Monday, May 23, 2016

Ross and Luis

Another week has come and gone! This one just flew by! I don't even hardly remember what happened this week.

We had two baptisms this last week and both were awesome. The first one, the guy was so happy, He was actually out of town for the weekend and got back just before his confirmation, but he still went and had a great time.

The second one, I was able to baptize him. He said that he had called his mom the morning of his baptism and that she told him that he was going to hell. He said he never felt better in his whole life he was so excited for his baptism. I felt the spirit very strongly as he went down into the water. When he came back up again, we had a big wet bear hug! The water was a bit cold. While we were changing, I told him he could bear his testimony if he wanted, but I failed to tell him when. And so when we walked out of the restroom, he just started bearing his testimony, and it was so awesome. It was very spiritual and he was really funny! I am so excited for his progression.

I love you all and hope you have a great week! I am loving serving the Lord. It's not easy, but it's worth it. I am constantly being humbled as I serve with the mission president and I just pray that the mission can continue to see success.

Elder Clark

Monday, May 16, 2016

Glory Like Ammon

I wish I could describe how awesome this last week was! Partially because it was full of so many miracles and also because it's hard to remember back a week.

Well this week the Lord blessed us to learn how to use our iPad planners more effectively, and we were able to help teach the zone leaders. I can honestly say this was the first week of my mission since we have had the iPad’s that I really enjoyed planning on them compared to the old paper we used to have. That was a miracle we saw with the missionaries this week, and it really helped out a lot of the zone leaders plans as well.

Also our area is just going crazy! We have the most solid people I have ever taught before and we have so many of them! We will be having two baptisms this week and one of which we weren't even entirely sure if the guy was going to be baptized. He is 18, but worried about offending his mom with his decision to join the church. We had a lesson and addressed his concern and after my companion read a scripture he said "Well I guess I need to be baptized then". We also had a recent convert with us who was able to share her experience and how her dad wasn't particularly happy with her decisions to join the church either.

Then one night at the church, we had a lesson with some sister missionaries who had an investigator they were going to pass off to us His name was Wu. Wu is from China and only speaks a small amount of English. We got to the lesson a little earlier and were waiting at the church for this lesson to happen. While we were waiting, a random guy came to the door and was trying to come in, and so we opened the door for him and stared talking to him. He was a 23 year old from Russia named Dean. We began speaking to him and he said that he had driven by this church many times and that for some reason today he was prompted to come and see what it was about. He spoke of a hard past and a desire to have hope in his life. He came from a traditionally Muslim family but never really practiced, nor did his parents. He never really got involved in any religion and didn't have a strong back ground in Christ. We ended up having a lesson with him, as well as Wu. Dean wanted to meet again the very next day and now he is preparing for baptism. As I was pondering this miracle, I was thinking of my patriarchal blessing which talks about my mission and how the Lord will prepare people for me and my companion to teach with the spirit, but it also mentions that I would gain a love for mankind. Before my mission, I took that phrase to mean I would most likely serve in a foreign place, but when I was called to Vegas I still wasn't sure what that meant. But as I served in Spanish areas, I grew to love the people, as well as the people of Las Vegas, in general. But in one night the Lord put two people in our path from different parts of the world. It was so cool to see that prophecy unfold before my eyes and continue to develop.

My hope and my prayer is that we can continue to stay humble and give thanks to Him.

It reminds me of Ammon in Chapter 26 of Alma:

14 Yea, we have reason to praise him forever, for he is the Most High God, and has loosed our brethren from the chains of hell.

15 Yea, they were encircled about with everlasting darkness and destruction; but behold, he has brought them into his everlasting light, yea, into everlasting salvation; and they are encircled about with the matchless bounty of his love; yea, and we have been instruments in his hands of doing this great and marvelous work.

16 Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.

My goal is to baptize weekly until I return from my mission and I know that as I glory in God and not of myself and always depending on the agency of others, the Lord will hear my cries. As it stands right now, we should have baptisms weekly until June 18th! God is truly wonderful

Elder Clark

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Elder Holland's Visit

Well things have been really busy! Ranging from a visit from an apostle, to transfers, and a referral from an area seventy on the west side.

It was a crazy experience to have Elder Jeffery R. Holland come and visit our mission. We spent the days prior working with the APs from the West mission to prepare. It was pretty cool to meet them; they were cool guys. It's so interesting to see how different missions are run. The day of the conference with Elder Holland was pretty exciting. We had the chapel all set up and ready early, and then we locked all the doors to the church as we had people arriving as early as 11:00 a.m. The meeting started at 2:00 p.m., so we kept everyone outside and when it was time to get set up for the picture we had to funnel them in -- all 180 of them in the foyer and the hall! We told them to all be quiet and we had the office staff helping us keep them all under control. It got really hot in there but everything went great! We were all set up for the picture and then afterward we were able to shake hands with Elder Holland and the other authorities who were with him, which included President Lynn G Robbins, Elder Larkin, and later that night, Elder Stoddard.

That week we had pulled up the new AP, Elder Green, as Elder Thorne was going to be leaving the office and so Elder Green and I were able to sit in the very front row, and then Elder Thorne joined us after he finished conducting the meeting. That was a very neat experience for him. And it was great for us; we were right next to Elder Holland for two straight hours!

There was a lot that he said that was very powerful and impacting. He is just so good at bringing the scriptures to life. He teaches you new insights from scriptures that you have read a thousand times. The majority of what he spoke about was about getting down to the level our investigators are at. He used an example of Christ doing that in the New Testament and that was really neat. But there was a couple moments when he really threw down. He was standing right in front of me on the stand and he shouted to everyone and I mean shouted! He had a mic hooked up and everything. He said "You have no right to abuse the image of a missionary." He had been telling us how the members view us as perfect, and he made it clear that we had no right to change the opinion of the members. It was also very neat because in the beginning he said, “As I shook your hand, I interviewed every single one of you.” He continued to say that he is proud of the Las Vegas missions because they are full of the spirit. He also said that there are some that he could see were struggling, but that he knew they could do it! It was really neat to just see how much the spirit really spoke to him.

Later that night, after we got back from eating carne asada from our investigator Allyson's mom, we went to the YSA conference that Elder Holland was going to be at. It was at our normal chapel and so we got a few of our investigators there! That was another great meeting. He talked about happiness being a destination and that in this life we will not arrive at happiness but strive for it. That it is about the pursuit of happiness. In 2 Nephi, they lived after the manner of happiness. They weren't necessarily happy all the time but they were living in a manner that would bring them happiness. It was so funny because the he actually started his talk with a joke, and it was like the one dad likes to tell with the frog and the butterfly, but it had to do with an orchestra and everyone thought he was going to relate it into a talk but he simply just told a joke! So that was pretty funny. It was a great experience for our investigators to come and see him speak! One of them leaned over to my companion during the fireside and told him that she wanted to stop cussing, so that was a cool miracle!

We have seen just so many miracles! These last two weeks we have barely had any time to proselyte -basically only Saturday and Sunday and then a couple hours every night during the week. We have been putting in almost twenty hour days this last week! One day we had to get up at 4 am and then we weren’t able to go to bed until midnight or later with only an hour nap on a couch to get us by! But even with all these things, the Lord has just blessed us immensely. Last Sunday Elder Green and I set goals of how we wanted to grow our faith and we were praying and fasting for it. I was specifically praying for more people to be ready to be baptized as this ward would take care of them! Then in third hour of church, our bishop came and grabbed us and took us to his office to meet a guy named Michael, who wasn't a member. At that same time, another member grabbed me and told me his non member girlfriend was at church and that she wanted to meet with us. And so in third hour on Sunday we had two lessons! Michael had been invited by Elder Larkin, an area seventy on the west side of Vegas, to learn more about the gospel. When we met with Elder Larken, we learned that Michael had been having lessons at his house every week and then he had given him the instructions on how to find the chapel in his area and it was our chapel! The other day I called Elder Larkin to update him and he is going to join us for some lessons! That will be really neat. We will be setting Michael for baptism today at church.

Another awesome referral came from Dolan Springs, Arizona; another little town in our mission. It is a miracle that a YSA came from that little town. His name is Teddy and he is super awesome. He is a software engineer and so he is very technical about everything. We were having a lesson with him and he said that he just wasn't too sure yet about the Book of Mormon and Joseph smith. He had already read all of 1 Nephi and studied a lot. We asked him if he had specifically prayed about it and he said no, so that was our commitment to him. The next day he texted us and asked if he could do the audio version to study as he likes to walk a lot. That night at Institute he told us how he got an answer to his prayers. He had started the Book of Mormon over and this time prayed before and after he read. He said as he was walking he found a New Testament on the street, and that was funny to him because the Book of Mormon and the New Testament both testify of Christ. And then he said that a couple hours later when he was still listening to it, his sister, who was supposed to have a surgery, texted him and said that she didn't need it anymore! He felt like both of those incidents were answers to his prayers. It was an awesome miracle.

In these last three months that I will be a full time representative of the Lord, I am excited for all the people we can help come to Christ. Elder Holland said that as missionaries we are apostolic extensions of the Quorum of the Twelve. We carry Christ’s name on our chest, and I am proud to wear it. I know this gospel is true. It is undeniable that the Book of Mormon is the word of God! I have lots of goals of how I want to finish my mission and I know the Lord will bless me for it!

Elder Clark

Las Vegas Mission AP's and West Las Vegas Mission AP's

AP's - Las Vegas and Las Vegas West Mission

Missionaries waiting outside

Waiting inside for Elder Holland - Photo Time