Monday, November 28, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!!

This morning we woke up to 3 inches of snow!!!! So it begins.

We had 2 different Thanksgiving meals this week... you better believe I ate my heart out. Also, we were able to eat with K____ and K____! That was so fun! And of course my favorite Mansfield's took us in :) Sister Bueno joined in the fun at one point too! 

Thanksgiving gave me a much needed chance to set some goals to be more grateful. I take a lot for granted. Sometimes, I think the Lord is hesitant to give us blessings and miracles if we're going to be rude when we get them and never say a simple 'thank you'. He has emotions too, even though He is Perfect and Glorified. If you gave a gift to someone, and you spent a lot of time and thought on it, but they were like "eh, this is nice I guess" and set it down without a second glance to it... wouldn't you feel a little hurt? You just spent all this time on the gift for them!  But imagine you give this same gift to someone who immediately goes "oh my goodness, this is amazing! Thank you so much, you didn't have to! I love it." You feel awesome inside, don't you? 9 times out of 10, I'd bet you'd be much more willing to give another gift to that grateful person than you would to the one who didn't care.

But I learned something more about gratitude this week.

I used to think that it was a little odd that God wanted so much thanks and recognition... it sounds blasphemous, but I thought it was a little prideful. I mean, God is God, so He can do what He wants I guess... But then it hit me this week, the real reason!
God's entire purpose is to make us happy. Moses 1:39 says, "For behold, this is my work and my glory- to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." So He gave us the commandment to give thanks in all things not because it's for Him, but it's for OUR sake. Being grateful makes US happy, and able to see more of life's beauties. Alma 37:37 says: "Counsel with the Lord in all they doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day."
It's another key to obtaining the rest of Christ-like attributes, and it's key to happiness! That's why thanksgiving at all times is a commandment.

Also, be sure to look on for #LighttheWorld. It's the new Christmas video, but also a challenge to do a Christ-like thing every day for 25 days, so we can do our part in 'lighting the world'. It's an amazing video and a fun challenge- December 1st is a worldwide day of service. Join in!

Have another awesome week, everyone! Stay safe if you're in an area with snow!
Sister Clark

Monday, November 21, 2016

I'm staying in C_____! Hallelujah!

It snowed for the first time this winter!! I'm not exactly thrilled, but at the same time it's fun. People keep saying we usually get a lot of snow on Thanksgiving day...!

We've had another fabulous week- doubling our goals, finding random new people out of nowhere that are willing to listen to our message, getting closer to the Lord and to each other.... I love being a missionary. Especially in C_____! Transfers came and went and Sister Jarvis and I are staying together!

You know, I realized that I have a lot of pride to work on. I learned that I need to be a way better companion, and I had to eat a big slice of humble pie... let me tell you, that's one bitter tasting pie. But Ether 12:27 promises that "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." 
It makes me feel a lot more free to know that I can improve and change for the better, but first you have to recognize what needs to be changed! That's the tough part, but I'm looking forward to being better. I need to be a lot more loving and more Christ-like.

One big example of Christ-like love and charity is M_____, a less active member of the church who really wants to come back. Her chair freezes up in the winter so it's harder for her to make it to the services, but we're working to find a solution for her. She's the most incredible, loving, genuine, sweet soul I've ever met. I hope one day I can be half the character she is. I think one of my favorite things about being on a mission is all the wonderful people I get to meet.
That includes my district and zone! We always have so much fun. I'll miss these elders when they get transferred :( But we have a big Christmas fireside for the mission to look forward to- I'm so excited for the holidays!
Love y'all!!
Sis. Clark

Monday, November 14, 2016

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas..."

So first of all, if you're wondering why I took a picture of some rice... it's my kind of rice, ok?

Another week packed full of miracles that I don't have too much time to talk about in depth, but it's been crazy- the Lord has been helping us to reach our goals. All of them!! We set a goal of finding two new people to teach by the end of the week, and we didn't find anyone this whole week who was interested. We were really bummed... we put all of our hearts and souls into finding new people.
Sunday night one of our investigator's daughters decided she wanted the lessons too, and then later in the day we get a call from one of our bishops telling us that he talked with someone who had taken the lessons before but her dad wouldn't allow her to be baptized, but now she's totally ready to be baptized and set the baptism date for December 3rd with the bishop! WOW!! We're so excited to teach her. 

K____ is doing really well too! We were worried he was falling off the bandwagon when we didn't hear from him for a while, but we found some members that really get along with him and are honest and real with him. He's more comfortable asking questions around them, so we've been able to talk about some of his concerns and resolve some worries he'd been having. I learned a lot about how much we really need to trust the Spirit... all this time he was worried that we worship Joseph Smith like Christ! NO WAY! He was so relieved to hear that we didn't. We have a lot of learning to do about being better teachers- I know I do at least!

Sister Jarvis has corrupted me with Christmas things... I usually don't listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, but she wanted to listen to it so I let her and then, and then.... everything just snowballed and we're already decorating for Christmas. #dollartree
It's been a really fun week :) Sister Jarvis and I get along really well but then we also get into weird fights over the dumbest things, and then we're over it and back to joking around the next few minutes. She's quite literally like my sister! I love this chick. She's just a ball of fun and spiritual insight. In the picture with the dog, we caught it just as the dog licked her ear. Haha! And the wonderful Mansfield family gave us S'mores kits to roast marshmallows over the stove. That's all I need in life, honestly. I was happy.

We had some more successful exchanges and I was able to go with the amazing Sister Lopez- she taught me so much about the Gospel and how to be a better teacher, not to mention she taught me some Spanish! I'm looking forward to taking some classes hopefully when I get home- she fanned a flame of love for Spanish in me that I didn't know existed :) I might even get a dictionary out here and try to read the Book of Mormon in Spanish if I have time!

Another wonderful week and packed full of tender mercies. I had quite a few personal lessons in humility, and when I put what I learned into practice, not only was I more humble and able to hear the Lord's whispers, but I was happier in my day and got along with my companion flawlessly and we were able to have some PERFECT lessons with our people!
I've never loved so much and so deep before. I love being on a mission- there really isn't any way to put down what I feel into words. The Gospel is true!! The Plan of Happiness is REAL!!!

Sister Clark

Monday, November 7, 2016

How to Obtain Miracles: 101

I think I've started to scratch the surface of how to ask for miracles and receive them.

 In the beginning of my mission, I learned how to pray and receive answers. It started with my prayer journal, where I write down my thoughts as I pray and then write down the impressions I get or feel that I think are from Heavenly Father. That's when I truly came to feel with all my soul the affection from a loving God. This was the first thing that shifted my perspective and made a difference for my mission.

When I was sick with Sister Bueno for what, 8 weeks... I learned something about the importance of planning that completely changed my mission, and I became acquainted with God in the midst of my trials during that time period. I learned about how God created the world starting with a plan (see Moses 3:5&7) and that He expects us to do the same if we're going to be doing His work in His way. I started to ask for more faith and opportunities to increase it so that I could be like the Brother of Jared taking the stones he made to the Lord and asking for a miracle.

Remember how this past week I mentioned our MLC meeting was amazing, but I'd wait to tell y'all about it so that I could put it to the test and see the miracles coming from it?
Well let me tell you.

In MLC we learned about the importance of studying in the morning. As missionaries we're given from 8-9 am for personal studies, and then 9-10 am for companionship studies. President and Sister Hancock had just come back from a mission president seminar, and they shared with us what they learned there. They gave us Ezekiel 34:2 which says, "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?"
We have too much of a tendency to feed ourselves as missionaries! We take personal study sometimes to mean that we study for ourselves... but President explained to us that we absolutely must study for our investigators, not ourselves. He promised that if we do that, the Lord will give us more revelation and insight that applies to us too. It was compared to when a child is handed a candy bar, but when he asks to share a candy bar with his sister, the child is given another candy bar. In that moment, the child has TWO candy bars in his hands. Revelation is the same- if you ask for revelation for others to help them and know what they need, you're given double the load.

President promised that if we combine effective plans with heartfelt studies dedicated purely to our investigators, then baptizing would not be a problem. I decided to take this to heart and put it to the test.

This week, we met M____ W_____, a lady who was Atheist before and took a few lessons just because her younger brother was on a mission, but she didn't believe anything. We met her because she moved into our area, and the elders where she used to live taught a "handover" lesson with us to get her comfortable with new missionaries. She told us her story of how she found God and came to know He loved her and was there, and she completely bawled the whole time. We taught her again this past week and she's agreed to be baptized when she knows it's true. She fasted this week on her own to get help to quit smoking and to get her answer from the Lord whether what we're talking about is true or not.

We also met the B____ family. They were a media referral from the church website, meaning they referred themselves to the missionaries. We tried to contact them before, but each time they were like "oh we would listen, but now isn't a good time.. come back later!" So we would but they weren't home.... We thought they weren't interested. But we went back this week, and A_____ invited us inside and told us their story from living in a car to having this apartment and really needing to find God for herself and for her children, and how much she really wants to learn. B____, the dad, is an inactive member of the church who hasn't been since he was 11, so he doesn't remember much, but he's really listening to what we have to say. The whole family agreed to be baptized when they know from God this is right. 

Then K____, dear K____, has shown a lot more interest in taking the lessons for real, instead of listening at the door before he has to run to work. He's making time for us and reading from the Book of Mormon, and he's come to church 3 times in a row on his own. He loved church yesterday, and we'll be teaching him the Plan of Salvation tonight. He also wants to be baptized after he prays about it.

We have at least 3 other people that are on the edge of agreeing to take the lessons and learn more. WHERE DID ALL THIS WORK COME FROM? I have a theory. I applied President's advice- we're sticking with our plans and doing our best to be obedient. We're "meeting God" where we told Him we'd be in the day. We're using our studies specifically for our investigators, and we're finding so many ideas that come to mind about how we can help them more, what they might have questions or concerns about, and what they need to know next to act on and increase their faith in Christ. We think we're earning more of the Lord's trust this way. He knows we'll be doing our best to truly feed His sheep, and love them with all our souls. We're trying and willing to obey what we've been told to do to have more success as missionaries.


Obedience opens doors; it doesn't limit us. I think I'm coming to see that God loves all of us equally- that is absolute truth- but He may not trust all of us the same. I don't think He trusted me with a lot of things before, but He's been patient and teaching me how I can shape up and allow more blessings and miracles in, and how to make room for them in my life.

I'm trying to plead less for myself with Him. I'm trying to make my prayers like Alma's, when he said in Alma 31:35 "Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee." If I don't care for and feed the sheep I've been trusted with already, why on earth would He give me another precious soul to teach?

For about the third time, my mission has been changed dramatically. I hope to apply this to the rest of my mission, and see the miracles and blessings in the lives of the sheep I've been entrusted with. To quote President Hinckley, "Do you want to be happy? Forget yourself and get lost in this great cause. Lend your efforts to helping people. ...Stand higher, lift those with feeble knees, hold up the arms of those that hang down. Live the gospel of Jesus Christ."

The Gospel is true. If you're not sure about it, remember that the entire restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ started with a question. Get down on your knees and ask with real intent. I promise you, this is real. And if you do know it's real, share it.

I love you and I pray for you!
~Sister Clark

(P.S. The pics were from exchanges! Being an STL rocks- I've learned so much!)