Saturday, January 18, 2014

Dear Family!!!

How are you all doing, my dear family!? I hope you've all had the best week ever!!! 

First off, we had our baptism today, and it was very spiritual and uplifting! They are always such special experiences. My favorite hymn to sing is ´´Lord, I Would Follow Thee´´. We sang that as a musical number, and I threw down Allen with power!!! He told me he wanted me to put him down as low as possible in the water with lots of force. I was going to, and before I even could he like threw himself in the water, and I had to pull him out! It was a big splash, and really kinda cool haha. He was just so excited to get it done, and feel the difference. He shared a sweet testimony that he knows this is the change he needs in his life, and for his gratitude to be able to hear this gospel. It was a beautiful meeting with all.
Elder Clarke working in the office
I have also had a super good week here in the office. There has been so much work!!! I have never been so busy at such a high stress level...ever!! Lots of emergency transfers that all happened this week, missionaries who've had to go home for sicknesses, all happened so fast. Ha! I am definitely being stretched and growing a lot. I´m so happy to be a missionary!!! I LOVE IT! I love being able to go out to our area, or go in taxis, and be able to express my testimony and share the doctrine of Christ with all. 

In the office--amazing woven blanket art of Christ in the background
The part of the Doctrine that really hit me hard this week is the importance of our agency, and humility - two things that can never be taken from you, no matter what happens. You choose to be humble, sincerely, and nobody can judge you wrongly for that. I find it a precious, and joyful opportunity, and when I try my best to choose to be humble, I feel myself understanding my Savior better.

I was so happy to hear from Dad today!!! I wanted to personally thank you for your inspired and uplifting email you sent me. I am so grateful to have you as my father, I see you as an incredible example, and I love you more than you know. Thank you so much for everything. I love you!!!!

Sunset in Lima
Congratulations to Steve for getting that job at Chrysalis!! That is WAY cool. T-Hyde as well. Tell me all about it, and how you like it and everything! Have you been able to hang out with Colton, Alex and Joe yet?? I hope they all remember how much I love them too. I was so sad to hear that our stake presidency is getting released! They are amazing priesthood leaders, and they will be missed. Also very sad to hear about Sister Drake - their family will definitely be in my prayers. 

I don´t have a whole lot to say this week, things are going well, lots of work. And transfers are this coming weekend, we´ll see how it all plays out! :) I just want to leave my testimony, that I know the gospel changes lives when applied with true intent. Faith is an incredible power that works miracles. Our limits exponentially expand as we learn how to exert more faith. We must do ALL that we can, and do it with true intent. 

I love you all, family! I am praying for Adam, Scotty, and Katie in school - Steve at BYU, Dad in his work, class, and calling, and Mom in her callings and job as well. I am so glad to hear about all of the great things that you´re doing, and am your #1 biggest fan!!!!! ;) 


Elder Clarke

Monday, January 13, 2014

Dear Family,

How are you all doing?! I hope it has been the absolute best week of your life. Thank you so much for writing, Mother Dear, you are so faithful and always make my day bright. I want to wish you a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! TODAY! And to Dad the 8th (which by the way, I did wear my special 8 matching tie with Steve on that day), and to Grandpa on the 4th, exactly a week ago! I send you all my love, and hope it went fastastical. Tell me all about your festivities!! Hope the cards were ok! haha, the ´´ride on the little train´´ card for dad was the bomb. How´s Steve in school? I bet he's eatin' it up!!! He´s such a good hard-working guy. 

Elders Clarke & Hartvigsen
I was overjoyed to hear about Spencer Nelson's mission call!!!!! That is such good news!! I love that guy, I'm gonna send him a letter through you. Is that ok if you give it to him for me? Hey, tell the Judd's how much I love them too, President and Sister Judd especially, who have always served everyone, including me, so much, and I am grateful for them. I hope they have just as good of a ward where they're going in Alpine. And Mother, I loved that quote by Pres. Uchtdorf you sent me, I'll be saving it on my desktop. Thank you so much. 

Elder Valencia
Alrighty, so this week we had the leadership council on Wednesday and it was super inspiring!! President Douglas is an inspired man, and this mission is accomplishing so many great things. I'll tell of a short miracle that happened in two zones of the mission, Pisco and Chincha (in the south). So when Elder Nelson came to visit the mission his returning flight got delayed a couple days, so he went down to the southern zones to have a conference with them (cuz they didn´t get to come to Lima for it). He was super focused on the ´´Work of Salvation´´, and specifically about Rescueing the less active members (a new key indicator similar to a baptism), and at that visit he made to the Stakes down there, like 300-400 extra members than normal showed up, which was because of all of the less-actives. Such a blessing, he took advantage of that, and challenged the wards and stakes to increase dramatically to rescue more less active members. He told President Douglas specifically that he wanted a report at the end of the year to see how many had been rescued, sent personally to him to follow up. President felt a big responsibility to get that done, as a command of an apostle of the Lord, and just drilled into those zones of the focuses of rescuing a bunch! The first few months were rough, but in the month of December alone there were about 56 rescued members in Pisco, and 52 in Chincha. Incredible amount!!! On top of like 30 baptisms that month. Insane. That´s like a parallel of a baptism for less actives. A rescued member means: all 5 missionary lessons, at least 2 assistances in the chapel, and an interview with the bishop to come back in the ward active for good, and help them progress in the gospel. What a miraculous work we are involved in, I have never felt the love of the Savior more as we reach out to those less-actives members who are lost, which takes GREAT effort, but it brings about marvellous results. Anyways, we had a good report to give to Elder Nelson, and found our potential is a lot higher than we thought. I´m so excited to keep working hard, and see this work go forth. 

Also, we heard a story from Elder Rasband that when they went up to visit the Cusco stakes, Elder Nelson felt inspired that people needed to hear the message in their native tongue, and just told the translator that it wasn´t needed anymore, and started speaking perfect, fluent spanish, and that it was one of the most powerful experiences Elder Rasband has ever witnessed. Elder Nelson has studied a bit of spanish, but not perfectly, but he was prepared and ready in that moment to fulfill the will of the Lord, and touch a number of souls that day. How incredible. 

About the investigators, we put a baptismal date for next saturday! With a man named Allen, who has been an investigator ever since I got to the ward and longer, who had always come to all of the activities and church every Sunday for all the classes, but simply didn´t want to commit himself to baptism for fear of messing up and sinning afterwards. After a lot of powerful lessons and testimonies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the remission of sins through faith and repentance, we were able to touch his heart, and he is ready!!! We put a date for about 3 weeks away...but he just told us he wants to get baptized as fast as he can. It was so incredible to see, I was so surprised. I am amazed by the power of faith, and the effect of the Holy Spirit.

Also, last week, we were kinda struggling in our area and not having a whole lot of work, and I got determined to leave the office early every day, and go out and talk with everybody we know and don´t know to find new investigators, the ones who are prepared. After many prayers of true intencion and hard work, we found a great number of new investigators, and had powerful lessons. One investigator is named José, and we found him while we were trying to contact a reference, and he was sitting out there in his doorway, and we asked him if he knew the address, and then we just started talking with him, and he let us in to teach him our special message of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was such a little miracle, and he was so interested!! I felt such great joy. But after a couple lessons...his dad showed up when we came, and told us to get out of there. It was a little sad, but we´ll keep trying, and find more people! 

I've just been pondering about how sincerely joyful Heavenly Father must be when we make decisions of faith and repent and come just even a tiiinny bit closer to Him. Because He provides for all of our needs, incredibly merciful and blesses us, just hoping we will read His word, that we will follow the guidance of His holy spirit, and use our agency in a way that is pleasing to Him. I experience a little bit of that joy every time I invite someone to commit to living the gospel, or a certain commandment. I know with all my heart that this restored gospel of Jesus Christ is true, it changes lives if applied correctly, and that the commandments of God are divine and will help us live a better life. I am eternally grateful. 

Okay..this is getting long, last paragraph. So as for the work here in the office..things are going well. There have never been so many sick people at once!! Haha, well, at least for me. Lots of stuff going on. I´m on the phone with Sis. Douglas like 5 times a day talking about what we should do with all the sick ones, making lots of appointments, getting things ready for the next transfer coming up in a couple weeks, documents paperwork, plane tickets, hotel reservations, etc. Everything´s going smoothly though. Cleaning up super good and thoroughly the whole office. I love just having my working/living place as empty as it can be. It´s just nicer that way. 

The members in Bolognesi are great!! Super kind, and cook good food. Haha. We just need a lot more references than we´re getting. The ward is growing very well, and the bishop is dedicated to having ward council´s, which is really good here.

Oh hey, check out this cool video clip from about the work of salvation moving forth in Perú! This is when Elder Cook visited Perú, and it highlights our mission! Sadly, I don't show up in it, but a ton of my comps and Elders and Sisters in my mission, and President Douglas, are in it! It's super awesome!!

Well, I hope you all have the best day ever! I love you a bunch!!!!!!!!!!!!

Elder Clarke

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Mother Dear!!!

I love you so much! :) I´m doing so well and am so happy to hear from you. Thank you so much for writing me! I´m sorry I´m getting to it late! We picked up Elder Durfey (I forgot to take a picture, sorry...I´m not very good at that stuff) from the airport this morning with President, and all is well! He looks good, and I am excited to continue working in the Work of Salvation. We just finished watching 17 Miracles and another new pioneerish Mormon movie like that for our P-Day. It was so inspiring, and relaxing. I am SOOO grateful for the stuff you sent me! Thank you so so much. I was most excited above all to receive this music!! :) haha. Thank you so much for the cards, Mother! I loved seeing our Christmas card, and all the letters from you, Steve, Katie and Scotty! Thank you dearly. Also the treats! :) I feel the love! TELL ADAM HOW MUCH I APPRECIATED THAT CALENDAR HE MADE FOR ME!!!  That's nuts that Steve is already taking off to BYU! But it's good. I'm excited for him. He's gonna do awesome!

Okay, Mother Dearest. I am sending you the coolest photos of New Year's Eve! I hope you love them! I've gotta tell some great stories about that by the way. It was INSANE. Nutso, I have never felt such a great thrill in my life! It was actually...a little bit dangerous, and illegal. But we were only spectators from the top of our 17th floor building. :) 

Here are some more. It was so fun. K, so we took cool pictures, watched them all go off for like a half-hour nonstop just everywhere in the city, and then this group of people came up to the top as well, like a family to come hang out, and they brought massive fireworks! TONS. And started setting them off from the top of the roof! Some fell over, and started firing every which way! I ducked and one went over my head and off the building and sunk down a ways and blew up in between two buildings. These are the like, BIG fireworks we're talking about here, too. After two rounds, we went back down to our room cuz it was dangerous.

And when we went down to our room, they were still going off every which way (our room still being on the top floor, just one floor below) and they almost hit our windows! They were all so bright right in front of our faces and loud, it was like being in the midst of a war. Also, before that happened some people on the lower floors of our building shot them up out of their windows, and they exploded like right at the buildings ledge, and took us by surprise! I nearly lost my hearing cuz I didn't see it coming!! And we were like running to take cover... but there were some cool ones that went off right behind our building, and got some cool shots. Anyways, I'm not trying to freak you out, we're all fine now, it was just really fun. Also, before midnight we had a Chilean feast of completos, which is pan with avocado, tomato and mayonaisse and boiled hot dog inside, and it´s so good, and then we sang hymns in a quartet until midnight! Way fun, I´ll never forget it!!