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 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

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?

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 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 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.