Monday, September 23, 2013

I'm getting pumped again just writing about it


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 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 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 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 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!??! 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

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"Hora de Poder"

That was just a joke ...I actually have several things to write about ;) bahaha :)

So I'm really becoming addicted to Mexican food. It's all I crave now. I usually make it for myself for lunch. Just cook up some beans and tortillas and BAM, glory. :) You just tear parts of the tortilla and use that to pick up some beans, all with your hands, so incredible. :) The Mexicans know what food is.

I'm a Pro
I actually had another type of hot pepper yesterday. I don't know what it was called, but it was super hot! It was just this little thing, but it packed a punch ...immediately after I ate it my mouth, throat, and tummy started to burn. It even went up to my ears! Literally, my ear was hurting....burning! It was incredible! On the bright side, peppers really clean your legit. Everything was running: ears, eyes, nose. I could breath really well once the pain stopped. ;)
We just had our P-day activity: we went ice skating! It was super fun, and after we got pizza at Tasty's Pizza! It was super good! It's only $4 a pizza for a large, and it's the best I've ever had! Bigger, better, and cheaper than Little Caesars. So I have a new love for pizza.....and Tasty's is in my area, so we can go fairly often! :)

I got the privilege to go on an exchange with Elder Herrera, a NATIVE from Columbia! We spoke only Spanish and it was super helpful. He is sooo funny and such a humble and loving guy. I hope by some miracle we get to be companions. South Americans speak much clearer than Mexicans, it was way easier to understand Elder Herrera than it was Elder Gonzalez! On this split, we worked in his area, and I've never seen so much success, his area was so incredible! We even used "family history" to set up an appointment. Somebody asked us about our family history databases.  Who would've thought! shocking I know. We also made 4 other return appointments and contacted 19 people. A super successful couple of hours. Oh and we also got to eat Mexican food at a member's house! Have I already told you:  I LOVE Mexican food! And to keep it comin', I'm very very grateful and polite :-)  Hmmm, all I really say is "thank you" because that's all I really CAN say (not really, but I do struggle still to understand what the subject is). But the members really like me because of my "thankful" appetite.
Elder Herrera is a native from Columbia!
Speaking of food.... as you can probably tell, I have never eaten so much in my life. Never. But I'm never full. I'm an empty pit that never fills ...probably because we work so hard. It's incredible. Quite astonishing to members too 'cause they see is this skinny guerro down all this spicy Mexican food ...without stopping. And....I'm losing weight. bahahaha!

So Mexicans talk a lot. Like ...a lot. Almost to the point where we are advised not to ask too many questions because they will talk about random nothingness for hours. We've had only one lesson that was under 45 min. It's just their culture, they talk. It's super nice during dinners or for chit chat, but during lessons it's such a pain. So Elder Jensen and I have become really good at explaining our purpose, that we are here to teach and convert, and that we have lots of other people we also need to teach. Once they understand our purpose, they realize that we need to teach, not just platicar, or chat. This makes our lessons so much more powerful ...because instead of having 5 random tangents, we can have a smooth lesson where the Spirit can testify to them of the point of the lesson. It's so much more powerful this way. God's house is a house of order, so I guess our lessons should be too ;)

So as a district we had an activity called "Hora de Poder" or Power Hour. We each called a member and asked to cenar (dine) with them. During dinner, we explained our purpose: bringing others to Christ. It was really powerful. Afterwords, we requested the father (in my case, Hermano Gonzalez) to accompany us for the rest of the night. We told the family that we would see miracles. We knelt with each family and asked the father to offer the prayer.  In many cases, the prayer was a miracle in itself. The Spirit was poured over us and you couldn't deny that the Lord was with us. It was so touching. Sadly, Hermano Gonzales couldn't attend our efforts that night due to work conflicts. But we were hopeful we would still see miracles. So we went out and worked.

Every single appointment we had cancelled. Every one. WHAT!? We assumed there was a reason for this, and we acted with faith. We went to every other investigator we had, but no one was home. Grrrrrrr. But we still didn't doubt. Surely someone needed our message that night. We contacted everyone we crossed paths with, no one was interested. Humf. What's going on? But finally, at 8:30 we decided to try Jorge's again ...for the 3rd time. Success! He was there! And he had an unopened 24oz Budweiser that he was about the drink! He told us he had gone the whole weekend without drinking and was about to drink just that one can. NAH UH! We got him to stop. And this was the first time we'd ever actually caught him sober.  We took full advantage of the opportunity to testify with the Spirit to his clear heart and mind. And boy was it powerful! We taught La Palabra de Sabiduria (D&C 89 / Word of Wisdom). It was so strong, The Spirit was taking advantage of Jorge's soberness to testify to him of the need to change. It was just pouring out of us. We also used lots of scriptures, but the most powerful one was in 1 Corinthians 10:13

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

God never permits a temptation beyond our ability. This really impacted him and gave him HOPE! And hope is power ...the power to act. Jorge has a REAL desire to change. And he is such a good man; but he also has such a strong addiction. I know the Spirit touched him and he can't deny it. It's entirely possible he might actually make his date :-)

And another milagro (miracle), we received a reference for a woman who had ALREADY read the Libro de Mormon and wanted to know more! :D  Cool huh!? :) We contacted her that same night before Jorge. As the night wound down, we reported back to the Gonzalez family -- over some milk and donates :) -- that we had in fact witnessed miracles that night.  It was really touching, and they appreciated that our prayers had been answered. :) We testified to them that sometimes God has to break things down before he can build them up. We were down and discouraged that all of our appointments canceled.  But God has His own plan, and it involved us demonstrating our faith throughout the whole night -- and with much disappointment -- before the miracle was shown unto us.

But the miracles didn't end there ...we just had to wait one more day. ;) We were kinda' worried about Jorge's wife Daniela. Their family is suffering because of Jorge's addiction. We hadn't seen her in 1 1/2 weeks since she works so much. She also hadn't been answering our texts. We wanted to make sure she was ok, so we decided to drop by again....and woot! she was there! finally!! Everything was fine. She was still firm in the gospel and was continually reading -- she's now in Jacob :)  And guess what! ...Jorge was helping her clean the house! This is unheard of in Mexican culture! He did the dishes, took out the trash, and did the laundry!!! No way!  ...the Gospel surely changes people!! She was so happy :) This is undoubtedly just their first step into becoming a stronger family. :) The gospel does change people. :)

We taught her the 1st lesson since she had not yet had it. She literally knew everything! We had nothing to fear! She had already read Jorge's Restoration pamphlet! We finished our lesson and then watch the Restoration movie. She was so touched. She told us that she couldn't explain what she felt, she couldn't put it into words, she just said that it felt true. She is the driving force behind their conversion. She's been trying to come to church for the past 3 weeks, but hasn't made it because Jorge leaves the house and she won't go unless he does. We testified to the two of them of the importance of attending Church, and she was super pumped! Then Jorge said he couldn't go because he didn't have proper "church attire", but then - bam - Daniela pulls a brand new outfit out of nowhere! BAHAHA, she had literally bought him an outfit so he had no excuse! :D It was super hilarious....but also touching to see Daniela so determined. They committed to coming to Church. :)

And they did. We sat next to them both. :) And Jorge was again sober ;) After Church we briefly visited with them just to discuss the experience. They loved it.  ...And guess what, they asked for Tarea!! or homework! :D Who does that!? So tight! Elder Jensen and I were pretty surprised and didn't quite know how to react. But we assigned them Alma 42 to help them prepare for our next lesson on the Plan of Salvation. :)

Everyday I'm growing in knowledge and in happiness. I have no doubt it's the Spirit of the Lord working within me. This is the Lord's work. I don't care how many people cuss at me, slam doors in my face, spit, or laugh. Just as Joseph Smith said,
...I know it, and I know that God knows it, and I cannot deny it.

Nothing will bring me down because God is constantly raising me higher. :) The Church is true, and anyone that has a sincere desire to know can find that out for themselves. Our invitation is so simple: pray to know, and God will answer. Our invitation isn't to join our church, it's to come closer to Christ.  And as people read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, they will come closer to Christ and join HIS Church. This Church. The Book of Mormon is True.  It was translated by a prophet of God: Joseph Smith.  Christ restored His true church again to the earth through Joseph Smith: The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints is the true church. I know it, I shall never deny it.

I love you all so much! Miss you tons!

- Elder Clemons

Nothing much to report...

Hello Everyone! :D
Things are going great here! Nothing much to report
-Elder Clemons

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"Mis Salvadores"

Pres wants us all to part our hair on the side ...yuck!!
Hey Everyone!

Sorry for the delay in the email.  Yesterday was Labor Day ...a prime day to work. :) So P-day was left for today.

Everyone is blind :-)  We need to buy 4 large-print Books of Mormon in Spanish for our investigators! And that's the only edition the church won't pay for :p  ;(

You will not believe how badly I want Kneaders French toast bread and a Café Rio burrito. So if you could send those, that'd be awesome. ;) bahahaha. Not likely I know, but I really want some Kneaders bread.

So biggest change, on Saturday, Gonzalez was emergency transferred to another area ...and English speaking!! What!?! He doesn't speak English at all -- except some swear words ;-) -- so this will be a challenge for him. He just left this morning; seems he was transferred into a rich white area. Phew, that'll be fun.

Good-bye Elder Gonzalez. I'm wearing a tie he gave me :-)
So remember our 2 fechas for baptism? Well now it's 5 ;)  Jorge, Daniela, Florencio, Dimetrio, and a new investigator Ovelia. The progress feels awesome, but I know that the hard part is keeping them dedicated and determined we'll see how many stay determined. ;)

Ovelia is in her 40's, and she's already a grandmother ...babysits constantly. She knows a lot about Christ, and has a ton of faith. She even told us that she fasted -- no food or water -- for 14 days. The first lesson was really powerful, and she did accept a date to leer y orar (editor's note: read and pray). But we had another appointment yesterday which fell through. We found her later that day, and she was too busy to read and pray with us them :p we'll need to work on that.

Dimetrio is a jefe (note: manager). He's about 40 with 3 kids. He REALLY wants to learn about the BoM. He initially expected the book would be totally new doctrines, but he loves that it's the pure doctrines of Christ. So it really interests him. He says he wants to understand EVERYTHING before baptism ...but he did accept a date.

Florencio is older, like 60's. He plays guitar, loves talking with us, and isn't afraid to ask honest questions. Unfortunately, he can't read, the print is too small.  So he will also need a "grande" Libro de Mormon. He says he's been baptized 2 times already, and he struggles to understand that you need to have the proper authority to baptize. But he does have a fecha (note: date) set. :)

Daniela is boss ...within 3 days, she'd already read up to 2 Nephi 3!!!! And that was over a week ago! Who knows where she is at now. She definitely wants to be baptized! She just loves everything about the church. She feels peace there. She even walked around the temple by herself ...and was convinced yet again of the church. It's just hard to meet with her because she always works. She also doesn't want to be baptized without Jorge, which is our problem. :p

Jorge is 45, but he acts younger. He has such a loving heart, but doesn't himself feel loved. Unfortunately, Jorge has been an alcoholic for a whopping 23 years. :p  We're fairly certain he hasn't been sober since he started. He even drinks DURING our lessons!!! :p  What?!? He had a heart attack 2 years ago supposedly because of his addiction...and he hasn't told his family!!!! WHAT!!! He faints weekly at work! WHAT!!!!! :(  It's so sad. Obviously, it's hard to work with a constantly drunk man, it goes solidly against the will of the Spirit. It's weird though, we can have these super spiritual experiences, yet he is drunk, so its weird. :p  But I love him, you can't help but love him.

So here's a story to help understand Jorge. We had a baptism recently in the ward, so we invited him to join us. Three hours later we knocked his door to confirm the invitation, and he was completely wasted. But he was used to being drunk and decided to come. He tried to get us into his car, but we decided to walk, and he somehow managed to walk with us about 1.5 miles to the church. We watched the baptism together, and he said he loved it. He hung around afterwards and talked with members and ate and introduced himself to lots of people. He functioned surprisingly well ...even though he was tomando (drunk).

Anyway, we returned to his house and taught a lesson. At this point, many hours had passed, so he was normal again. We decided to read the story of Ammon cutting the arms off of the Lamanites. You know, just to get him interested in the book. He loved it. In our previous visits he couldn't read because of his poor eyesight; so we got him a big print edition too.  We testified how he could be like Ammon -- and "cut" his addiction down one can at a time. It was great. The Spirit was super strong. He was crying ...and had a sincere desire to change. He wants to so bad. We were all so pumped and filled with the Spirit. We said a prayer, and he accompanied us out the door.

Now (as we all know) Satan is just as real as God, and I learned quickly of his power on my mission. Jorge wanted to give us a ride back to our apartment, but we refused since we were already close to home, only about a 10 minute walk. He then got super offended, and eventually convinced us to ride with him.  Everything was fine until we got to our apartment complex. Then, instead of turning into our complex, he drove past it and said he needed to go to the store. We were a bit concerned because the time was approaching 9:30, when rules state we should get back to our apartment. He got mad again and said if we were his friends we would wait, "shouldn't take more than 5 minutes." As he came out of the store, he had a beer in his hand, cursed Jesus for not helping him, got in the car, and started to drink!!!

We reminded him about his commitment to change. He started to put it down...paused...then said..."Who are you to tell me what to do." and then finished it. WHAT THE HECK JORGE!!!! We were all shocked and depressed.  We went from a super spiritual experience to sin within a mere 5 minutes. Satan's power to tempt is real. Jorge went from praising God, to cursing Jesus. It was sad.

But where Satan has power, Christ has more. We were inspired to walk over to Jorge's house late last night, around 8:30. He was pulling out of his driveway with a friend just as we showed up. He jumped out of the passenger seat, hugged us all, and called us his saviors. :) He was on his way to go drinking with a buddy, but instead went inside with us ...and we had an opportunity for another lesson. It was super spiritual. During the lesson he pulled out a beer to drink, but we got him to switch it with water :)

It's very inspiring to see the Lord would send His young emissaries at just the right place and time to help a man in need. :) It was very touching to hear the words "Mis Salvadores" and know and feel that we were servants of God. God does help his children, He never lets us go.

On a different topic, we had one of those "sweet tender mercies" happen to us the other day! We had just gotten Subway sandwiches and were walking back to our apartment. We really wanted some ice-cream since is was 98 degrees!!!!, but didn't have the funds for it. On our "hot" and long way home, a random lady pulled up along side us and gave us 3 Frosty's from Wendy's!!! Now this was most assuredly a tender mercy since missionaries are usually in 2's! So cool!! :D

Well, that's all I really have to say. The work is picking up. :)

I'm constantly hot. Constantly sweaty. Constantly tired. And Constantly happy.

The gospel is true, and it was restored through Joseph Smith --an important fact the world all-too-easily overlooks. The Lord has always sent out His disciples (young missionaries) to change lives, and we're have fun doing it! ;) I'm super happy! Love the work! :D

I love you! :D

Elder Travis Clemons

First thing I saw in my new apartment.  Missionaries are not particularly clean :-(