Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday, April 30th 2012

Oi Família!!! Yet another eventful and exciting week here in São Paulo! My companion and I went to the upstate of the mission again to do splits with the missionaries out there. These journeys are always a big sacrifice because we have to stay three days out of our own area. That´s three days of good working time to find families to baptize! But we have two other great missionaries who work with us in this ward, so we are able to leave them with a heavy work-load and they always come through! But these trips are costly as well. We don´t receive a lot of money as it is, and when we have to travel like this we end up spending at least 120 Reais (the local currency). I am so grateful that Dad taught me how important it is to save money because I think I am one of the only missionaries who has never had problems with money. One more blessing that I will be able to use after the mission! We had a few good experiences during these splits. We did all them as a surprise. We didn´t tell anyone that we were coming and just kind of showed up at their doorstep on the morning of the split. My companion worked with one of the Elders and I worked with the other for the day. It was really interesting to see because when you do it as a surprise, you can catch a missionary not being so dilligent. We got to a house in one of the branches on the beach, who happen to be leaders on the mission, and knocked on their door about 9 in the morning. What did we see? The two of them were sitting at their desks... studying the scriptures. I was so pleased to see them doing that. Even though they weren´t doing anything beyond what they were supposed to, I was still happy to see that they were being dilligent without having to ask them. These are two missionaries who will be very well off now on the mission AND afterwards as well at home. When I got back from the trip, I woke up with a terrible pain in my foot! I had gotten an ingrown toenail about... 9 or 10 months ago when I was still in Itaquaquecetuba, but I never had the courage to go to a foot doctor to take care of it. So I just let it keep growing... and growing... and growing, and I kept cutting it and cutting it the wrong way! haha So by the time I finallly went to the doctor to take care of it, my toe was almost a complete disaster. Thankfully, the woman who took care of me was extremely kind and friendly and more or less gentle while taking out my ingrown toenail. The place that I went to was a beauty salon full of women! Did I mention that I do not like the feeling of beauty salons? I always feel super awkward, ever since I was a little kid even. So I sat there in the little room and I swear every single woman in that salon came in to watch me squirm over my toenail! They all tried chatting with me while the doctor was in a full-time surgery! "Wow! That´s a lot of blood!" "Where are you from again?" "Your accent is funny." "Is your family here, too?" All the while I was almost crying from the pain, so I tried my best to be polite while answering all of their questions. I even started talking about the Book of Mormon and invited one of the ladies to come to Church. I figured that I had better make good use of the suffering! The doctor was pretty doubtful that I would stand the pain. She asked me so many times if I wanted to quit, but I knew that if I quit that I would never fix the problem. It really was one of the worst pains I´ve ever felt, but the relief was so great afterwards. She told me that the majority of the people whom she´d operated on usually pass out because of the pain. We got to talking about Jesus Christ´s suffering as well. She said, "I wanted to take care of Christ´s feet, too, but He didn´t wait for me. So I am grateful to take care of the feet of one of His servants." She looked at me and smiled. Even after so much pain, I could feel the Spirit in that room so strongly. I even wrote what she said in my journal. Thinking back on the experience that I had with my ingrown toenail, I was able to relate it to a very good Gospel principle... Repentance. Ten months ago, my toenail started to grow into my skin because I cut my toenail the WRONG way, and relating to the Gospel, this could be sin. I was afraid of going to the foot doctor at the beginning because of the pain that I thought I would feel, so I became stubborn and selfish and thought I could take care of the toenail by myself. When we sin, we avoid repenting or going to the bishop because we are afraid of the pain we think we will feel, so we wait and think we can fix things by ourselves and we forget that we need the power of the Holy Priesthood to truly repent of our sins. I let my toenail grow and each time the problem started to show, I went and cut it out myself, and the problem would go away for a few weeks, but would always come back even worse. When we sin, we try to take care of the problem and it may even appear that the problem has gone away, but it always come back worse than before. Finally, when the pain of my ingrown toenail was so unbareable that I couldn´t wait any longer and I went to the person who KNEW how to fix my problem for good. With our sins, we wait until the absolute last minute to finally go to the person who KNOWS how to fix our relationship with Heavenly Father... Jesus Christ and one of His authorized servants. The pain that is felt after a toenail is ingrown and infected is immense, even makes a person faint, but if it is taken care of in the early stages, the pain is very, very little. After a sin has become "ingrown" and "infected" the pain that we feel when we take it out is very intense as well, but if we take care of it in the very moment that we sin the pain is minimal. The relief that is felt after taking out the ingrown toenail is so great! The recovery process is a little longer but at least you don´t feel the jabbing pain anymore. The relief that is felt after repenting through the authority of the priesthood is even greater! I know that sometimes we are afraid of repentance, or that our toenail is so far ingrown that you´d rather amputate the entire toe and get rid of the problem that way. Christ is the best doctor. He is able to fix ANY sin! I know that the Atonement is real and that when we repent we are showing Christ that we are GRATEFUL that He died for us! Not repenting is ingratitude and a makes His sacrifice vain! I love the Lord. I love what He has allowed me to do on this mission. I love the knowledge that I have gained through scripture study and prayer. Everything in this life can be compared to a Gospel principle. Even an ingrown toenail. Love, Elder Clark

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