Monday, March 30, 2015

It looks like my will, Pr Franco's will, and the Lord's will were all aligned!!!

Elder Caceras is from Uraguay
He's super cool!
So I got everything I could have possible wanted for this transfer. I was "hinting" at Pres. Franco for a couple of weeks now to put me in as a trainer and to let me train the Uruguayo, Elder Caceras  ...and bueno, it looks like my will, Pres. Franco's will, and the Lord's will were all in-line ...because I am super happy to report that I am now his companion!! :D BAAAAAHHHH!!

He is super cool, and speaks just like the Argentines do.  From what I understand, life and language in Uruguay is basically a mirror of Argentina. They drink mate, speak en Vos, everything. Elder Caceras is a really determined missionary, and he's humble and really obedient. Back home, he went out a lot with the missionaries in his ward, so even though he's relatively new in the mission, he's already an excellent missionary with a strong desire to serve and he already knows how to do the work.

It feels so weird to be back in Reconquista, everything is the same. I am living in the same apartment, have the same keys, the same phone, I already know the members, the street names, just everything. Soooo weird.

But sadly, right now we only have one investigator named Carolina.  She is super sweet; but I feel bad for her because she's passing through some hard times right now.  I hope she lets us help her, and let's the gospel enter her life.

Needless to say, being in church was hilarious.  All the members walked in, started shaking the hands of the missionaries, and when they got to me, they just went into a shock. Hahaha. Everyone was like "No puede ser" ("It can't be"), "volvió?" ("you came back?")  Uhhh ...ya, I did!  It was a really warm welcome.  And it felt good to be back among friends :)

But the greatest thing of all was seeing the familia Micheli again!! They are soooooo active in the church!! YES!!! I was sooooo happy to see them, and them me!!! :D :D :D  Their passion would impress anyone, anywhere.  They feed all the Elders lunch whenever we show up (and that's no small thing).  And the kids Micaela y Leo get up at 5:30 everyday for Seminary.  The entire family helps with missionary work; they come frequently with us to visit with investigators and even to do some street or door contacting. Andres, the dad, gives lessons in Priestood the 3rd hour, regularly does his home teaching, and in a couple of GOING TO RECIEVE THE MELCHIZEDEC PRIESTHOOD!!!

Wow, it's very rewarding to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ bless the lives of those who choose to follow Him.  D&C 18:15-16 really rings true to me now.

 15 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!
 16 And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!

I have never been so happy in my whole mission.

My new district these awesome missionaries!!

I'm super pumped for conference.  They put all the English-speakers in the "Gringo Room." We do a lot of laughing, we get spiritually fed ...and we're physically fed too, they bring us tons of snacks the whole time.  So ya, I'm super pumped for conference. :D

Pray for us.  Pray that we find more families to teach.  Pray that our investigators each get what they need as they listen to prophets and apostles teach us.

I love the mission! Chau!!

Elder Clemons

Monday, March 23, 2015

What the heck?!!?

Hey familia!! Sooooo ...transfers happened!!! And you would never guess what happened!!!!

So I predicted and wanted ...well I'M TRAINING!!!!! BAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!  I still don`t know who yet, I will meet him tomorrow.  Right now I am waiting at the mission headquarters here in Resistencia for him to get here. But there's more ...I'M GOING BACK TO RECONQUISTA!!!!  THE EXACT SAME AREA AND ALL!!!  What the heck!?!?!?!?!  I freaked when I saw the transfer!!! Wow, Reconquista 4 ...again!

I am really hoping I get to train a Latino.  I have only had one Latino as a companion so far on my mission, and I'm really hoping he will be from Uruguay.  But whatever happens, happens.  And I am happy with it.

So I am going to miss being a Zone Leader.  I really liked being able to help all the missionaries and seeing our collective success. And I liked all the meetings with Pres. Franco every month and receiving all his inspired special training.

But what I've really wanted to do all along was to be able to focus on one Elder and start him off right; and that is exactly what Pres. Franco gave me.  I couldn't be happier. :)

Oh wow, was it hard to leave Goya!!! :(

I was there 6 months and really loved the people. They're just incredible.  I am going to send you lots of photos.  It was super hard to say goodbye.

Mirta y Joana were really sad. They were both crying when I told them that I was leaving. :( They are both incredible and sooo faithful. They were always willing to help us with the missionary work and always gave us something to eat and drink any time we stopped by.

Oh and goodness, Lucia Lopez and her children Valentina y Lucas were soooo sad. Lucia wrote me a letter saying how grateful she was for my help blessing her family and blessing her kids ...she knit me a hat!!! Super cool! I'll send a photo of it next week.  She also gave me an Argentina Flag. Valentina y Lucas drew me a picture and said that  they loved me. :) Ohhh man, that was hard!!

Yup, leaving Goya is hard to do :-(

Oh cool experience, I worked a lot with the Old Mission leader`s son Maxi. He is 14 and really converted and dedicated to the gospel. As we were saying our goodbyes he took me aside and said he received an answer from God.  He said he'd been praying to know if he should go on a mission (because none of his older siblings had gone), and he said that he'd had a dream (which even included me), and that God had recently answered his prayers to go.  How cool is that!! He just thanked me for the example and motivation and said he was going to do
everything to get himself on a mission. :) What a great kid. :)

Man, I just love the mission. There just isn't any experience in the world that can replace it. You come, serve complete strangers, and love them so easily. I really love the many things I've learned from my mission. And I love serving these people.

If there's only one thing I could take home from my time in the mission, it would be an increase of charity towards those around me. I have grown to love so many people out in the mission.

First off my family.  I haven't seen you guys in nearly 2 years, but my love for you has grown tremendously.

I've also grown to love Presidente Franco and his wife, the members, and the converts is just so easy to love while you're a missionary. I really do believe that I have developed a bit more charity out here.  Completely? No. But I know it has grown.  And if I read the scriptures properly, that's probably the greatest thing that can happen to a disciple of Christ.

Christ lives. Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. The Book of Mormon is the word of God as is the Bible. Humbly, we are members of Christ's true church. I know it, and this knowledge fills me with joy.

Love you all soo much! :)

Elder Clemons

Monday, March 16, 2015

We kinda' "dropped cane"...

This week was super busy!  (my first day of actual work wasn't until Thursday.)

Just some friends messing around...
On Monday we did mini exchanges with the Elderes in Belgrano because one of them had a toe operation and couldn't walk, so we went with them so they could have some time in their area. 

Leaders' Meeting
On Tuesday we went up to the leader's meeting which was pretty interesting this time. We talked about the new inciativia de la Iglesia "He Lives" That got me pretty excited. Unfortunately, we can't really participate in much of it because we don't have the technology to do it.  So our part is just going to be handing out these little cards. But I hope to eventually do what we did in the plaza with the "He is the Gift" stands and such; that was super fun!

After that we talked exclusively about the Book of Mormon and why it is so important to the missionary work in touching the hearts of our investigators. One of the activities we did was to receive 10 random questions that people commonly ask us, and we had 10 minutes to find Book of Mormon scriptures to address those concerns. It was pretty fun (and I think I surprised myself with how comfortably I was able to come up with decent answers), but others had waaay better scriptures I just copied theirs hahaha. 

Zone Meeting
On Wednesday we had our Zone meeting where we again talked about everything we had discussed at the leaders' meeting on Tuesday with President Franco.  We also talked about our "Zone Specifics" ...the zone has dropped in essentially every statistic. :P I don't really understand what happened, but all of our numbers dropped, so we kinda' "dropped cane" (which is an Argentine saying that means "we threw down.") We then taught about all the keys of success: working with members, contacting, using the Book of Mormon, diligence in general, etc. It was actually a very productive meeting.  I think we all learned a lot from the meeting, and I hope our numbers will improve. :) 

Then after we got back to Goya from Wednesday through Saturday, we did divisiones with the Elders from Goya 3, Elder Calderón y Elder Diaz. I always enjoy these times getting to know other elders, and I had a super fun time and learned a lot from Elder Diaz. It was good to be with a friend from the mission. You'll recall Elder Diaz and I were together for over 4 months in Reconquista.  We lived in the same apartment there; so this was a good opportunity to catch up while doing some good work. 

So even though we had very little time this week to work in our area, we still found some great people! We found this one girl named Margarita who 8 years earlier had investigated the church and nearly got baptized.  But then she moved to this other city called Esquina and kinda' lost touch with the church since we don't have a ward or branch there. About 2 years ago she moved back to Goya where just last week we found her again ...and she was suuuuper happy we did! We've really enjoyed teaching her; she's super nice and faithful, and she already understands the importance of keeping commitments (which is verrrrrry rare here). I am confident she'll get baptized. :)

Also we found a FAMILY!! ...and with an adult male!!! What!?! Like that never happens here!!! And he is nice and wants to learn and wants to go to church! I gotta' tell you, my mind was blown when he said he wanted to go to church. We have already taught the family 3 times, and the even better news is they already have a member as a close friend. They have already accepted a date to be baptized (which ya, is awesome!), but we still have plenty to teach them before they'll be ready. 

So the next letter you'll get from me will probably be from my next area. Yup, transfers are next Monday (May 23), and I'm certain I'm going. I want to train in Formosa, so keep your fingers crossed! 

Hermana Scadlock
So I'm sure you know what happened to Hermana Scadlock; it really is a tragedy. Needless to say, the mission took it rather hard. We are all kinda' deflated down here. I personally didn't know her all that well; just met her a couple of times at zone meetings and such. It is really sad to know that she passed away while serving our Lord ...but the Lord's thoughts are not our thoughts, so I trust she is in His comfort and care.

I know that families are eternal and that we can be sealed to one another in the temple. God's purpose is to give us joy and eternal life. And for that reason we have the Church. If one is faithful, they will live forever with their families in eternal happiness. I know it is true.

Please pray for the family of Hermana Scadlock.

Know that I love you and pray daily for you guys. And know that I am working hard out here. :)

Love you!!

Elder Clemóns

Monday, March 9, 2015

We walked, and walked, and walked, and walked, and walked, and walked, and walked, and walked...

The mission gave us each some motorbikes to help us preach in our area...
...we got to design our own.  Here's mine ;-)

Hello Familia,

How are you walking?    ¿Como Andan?    I hope you walk well  :)

Nothing super big happened this week.  We did divisiones with the Elders in BellaVista, but I already talked about that in my last letter. We also did some mini-divisiones with the Elders in Belgrano because one of them had had laser foot surgery on his in-grown toenails, haha.  That cost over $3000 pesos (editor: US $340)!! So we went over to their area to help them out because he couldn't work the whole week.

So Mirta and Vivianna are just as happy as ever be baptized, to be clean, to be members of the Lord's true church. Fills me with joy to see them so happy. And this week, we set a new goal with them... to go to the TEMPLE! Mirta is super excited to go, and has already started to plan things so that she can go. And Vivianna would like us to teach her more about the temple in preparation.

So I kinda' feel like this week was one of those "trial" weeks ...and it was bound to happen, eh? We've had so much success lately, that I suppose we now have so suffer a little bit. We walked, and walked, and walked, and walked, and walked, and walked, and walked, and walked. I must have lost some weight, but I doubt it 'cause no matter how hard I try I just can't seem to lose any here.

After all that walking, we found 3 new families to teach, had incredible first lessons with them, and then never found them again; they just wouldn't answer the door the 2nd time we came around. Just as an FYI, this has happened many times before ...but never with people so prepared as they were. We'll continue to visit them, and we'll see where it goes.

Tomorrow we have Consejo de Lideres, a big meeting of all the leaders. I'm pretty sure this will be my last one because transfers are coming up soon. And then the following day (Wednesday) is our next Zone meeting. I'm going to take advantage of that one, and try to talk to Presidente about our zone's new goals and progress since this week wasn't so good.

Well, that's about all that happened this week.  See ya next week!!!

Viva la vida!!!

Elder Clemons

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Spirit said to take a taxi and chase the bus...

Hey, so the power went out again in Goya yesterday, so I didn't get to finish writing my letter. Sorry. And today, I'm in BellaVista doing exchanges....

Miracles do happen ...both Mirta and Viviana were baptized :D
Mirta & Viviana
So it happened! Both Mirta and Viviana (not related) were baptized this past Saturday!!! :D It was such a great feeling to be a part of their baptisms; we've been working so hard and for so long with both of them finally see them be baptized was amazing and fulfilling.

Both Mirta and Viviana have had huge obstaculos on their road to baptism, but with a bit of diligence, faith, and patience, they were able to overcome those obstaculos and get baptized. That's why I feel like these baptisms were so fulfilling, we worked and worked and worked, had tons of ups and downs, moments of high hopes and expectations, and other moments where those hopes and expectations were nearly destroyed. But all in all, it worked out, God providing the way.

The baptismal service was well attended and went smooth, the baptisms were performed without errores, and everyone was just happy and in good spirits. For the snack after there was pizza, empanadas, facturas, and pop. But sadly for the missionaries, were we all fasting, so we didn't get to participate haha. But overall, this was just a happy spiritual experience.

Volleyball on the beach ...if you can see it on the sand, it says Parana ....our zone is Rio Parana 1!

Ya ...we're cool ;-)
P-Day yesterday was super fun. Presidente Franco gave our zone permission to meet up and play volleyball on the beach! Super fun! You'll be pleased to know that this time I remembered to put some sunscreen on ...but I forgot to also put it on the tops of my feet, so those got burned :-( But it was sooooooo worth it. I don't think I have walked barefoot for my whole mission, and walking through the sand was just incredible. I'm serious, I was so happy just to be able to walk on sand.

It was also really nice to just have the zone playing volleyball together.  It's really quite rare that we can play sports here, but we had to end at 3 because our bus left at 4 to go to BellaVista....

We were running late, so we bolted home, didn't even change into proselyting clothes, grabbed our stuff for exchanges, and ran to the terminal (bus station). Right as we showed up left! :D

Oh I felt so bad. But as we were returning to the apartment, the Spirit said to take a taxi and chase the bus.  I thought "Bueno, done!!" And so we jumped in a taxi and literally chased down the bus, caught up to it, got in front of it, got out of the taxi, and made the bus stop. We then entered and paid and successfully made our way to BellaVista. I truly felt like a boss at that moment. :-)

Oh, so every Monday Presidente Franco calls us to talk about the zone and the work. This last time we talked about the work in February, which was really pretty good for our zone. Presidente Franco said that he had given each of the individual zones a goal, and the goal he had set for our zone was not change anything, just to keep going as is.  Needless to say, that made me feel pretty happy knowing that Pres was happy with the work here in our zone.  :-)

I love the mission.  Life is good and enjoyable.  It is easy to be happy out here.  Love you all!

Elder Clemons! :D