Monday, August 29, 2016

JK, it's been E COLI this whole time. This. Whole. Time.

Yeah, so when we first went to the doctor after we were dumb and drank the water, they didn't test us for anything. They assumed we had Giardia and gave us some pills and sent us on our way. But two days later, one of the elders in our district, also suffering from loose bowels from hell, had to go to the ER on Friday night. They did tests right then to be sure of what was going on and turns out he really had E coli. We've had E coli untreated for 3 weeks now.

Sister Hancock was not happy with that doctor place for guessing what we had, and putting an elder in the ER on that assumption. We're waiting for our results to get back from the lab today, but we're thinking the whole district has E coli. Sigh. Not only that, but the pills they gave us killed off all the good bacteria in our stomachs and gave that Elder C-diff, which is what dehydrated him so much that he went to the hospital. He's ok now, and they say we'll know right away if we also contracted C-diff, but we're still suffering a bit because of E coli that we've had for a month now. E COLI FOR A MONTH! Sigh. In a weird way though, I'm glad I wasn't making up feeling so bad for so long because I was feeling like a wimp. We could only get out and teach 3 lessons this week... Satan's trying to keep us down, but not for much longer!! :D

I've learned a lot about keeping my focus these past few weeks! If I feel frustrated with my companion I ask myself "where's my focus?" Usually it's on myself and my own view of things, not what she's thinking. If I think "I want to work hard but I'm too tired, but I'll trudge through the day and survive.." Where's my focus? All on how hard it is and on my weaknesses and how I'm tired, blah blah blah, and I'm not actually focused on Christ and other people. With conquering an addiction too, when you constantly think "I can't I can't I can't, I'm doing good but this is so hard, but I can't..." your focus is all on what you can't do, and turns out that you're actually focusing on the problem even more. If you want to be a better person and more Christlike person but constantly focus on your flaws, it's the same problem. Don't think about chocolate ice cream, and BOOM you think about it! 

The focus has to be on others, on Christ, on what you do right in the day and on what you hope to do in the future, and on who you want to be and what you can work on now to get there. It's like the difference in Lehi's Dream (in the Book of Mormon in 1st Nephi) between the two groups- the group who clung to the Iron Rod and those who held fast continually. The ones clinging were looking all around them at the building and mists, focused on what they have to avoid, things that they can't can't can't do, so they have a white knuckle grip on the rod and they eventually become too exhausted to keep up. But those who were going calmly, holding fast and steady, were keeping their eyes on the tree. They were focused on Christ. They were the ones who made it, and stayed. I learned this and I'm applying it to EVERYTHING in my life, and I know it'll help my investigators so much too, even with quitting smoking!! The Atonement is real! I'm full of hope and life and I feel like I'm back up on top of the world, because I'm focusing on Christ again. CHRIST IS LITERALLY THE SOLUTION TO EVERY PROBLEM WE CAN POSSIBLY HAVE!!!

Also, this week we got a text from President inviting us to the Mission Leadership Council meeting. Only Sister Training Leaders (STLs) and Zone Leaders (ZLs) go to that meeting to plan for the whole mission. We were a little confused, but we asked for a ride there and decided we'd go with it. Then President texts back and says, "Don't worry about a ride, I'm getting you a car today. You'll need it since you'll be the new STLs."
So that day, we got a CAR!!!!!!!!!! A CAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND I get to stay with Sister Bueno in our area for another transfer!!! It's Christmas over here already.

Also, MLC is now my FAVORITE mission meeting. It was so amazing!!! While we were singing hymn #2 "The Spirit of God" after the meeting, when we came to the chorus and we were singing "We'll sing, and we'll shout, with the armies of heaven..." I looked around at all of us in the room singing with our hearts, and it hit me. THIS is the army of God, and I'm blessed to be a part of it. I'm a warrior of God and we're fighting a very real war. Most of it is waged in the silent chambers of our own hearts, but that doesn't make it any less real, and harsh, and critical, and rewarding. I'm so blessed. 

I have learned more than I could ever put down in an email this past month while being sick, but I should cut this email off now- it's getting huge! Just know that I KNOW Jesus is the Christ. I KNOW the Atonement is real and full of healing, even for your emotional bad days. I KNOW this Gospel is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, as HE set it up. MIssionary work is literally working to save the world, and I still can't believe sometimes that the Lord is trusting me with this, but being on the front lines gets me access to the "big guns" spiritually- I've never felt closer to God or had the Holy Spirit's help so much in my life. 

THIS IS REAL. Jesus Christ is not only going to come back soon, but HE IS RETURNING NOW.
Buckle up and get ready, everyone. There's no time to waste.

Sister Clark

Monday, August 22, 2016

Giardia (continued)

This is the last week of Giardia fun! Yay! I'M SO EXCITED TO GET OUT OF MY APARTMENT.
It's been a valuable experience though, being down for these 2 weeks. I know exactly what kind of a missionary I want to be now. I'm hitting the ground running.

You know, I've been thinking about struggles lately. Trials and tribulation is something I guarantee everyone on this planet goes through. Everyone on this planet is here to grow and prepare to meet God. Struggling is growing. I keep thinking about how when I struggle, I have the natural tendency to hide it away and pretend like I'm fine for the rest of the world. But if everyone does that, then everyone else feels like they're the only people in the world who struggle. If everyone were to band together and be more honest about struggling, so that we could all help each each other, I think there would be a lot less hopeless people in the world. I'm trying to be brave and be more open with my investigators. Of course I'm not going into details about my past, but being more open about the fact that hey- I'm not perfect! I'm human! is really helping. I'm growing and progressing right along with everyone that I meet, but I hope to share what helps me as I grow and progress the most with everyone I meet- the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Missionaries aren't perfect robots! We're only 18-26 year olds who barely know what we're doing, but we're working with the Lord. He's the one that brings the miracles and the blessings, and He's the one that really teaches and converts people when we teach with the Spirit of the Lord.

Sad thing this week- Elder Dewitt in my district went home. We saw him off on Saturday. He was struggling too, but it beat him. Our district got really close over these past two weeks, and seeing him decide to work on his struggles at home was a brave choice, but we miss him so much. Pray for all the missionaries in the world, everyone! 

This week I made it a point that when we were able to go out and teach, I would be as prepared as I could be, but then I would leave everything completely up to the Spirit. It was so interesting- just that conscious effort made a huge difference in my teaching. I was still nervous and my heart still beat really fast, but I was confident in what I was saying. I testified of what I knew to be true from my heart, and I knew the Spirit was directing my words. Often I hope he's directing me, but this time I felt it. It was powerful. Preparing the best you can to teach and share what you love and then always praying for the Lord's help, and then trusting that He'll help you as you asked really works. D&C 88:63 says it perfectly- "Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; ask and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened to you." That's a promise. Have faith :)

This week we saw D_____ H______ again. He wants to get baptized so badly that in the 2 weeks we've been down and out, he agreed to be baptized by another church! But after talking with us again, he said that he'll call the preacher and cancel it because he wants to be baptized by the restored priesthood authority of God. This man has so much faith and desire to serve God, it's incredible.
We also saw L_____ again this week. She has fresh cuts on her arms and she's still struggling, but she lit up in a huge smile when we came. Her health is doing much better from the time we found her dying in her chair, and she teared up while we prayed with her. Everyone needs to know they're loved and watched over by our Heavenly Father. I have way too much to do here. I'm needed and all of these people are needed. Never feel like you're alone or abandoned, because you're not! Never feel like you don't have purpose either, because the fact that you're born here on earth means that you are a valiant son or daughter of God, and you chose to come here to be with the specific people you're around, and to serve a specific mission that you told God before you came down that you would do for Him. Join the cause and lift someone's day!

I love you all! Keep on keeping on.

~Sister Clark

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Giardia. It's not my friend...

Once upon a Monday, we went on a hike with our district and got pretty lost... Two hours into the hike we have to turn back, at the same time realizing we were out of water. So... Two hours later when we finally reached the end of the hike we found a stream and we all drank. I knew I shouldn't drink from it, and even the Spirit told me not to, but... we were all dying. I partook, and I fell. And great was the fall thereof.....

Flash forward to a few days later, and our whole district is in the doctor's office, taking turns fighting over the bathroom. We all have Giardia, which you get from drinking water too close to cow pastures... Everyone was laughing at us because everyone knows not to drink the water in Idaho. To quote Jeremiah 4: 19 "My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart making a noise in me; I cannot hole my peace, because though has heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war." The alarm of war for us this week has been the call of nature. I've never found a scripture that applies to me so much. What do you know.

So! We've been stuck in the apartment this whole time. Do I have any interesting stories? Not many dignified ones. But we've been having a blast, Sister Bueno and I, writing songs and letters and playing card games. If you ever want to get close to someone real fast, this is what you do: 1. get some river water 2. share a single bathroom 3. enjoy your week!

I've had a lot of time to think this week. I've thought back to my mission and the habits I have and haven't developed yet. I got a little spotty on my prayers when I had nothing to do, and I started to feel like normal teenager again. Of course I couldn't do anything about it, we were stuck home sick, but I realized that the habits of scripture study and prayer are ones I want to make instinctive and such a part of my life that I can roll out of bed and immediately hit my knees every time, no matter how I'm feeling that day. I want to change, and I want my mission to permanently change me- I want it to be the best kind of change of my life :) It's been a nasty week, but at the same time it's been a good week of reflection. I'm back to 100% today, and I'm feeling fired up to get back to work. I really missed it! I'm ready to do my best and go with all my heart, might, mind, and strength dedicated to the Lord. That's what will give me the change in my life that I want.

I'm excited for a good week this week :) Love you all!

~Sister Clark
**A sweet member of the church in her area sent me a nice text that she's been taking care of all the sick missionaries this past week and sent two pics of Sister Clark.  She looks terrible in the guitar one.  She was getting better at this point.**


Monday, August 8, 2016

How to Save a Life: FOLLOW THE SPIRIT

This week M_____ was baptized!!! It was such a special moment and pretty much everyone in the room was bawling. It was incredible how strong the Spirit was. She is such a sweet soul and it just radiated from her eyes. This moment meant a lot to her family.
Am I looking in the right spot for pictures? No? Are you surprised though...?

T_____ is officially getting baptized on the 20th!!!! We're so excited!!! And we found out that she's going to be FAMOUS one day. She played two songs for us that she wrote on the guitar, and Sister Bueno and I were being total fangirls after that because she's amazing!!!! Let it be known, I helped teach the next Taylor Swift- but better. I hope I'll be able to get a recording of her singing soon!

We also had another lesson with D_____, and he's on fire! He's praying now about what day he wants to get baptized. He got emotional during the lesson when we were talking about families and that he belongs to God's family. He's doing fantastic, and he wants to know all of the answers to the questions to life- why am I here, where am I going, how can I be happy forever, etc. We have all of those answers!!!

We also had an amazing lesson with P_____, but both Sister Bueno and I think she might need to be 'dropped' for a bit. She's stuck in the mindset of thinking that missionaries come by every week with no end in sight just to read scriptures with her, but there's more to our purpose than that. Our purpose is to help others come unto Christ by helping them receive the fullness of the gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. This is too urgent of a message to be shared, and we need to help her realize again how important this is! We know she'll come around- we can feel it :)

Ok, now to explain my email title:
One night while we were out trying to see K_____, he wasn't home but we felt prompted to pray about who else might be in the area that we should go and see. We both immediately thought "L_____", and lady who is less active and struggles with depression. We go over and find her HALF DEAD IN HER CHAIR. I put this in all caps because it was REALLY STRESSFUL! She was in the middle of having a heart attack and we were able to get her to the hospital. Usually we go about saving souls but that day we literally saved a life. It was awesome, but I'd rather not repeat that ever again! Follow every single prompting you get no matter how small it might seem.

I know the Lord loves us and looks out for us. He is so mindful of each and every one of our circumstances. Having the Holy Ghost to be with us always is CRITICAL. Really! That's why people get baptized in the first place, to have that gift of His presence with us always! I know I need it, and I know you need it too.

I love y'all! Take care till next week!

Sister Clark

Monday, August 1, 2016

Such a good week!‏

Last week was a bit of a struggle, I was really missing home, but thanks to a lot of love and support and prayers I was able to pull through! Sister Bueno and I have made it a point to still have a lot of fun, but also make sure the work is getting done. We're getting up on time again and making sure we study, and do all of that important stuff :) I feel a million times better and lighter and more prepared for the day when I do this, even if I'm really tired! Sitting around and wasting time makes it SO easy to miss home and miss watching TV and miss having a phone... etc. I got caught up in my own head. But getting out of my head, getting out and focusing on finding OTHER people, has been the best help for me. 

Something has been confusing me lately. These past few weeks have been the laziest of my mission, but we were still seeing miracles. I know hard work and success don't necessarily correlate, but... I was so confused! Why is the Lord handing me all these people completely prepared to be baptized when I haven't done anything?
Then it hit me during Sacrament meeting the other day. The Lord's work will always go forward, nothing can stop that, but I was missing out. I wasn't learning and growing from spending all my time and efforts for His cause, I wasn't learning how to teach better with my companion, and I wasn't receiving any benefit from my time wasted in Idaho. My testimony wasn't growing because it wasn't being shared. 
The entire reason I'm out here is to help others come to Christ, and one of those people is myself. People will get baptized and miracles will continue whether I'm involved or not, because God loves ALL of His children. But I don't want to miss out being the one who knocks on the door and gets rejected so that next time the new missionaries will knock on the door and that person will change their mind and come to a knowledge of the truth that much faster!

Seeing miracles doesn't mean you're not doing anything though, on the other end of things. If you're doing your best at what you can and see miracles every day, that's AWESOME!! That doesn't mean the Lord is picking up your slack or whatever you might be thinking. Seeing miracles and the hand of the Lord in your life is always a privilege and a great blessing.

I'm so glad I was able to learn that this week. It really hit home and I'm so grateful for it.

We DID see more miracles this week, AND we've been working like we're supposed to :D On Tuesday I gave a training in District Meeting on humility. It was really good for me to study, and I'm still studying it. It was one of the most spiritual meetings I've had, one of my favorites! We asked the elders for a blessing and every. single. one. of my concerns that I hadn't told anyone about was addressed. The Priesthood is real.

Sister Bueno's Hump Day (halfway mark) was on Thursday!! It was weird because my Hump Day is only in October... what is this.... But! Some really, really nice members brought us over two cheesecakes!!!! It was so cool!!!! I got an oreo cheesecake all to myself........ mission weight is real though.... oh well. It was fantastic.

We went tracting with the H____ family, and while the mom drove us around her two 11year old daughters brought cookies with us and we tried to meet less-active members and introduce ourselves while showing the girls what missionary work is like. It was so fun! 
(Sis. Clark has been teaching Sis. Bueno how to play the guitar)

I don't remember if I emailed about M______, the autistic 9 year old afraid of water that her parents want us to teach, but she's getting baptized this Saturday! We're keeping it small so she doesn't get too scared, but she is such a brave little girl and so excited to get baptized!

Also, we got a referral from Church Headquarters this week, a man named D____ H_____ who referred himself, and when we went to meet him the first thing he said was, "Yeah, I was talking to the missionaries in Salt Lake and I want to get baptized. But I want to learn a little more first, is that ok?" WOW. Yeah it's ok!! 

The Gospel is true. I don't know what I can say more. God loves us all and teaches us how we can learn the best :)

Sister Clark