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

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