Tuesday, January 26, 2016

We are Weak, but Thou Art Able

Hello everyone,

What a crazy week! So I am guessing you are all wondering why you are getting this email on a Tuesday not a Monday. Well our mission changed P-day to Tuesday......it's a new thing they are trying to help us be more effective.....hahah, just kidding, but really our P-day was switched to Tuesday this week because we had a general authority visit our mission. It was Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge of the Seventy. He wrote the Fourth Missionary talk for any that were wondering who he is. There is so, so, so much I want to share in this letter. I am reaching a point in my
mission where I only have six months left and it's time that I really begin to realize that I am weak and God is able. That will hopefully be a reoccurring theme that I focus on for the rest of my mission. A motto I had for when I was in Lake Havasu was "Thine, not mine". And that is something we all have to realize. "The only way to win is to lose" (Corbridge). We had some pretty neat miracles this past week and I want to share those as well as some of the revelation I have received and share some things I have learned on my mission and some goals I have.

I don't even know where to start! Man oh man. I guess I will start with some things I have learned and then go on with some miracles and Elder Corbridge and my goals!

I have now been a zone leader for 5 transfers and I cannot tell you how grateful I am for this opportunity I have had to serve; not only the wards and investigators in the areas I have served in, but as well as the two zones I have been in as a zone leader. Coming into my mission, leaders were people I looked up to, but held fear and felt apart from them. And you never really realize all that they do until you are in their position. I have never been so tired as I have been as a zone leader. We are always going, going, going! But, I have learned some important principles of leadership:

1) Effective Administrator - this can often be overlooked in church leadership as being a minister is the great focus. But an effective administrator can help the work become much more efficient with some thought beforehand and some solid planning. Think ahead and
strategically plan for what's next.

2) The second is being a minister - this is so important. Anyone can be an administrator. But to be a minister you just do all the things of an administrator and still put aside your own needs and responsibilities and listen to the spirit to know what those in your stewardship may need. It's putting your missionaries first. It is being in the moment. It is showing love and charity.

3) The hardest one for me, is effective delegation and sharing responsibility. I just try to do too darn much! I need to step back and look at things that I can give others to do. It is a principle of
empowerment. Others will grow as you give them assignments to fulfill. But not merely just giving an assignment because it's a good leadership principle, but giving them an assignment that is really important and helping them see how it plays into the bigger picture.

4) Face to face leadership - this is similar to being a minister, but a principle I have just recently learned. It's taking time to talk to those that look to you for strength. Pulling them aside when you discern they are struggling and listening to their concerns. It's spending time with them and working side by side with them as King Benjamin and his son did! It is about caring about them enough to sacrifice for them. "Treat your men like your beloved sons and they will follow you into the deepest valley".

5) The last one includes a great attitude, lots of energy, and exceeding faith!! This is so vital. Even when you are tired and discouraged you have to turn that over to the Lord and have faith that miracles will happen and as you do that, those that follow you will grow in their faith. A great attitude can change anything. My middle school football coach used to always say “it's all about attitude and effort.” In Preach My Gospel, it says our attitude is a reflection for the love of our savior!

We had some pretty cool miracles this week!

The first was while we were blitzing (proselyting in another missionaries area) a sisters area. We had a teacher with us, and we prayed to find people that would be open to our message. As we were walking, we saw as lady on a second level of an apartment complex and we started talking to her. We asked her if we could share a quick video with her that we had on our iPad. But before we could show it to her she started talking about a crazy miracle she had had. They were shopping at Walmart, she and her two little kids, and they missed the bus home and so they were waiting for the next bus with all their groceries and a fed ex truck pulled over and offered to deliver their groceries to their house. So when we came across them they were in awe looking at the groceries at their doorstep and so we helped carry in the groceries and showed her the video! In the beginning of the video (Power of Hope) she stopped it, and freaked out. A picture of a guy in the beginning of the video looked just like the father of her son. And then she loved the video and we taught her the restoration and she just accepted everything. The spirit was so strong. We honestly hardly taught much, just testified a couple times and she talked and bore her testimony. And then a moment that hit me really hard.... She said in the middle of the lesson out of nowhere "Thank you for being obedient".  I was so hit by that. It was out of nowhere and taught a great lesson. So back tracking a little, as we began talking to her, just after showing the video, I felt a strong impression to ask her to be baptized on March 5th, but I felt the chance never came up. And so throughout the lesson I was in the verge of setting her with a date and inviting her. At one point I almost just randomly blurted out "Will you be baptized on the 5th of March?", but I didn't. Near the end of our visit, I did open my mouth and committed her to be baptized on March 5th. Her 8 year old son shouted yes and so did she! It was a great miracle to see the Lord working through us!

When we told the sisters about it they shared with us that they had tried to stop by there for the last couple weeks, but she was never home. I know the Lord answers our prayers and I know that based on our obedience and faith the Lord will bless us. "Thank you for being
obedient." - What a powerful statement to hear. Obedience is the first law of everything. This life is about living the Celestial law. It is so important that we prepare and be obedient always because we never know what things will go undone if we are not a ready and worthy vessel.

Another miracle happened in our own area. We received a member referral for some of their neighbors that were from Germany. We did a split and so I wasn't there for the original lesson, but we had a lesson last night and so I was able to meet her. My companion and a priest in the ward preparing to go on his mission went by to contact the referral. She was nice to them and accepted to learn more. But she also asked if they could help her find someone that would be willing to live with her and watch her 3 year old son as she worked. She is a single mother. And so they said they would ask around. In priest quorum in Sunday the priest was telling his priest advisor about the story. We had been teaching elder’s quorum and were not present for that part, but after church the priest advisor came up to us and asked about this referral. He told us that just last night he had been praying for a friend that was getting evicted and that he could find a place for her. And that that next day the Lord had answered his prayer! Wow! How amazing is God!

So now to get to what Elder Corbridge shared with us. All the zone leaders and stls had a meeting with him Sunday night and then the whole mission is heard from him yesterday and then again today. There are just a few things I would like to highlight from what he shared and from what our mission president shared.

The very things that Elder Corbridge shared with us stemmed from the hymn, How Firm a Foundation. He had us sing all seven verses and had us focus on the words. It was very interesting as I had never really paid that much attention to the words. Here are some phrases he highlighted and a couple that stood out to me:
" We are weak, but thou are able", "when through the deep waters I call thee to go, the rivers of sorrow shall not thee o'erflow", " when through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, my grace, all
sufficient, shall be they supply. The flame shall not hurt thee, I only design"

That last one really made sense. Think of all of those that withstood fire in the scriptures. Elder Corbridge shared a dream where he had to carry a canoe on his shoulders all the way back to his ranch. He said the whole time he was aware of how heavy and hard it was to carry, but he never got tired. And then he said at one part he had to crawl through mud and he said he never got muddy. I just think about how we can be in the world and not of the world and how the Lord will help us as we are founded on him and his doctrine. He also talked about a way of thinking above the line.

Above the line: accountable, take initiative, see a need, own it and take responsibility, make plan, and then execute that plan.
Below the line: it's not my job, it's not my fault, and someone else will do it.

I really loved this way of thinking. It's so, so true, he talked about if a priest is struggling in the ward and you don't help him because it's not your job, that is below the line. It is about going above and beyond. Which leads into something else he said that I really liked. He said his son’s goal for his mission was to leave everyone he came into contact with better then when he found them. I remember dad and grandpa always talking about whenever you borrow something you always return it better then you found it. And so that really rang true to me. I feel I try to make people smile and feel better, but now it's a goal I really want to set for myself.

And so the last thing I will share today is from a story that President Snow shared. There was a king who placed a boulder in the road, and he watched to see what would happen. A horse drawn carriage came by and the teamster was mad at the laziness of whoever left the rock in the road and so he left it and went around it. Then a soldier came by and wasn't looking and tripped over the rock and fell and complained about the lazy person that left it there and he went around it as well. And this happened all day with all different sorts of people. And then finally the miller’s daughter was walking home in the evening and saw the boulder. With much effort she moved it out of the way so no one got hurt. Where the rock had been, there was a box of treasure. He talked about the boulders in our life that hold us from taking the opportunities to grow or learn or help someone in need. We all have boulders that we use as excuses not to take opportunities. Boulders, or limits, are preconceived notions of an unmotivated mind! We have to engage in this work!

I love the chance I have to learn so much on my mission. I hoped this helped. Don't forget to pray for your own missionary opportunities.

Elder Clark

Leadership Training with Elder Lawrence Corbridge

Monday, January 18, 2016

Listen to the Spirit

Man, oh man! You may not want to read the first part Mom, but it’s an experience I have to share.

So on Sunday last week, we met this guy on the street and started talking to him about the gospel and gave him a Book of Mormon. We also set up a time to go and visit him. So, Monday night we go by his house to visit him and he wasn’t home. But my comp remembered that this was a house our bishopric didn’t want us to go by because they just wanted welfare. But, we had stopped by because we weren’t sure if it was this house and they weren’t home anyway. So then we went to his neighbors to try them out and we talked to them for a little bit but they weren’t interested in talking to us. And so as we were walking back, the guy showed up and so we started talking to him. My comp began to ask him if we could come in and talk to him and share a message and as he was speaking. I just got this very bad feeling. I was hoping the guy would say no; that he was busy. But I stayed quiet and he said sure, we could come in. The weird part was the rest of his family stayed in the car and didn’t come out. We just followed him into his house and as we walked in he said, "Welcome to my dark house".  It was like 7:00 at night and it was pitch black in his house. The only light came from the street light outside through the opened door. 

I asked if I could offer a prayer, still having that bad feeling and wanting to get out immediately. He said yes, but then he said “Can I get a hug first?”  Now, he was a middle-aged man, about 5'7”, so we were a little taken back by that. But, he hugged me and my comp both at the same time; one arm for each of us and as he hugged us he grabbed the back of our necks hard and squeezed! And then he said, after letting go of us, “You don’t want to talk to me. I am a very, very, very bad person. I hurt people. I don’t do nice things. No one loves me. I hurt people. I am a very, very, very bad person." He just kept repeating that over and over again. I have served in ghetto areas on my mission and have walked ghettos streets at night, but this was the first time on my whole mission I was actually scared. I thought at any moment he could pull out a knife or a gun and that would be that. I wasn’t sure whether I should try and fight him right there and take the first strike or to just stand there. So, I said a quick prayer and my comp said, "We respect that and have a good night." and we left!! 

When we were in the car, my comp told me before we had gone over to that house, he had had a bad feeling, as well. I learned a great lesson that day on how important it is to follow the spirit and that it will truly warn and protect us. We just have to follow it. At times we don’t know if the spirit is really with us, but I can truly testify that it is if we are doing all that we are supposed to do. Be careful, and listen to the spirit! I know that even though we didn’t heed the prompting right away, the Lord still protected us and truly there were angels in that room that night. 

We have been having a good week otherwise. We have received a lot of member referrals and that has been really cool, so hopefully those will start to turn out well. We had a really cool miracle this last week. We had been teaching that guy that a member had just randomly called us and asked to give a blessing to. He brought his wife to the last lesson and she was super nice and now they are both getting baptized in February! It was so, so neat. We talked about temple marriage and eternal families and we are going to take them to the temple grounds in a couple weeks. 

We are doing great! So many miracles and staying very busy. This upcoming week we have the first broadcast of its kind from Salt Lake for all full time missionaries! It should be sweet. We also have a General Authority coming down next week to talk to our mission, so there are a lot of exciting things ahead!

Hope you all have a great week.

Elder Clark

Monday, January 11, 2016

New Year

The weeks are flying by! We are always busy, busy, busy - doing more and more! The mission life never takes a break. It’s wonderful though! This week we had lots and lots of miracles. I am forever grateful for all the answers to prayers I receive.

We had a crazy Tuesday. I was on exchanges with my MTC comp and we just had a crazy, crazy day! We saw a lady get out of her car so we walked up to her and started talking. She invited us in before we could even really say much. We figured she was a member or something and as we started talking we found that she wasn’t and wasn’t really part of any church. She just attended AA meetings, and so we had a great little lesson with her. Then when I came back to the return appointment with my companion and taught her the first lesson and we asked her to be baptized and she said yes right away!  And then we set her with a date, and she said yes right away! It was so crazy, and even funnier was when she called us a few days later and she was like, “I didn’t even realize I said yes. I don’t think I am ready!” We told her it was the spirit and we would help her! We are seeing her tomorrow so we will see how that goes!

Also during that night, we were talking to some people and walking around and then our phone rang. It was a member and he had an awesome referral. That night we met him at the church, but we had another appointment at that time and so a member came and got me to go to that one and I left elder Thorne, who was just on exchanges, with this referral guy and he gave him a church tour and had an awesome lesson with him! It was a huge crazy miracle!

Our zone is also doing really, really well! We are just trying to maintain the momentum. Also our mission is making a really big push to work better with our wards and help the members to start doing more missionary work! And man, that is one of the hardest things ever to do, but we have a really great WML so we will see how things go! 

I am grateful to be a missionary and I pray that I can continue to grow and change and become who my Father in Heaven wants me to be.

Elder Clark

Monday, January 4, 2016

Miracles Upon Miracles and a Walk with Christ

Wow what a week we have had!

I don't even know where to start. I haven't had much of a chance to talk about my new area and my new companion. But I have really been loving my new area. I like Vegas. I miss being in small towns with less traffic and quicker street lights but the work is progressing!

So I guess to start I will talk about the area. We have a very small area. It takes less than five minutes to get around it, so we are going to start biking our area! We have started seeing lots of success, but it has been a little frustrating. We are finding lots of very, very flakey people. Most of our area is apartments and so it’s pretty transient. But recently we have seen lots of miracles in finding more solid people.

I had the chance on Saturday to go back to Lake Havasu, my old area, and participate in 7 baptisms of people I had taught there. The Lord truly blessed us and it was so neat to see the changes they all made in their lives. I had the privilege of baptizing three of them, and it was so neat to be in the water for a little longer and to really soak in what was happening! We had a great time and we went to lunch with some members I knew down there. That was a really fun and spiritual day. My comp was with a priest all day. The priest was a champ as we picked him up at 6:30 a.m. I also was able to be with my old companion, Elder Anderson and catch up with him on the drive and get ideas from him. I was talking to him on the way back about how I wanted to find more solid investigators.   When I got back to my area for dinner we had a wonderful dinner, and the couple we were eating with had taken a guy into their home for the last few weeks and basically adopted him. He has been on the streets his whole life. He lost his parents at 11 and has been alone since and has had a really tough life, but he has been making changes and coming to church and he said he wants to get baptized! It was one of the most spiritual nights ever. The sister, which he calls mom, was crying and the spirit was so strong! So we are really excited for him and have been praying for him.

We have also just been running into a lot of awesome people. We had a referral we went to go see and he wasn't home and so we knocked on his neighbors door and it was a guy from Grand Junction and so we talked about that. He was a cool guy! He said he was looking for a new church and would be baptized. It’s been pretty awesome. The Lord is really blessing us.

We had a big missionary meeting with our mission president and everyone in leadership. He announced the new mission vision for this year and dressed up as rocky and did a rap song. Haha He was so funny! Then we had a really awesome meeting with our zone. The day before the meeting, we set up stops on the trail of a mountain to represent different times in Christ’s life. We got the zone excited, and then met at 6:00 a.m. for the hike. The stops included His birth, baptism, ministry, suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, death, and resurrection. As we were ascending up the trail, we talked about how we have to raise our discipleship to be more like Christ if we want our members to be better member missionaries. The district leaders took their districts through the trail and at every stop had a little 5 minute thought to share. We ended at the top where my comp and I gave a training and we had a brief testimony meeting. It was a great time and people really felt the spirit. Some even carried rocks up the last stretch to remember when Christ carried his cross. I was deeply touched as I pondered more about my Savior!

To make it even more of an adventure…we had been setting up tables at the church and the gym was split in half. One side was pitch black and there was a cart that you put tables on to store them and I didn't see it in the dark and total ate it over that and really banged up my knees and so I hobbled up the mountain!

I am excited for this New Year and what lies in store for me! I am going work harder than I ever have before and there is so much I want to change about myself before I come home. So nobody get too excited - I still have 6 months to change and become better! I love my Savior and I am so grateful I have been an instrument in His hands to bring others to Him!

Elder Clark

A walk with Christ

Sermon on the Mount 

Carrying boulders to the top.

Zone Photo