Monday, June 30, 2014

Best Week Ever!!!

Dear Family,

You are the best family in the world!! Thank you for inspiring me so much, being such good examples to all of our family and our ward and stake. Thank you for not conforming to mediocrity, thank you for going the extra mile and give everything to God. I love you more than you know. Thank you for your support while I'm on the mission, and for writing me such great emails! 

I...man, last Sunday, I really had the BEST birthday ever!! The greatest present from Heavenly Father is that the Spirit was with me so, so strongly...ALL DAY LONG. It was one of those good days. We found a family of 6 and had the most incredibly perfect first lesson with them...nothing could have made my life better. I've never had such a spiritual lesson in all of my life! I think it was because we were focused exactly on the principle Steve taught me in his email, taking advantage of the Spirit in the moment to invite to commit to the gospel, especially baptism! That is so funny that you shared that with me, because it's exactly what we learned in our multi-zone from President Douglas as well!! The Spirit is guiding us to learn and share what the people around us are in need of. I also testify that people will be more willing to live, accept, and commit to the gospel if they feel the Spirit. If they don't...there's no point in teaching them! It is the clave!!! (the key)

The members in our ward are sooo kind...and they went crazy for my birthday for some reason. About four different families made me a cake and invited us over for dinner..no joke! That's basically about what you need to expect here in Perú, just learn to keep putting the food down. Seriously, we ate four dinners that night! I promise you mother I'm getting enough to eat!! I'm not sure why I'm getting skinnier, but I've noticed it too. I think it's because I'm beginning to understand the doctrine of health. Anyways. I loved so much every single thing in the package!!!! It was the BEST EVER!! My favorite, and also the most surprising and random thing, was the harmonica!! Super cool! I figured out how to do it and it's fun. :) I loved the photo, all of the candy and stuff I shared with my companions, etc! We had a fun little party that night in our room...I'll have to show you the photos. I love all of these elders in our little office, it's such a blessing. We work hard, and have fun. Thank you so much again!!!!! :) Oh...something funny as well, the lady who headed up the party the ward threw for me was our investigator Rosario who will soon be getting married with and their whole family will be getting baptized! The date is July 12. Rosio also talked with her husband and they also put a goal to be baptized and get sealed a year later, so we're helping her again. We're having a lot more spiritual lessons now -- I'm learning so much! 

This whole week I am learning SOO much about the Holy Ghost. This week we found some very good new investigators and focus on our missionary purpose and it brings out their spiritual needs, and we feed them. That's what gives you so much joy as a missionary. One investigator with a baptismal date named Yaco is very humble and desirious to change his life, working with goals to overcome smoking and drinking. The gospel applies so perfectly it's amazing. 

If I had more time, I would write a lot more, but this is the most important thing I learned this week that has really changed my whole way of thinking about...everything. Moroni 10:4 ´´Í would exhort you to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, if these things are not true.´´ ....why would we ever ask Him if these things are NOT true? Is there a reason for that part? It's a very specific and powerful invitation from a prophet of the Lord. To receive a real, powerful, and strong testimony that the things of the gospel are true, we must ask God if they are NOT true. Why?? ...because you have ALREADY FELT that these things are true. If you were ever taught the truth of these things correctly, taught by the Holy Ghost, you would already feel that these things are true. If not, the teacher did not do a good enough job bringing the Spirit to testify the truth of those things. The Holy Ghost ALWAYS testifies of the truth. That's its job, and it's a principle that never fails; the Spirit testifies of the truth, but it is just so crucially important that the teacher helps the learner RECOGNIZE the Holy Ghost, explaining to them that it's testifying of this truth being taught. Now, if you have already personally felt that these things are true, even at least a feeling, why would you ask God if these things are true? It doesn't make sense. God wants us and needs us to come to our own conclusions, make our own decisions, and for us to take our own responsibility in this life. He wants us to RELY on the Holy Ghost. Why do you think he leaves us out here in this world so far away from His presence in the middle of all of these challenges that come to be so difficult, so difficult for some that they fall into sin? What's the catch? What does He want us to learn? He knows that if we don't come to be self-sufficient, to be guided personally by the Holy Ghost every day, the greatest Gift that He delivered to dwell with us every second of life, then we won't be able to come like Him. We must learn to act for ourselves - He can't do everything for us to receive eternal life. We must take our own decisions. So, when people learn of the gospel, they must feel the Spirit that it is true. Then, they must ask God if those things they have learned and felt are NOT true, and they will receive a very strong witness that it IS true. We ask God if it's not true, and what happens is all of those very same feelings of the Spirit that we felt in that moment of being taught those principles of the gospel, those very same feelings will return into our hearts, burning, testifying that...no, this actually IS true. It is true. And if we were to ask if something else were not true, and it wasn't the will of God, we would have a stupor of thought, and not good feelings at all would return to us if we had felt them before. We must first study it out in our mind, use our agency to decide and act with faith to what WE FEEL is right, and then ask God if that thing WE FEEL is NOT right, and we will either have a stupor of thought, or the same feelings of the Holy Ghost will return, testifying that yes, it is true. God answers our prayers in this way if we do all we can before asking Him, taking responsibility and using our faith. It's a principle that always works. I personally testify of it! Please, share this with Uncle Ken, Uncle Kevin, and Uncle Kor, and the rest. I think of them all the time. And I know they have felt once before that these things are true. Invite them to ask God if those things are NOT true, and I promise that if they ask with a sincere heart, and with real intent, wanting to know if those things are true, with the intention of repenting and returning with full-purpose of heart...that those same feelings they once felt will rush back into their hearts to motivate and help them in their journey of repentance and making right all that has happened. You have no idea how much they mean to me. Really...throughout my mission I've always pondered about what in the world could help them in the gospel..what to do, and when I learned this principle so clearly this week I immediately knew it was the thing they should do. It all depends on their intention, if they do it with full purpose of heart, to return to God, and repent. If that is the desire of their hearts, it shall be given unto them. I know that God lives, He answers prayers, He loves us and wants us. He wants us to return and wants our will. I testify of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, that He can heal any would, any sin, any damage done, there is nothing that competes with the matchless power of His Atonement. I know that His gospel is true, and it is the only way to receive true happiness in this life, and eternal joy and salvation in the world to come. 

Have the best week ever!!! I love you with all of my heart!

Sincerely,

Elder Clarke

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