Thursday, December 19, 2013

Editor's note:
So, one of the emails we sent Travis last week asked if he had received his permanent visa yet.
Travis sent us his weekly letter as he normally would on his regular p-day, but it contained only one word:
"No"
That's all we received from him, no other letters, no mission progress report, no "I love it here"  ...nada.

Monday waned on, and we ultimately went to sleep with no additional information ...wondering if this was another one of his antics (see here and here for details).

=================================================
Here's what we unexpectedly got on Tuesday:

Hello, sorry for the delay, the power shut down in the whole city ...the riot is still partially going on.
I have called this week Zombie Apocalypse week just because everyone is scared and preparing. We have been on lockdown for nearly a week. For 2 days we couldn't even leave the apartment, and the rest of the week we had to be in at 7, or before nightfall. This week, we've been allowed to come in at 8, but word is going around that another riot is going to take place on the 20th, so we might be forced into our pensions again. But nothing has happened to any missoinaries so far. :)

So thank you all so much for praying for our investigators; we have also been fervently praying for them to come, and even had a fast for them. But sadly, no one came. :( Which means we won't have a "White Christmas" (baptism in December) after all. That really crushed me. I have never worked for and prayed so hard for my investigators before, but still no fruit came of it. It is hard, but hopefully with the transfer tomorrow, I can restart and pick myself up again. :)

So Elder Pickle and I had our first legitimate scripture bashing lesson a couple days ago. We went to visit our investigator Rosaña, and her evengelico friend was there. She started attacking many points of the Church, and we had supportive verses from both the Bible and Latter-Day Saint scriptures to prove each and every one. It was quite empowering. We were literally able to respond to every doubt. I must admit I felt quite proud defending our Church.

Of course, "proving" things from the scriptures is not the Lord's way.  But this incident actually worked out in our favor because as we passed by Rosaña's home the following day, we had opportunity to tell her we don't like scripture bashing, and that the Lord teaches through the Spirit. This experience showed her that the missionaries really do know the scriptures, but that we prefer to teach the truthfulness of the Gospel by the Spirit.  We testified to her that our Father in Heaven really does answer prayers, and leads and guides His children if they seek His help.  Rosaña's now has increased confidence in the missionaries, and she feels it's true ;)

Bahahahaha, so the hija de Hermana Barrio's (Damarís) bought me Christmas presents! She got me all these chocolates and the Book of Mormon on CD in Castillano. I thought it was super nice of her, I guess she likes me a bit ;)

As a funny side note, por cause de la riot, we've had to wear mostly non-mission clothes all week, so Hermana Barrios said that we've finally fulfilled one of her dreams ...to see an American missionary in jeans ...how funny is that!

In case you're wondering why we visit the Barrios family so much, it's because we don´t have our own phone. And because the Barrios live closest to us, our mission leaders call their phone each night to communicate with us.  So each night we're at their house for a short while.

Oh, I gave a talk in church last week (my 2nd). I felt honored to be able to share my testimony and preach the Gospel and hope to inspire the local members. The Lord really blessed me in this talk to be able to articulate and touch the people's hearts. I love bringing hope, joy, and truth to people, and to see it in their eyes really filled my soul with joy.

The Lord's gospel is a gospel of happiness. And the church is true :)  I am really humbled to be a member of the Lord's true Church, and consider it a privilege to bring people to this knowledge. :)

Love you all,
Elder Clemons


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Argentina is in revolt! ...so we've had to stay inside for a few days

So first off Hi,

Sorry it took so long to right this week, Argentina is essentially in revolt; it's kinda thrilling. 


Safety
For our safety, we had to stay inside for a couple of days ...so boring!

Anyway, the police here have gone on strike since they make too little, and so the country has taken advantage of the lack of a police force. Stores are being robbed and multiple killings have occurred. Everyone is preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse. Each day during the day the store owners build up their defenses and try to barricade their goods inside, and once the sun sets, everything goes chaotic. The city has been thrashed.

President told us to have 60 liters of water in storage to last us, and we had to wear normal clothes (YES!) so we blended in. It was an exciting week, but spent mostly indoors. :p

So I'm safe, but pretty upset at the revolt going on.  We are losing valuable time teaching our investigators! And we had all of our important lessons scheduled for Monday and Tuesday nights... the days we had to stay inside. :( We still haven't been able to make contact with them. I really hope we can still teach them and that nothing bad happened. Gah, these were really critical lessons we had planned. If our investigators don't go to church this week, then we can't baptize them in the month of December ...and I really want to have a "White Christmas" in Argentina! 


Lavies Family
So we are teaching this one family named the Lavies.  They are super cool and receptive of Gospel discussion. However, he is hardcore Evangelico. At the end of our first lesson, we asked him to say the prayer. He excitedly accepted. He started out normal, but then started chanting and screeching, with random normal words in between ...a poor counterfeit of the Gift of Tongues. ;)  Sure it was the same "phrase" in repetition, but it was cool. The mad thing was very interesting. bahaha But he has a good heart and a sincere desire to learn, and he is actually friends with some members, so it's perfect!


So just random things I guess
It's super hot, like super hot; the humidity is satanic. Horrible. gah. I feel disgusting.

Everyone loves Americans. I don't understand why my friend thought he was hated; they worship Americans down here, especially the women ...I'm pretty sure the daughter of Hermana Loli has a thing for me, bahaha 

Fotana has lots of little Catholic "folk shrines" with random saints in them. Unfortunately, they are usually locked to protect from vandals. They are literally on every block. My favorite is Saint Gaucho Gil.  Apparently he was an Argentine Cowboy from the 1840's who was killed.  He's really popular in Argentina.

My favorite candies here so far are Pepas ...I literally bought 14 bags a couple days ago.  Should last me a couple weeks ;-)

Hunter the Frog still lives with us in our bathroom.  Bahaha.  He is very loyal and loving. Always willing to give me comfort in times of need.

Oh, the Argentine "100 pesos" bill has a ton of counterfeits! The ATM here even gave us two fake bills!!!  It's crazy identical! So good their own government can't even spot the difference! Bahaha But luckily, the people haven't caught on yet, so we got rid of them.

I'll send pics next week when I get to the library .....if it's operating ...I think it may have been destroyed.

So that's it :)

I love it here, and please pray that our investigators attend church. :)

Love you all!
Elder Clemons


...and could I have all the information on the doctrines of the Evangelico church, like scriptures and all? :)  Thanks!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sylvia got baptized!

Hello all,

Sylvia

So if you are wondering, the baptism did happen. SILVIA GOT BAPTIZED!!! So incredible. The branch essentially did everything for us, so all we had to do is make sure she was there. The support for her was also super incredible, the branch had about 30 people!! :) Her family doesn't really like us, but her daughter, cousins, and extremely close brother came to support her. :) And now the cousin wants to start taking the lessons! :)

Everything was just so touching. I didn't actually get to see her be baptized (too many people were in the room). But after she came up out of the water and the baptismal doors shut, you could hear her crying. That was touching. :) When she came out she was just so happy. :)


First baptism feels incredible. Everything was just incredible. The branch was so supportive, Sylvia was happy, just perfect. :)

Yesterday in church, despues she was confirmed, she bore her testimony. That was such a cool experience. She told us of her goals in life, how she never wants to go astray, and how she wants to bring her family into the church. :) Now that's a convert. :) Now all that is left is to teach her the other lessons, and to keep in contact with her forever ;)




The most amazing thing is that this coming 12th of December, Silvia is going to the temple!! :D Woot! The branch happens to be going, and she decided that she wanted to go to. Obviously just for baptisms for the dead, but still, she´s going to the temple, something she decided to do on her own. :)

The branch here is incredible; they have really absorbed her into the church. She is definitely in good hand.



The Big Sky
I miss the mountains. The world here is too big. The sky seems so much larger here without mountains. It's so weird to feel so open, but it makes the sunsets here incredible. When there are clouds, it's just jaw dropping.

Evita Peron
The current president of Argentina, a woman, recently changed the 100 pesos bill to Evita Peron!


Other Investigators
We have like no investigators. But we do have a couple of potentials: the Montanas y the Rojas. The Montanas have some Law of Chasity problems, meaning he is currently married to another women but living with her. And the Rojas have very deep faith in the Evengelio Church. But both have real potential, so pray for them. :)


And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
-- Doctrine and Covenants 18:15
How great is my joy to have brought one soul unto Christ. The feeling will forever go unmatched.

This baptism was such a testimony builder for me, the joy I felt just testified to me of the greatness and truthfulness of this work. :) This is His work and His glory. I love it out here. I know the church is true.
Elder Clemons



Some extra photos...

Some after baptism festivities :)
I think this little guy sleeps in our toilet...  



Monday, November 25, 2013

We can always get in, teach, bond ...and then they don't commit :-(

What's it like "knocking on doors"?
It is a lot less scary. We actually clap, so I have developed a really loud clap. The people´s culture here is so much more accepting and friendly. Even if they don´t convert, they still invite you in and feed you. It is awesome.

Tell us about the culture or what people live like.
The people live with the nesecidades ...but happily. Everyone is always sitting outside chatting with others, except during the siesta from 1-4, everyone just sleeps. But the people here are incredible. So nice. I´m shocked daily about how nice people are here. So willing to give to others and just downright friendly. In the states its all about oneself, but here, if you are not talking with some random stranger you are weird. Everyone is a brother.

Tell us more about how you and your companion are doing
We are doing good, we work well together and we teach well.

Elder Pickle's grandma made us these awesome little Christmas stockings :-)

Dang, I always heard about Latinos and their dreams, but this is ridiculous. I have had 3 people now admit to me that they dreamed of my coming before I arrived. One being Silvia, and the other 2 members: Hermana Loli and her daughter. It's kinda weird. But you know, what ever, I´ll take it. haha.

So you should let Justin know that the magic trick he gave me has increased the rate that we get accepted by at least 67%. Everyone loves it -- and not just kids -- the adults are shocked by it too. They love it, so thanks to Justin, we teach a lot now. hahaha.

The people and investigators here love us to death. We can always get into houses, have a spectacularly fun time, really bond, teach, and then they don´t commit. People love us, but not enough to commit. But then they always invite us back. It´s crazy. Yesterday for example, this Catholic lady and her family (who recently rejected the Gospel) invited us over for a party. They fed us Asado (giant awesome meat barbecue), gave us 2 cakes, 2 things of  ice cream, and tons of pop. I don´t understand why we are so beloved, but not accepted. So strange.

The work here is kinda hard. Since our area is new, we have no former investigators to visit. The area book is just the people that we have found. And we drop many daily. So we are usually just contacting all day. Of course we have investigators, but within a couple days we will most likely drop them. It is just how the work goes here. We sift the wheat.

The coolest/scariest thing happened a couple days ago. Silvia was kinda feeling sick, so after a lesson she asked us to give her a blessing of health. So we did. Immediately after we gave her the blessing, she stood up, and then fainted. Uhhhh ...that is not what we were expecting. She awoke and fainted multiple times after that. It was crazy. One usually wouldn´t think that should happen after a blessing of health. But who are we to judge how God is going to heal, or even if He will? But when she did awake, she was fine, completely better. I suppose she needed to faint, and if she hadn't fainted in the presence of members, she would have done it walking home by herself. So although it seemed bad, that the blessing didn´t work, with faith and patience, the healing did occur, in the way God intended it to.

Her baptism is this Saturday! :D She'll make it. :)  Elder Pickle will be doing the actual baptizing. It is so exciting! :D We have everything already planned. This is going to be such a great baptism! :D I´m so excited!!! :D GAH! 

Also, happy Thanksgiving.

We are planning (along with the other Fontanna Elders) to do a Navidad activity in the center of Fontana. We are going to have Christmas music playing, a bunch of Christ and Christmas pictures, and we will be handing out lots of materials, meaning BoMs etc. We're hoping to be able to invite people to see what Mormons believe about Christmas, our Rama (editor's note: Branch) is totally in on it and willing to help us out. We're going to try hard to make this both informative and very uplifting. Of course, we hope to find a lot of new investigators :)

I have really learned a lot about the connection between prayer, faith, desire, work, and success. There is a direct correlation. We pray for success, have faith that it will happen. We have desire to work for it, and then we work for it. Success isn't something easily given, its earned. It looks like success will ONLY come as I patiently strive daily, working 'til the last minute. I must show God I want success through my work ethic.

Humbly, I know the church is true, I know it with all my being. I love it out here. And besides being the true church (which is huge), it's also a good church ...by their works you shall know them. Look at the Church; look at what it does, what it stands for, how it conducts itself. No one can deny the goodness of the church. And although it's small, the authority of God resides in the Church. This good church. I know it.

Elder Clemons



We finally got out toilet working!!  But don't put TP in it!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Clearly, the Lord NEVER gives up on his children :-)

Hello Everyone! :D

So before I forget, there are tons of Evangelicos here....please send me EVERYTHING about them ...and some cool Bible scriptures too.

So how is Lori doing? How´s work? How's Kimi?


Working harder...
As I mentioned in my previous letters, the work here is so much easier than it was in Carlsbad, but I know I can work harder, and my companion and I are doing all we can. Amazingly, the missionaries here don´t really contact!! They don't! In Cali, that was pretty much all we did. But here we just walk around until we "feel" that we need to talk to someone. Yes of course I agree following your impressions is obviously needed when preaching the gospel. But I believe we show God our earnest desire to preach by contacting everyone we meet! So regardless of what others say, I contact nearly everyone I meet ...and so far we've set 15 baptisms because of it. ;)  As always, now we just have to make sure that they stay firm in the faith. :P


Sylvia...
So I want to tell you about an investigator we have named Silvia. One afternoon last week, we were walking by an area near our neighborhood when we saw over 10 companionships of Jehovah's Witnesses contacting down a particular street. It was ironic because that same morning we had just studied a bunch of Bible-bashing scriptures we could potentially use against them (but we both know that's not how we convert). So we continued to walk on, not wanting to get into any kind of religious confrontation. But we both felt that we should go back to bash. Yet we kept walking away because of how awful that seems. Then the feeling of bashing came back. So we turned around and went down the street where all the Witnesses were.

Now here's what's strange: we didn't contact anybody; rather someone contacted us (Silvia). Out of all the Witnesses that were there (for we were in the midst of them) she selected us out of the bunch. We went to her front yard and began to teach her. We taught her the Restoration. It was fairly normal until we got to the BoM. We handed her one, and she started to flip through the pages. She turned to the picture of Moroni putting the plates in the ground ...and then went silent.

She then told us of a dream she'd had over 20 years ago as a child. She dreamed of a Man putting golden plates into the ground and praying. None of her family believed her, and were frequently condescending to her about the dream. But for her whole life, she'd remembered this picture, and had been searching for any church that could answer her question about the dream. When we walked by, she felt as if we could answer, and we gave her the answer she'd been looking for all her life: The Book of Mormon.

Even now, her family is still very harsh to her about joining the church. But Silvia's faith is unshakable. Despite the lies her family tells her about us and the church, she stays firm in her faith. And she's giving everything for this church ...she is literally loosing her family (but gaining something even more precious).

President Heyman gave a talk at our Stake conference yesterday, one that seemed very guided by the Spirit! Silvia was attending with us when President got up and started talking about... wait for it... Moroni burying the plates!! :D It was so touching to see President guided by the Spirit to provide that needed comfort and affirmation to Silvia. His talk was exactly what she needed. :) She WILL be baptized on the 30th. :)





This has been a touching experience for me. I am witnessing a women give up everything, and for just a book. Her faith builds mine. I know the Lord works in ways that we can´t understand. He has been preparing this women for this day for literally over 20 years. Clearly, the Lord NEVER gives up on his children, and He gives everyone multiple chances to return back to him.

The Lord´s hand is in our lives. I testify of this.

All is well, I love you all. :)

Love Elder Clemons


Some quick Q&As

1) Tell us more about your comp...
     He is good. He went to UofU for a year. He's been training nearly his entire mission here.

2) Does your toilet work yet?
     Yes

3) How are you adjusting to the food?
     Food? what food? The choices here are pasta...and bread.

4) Did you get your Priesthood Line of Authority?
    How do you intend to use it?
     Yes, but I really only needed it in Carlsbad

5) What are the homes like / how do the people you teach live?
     The people here live in very humble conditions
     ...usually all have floors,
     but there are bugs and spiders everywhere :D

6) What's your ward / branch like?
     We have a branch of about 70 active members with
     18 Melchizedek Priesthood holders.

     We don´t have a chapel ...just a building that we meet in :)



Monday, November 11, 2013

We set 8 baptismal dates this day. 8!!

Travis with President and Sister Heyman and Elder Pickle
I can tell you already that you are getting like no letter this week. Only having 1 hour to write, and with this connection, it's nearly impossible, sorry. :(
 
Things are good, we built our beds and got a fridge and oven, so we have some things now. 
 
The work here is incredible, so much potential; and everyone is open to gospel discussions. We have 12 fechas set. But lets just hope they stay firm. ;)
 
Funny story, so our toilet decided to stop working for like the past week ...so let's just say we´ve made good use of little plastic bags :p ahahahahaha
 
The language here is so different, it's faster but at the same time clearer. I can´t explain it. I just got used to Mexican, and now I have to adjust to this. But it'll come with time of course :)
So it's hot here, ridiculously hot. I´m like black now. sweet watch tan line too. I have never sweated so much in my life. Within just a few minutes you're just drenched. It´s so disgusting. But it's the work :)
So my companion Elder Pickle actually served in Carslbad as well, pero hace mucho meses (editor: for several months). He is a good companion.

So of the 20 new investigators we picked up, only 1 came to church ...the one that we had just dropped, so we were pretty surprised at that. It´s super easy to get baptisms here, but commitment is the hard part.
We did get beds and we've erected them.  So now we have a fridge and an oven - which means we can actually start to cook. But we are still without utensils' so we can't quite cook yet :p  But the apartment is looking up. It'll just take a little bit of time is all. :)

I love the branch, the members here are just incredible. They are all so kind and loving and so willing to give. It's really quite inspiring and heart-warming. I love the branch so much! :D It is a little bit dramatic amoungst the leaders though ...bahaha, they are all really controlling. :p
It rains hard core here, it's so cool. And when it rains, it goes for days. I´m going to buy my boots today. Everything floods down here, our streets turn into foot-deep rivers. So I get dirty really fast.

Everyone down here is either Catholic or Evangelical. They do these castings out every night, pretty tight. 

Everyone owns a motor-scooter.

So I would like to share with you an experience I had this week. I believe on Wed I woke up for the day, and I just felt dark. I didn't want to do anything. I was sick of failure each day, sick of walking around hoping for success, but getting none. I just felt down.
But I also know that blessings come after the trial of faith. I knew that all missionaries have to go through stuff like this multiple times throughout their missions. I knew I couldn't give up. So for my personal study I studied patience. I then read about the Sons of Mosiah, and how the Lord PROMISED that they would have success if they endured their afflictions with patience and faith. And look what happened to them? Thousands were converted.
My first Pension / Apartment
So I likened the promise to myself and I promised God that I would work harder than I ever have, that I would contact all the people I could, regardless of the circumstances. Even though I REALLY didn't want to, I promised God I would.
 
We set 8 baptismal dates this day. 8!! And they all came from people that I went way out of my way to contact. In fact, with 4 of them, we literally walked right past them. But I remembered my promise and went back to contact them. I know God honored my promise. God just wanted me to practice my patience and faith. And when I showed God my willingness to sacrifice myself to bring others to Him, He blessed me. I know it.
 
While the mission has been really hard for me, I'm not homesick. The living conditions are fine, the language is great. I just want success, I really just want to convert people. And it's not happening. Despite how hard I've been working, or how powerfully I testify, conversions just aren't happening for me. :( It really just brings me down. I want success.
 
But I feel this is just what God wants me to learn. Patience. Lots of Patience. Regardless of my work, God won't give me success until I'm at my breaking point ...which I haven't reached.

I cry to the Lord every day for success, for these people to accept us, to read, pray, attend church. But still nothing is happening. I don't know what more I can do, maybe it's just to endure and persevere. Like the scripture says, "bear your afflictions with patience."
 
But I know this is God's work. And His ways are higher than mine. God has a plan for me, and I know that success will come. I know it. I promise to you, as I have to our Heavenly Father, that I won't ever give up. I will constantly work, endlessly strive and sacrifice myself to serve Him. I won't give up.
 
Love you all,
 
Elder Travis Clemons


Monday, November 4, 2013

I'm in Argentina !!!

Travis has been assigned to the city of Fontana, just south of Resistencia.
So I have like no time to write here.  I am only given one hour and these computers are so rediculously slow that it makes it really hard.  So, you're going to have to choose between letters or pictures.  But there is no time for both :-(
 
But I will try to tell you all that I can.
 
-----------------------------------
 
I made it!  I´m safely here.  After 50 hours of travel, I have finally made it to Resistencia!
 
My companion is Elder Pickle. Our area is Fontanegro 2, part of the city of Fontana, and its just south of Resistencia, so I´m in the big city for now.
 
It´s hot here, really really hot. And it´s only going to get hotter haha. So our area is new; well, not new, but just split. So we are starting a new pension (apartment). And while that sounds nice, in this case, it's not ...as in, we have absolutely nothing! No beds, no fridge, no fan, no running water (I haven´t showered for over 4 days. Hahaha) ...pretty much nothing at all.
 
The Elders that were supposed to set us up this apartment before we got here ....didn´t really. So now we have to. I´m assuming within the next 2 weeks, we'll have set up everything, and it´ll be great then. :)

The families here are incredible, I love them so much! They are so kind and loving and just so caring. I know I will love this branch! Usually there are about 70 people that attend church, and about 15 priesthood holders. So there is really great potential here. :)
 
We meet in this little store that has been converted into a meeting house.  I´m going to work hard here so we can get a chapel built!
Everything here is so different. You can stop someone in the street, talk for 15 minutes, invite them to baptism, and they accept. It´s crazy. But I hope people actually stay committed.  Of course, I want converts for life, not just for baptism.

I´m so happy to be here. I know why I am here, and I´m going to work hard to fulfill my purpose. I know this is the true Church of Christ. I wouldn't be here if I didn't KNOW that. I love it. I´ll work hard.
 
I love you all.
P.S. Pictures are impossible to send; it literally takes hours. I'm hoping it's just because of this computer.  - But for now, just this one picture. Sorry.


Monday, October 28, 2013

VISA !!!!!

Well, the time has come ...MY VISA IS HERE!!! :D
 
I just received the call last night. I was so extremely happy and excited.

I don't really know anything that is happening though, all I know is that this Monday I have to be up at the mission office by 8:30 am.

I have mixed feelings of course. I was just saying yesterday how much I have grown to love the people here, and how I didn't want to leave. :p But that was probably God's plan all along. I'm sad to leave, but still thrilled to go. :)

It's a whole new mission, culture, language, and adventure down there! :) I'm totally excited! :D

I'm an Argentine ;)

----------------------------------------------

Editor's note (Monday):

Travis called us this afternoon around 4:30.  Turns out he was already in Atlanta on a layover on his way to Buenos Aires by 7:00am, then Resistencia thereafter.

We asked him if he was travelling with other missionaries, and he said there were about 30 or so of them travelling together!! ...including all of his MTC district.

By the way, we also learned that Travis was referring to a "tourist" visa.  Looks like the entire group of missionaries is in that same boat ...hoping to get their permanent visas within the next 90 days.

One last point, Travis didn't get his letters or packages as he normally does on Saturdays (2 days ago) because it appears the "zone leaders car was running low on miles."  And now that he's left his California mission, looks like he may never get those.  Just FYI...

Monday, October 21, 2013

It just feels like everything good that could've happened, didn't ...and everything bad, did

Hello Everyone!
 
So this was my first trial week in the mission. I'm sure every missionary has multiple weeks like this, and probably for their benefit ;-)
 
We had so much potential success this week, but at every single opportunity, we met failure. We set very high goals, goals that our area hasn't seen for a long time. We set tons of appointments and had members scheduled to attend with us to every one.  Everything was set, and we were well prepared for success.
 
But when we showed up to our appointments -- with our members -- not a single person was home. In fact, we ended up with the lowest number of lessons the entire time I've been here. That was super frustrating -- hour after hour after hour -- day after day -- taking time away from members just to have them face failure along with us. It really was extremely disappointing. 
 
Even our contacting was low. We had high expectations, but missed severely. It feels like everyone had a disrespectful vibe towards us this week. We couldn't invite just about anybody to do anything.
We also had no investigators come to Church this week. Even Gabriel didn't come to church, and he wasn't present for the two lessons we had prepared for him. :(
 
It just feels like everything good that could've happened, didn't, and everything bad, did.
 
 

But I know that every missionary has these kinds of weeks. Satan will always try to halt the work of the Lord and bring down the hearts of His missionaries. I know that things often get worse before they get better. And the sun ultimately always rises again. I believe that this week was a test from God to see if we would accept failure or stand up and try again. Well I can promise you that I will not accept mediocrity. I will always strive to stretch myself and work to the end of everyday. I understand that God will only bless those who show Him that they want success. We will continue to set high expectations, and despite setbacks, we'll strive to achieve them. We will show God that we want success, by going out in search of it, by planning for it, by expecting it, by reaching for it.
 
But despite even the darkest hour, light will always pierce the night. We were still blessed with success. We picked up a former investigator. Her name is Fernanda. She studied with the missionaries about 6 months ago, and even had a baptismal interview and passed it. The problem then was her step-dad. Her mom loves us to death, loves us, loves us, loves us. She even said that she knows she will one day be a Mormon. The problem is the step-dad. He is understandably worried about his family. He did allow Fernanda's brother, Alexis, to be baptized into the church, but once Fernanda was about to get baptized, decided he didn't want a split-religion family, stopped her baptism, and wouldn't let Alexis attend Church anymore. 
 
Understandably, the father didn't want conflicts to arise because of religion, but as time passed after Alexis' baptism, he went "down hill" really fast. After he stopped affiliating with the church, he made some bad decisions. Elder Jensen and I have persistently returned to their house the entire time I've been here; we've never gotten in, but we have had opportunities to talk. And now, Alexis is coming back to church, and making some better decisions again. And his family has noticed ...and we've been allowed to teach them once again. The wife even invited us to her son's Catholic baptism ...which was actually a little weird, or different I should say. SUPER loud music and dancing. But it was cool to see. The wife even asked us to bless her baby. It felt a little out of place; but we took the baby and step-dad outside and said a sweet little prayer. We were then allowed to return the next day to teach Fernanda. :)  So I think with more time, we might even be privileged to teach the father.
 
Another blessing we had this week was with Pedro, Gabriel's father-in-law. He loves us so much. His beliefs have completely changed since we've been teaching. He absolutely knows that the church is true, and has gone from hard-core Catholic to dedicated Mormon. :)  And as an emblem of his care for us ...he bought us real leather jackets!!! :D  Brand new, sweet Italian jackets!!   Well over $100 each! He also bought us some ties!! How cool is that! It was so exciting. When we came to teach him and Gabriel this last week, he gave us these presents.  We then taught our lesson, went home, and opened them up! We were awe struck. So kind and loving.  I will forever LOVE this jacket! I feel so cool! I just need to buy some matching pants ;) THRIFT SHOP! :D
 
This week was tough, I'm not going to lie. I hope I don't come across another week like this one in a long, long time. But I know there are lessons to be learned even from really tough weeks.
 
Patience and Hope. :)
 
I will never stop trying. As long as I give my full effort, I can never regret my work. :) I worked hard, and so I'm proud of last week ...but hopeful for the coming week. :)
 
I love you all and miss you tons!
 
Love Elder Clemons
 
 
 
Last Wednesday we had "Middle Part Miericoles!"  So fun and funny. We all had to wear our hair parted in the middle to our district meeting. And we all got prizes at the end for our parts! It was so funny! Enjoy! :D
 
 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ya, I knew members were important, but I didn't realize how much...

 
Howdy! :D
 
So I forgot to tell you, but since yesterday was a holiday, our P-day is today. So just in case I forget to write in the future, it's probably because it's a holiday. ;)
 
So mom, you're not going to like this, but since my visa application has been out so long, it has "expired" and Argentina has asked for a new, updated one. I'm not going to lie, I was a bit unhappy about that seeing we were as on top of that as you can be, but I got it taken care of and have already sent everything off to the Church. But here's some good news! ...my MTC companion has apparently already received his about 2 weeks ago.   So, it appears, good things happen to those who procrastinate ;-)   But for unknown reasons the president here is holding his visa. But at least the visa's are coming now ;)
 
I just barely got back from the Temple! :D  Oh wow, it was so beautiful and peaceful! :)  I love being around the temple; no one can deny the spiritual power that is found there. Without a doubt, I know that it is God's house here on earth. You just feel pure, uplifted, guided, happy, and as cheesy as it sounds -- heavenly. But that's just it. The feelings and presence felt at the temple are directly from God, it's a feeling that one cannot express, just experience. It's incredible and unique, found only at the House of God. (Oh, and the new film was absolutely spectacular! Loved it! So much more emotion. And I loved the awesome "Satan rules this kingdom" scene. I felt like I was in a legit movie.)
 
So what's up with our government? We've heard that it has shut down? Just some useful information and updates on that please. :)  (editor's note:  done!)
 
We met this cool black karate dude. We were knocking doors, and he was moving out.  We offered our help, and to our surprise (since everyone says no) he said yes. So we helped him move, and we learned that he was quite a character ...very friendly and talkative. He loved to show us his "karate" moves such as random kicks and backhand slaps. A very different style of karate, but useful....I guess.
 
We also met a self-proclaimed reincarnated Jesus ...which was quite interesting. While we were in the middle of a fairly basic conversation, he stopped us and said, "Sorry, but I have some more suffering I need to endure" and then rode off on his bike :-)
 
I have come to learn that when people commit to being baptized, it doesn't mean they actually mean it. I've seen a lot of our "commitments" fall away. It's so sad to see the spirit testify to people and for them to accept baptism, but then not do anything to nurture the beginning of that testimony. We are only going to baptize those people who desire it, and prove to God that they desire it through their efforts. I guess to a certain degree baptism is earned, not given.
 
So we have two new investigators that we have been working with. I don't recall if I mentioned them last week, but they are Jose y Javier. We had an incredible lesson with both of these men. Javier is really familiar with the Bible and is firm in his own personal beliefs.  Sometimes I feel that he invites us over just to bash and criticize, but his beliefs essentially match our message, so we stick with him. Last Tuesday we had a lesson with him and brought a recent convert -- Hermano Adolfo -- with us. He has such a strong testimony. Our lesson centered on the importance of the Book of Mormon and how to receive revelation. Hermano Adolfo's testimony was perfect. He talked about his own experiences and how his answer came as he was reading. I believe Javier was touched and promised he would read and pray ...we'll find out tonight. ;)
 
From this and other experiences, I have really learned the importance of members.  Ya, I knew they were important, but I didn't realize how much we needed their help until this lesson. Javier and Adolfo really clicked, and Adolfo's testimony was perfectly geared to Javier's needs.
 
Our Lesson with Jose was about the differences of our Church. We focused on Authority, Prophets, and the Book of Mormon. It was going great, things were flowing well. But then Jose asked the perfect off-topic question: "What happens after this life?" Well obviously we had the answer: Spirit World, Resurrection, Judgment, and the 3 kingdoms. We were able to testify of it using the Bible, and then finished up with some BoM references. It was very strong, and he was essentially blown away. We then bore testimony of the Plan of Salvation, and how in this plan God has given us "guides" to help us return (meaning prophets, Book of Mormon, Light of Christ, personal revelation, etc). We then asked him if he could see any importance in reading the Book of Mormon. And he answered perfectly, "Because I need to gain a personal witness of the truthfulness of this book, and if I do, then everything you have taught me is true." I was ecstatic to hear that answer. It feels so good to feel the spirit testifying through you.  And then when the investigator understands it, the spirit just grows. :)
 
We had another incredible lesson last night with Gabriel and Pedro. They both had questions about Joseph Smith's life, and so we decided to watch the history of Joseph Smith. I have seen this movie many times, but this night was different ...much more powerful. Being out in the mission and  testifying daily of Joseph Smith, makes this movie so much more personal. I could feel the spirit being poured on me during the first vision.  I felt angry (but also proud) at the tarring and feathering of Joseph Smith.  And I felt power as Joseph Smith, in jail and shackles, commanded those "fiends of the infernal pit" to be silent. This story, and Christ's church that he helped restore, have become so much more a part of me while I've been on my mission these few short months. I literally felt my testimony growing as a watch the movie, and I can declare to the world that Joseph Smith is a true prophet called of God as was Moses. His dieing testimony stands as a witness to the world of the truthfulness of the Restoration.
 
Anyways, the movie also really touched Gabriel and Pedro. Gabriel was silent, and Pedro bore testimony to us. He told us, "When you first started coming here, I didn't believe at all in Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon.  But now, seeing the living prophet last week and seeing this movie, now I know. I know modern day prophets and revelation exists." It was really powerful and touching. He then went on to explain that the trials and death of Joseph Smith prove the restoration true ...just as the apostles of old died for truth, so did this prophet Joseph Smith.  Gabriel then agreed with Pedro and said that he was ready for baptism. I think, in reality, he may be.  We just need to invite him to stay for all of church and finish up the lessons. So we will have to push his date back, but I do believe he will be baptized. He reads and prays daily about the BoM, and he knows it's true. The only thing left is to go to church all 3 hours and wait. :)
 
Well that's about all I have to say today. I'm growing daily in my testimony. I read this cool talk called the "17 Points of the True Church" which identifies the traits of the true church as identified in the Bible. It's a story of a convert who found his way to the church. Very touching and interesting. 
 
I know the Church and the Gospel it teaches are true.  I am a servant of our Lord, and I know I am on His errand. I will never deny the truth that this is the Lord's church, for as truth will always remain, so will my testimony. I know Christ is our Lord and Savior. I know it.
 
With Love,
Elder Clemons
 
 
P.S.  Thank you so much for the package! It is greatly appreciated! The only thing I can think of that would still be helpful would be to get a copy of my "line of authority" card. That would be cool to have. :)
 
Love you and miss you tons!
 
 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Wow, I feel like the investigator at this point...


So hello everyone!
 
No visa news yet, but it's not my time, it's God's ;)
 
So I would like to tell about my week before I get to the glorious conference!
 
De hecho (editor: "in fact"), nothing really super happened, but we did make great strides with Gabriel and some new investigators.  Essentially, Gabriel was already prepared for us prior to us contacting him. He is essentially doing everything on his own, he is building his own faith, he doesn't need us as a guide. He is nearly done with the Book of Mormon, he told me that he constantly prays for understanding and a testimony over it. It's incredible to see a man have faith, and show it. I prepared a really scripture heavy lesson on the Plan of Salvation (it went great!) and he already understood most of it with but a few questions. I really learned from this lesson the importance of using scriptures, because if you can backup the doctrines that you teach with the scriptures, people are more likely to believe it :) Without the scriptures, we're just a bunch of teenagers sharing our opinions. When we share scriptures with the Spirit, it reinforces the doctrines.

 
As in weeks past, Elder Jensen was in the other room teaching Pedro so me and Gabriel had some time to chat. It was really spiritual. This man was so prepared for the gospel. He was asking me about the temple, and why only members are allowed in. I explained to him how it's a sacred place of the Lord, His literal house. He completely understood the difference between secrecy and sacredness. This lead us into a conversation about worthiness, and he shared with me how he used to be an alcoholic, and his battle to overcome it. It was really touching to see a man just express his heart to me ...I'm just a kid. He told me that when he drank, he would feel depressed, unworthy, guilty; but when he would read the Bible, he would be filled with power, enough power to overcome his addiction. He then explained that when he reads the BoM, he is filled with even more power and desire. He told me that prayer and reading are God's way of protecting us. :) Amen brother! Wow, I feel like the investigator at this point. He then started asking questions about Joseph Smith, his story. He was shocked to hear that such a great man, and prophet of God, was martyred for his testimony. I then took this opportunity to bear my testimony about Joseph Smith, and how I KNOW that he was a true prophet, and that he brought forth the BoM, another Testament of Jesus Christ. And that Joseph Smith would not likely die for a false book, but that it was true, and that he with his last words died praising God. This really touched Gabriel; he agreed that no man would die for such a book unless it was true. I then invited him to come and view the living prophet. I encouraged him to write down some of the questions of his soul, pray about them, and the prophets and apostles would answer them. And guess what, Gabriel came and said his questions were answered. :) These prophets are of God, and speak nothing but His words for our benefit and guidance.
 
So as I said in my last email we have been praying and hoping for some new people to teach ...we'll we found 6 :) And this coming week we should be expecting about 8 more. :) It really is touching to see how the Lord blesses you when you simply ask, and act. I have been pondering the idea that "God isn't going to answer your prayers unless you show Him that you want them answered." So we prayed to find some new people, and we went searching, and look how the Lord blessed us. :)
 
CONFERENCE WAS AMAZING!!! :D
It is so much more fun and enlightening when you are a missionary. One, because all the missionaries get into it and are gasping and oohing and taking notes like crazy. Two, because not only do you go into conference with questions of your own, but you are listening to every bit of helpful information you can use to help your investigators. The spiritual power of conference really increases when you go in thinking about others.
 
So of course I loved all the speakers. I also noticed some themes: missionary work, family and marriage values, enduring hardships, standing up for standards, "God's law is higher than Man's." I will just share a few that I really loved and can remember (I left my notes at home :p).  Editors note: Holy cats ...what would this email have been like if he had remembered to bring his notes!! :)
 
I loved Uchtdorf's Saturday morning talk, it's perfect for one of our new investigators. About how many things are church does, and why we as members participate so much. I loved how he testified that the authority of God is found in the church.  This talk is perfect for investigators, because Uchtdorf was explaining it from the eyes from someone looking from the outside in.
 
Elder Bednar! I love how articulate and intellectual he speaks. Siempre he disfrutado sus palabras (editor's note: "I always love his words"). He was an answer to my "unwritten question" although it wasn't a question that I felt I needed answering; but of course, God knows me better than I know myself. I have really been worrying about teaching the law of tithing to investigators, and this talk really calmed me down and made me confident of the privilege it is to pay tithing and the many resulting blessings. God is so mercifully that He answered a question I didn't even know to ask. 
 
Elder Dube's got an awesome accent, and gave an even awesomer talk! I loved how the theme was to be grateful for what you have accomplished in life, but to focus on what life you have left. I loved the quote he used (from Elder Holland) "The past is to be learned from, not lived in." Powerful statement huh? So true though. If we are constantly reminiscing of our past, we won't have all of our power to make a better future. There will always be work for us to do in the Kingdom of God, and when one finds himself in the work of the Lord, it doesn't feel like work, but a joyous privilege.
 
Elder Richard G Scott's talk was uplifting and powerful. We can draw personal power from the atonement. And from that sacrifice, Christ knows PERFECTLY how to comfort us. And knows PERFECTLY where to fortify us.
 
I loved President Monson's talk on Sunday morning. So touching. His feelings about his wife were so pure. I kinda' got teary eyed. He was expressing true pain to us, but followed up with a powerful testimony of the enduring power we are capable of if we focus on Christ. This man, this prophet, was expressing one of the most painful spiritual experiences I'm sure he has ever had to endure, and he turned his pain into a beautiful and touching testimony of the mercy and power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We can endure any hardship, if we endure it through Christ.
 
I am fortified each and every day out here in the mission. And witnessing these words of real modern-day prophets just again testified to me of the validity of the Lord's true gospel and the authority that this church posses. I know that these prophets are just men, but God has chose them to be His powerful servants and our leaders at this time. These men hold all the keys and authority of His church. I am proud to have sustained such noble men of God. I know they are true prophets of the Lord. I cannot deny the witness I received during Conference. My faith will never falter.
 
I love it out here, and love you all! :D
 
-Elder Clemons
 
 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

I have never seen so much faith and love in a family before

Hello everyone!
 
So this week was a great one! ...as is every week in the mission ;)
 
So I'll start off with the more comical things this week:  The Covenant Hole.
When we accidently killed the bat a few weeks back, we buried it outside of our apartment. But due to the curiosity of male minds, Elder Lloyd (an apartment roommate) decided to dig it up like 2 days after it died. (So this happened a while ago) Anyways....it was gone! Completely gone! We couldn't find it or any part of it! So we were all a little creeped out at that! But anyways, we soon learned that anything you put into this "hole" disappears. Like legit. It is totally weird. But it's kinda' fun as well. We started writing notes with our weekly goals on them, buried them in the hole, and the next morning, GONE! BOOM! So we've now call it the Covenant Hole. It's just something fun, I'm sure it's just some neighbor kid or dog that is digging it up. ;)  But its still hilarious.
 
So I have a lot of people convinced that Lori is married to Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye). Brent just looks so much like him! Bahahah. Every missionary and investigator asks me what it's like to be related to a movie star. It's sooo funny! I just show them the family picture and they just stand in shock. It is golden. Bahahaha. Brent is one good looking man, and very blessed to be married to my wonderful, perfect, caring sister Lori. :)  Treat her right Jeremy. ;)
 
Ok, so some quick updates on our investigators.
So, unfortunately, we have officially dropped Florencio and Ofelia. So sad they are out. :( We really cared about them too. And we haven't found any new investigators to teach. :( So that is a bummer, but I'm hopeful this week we can find some more.

Mama y Papa Barba are progressing, but Papa is still afraid to pray. He said last time that he would pray next time, which is tonight. So I'm not leaving without a prayer out of him. We also bought these two a grande Libro de Mormon, so now they can start reading. :) Also the hard part is getting them to church. She won't come without him, and he always works Sunday mornings. So our invitation tonight is going to be for him to request work off for the 13th so he can come! :)

Joel is actually now progressing! He really surprised us. He never keeps commitments, and we've learned that when he says, "I'll attend church" it actually means "I'm too scared to tell you no." But he actually came! What!??! :D  We spotted him in the parking lot, and so I sprinted towards him and showed him in. Woot! :) He really enjoyed it and even stayed for the clases after sacrament. :) Sweet! But we still need to get him reading, so we will have a BOLD lesson on that this jueves (editor: Thursday).
 
All in all, Gabriel is a boss ...like really. We have only been working with him for a little less than a month... and he has read up to Ether 7!!! And that was just last Thursday, so who knows where he is at now! Goodness! He knows our lessons already! Bah! We were teaching the first half of the Plan of Salvation, and he understood it all because of what Nephi and Alma had said! Awesome. Like really awesome. He is such an understanding open man. We invited him to come watch a baptism and church. And he came to both!! Both I say!! :D He really enjoyed it and really likes our doctrine on baptism. Just wow. I can't wait to baptize this man. WOOT! :D
 
Oh, and Pedro is his Suegro (Father in Law). Remember how I said that he was a lesson highjacker, but that Elder Jensen cleared that up? Well he is still confused, so sadly we have to split teach again so we can both correct Pedro's understanding of Christ's Gospel, and still have meaningful opportunity to teach Gabriel. That lesson is tonight, but I'm totally pumped for it. Elder Jensen has been preparing to help Pedro, and I'm prepared to teach Gabriel :)

But Pedro is serisouly one of the coolest guys I know.  He has just had a lot of other Churches and differing doctrines confuse him. He comes to church every week and is pressuring his grandchildren to come as well, so our success is because of him. :) And he is super funny! Like seriously the funniest guy I know. Love him! He is just a little confused about the doctrine ;) Jehovah is the God of the Old Testament; and Christ is that Jehovah, and was born as the Messiah of the New Testament.  Our Heavenly Father is Christ's (and our) Father in Heaven.  We pray to our Father in Heaven in the name of Jesus Christ since Christ is our intermediary with the Father.
 
So we just found out the Juan and Belen aren't married....awkward. And for some reason they can't get married until after she becomes a citizen because if they got married now, she would have to restart her waiting time for her to become a citizen. I don't really understand it, but we still teach them as we wait, and still have their kids that may wish to be baptized. :) We have a great power lesson planned for tonight as well.   ...hmmm, all of our lessons are tonight.  Haha, guess you'll have to wait for a week to hear about them!
 
Jorge y Daniella. :( So we never got to visit with Daniella this week, she works too much, and returns home after 10pm each night.  So we didn't get to check up on her. And I feel like Jorge is not progressing very well. We met with him 3 times last week, and each time he has been out (drunk out). It's really quite frustrating, so we don't know what to do with him. But he loves us so much, we are his family he always says. He says his work friends are bad influences (which they are).  And he's sad that he never see's his family because they all work different hours. That leaves us. :( It's so sad to see a man so lonely, and so deep in his addiction. :(
 
So I would like to talk about a family that I really admire: the Gonzalez family. I think I mentioned them in a previous letter.  They are the members that feed us every Friday. I have never seen so much faith and love in a family before. It's shocking. I have really come to love this family. Last Thursday we were called by Hermano Gonzalez to give his wife a blessing. He holds the priesthood, but prefers the missionaries bless his family (guess he thinks we're somehow better ...which we're not!). Her mother is in the hospital in Mexico on her death bed. :( They're both really worried about her. Hermana Gonzalez was going to leave that night to Mexico -- illegally, for she doesn't have her papers yet. Elder Jensen and I gave her a blessing of comfort, and wow, that room was hit hard with the spirit. It is always touching that I get to hold the power of God and use it to bless others. The blessing was very personal and tender hearted.
 
But when the time came to make the final decision, Hermana Gonzalez decided to stay at home. She just had a prompting that she needed to stay with her family. And guess what happened. The very next morning, her sister called and told her that her mother had made a miraculous recovery and was leaving the hospital completely healed! :D  How incredible is that! Hermana Gonzalez was about to go to Mexico, but had enough faith to follow her promptings. She was blessed even more that same day as she got a call from the government who cleared her for papers! :D She is going to become a US citizen, and she doesn't have to pay a thing!!! :D Blessings! This is proof that when you rely on the Lord for answers and guidance, He'll always bless you for your obedience. She said she put my name and Elder Jensen's name in her journal because we have now become her favorite missionaries ;)  Thank God for His tender mercies.
 
So that's about all I have. The longer I stay out here, the more often I feel God's hand in my life, and witness it in others. It is incredible. I never noticed how obvious God's hand was. While I have always believed that He played a role in my daily life, I had noticed it only a couple of times. But now I notice it every day! We are constantly being blessed by His love and guidance. I can testify that God is here. He isn't a being that rules only from on high, but one that guides us by the hand. He is a personal God, who cares for billions of His children, but also pays attention and cares for each and every individual child. I know God loves us, and we can return to Him by following the teachings of His son Jesus Christ. It is only through Him, that true love, happiness, and eternal life are found.

I know this is the true church, and I'm privileged to serve in it. :)
 
Love Elder Clemons
 

Monday, September 23, 2013

I'm getting pumped again just writing about it

Hey!

So much happens in a week that it's nearly impossible to remember all the things that I wanted to write about! But I'll give it my best shot :-)

So we contacted this Catholic lady on our street. She bashed us saying that our church is wrong because we allow priests to marry. She also ragged on us because we only serve for 2 years, not our whole lives. She also wasn't willing to listen to us about what we do after our full-time missions.
My typical breakfast :-)
Anyways, she went on saying how Christ is more important that all, and if you love Christ, then you have no room to love anyone else, even your family: "All my heart is for Jesus.  I don't have room for my husband or my family ...because all I love is Jesus." The worst part was that her daughter was right there! We could tell that she was hurt by her mother's dedication to Christ. Anyways, she continued with her reasons: we're not the true church because our Bible is wrong.  Apparently, our Bible is missing 7 books ...meaning the Apocrypha (or however you spell it).  How they chose those 7 books idk, but it's in their Bible. Anyways, she gave Elder Jensen a Bible with the Apocrypha in it. And he started reading it the next morning ("We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly"). So he starts telling me about the prophet after Moses, and how he lead the Israelites into Canaan and Jericho and such. I was like "are you talking about Joshua?" And he said  "Have you read this before?" Bahaha, he didn't know that Joshua was also in our Bible! Super funny!

My wonderful Kneader's French Toast breakfast
So on a different topic, looks like we have 8 baptismal dates!!! :D  and possibly soon to be 10 ;)  They are Jorge and Daniela, Mama y Papa Barba, Florencio, Ofelia, Gabriel (and maybe also his two children), and Jasmine (Gabriel's niece). Wow, wonderful!  But sadly, it looks like we might have to drop Florencio y Ofelia. They aren't progressing very well, so much so that we've already told Ofelia we'll need to start visiting other people, and we may have the same chat / lesson with Florencio.

And even more sad is we may have to push back Jorge y Daniela's date. :(  Jorge's addiction is just too strong, or perhaps it's his pride. He will not admit that he has a problem and that his addiction is destroying his family's relationships. He just won't, or maybe he can't. He always says that he can do anything, that nothing can stop him. I guess it's good to have that level of confidence, but not so much that you can't admit that something is wrong and you need some higher help. We had a lesson with them after church (Jorge had bailed on Church again for drinking), but it was all over the place. We started talking about their baptismal dates, and how we still have a lot to teach them. But Jorge works from 5am - 6pm every day, and then goes drinking afterwards unless we catch him right at 6.  Daniela works 2 jobs from 5-11am y 5-11pm. So it's nearly impossible to meet with them at the same time. Daniela has also started talking to us about her doubts of the church.  Growing up Catholic, she told us how she had great faith in the Virgin Mary (Mexicans believe that Mary is their protector and is equal with Christ).  She told us that when she was little and very sick she prayed to be healed and looked up in the sky and the clouds formed into the figure of Mary, and she was healed that same day. So I suspect this is going to be a big hurdle. But I still hope she will be baptized. But she's also stopped reading the BoM this week because Jorge was hiding the Tareas (tasks) we left, and that's when her doubts have crept in. So we talked about how the Church uses the Book of Mormon as the "keystone of our religion". If the book is true, then the church is also. If not, then we are just another church. So we commited her to read daily on her own. And ask her Heavenly Father if it's true.

We bought Jorge an addiction recovery book written by the Church. But we forgot it, so we told Jorge y Daniela that we would run home real quick and grab it. When we returned Jorge had left to go drink ...right after he had promised he to go a week without it. While sad, this was a perfect opportunity to talk with Daniela. We found a nice picnic table outside. And wow, so much stuff is going on. Jorge's problem is FAR bigger than we thought. It's essentially destroyed everything in his life. He hasn't talked to his parents or bothers and sisters for months. And shockingly, both her and his families are pressuring Daniela y her son to leave Jorge. :(  But she feels it would be devastating for him, so she's staying. So much pressure is own this women. :(  2 jobs and an addicted husband. We had a great lesson about families and Christ's atonement. We read D&C 122 about Jospeh Smith's prayer in Liberty jail, and Alma's people in Helem, and how Christ lightened their burdens so they were able to bear them. It went extremely well! She really absorbed it. She really just needed some comfort, and it looks like God sent us to bring it. We left her with our testimonies, read Alma 7:11-13, and taught her that she was a literal daughter of God, and that He would do everything to help her. It was powerful. She really needed this message, and I'm happy that Elder Jensen and I were worthy to bear it.

A tie I bought at a local thrift store ..hey it was only 25 cents!


So super awesome story!
In scanning through out "area book", we found a women named Mariam who 2 years back had gotten baptized.  Looks like her kids also wanted to get baptized, but never were! We found her house, knocked on the door, and Jasmine opened it. We explained who we were, and she got super excited.  Told us all about the last missionaries. Anyways, turns out Gabriel (another one of our investigators) is her uncle.  So we invited her over to his house for a lesson that we were going to have. She accepted. :)  We showed up at 8 and sat down at the table with Gabriel, his father-in-law Pedro, and Jasmine. Pedro started asking random questions! He was clear he was very confused about religion, especially who Jehovah is (but that's why we're here, right). He was getting frustrated ...which is obviously not good for our lesson with Gabriel and Jasmine. So luckily, we were in a position to teach separately. I took Jasmine and Gabriel into the living room, and Elder Jensen stayed in the Kitchen. It was really scary for me, but so cool! I had to teach the whole first lesson by myself with only 5 weeks of Spanish.  But I set 2 baptismal dates! God certainly can work miracles through a simple missionary. I have never felt so much power flowing through me. Super amazingly, my Spanish was nearly perfect! We talked about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, and I testified that I knew that the church was true. I asked them how they felt. And they both responded that they felt at peace, and that the Book of Mormon was true. Gabriel told me that he'd been reading it, and that he knew it was true. I asked them both to be baptized, and both accepted dates for the 26th of October. :)  It was clear that the Spirit was testifying to them through me. I couldn't have done that on my own.

 We've had transfers. My new district: Elders Herrera, Lewis, & Jensen Sisters: Escalante & Bennet   
So after my lesson with Gabriel and Jasmine -- and Elder Jensen's with Pedro -- we reunited and said our goodbyes and left. We then both exploded with little "woots" and told each other what had happened. Apparently Elder Jensen was able to clear up some 60 years of confusion with Pedro. He told me how he just kept having scriptures come to his mind from the Bible. Scriptures that teach clearly that Jehovah is the redeemer, and that Christ is the redeemer; that Jehovah is judge and that Christ is judge; that Jehovah is the creator, and that Christ is the creator, etc. Pedro was literally dumb founded, and confused about what he had been taught. Elder Jensen was then able to introduce the Book of Mormon scriptures on the same topic: God knew that there would be confusion, that people would interpret the Bible in many different ways. That's why He has revealed more scripture, to help clarify His Gospel. We were so happy! Neither one of us had ever had an experience like that. I'm getting pumped again just writing about it.  To top things off, they all came to Church! :) ...and brought 2 others with them :) You never know, we may yet get more investigators from this week's happenings :D

Well I love it here. I learn so much daily. :) My testimony is growing stronger and stronger by the moment. I'm loving the Lord's work, and am partaking of his joy. :)

I would just like to testify of the Church. This is the true Church of Christ. With a true prophet, 12 real apostles, and modern-day ongoing revelation. God has given us everything to be happy, we just have to show a bit of effort to seek it. The Book of Mormon is true; one just has to open it to taste of its goodness. :)  My testimony will never fail for it is built on Christ.

I know personal revelation exists ...and that's the beauty of the Church:  we don't ask people to join the Church blindly, we simply asked them to find out for themselves if it's true ...through prayer and scripture study.  We know that as they do this, our Father in Heaven who loves them, will answer their sincere prayers ...and they will want to be baptized and join His kingdom. :)

The church is true, and I'm happy to be a member of Christ's Church. :)

-Elder Clemons


P.S. Still no word on my visa :(


Saturday, September 21, 2013

One day we contacted 103 people!!!

What week am I even on?
 
Anyways, Hello Brothers and Hermanas!
 
Escondido is super sweet! It's "dope" as Elder Jensen always says.  It's very fun to be working for the Lord. I'm learning a lot out here.
 
Just a fun thing that happened this week: my American pride was boosted this week because of the USA v. MEXICO game. USA was 2-0. So it was really hard to teach anyone on game day because all the Mexicans were so sad. None of them could really pay attention to the lessons; it's really quite funny how seriously engrained soccer is in their culture. But WOOT! -- Go AMERICA!
 
I was privilege to go on an exchange with an AP: Elder Peterson who also lives in Highland ;) He is so awesome. He has a loving, kind, humorous, hardworking personality. I really learned a lot from him ...how to pray more earnestly, study, contact, act, teach, just everything. He really taught me how to apply the scriptures during our lessons to investigators. He could literally make something up on the spot, and the investigator would respond really well to it! So cool; I can't wait until I become that personable with people. He was the living embodiment of a missionary. I loved my time with him. I hope I can grow to become as hard working and energetic and capable as he is.
 
Elder Jensen and I went crazy on our contacting this week.  Contacting is where you meet someone, share a message, and invite them to do something. Just walking up to somebody doesn't count. We contacted nearly every soul we met, regardless of where they were. We talked to people who were on 3rd story balconies, people that were across the street (bahaha, we would literally run and chase after them....hey....the gotta know that church is restored, right!?), in their cars at stoplights, just everywhere. One day we contacted 103 people!!! That's super high! Usually it's like between 20-30. Our weekly goal was 94 ...but we finished with 227! :D Woot! We ended up getting about 3 new investigators -- and we still have 5 more lessons to teach that came from those contacts -- so we could still get like 6 more as the week goes on.
 
So you're probably wondering about our investigators. As of now, we have 12. Jorge y Daniela, Ofelia, Florencio, Gabrial y Brian (su hijo - son), Florena, Lois, Belen Cervantez, and the Barba couple.
 
So Jorge y Daniela are really progressing. Daniela is still a boss and does everything. But she (rightly so) is waiting to be baptized as a family, meaning Jorge is our real challenge. But he is really, really, really fighting hard. He doesn't drink on the weekdays now! :D That's incredible! And on the weekends, it's only about 4-6 beers. That's sooo much better than where it was at a month ago. He is also seeing the improvement for himself. He just got a new, better, and higher paying job ...so much so that Daniela no longer needs to work her 2 jobs! :) So incredible! This is just proof that as you strive to live the commandments, God will bless you and your family. :) Also, since we bought him a Grande Libro de Mormon 10 days ago or so ('cause he can't read small print), he's read all the way up to Mosiah 5!! Woot! So astonishing! It really is increidible to witness the changes that take place in a person's life as they seek God. Our only goal now is to get him to knock off those last couple of beers ...which is going to be super hard, so pray for him. :)
 
We actually had a cool experience with this family. We had an appointment with them, but couldn't get in because they live in a gated community, and they weren't ansering their phones ...when randomly, one of the parking gates started to open up. We decided to wait until the car that opened it entered or left......but no car came. We were like "Oh! that's for us!" and we slipped in. No car ever came! How cool is that! :D The gate just opened! And then we went and taught our lesson. :)
 
Ofelia expresses tons of faith, and has accepted a baptismal date. But we're afraid she is more concerned about bragging about how spiritual she is than actually being spiritual. She hasn't hardly kept any of her commitments. We've met with her multiple times, but nothing is changing.  Sadly, I think we may be forced to drop her :(  But hopefully she'll come through before it's time for us to move on to other investigators.
 
Florencio also has a baptismal date. Sadly, like Ofelia, he's also not keeping his commitments. :( He knows Jesus is good and all (says that a lot), but doesn't understand that Jesus also expects us to do things. We are thinking of dropping him, but are going to have one final power lesson with him in hopes of motivating him to really find out what he wants for himself.
 
Gabriel was a man we contacted about 2 weeks ago. He was very open, and invited us over. We tried to teach him and his son Brian the 1st lesson, but his suego (father-in-law, named Pedro) is a huge lesson highjacker. But Pedro is super tight (actually, he's a member with the priesthood, just inactive).  Pedro was a professional soccer player for the US team and is loaded. He is probably the coolest guy I've ever met.  We just have a hard time teaching Gabriel with Pedro there ;) Anyway, we were able to teach only about half the lesson -- just shy of the Restoration part -- but it was still powerful. We left them with a Book of Mormon, and I think they both loved it. Gabriel is kinda lazy, and doesn't read often; but I believe both he and his son will be baptized. I say that a bit optimistically since we actually haven't had but one lesson with him. Then last week we did service for him (painted his house).  And this week he's been sick. So tonight we have an appointment to guage where he and his son are at. Man.... their father-in-law, Pedro, is so cool. I'm just saying. This guy is awesome.
 
Florena was a referral from the White Elders (we call them white because they are Ingles/English speakers). Her son unfortunately does drugs; so she was curious how our message could help their lives. We taught her last Friday, and the Spirit was really strong. We really focused on how the Gospel changes and uplifts lives. She was crying after the first vision. :D She really felt God's love for her at that moment. We invited her to be baptized, but she replied that she was already "baptized Catholic" ...but this is a small minor problem. She'll be baptized. :) We just have to still explain Authority to her. Remarkably, she has actually already read the BoM, and she knows it's true.  And if it's true, then the restored Gospel is true, and so this will be easy. :) She really knows it's true. :)
 
Lois was also a "white Elders" referral. He's a really open-minded guy. We taught him on Friday. He has 2 adorable kids, so we really focused on how the Gospel/Restoration blesses families. He didn't cry or anything, but you could tell he was absorbing all of it! He committed to read and pray, so we'll check up next Friday. Actually, just yesterday he drove by us and yelled and waved his hand out of the window. :) That really made us excited and happy since it shows he likes us :)
 
Belen Cervantez is the wife of Juan Cervantez. They actually live in the same complex as us. The household includes Juan y Belen with their kids, and Juan's sister.  Turns out Juan and his sister are actually members, they've just been inactive for the last 10 years. We had a really powerful lesson with all of them. But the Spirit changed our lesson twice! We initially planned to teach the restoration, but then were prompted to talk about families ...so we talked about our families and how we have seen the Gospel bless our families' lives. It was touching. Then we were prompted to testify of the truthfulness of the church. It was so powerful. The most powerful lesson I've ever taught. Elder Jensen told his story of how he came back to the church after his experience in the Sacred Grove. His dad took him there and he was just overwhelmed with emotions ...so much so that he couldn't talk. The only thing he was able to say was "I want to go on a mission." His Dad already had the papers filled out. All Elder Jensen needed to do was sign them, and he did. How incredible was that! The family was so touched by that; it really connected with them because they too were re-investigating the church. And hearing a testimony about returning to church really touched them. 
 
I then shared my experience with the BoM and the temple. I told them about the day I was going to become a missionary; that morning I had only one chapter left to read in the BoM. And so I decided to read it in the temple. I was alone (in the Celestial room, but I didn't say that) as I read that last chapter. I then closed the book, bowed my head, and sincerely prayed to Heavenly Father if the book was true. I was so overwhelmed with emotion and love. I was told that I was in His house, with His book, and was a member of His Church. As I told them my story, they were touched. Every one was teary eyed. Everyone felt the power and truth that had filled the room.
 
And then something miraculous happened. Just after our lesson, literally everyone got calls or texts that said that they didn't have to work the following Sunday morning. Huh!??! ...now they could go to Church! :D Woot!  I'm confident that was not just a coinencidence! God wanted them back and wanted Belen to feel the power of His presence at church. All came the next morning except Juan ('cause he's a little lazy). But Belen did! And she said she loved it! We have 2 more appointments with them this week, so we'll talk to Juan about coming and invite Belen to be baptized.
 
Although the work can be hard, it is worth it. Although times are tough, I just need to remember what Christ did for me. We share his message, and that is something I will never be ashamed of.
 
God loves us, sent His Son to die for us, and only wants us to return to Him. It is a happy message. It's a true message. It's God's message. I am so happy to be out here to enjoy the labor. It's enjoyable because it's the work of our Lord. His work, his Church, it's true. Christ died for his Church, and Joseph Smith died to restore it.
 
I'll endlessly strive to honor their deaths and bear Christ's name in my chest and on my heart. The Church is True, I believe it more and more each day. I love it out here.
 
Love Elder Clemons