Monday, June 8, 2015

My last letter ...I'm going to miss being a missionary in Argentina!

Yup, Jonny got baptized!  Super happy kid :-)


Hola Familia,
  This is the last letter you will receive from me ...wow, so weird to write that!!! :'-(


Jonny
Us with Jonny and Vanina, his older sister!
Without Vanina, this wouldn't have happened.
So, God works miracles through the faith and diligence of those who serve Him. And that is exactly what He did with us and Jonny.  He softened the hearts of Jonny's parents who once again decided to allow him to be baptized ...which we took care of last week! :D

We decided to visit the family again last Tuesday morning to "give it one more try," and while there, had the opportunity to talk with the mom.  She started out by asking us if we were going to make some invitations for Jonny's baptism. ...Um, we just kinda' sat there confused for a little bit.  Hmmm, I think there might have been some type of communication problem between her and her "husband." He had said no to us the prior week, but now she was telling us yes. Of course, having to choose sides, we happily sided with the mom, made the invitations that very same day, and began planning the baptism.

He was probably the happiest kid on the planet as he came out of the water. He had wanted to get baptized sooo bad and for sooo long! And now he was finally able to do it. :)

Jonny and his parents
Wanna know what happened earlier in the week? The day before his baptism some of his aunts and uncles where over at their home, and when they heard he was about to get baptized, they started trashing on the church and telling him all these lies about things that were going to happen to him if he went through with it. Luckily, Vanina was also there and decided she'd help him out.  But he didn't need it; the little champ got up, told them all to stop bothering him about it, that he wanted to do it, that he was going to do it, and then walked out of the room. Wow!, that little kid has a testimony of the truth!! :)

The branch really supported his baptism ...like about 30 people showed up.  His parents also came :D In fact, that was the first time his dad had ever set foot in the church. Hey, once you get your foot in the door (er, kinda') ...so now we will see if we can start working with the parents again. Vanina was obviously super supportive, and made a toooon of foood! She is such a good cook!!!  Bah!  But sadly, the missionaries were fasting; so we couldn't eat any of it.  But, nicely, Vanina gave us a ton of food to eat after we ended our fast.


Julieta
Seeing God gave us a miracle with Jonny, I am hopeful He will give us another with Julieta.

Now Julieta has thrown us into a pretty epic roller coaster. Last week, I told you guys that her mom didn't want her to go to church, nor even to meet with us again. Well, Julieta was able to take care of that one herself.  Turns out, like Jonny, this was also a misscommunication: bahahaha ...the mom thought that if Julieta met with us, she would have to become a missionary and go to the United States or Uruguay or somewhere far away with us.  While I'm sure her feelings were very real, it was pretty funny when she told us.

Soon after that, Julieta started progressing super fast once again. She always reads the chapters we give her, and is always waiting for us when we come for our appointments (we've visited with her nearly every day). On Friday, we passed by to verify that everything was good for her bapitsm on the 13th, and for coming to church. She was super excited.

Then the next morning we passed by again (for our next appointment), and that is when she told us that she didn't want to continue with us. She told us that she had prayed about the church, and she remembered when she had taken her Comunión (a Catholic program for younger children) and how happy she was taking it. She told us that she felt that was an answer indicating to her that she needed to remain Catholic.

Goodness, I hate situations like this. We explained that in life there are good things, better things, and excellent things. We told her that Comunión was good, and what we had to offer was even better, even excellent. We explained that the Holy Ghost testifies of truth, all truth.  And that what she had learned in her youth had parts of truth, so it testified to her that it was good. We asked her to pray about the Book of Mormon, attend church, and if she felt the same way, it was the Holy Ghost telling her that this is also true.  She accepted our challenge.

She decided to come to church with a very specific question in her heart about the truthfullness of the Restored Gospel.  We set another appointment to come back today at 7:30.  So in a few hours, we'll see if she believes or not.

But God is merciful, and a God of Miracles. If Julieta wants an answer to her prayers and continues to search, I am confident the Lord will grant an answer to her.

But if not, and she continues to seek Him, I am confident that at some point, she will find Him.

If we missionaries do our part, we can have the peace of mind of knowing that our contribution is accepted of the Lord, and we do not need to be discouraged. I can promise you that I will work to the very last moment of the mission. If Julieta gets baptized this coming week, that's great.  But if not, the Elders that come after us will finish the work :)

I can proudly say that I have served my missoin honorably, that God allowed me to experience much success, and that I loved every minute of it.

I'm going to miss being a missionary in Argentina.


Other
Nothing else really happened this week. I went on exchanges with Elder Casilla this week. He is from Bolivia, and is the only member of his family. He speaks Quechua, super tight!  He is a good, shy Elder.  Me cae bien!  We had a lots of fun and tons of success. While we only contected 6 people, 4 of them allowed us to teach them a lesson. That's something I'm just not used to ...probably because I have always served in the downtown areas of my cities my entire mission, haha. I sure had a good time with him ...we learned a lot from each other.

Found a frog in my bed
I am totally lost
But, um, who wouldn't be!
This is Elder Casilla's Bible,
 it's in the indian language Quecha
(something like that anyway)

God lives. The Book of Mormon is true, and everything that follows is true. Christ will help us in any situation, in every moment, if we just humble ourselves and seek His guidance.


See you soon!

Elder Clemóns


Monday, June 1, 2015

...I didn't recognize almost anyone :-(


Me, Elder Galido, Elder Naumann, y Elder Walker will all finish together :-)



Hey, so this week was kinda' uneventful ...especially considering that I just wrote you on Wed.

But on Thursday we did have a multi-zone conference, which included both the Santa Fe and Chaco zones. As always, it was super uplifting. Pres. Franco talked about the Spirit and how He can help us in our missionary work. It really motivated us, like amped us up. I was so inspired, I just wanted to go right out and do the work after that.

After Pres. Franco, the assistants trained us on how to use the agenda ...um, I guess that was good, haha.

But the funnest part was after ...just being able to chat with all my mission friends. Wow, that's when I realized that most of them have already gone home; the mission has changed soooo much from when I first got here ...almost all of the faces are new now; I don't recognize almost anyone.

After the meeting, we all went to Subway for sandwiches, then headed back home. Elder Caceres and I got back to our apartment around 10:00. Hey, I love traveling now because all you do is just chat with everyone on the bus and tell stories. One thing's for sure, serving a mission sure teaches you how to talk to people. You learn to talk about just anything.


Jonny
So about Jonny and Julieta, hrrrrmmmm. I don't know what happened, but out of nowhere Jonny's dad said he couldn't get baptized -- even though he'd already signed the permission slip.  So we don't quite know what to do right now.  We might try to postpone the baptism until next Saturday, the 13th. Jonny still came to church and all, but we haven't been able to sit down and talk with the dad yet.  I suspect he might be a bit scared of us; he knows if he talks to us, we'll probably convince him. Which isn't really all that hard ...hey, if your son joins the church, he'll become a better son, and a better future husband and father.  And he'll try harder in school to reach his full potential.  At this point, we are passing by daily to find the father home.


Julieta
And Julieta, her mom doesn't really like that she is learning about the church. She's scared Julieta away from being baptized, and Julieta didn't come to church last Sunday either. Which is confusing to me, because Julieta didn't believe in God before, and never in her life attended a Catholic church mass. And now that she's wanting to learn more about her Father in Heaven, and attend church, her mom chases her away from it. :P  Doesn't make sense to me, but we'll see what we can do. We've talked with the mom a couple of times, but have never really had an extensive conversation or even lesson with her. We have an appointment today at 7, so we'll see what miracles God can perform for us today. :)


PDay
So for Pday we played some good old basketball. It was my district against the Zone Leader's district. We beat em 2-0. Yay! :)  It felt like some good old church ball back when I was in Young Mens ...a little bit of shouting, pushing, shoving, good 'ol uplifting basketball. It was awesome. I rocked with some hot pink socks I bought with Elder Naumann on exchanges last week. I think they really helped me to play well! :D  Ya, ok...



I love the mission.  Kinda' sad that it will soon be coming to an end.  But the end is still far away ...and I have work to do :-)


Love You!!

Elder Clemons

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

#thereisstillworktodo


Group selfie :-)
We had a good week!!

After months of hard work, we have finally been able to make some solid success. It's been tough!


Jonny
For some odd reason, the parents of Jonny really didn't want to continue talking with us ...and didn't want Jonny to get baptized. So we sought help from his sister Vanina, who will soon be leaving on a mission. We got her to practice a bit with us, then sent her off to convince her parents to give Jonny permission. We don't know what happened, but with prayers and a bit of faith in the Lord (for a good cause), she was able to convince the parents and got their signature giving Jonny permission to be baptized!!! :D So as of now, we are planning a baptism for June 6th :)


Another miracle
On Friday, as we were endlessly contacting everyone we could find, we found this 18 year-old girl named Julieta. She was baptized Catholic, but has never attended church, nor comunión. She is super interested and super prepared. We taught her the "Restoration" discussion on Friday, the "Sabbath Day" on Saturday, and then SHE CAME TO CHURCH ALL 3 HOURS on Sunday.  On Monday, we taught her the "Plan of Salvation" and she accepted a date to be baptized the 13th of June!!! How miraculous is that!??!


I don't believe that has happened to me on my entire mission. She is just so prepared!! And in a very real sense, I suspect the Lord sent us on missions to find those who were already receptive to His voice.  Our next appointment with her is Thursday ...but we can't be there because we have to go up to Resistencia for a Zone meeting.  But we've luckily been able to arrange with the Familia Micheli to visit her and teach her the lesson!!!   #evermemberamissionary !!!!!!!!!!!

SO PLEASE PRAY FOR THESE 2 SO THAT THEY CAN MAKE THEIR DATES!!! :D



Holy cats!!  Nicest bus EVER !!!
An eventful week
Besides the missionary work, our week was also super full of other stuff. Yesterday, Elder Caceres had to go up to Corrientes to do some visa work, and I went up with him. (This is why I couldn't write to you guys on Monday or Tuesday. Don't worry mom, I am not dead ...but you should have seen what Elder Caceres' mom did hahaha).  We got up at 2:00 am and went to Corrientes. While waiting in the immigrations office, we met a gringa!  Her name is Allison.  She is from Georgia and came down here to "teach English and be a missionary" ...but they both fell through.  And now she's just chillin' out for a while, haha. She's a Baptist.  We had plenty of opportunity to teach her the Restoration discussion ...and a bunch of other things. We literally had like 5 hours to talk, so we talked about everything from school to life to churches. She was super open, and intelligent, and really funny. I ended up giving her a Book of Mormon in Spanish ('cause that's all I had).

Wow, they even fed us breakfast.  Check out this awesome meal!!
We finished visa stuff and went back to Resistencia around 4:00p to eat lunch. We ate some pizzas that the office bought. Everyone was given 4 slices, but very few finished them all. I ate 3 ...and my companion ate 7 hahaha. But somehow he stays skinny. :p We then left Resistencia around 6:30 on the nicest bus I have ever been on. I was literally in shock ...wow, soooo nice!!! We couldn't really sleep because they were blasting a movie called "Olypus has Fallen." Hey, since you can't really avoid it, just make the best of your opportunities and watch. SOOOO COOL!!! I thoroughly enjoyed it.



It is super weird that my mission is coming to a close :-( :-(

...but I am convinced that there is still work to do and people waiting to hear the gospel! I promise I'll work to the last minute! :D

Love you all!!

Elder Clemons

Monday, May 18, 2015

A sacred, holy experience...

There are these sweet black guys that sell watches in the plazas,
they speak Spanish, French, and their tribal African language.

Super tight. The watches are pretty nice and costed very little.

And since I broke my watch like forever ago, I decided to buy a new one :D
Hello Familia!!!

Alright, this semana was super successful para nosotros! We worked hard!! And ya, The Lord really blessed us this week!

We have made lots of progress with Jonny and his family. We have been working with Jonny through his sister Vanina, who is essentially teaching him everything, and we just pass by to verify. It is working really well.

On Tuesday, we taught the whole family about the Sabbath day. It was super calm, and you could tell they really understood it. And we applied everything we taught completely to the family, because that's what they care about the most (awesome!). We encouraged them to go to the Cultural Activity for the Córdoba Temple -- which the mom came to! -- so that was a huge step forward!

I made some sweet tacos the other day!

Then on Thursday my companion, Elder Caceres, and Elder Gonzalez (another elder from our district) went over and taught them lesson 3, about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to receive permission from the parents to baptize Jonny. Unfortunately, I wasn't there 'cause I was doing exchanges with Elder de Avellaneda. But my son (Elder Caceres) did some seriously great work! And they were able to receive permission for Jonny's baptism! :D  The kid wants to be baptized sooo bad that I know he'll keep progressing to make that happen. He is such a happy little guy, and is always playing with his Hot Wheels cars or with marbles; we like to play with him a little bit before each lesson. I am certain that with the help of Vanina, he'll be baptized on the 6th of June!  Please pray that the father's heart will remain soft so that he will go through with his word that he gave us.


My exchange with Elder Avellandeda was super fun. I went with Elder Bingham to his area. He's been out in the mission field a long time, like me. And we already knew each other, so it was pretty chill. Elder Bingham is a funny guy.  I love how he contacts people ...always interesting and funny. I went to their area to give an interview for one of their baptismal candidates named Agustin ...such a good kid. Passed with flying colors. At the end of the night, Elder Bingham and I bought 30 empanadas; ooooo they where so good.


But the highlight of the week was easily the dedication of the Córdoba temple. I was extremely blessed to have been able to participate in this incredible event for Argentina. Last Saturday night was the cultural activity.  We missed the first half because we were looking for investigators to bring to it.  Thankfully the Lord blessed us, and we were able to bring Vanina's mom, who loved it. :D So we did catch the 2nd half. It was really nice and to watch the faithful Argentine youth celebrate their new temple. There were dances and songs from every providence and state displaying to the world their culture. It was really nice.

The next day, Sunday, was the temple dedication. I was able to participate in all 3 sessiones. I loved it. You could feel this "higher power" present in the temple. Now, we weren't physically in the temple, but the chapel we were in was "transformed" into an extension of the temple. And we watched the dedication on a giant screen. The power and spirit of the temple was easily noticeable to all in attendance. We had to be an hour early, and we couldn't talk as we waited. This was a perfect opportunity to ponder about my mission and the significance of the temple. Man, how I miss being in the temple!! As we waited, pictures of temples from around the world, both inside and outside, would move across the screen. Being in this environment, in complete silence, in perfect meditation with God, made it so easy for me to receive a strengthened testimony that this is the House of the Lord. Temples are so beautiful. The temple is where He walks and where His presence is felt.

There was one part that I just loved. Elder Uchtdorf and Elder Christofferson went outside to set the last stone (I forgot what it is called in English), and after they had each done their part, they invited some kids to come up and participate. It was really special to see. About 5 little boys and 5 little girls, each about 3-5 years of age, ran up to "set the stone." This reminded me of the part in the BoM when Jesus takes the kids and blesses them. They are so pure and loving; much closer to Christ than we are as adults. It was so cute to see all these happy smiling little kids run up to the apostles to help them in placing the stone. Children are clearly of the Kingdom of God.

I felt the spirit the strongest at the beginning of the dedicational prayer of the first session. It was read in English, and then translated into Spanish. The spirit overcome me when Pres. Uchtdorf began to speak. His prayer was incredible. The words were definitely revelation and came straight from the spirit. You could just feel the spirit of unity in the chapel, and I'm sure amongst all the saints of Argentina. These brothers and sisters have worked so hard and for so long for their temple, and just to be there, united in prayer with them, was such a privilege.

I know the temple is where families can be sealed for eternity. I am grateful that I was sealed to mine. This temple dedication increased my love for you guys, my family, and my gratitude for your faithfulness. I love you and miss you so much. Thank you for your example to me my whole life. I understand so much better now how blessed and lucky I was to have parents like you. Love you so much!


Elder Clemons



Talk to the hand...

Brother Micheli has got some sick gear!!  This is his helmet and gloves.




Monday, May 11, 2015

Holiness to the Lord - The House of the Lord

Mother's Day



Skyping home on Mother's Day...

I loved being able to see you guys yesterday! Everyone look so good and happy! I love you all so much and can't wait to see you soon! You mean everything to me. I have learned so much about the importance of the family. I love you all and am so grateful for all that you do.




This is a River Soccer jersey shirt that a member bought for me!
Super funny because I am a fan of the rival Boca team ...haha :-)
So, I feel like God is trying me to the very end of the mission. We had huuuuge potential for lots of our investigatores coming to church this week (we even had members lined up to go pick them up and all), ...but then it rained. :p And when it rains, no one goes to church. :p So we took a big hit.

Time is my enemy at this point. We have only 3 Sundays left in which we can bring people to church so that they can be baptized the 13th of June, just before my time in the mission is over :-(

And this coming Sunday is going to be a very special Sabbath. It's the DEDICATION OF THE NEW CORDOBA TEMPLE!!! And all the missionaries get to participate!!! I am so excited to be a part of this! It's really a blessing to be serving the Lord at a time when a new temple is to be dedicated! This is a rare opportunity!!  This is also a huge milestone for Argentina as they will now have 2 operating temples in the country. God bless Argentina!

And it seems like Argentina is actually making some spiritual progress. Seems they just passed a law that will also take effect this coming Sunday that certain businesses aren't required to operate on Sundays. Argentina is actually going to partially keep the Sabbath Day! How cool is that! :D


But for me, this will also be a little bit of a sad day.  You see, due to the temple dedication, we aren't allowed to bring investigatores to church. In order to participate in the actual temple dedication, they are going to extend the sacredness and sanctity of the Temple into the local chapels ...and you'll have to be a member with a current temple recommend to be able to enter the church. So I'm seeing my Sunday options for investigatores dwindling even further. :P



Our Goya Zone shirts.
I scalded my head with some hot water :-(
So about our investigatores. We made good progress this week. On Friday, we visited with the Romero Family and gave them the Charla Franco, explaining that if they don't read and pray about the things we are teaching them, that we won't be able to visit them as often. The next day, Saturday, we visited with them again, and they had started reading the scriptures! :D Woot!

We then made plans for a member to drop by and pick them up for church. (What I mean by "drop by and pick them up" is "clap their house and walk with them to church.")  But as I already sadly mentioned, it rained, and where they live it is impossible to enter or leave when it rains. So, we've set up another appointment with them for today, and we'll once again ask a member to go with them to church on the Sunday after the dedication.

We've decided to focus our attention on Ori, the Romero's 14 year-old daughter. She is expressing the most interest in the Restored Gospel and seems to have a genuine desire to come to Christ. So our goal will be for Ori to get baptized on the 13th of June!


We were not able to meet with Vanina's family at all this whole week. We passed by their home like 14 times, but never got a chance to hook up with them. You'll recall from last week's letter that Vanina is a member of the church who is preparing to leave on a mission soon.  She and her brother are members.  But her mom, dad, and one other brother are not.  The good news is that the mom and brother (Jonny) have already gone to church once.  But of course, they missed yesterday because of the rain. Turns out Jonny has actually already gone to church like 7 times; he often attends with Vanina.  All we need at this point is his parents' permission for him to get baptized.


So please pray for both of these families ...that the Word of God will touch their hearts, that they will have a desire to come unto Christ, that they will have the strength to keep their commitments, and that they will be able to be baptized on the 13th.


Don't worry about me. I love the mission, and I love what I do. We are working incredible hard, probably harder than I have worked my entire mission. My companion and I both want to baptize new members into the Lord's Kingdom, and are working extremal hard to do so.

Of course, true success is found in your dedication to the work, not in particular achievements.

I love the mission, and love what I do. See you soon!

Elder Clemons


We finally received the Zone Shirts we designed while I was in Goya!  Sweetness!!  :D

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tender mercies

My companion and I bought some new suits for $180.  Pretty good quality, and very inexpensive!! :D

Just FYI, this week was transfers. But nothing changed in the entire zone ...except my district received another pair of missionaries.  I am still the District Leader.

So after 6 long weeks without assistants (editor: investigators) at church, we finally had 2!!!! Vanina's family (the Romeros). Vanina is a young member who will soon be going on a mission.  Her family aren't members yet, so we have been working hard with them to get them to go to church.

We had a super powerful lesson with them on Friday. We went with Vanina and taught lesson one -- The Restoration -- which went very smoothly. We felt impressed to also focus this lesson on the family. As we did so, the mom, Sandra, kinda' opened up and talked about some hard childhood experiences she has had and how her family has been affected. We then testified about how Christ came to suffer those very pains, and that He is the one that can help us overcome them. Luckily, Vanina had her computer, so we were able to show the video "He lives." Now I have seen this video well over 50 times, but watching it in this environment, with these people, was completely different. The spirit was undeniably present and overwhelmingly powerful. I immediately felt God's love and comfort enter the room, and I could sense that Sandra did as well. We bore powerful testimony after the video that God loves her and that Christ is her Savior. All we need to do is ask for our Heavenly Father's help.

It was a very touching, simple moment. I often feel that the simple moments in life are the most spiritual, as was this one. The video, combined with our testimonies and the testimony of Vanina, was enough to get Sandra and her son to go to church ...even in the rain. Now that's what I call a miracle and tender mercy.



Now there's two hansome missionaries!!
We also had another incredible lesson with the Romero family. They are a family of 5. The mom Lorena, son Gaston, daughter Luz with her boyfriend Juan, and the youngest daughter Oriana. The kids have different schedules from the mom, so we teach the mom separately, and sometimes even share different messages with her based on her needs.

The lesson we had with the kids was on prayer, and we brought their cousin Aldana (who is a member) with us. They love it when we come over and everything, but they haven't taken the initiative to actually pray! On the other hand, they do read the scriptures that we ask them to read; so that's good. The last time we visited them, we really wanted to emphasize the power of prayer. So we read with them the Book of Enos and used it to testify that God will answer prayers ...of course, you have to put in some genuine time and real effort. We then shared Moroni 10:3-5 to show them what God expects us to do before we can receive answers to our prayers. I then shared with them a personal experience I had had about receiving a real answer about leaving on my mission, and Aldana shared an experience about how she came to know the Church was true. (I don't know why, but I feel like the testimonies of members are always more powerful than ours ...like they're more simple, pure, and personal.) Aldana bore a tender testimony that really touched everyone in the room. I think the lesson was a great success, and really helped the Romero kids understand the importance of prayer and the reality of a loving, personal, and attentive Father in Heaven.

On Saturday we taught the mom the Word of Wisdom. Kind of a tough lesson since she smokes about 10 cigarettes a day. Her situation is a little different than most of our investigators: she reads the scriptures and pamphlets consistently, and she already knows the church is true. But she hasn't gone to church (we're hoping next week she'll go, si o si!!!), and of course she smokes. So on our last visit with her, we explained that everything we teach her is to help her family. Thar our purpose as missionaries throughout the world was to bring whole families to Christ, and that sometimes things in our lives prevent us from doing that. She took it really well and admitted that she always knew smoking was bad; she'd just never taken the initiative to try to stop. So we encouraged and helped her to create a plan to do so ...her goal is to stop smoking by June 6.

Unfortunately, the family wasn't able to make it to church because it rained all through the night :-( :-( And it's especially hard for them to get to church because they live in a pure dirt area of the city, and when it rains it's super muddy.  So now we're hoping for NEXT WEEK!

Please pray for these 2 families. Pray that they will receive and recognize the answers to their prayers strong enough that the experience encourages them to accept and live the commandments. It's sad that I've only got 6 weeks left ...please pray that they get baptized before then!

The Micheli family is totally boss!!
 
Today's p-day was a lot of fun!  The zone got together, and we played some good old basketball! We haven't played in a looooong time ...well, I haven't por lo menos (editor: "at least").  We decided to play District against District. My District against the Zone Leader's district.  And yup, we won both games! Of course, we all played like crap (keep in mind that as missionaries we haven't played real basketball in nearly 2 years; so we were all super bad).  But igual, it was fun.  Wow, I sweated so much; but winning made it all worth while. We played for about two hours, at which point we were pretty much dead.  A super good p-day!



So here's a little tender mercy that happened to me this week.  It was so simple, but it still just makes me smile to know that God is always near, and it was clear evidence that He works though many small and simple means. It was Saturday night, and my companion and I were in a grocery store grabbing a couple things to eat for Sunday (because obviously you can't shop on Sunday).  I grabbed a few things -- bananas, oatmeal, milk -- and waited in the cash-register line to pay.  When I got to the front, lo and behold, I had forgotten my credit card and was unable to buy any food!  All I had in my pocket was about 30 pesos in cash. So I bought what I could with that (which turned out to be just the plain oatmeal), and walked out of the store back to our apartment. Suddenly, we heard from behind us, "Elder!! ¿Como va a comer avena sin leche?" (editor: "How are you going to eat oatmeal without milk?). This random guy ran up to me and gave me the milk I wasn't able to buy. What a sweet, simple act of kindness. I had never met him before.  But he had noticed that I wasn't able to buy the milk, and so out of the kindness of his heart, he bought it for me ...and chased me down just to give it to me. It's just a simple testimony to me that God is always aware of his children and is always sending us simple messages saying that He is there and cares for us.


I know God lives and I know He loves us. The more we look for Him, the more we'll notice Him in our lives ...the more He answers our prayers with tender mercies.

I love the mission and love what I do!

LOVE YOU!!!


Monday, April 27, 2015

I have seen, heard, and shaken the hand of a true Apostle

I really don't know where to begin.  Such a good week!

Unfortunately, we lost a lot of investigatores, but we finally found a family -- the Romeros -- that is listening to us. A family! We've taught them about 4 times now. The parents are married, and they have 4 kids. They like what we teach and everything, but they live super far from the church :p So that is the hard part; we now have to get them to go to church. :p

Tender Mercies
Tender Mercies bag
We had 2 tender mercies happen to us yesterday and today. Because of the visit of Elder Oaks, the office has basically stopped fulfilling its normal responsibilities and is preparing for his visit. So because of this we haven't been reimbursed for all of the church expenses we pay with our personal money.  And so, we're broke ...hard core broke. I have at this moment $4 pesos in my pocket :-(  So we have been trying to ration ourselves on rice this week ...and we've been starving as a result.

But last night we went to visit a member to ask for some references, and obviously seeing the hunger in our eyes, she gave us a cake and some media lunas (bread things).  We ate everything ...literally everything (I think we may have eaten the plastic bag). It was a feast of pure joy. I was really happy.

And then today, out of nowhere a member sent us a message saying that she was outside of our apartment. When we opened the door, she had a giant bag full of food!!! FOOD!!! I was so happy! It had milanesas, a bag of cookies, fruits, potatoes, etc. The Lord understands :) We have been so hungry this week!


Apostle Dallin H Oaks
So now the best part......ELDER OAKS CAME TO VISIT US THIS WEEK!!!! BAHHH!!!  The entire mission came together for this unique opportunity.  It was incredible!  Sooo spiritual ...and also hilarious; he's a funny guy!

I've still got a part of my heart in Mexico from the beginning
of my mission. Elder Sibaja (left) and Elder De La Peña.
As he started out his talk, he was telling us about his wife, Kristen, and how she was a single adult for a long time. He was like "Now when we got married, Kristen was a single adult...she was an OLD single adult  ...she was a VERY OLD single adult." Just the way he said it was hilarious, haha. She was like 50 something when they got married.

My 2 sons!!! Elder Conway y Elder Caceres
Also, as he was presenting his wife, he complimented her a lot. So she got up and took the mic and said "Elder Oaks is being really nice today ...he isn't always this nice!" We all started dying of laughter at that 'cause she made it sound like he wasn't always so nice.  And then he said "In English, there is a saying: 'condemn with kindness'. I believe that is what just happened. It seems to Kristen that I am not always that nice to her." Bahahahaha, that was just one of the best!

At one point during his talk, his wife got up and gave him a note saying that some volcanoes in Chile had erupted, and that flights through Buenos Aires had been cancelled.  Her note said the church needed their passports and money "now." He then chuckled, turned to us, and said "Elders, when you're married, you're going to understand that when your wife asks you for money, she's going to want it now!" Hahaha, just so funny! At that point, his assistant got up to get the money and passports, and take care of things.  And as he was walking out of the room, Elder Oaks pointed to him and said "And when your wife wants money 'now,' sometimes you're going to have to visit a banker to get that money." Bahaha sooo funny!!!


I can well imagine that just reading about his jokes doesn't make them sound too funny.  But trust me, he was hilarious the entire time. Simply hilarious.


Elder León goes home this Wednesday :-(

But besides being funny, it was also an incredibly spiritual talk. He started off like this, "I am full of truth and light. I could talk to you for hours, but I am limited to only 45 minutes and must depend on the Spirit to prioritize what I say." When he said that, we all buckled up and prepared for his important words.

He started out by talking about the Sabbath Day. He said that it was the center of our worship as Latter-day Saints. That it was a principle of Eternal importance, and that no one can be faithful to the church and God if they can't sanctify this day.

He then shared with us, Alma 26:22:

Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance.


He pointed out that this scripture says thousands would be converted to the Lord, but nothing about baptizing thousands. He suggested the first message we should share with our investigators is that of repentance, baptism is 2nd. He acknowledged that we probably can't each baptize thousands of people, but we can certainly proclaim the message of repentance to thousands. And that is the success of a missionary.

This was the point when his wife interrupted him with the note about the cancelled flights. Then he continued saying "In life, there will always be interruptions. One of these is death. It is always with us, and at any moment it can take us."  He continued, "Death is just that, an interruption. It is not an end, but a gateway to continue our eternal lives." He bore powerful testimony of the resurrection and how all of us will see our loved ones again. This was a powerful moment. His words were clear and powerful ...piercing to our minds and soul. Without any doubt, with all the confidence in the world, "We will see them again."  So simple.  But when I heard it, in person, from an Apostle of the Lord, it became so real and simple to me.  Death is just an interruption, and we will see our loved ones again.


Revelation
Elder Oaks left us with a "Spirit Hand" to help us teach about the Holy Ghost.
He then moved onto personal revelation. He talked about what we can do to receive it. He said it clearly helps to be in the temple. Revelation often comes in the morning before things get too busy, when we are physically and spiritually alert, when we are studying the scriptures, when we follow the advice of our leaders, and when we believe that we will receive it.

Ways to recognize it are when we feel happy and joyous, or when the inspiration received invites us to do something that we don't want to do. As an example, if we are tired but wake up at 4am and receive the inspiration to stay in bed, that is probably our own thoughts. But if we receive the inspiration to get up out of bed to check on something, then that is probably from the Lord, and we would be wise to follow it. Elder Oaks said it is very common to receive a strong feeling to not do something, or to do something that we haven't done before.

Revelation can come in many forms; for example, in a dream. We can tell if a dream is revelation if it is clear, not confusing, and we receive the interpretation of it. It there is no interpretation, it is just a dream.

For people with a northern-American culture, Elder Oaks explained that revelation often comes in the form of words written on the backboard of our minds ...we see and read the words rather than have visions or dreams.

In all cases, the Lord will communicate to us (assuming we're listening) in ways that are familiar to us. He gave the example of a native American Indian who was called to be a patriarch. When he gave blessings, he would see simple events in his mind and interpret them into English. This patriarch gave a blessing during the time of the Iron Curtain in which he told the young man receiving the blessing that he was as a plant growing up on one side of a fence, and that a strong wind would blow over the seeds of the plant to land on the other side of the fence, and sprout and also grow to be strong plants. As this young man got older, he had opportunity to cross the Iron Curtain and preach the gospel, and had much success.

The bottom line is revelation comes in forms that are simple and familiar to our culture. Really cool and profound doctrine.


Personal Witness
As he was leaving the sacrament room, I had a really powerful experience that I won't ever forget. As is customary, we stand when a Prophet or Apostle of the Lord enters or leaves the room. And so, as he was leaving, we stood as a sign of respect. He turned back to wave goodbye. At this instant, I had the words "There is a man of God" strongly pierce my mind ...just as he explained sometimes happens. I saw the words written on the back of my mind, and they spoke strongly to me. I read them in my mind's eye, and then softly spoke them to myself, "There is a man of God." As I said the words, the spirit warmly testified to me that it was true. I felt so much joy and was so sure at that moment. I have never had an experience like this before.  Those words came so clearly and powerfully to my mind. He is a man of God ...as are the other 11 and the First Presidency.

I know even more now than ever before that we have true prophets and apostles here on the earth today. I have always believed this, but I have now seen one face to face, and was able to feel his strong spiritual influence. I testify that God loves us, and for this reason sends us prophets and apostles to guide us. My experience with Elder Oaks really fortified my testimony of the church and the importance of the work that we are doing.

It also really strengthened my relationship with God. I know He loves me, and that I am his son. I really felt His love for me during this opportunity to meet a true Apostle of the Lord. I am so grateful for the privilege to have seen, heard, and shaken the hand of an Apostle.


God Loves us, and humbly, we are members of His true church. I know it.

Love you all!!


Elder Clemons


Subway sandwiches after the mission conference with Elder Dallin H Oaks !!!