Saturday, May 31, 2014

DEAREST MOTHER!!!!!!!

I am so so grateful for your email you just now sent to me. I've been waiting for it :) You are such a kind and incredible mother!! I will always remember you as a woman of great faith. Thank you for teaching me by your example how to selflessly love, how to be diligent and achieve your goals. It is really so inspiring and impressive all the work you have done in your masters degree, even with a quickly moving family and a job and church calling on the side!! This is a difficult little test the Lord is giving you to see if you are prepared for what He has in store for you, to see if you can receive it well and continue in your faith. Just do all you can and know how to do to focus on preparing yourself, being the most holy you can be, exactly obedient with Christ-like attributes, and if you lose yourself in your concentration on Dios you will be led by the Spirit to what your heart most desires and receive it. The Gift of the Holy Ghost is such a sacred thing we have in this life, it is here for our eternal benefit. God requires so much desire out of us to come closer to Him. I testify that He fulfills each and every promise that He ever gives. I realized this week how much power there is in those who study the scriptures so diligently and who delight their souls and minds in them. The Doctrine is so clear, so simple and direct - it is FILLED in the scriptrues, it covers the Book of Mormon. We need to understand it better than any other thing in this whole entire world, because it is the Plan of Salvation, it is our destiny. There are so many difficult decisions and challenges we have in this life, and if our minds are not always focused on the Doctrine at all times, in all situations and places, we will discover sorrow and will need to return to the pain with much pain, repent, and give up our past and increase an exceedingly greater amount of faith to persevere in the path and understand Him. The adversary understands so well the Doctrine, it is amazing. He just rejects it, and twists in his own false doctrines to confuse the children of men and bring them anguish and misery to their souls. It´s so simple to discern the good and evil, and we must be exceedingly bold in making each decision to stay as far away as possible from the his evil influence. We just finished watching the movie ´´The Testaments´´ together for P-day, and it´s so full of doctrine! Both Helam the father, the craftsman guy´s girlfriend, and Kohor the bad guy. It´s surprising how Kohor always throws back an answer so quickly that is filled with the wrong doctrine - he understands well his purpose. He tries to cover the eyes of faith from the children of men and leave them for themselves in the darkness. The purpose of our Heavenly Father and of this great missionary work is just the opposite, reaching out to all, ALL, to help them have faith in Jesus Christ, repent, and be saved. I could not be more thankful for the gospel of Jesus Christ. This week more than any, nothing has meant more to me in my life. Honestly, nothing else matters. I know it is true and it is my intention to live it faithfully until the day that I die. 

Family, you are all so beautiful!!! I love to see all of your smiling faces, your lovely pictures, and to hear about your lives. I am so glad to hear you are doing well and happy :) The Lord blesses you people very much. I hope you can feel that love, and recognize as well that I love you sincerley. Please send greetings and my love to all of our relatives. Thank you for being such an incredible support to me on this sacred mission, and for inspiring and guiding me along the way. 

When I saw the picture of Adam, I shouted and just about jumped out of the chair. He is a different person than who I remember, it was sad to see him so big! He's so old...I can't believe it. He's such a good little brother, I love him lots and am glad he's succeeding in the running races and in life. I hope he never stops smiling and never loses that innocent joy and happiness in life. Congrats to Scotty for getting perfect grades!! You are a diligent man! And I am so glad for your smartness, and for your friendship to all. Katie, I love you a lot and hope you continue to have life-changing spiritual experiences at church every Sunday. Steve, I hope you know how much I truly love and admire you, and how I try to follow the good example you have set. Thank you for being so loving and friendly to all, and for inspiring me along the way. Thank you so much for your email last week!!! I ate it up. I´m fasting today, and am really looking for the spiritual. I could never thank Dad enough for the legacy he has set for this Clarke family, of hard-working diligence and commitment to do that which is right. That's what I love so much about Dad, his commitment to the Lord, and serving His children. Thank you for that sacred example I'll never forget. And Mother Dearest, for the way you have always treated me since my childhood up through my difficult teenage years, even when I don't understand it, I will never stop seeking to understand the Christlike love in every difficult situation with the determination to apply it as an active agent. This gift you have given me is greatest of all, and it will serve me to love all of God's children with perfect hope for the well-being of their souls. Know and realize how far your love has reached. Always remember that I am giving my very best here in Perú, and that by this great faith in us the lives of many sweet, humble and pure Peruvians will be changed forever. Isn't there such great joy and peace in fulfilling the will of God. Thank you for all of your help, and keep pressing on in this great cause.

Love,

Elder Clarke

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Dear Family!! 

I hope you´re all very happy and receiving blessings! I love my dearest old family!!! Thanks so much for writing me and for all of the love, encouragement and support. I´m grateful for all of your pure goodness. Know also that I have truly had the best week ever. Time in the mission is a blessed kind of time. There´s so much at stake, and so much spiritual strength. The sweetest gospel truth for me is to have the assurance that I have a Heavenly Father who infinitely loves me - no matter what. I thank Him for the opportunity to repent and develop my faith in His Son Jesus Christ to do His will. I was so grateful to read Steve´s email this week about seeking to understand His will through fasting - I was so inspired. Thank you so much. 



A photo of our zone at the conference with Elder Grow! 
Our zone, Chorrillos, is easily the biggest zone in the mission, 
because it includes the office and is a big powerful stake. 
There´s like 22 missionaries in our zone.


Today we had a fun P-day! We went to the very tippy point of Callao, the part of the map of Lima where it´s a point furthest out to the ocean. It was super fun! There´s like an island out there..which is massive, and there´s a prison on that island where all of the really bad people live.





















I´m so happy for you Mother for working so hard! Also for all the good preparations you are doing for the priest/laurels summer camp next week. That´s very exciting and fun :) I´m so glad that you liked the card I sent you, and also that Scotty had a very fun birthday. I love Scotty! Haha, also tell Adam he needs to learn to play the violin. It´s my dream someday to learn! By the way did you all go on a fun hike during Fathers and Sons?

Anyways, I´m sorry we don´t have a lot of time, we´re heading out to the area now. I hope you know how much I love all of you. Please keep pushing forward with more faith than ever!! Oh, by the way, it´s Elder Cajo´s birthday on the 28th, wednesday. Send like a cool gangster BYU hat and a shirt, I´d love for him to have it as a gift. This next week will be a busy, but also best week ever. It´s the last week before transfers the following monday!

We also went to this beach where there was a million little rocks, big ones too, the smoothest rocks I've ever seen!! All of them, just millions. It was so fun, we skipped rocks and I kept some good ones. I was finding seashells and other interesting objects. Peru here is just crazy! SOoo different...sooo much different than the United States. I can´t even describe it. It´s just...Perúuuu
Have the best day ever family! I love you all!!!!

Love,

Elder Clarke

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Dearest Family of mine!!

Dearest Family of mine!!

I hope you all know how much I love you!! With all my guts!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are all so beautiful, a gorgeous family, and I was so happy talking with you all and so happy to see you. Please know how wonderful you all are. Thank you for supporting me so much and being there for me, loving me. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO SCOTTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I hope you had the best party ever! I love you so much, and am excited for when you receive the birthday card I sent you this week. (also sent a Mother´s Day card/decoration..)

Today we went to the temple, my companion and I and the assistants, and I think I it was the best, most spiritually uplifting time I´ve ever gone to the temple. Ever. It really helps that these last couple weeks the whole mission, and President Douglas, have been focused on receiving personal revelation to understand the Atonement and teach and lift our investigators with more power. Today I learned so much about the Atonement. I am 100% for sure about the reality of the Holy Ghost, and the revelation that comes when we apply the Doctrine of Christ and desire to know the mysteries of God. 

Why is there so much injustice in the world. Why is it necessary that people pass through so many trials, pains, afflictions, and sufferings in this life. I've really been thinking hard about this. There's a lot of sad things I see here in Peru sometimes, but also lots of good things. I feel I haven't experienced such sorrow really in my life, that I haven't experienced so many afflictions so difficult as others, because I've always been in the straight and narrow trying to do what's right (although it still has been very difficult), but I have a testimony of the safety and protection that the gospel brings. But some people...man, really are sad in life without hope. This life is very difficult for some. We can tell how difficult it was for Adam and Eve to have to fall and partake of the fruit - it really must have broke their hearts. They give an amazing example of how to apply the Atonement, directly. We must accept the injustice of things, and also do everything we can to be most obedient as possible to bring justice, changing our environment for good as an agent who makes decisions. It's a clear definition of Jesus Christ as well. Do you think it's just that He suffered every affliction that ever existed, experienced every sorrow to its fullest degree, although He had never once made any little error at all? He has always lived the gospel and been in the straight and narrow; He IS THE WAY. Gave everything, and still suffered greatly - too much. Does it seem just for somebody like us to make it to celestial glory and eternal life in never-ending happiness with a perfect, and just Being, when we have made so many stupid mistakes over and over? But how could God have provided us eternal life any other way, than through a Redeemer and Savior? It is a very difficult point of the doctrine to comprehend, to accept the injustices (that are often made against us), against our will, and strive diligently to obey with exactness the commandments, and trying to bring about much justice and good by our own free will and desire. This is when we become as a child, meek, submissive, humble, full of love and willing to submit ourselves to God's will, like a child submits to his Father. Anytime any injustice happens or comes upon us in life, always think of the Atonement and apply the Doctrine of Christ, with faith, repentance, remembering covenants of obedience and sacrifice, striving to have the Spirit, and endure to the end with a perfect brightness of hope and love for God and for all men. Do all you can to change the situation, and become more like our Savior - more comprehension, justice, and an enormously merciful love. 

My heart rejoices in the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation that our Father in Heaven has made for us. It is glorious and brings the Spirit into my life the more I understand and live it. I am sincerely desirious for mis hermanos Peruanos to come to a knowledge, and lasting conversion of these eternal truths. I love the Savior with all my heart, and am honestly beginning to RELY on the Spirit. I finally understand what that phrase really means now, as I've been striving to teach more powerfully the Doctrine of Christ in our proselyting area. There's so many little repeated phrases that missionaries can say to just generalize things and just get lessons done quick and easiest, habits and routines that are just apostasy. I've been holding myself back from doing any of that so strictly, focusing only on teaching pure Doctrine of Christ that applies to people´s lives to help them change, that now I can't even revert back to a general routine to save myself, even as a back up plan. The whole teaching must be run by the Spirit, or else you simply do not teach. It´s the law - from Doctrine and Covenants. So it's become so important to focus on having the Spirit at all times, and never let your standard of faith down a little bit. The process changes you, and I feel closer to God. I know that He lives, loves me, and that we can have a very personal relationship with Him if we seek Him. If we come close to Him, he comes closer to us. It's a principle of how much we really love Him and His way, and He will open unto us the mysteries of heaven. 

I'm so sorry this is such a long email, I have nothing else to say. Other than my pure, exceeding joy that bursts out of me for the opportunity to be a missionary. A blessing beyond belief - I can't believe how much Heavenly Father loves and trusts in me. Please do everything you can to personalize your relationship with God. I love you family and hope you feel more His love!!!!!!

Have the best day ever!!!!!!!! :)

Love,

Elder Clarke

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Happy Mother´s Day!

How is my dear family doing!!

Hi everyone, I hope you all had a fun fiesta for Cinco de Mayo!! Sounds like a good time, I loved seeing the pictures! Dad looks really good in a mexican moustache. :) haha. I love seeing my family - I hope you all know how much I love you. When I see you again, I´m going to love you even more!! Thank you for your kind message Mother Dearest. I hope you have a fabulous Mother´s Day tomorrow!!! I am dearly sorry I didn´t send a card yet...I bought one today, and it will be in the mail on Monday. :) Also one for Scotty´s birthday! Coming up fast!! That kid is growing up like crazy. Well I hope it can be made up for that we get to chat tomorrow on Skype. I´m really excited! I want the precious opportunity to bear my testimony to all of you. I´m also excited to chat more with Steve. Please try to have the grandparents be involved as well! I promise this time it will be a lot better of a connection. We´ll look at each other on the computer and then I´ll pick up the phone next to me and call you on it. It´ll work out perfectly :) 

We had such an inspiring conference with Elder Grow!!! He has so much experience in the Work of Salvation, I was so thankful for his training. After he met with all of the missionaries, there was another meeting where all of the ward councils, bishops, and stake presidents in our Lima mission got together and I think he really helped them understand how to work better in this new inspired program. It was so fun!! I love being with the missionaries, especially my companion Elder Cajo. He inspires me more than anybody and we always have a lot of fun and have incredible spiritual conversations. He will have to talk with you all tomorrow :) in perfect english! And also Elder Fiallos, from Honduras. He´s a champ. 

I am so grateful for the Atonement in my life. Words wouldn´t ever be able to describe the feelings and the spiritual strength that comes from studying this precious, priceless gift. It´s the pearl of the gospel. I was studying Elder Bednar´s talk this week, ´´The Atonement and the Journey of the Mortal Life´´ (bad translation from spanish), and this sentence transformed my understanding about how we can apply the Atonement to our lives for the better, and what it really means: ´´Los elementos...del cuerpo están siempre sujetos a la influencia del pecado, de la corrupción y de la muerte. Sin embargo, podemos aumentar nuestra capacidad de superar los deseos de la carne y las tentaciones ´´por la expiación de Cristo´´. Cuando cometemos errores, al transgredir y pecar, podemos arrepentirnos y llegar a ser limpios mediante el poder redentor de la expiación de Jesucristo.´´ Basically, our capacity to overcome the carnal desires and temptations of the flesh increases as we repent. When we repent, truly truly repent, we receive the Spirit and receive more power to overcome the next temptations, and change our human nature. That right there gives me all the desire I need to repent, every SINGLE night. For anything, as long as it is sincere and makes sense. The Spirit comes, and it is my favorite experience every time. I bear honest testimony of it. I am so grateful for the Savior´s redeeming power to help me through those temptations and come to fulfill my dreams, living the way that God does, although it is so extremely difficult here in this world. I know that when I live His commandments, I am more like Him. I love my Heavenly Father with all of my heart, and His Son Jesuschrist, and I love the precious company of the Holy Ghost. There´s nothing more I want in this life. I see so many rich people here in San Isidro, in Lima, also in our area of Barranco which is right next to the beach, this famous touristy town, and it just amazes me how riches can corrupt people and their precious hearts. At first, it surprised me. A lot, and I couldn´t even understand it, or why. Now I can understand that it all depends upon what, or in whom, we put our trust in. All of our confidence, and all of our heart. What, or who would it be? If it is not fully, 100% in our Savior, Jesus Christ, we are built upon sandy ground. We show that our trust is in Him when we sincerely, and willingly decide to trust in His gospel, and LIVE it. Every single part of it. Not just the good and happy parts, not just what we think we can handle (many times we make ourselves believe we can´t handle what we really can), but ALL of it. He promises to us that we WILL be able to handle all that He requires of us. He will not demand that we perish without cause - we must trust that he is the Supreme Creator, and is wiser than all, and must humble ourselves to that gospel truth. Part of His gospel, His pure doctrine, is that we pass through trials. For good reason too - they increase our faith and bring us to repent, and then He lifts us up. The mission is so incredibly difficult to do sometimes, but I am so happy and excited to keep being a missionary. All of my life. That fact is more instilled into me than anything else. It doesn´t even feel like I´m a temporarily full-time missionary here for 2 years; I just feel like I´m a servant of the Lord, and it is burned into my mind that I´m a missionary for life. I will always live His gospel. I will always bear the burdens of my fellowmen, and try to become more like Jesus Christ, keep His commandments, and invite all to come unto Him. I will keep reading His pure doctrine, and practicing to teach it with power and authority. Anyways, on the mission right now I´m being faced with countless opportunities every day to put all of my confidence in the Lord, stand out, be different, and reach out. Talk with EVERYbody. President Douglas is on FIRE right now. He, as well as all of us, has learned a great deal from this conference with Elder Grow, and the mission is about to explode with Effective planning and goals, finding FAMILIES to teach and baptize to edify the Church, and to exert a LOT more faith in ALL of our efforts. Exert the faith also to receive revelation in all of the places of our stewardship. I could not be more excited I tell you. Once I leave this office, I´m going to explode. 

I have great news!!!!!!!!!!! The strike let up in the judicial power of the Government here in Perú, it let up two days ago, and this coming week the Durán´s will be able to get married and baptized next week along with their son Nelson! Right in time for their Fecha Bautismal. It´s amazing! And a miracle because we´ve been trying with them so hard for so long. With all the faith we can muster. This family is on 2 Nephi 10, reading together as a family a chapter a day. They are incredible, and the father, Henrie, is so commited, it´s amazing. The mother, Rosario, is so faithful and is always there giving her all. I cannot tell you how much I love them! And their other son, Diego, will be getting ready to be baptized the Saturday after. I´ll let you all know what happens. Also, the Marcos family, although many of their family members keep getting sick, they are all progressing and especially the mother, Rosio, who is working towards her baptismal date for June 7. Please pray specifically for her - we need her to be strong! She´s also passing through health problems with her shoulder. Her son, Fabio who was baptized a couple months ago, is the BOMB. Sharing the gospel with all of his friends, one of which is named Philip and is getting ready for his baptism also on May 31. He´s really awesome and is progressing a lot!!! Please pray that he is helped to find an answer as well, due to his faithful diligence in his investigation. He´s a great young man of 18 years, and very smart. Also, please pray that Sandra can figure out her situation with her pareja..(pair?) her..couple. She needs to figure things out to fulfill the law of chastity to be baptized, but has a GREAT desire, and she progresses very well with the BOM and prayers. Help her to find a spiritual answer and strength.

I will talk with you more tomorrow! We will see you then please!!

Exceedingly great love,

Elder Clarke

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Love the Savior

Dear Family,

Hi everybody! Is everyone doing well? Having the best day ever?? I sure hope so. I love my family more than anything, and I'm truly grateful to be able to talk with you each week. Thank you for your beautiful email Mother!! And thank you Katie also for your email, you are all so kind. Congratulations on your graduation Mom!!! Holy cow, that came and went fast! I'm proud to have such a smart Mom :) You all look great in the pictures! I can't believe how tall Scotty is growing!! Crazy. :) Also I'm glad that Katie had such a fun time at Prom, and got invited to be in Chamber next year! That is super excited, and a great blessing. I was also very happy to hear that Grandpa was able to give an inspired patriarchal blessing to Katie. I pray for each and every one of you all the time!

I am reading a talk about the Atonement preparing for the visit of Elder Grow of the Seventy. It is called ´´´The Miracle of the Atonement´´ and it has really inspired the way I think about the Atonement - the Savior suffered the price of each and every sin and transgression for all men in the history of the world, AND he suffered every pain and sorrow ever felt by mankind. The first part, suffering the sins, was definitely necessary in the Plan of Salvation to make the redemption available to us for eternal life. The second part...why was it necessary? Or was it? That's a humble thought to meditate on, and think hard about the kind of person Jesus Christ really is. President Douglas and Elder Grow asked us to study that talk that he gave in General Conference in April 2011, and they want us to study it before the conference we'll have with him when he visits our mission this next week. I am very excited!! It will all be centered on the Atonement, and I am 100% sure I need to more deeply enrich my testimony and conversion by applying and experiencing the Atonement. On Wednesday all of the zones of Lima will be invited. There will also be a special musical number, and President asked me to organize it! Makes me nervous out of my socks. We'll just do something simple from the hymnbook, but with passion, ´´´More Holiness Give Me´´. I hope everything goes well. 12 Hermanas and 14 Elders, I'll conduct and we'll have a good pianist. I think we'll switch off a verse or two with just Hermanas singing then just Elders. I'm not 100% sure yet and it's a little stressful. Write me and give suggestions today if you can! :) 

I had a special experience being with President Douglas this week. The first time I've ever been down to the south part of our mission! He called me one day and said, hey we're doing a district leader training down in Pisco tomorrow, would you like to come with me? Haha. So we left the next morning for like a 4 hour trip in the van together down to Pisco.  It was special one-on-one time to learn more about his character and we had some inspiring conversations. One of which I won't forget, as we were conversing about many various aspects of being in the Lord's service, was when I asked him what was the most valuable thing he's done to become a powerful servant of the Lord, he was a bit surprised, but responded quickly and firmly that it was purely loving the Savior. Just, love Him. It surprised me a bit as well. How do we, or can we, love Jesus Christ, Him who we have not seen? And then everything else fell into place as my memory brings back to me all of these recent experiences in the mission of giving more and more to truly love the investigators and members in our ward, more diligently serve the missionaries who call me every day, and of those when I've been striving to strengthen my personal commitment to doing the simple things that bring me closer to my Father in Heaven. If we throw every little or big effort we constantly give into the perspective of loving more our Redeemer, I'm sure that things will be and feel different, and the light of Christ will enlighten our understanding. We will ALWAYS know what we have to do. Just keep giving, and doing all which is good, kind, and right. Anyways, we drove back to Lima that same day with the assistants and talked about the progress of the mission, which was also spiritually guided. We're trying to really train new leaders to come forth in this mission, the last couple groups of missionaries who went home left a huge hole. 

We are teaching two amazing families that brings me so much joy. Familia Durán and Familia Marcos. Rosio, the wife of William Marcos the returned less active, is slowly progresing towards a baptismal date, and it's so perfect because their whole family is incredibly faithful and reading their scriptures together every night, and praying, and at church activities and meetings, and their love is just incredibly at a higher level of sincerity and purity than I've seen before. It's a beautiful family. I hope so much that it can become eternal!!! We had a lesson with all of them last night...and we focused the Atonement of Jesus Christ to help their family become more united, as they always strive to increase their unity. It was a very beautiful and spiritual moment.

Rosario, the wife of the Family Durán, is the most faithful investigator I've ever seen! She's been 100% active at every meeting and activity for the last 3 months and wants to get married and baptized so bad!! Like..she reminds us, and is sad to not be able to yet. She's amazing. Her husband is very faithful and willing as well, and it's beautiful when they come together. They are praying daily as husband and wife, every night, praying that the strike in the government associations will end so they can get married. I am not sure exactly what it is called, but the people who work to get legal documents for people and help them to get civilly married and stuff like that are on strike against the Peruvian government, so we're all just waiting for that to stop so they can get the necessary documents to get married and then get baptized. Their two children also have baptismal dates, and we were with all of them together last night as well. It makes me so happy to see such faithful people! We've heard in the news that the strike might end this Monday (we've been waiting for it about a month and a half now), so please pray fervently. 

I love you all tons!! Please have a great day and be happy! This morning, my scripture study totally changed my attitude and day around. Don't forget to read your scriptures, and focus on the Atonement and Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's the meat of the whole church, and it never stops giving. 

Love,

Elder Clarke