Monday, July 25, 2016

The Best Two Years

This doesn't even seem real! This is my last email for my entire mission! I don't even really know where to start. I have had an amazing mission from the day I opened my mission call until now so much has happened. I know I will forever be changed because of this experience. I have met so many awesome people and have seen so many lives change including myself.

I remember a talk from Elder Holland where he quoted that he commanded every missionary to have at least one convert on their missions and it better be themselves. My goal was to come home converted to the gospel. And what I can say is that I am coming home knowing how to continually convert myself to the gospel. Because conversion is not just a single event or moment but it is something we become. My mission will be the best two years of my life because who I am now is who I will become. And so down the road I will always have the best two years! Life just gets better and better.

I don't really know how to wrap up a mission. I've never done it before. But I ponder about when our Savior left his earthly ministry he left his Spirit to stay with us. And so I know I will forever remember my mission because of the Spirit I have felt here, but also all the people I am leaving behind. I will forever love this desert, haha!

I have learned that we can never be staying in the same place - we are either progressing or digressing. I have so much more to improve and do in my life. I have set the foundation for the rest of my life with this mission and I encourage everyone to serve a mission! I have learned so much more of the depth of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and I have felt peace as I have repented through-out my mission and listened to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. I have grown to love the scriptures and that will be a part of me for the rest of my life.

This last week we saw miracles again as my companion and I, and some of our ward members, fasted for our investigator, Irene. She is the one that has had her family and pastors pressuring her. She came to church Sunday and even greeted people at the doors with us. Then that night when she got home from church, all her family was there - cousins, aunts and uncles, everybody and their dog was there. And she said that her cousin was asking her what was wrong and then the whole family started talking about Irene, and Irene was explaining herself and everyone understood. Her cousin even said she would come to church with her because she shouldn't do it by herself! So that was really cool! She was so excited about the miracle she had with fasting.

We also had a big celebration with Pioneer Day! It was Friday and Saturday night and all the missionaries in the zone had to help prepare dinner Friday night and run a booth on Saturday night. It was in a park by the church we go to, the church actually owns this park and thousands of people came - it was so crazy! As a zone we got 53 investigators there and there were at least 1,000 other non-members that came! It was a huge celebration. To get people to our booth we started a stick pull competition! Everyone was getting so excited. It was really fun! Our ward even made like 2,000 tacos they gave out!  

I love this gospel and I love this mission. I can look anyone boldly in the eye and tell them that my mission has changed my life and that this gospel is true. I have my struggles everyday but I know through Christ I can be strengthened.

I am so excited to be a member missionary. I have thought about what the prophet’s last words have been and this morning I was reading about Mormon's last words. He spoke simply of the doctrine of Christ. That reminded me when we had a member of the Area Seventy bear his testimony in a sacrament meeting in one of my areas. He got up and bore a simple testimony of our Savior. So my desire is to always be a witness of my Savior Jesus Christ at all times through my words and actions. We forget how merciful he is and how he has provided all for us. Don't ever forget that! I know he lives!

Elder Clark

Monday, July 18, 2016

Passover Week in Las Vegas

As I enter into my last week as a full time representative of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I am touched as I remember his last week in mortality. One, he did not get trunky. The very opposite actually occurred. It was in his final week of mortality that he finished what his father had sent him to do. It was in that week, his final days, that he changed the world for forever more. Where he did his most important work. In my final week is where I will do my most important work. As I share my story of the weekend I just had and the things that we went through, I wish to apply that to my last week and the last week of my Savior. I have unmistakably seen his hand in my life.   

He started his week off by going to the temple, which he cleansed and chastised those desecrating his holy house. Then the next day on Tuesday he taught and they tried to reject him, but he was able answer and teach in such a way to discredit them. The follow day we don't have any information on him. But then Thursday was a big day. He has the last super and institutes sacrament. And then he suffers in the Garden of Gethsemane for each and every one of us. And then Friday he is crucified and Saturday he is in the tomb where he had been placed the night before and he is teaching the spirits in prison. And then Sunday he is resurrected.  

So this last week we had some really neat experiences and I have some goals for my last week, so starting with Friday! Our departing missionary temple trip got moved up because it was closed our last Tuesday. And so I went to the temple asking God if I had done his will on my mission. Basically, if I had made him proud with my service. I was not a perfect missionary and I am still not, and at times I was hard on myself for that but I always tried and I always gave it my best. And so in the temple I once again was reassured that I was doing my fathers will.

I think at times I focus too much on justice, and not enough on mercy. I made a covenant never to not have my temple recommend and I wish to go at least twice a month, if not weekly to the temple! And so that's how I started in the temple just like my Savior did. Then on Sunday we were fasting as a zone to have our investigators come to church, especially those with baptismal dates. We were anticipating a lot of people at church. Around 10 with a date. But Sunday morning came, and I kid you not, almost every single one of them told us they couldn't I know so many missionaries, people that would have just given up and been discouraged. But we had fasted for this and so I knew it was going to happen.
And so just like we tell our investigators, we exercised our faith by our actions. 

The first one who said no was our really solid investigator, Irene, who I will talk a lot about. She texted us at 8 am, three hours before church, saying she wasn't going to be able to make it. Her parents are part of another church and Irene is a youth minister of that church as well, or more like was because of what happened Sunday. But the reason for her not coming to church was because she told her mom that morning she was going to a Mormon Church and her mom flipped. Even though she has already shared a little with her mom, she still got mad.

We talked to her and uplifted her and she made the decision to come to church against her parents’ wishes and when she returned home that night her mom told her that she wasn't allowed to live with them anymore if she was going to make this decision. And then later that night, Irene came with us and a bunch of people to a fireside where two of my recent converts from the Robindale Ward were speaking. And she told us that after the fireside she was going to talk to her pastors and this morning before our hike she told us that she was no longer a youth minister! She is so ready to be baptized. It's so awesome. And so that was the first answer to our prayers and fast.

The second lady was another crazy miracle. She has never come to our church before because she always had work on Sundays, but we went by on Saturday and she had just got out of the hospital since she had just had emergency surgery. The doctor had given her the next few days off from work, which meant she could come to church. But the craziest part of that was before we had walked into her house we had prayed that she would have a way to come to church if it was Gods will. And it was.

She committed to come to church the next day and we had a very spiritual lesson. And then that morning she started telling me all these excuses why she couldn't go. Her family had just go into town and she wasn't feeling good even though when I called the first thing she said was she was feeling better. So I told her that yesterday she had made a promise to God to come to church and that it was a commandment from him to come and that she could say she had faith but he had prepared the way for her and she wouldn't have faith and unless she took the steps necessary. She came to church.

The next one was a girl named Carmen, she is 17 and kind of a wild child, so we went back at 10 and woke her up. And she came to church. The next one was a guy named Edgar, he is a great guy but very interesting. He said he has done all these things to find an answer and hasn't found one yet. And so when we went by Sunday morning to see if he was coming to church he said he wasn't. And so we told him that God wasn't going to answer his prayers unless he came to church and did what God required of him. And we were extremely bold with him. He came to church.

We had a few other people there as well and it is just so amazing to me how the Lord works! 

Going into my last week of my mission I wish to be as my Savior and make this the greatest week of my mission yet. When he died and rose again he was perfected and resurrected. When I return home from my mission I will be a different man that set out on his mission two years ago and I know I will just continue to grow. I have a strong testimony of my Savior Jesus Christ. I love the example that he gave me and I know that he suffered and died for me and for all of us and he knows us personally.

Hope you all have a great week.

Elder Clark

Monday, July 11, 2016

YSSA (Young Spanish Single Adults)

This was another full and busy week! We had a meeting with all the mission leadership and then zone conference the following day. There were a lot of good things discussed there about our culture and obedience and what we can do as leaders to help others change.

El Rancho ward is going well!! Irene is progressing so fast! I was sad to leave my last YSA ward but it is really cool because our ward now has a lot of YSA in it. Most of the Hispanic kids like to stay in the Spanish ward and don't go to the YSA ward. And so we have good group of YSA and most of them are ward missionaries and our ward mission leader is young and so it’s a lot of fun. Irene went to high school with a lot of them and so it has just been perfect fellowship. We have been working a lot with Irene about faith and courage and following the Holy Ghost. She told her mom this last week that she went to a Mormon church and now she is going to tell her next that she is getting baptized. She also has to tell her other church as well that she is leaving and becoming a Mormon. So there are a lot of hard things she has to do, but she is so strong! She worked graveyard Saturday night and still came for all three hours of church. We went on a hike with her and the sister missionaries and people from our ward last week on p-day and we are planning a bike trip to Lake Las Vegas for next week! So it's a lot of fun stuff and great fellowship for her. She also is a photographer and so she takes good pictures and we even recruited her for our ward activity to take pictures.

The activity we had was a plan of salvation night. I did this a year ago in my last Spanish ward. We had everyone get on a "plane" and then we all died and they got to go through the different kingdoms of glory and learn about where they wanted to go. Outer darkness was crazy! Nancy, a member of our ward, went all out for it. We had strobe lights and fog and scary music haha! And the other two kingdoms were desanimado as well. And so when everyone got to the celestial kingdom they were very excited! And it showed the stark contrast that is between where God dwells and the other kingdoms. We had around 50 people there and 5-7 of them were investigators! So that was a neat activity.

This last week, as well, I went back to my old area on exchanges with the assistants. It was great to be back in that ward. They threw a "surprise" birthday party for me and at the party there were 4 of my recent converts and 1 investigator! That was just so cool to see them still going strong! I was able to go out with Ross, one of my recent converts, to some lessons afterwards! He is not scared at all to share the gospel its great! 

This week we saw some miracles in finding and teaching some people that have real intent. One lady was a member referral and she came to church on Sunday and we were a little worried what she would think because the power had gone out and so the chapel was dark and there was no AC. Ha but she didn't mind and the power came on later and she stayed all three hours and even signed up on our dinner calendar to feed us! Also at church a former investigator came and we were able to teach her afterwards. And it was so cool because now she is ready and we set her with a baptismal date for August! So the Lord is always ready to bless us. 

The Spanish is coming little by little. Sadly I won't have as much time as I really want to get fluent. But I can understand most of it (depending on who is speaking) and can express myself to some degree and so I will try to hold onto that throughout my life.

In the zone this week we are going to talk about change and how important it is to always be progressing and changing. We are going to talk about our founding fathers and the last change and effect they had in this country. And then in a zone meeting tomorrow we are making our own zone constitution with a bill of rights about how we will proselyte, be obedient, and be sustainable. And then everyone will write their own personal Declaration of Independence from all things carnal that hold us back and sign it and we are going to put it on a huge flag! Here is our preamble:

"We the missionaries of the Nevada Las Vegas North Zone, in order to be more perfect disciples of Jesus Christ, establish exact obedience, insure long term sustainable growth, preach repentance and baptize convert, promote the spiritual welfare, secure the blessing of God to ourselves and our posterity, do sustain and establish this constitution for the North Zone.”

I can't believe my mission is almost to a close. I am so excited to apply all the things I have learned on my mission for the rest of my life. To be a covenant keeper in a world that makes it hard. I am excited to see all of you and share with you my testimony face to face. I can boldly say that you won't even recognize me because of the person God has helped me to become through the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I have two weeks left and it's time to make them the best two weeks of my mission! We always have to keep growing! I love you all.

Elder Clark