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

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