Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Stress of Success

Hey, this week has been interesting.

It's actually been really stressful.  You know it shouldn't be that bad because we have been baptizing a lot of people, but I am stressed that we won't continue to baptize.  We have very few really promising investigators and its been hard to find new ones.  They aren't progressing very well.  The sad thing is the other 7 companionships in my zone have baptized fewer people than my area combined.  

I am sorry about the photos.  They are not cooperating with me these days.  

Rosa and Antonio were baptized this last week!!!  I ate cake.  And Rosa stopped smoking. It took her more than two months to stop but she finally made it.  

We had 6 recent converts receive the priesthood this Sunday !!!!  The confirmations and ordinations to the priesthood were fast and not personal at all.  I'm hoping to help change this in the future in this ward.  

I'm out of time, but I love you all!!!

Oh, the water situation got fixed!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ben Baptizes 7 Members and Attempts 3rd World Plumbing

September 10, 2012

Hey fam, 

So every thing is going well here. I am having a great time with Elder Gonzalez.  I havent learned much Spanish yet but I have read a bit and it's not very different.  

I sent some pics.  One is of the baptism of Magno, Marilene, and Kezia [see pictures at right].  The next is me and Elder Oliveira at the Mission President's apartment on the 19th story of an apartment sky scraper (the apartment is very nice).  The apartment overlooks Belém. We were there for a training meeting discussing our new callings as mission trainers.  The last is of me, Ulysses 18, Jean Tavares (my mini missionary from a week ago), and André 17, and Andrey 13 (brothers), and Elder Gonzalez at there baptism.  It was pretty funny but Jean was going to baptize them and he didn't bring a white shirt, so me and Elder G. ran back to our house to pick one up for him to use.  It turned out good, but I was super sweaty when I got done.  The two brothers that were baptized are our neighbors and they are really cool.  Their dad even came with them to church Sunday, which was nice.  

This week i have been bitten a lot by mosquitoes.  I think it's because Elder G. has new blood, because before it was not bad at all.  But now, the day he got here it started to get bad.  Interesting how that is.

I have been thinking a lot about reverence lately.  I feel like the Sacrament  Meeting in our ward is super rowdy, and some of our investigators seem like they weren't feeling the Spirit during the sacrament meeting.  I have had a few bad experiences with this ward, and what I think is irreverence.  I think that me and Elder G. will work something out to help the ward really understand what is going on during the Sacrament Meeting, and what importance the sacrament should have in our lives.  It's a bit tough to bring investigators to church to see bad examples of members.   But fortunately we have the best ward mission leader here in Laranjeiras (Irmão Ciçero).  He is always there to help us and he is super involved.  In fact, he just got back from the temple (his first time) about a month ago.  So, things are looking up.   I have a goal to help this area grow so that I can convince President Scisci to send 3 missionaries to replace me when I get transfered in 3 months.

Oh, I got my package --  the one-year-in-the-mish package!  Thanks for the information about harmonicas and the mints.  

Oh, we have a family that we are teaching -- Camila and Nilson -- that will get married this week and baptized on Saturday along with (depending how this week goes, 2 other couples).  And we taught a lesson de poder the other day with a member who made a contact on the bus!  That was sweet, and the couple promised to come to church this next Sunday.

I love you guys and your letters.  Keep sending them!!!

Love, Ben

September 17, 2012

Hey fam, thanks for all emails.

This week has been really interesting.  For a start, I sent a pic from the weddig of Magno and Marilene and another pic of the baptisms this last weekend [we didn't actually get these].  Two families, two men, a total of five.  We baptized Claudio, Helena, Vitoria (their daughter), Camila, and Edenilson.  I will send a letter this next week to fill you all in a bit better about these milagres!!  

So these next few weeks will be interesting because we don't have anyone that is 100% ready for baptism but we are praying.  In fact, I think that I am being tested a lot right now.  There are a lot of problems, a ton of things I'm trying to remember, and thankfully, a lot of blessings.  I think it would be good to start with the trials.  

So, I have not been able to plan my time well enough for over a month, so I have been getting to bed late and I'm really starting to feel it.  I'm super tired, and I think it's affecting my work.  I try to help my district, but I feel like I'm not doing it right.  And, things just have been stressful lately.  Yesterday the PVC pipe that goes to our well broke while we were trying to prime our pump.  So we were left without water.  So I haven't been able to shower since yesterday morning.  I fixed the pipe today (I designed a new better system to prime the pump).  I should get reimbursed, but it looks like I lost the receipt so I'm out $ 25.96.  That's a bummer and unfortunately there is a leak in one of the connections I made.  
When the water tank was filling, it fell. Our water tank is 500 liters and sits on some wood slats at the back wall of our patio out back.  The water tank is a bit old and was poorly placed, it sagged because of age and the weight of the water until it finally fell this afternoon when I was washing clothes (by hand).  Yeah, so all of the PVC water pipes broke and we are now using a jimmied system to use the pump to fill the broken water tank on the ground.  (I still haven't taken a shower.)  So that's my story.  Oh, and when I called the land lord, they hung up on me twice (because I said I was a missionary).  I got my neighbor to call them and that worked.  Unfortunately, they were not very helpful.

I am planning a lot of trainings of the members here about how they can help the ward grow and how they can help us doing missionary work.  They are a bit behind the game here.  We have 8 recent converts that have been waiting for a few weeks to be interviewed to receive the priesthood.  

I'm really tired but I'm really glad I'm here.  

Elder  Clark

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

3 Notes Home, 9/3/12

Dear Family,                                                       August 13, 2012

Wow.  It’s already been a whole year since I left home.  I’m doing great here and it looks like we are going to have tons of baptisms in the next few weeks.  It has been really interesting working with temporary missionaries.  But what is nice is that my comp, E.J. Tavares has already served for a transfer so he isn’t really lost, just new.  Elder J.T. likes to talk English and a lot.  I guess its really cool for him that he knows how to speak two languages.  I want to speak Portuguese and learn more but he is almost always speaking English. 

The other day we were walking in an area that was pretty dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing.  We saw a guy in his late 20’s dealing drugs with a young man about 16 years old.  The kid left and the dealer was looking a bit nervous with us walking up to him.  I was always told here that to keep on good terms with people like that you need to talk to them and not just walk by looking scared.  So we pass by, I say hi and smile at him, he seems to lighten up a bit smiles and responded respectfully.  When we turned the corner some guy that was really high stumbled over to talk to us.  I ended up giving the man a pamphlet of the Word of Wisdom. 

Daniel, keep your stick on the ice.  Emma, keep your chin up and always look to the future.  Eliza, Vai e conquistar!!!!  Ellis, keep up the Radicalism.  Dad and Mom, thanks, you both are the best parents ever J

Love, Elder Clark, Ben

Dear Family,                                                                                                       9/3/2012

These past 4 ½ months have been pretty crazy but it looks like things are improving.  We are going to have transfers tomorrow.  Elder J.T. will go back to Vila dos Cabanos and will leave on his mission on the 11th of October.  He is going to the mission Joño Pessoa (Brazil).  I think at first he was pretty bummed about his call because he is in love with th U.S. and worked as an English teacher here and even sent his mission papers in English.  He told me that in his patriarchal blessing it said that he needed to leave for his mission with “real intent.”  Well, I think he is getting there.  The thing I think is cool is that he will do much more good here in Brazil because he will be able to train and teach Americans easily because of his experience with English.  The Lord will use him well.

So the big news here is that Magno, Marilene, and Kezia were baptized and confirmed this last Saturday and Sunday!  It was really gratifying/fulfilling to see the changes this family has made.  They are completely different people now.  I had the honor of baptizing Kezia and participating in the confirmation of all three.  Saturday I was afraid that the baptism wouldn’t happen because Magno was really sick (he had a super high fever) but we visited them before the baptism and gave Magno and priesthood blessing and Magno started to feel a lot better and the baptism went very well.  Marilene bore her testimony after the baptisms were performed and she cried.  It was a beautiful meeting. 

Now Sunday Marilene’s mom, Dona Rosa (who is not a member yet because of a problem with smoking) bore her testimony and told the story about how I and Elder Vale gave her a priesthood blessing (when she was too weak to talk and she says now “she thought she would die”) and she was cured of the chronic diarrhea.  Don’t worry, she didn’t specify the sickness in the Sacrament Meeting testimony J.  I thought that was cool how she has the courage to bear her testimony in front of everyone. 

So finally I will talk about some interesting news.  I will train a new missionary these next 12 weeks (2 transfers).  His name is Elder Gonzalez, I think that’s how you spell it.  And get this, he is from Argentina!  So, I will pick him up tomorrow (9/4/2012).  These last few weeks have been great, the work is going forth.  In fact, we have met the mission standard of excellence for a month now and have had baptisms every week for the past four weeks (this is something that I want to keep doing!  J).

I really hope that everything is going well for you all and I’m sorry that I didn’t’ send these letters sooner.  I love you all, and please pray for me and my new companion!  Can you all believe it.  I’m finishing up month 13 of my mission.  I really don’t have much time left but don’t worry, I will endure to the end!

Love, Elder Clark


Hey this week has been good.  A lot of things are happening, which is good because it looks like I will stay in Laranjeiras for another 3 months.  I will train an Argentinean!

I also sent an email with a letter or two explaining about these last few weeks.  I haven’t received the package yet but it should get here soon. 

We have been working a lot with people that live close to our house.  There are a lot of youth here and it looks like we will baptize a few of them in the next few weeks.  I have this master plan of reactivating a young man that lives on the next street over and baptizing people here so that they can support one another.  I think it will work out.  I have been thinking a lot about becoming a trainer and I’m going to have to get a lot better as a missionary because I won’t have a native as a comp.  I will also have to be a good example for him.  But I know that it will work out and the Lord will help me fulfill my calling. 

I thought it was funny a few weeks ago Emma asked me if I got more internet time now that I’m a district leader.  Well the answer is no I don’t get more time.  I think it was a fluke that week that I was able to write more. 

But as a district leader, I have been very short on time.  At night I have to check on my district and then report to the zone leaders and since I’m with a short term missionary it seems like I clean the house and work with planning for lessons and activities during the day more than usual.  I have been super tired these past few weeks.  But it seems like everything is running smoothly.  Relations with the members are good and I feel good.  I have lost a lot of weight and am looking more in shape now.  I did 13 pull ups in a row the other day which is more than I have been able to do for months.  I hope to improve even more so that when I get home the rock climbing will come back fast.  I hope Elder Gonzales likes to run and teach Spanish. 
Good luck to everyone with school and work, moving and know that i am praying for you all!!!!

I love you guys and I promise I will send some pictures of the baptisms next Monday.

Your Missionary,
Elder Clark