Monday, April 6, 2015

18 months to change a person...

I'm not really sure where to start, and I'm not really sure where these last 18 months have gone. All I know is that this mission has changed my life. Coming on my mission I was searching to find my Heavenly Father, to serve Him faithfully, and to feel His powerful and undying love for me. Ending my mission I can now testify that our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ live, for I have felt their guidance and Holy Spirit more closely than ever in my life. Serving our Heavenly Father faithfully turned out to be far more rewarding than I imagined it would be. To leave all personal and worldly cares behind, including family, studies, friends, music, naps:), and freetime of any kind turned out to be the greatest blessing. As my love for Him grew, the more I wanted to serve Him, and the more obedient I wanted to be. And I discovered the greatest gift of all, that my Heavenly Father loves me. I think it was something that I had heard since I was a little girl in Primary, but maybe it wasn't something I believed with all my heart. How could a perfect and all seeing Being love a selfish sinner like myself? I had never done anything worth "writing home to mom about." And I definitely had my share of faults and flaws. So why would He love someone like me? Well I was convinced that the only reason was because it says so in the scriptures. That out of obligation he loved little Julie Clark. So I came on my mission with that, and I hit the pavement and started running and found that the mission is really hard. Much harder than I had imagined, but then miracles started to happen, and it was still really hard but at the same time it was all so beautifully worth it. Giving 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to share a message about a 14 year old boy who lived more than a hundred years ago and who had seen God the Father and Jesus Christ, and explaining to families why in the world that should matter to them and how it could help them eternally was at times physically and emotionally draining, but at the same time the most joy my spirit had ever felt. As I went along, I found my own testimony of this 14 year old boy, and the Book of Mormon, and the only true and living Church on the earth was growing. As I testified of the truth of this message to families in their one room homes, sitting on their beds because they don't even own a chair, and telling them that through obedience to this wonderful gospel they would have mansions in the Heavens with the Father my testimony grew. I now know without a doubt that Heavenly Father doesn't love me out of obligation. He loves me because I truly am His daughter. He loves all of His children, and I'm not sure how I didn't see it before, but by and through His Son Jesus Christ we know that He loves us. This past Thursday, more than a thousand years ago, Jesus Christ suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane for the sins, problems, trials, and pain of all human kind. Of every person who had ever lived, who lived, and who would live. And then the next day, on that Friday He chose to let the people torture, mock, spit and finally crucify the only perfect being who had ever lived. The beloved Friend, Master and Teacher was gone, and the next day on Saturday was preaching in the Spirit World. He hadn't even stopped working! And on that wonderful Easter Sabbath morning He was resurrected by and through His unworldly and Godly power. And then today, Monday, almost 200 years ago the Church of Jesus Christ was established on the earth once again restoring all powers and keys to seal families together forever. I know that my Savior lives, He loves me. These past 18 months have changed me because I gave all myself to Him. He changed me, and I will forever be grateful for His love for me. Always remember the miracles He gives us! I love you all!

Signing off for the last time from Bolivia,
Hermana Clark

Monday, March 30, 2015

Tender Mercies and Miracles

It's been a good week here serving in Bolivia. We had the wonderful opportunity to teach the mom of Mariela. She's less active as well. The entire family is except the dad and one of the daughters. I know I've shared this with you, but I remember that one of my first lessons here in this ward was with Hno. Guanacoma, and how he told us he just wanted his family to come to church with him. We started working with them, and little by little these past two transfers I have seen miracles happen with this family! Watching Hno. Guanacoma enter the church building alone, and save a whole row of seats for his 5 daughters, and then sit and wait until I thought no one was going to come, and then to see them all file in and sit with him was one of the biggest tender mercies I've seen in my mission. And to watch Hna. Emma do everything in her power to get baptized, and to watch her husband's heart soften was a miracle. And that we are planning a Family Home Evening with the whole family! My entire mission has been filled with tender mercies and miracles, and I think the biggest is the change I have seen in myself. This gospel really does change people, and the Book of Mormon really does bring us closer to Christ. My testimony of this wonderful book has grown bigger than I ever thought was possible. The mission is a miracle, and tender mercy. I love the mission because of all I have learned, and all I have been able to do here serving the Lord with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. He has blessed me so much! :)

Yesterday we couldn't leave the house until 6 in the afternoon because of the elections. On election day there can't be meetings of big groups because they think that there will be drinking and people changing the votes, so actually 2 days before there are no kinds of meetings. So I didn't get to see the Woman's Conference, but I'm sure it was wonderful!! Sounds like it was really good! And we didn't have church yesterday either, and we stayed in the house studying until 6 and then we had normal appointments. It was a really good Sunday though. It was wonderful to feel the spirit so strong in my studies. Today my plans for the day are big big big! I'm going to read my Book of Mormon. Haha. I'm pretty excited about it, just to read all day. :) Hope all is going well with you!! Have fun in Texas!! And enjoy the plane ride mom!! :) Love you and have a great week!

Love a million cuñape!!
Hermana Clark

Monday, March 23, 2015

Hola! Happy Birthday Kelsey!!

Well, what a week! It was kinda crazy, but it ended well. Emma had a lot of things happen to her this week, and I knew that the adversary was working hard so she wouldn´t be baptized. It even came to her husband changing his mind and not supporting her decision to be baptized. Here, if a spouse is getting baptized and the other is not a member, they have to sign a consent form. And he told her he would not sign it. She came to us so heartbroken, and we had to tell her that without that signature she couldn't be baptized. That night she had her interview, and afterwards we kneeled down and prayed asking that the Lord could soften her husband´s heart. We hugged and she went home to talk to her husband. The next morning we called and she said that he still wouldn´t sign it. Later that day the same news came. But the whole time Hna Emma was so positive. She told us, Don´t worry, i know he´ll soften his heart and sign it. So we kept planning for the baptism. Finally Friday morning she calls us in tears saying that he signed the paper. She shared with us that she shared her testimony with her husband, and that´s when he softened his heart. I´ve never seen anyone work so hard to be baptized and make this covenant with our Heavenly Father. It truly was a miracle and it was beautiful to watch her husband´s heart change. On Saturday, her son Jonathan baptized her. He is a recent convert as well, and he was so happy to baptize her. He shared his testimony a few Sundays back that he always prays that his mom would be baptized, and how excited he was that she would be getting baptized soon. And to have the chance to see him baptize his mom, I can´t quite explain the joy I felt. It was something so beautiful and without words to explain. Emma says with the same surety as when she said her husband would sign her paper, that one day her husband will have his own desire to be baptized and make covenants with the Lord. I love the faith of Hna Emma. What an example she is to me. She has blessed my life and taught me so much.

I was studying a talk from the Liahona called When Doubts and Questions Arise. I love this talk. It talks about how questions are necessary for our spiritual growth, and searching for answers in the Lord´s way is what we need to do. We should doubt our doubts before we should doubt our faith. Last night a less active told us that she had doubts about the commandments, and doesn´t want to keep them anymore. She said that she knows the Book of Mormon is true, but she doesn´t know if these commandments are true. We shared with her that she needs to search the scriptures and ask the Lord in prayer. After inviting her to actually live the commandments to see if they are true, she said it was too hard for her but that she would try, even though she was afraid she would fail. Sometimes as members we feel like a lot is expected of us, and there is. But Heavenly Father also knows that we aren´t perfect, and that is why He provided a Savior. And I am so grateful that He did. I can´t think of a greater love than that. I love our Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus Christ. And I love His gospel, and I know that it´s true. I love you all so much!! Have a wonderful week, full of miracles and missionary experiences!!!

Love you to Bolivia and back,
Hermana Clark

Monday, March 16, 2015

Buenos Dias! And Happy Birthday Audrey!!!!

Well, I hear that it was pi day yesterday, and that it's St. Patrick's Day tomorrow! I didn't know, but happy pi day and St. Patrick's Day! :) Sounds like you had a really busy week, and that's fun you got to see Ivy, Beck, and Holland! They sound so grown up! My talk yesterday went well. It was pretty funny because when I got up there my paper flew away because of the fans so I just had to wing it, but it turned out pretty well. Next week we will be having ward conference, and then the next week there isn't church because of the elections here. And then the next week is General Conference! I always get excited for General Conference. This week we had a Zone Conference with President and Hermana Willard. That was really awesome, I loved it. We learned about the revelation through prayer. I also gave my "last testimony" which was sad. Every time we have a conference, and it's the last one of the transfer, all the missionaries who are going home soon share their testimony, so I shared my testimony and another Elder who is going home also shared his. Well, seeing that my entire mission I never thought I would have to do it. I can't believe how fast time goes. But it was nice to share my testimony with the other missionaries. Afterwards President Willard spoke again and he said, "I've never been able to say this in a conference where missionaries were going home, but this time I can say, if all of the elders could learn to be like Elder... and all the hermanas could learn to be like Hermana Clark, I would be the happiest and most blessed mission president in the entire world." And he went on to talk about how in our entire missions we have progressed, and in every interview he has seen a huge difference from the last interview. And that where we are now is just incredible and how proud of us he is. And then he went on to read Alma 48:17.. It was really neat to hear my mission president talk like that because I had never heard him say something like that after the "last testimonies." I am so grateful for President and Hermana Willard. They are always teaching me so much, and the just love us all so much. It's incredible.

This week Hna Emma is getting baptized, and I've never seen her more excited! Her son Johnathan is going to baptize her. :) We also visited Hna Mariela and her husband Raul yesterday. They're doing really well, and they're progressing so much! I love being a missionary, and I love helping families become eternal families. What a blessing and a privilege it is to be here in Bolivia serving the Lord. :)

Also, here's your funny story for the day, we were crossing the street the other day right as a bus was passing by. As I was getting closer to the bus I saw that rice was falling out. "How weird" I thought. Then I looked up to see a little boy sticking his head out the window just letting all his rice out. Haha I knew the feeling, having had experienced that once on a trip to Utah... Haha and I thought, the bus driver must feel like Jeremy! Poor guy! Anyways, I almost got hit by the upchuck, but luckily it missed me by a few inches. :) Have a wonderful week! Love you all!!

Love you to Bolivia and the moon and back!
Hermana Clark

Monday, March 9, 2015

Where did this week go?

I can't believe how fast this week went.. My Bishop has already assigned me a talk for next Sunday because he says it'll be my last in the ward because of elections, and general conference.

I feel like everyone always says how fast this time in the mission goes, but you kinda just don't believe them until you're there.. And then this week I was thinking about Lesson 3, the Doctrine of Jesus Christ, and I realized that it's like the mission. You start out the mission clean from all sin, and then you just go by faith. You're in a new place, new food, new people, and lots of time, a new language.

But then you get used to it, and you might even think, "Yeah, I got this. No prob." But that's where repentance comes in. You humble yourself enough to be worthy of His guidance again, and then along comes Sunday. I don't think in my entire life I've seen weeks go by so fast, and every Sunday I'm thinking.. "Whoa, how is it Sunday again??"

As your mission passes, you start to have a stronger testimony in the gospel, and you start to realize just how important baptism is. I think in almost every prayer I thank my Heavenly Father that I am part of His Church, and that I have been baptized by someone holding His authority. I am so grateful for the other covenants I have made with my Heavenly Father in the temple. What an amazing Gospel we are a part of! I can hardly get my brain around it.

And then just like in Lesson 3, the next step is the gift of the Holy Ghost. How amazing is it that Jesus Christ left us with this comforter. And that's truly what He is. As I listen and learn more about this gospel, I feel comfort. Comfort in this gospel, that my family is eternal, that my Heavenly Father loves me and has a plan for me, and that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to atone for me. I can't think of a greater love than that.

And then there comes a time in your mission where you have to endure to the end. Today dad wrote me (and I hope it's okay to share), "I know where you're at right now. Not having known what it is like to have a family, I could have stayed out on my mission for the rest of my life and would have been very happy. You see the light at the end of the tunnel and just wish it would just go away. I asked for an extension, but they didn't need me to stay. My advice, I know that you are working very hard already and you are finding new people to teach. Keep that up until you walk on the plane and then find someone on the ride home to teach. Take time with those you have grown to love there. You live a long way from them. Record as much as you can for posterity and live each day to the fullest. That 'day' will come and there is nothing you can do about it. You will leave a part of your heart in Bolivia. The ward members will remember you, your investigators will love you and the Lord knows that you loved them back. Heavenly Father loves you for taking care of and helping His children to return back to Him. He will be there some day to greet you home to Him and there will be the people you touched with your spirit while you served there. He will wrap His arms around you and then He will say, 'Well done and Group hug' and everyone will join in. It will be a joyful moment! But, until that time, you will be starting a new phase in your life, that will bring you just as much and more joy and happiness than what you have felt thus far in your life." I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I do wish it would just go away. But I also trust in my Heavenly Father, and I know everything will be okay in the end. "Hold on. Keep trying. God loves you. Things will improve. Christ comes to you in His 'more excellent ministry' with a future of 'better promises.'” I love serving the Lord here in Bolivia, and I love being a missionary for this beautiful, wonderful, and perfect church.

Sounds like you all had a fun week! Our investigators are great! Emma will be getting baptized in two weeks, and Mariela came to church yesterday. We also were able to find new people to teach this week! Heavenly Father continues to bless us everyday. I love you all so much! Just because I'm sad to be finishing the mission doesn't mean I don't love you. I think I love you all more than I could have ever imagined. The mission has shown to me just how important families are, and I am so grateful to have you as my eternal family! I love you! Have a wonderful week full of miracles!

Love you to Bolivia and back,

Hermana Clark

Monday, March 2, 2015

Who's up for round two?? And Happy Birthday Michael!

Transfers are always an adventure. Well my wonderful Hna. Atiz was moved to another area. She had been here since September so it was time for her to go, sadly. But I am now with Hna. Guaman! She was my companion in Bermejo so I'm really happy to see her again! When I was in Tarija I talked with my comp at the time and told her I wanted to see Hna. Guaman again because I hadn't seen her since she left Bermejo back in June! And when Hna. Guaman got here she told me that with her old comp they were talking about people they would like to see again and Hna. Guaman said, "I want to see Hna. Clark.." Haha and now we're comps. So we're both happy about that, although I was sad to see Hna. Atiz go. She was an awesome companion. I've been really blessed with all of my comps here in the mission.

This week has been a week of miracles. Heavenly Father never ceases to bless us. Although some sad things happened with some of our investigators, some really awesome things happened with some others. The Guanacoma family is one of my favorite families here in Santa Cruz. They are all members, and we have been teaching hna Mariela who is less active. She is just the best. I love teaching her, and we have been teaching her husband as well. Yesterday we taught them, and her husband said that he has been praying about all that we are teaching them, and he feels good about it. He feels like he needs to keep listening to us, and that God isn't going to tell him to do that unless it's something from Him. Hna Mariela came to church yesterday, and stayed the three hours. Her husband wasn't there but their little three year old daughter already made him promise that he'll come next week. In our appointment yesterday he said he is excited to come to church next week. Yesterday we taught him about the Book of Mormon and he is really excited to read it. He just keeps telling us that everything just makes so much sense. And it's true. Everything in the gospel of Jesus Christ just makes so much sense. I'm so grateful for all the people that we are teaching, even when they experience hard times and have doubts they always receive answers to their prayers.

That sounds so fun about Jamie's play, and that Beck and Holland were in town! I'm glad the play went well and that's awesome our home teacher and his family went to the play! That is how you magnify your calling! I can't believe how big his kids are now since I used to babysit them! He's taller than I am! Haha. And it sounds like your mario cart skills have gotten better! You might give me a run for my money! I can't believe that Nathan gets home this week! Where has the time gone? That's awesome though. That will be fun to see everyone. Well fam, I love you all so much! Thank you for your letters, love, and support! Talk to you next week!

Love you a million billion cinnamon bears!
Hermana Clark

Monday, February 23, 2015

Muddy cars and braided hair... Welcome to Carnaval!

Alright, no pasa nada en nuestro calle por Carnaval! We waited and waited for the paint wars and waterballoon fights and mud fights, aaand nothing! There was nothing happening on the street we live on! Haha. I was convinced it was all a lie. But we did get to go to church that Sunday so that was nice. While we were out we saw that all the cars were just covered in mud. Like a new paintjob of just mud. The members said it's because they throw waterballoons full of paint at the cars and with the mud it's easier to wash off. But we didn't see any of that action from home. All the girls here also put their hair in braids for Carnaval so that's fun! Haha I braided the sisters hair in the house to celebrate. The ward had a ward party on Monday and brought us steak so we were eating pretty good. And our pensionista brought us food every other day. We spent the days studying and I loved it, but by the third day we were all ready to escape. You can just imagine us on Wednesday when we could finally leave the house. We couldn't talk to enough people! But we're out now, and we're happy about it!

So I cannot believe that this transfer is already coming to an end. I have never ever ever had such a fast transfer. It makes me sad how fast it is going! But when I started this transfer, I remember that on one of our first days together Hna. Atiz and I went to visit a member and he expressed to us his deep concern for his family. There are six people in his family and he was the only active member. The next week we fasted for them and started to get to work. We have been visiting all of the children, and then the other night the mom finally let us meet with her! We are now teaching all the children, and one of the sisters, her husband isn't a member and we are meeting with them, and we invited him to baptism last night. In all of my mission I have never felt the spirit so strong while teaching the Restoration. It was amazing how strong the spirit was, and to just feel the Spirit telling me word for word what I needed to say. I knew that the hno felt it too. I could see it on his face. When we left, my comp expressed the same feelings, that the spirit was so strong in that lesson, it was amazing and wonderful. As this transfer is coming to an end, I love seeing how much this family has grown. We are still working with them, and on Sunday we saw the dad sitting there alone in church, he had a bunch of seats saved. It looked like he was going to sit alone, until they all started filing in. He was surounded by his daughters and it was one of the sweetest tender mercies I've seen on my mission. What an amazing privelege it is to work shoulder to shoulder with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are working in a grand work, and I love every moment I have to be here. Choosing to come on a mission has shaped me, and built me, it has changed me. I love this gospel. I love the temple. I love the work that we do in the temple. I know that this church is the only true church on the earth, and every day I thank my Heavenly Father that I am a member of this wonderful gospel and for the opportunity that I have to share it with his children who are searching for this happiness as well. We have been so blessed this week, I have seen so many miracles. We are meeting with so many families, and it's just amazing to see how prepared they all are. Thank you so much for your prayers, love, and support! I love you all. Have a wonderful week, full of miracles!

Love from Bolivia!
Hermana Clark