Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Father's Day, and The Ups and Downs of Missionary Work

Monday, August 13, 2012 6:40 AM

Hey Dad!

I wanted send special note to you for Father’s Day [Father’s Day in Brazil is the 2nd Sunday in August, not June].  I thought a lot about Father’s Day and what it means.  I think it’s funny how sometimes I seem to relearn or come to understand some things better.  I always knew being a father is important or that there is a lot of responsibility, heartache and joy involved.  For example, the father of the prodigal son had moments of pain and grief but when his son came back he undoubtedly was the one who felt more joy and love because what was lost to him was found.  

I got to give a lesson to a family (Camila and Nilson who have 2 daughters about 7 and 5).  They have had lots of problems in their relationship, more because of the past because Nilson drank a lot.  He stopped before we met them but there are still some feelings that haven't been resolved yet.  There we taught about the worth of souls and I talked about what things make us/God happy.  When we understand what makes one happy, we will understand better what will make the other happy, and what we should avoid in order to continue to be happy in tough times.  I concluded that what brings more happiness to us in this life are things like our families being unified, seeing our friends, siblings, children, or parents succeed.   Therefore God is made happy when we succeed, and like it says in Moses, God’s work and glory is to help us succeed and become like him.  Well Dad, I love you and hope that your Father’s Day was the best!

Oh, and I thought it was funny that on Father’s Day I confirmed Pablo (an 18 year old that we have been teaching) a member of the church. 

Love you!
Elder Clark

Another letter the same day:


Happy Monday after Fathers Day!

I thought it was interesting here for Father’s Day there were a lot of people complementing people and saying, “Happy Father’s Day.”  I thought it was cool.  At home I think that Father’s Day was a bit more reserved.  Quite a few people asked me if I was a father.  I thought that was funny and scary at the same time.  I am frequently asked if I have a family (like if I'm married and have kids).  Families start really young here.  

This picture is of me with a lot of post-it notes -- well all of the post-it notes I have received in care packages.  The post-it next to my face says “Obrigado!!” or “Thank You.”  Funny story.  Obrigado is the English equivalent of thank you or to thank and obligated.  Interesting how languages evolve.

I love you both!! Thanks for being my parents!

Your son,
Elder Clark

Monday, August 20, 2012 9:18 AM


Man, this week has been interesting.  I had a bunch of good experiences and a few bad ones.  Remember that family, Ademir and Ana?  Well, they fight a lot but now they have separated.   (I think that he abused her verbally and physically).  The other day Ademir was really angry and didn’t want to talk to be taught that day, so I left him Matthew 7 to read and told him to read it calmly and apply it in their relationship.  Apparently when he read it he freaked out because he didn’t think that he was wrong in any way and that I should have given that scripture to Ana.  He is a really cold and stubborn person.  He said that he didn’t want me to come back to his house any more.  I think we will drop him.  I really felt that the scripture would solve their problems if they applied it, but i guess it’s better now that they are separated because i never saw them smile at one another.  I just feel bad about the two sons of theirs.

On brighter news, we had a baptism (Herrison, age 13).   And we have been seeing progress in our investigators.  We have been running in the morning.  And we did 3 service projects last week.  One included cutting down a mango tree that didn’t give fruit, so I have officially contributed directly to the deforestation of the Amazon.  But, I will strongly encourage them to plant another tree in its place!

Out of time, but I love you guys!  And I am writing paper letters!!!

See ya!

Elder Clark

Monday, August 27, 2012
Hey, gang!  So this last week was pretty interesting.  We had another baptism!!!!  We baptized Luan, a 13 year old young man.  He is a bit timid, but really smart.  I have attached a picture of Luan, Irmão Cicero (the ward mission leader), and me.  The other picture is of an amazing lunch I prepared.

So I have a request.  Mom, can you send a recipe for pot roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, and Aunt Jen’s rolls. (It’s for our neighbor across the street.  She is really nice!)   And recipes for pico de gallo? and homemade corn chips? 

So this week, we finally came to an end with Ademir and Ana.  After I left the scripture with him, Ana, the woman that he was living with, left.  I explained the scripture to him but he didn’t apply it.  For some reason, Ana came back (I really don’t think that was a good idea).  We sat down to talk to them yesterday and they started yelling and fighting before we got to the opening prayer.  I prayed (silently) then we stood up to leave.  Ademir said that he didn’t want us to come back and gave us his Book of Mormon.  We then left and prayed for them, just me and my comp, in the house of some other investigators. 
I felt really sad that I couldn’t help them.  Unfortunately the problems there were not resolved and we were imperfect in the way we tried to help them.  I will learn from what happened and I pray for them often.   

So the work goes forth.  Our ward has made a few changes in the bishopric and we have had a lot of promising investigators that have been to church (we had 14 investigators in church last Sunday) and we have the marriage and baptisms of Magno, Marilene, and Kezia this week!!!!  After 4.5 months they are almost there!!!  My district is carrying the zone in baptisms and I feel satisfied with the work I am doing.  We have a lot to improve but the work is getting done!

I love you guys and hope that all the changes are happening smoothly!! 
Eliza, jump in there and don’t look back!
Ellis, I hope the semester of commuting will not be too stressful and that you do well in school!
Emma and Dan, don’t drive mom and dad crazy and continue to do activities in the family!!
Mom, Dad, thanks and I love you both more than you know!!!

Elder Clark

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ben helps his companion use a non-nerdy accent and assures us of his safety

Sorry, Emma, for not writing very frequently.  I have been very short on time but I hope that your life is doing well.  It's pretty good here for me.  I have a new companion and I'm starting to like him more and more.  Funny story.  When he talks English he has a very nasally nerdy accent which I think is funny.  I told him that we would try to help him with the accent because he would never get a girlfriend in the U.S. with his accent   ; )  I really liked what you wrote about journal writing.  I have a hard time writing in my journal but I found what you said helpful.  Oh, and have you really been writing in your journal and reading the scriptures every day for the past year?!  Way cool parabems! (congrats!).  I love you and hope you have a wonderful week.
Love, Ben

Hey everyone,
This week has been interesting.  I tried to prepare a lesson for my district this last week and ended up not working out very well.  I planned a family night with a member family and brought investigators but I botched it, and it turned out a not being super organized, and we had a devotional that I was in charge of for the ward (like a ward family night called Noite Integração).  Unfortunately, none of these activities turned out super well.  But I guess that it's just a sign that I need to keep working at it and maybe spend more time preparing and planning.  Oh, do any of you have ideas for fun games that I could use for some of these ward activities or family nights?
So, in my area 3-4 people where murdered.  All of them 16-21 year old males.  In fact, one of them was killed last night a block away from our house just a few minutes before we got home 9:30 in the evening.  The guy who was murdered by our house was shot 8 times -- one in the chest and 7 in the face.  But don't worry, all of these guys were involved with drugs and had owed money to the drug dealers.  It's really not   way dangerous for regular people, but for the Ladrãos  (robbers) its really dangerous.  But don't worry I'm doing fine.    
I've attached a picture of Antonio and Rosa who are preparing to be baptized this next Saturday. Rosa is trying to quit smoking!  I also dedicated a house yesterday for Dayana who was baptized last week!!!
Oh, Antonio and Rosa gave us 7 packets of coffee after we taught them about the Word of Wisdom and burying your sins (see Anti-Nephi Lehi's).
I'm doing great and people are progressing.  Sorry that I didn't get to the really good stuff in this letter!
Sorry I'm out of time.  Got to go!!!
I love you guys !!!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ben is made District Leader, and has more mini-missionaries

Eliza’s Question:  I friended some people for you on Facebook.  One was named Maicovale Pingo.  I saw that he had several photos of you.  I looked at them and it was nice to see you.  We just couldn't guess who this guy was.  Was he your companion?  (if so, he was breaking some rules) or just some other dude who was stalking you two and posting all your pictures.  

Ben’s Response:  So, Eliza, my comp was only a temporary missionary.  The mission expected a missionary from the Brazilian MTC that didn’t actually come, so I have been the missionary to pick up the slack, working with temps from the area.  Elder Vale is Maicovale Pingo and he is at home now.  He also wasn’t an ordained missionary, so he didn’t have an email account and just used Facebook. 

I’m glad the mini-surgery went well and that you are playing more music.  I think that is the thing I miss the most on the mission --  music, especially singing in English and playing the guitar. 

My new comp is Elder Tavares.  He is an 18 year old from Vila Dos Cabanos, a city close to Abaetetuba.  Oh, and he also dated Janaina, the first person I baptized here.  I think it was my first or second week in the field.  So it was fun to work with him for a while.  It was like training because he didn’t know much about teaching.  But today his cousin is going to trade places with him because he needs to register with the army here. 

Funny story.  The bishop told my comp he was going to speak for 20 minutes in Sacrament Meeting a few days ago, I think Wednesday.  I felt pretty safe so when we got to the church the first councilor pulled me to the side and said that I was going to speak as well because the scheduled speaker didn’t show up.  He gave me 20 minutes to speak.  So, I whipped out a talk I gave in my last area about missionary work, modified it in Sacrament Meeting, and ended up giving what I thought was a really good 15-20 minute talk in Sacrament Meeting.  I think just to be safe I will write another talk and carry it around with me so that when I get called to talk on short notice it’s not a big deal. 

Oh, can you accept Jordan Tavares when he sends a friend invite on Facebook?  Thanks, Eliza.  Love you!!!

Hey, parents! 

This week has been interesting.  My comp, Elder Vale, finished his mini-mission and went to the beach.  I got another temp who is getting replaced by his cousin today and I was made District Leader.   The District Leader thing is a bit funny because my comp from the MTC, Elder Childs, is in my district, we share the same chapel [Ben was also the District Leader when he was in the MTC with Elder Childs].  So, it’s been interesting to have more responsibility.  I think I work much harder when I have more responsibility. 

So the week has been OK.  I had a really cool experience with an investigator yesterday.  Ademir is 49  (born in ‘63) and he is living with his (I think it’s pretty funny here in Brazil because they often refer to wives as “mulhers” being translated as “woman;”  they say, ´”minha mulher” -- “my woman”) mulher Ana (30’ish) and two sons about 3 and 5 years old.   They have been visiting the church with some other investigators we have and they were really interested and skeptical at the same time.  Ademir, in particular, had a hard time understanding that the Book of Mormon isn’t more important [to us] than the Bible.  But after I explained to him about the priesthood, and how they needed to know that the Book of Mormon was true to know that we had the priesthood, after a while he understood.  And it was cool because I explained and the ideas were just flowing.  I had never thought about the Book of Mormon in exactly the way I explained it.  The Spirit was working and at the end Ademir understood and said that he needed to read the Book of Mormon.  Then, yesterday we taught him and Ana about the Word of Wisdom.  But when I started teaching I showed them a picture of the Joseph Smith without really knowing why.  I like to explain about how Joseph Smith received the commandment from God, but I don’t always show the picture of him.  But this time I was prompted to show the picture and Ademir ended up stopping the lesson and explained that when he was 19 he walked in front of one of the first chapels the Church built in Belém and had a dream where Joseph Smith told him that he needed to help the church.  He accepted my invitation to be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God, and will try to get married.  I think that missions are great.

I’m out of time but I love you guys!  Oh, and thanks for the paper and insoles!!!!

 Love, Ben