Hello, My Family!!!! :)
How is everybody doing?! I was SO glad to be able to talk with Mom at the airport last week, and also to receive emails from you and Dad. Dad, seriously, you nailed it with your email. Really, that's exactly what I need right now. So thank you so much!!! So. Oregon is the best mission ever!!! (so far) It is absolutely beautiful, really! I have enjoyed being here so so much. I know I am here for a reason, that I am going to learn lots of good stuff, and many opportunities to use my faith during difficult times to increase it and help others. There are a LOT of people to help here - it's like a foreign country compared to Utah.
So I live in a pretty ghetto area. But don't worry!! I am sending a picture of me and my companion, and when you see how big his muscles are, you won't be worried anymore. Haha. He is Elder Fernandez, from the Dominican Republic!! He is fluent in Spanish, and speaks inCREdibly fast. It's insane. He has lived in Ohio too, so he's fluent in English, and everything. He is the best companion I could have asked for right now; if there's anybody Mom should feel safe that I am companion's with here in the field in Oregon, it's this guy right here. I am so grateful we are companions. Actually, he began his mission the same day as me though, April 10. Because he's fluent, he was in the MTC for 2 weeks (like one and a half..) and he's been here for like 4 weeks. Haha...yeah. So it's sort of hard because neither of us have had much experience at all. We share an apartment with Elder Bromley (YEEEAAHHH!!!!!) and Elder Ketchum, who has been here for like 22 months now. He was Elder Fernandez' trainer before we got here..now he's kinda co-supervising/training all of us. It's great haha. Other than us, there's only two other Spanish elders in the mission that I know of, and they are pretty far away I'm guessing. All of the area around where we live is covered by English missionaries, and we are only over the Hispanics in basically all the area haha. For this reason, we have two cars, one per companionship, and there are actually quite a bit of Hispanic people that live around in this area. It is fantastic!!! I love it :) I was SOOOO happy that I got to stay with Elder Bromley though!!! Haha, we are never gonna get away from each other. It's pretty awesome. I have many blessings here in Oregon, no need to worry! President Young is awesome too.
So...haha funny story about my first plane/airport experience ever. I don't know if Mom already told everyone else, but right when I got to the airport, apparently I lost my driver's license somewhere at the MTC or something, I have no idea where it could have gone, but it wasn't in my wallet. I was very worried, and calling the Church Travel Office people and stuff, and very worried I was giong to have to go back to the MTC. That's what the situation looked like at the time. And then one of the ladies there asked what else I had in my wallet. And apparently, my Eagle Scout card is recognized by the government, and that's what saved me!!! On my first flight ever. It was not a fun situation at the time, but now it seems pretty funny. I can't even believe that happened still. I had to have a ton of extra screening though, to do a full body check on me to see if I had any weapons or anything on me..haha it was an interesting experience. I am glad I made it through. For the next flight I won't have to worry because I will be sent my passport along with my visa, which will be sufficient to get by. So I'm all good, I just don't have an ID anymore. Haha. I guess I will get one later sometime. The airplane was a GREAT experience too!!! It was so much fun, I absolutely loved it. We flew to Portland, and had a two hour layover, then flew to Eugene from there. We talked to a lot of people in the Portland airport, having a goal of being very friendly and talking about the gospel, and Elder Bromley and I gave away our first Book of Mormon and contact info! It was awesome. It is crazy though how basically everybody here at least knows about the LDS church. Not saying that they all have a correct perception of the Church...but like everyone knows about it. It's great. :)
I had a cool spiritual experience on the airplane. I felt a lot closer to God than I usually do. I just looked straight up into space, in the clear blue sky, and felt deep in my heart there's something else out there. Not just planets out there orbiting around stars for so long until they blow up, and new stars form....but something with a much, much deeper purpose and meaning. Something of Eternal significance. I can't explain how it felt. I know that there is a purpose and a meaning for life, and that it is NOT just to be wasted by things that only last for this life. I know that gospel principles are eternal, and that the good that we do lasts forever. I am so grateful for the time I have here on earth, and I am going to consecrate my whole life to doing good, and making an eternal difference. I am so grateful for the opportunity and the many blessings God has given me. I am Eternally grateful. My heart is full of joy, and love. When I was flying, the song "Child's Prayer" was stuck in my head, cuz we sang it in Spanish as a district in our ward last Sunday in the MTC. When I was up there high in the air, and pondering on the Eternal Perspective, I could hear it being sung in my head. It was an incredible feeling and communication with the Spirit. It is something I could spiritually hear, if that makes any sense, something I still had to believe in, like all promptings of the Spirit. I know, that there were angels singing that sweet song to me as I was beginning my Eternal journey of serving the Lord, and it was one of the sweetest feelings of peace I have ever known. I know that this work is bigger than just me, but it's just me that can act in a mortal body on earth right now, and I need to have a lot of faith. But I know there are people on the other side who need my help, people here in Oregon, and Peru too. I am excited to keep working at it to serve with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. DC 4:2 has become my favorite scripture lately.
I love you all so much!!! I got to play piano just barely!! :) it was funny, I couldn't really play them that well when I was looking at the music trying to sight read songs I already knew, and so I just put the music aside and just went by feeling, and it all came back to me. It was an amazing feeling. If we just rely on our feelings, we will be directed in the right paths we need to in our lives. I am SOOO grateful for the Spirit.
I love you all SOOOO MUCH!!! Have the best week EVER. :)
Love, Elder Clarke