Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday, March 26th 2012

Oi Família!

Everything is going swell here in São Paulo. After an extremely eventful week last week, this one was rather slow and... well, boring. Let´s be honest, not every week is great lol. We are having a lot of difficulty right now in finding new people to teach and take to Church. The place that we always work in is extremely big. Imagine the little town of Spring Lake with a population of over 500,000! Just picture this... You are walking on a busy avenue with a bunch of little outlet shops, kind of like Spanish Fork´s main street. Then you take a right turn onto one road and start going down... and down... and down. This place is like a valley of curvy roads and houses built on top of other houses up to three or four stories high and alley-ways that lead to other curvy roads. The place is so big and the roads and alley-ways are so unorganized that they don´t even appear on the map! When you look at the map, you only see a big white spot that says, "Heliópolis Community". It´s crazy in there! Everyone has a motorcycle and everyone sits out side their houses playing loud music and drinking! It´s great because there are always new people to find and teach, but it´s also pretty difficult because a lot of people don´t like to give up the ways of the world. We are getting pretty famous in this place and everyone gives us high-fives and tells us to come to their parties... ugh... ;) We don´t ever go, but we tell them that we´ll try just to not hurt their feelings. I love this place and it really feels like home to me now. I know just about ever secret passage-way in the alleys now because I have lived here for seven months now. It´s going to be rough leaving this place. I remember back at the start of my mission I was dying to see green and forest and pretty scenery, but I realized that the more green there is the less people as well. So now I prefer the cement and loud music and crowd of people because it´s a lot easier to teach and BAPTIZE!

I really find it hard to believe still that my time on the mission is so close to ending. We are praying really hard here so that we can find more families to teach and baptize before the end of April. In my house, we have two dying missionaries (me and Elder Mielke) and we need to occupy ourselves to the max so we don´t think about home. We are doing a great job so far, I think, but Satan is being really annoying. We found a family this week and the dad´s name is John the Baptist! He went to Church this week and loved it! We are going to help them all get baptized either this week or the next. We have an investigator who is helping us out a lot with these fathers whom we are teaching. This investigator and his wife are waiting for their legal marriage to come through so they can get baptized. They have a rough past of drinking, depression, unemployment, and whatnot, so they are the perfect couple to help us out with new investigators. This John the Baptist went to Church and made friends with this husband and he said, "This Church is so good! It isn´t like all the others! I am totally going to bring my whole family next week!" The greatest thing in this ward really is the quantity of recent-converts. They are able to help the new people come into the Church and feel welcome.

Well, I am going back to work. Thanks for the updates in the family! I can´t wait to see everyone again!

Elder Clark

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday, March 19th 2012

Oi Família!

This Monday was a great experience for all of us here in the ward. Remember how we baptized a man in a wheelchair last Sunday? Well, the Saturday before the baptism, there was an extremely heavy rain shower. It even started to hail with these cubes of ice the size of a Reese´s candy. The roof of their house got destroyed by the rain because the guy who built their house didn´t do a very good job. They were all getting discouraged and didn´t think that it was the right time for him to be baptized, but my companion and I thought quickly and told them that we would come by on our day-off to fix the roof. Well, he was baptized on Sunday and the next day, we went to his house to fix the roof. We were up there for about three hours, but it was great because we fixed it and the look on their face was so great! The wife got so happy that it seemed as if she had just took a million pounds of stress off her back. We talked with the family yesterday about eternal families and they got all excited to make the goals and the plans for them all to be sealed one year from now in the temple now that the entire family are members of the Church. I love being to be a part of this process. Seeing a family be completed is something so gratifying and there really isn´t any other substitute. You have to go on a mission to have these experiences. A man who never wanted to be a part of religion and complained every day about his health is now encouraging his family to go to Church every Sunday and participates in the lessons that we give them and doesn´t say anything about his health anymore. It really is the power of the priesthood. It really is the True Church of Jesus Christ.

I had a good experience while reading the scriptures the other day. I was reading about when Christ was starting His mortal ministry here on the Earth. After His baptism, He went out to the desert and fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. During these days of fasting, He was learning a lot from Heavenly Father. He was being instructed in the way that He needed to fulfill His mission here on Earth. After these days, the devil appeared and started to tempt Him. Something that I realized right off the bat is that immediately after being instructed from on high, He was tempted. It´s the same way with us nowadays. We have very spiritual experiences every now and again in our lives that edify us and bring us closer to God, but exactly when we are being spiritually lifted, Satan is there waiting for us to show a weakness. He wants to tear away every good feeling that we have, so he will always be around us when we are being instructed from on high. One thing that Jesus shows us in this example is that He had the Holy Spirit of God with Him, the Holy Ghost, to guide Him away from temptation. We, members of the Church, have the Holy Ghost with us if we go to Church and patake of the Sacrament to cleanse our soul. We, too, can drive away Satan and keep our spiritual experiences if we always strive to have the Holy Ghost at our side. I know that the Church is true and I know that without the Holy Spirit, I would be lost in my life. The work I am doing right now wouldn´t have meaning if I didn´t do it by the way of the Spirit.

I love you all and thank you all for the support that I have. Hope you all can have a great week, full of the Spirit!

Elder Clark

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

Oi Família!!!

Let´s just say that I have a lot to tell you guys about this week. Last week we had quite a few new people visiting the ward so we had a lot of visits to make this week. For starts, Elder Mielke was taking role in the Sunday School class when he came to a young woman who wasn´t on the role but was a cousin of another member. Her name is Yngrid and she invited us to visit her this week. We got to her house and we saw that her grandma was one of the strongest members in the ward. We also found out what had happened last Sunday. That Yngrid lived with her mom and dad, but her mom had a nervous breakdown on Sunday morning and left the family. She was so sad that she just decided to go to Church with her grandma. When we got there on Monday to teach her, she told us that she had always wanted to be baptized because she always knew that the Church was true but her mom never allowed her to be baptized. We taught her throughout the week and she studied all of the material that we gave her. She is almost done with the Book of Mormon and her dad signed the paper for her to be baptized without any problems. This young woman had been going to Church ever since she was three years old and now she is 12. The bishop had already gone there, the primary president, a lot of family friends, and countless missionaries to help her get baptized. Her grandma asked us in the last visit on Saturday how it was that so many people had come by to baptize her and only we were able to get her baptized. Her other grandson who is preparing to serve a mission looked at her and said, "Grandma, it needed to be THEM!"

There was another man named Erivaldo. He is a friend of another member of the ward and he has been coming to Church for about two months now. We passed by his house this week a few times because he is a truck-driver and only got home early when the traffic was nice, other than that he only got home at about midnight. He already got an answer that this is the true Church and now he was just wanting to wait a little more to be a little more sure. But we went there with a member who helped him understand the reason why he needed to be baptized as fast as possible. Then at Church today a sister was giving a talk when she was telling the story about how she was baptized. She prayed to God so that He could give her that answer she needed so that she could be baptized as fast as possible. She told the story with so much enthusiasm and happiness that he told us after the meeting that he, too, wanted to be baptized today. It was litterally one of the best talks I have ever heard in my life!

The third person was an even greater story for me. There is another family that was baptized about two and a half years ago, but the father wasn´t baptized because he suffered a stroke, is over-weight, is in a wheelchair, and has always been a little stubborn. He came to Church for the first time last week and we took advantage of the situation and went to his house to talk to him about baptism. He was extremely blunt when he told us that he didn´t want to hear anything about this "baptism business!" But we didn´t give up. We went back the next day and taught him again about baptism. He said the same thing and about swore at us and told us to not come back. He got sick the next day and we gave him a blessing and told him that if he promised to prepare for baptism that Heavenly Father would bless him with the strength that he needed in his legs and the health to keep going strong with the family. He looked at us and said that he would do his best. The next day we saw an amazing difference in his voice and in his attitude. He was happy to see us and was even waiting for us to arrive. He asked, "What took you guys so long!" Every day he seemed as if he was getting more and more excited for the baptism. He even started saying prayers and making comments in the messages. When we got there this morning with the car to take him to Church, we saw that there was a whole bunch of other missionaries from another church trying to get him to not get baptized. We were walking up to the door when we heard good ol´ José say "I´m getting baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ today!" We got to his door and the other missionaries went away with a mad look on their face as they looked at us. José said, "What took you guys so long!" :) We took him to Church and everything went smoothly.

At the baptism, we needed three people to help baptized José because he is so big and doesn´t have very much strength in his legs. He got into the font without any problems and I said the prayer. When I said "amen" the three of us helped him go down. I was so afraid of him falling that I was practically down in the water with him to help lift him up afterwards, but I had an extremely wierd feeling as he came out of the water. I saw a big smile on Jose´s face and I saw how he was trully happy. I really felt the old José leave him and the new reborn man come out of the water.

I left the Church today feeling something so bright within my heart. During the sacrament meeting, I cried again because of all the joy I have felt and all the success that the Lord has given us here in this ward. I see so many people happy because of the gospel in their homes now. I really cannot explain how happy I am that I have been called to this part of the world. My patriarchal blessing says that I would be called to a place where I would be uniquely accepted. I trully do know that this is true. I feel extremely at home here. I know that everything has an end, but I would rather not leave now. I love this Church. I love being a missionary. I love the Lord. I love my familiy too :) Hope you all have a great week!

Elder Clark

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday, March 5th 2012

Oi Família!

This week was pretty crazy! We had a crazy time with the transfers and I also thought that I could have been transfered from my caling as Assistant. Well, first of all, I have already served in this area for six months which is usually the maximum amount of time that a missionary stays in each area, and the other thing was that there are few other missionaries who I thought would do a great job as assistant. Neither of my hypothesis were right. I stayed here as Assistant and looks like I will finish the mission here in this area. It´ll be nine months in the same ward! It´s a great thing that I love this place!

We have a couple here in the ward that we are going to help get married this month! They are so great and they call us their two new sons! The lady´s name is Raquel and she suffered a serious burn accident about three months ago. She was extremely depressed one day and was drinking heavily when she grabbed a cigarette lighter and set her clothes on fire with alcohol all over her. We had baptized her neighbor the week before and so we found out about her and went to visit her during her recovery from her third-degree burns. She and her husband told us that they knew that this was the Church they needed to be baptized in because of the way we treated them. I am so happy to be able to help them. And they make amazing food! :)

I had a very special experience yesterday at the bus station. I was walking down a big busy hallway to grab another bus to go to the mission office when I passed someone who seemed really familiar to me. I was on the phone talking with another Elder when something in my mind told me to stop and turn around. I hung up on the other missionary and turned on a dime! Just as I turned, the other guy turned around as well. It was Mardson! My first baptism on the mission! I ran towards him and gave him a huge hug! He was the very first person I ever taught on the mission and we got to be really close friends in my first area that I worked in. Unfortunately, he moved away without being able to get a hold of his address or anything and I lost contact with him completely. The strangest thing is that where he lives now and where I met up with him yesterday is completely out of the way for him to travel. So it really was luck that we ran into each other again. He is studying and working every Sunday and he lost a lot of contact with the members of the Church so he fell inactive during this time, but he is still the happy guy that I met when I was knocking on doors for the first time here in Brazil. I know that he gained a good testimony of the Church when he was baptized, so I know that one day he will come back! It was a very good experience for me.

Other than this, I had a smooth week. I am learning patience and love every day. After almost two years of service, you hear just about every excuse in the book that people give for not wanting to follow the Gospel. So I have to learn how to work harder each day so that I can find the people who are actually searching for the truth. If I want spiritual experiences, I´m not going to sit on my butt and wait for them to fall in front of me. I am going to work harder so that I can find them faster. That is what I have learned on the mission. If I want good experiences, I need to work for them! Love you all!

Elder Clark