Sunday, March 30, 2014

Following the Example of Jesus Christ

Dearest Family,

Wow, thank you for your emails. After all of the wonderful things that have happened today, and in this week, Inside of me is instilled the glorious, wonderful and beautiful thought about how really the only thing that matters in this life is to follow the example of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. I think I've just now realized, deeper than ever, that this life will never end. I can't express the feelings inside of me, the Spirit that bursts out, telling me to represent His name for all of my life. All my life. No matter all of the inequity, iniquity, sorrows, despair, we need to remember the incredible blessing and opportunity we have to be our own agents; to bring about much good, to suffer with those who are suffering, rejoice with those who rejoice, cry with those who cry, and always look into the eye with all of the pure intention of heart to lift up a brother in the faith, to help all come to understand better our Savior, Jesus Christ, and come closer to God by their acts. Everybody can, and everybody is in a lot of need of help of knowing how to do it. We need to confidently shine to everyone our smiles, and our confidence in having experienced in detail the blessings of the Lord. There is no end to humility; I keep learning that every day on the mission. There is no end to the companionship of the Holy Ghost. There is no end to pondering the miracles, mysteries, and goodness of God. There is no end to praying with faith. We just need to apply the first five principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ to our own lives, and live the commandments to receive the strength and never-ending excitement to be involved in such activities of spiritual nature, to help everybody around us, and literally be a light of the world. Maybe at times I have been down, and unamimated, and struggling, but there is no end to persistance nor diligence. I will strive to the very end, in every moment, to find the good, and share it freely, with all the love and charity I can muster. I pray we all have the vision to live a better life, and never give up. These are my feelings on following the example of Christ. I know He lives, and that this invitation He has given to all is very reachable for each one of us. 

I always feel so much better, and less stressed, after expressing my testimony and spiritual feelings - it's a way of letting God know how appreciative I am for all He does for me. I have seen so many blessings this week, it is incredible. Lima is absolutely amazing! We've been paseando in Miraflores and Barranco today walking along the beach. This place is really so unique, and just beautiful. The people here are unlike anybody I've ever known before. So incredibly Christ-like and service-oriented - it gets me emotional. I don't ever want to forget these Peruvians. I know I was sent here for a reason, to humble myself and follow their inspiring example. They may not understand everything about Jesus Christ and His restored church, but what they do understand about his everlasting mercy and grace, they sure do well. I know many will have a special place saved in the kingdom of heaven. 

This morning was the baptism of Fabio! All of his family came from both sides of the family tree, and also another little girl, daughter of a recent convert that the sisters in our ward were teaching (Hermana Mendez y Hermana Powell) was baptized today, I actually baptized her. William, Fabio's father, did it with power and authority! He took his time slowly saying the words of the ordinance, and to not mess up, and he said and finished them with such power, I am 100% the power of the baptismal ordinance was manifest in that occasion. The Alkemas, and also President Douglas came to the baptism, and he commented it was one of the most spiritual he had seen. I will send pictures! The most tender part was when the little girl I baptized, 9 years old, when she gave her testimony afterwards, she didn't really know what to say but just cried so sincerely and said how happy she was and how much love she felt. Words cannot explain an unforgettable experience that will always remain in your mind and heart. 

Thank you for all of your love and support. I could not be more grateful for such a beautiful and righteous family. I will never stop thanking my Father in Heaven for my earthly parents. Words can't express the gratitude I feel. I can't tell you how grateful I am for my grandparents, uncles, aunts, and siblings. I love you all to death!!! Please, keep using your God-given agency to always abound in good works, and do that which brings true happiness. Be ready in any moment to accept with full purpose of heart the invitation to follow the example of Jesus Christ. I love you all, saludos a todos, I will write you all more personally, as I would enjoy that a lot more, to talk with each one of you. Make it the very best week of all!!!

Sincerely,

Elder Clarke

Monday, March 24, 2014

´´Su gracia es suficiente para los mansos´´

Dearest Family, ¡Los Clarke!

How is everybody today?! Mother Dearest, thank you so much for your email. You have no idea how much your inspiring and comforting words always help me each week to feel the Spirit, and press forward. Nothing is more precious to me than hearing the pure testimony of my own two parents. There's honestly nothing that inspires me more! It's a special gift you have. I equally love hearing from Dad!! 

My heart was filled with joy and emotion to see my little siblings in the picture of the week! Isn't my family so beautiful - I could not be more blessed. I want you to remember how much I sincerely love you all. Thank you so much for writing me Steve! My older brother's the best friend I could have. Thanks for always being there, supporting and helping me in every stage of life, and most important of all, for your good example. 

I hope you will all forgive me for not writing the best, most inspiring emails home lately..and the times when I didn't write! I am also going to write more handwritten letters, I promise. I don't have a good excuse, not even the office stress, I realize how important it is to maintain a close relationship with my family, to express to your my feelings and experiences. You should know that I am giving my absolute best effort right now to magnify my calling and stewardship in the things I'm given, and it brings great joy and the Spirit to focus myself 100%. Please, always remember how much I love you! 

Ether 12:26 has become one of my favorite passages in the Book of Mormon this week. This simple, true, powerful phrase doesn't seem to leave my mind in difficult trials: ´´Mi gracia is suficiente para los mansos´´, ´´My grace is sufficient for the meek.´´ I can't express the excited joy, consolation and motivation this doctrine gives me. I don't know why, in the wisdom of the Lord, I have had a lot of difficulty and trial with the language this week. I feel like I spoke better Spanish in my first area, and now I'm in the office which is like communication central of the mission! I'm on the phone everyday and communicating, and all I want right now is to improve my language skills. I know that the Lord completely understands me, and gives me strength every time I am 100% meek and humble. 

Every Friday we go out to all the zones and do room inspections, and I see all of the variety of Lima. There are some parts, like San Isidro, that are like...way nice and rich, and most all the rest is very humble. I can't even believe the effect that money and worldly possessions can have on a man's heart, to change him. In my mind, there's nothing more important than constantly staying humble of heart, and following his pure doctrine and gospel with full intent and sincerity of heart - increasing our faith in Him, repenting daily, making and renewing covenants, following the guidance of His Holy Spirit, and enduring through each individual trial with patience and hope for a better world. I know that when we decide to be extremely humble of heart, in every thing we do, the effort will not be wasted IF we understand the blessings and the recompense. His grace is sufficient. 

Wilians Marcos and his son Fabio are progressing very well! We've finished teaching just about everything, and Wilians is ready and already rescued and Fabio will soon be a member of the Bolognesi ward. They have fuego! They're on fire, and really feel the gospel. Rocio, the wife, is also assisting church and going to all the activities with her children, which is so good! There's no chance for her to not come to be baptized some day, which seems very soon after Fabio. By the way, they have two daughters that are 5 years old, another boy who's 8, and they are the cutest kids I've ever seen! I love the whole family, they're awesome. We also have 2 other investigators with a baptismal date for April and they are progressing very well! 

Things are going very well in the office, we are working hard and leaving early every day to go out and teach, even if we don't finish everything, we go and teach and just come back at night to finish. Trying to stay dedicated. It's a great life! I love being a missionary. 

You're the best family ever, I'll be talking with you more later. Saludos a the Grandparents and all the Uncles, Aunts, and cousins! 

Love you all!!!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Best Week Ever!!!

Dearest Family!!

How are you all doing?! I hope well. :) It is so good to hear from you, thanks for the awesome email, Mother! Also, the picture of the week was a good one! Those two boys are growing up so big, so fast! Although Adam still looks like a baby in the face. ;) Haha. Family, I´m super sorry I didn´t write an email last week, things were a little crazy. It´s difficult to get the time to write a focused letter! Sooo many things have happened, good things, and now it´s too much for me to try to wrap up together in one letter. 

Two Sundays ago, the 2 of March, was incredible!! We had more people in the chapel than I had ever seen before in my mission! And it was fast and testimony meeting, what a miracle - a very spiritual meeting. The family that we are teaching is progressing very well, William Marcos, the less-active father we are rescuing, and he's getting prepared to baptize his 14-year old son who's also receiving the lessons and progressing well, and then he's gonna get the wife in on church every weekend, and there just won't be any choice. :) They're going to get sealed and raise their other little kids in the gospel!! It is a beautiful thing to see, a lot of joy involved with bringing people to Christ. 

Elder Cajo and I have been working so hard this week in our proselyting area, it doesn't even matter what we have going on at the office, we leave early every day to make it to all of our appointments-lessons we have, too many we don't have time sometimes! I know the Lord is blessing us and helping us. He's definitely helping me to learn how to teach more effectively, with the Spirit, through a great example of Elder Cajo. Really, I don't know anybody more converted than this guy right here! I am really, very blessed this transfer to have such a good companion. 

To answer a couple questions, Mother, no the Peruvians don't seem to care much about their weight. Most of them are on the chubby side...they realize it, and accept it. Ha :) Also, I do go to the temple a lot, and enjoy it very much! Man, I went with Elder Henostroza last week, and had a lot of memorable experiences with that missionary. I'll never forget him. Favorite food here in PerĂº, there's too many good ones to select just one! I like the papa de huancallina, it's a favorite. :) I loved your quote Mother!! Thank you.  I'm excited to do those temple names you are sending. I was not able to send with Sister Douglas a birthday card to Scotty, I didn't have time sorry! I'll still be sending one don't you worry. ;) Tell me how everything goes! I sent with Sister Douglas some clothes I want to be sent home, and a super cool new mission backpack that I want to save with my stuff. Also, I am losing a little bit of weight here! I am not sure why. Even President asked me why the other day, it just happens when you serve in the office I think. Anyways, we're working hard! 

We've been finding new really good investigators as well, and put two more baptismal dates this week! I can't believe how much work is going on here in PerĂº, it's just crazy how the work spreads. I testify that when we do it in the right way, with all the sincerity and loyalty of our heart, the Lord provides as much as our faith allows. The mission's pushing me!! We've got so far to go, so much to grow. I love you all, and hope you are all progressing very well! 

I will write more later, sorry for not writing much today, we're off to a birthday of the little daughter of the Marcos family. It's gonna be a good day! I love you all family!!

Love,

Elder Clarke
 

Letter from 3-8-14

Mother Dearest!! 

How I love you. :) Hope you´re having the very best day ever!!! I loved the picture of the week, Katie´s such a great girl! Tell her I love her a lot, and all of the family. 

left to right: Elders Clarke, Henostroza, Valencia, Cajo, and Wiley

Elder Clarke in the office

I am super sorry, I did not have time to write today! I'm sorry, I honestly did not have anytime cuz of changes, and there's just been so much to do. But it has really been the best time ever!!! We had the most incredible Sunday last week in the chapel, holy cow. And I've been having unforgettable experiences with good comps, like Elder Henostroza. I love this guy, I am gonna miss him so much. He's the assistant now, and Monday is transfer day and he's getting changed. He already has his plans to study at BYU-I, and I'm totally gonna be his life-long bud. Anyways, we had the most incredible time in the temple today.I will talk with you more later!!! LOVE YOU ALL!  Have the best day ever please!!! 

Love,

Elder Clarke


Saturday, March 1, 2014

BEST WEEK EVER!!!

Hello my dear, sweet Family!!!!!

I was SO glad to hear from you all! You all make me so happy, really. I love my family :) Thank you so so much for your kind and thoughtful words, and most of all, your sincere love. I enjoyed so much reading emails from Mother Dear, my sweet Dad, Steve and Krissy!! I will respond to you all I promise! I am not with a whole lot of time to write today. Sounds like the YW conference was very inspiring and a spiritual experience! Also congrats to Mom on the sweet samsung tablet! And everybody for being the great people they are, doing the great things they do. :) Steve, is so awesome for spending so much time with the family! Look at that guy. ;)

Okay, so this has honestly been the best week of my life, so far. This time for reals!!! I have really learned how to be a different person. Just, really change, and be a true disciple of Christ. This is the formula to how to live a successful/happy life: 1.) Never stop going, 2.) Never stop smiling. 

Honestly, all we need to do is live and keep every single commandment and covenant, before anything else, with exactness, diligence, seriousness, and excellence - living the principles and loving the righteousness more than anything else. And second, we need to just make the decision to BE HAPPY, in every moment. If we don´t like something that´s not right, we change it with faith and repentance. If it´s something we can´t change, we take up our cross and humble ourselves with true joy and confidence in God, and serve others. As we make the decision to be happy through every trial here in life, and keep pushing with faith and seriousness, makes us very mature. Deciding to love and serve, and reach out. Every moment. :)

This week we had multi-zone with President, and it was so quemador with the Atonement, it was absolutely incredible. It was intense and powerful, and the Spirit was incredibly strong. I learned there also about the importance of the Holy Ghost, having its presence constantly with us is the greatest achievement we can accomplish here on earth, that should be our constant goal, especially as representatives of Jesus Christ. One of the compromisos, commitments, President gave us at the end of the conference was to smile for a whole 30 minutes starting at 11:00am, every day. It sounds so funny, but really just taking it seriously has made a difference in my week!! I testify making the decision to be happy. 

I have a quick story about that. Yesterday, we left the office a bit late and was kind of unnecessary, and I was a little frustrated about that because I wanted to be in our area proselyting, and negative thoughts started coming to my mind like, ohh...we're not really going to accomplish anything tonight, it´s late, and..we´re already late to the appt.´s, who knows if anything will really happen. (and thinking that before making the 1 hr bus ride to our area kind of disanimates..) anyway, we got on the bus, and it was filled with literally like 60 people, or more..just a tad more crowded than normal. But, there was NO room to breathe at all, just sit there for an hour standing up holding on for dear life to a little bar. Haha. Anyways, in that moment I realized I had forgotten to do my half-hour of smiling. So, I began. And, it´s difficult to keep that up! You have to keep deciding, and tell yourself, that you´re gonna smile and be happy. Anyways, this man walked on the bus, and said hi to us, and was a little strange, but I was smiling and warmly greeted him. About 5 minutes later, he was 2 people away from me, and we started talking. I really was led to the Spirit, and it had the gift of Charity, and really He made me an instrument in His hands to lift up this man and inspire him just with a joyful, sincere, kind conversation. Turns out he´s been inactive for a long long time, after getting married in the temple and having kids, serving in leadership callings in the ward, etc. and by the end he was determined to return back to the church. He was prepared and already felt a desire to, and I was able to really give him the Spirit that day and lift him up. I don´t know what will happen in the future...but I am positive that that experience lifted up this man, and also myself, in a difficult time. That´s how the Lord works, He puts us all through hard trials so that we help each other in love, and are all edified. That was the fastest bus ride of all my time in the office, and I arrived to our area with fuego. (the Spirit) :)

Also, I am learning so much about proselyting in our area! How to be very effective, and do it in the right ways. Elder Cajo is such an incredible example, seriously, I am learning so much from him! He has 9.5 months in the mission, and in about a month and a half he´s going to hit the 2-year mark of being a member!! Seriously, this kid is incredible. So inspiring. Anyways, with so much help of the Lord and less-active members, we found 10 new investigators in 3 days!! It was a blessing from God, letting us know what we´re really capable of doing. We really focused our investigators in asking God, about the Book of Mormon, and receiving an answer. That is really what matters most in the conversion of a person, so that they know. It is so vital! People are capable of doing everything you say, but will only do it, if they really want to, feel inspired, and KNOW. 

Anyways, I am so happy today. We went to the temple, did initiatories, and I wrote down so many names on the temple roll!! Like, all my converts, less actives, members, family, missionaries, etc. And, I saw the most beautiful picture of the Savior ever in the temple, a little/big painting, and didn't have any money, but Elder Cajo bought it for me. It was really like the most joy I've ever felt. We are really becoming so much more united in our companionship, even though it's difficult in a trio. President gives me strength and confidence, of keeping things together in line, he really inspires me so much. I can't even believe how much he works, and just NEVER STOPS. Seriously, just never stop working, inspiring, the fire just never burns out. Eating becomes optional, really become the servants of the Lord. It was funny, I had a little flu, and he's just like, ´´sickness is all mental.´´ just be focused COMPLETELY, 100% in your mind, in the work, have faith, ask help from God, and you just Do It. 

Anyways, it´s been great. Actually though, I have bad news. We got in a taxi the other day, I was so tired I fell asleep, and my memory card of my camera that was in a little adapter in my pocket, fell out and got left in the taxi. That was like all of my pictures since the beginning of my mission. It's a serious bummer...but doesn't get me down too much. I hope you've been saving every picture I send you on the email! I'll buy a new memory card very soon, and send more pictures. Don't worry!! :)

Anyways, please have the best day ever. Make the decision to be happy, and keep every commandment with EXACTNESS. When you magnify your calling, seek greater knowledge, which gives more responsibility and difficulty, and start over. 

I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!!!!! 

Hasta luego, 

Elder Clarke