Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Crazy Day

Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 5:23 PM

Hey Family,
I have a crazy story for today!  The Italians in our branch that have been here since we got here left this morning.  Last night we had a going away party for them where we had toasts with Martinelli's apple cider.   It was cool but sad.  So at 4:00 in the morning, the other room in my district got a call over the intercom.  They wanted Elder Higbee to report to the travel office.  When he got there they said, "Elder, where is your stuff?  Your shuttle leaves in half an hour to catch your flight to Brazil!!!"  No one had told us.  So, we helped him pack up all his stuff and sent him off all before it got light.  It was really sad.  All of us have grown really close and it was sad to have one of us leave.  I'm really excited for him though.  I know he will do great.  He is really good at Portuguese (our teachers told him that in lessons he could only bear his testimony so that the other two in his companionship,  Elders Klem and Josi, would get better at teaching and speaking).  Hayden also left this morning!  I got to say goodbye to him yesterday.  It was nice to talk with him for a bit.  It was a happy parting.  I have a bunch of good pictures to send all of you, but we can't do that with these computers (its all blocked)  So I will have to send them to you when I get out into the field. 
Mom can you send me:
  • a fleece poncho (its getting cold and i need something for that I don't have any sweatshirts or anything)
  • G harmonica
  • music for Come Thou Fount
  • and maybe a sweat shirt of mine (use your best judgment)
Thanks. Out of time. There is a letter coming for you all. 
With love,

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 6, 2011 at the Provo MTC

Dear Family,
I'm still doing well.  I went to the temple today with my district.  That was really nice.  I feel like I understand more of the blessings involved.  I really felt the spirit and it was a very nice and peaceful experience.  Afterwards I ate breakfast at the cafeteria in the temple with most of my district!  Real food!  It cost me $6, but it was so worth it.
I also wrote a letter to you guys today so you should get it later this week.  Last Sunday was Fast Sunday and also mission conference.  The MTC presidency spoke along with their wives, and over all it was really good.  The only thing I didn't like was that when some of the sisters spoke, it sounded a little fake and too rehearsed (you know the conference talk cadence, inflections on every word).  I wrote a friend today and told a little more about my experiences here at the MTC.  I shared an experience I had during our mission conference.  I'll give a short version here.  We were singing "Called to Serve" as an intermediate hymn and I happened to look over at the stand and the first counselor in the MTC presidency caught my eye.  He smiled and I smiled back.  It sounds like no big deal, but I could tell that he loved and cared about me personally, even though I had never met him.  It was a nice experience, because out of the 2000 Elders in that room, he saw me and we connected.  I went on to say that that's a lot like our relationship with God, we often are not on the same page but every once and a while we will be in harmony and we connect and can feel his eternal love for us.  It's not a perfect analogy, but I thought it was uplifting.  Maybe my friend will take the discussions or something.  Well, we will see : )
Thanks for the letter dad about Mt Adams.  Crazy!  And Dan, your letter was great.  I'll try my best to let the MTC turn me into a convert-inator!!!
I hope everything is good with you all.  I hope school is working out and the Campbell family reunion is fun.  Tell everyone hi for me!
Love you all!

Learning about Leadership at the MTC

Dear Family,

I've decided that weekends at the MTC are the worst, because we don't get mail and you still have to work all day.  On the other hand, they are nice because on Sundays it's pretty chill.  After sacrament we go on a temple walk.  Usually, my district lays in the grass under the trees that line the grounds (it's cooler in the shade). 

I've been struggling this week with my district.  One elder has been leaving his companion when he doesn't want to do what everyone else does.  It's a weird situation.  He only really cares about being on time to gym and not anything else.  I had a short talk today about it, and said that to make his companionship work, he needs to give a little.  Whenever you are in a relationship it needs to go both ways.  Sometimes you don't get your way.  I hope I got my point across, and hopefully it will get better without me having to do more. 

It sounds like everything is going well at home!  Emma, Dan, school is great!  Enjoy it!  Silverwood sounds like heaven right now.  I want to go with you guys when I get back. 

Oh, a little bit of housekeeping.  Eliza, can your get onto my g-mail account and send me my contacts list (to my LDS mail account), and mom can you check under my bed to make sure my sleeping bag isn't being squished by the boxes? 

I have an exciting story about a confrontation my district had with zone leaders from another branch.  So, it was almost 10:30 and me and 3 other members of my district were taking short showers because we had been working out.  Most of us were about to get out (just rinsing off) when all the lights in the bathroom went off (the lights are just regular switches).  The zone leaders from the other branch had turned them off.  We yelled for them to turn them back on and two members of my district got out of the showers to turn them back on.  The zone leaders then came in and said that we needed to be in bed.  The combination of the lights and how they addressed us made my district mad.  Two elders got out and told them off (butt naked and soapy).  One of the zone leaders then threatened to call our branch president saying that we talked to him naked.  We were all incensed and told him to look after his own zone.  They left and immediately went to talk to our zone leaders.  We haven't heard anything yet, so I'll tell you more later if anything ends up happening.  Moral of the story:  be considerate of others, don't talk to naked people if seeing naked people offends you, and don't get power trips when you get a little responsibility.  Leaders are there to serve, not boss people around.  After this whole thing I talked to my district about being quieter in the showers so we wouldn't have to deal with that again. 

Well, I have more to say, but I'll save it for the e-mail later today.

Love, Elder Benjamin A. Clark

Excerpts from Mailed Letters to Family, August/Sept 2011

Dear Family,

Sorry for the short letters.  I have a lot going on and I didn't get your letters until after I e-mailed.

Dad, thanks for your thoughts on mercy.  I think they were helpful.  I am going much better today.  I just needed to unwind on my p-day.  I really don't know know why I get frustrated with people.  I think I'm just going to be more encouraging, but at the same time more accepting. 

Well, that's OK that you guys sold my 4-Runner.  I'll get something better when I get home : ) or maybe I'll just be a hipster for a while.

Portuguese is much better is now.  I know a lot more words so I can put together more sentences.  We have two teachers and they only speak in Portuguese.  We learn grammar from new books.  They have been teaching us pronunciation with a program called TALL, with recordings of native speakers saying phrases and words.  It is really cool.

The food is not very good.  It's the same thing all the time and it's just not very good. 

Thanks for the letter, Emma and Liza.  I sounds like you two are enjoying the end of your summers.  All those movies -- I'm jealous.  And Emma, don't worry about the stuck-up thing because I probably was and that's the point.  Sometimes people see things in you that you may not, so make sure what they see is good even when you don't think they are watching. 

Liza, you asked how I was called to be district leader.  They had all of us in a room (the branch presidency, 3 zone leaders, and the two districts that arrived on the same day).  We went around the room and introduced
ourselves, shared a little about our families and what we had done over the last year, along with our testimonies.  After that everyone was interviewed by a counselor in the branch presidency.  Then, the presidency went out of the room for a few minutes and than they came back in and called me out to talk with them, along with another Elder from the other district.  They told us that we were called by God to lead our districts.  So, that's how they decided. We are called Elders.  Irmou is brother.  We actually found out a bit ago that Sisters are just called Sisters because Irma is lika a nun.  I hope both of your teeth feel better!!!

Love you guys!  Elder Clark (Ben)

Hey, Mom

I feel like I need to write you.  I miss you guys, but I'm doing pretty well.  There's just a lot of work.  It's good though.  How is your new calling?  I hope it is tons of fun.  What class are you going to teach?  I hope you get to take Emma, Liza, and Dan on some crazy adventures before summer is over!  Love you.  Write soon.  /Ben

Dear Eliza,

I was really happy to get your letter the other day!  And, thanks for Heber's address.  I hope school is going well for you. 

It's crazy here.  I study Portuguese about 8 hours a day and it's coming along pretty fast.  I can bear my testimony, say prayers, and express feelings and expectations fluently.  Sometimes I find it hard to see how much I have learned.  There is always a new word that comes up or an idea that I don't have the vocabulary to explain, so I feel like I'm still at square one.  But it really is pretty good. 

What is your schedule at school?  Mom told me you got it worked out with your counselors.  Are you going to do any clubs or sports?  I think I benefited a lot from the extra-curricular activities I was involved in.  I learned a lot, built character, and made some really good friends, even though when I first went I didn't have many.  How is the organ, church, and seminary going?  Who is your teacher?  I hope you are doing well.  Write me soon!  /Ben

Week #3 in the MTC, August 30, 2011

Hey family!

I'm doing really well this week I'm working better with my companion and we are getting better at speaking Portuguese.  I gave an entire lesson without having to look up a word.  I think it is really fun to learn a new language.  My p-day has been switched to Tuesdays because our teachers are going back to school and their schedules needed to be accomodated.  we are now on  a different schedule than everyone else in our branch this made it hard for Sister Rust to do things because she didn't have anyone to stay with during gym, p-day and in the mornings.  There was a big fuss about what to do in branch council and a member of the branch presidency said he would go and talk to Scheduling yesturday morning.  But, by mid-day on Monday no one had come to talk to me about a solution.  So I went down to Scheduling and they didnt even know that we where on a different schedule.  Apparently the teacher superviser gave us schedules and didn't tell scheduling??  But I finally got it worked out and now we have Sister Rust moved in with a French sister who is from Brazil in another district that is on our same schedule.  This is really great for her because her new part-time companion is super good at English and Portuguese. She will learn fast.
The MTC food is the same -- barely passable.  And I got a letter from Katherine last Friday!  Woot!   Last week was great for letters and mail.  I got the package and it was better than Christmas.  The harmonica is great and super fun to play in the evenings before bed.  It's a lot harder to play well than you would think.  I'm getting better at it though and now I can get clean notes fairly easily, without drooling all over myself.  I'm going to try and learn some hymns soon. 
Tell josh good luck for me! 

I want to know what everyone is doing for school and extra activities this fall.  Mom good luck with seminary, what class are you teaching? 
Sorry if i repeat myself in letters it all runs together here.
Dad I really enjoy getting your letters especially the ones about your lessons in the Priest Quorum.  Last week after we had our devotional, we had a short testimony meeting about what was said and insights we had during the talk (in our district).  I was last and we needed to take up more time, so I shared the lesson about mercy with my district.  At the end my entire district said, "Wow, I want to be like your dad when I'm older."  My district is great and we have some really cool discussions about the gospel there aren't any nut cases in my district with really hokey ideas, and we can see eye to eye with each other.  We don't all have the same opinions but they all mesh and everyone benefits.  There has also been some wierd talk about water being control by Satan not (within the MTC).  What do you think about that?  I personally think that its a load of crap, and that it's not Satan its the laws of nature that control water, and that as a misssionary I need to be careful around water not because of some metaphysical forces but because I have other priorities.  If I use common sense around water I will be safe. 
Well, I'm out of time love you all!