Saturday, May 4, 2013

Change of Heart

Hey Family! :)

How is everybody doing?! I am sorry I didn't email on Thursday, our P-Day got switched to Saturday! Our whole schedule was rearranged this past week, it has been crazy and good. Last week we got a new district in our zone! That has been very fun to befriend them and such. I found out last night that there's a couple more districts coming this Wednesday, and I saw one of them is Hyrum Arnesen is coming to my zone!! He's the one friend from BYU that I saw in the BYU men's chorus at Devo. last week! I'm super excited for that. Also, estaba poco enfermo this last week... but I'm totally fine now! There was a cold going around in our district, and once somebody gets it we all go down! Haha it's kind of funny actually. Also, I was so happy to receive so many packages and letters from family and other people!! It made me so happy. :) Thank you for the muffins, mother! They were so good, and I shared them with my district. If you wanted to send anything else, my only request would be chips and homemade salsa. Haha :) Also, I just barely picked up a package this morning from Krissy! That was the most amazing care package ever!! I'm still finding contents inside of it as I speak, so thank you Krissy! I will write to everyone as soon as I can. And Senora Collier sent me a small package of candy and a letter too! That was very nice. Also, I was SO thankful to receive a letter from Grandpa this week - it really helped me so much. I have been studying in the Book of Mormon a lot more because of it, and I have seen so many blessings in my life. Also the letter from Katie! and Krissy. I love everyone in my family a lot! And it is Mother's Day next Sunday!!! I am suuuper excited to send mom a letter. :)  Anyways, to answer some questions, yes mom everything is going fine with washing my clothes. There's just buttons on the washer and dryer that tell me what to do, so I don't worry about it a whole lot. Also me and Sister Sandholtz, the violinist, tried out for a musical number on Thursday and we found out yesterday we made it!! The arrangement is "More Holiness Give Me" by Marshall McDonald, and we'll be playing at the Mission Conference tomorrow for Fast Sunday! Like in front of the whole MTC..I think, I'm not quite sure yet. It's going to be awesome, I'm excited. Also, I have been seeing Elder Stucki quite often lately and have had the chance to talk with him a lot, which was awesome! Our districts have the same service assignment, so we can chat a little bit. His companion is like Chinese...it's awesome. Haha. Anyways, I am doing just great here! The only thing more that I would really need is knee-pads, because we pray so much!! Haha seriously though, it's great. Also you asked about the language, and it is coming along just great! We've been able to understand pretty much everything the teachers say since like the second day here, and we practice speaking all the time so I don't really feel any problems or barriers in that regard. The only hard part is learning to teach effectively, and make all of our lessons count! At times this can be difficult, but we just practice teaching all the time and practice finding the needs of our investigators to teach accordingly. 

Anyways, I have learned quite a lot of touching and inspiring things this week from teachers, people, and pondering on everything I am doing and learning. I would just like to tell of one thing specifically I experienced this week, that changed everything for me! That thing is the principle of Repentance. It is SUCH a blessing, and it is one of the fundamental principles of the gospel for a reason. I learned that Repentance isn't just for the wicked persons, but it is for all of those who are trying to be better but sometimes come up short - like me this week. Basically, I was just being a little bit too hard on myself that I wasn't being the best missionary I could be, and I was down on myself. I realized where I went wrong, and I was focusing on myself too much when I should have been focusing on serving other people and the Lord. It took me a few days to keep asking for forgiveness and asking if there was any way I could get better, and not so down on myself. It was a difficult time for me, because I was truly feeling bad, and the desire to receive forgiveness grew in me as I was brought in the depths of humility. Then yesterday morning, at the climax of all of these feelings (when we gave a not-so-good lesson, difficult for me to learn how to teach better) we ended the class with a song, #138 "Senor, yo te seguire", (#220 Lord I would Follow Thee), and it was such a touching moment for me, because all the words in that song were the exact feelings of my heart at that time, but I still hadn't received that forgiveness yet. I learned I NEEDED to show faith by acting first, and try my best to love other people although it was really really hard because of how I felt, and I needed to just tell myself there CAN be hope, although at the time due to my feelings, it looked slim. Then as we ended, personal study began, and the whole time I was just praying and asking more sincerely than ever before for the forgiveness of my sins, and it was the most beautiful experience I have ever had. It was a monumental point of my day, mission, and life. In that moment, even as I was saying the words (in Spanish), I felt the Spirit act so strongly upon me, I am crying just typing this right now. When you receive that change of heart, you KNOW without a doubt when it happens. It is so powerful; in that moment the burden of all I was feeling was taken off of me, and I just felt the most amazing joy. The Lord truly changed my heart, Before, I was just tired with the work and wanted to just go home and sleep, it was hard for me to be patient with and love people (although I was sincerely trying my hardest), but after, I wasn't even tired! I was just filled with great joy, and I was cheerfully talking with people and showing pure love - charity. I felt the burden off of my shoulders. It was incredible, and it made me EXCITED for lessons and teaching people about this, because I know it happened to me. I've been excited for this email ever since. "When we come to truly understand Repentance, and the Atonement, we will have a desire to share the gospel with other people", as it says in PMG. The best way to describe the experience I had is found in the Second Paragraph of the First Chapter of PMG. Please read that. Please, I ask of anybody reading this, to seek once more this change of heart, and find the joy that comes from Repenting. I KNOW that this principle is for everybody, not just the wicked. In my early experiences with the gospel, I had the perception that Repentance was a usually pretty passive part of my prayer, when I just apologize for the wrong I did, but now I know it is a very Changing experience, and very powerful. Read Mosiah 2-5, and Enos 1. It took Enos ALL day, and ALL night to finally receive this change of heart and forgiveness of his sins, and he knew EXACTLY the moment when it was received. How powerful is that! It WILL take a few days. But I know, that if you want a better quality of life, you can USE the Atonement. No matter what it is, ask for forgiveness of our shortcomings (which we all have), and sincerely seek it, it will come. It is beautiful. No wonder the prophets tried calling repentance to people all the time. I am not even doing anything bad here at the MTC - heck, I am devoting my whole life to His cause!! But I STILL have shortcomings, and I KNOW and have a clear and pure testimony that I have had need of repentance during my stay here at the MTC, and that it has worked in my life. It has helped me so much more to fulfill my purpose, and right after the experience I was able to love other people so much more, and not worry about myself. Also read about Alma's experience. I promise if we come to understand this better we will have a GREATER desire to share the gospel with other people, in whatever way that may be. 
I am sorry, I am out of time. I want to share so much more! I have had lots of great learning and powerful experiences with giving Priesthood blessings, but don't have time to go into detail on them now. Just know I have a testimony that the Lord helps us in that way too, and it is His power. I am so grateful for each and every one of you!!

Love you all!

Elder Clarke


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