Monday, July 31, 2017

"To die would be an awfully big adventure..."

It's been a wild 18.5 months preaching in Pocatello. This is it- I'm officially "dying" as a missionary. It's been amazing, difficult, wonderful, agonizing, joyful, fun, confusing, heartbreaking, beautiful, building.... but all the adjectives in the world I could use about my mission can be summed up in two words: WORTH IT.

Never in my life have I ever been closer to Christ and closer to understanding Him better, and knowing who He is, and who I am to Him. Never in my life have I ever felt more love and appreciation and been more converted with all of my soul to the Gospel of Jesus Christ- so far :) All of the experiences, tears, and prayers have lead me to having more tools in my power to handle life and come out on top no matter what is thrown my way. I didn't just make it through my mission- Christ carried me through it.

I really believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is Christ's one true church restored to the earth. I believe that with all of my heart, because Christ Himself was the one to tell me that. I have had so many people challenge my beliefs and knowledge; from pastors and priests to bitter ex-members of the Church, to random people who don't know anything but rumors. Every single time someone tells me that I'm wrong and I need to find the truth, I ask God to help me find that truth, and every time I have been brought back to remembering that I HAVE the truth in my hands already, and that my membership in this church was given to me by God and that this is His church. Every single time I have had a question or a doubt and I have searched it out diligently, I have found my answers because God directly answers honest prayers. Not all of them came quickly, and not all of them have been answered yet, but one thing I know- this Church is God's, and it is right. Everyone deserves to be a part of it, and should be a part of it, and is always welcome with wide open arms to be a part of it. If everyone understood fully what this Church, what Christ, has to offer them, then everyone would be a member already. I have seen that happen; when people come to fully understand what is at their fingertips, then they can't wait to be baptized and they are filled to the point of overflowing with joy. It can happen to you too- whether or not you're already a member of this church, when you truly understand what Christ's Gospel is all about, it fills you with everlasting joy and hope.

I believe in a lot of things I have learned to be true, but there is only one thing that I know for certain- I KNOW God lives and loves me. Therefore, He loves you too. How could He not? I haven't seen Him face-to-face yet, but I know I will someday. I look forward to that day :)

My mission has set me on an epic journey through eternity. It's been a lot like a ramp for my life-now that I'm finished, I'm shooting off on an upward slope in my journey to get back home to my Father in Heaven. I definitely have not reached perfection nor will I reach perfection in this life, but this I know- I can't stop now! I have to keep going, and you do too! Whoever you are reading this, remember that Christ welcomes us with open arms pleading for us to come as we are, but He reminds us that we can't expect to stay as we are. His Gospel is all about positive change, and you best believe that I plan on continuing to change into who He needs me to be!! We can all get there because of His amazing grace, and it starts with the tiniest things :)

I beg of you, give the Book of Mormon an honest chance. Give the Mormon missionaries an honest chance. The Creator of the stars, the seas, and the sands is reaching out to you this very moment. Let Him in.

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me in my time of service. I look forward to seeing you all very soon! We did it! This is the one and only Sister Karoline Clark, officially signing off.

Monday, July 24, 2017

I'm Almost Home

I think it's great that today is Pioneer Day (the day the first LDS pioneers made it to the Salt Lake Valley), because I'm about to set out to explore a whole new world... as an RM! (Returned Missionary, for my non-LDS friends)

This past week was great! We went GO CARTING and shopped for Bear Lake tourist stuff :D And this P-Day I got a trim and some highlights! Y'all will have to see it when I'm home :P
A____ is officially ready for baptism on the 5th. He's amazing! We had some great lessons with him! He has so much faith, oh my goodness.

We went with D_____ to a fireside for youth given by Elder Quinton L Cook, one of our church's Apostles. Yeah, like the ones Jesus always had around him in the New Testament... it was a BIG DEAL that Elder Cook was speaking! It was so great- he left a mass blessing on everyone who was there. SO COOL! He announced that he would be shaking people's hands out in the foyer and I stood up (we were in a side room in the church building listening) and I said "YES go, go, go! Let's meet him!!" And.... well, everyone else was still sitting and stared at me... oops! But there's way worse or unimportant things to fan-girl over- I WANTED TO SHAKE THAT APOSTLE'S HAND, DANG IT! And I did :D

I'm packing now, everyone. I'm PACKING. I'm literally trunky- my bags are basically ready to go in the trunk!!

Since I won't chat with people next Monday and basically only email out a goodbye, I'll explain now what this week will be like for me:
Tuesday we have packing and cleaning to do between several appointments. Wednesday we're going to be at the temple all day with the other returning missionaries and our Mission President. I am so excited for that one!! Thursday we have weekly planning to do and progress records, more appointments, and then we're traveling to Pocatello. Friday morning we have our Mission Leadership Council. Saturday we're packing and cleaning and more appointments along with working the Tabernacle Tours! Sunday we have more talks to give, and then.... Monday morning we're in Poky again chilling out at the Mission Home (President's house). Tuesday morning I'm on a plane heading home!!!

Thank you for supporting me through my mission. I love you all and I'm praying for you!

Sister Clark​ 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

15 Days until D-Day...

Welp it is official, Heavenly Father is preparing me for my homecoming talk because I am speaking every Sunday this month! We started in the SC ward, then the Spanish Group, next is B______ ward and last one is L_____ ward. I am learning to conquer that fear, and now I'm actually coming to love speaking! So it has been a plus!

But we had an amazing miracle  this morning! Our investigator, A____, texted us this morning and he was apologizing to us because he has been a little distant with us. He said that he has been wanting to be baptized but his father is VERY Anti, so he wanted advice on how he can handle that situation. When we read that we were so happy!! He's thinking about being baptized on the 29th right before we go home, which would be sweet, but whatever happens, I am SO EXCITED for him!!! :D

Last P-Day we went to the Minnetonka Cave, which was so cool, and I was able to take pictures at the resort I went to with the YSA while I was at USU!! So weird to be back as a missionary. I got to see my friend Calianne's parents and they took a mission box home for me which was so sweet and took a lot of packing stress off of my shoulders!

Sister Sanchez and I are working hard and living the life :) I love her so much. We were playing ping pong one day in our apartment and just laughed so hard we were crying- life is so good. I couldn't have asked for a better comp to finish out my mission with!!

PS, that pic of the thermometer is way off, but sometimes it feels as hot as it says...... lol.

Sister Clark

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

22 Days Left?!

I'm sorry everyone.... yes, I do have a countdown going, I can't help it............

This week went so well!!! Last P-Day we went hiking to the P_____ S______ and we also made it to the Ice Caves as a district, which were super neat :D I love having Sister Jarvis in my district- I've missed her!

We had an epic 4th of July- we helped out in the Patriotic Program at the P_____ Tabernacle, as well as the breakfast they had in the morning. I'd never seen so many people in such a small town! At church, it was INTENSE. There was about 1200 people packed into one church building solely so they could take the Sacrament. It was an amazing problem to have! It was so weird to have to squeeze by sideways through all the people standing in the halls.

We were able to watch some fireworks from our porch though! It was pretty decent :D We had 3 different firework shows going on around us from 3 different cities!

I was also able to go on exchanges with Sister Holtermann and Gold this week in S____ V____!!! :D They're so fun, and I've really missed Sister Holtermann! We had too much fun XD So many inside jokes and jamming out to our songs... there's a particularly nasty picture of me that was taken that goes along with one of our songs we'd always listen to from Wicked, the part when she's singing, "Do you see that tragically beautiful girl in the chair in the corner?" HAHA that's me!

We're due for another amazing P-Day today, since we're going to the M______ Cave right after we finish emailing :D I'm going to take some re-creation photos from when I was 12ish and we came here! I am so excited!! We taught some amazing lessons, gave some talks at church this Sunday and they went well.... there's just so much I could say but there isn't time or room for!

Lots of inside jokes in the chalk drawing :)

Well, keep on keeping on everyone! 

Sister Clark

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Beginning of the End.... how are we in July already? O.o

Well everyone, I've officially entered into my last month on my mission..... August 1st is coming up way too fast. It honestly doesn't feel real.  

Brandon Mull put it so nicely- he said in the beginning of one of his books that life is like looking out of the window of a car. You see what's coming ahead and it seems to take forever to come, but then suddenly it whips past the car and it slowly gets smaller and smaller in the distance behind you. My mission has been a lot like this! Sometimes it seemed like my mission would never end (no matter how awesome it is, it's still really hard!), but now I'm in the moment when it's whipping by before my eyes, and already I see my experience slowly slipping into the past behind me. Soon enough I'll be looking back on my time here in Idaho as a beautiful memory, but luckily, this memory is something that has changed my eternity forever.

My mission is definitely not the most important thing I have ever done or will ever do, BUT it has been the most important thing I have ever done FOR my life. For me and my path, these growing experiences and sometimes refiner's fire has shaped me into who I know God needs me to be. We're in the middle of a war; a war of ideas and opinions and slipping standards and compromising morals. Souls and true joy and freedom are the things at stake here. God needs soldiers to fight for His name and His truths- if you let it, there's nothing like a mission to help you realize your part in this eternal struggle of good verses evil. But then again, aren't we all on a mission of some sort until the day we're called home to our Maker? :)

I was reading a talk by Sterling W. Sill, and two things stood out to me- a quote and a poem. The quote said something along the lines like: "There are two very important moments in a person's life. The first is the day you are born, and the second is the day you find out why."
I feel like my mission has been teaching me this principle. The poem he shared that I copied below also describes how my mission has been teaching me.

The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.
The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.
Good timber does not grow with ease.
The stronger wind, the stronger trees.
The further sky, the greater length.
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.
Where thickest lies the forest growth
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars,
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.
[Author unknown]
It goes along beautifully with the scripture in Moses 1:39. God truly does have a plan for all of us. I absolutely love this poem and how it describes that there really does have to be opposition in all things and for us to have growing experiences along with awesome ones.

We really DO need to have faith in God, because having Him just show up on our doorstep after we say a prayer robs us of the chance to prove by our works that we believe in Him. We're robbed of a chance to develop patience and practice softening our hearts and learning diligence. Never striving for something means never growing- but man, let me tell you, I have never striven so much in my life than when I have on my mission, especially for a purpose other than myself. I am really, really going to miss this experience. I know my mom is dancing around with joy now that it's finally my last month out, but I'm kinda nauseous with the idea....

But! Off of depressing topics! 

For the Paris Tabernacle, we get to help out with the free guided tours :D I was thrown into it and literally only had one tour to learn the facts and dates and random details to share with people about the building, but God definitely qualifies the weak. I was able to lead a tour with confidence and all the information I needed has stuck with me in my head like glue! Such a cool miracle! I'm seriously learning how to do anything anyone asks me to do on the fly, and I have more of a "I can do it" attitude than I ever have before. It's been super fun to lead the tours around, plus at the end we have a room with displays of Jesus Christ and other pictures about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and we have the chance to share what we believe to be true. There was a lady who teared up in that room- it was a really positive experience :) The pioneers have been through a lot and left behind many amazing legacies. 

This week, we taught an amazing lesson with a family that we'd been struggling to teach before. They were always a little flaky, until this week we sat down with them and made some awkward small talk... until the woman suddenly burst into tears. Her two year old daughter is struggling with health problems and not getting any better, and yet it was a unique opportunity for us. Before we never really knew how to help them, but this time we were able to testify of God's love for us, that He doesn't give us trials to punish us, and that we're not just here to visit with people and be nice and do service. We are servants of the Lord with a message of hope and the way to the ultimate help for people, because we are guides to Jesus Christ. We were able to explain that a little more and go into more detail how the Gospel of Christ was given to us to help us in every way, and that the Book of Mormon answers our questions of the soul- she's not sure that God is real, but we're studying with her and praying with her to help her find out for herself. I am so excited!!!

We also had another experience when we felt prompted to visit a man in his yard outside and so we just talked with him, and turns out he was a member of the church that hadn't been in a while and ended up getting emotional as he told us of his experiences with God, and he said he probably does need to get back to church. God is SO mindful of each and every one of us- He knows exactly what we need and when we need it.

Ooh, I just looked over and on the wall is this quote- "The struggle you're in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow."

I'm on a good quotes kick lately. I left my Book of Mormon at home unfortunately (I'm reading through a cheap blue copy to mark it up with specific topics in mind), otherwise I'd have some more good Book of Mormon quotes to throw in here... But I really love that book. My goal is to finish it before August 1st and I'm halfway through Alma, pray for me!

We also had an amazing lesson with D_____ and A______, who are both willing and seeking to be baptized, and even though their families are not super supportive of their decisions to learn more, they're a little like Joseph Smith in their own rights and seeking out the truth directly from God. It is SO EXCITING that they're finding it and that they are communicating directly with Heavenly Father about where to go and what to do with their lives spiritually!!!

I just ADORE serving with Sister Sanchez. We talk so much all the time and we teach so well with each other. It's so fun to tell people that we're BOTH 17 months out and to see people's reactions XD All the locals are super excited that I'm going to be attending ______ in September as well, I love the people here! And I STILL haven't been able to pay for anything in this area yet, the members here treat us like their own kids............. I'm quite content :) I'm officially addicted to my Sleep Number bed as well now, which is a problem... most missionaries I feel like say at the end of their missions, "Oh I can't wait to get back to my own bed at home!" But... not me.... I'll really miss this bed..........................

Haha we have a ton of fun together, and we're getting pretty trunky together too XD Every day we drive past this beautiful scenic lake and see all of these people boating or camping or having a grand time getting ice cream with their families or their dates...... geez. We're trunky for a vacation, but we're planning to come back to Bear Lake together and maybe even with Sister Bueno too! I'm just trunky for a vacation at this point!

Oh, and next week I get to go on exchanges with Sister Holtermann!!!! I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!

Also, this week we ate with a very, very strange and socially bizarre family that had a GIANT organ in their living room.  He played a song for us a little and it was SO LOUD. In their living room. I don't understand, but that's okay. Pretty neat though!

Well, that's about it for this week! You're welcome, Mom, I wanted to give you an extra big email ;) Fair warning, I'm not sure if I'll have the motivation to write a ton more these last few weeks except maybe my testimony or interesting events, so.... but just know I love you all and if you don't get a lot from my emails in the future, just know I'll FB you or see you in person soon enough!! :P I'll send pictures next week hopefully, this computer wasn't camera card friendly!

Keep on keeping on everyone! And for you missionaries out there, don't get trunky!

Sister Clark