to see the baptism. It was something that truly marked my mission and I will never forget this family I will keep in touch with them forever now. In all of my areas that I have passed through I have been blessed to have at least one of my converts stay strong in the Gospel, except in Lorena. In spite of the work we did there and the people we baptized, none of them were able to stay active. But now I know that Sérgio will stay strong forever!

I am so grateful to be a missionary. These are experiences that no one else will have. It feels like 30 years of experience all jam-packed into two short years. Today is transfer day again and now I only have two more. Three more months to find more families!!! I love you all! Thanks for the support and love and prayers that I receive from you all every day. It is such a help that I don´t even stop to recognize it as much as I should. Have a great week!

Elder Clark

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday, Feb 13th 2012

Oi Família!!!

What a week it was! I had a lot of fun this week to tell you all the truth. My companion and I work in a ward here in the middle of the big city of São Paulo, and here in São Paulo the public transportation is amazing! There are buses that go to every corner of the city and you can get to where you want, when you want, for just three reals (the money here is called "real"). So we are able to do a lot of exchanges with the mission leaders really easily here in the city, but when it comes to the missionaries in the upperstate of São Paulo, it gets a little more complicated. It´s really expensive and really far away. But we needed to do some training out there so my companion and I went together for a tour of the mission.

On Tuesday we went to a city called São José dos Campos. This is one of the bigger cities outside of the huge metropolis of São Paulo. Usually the cities outside of São Paulo are known to be really underdeveloped and slow. Not necessarily poor, but the style of the people is really outdated and there is much less movement throughout the city. But this city was really nice actually. It had the feel of a big city, but it wasn´t nearly as crazy as São Paulo. I looked around and saw a lot of parks and GRASS and I thought to myself that this would be a great place to live. We worked well there with the zone leaders and then grabbed the next bus to Lorena! I don´t know if anyone has been keeping track of the areas that I´ve worked in, but Lorena was my third area on the mission. It´s an extremely tiny city out in the middle of nowhere! Well, I went back to help the district leader out there and I saw all the members and I even saw this guy whom I helped build a house. This guy isn´t a member, but the rest of his family is. I looked at him and told him, "I bet you never thought I would be back, but I am back to call you to baptism my friend!" He looked at me and actually said, "You know, I was actually thinking about this already." I marked his baptism for the end of this month and he told me that he´d call me to come back out there to watch the baptism. I hope it all goes well! This guy is one of my best friends from the mission and I would be so happy if he were to be baptized right now. Then the next day was even better. Until last Thursday, I had never seen the beaches here in Brazil... no more!!! I went to a city called Caraguatatuba and worked with the zone leader there. The air was hot and humid, but I LOVED it!!! It really was a great thing for me to be there and breathe that ocean air. The best part was that to get there, you have to go through this big ol´ canyon that kind of reminded me of the roads to get to Payson Canyon. When you come out at the top, you just look right out into the ocean! It´s soooo beautiful! I will try to find a picture to send to you all.

The work is still going extremely well out here. Our ward is extremely happy with all the recent-converts and the way that they are all working in the organizations. I am really happy because the majority of our recent-converts are going on the youth camp-out this weekend! I know that once they go, they will remain in the Church forever! The youth conferences that they have are perfect because they are like EFY. All the youth go and come back with a stronger testimony.

This Sunday was pretty funny. Our ward is great, but sometimes they forget to plan our lunches, so we have to always keep track of what´s going on with lunch or else we go without eating for the day. Sunday morning, the sister that was going to give us lunch did not remember and told us that we had to find another place to eat. Well, we couldn´t necessarily BUY anything to eat that day, so we went hunting for another sister in the ward. I remembered that we baptized a single mom and her kids on Christmas and she now calls me her son :) I went up to her and asked if she would be willing to feed her sons, and just so happens that she is a professional cook!!! Score! I love the Gospel because it unites us all in the love of Christ and great food!

I love you all and I hope you are all enjoying the sun while it lasts! It was about 110 degrees down here this whole week so I am praying for snow! haha Love you all!

Elder Clark

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday, Feb6th 2012

Oi Família!!!

It´s burning up down here! I can just tell you that I am just about as tan as I can get right now. Just to give you all an idea of how I feel while walking under the hot sun here, one night I was fast asleep with one elder snoring louder than Grandpa Clark´s tractor and 90 degrees in our room. I started to dream, and it was one of the best dreams of my entire life! I was walking on the street with my companion on yet another hot day in the dream. It was so miserably hot in our room that even in my dream I was feeling the heat. In the dream, I was looking around desperately for some sort of refuge when I saw a giant mound of beautiful white snow out of nowhere! I ran and jumped into the snow pile and then... I woke up. Good stuff huh...But it was good for a few seconds, right.

Looks like my former companion, Elder Fassini, the one whose dad passed aways a month ago, is already working at a newspaper as the general manager of distribution! He sent me an e-mail telling me that the mission really is blessing him at home. He is already the manager!!! I got really happy for him because he really does deserve all the blessings he receives because he was the hardest workers I have ever seen! I have been blessed so much with my companions. Looks like this companion I have right now, Elder Torres, will be my last companion according to the words of my mission president. He is really great as well because he is humble, but really good at squeezing the best out of the missionaries. The best part is that he really respects my opinions knowing that I am the senior assistent. We work super well together and the mission is going perfectly. I love all of my companions and I can honestly say that every single one of them are my friends still to this day and I never had a companion who I can say that I did not like. I think this is something extremely important for me when I get home. My relationships with my friends, co-workers, family members, should be this way too. Sometimes we may argue and fight, but it takes a lot of humility and patience to work with them so that you can still show your love and work together.

I read something very interesting in the book of Mosiah this last Friday. I absolutely love King Benjamin. His example is perfect for all families because he talks so much about service and love and raising your children correctly. I coud really tell that King Benjamin was a fantastic father because his children were great men as well. I started to think a little about what Elder Ballard had told us at that conference that we had with him. He told us that we needed to study with our companions everyday because we will start the habit of reading the scriptures with our family and having family night and saying a family prayer. If we don´t study with our companions it is very unlikely that we will study with our family. I was reading in Mosiah 1:2 where it tells us how King Benjamin always taught his sons in the language of their fathers so they, too, could understand the scriptures. Then in verse 4 he states that he taught the scriptures to his sons so that they, too, were able to teach their sons. I saw that in this scripture that even King Benjamin´s time the Lord had established Family Home Evening. Then we can see in verse 5 that the Lamanites did not practice these things and they turned into a wicked and hard-hearted people, not wanting to know about God. I know that the Book of Mormon is true because I was able to learn this little bit of truth about Family Home Evening. I know that the Church is true because this book is true! I love the little things that we can learn when we read it.

I love you all for everything you all do for me! Thanks for all the love and support that I have received! Take care this week and I will pray for more snow! haha

Elder Clark