Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ben is Transferred to the Island of Otiero

October 15, 2012


This week I will tell a little more about what is happening here.  

Well, I was a bit sad about conference last week.  It was really good, but there were not very many members that went.  I have been working hard with Elder Gonzalez, but unfortunately not very many people are progressing fast.  We have been teaching the sister of Ulisses (a recent convert here).  Her name is Marcilene she has been doing really well.  She has had a lot of doubts about the Plan of Salvation.  Fortunately now she understands that our lives don't just end when we die but there is a whole lot of other stuff that will happen.  Our lives are kind of just a beginning.  I love how the Plan of Salvation helps us better understand the relationship we have with our Heavenly Father and what our potential is.  It also gives the doctrine of Christ more meaning.  Unfortunately, Marcilene had something come up this Domingo and she didn't go to church.  We invited a whole lot of people to church -- I think it was more than 30 people Saturday.  But Sunday, only one less active member,  Jocilene (that i wasnt expecting), came.  We spent a few hours that morning trying to wake people up for church, trying to find people at home, but none of it went right.  I was a bit torn in our Sacrament Meeting because we were not having very much success where a few months ago we had a lot.  But I felt really good at the same time because someone I didn't expect came (Jocilene).  I hope that the ward here will start to wake up because if they don't soon, the work and success we have had in these last few months are going to slip away.  I know we have a few members in the ward that are working hard and it makes a whole lot of difference.  I have been pretty bummed because we haven´t baptized for the last three weeks.  But I think it is good that we haven't baptized more people because the ward is not strong enough to help and nurture the many more converts.  Fortunately, the ward mission plan should help and the Second Councelor Irmão Ataide is helping a lot.

Big news.  I will be transferred to Oteiro. It's an island a bit separated from Belem.  it was a big surprise when I found out.  We stopped in the house after church to drop off some books and I saw that  Pres. Scisci had called three times.  I thought that was a bit weird, so I called him back.  He said that he had a new calling for me and started to explain that there was an elder,  Elder Sotamaior  (I think that's how you spell it) that just finished his training in Oteiro and he hasn't baptized anyone yet.  He is feeling down about it and thinks that its his fault or that he is a bad missionary or something like that, and President wanted to help him out.  So Pres. Scisci wanted me to go there to "convertinate the people" and help Elder Sotamaior become a successful missionary.  I thought that was a lot of responsibility.  Pres. said that he was thinking about a missionary that could help and that he could count on to baptize, and thought of me.  I will need a lot of help from the Lord, and a lot of prayers.   I will go there and work hard.

it was a bit sad saying goodbye to some of the people in the ward that i have come to love and some of my investigators and converts.  Please pray for these people here.  They are really special.

October 22, 2012

Hey family! 

This week has been interesting.  I got to my new area Tuesday night and we just barely had time to visit a family that is going to get married and then baptized in the next few weeks.  The family consists of José (58), Lourdes (55), and their daughter Gabriele (9).  Gabriele was baptized this last Saturday on the beach.  This area does not have a chapel, just a house that is rented by the church.  Unfortunately the meeting house is right next to the beach in an area that does not have very much movement, because of this the meeting house has been robbed 9 times in the last 6 months  The last time was last Saturday.  They stole everything from the wire to the fans, cleaning products and toilet paper. they took everything and only left the benches (because they are a bit hard to move).  They broke a wall to get in.  So that has been a challenge for the branch, being a bit weak to begin with.  There were 44 people in our Sacrament Meeting, about half were infants or children under 8 years old.  Elder SotoMayor is from Bolivia.  He is pretty cool but I have to have a lot of patience with him.  He likes to teach and works hard.  He has finished his 12 weeks of training and I am here to help him complete the training that the other two missionaries started.  Elder Sotomayor had two different trainadores, and they did not like to work as much as he did.  But, things will start moving here now that both of us want to work.  

I have attached a pic of the family, Branch President, and Gabriele at her baptism

Funny story.  Gabriele, after her baptism, swam like a dolphin back to shore.  I thought it was funny.  Elder Sotomayor walked ; )

I am really tired because last night our neighbor that lives in the same apartment complex got super drunk and his wife moved out and took the kids without him knowing.  He got to the apartment and his family was already gone.  He was a bit angry and then calmed down when I talked to him and opened the the gate for him.  Last night I think he slept in the stair well because he lost his key and refused a mattress and fan we tried to lend him.  He talked for a long time and I didn't end up getting to shower and sleep until he left the apartment complex again.  So I got to sleep about 11:45  p.m.  That is something that is getting to me -- a lack of sleep -- because now I am a district leader for two companionships, one of sisters and the other elders.  So I have to call them every night and see if they are alive and interview them every week.  I guess I'm gathering a lot of treasures in Heaven...

I love you all!

Next week i will tell more about the area.  It's pretty cool.

Elder Clark

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Atonement is like an Infinite Wave Function

Monday, October 1, 2012 8:43 AM
Hey, so this week was interesting and it looks like it was a bit crazy there too.  Liza sorry you got hit by a car, well it's better than a bus.  You know that reminds me, one day I was getting off the bus and the bus driver shut the door as I was getting out and the door smacked my head.  Yeah, after that he opened the door. 

So this past week was full of... well not very much progress.  We had a lot of trouble finding our investigators and I think that is a sign that a lot of them don't have much of  a desire to continue learning.  But we did end up finding a really great family the other day to teach.  The husband has a drinking problem, but they have a desire to change.  They both cried the first time we visited them, and we will try really hard to bring them to church this next week.  

I am out of time and promise to write a super long email next week!  Sorry.  I'm doing great and I will send a letter this week about all the adventures I have had in the last few weeks.


October 8, 2012

Hey Fam,

So this week I'm trying to repent and write a long letter to you all.  These last few weeks have been hard for me.  Our zone achieved our goal of 25 baptisms with 37 this last month (my area contributed 14 of those).  Unfortunately, these last few weeks have been really tough, finding people and getting them to progress.
We have met a number of people but unfortunately have not had much success bringing them to church.  I am trying to figure out what I can do to get things to start moving again.  

I have really been enjoying the insights I have been having about the gospel and especially about the atonement.  This was something I thought of.  At times I find people that say to me "I don't have sins" or "I never committed a sin in my life."  Well, that is always a lie unless you are younger than 8 years old.  And it got me thinking about how I can explain to people that they have sins and need Jesus Christ.  I didn't really like the idea of saying, "Hey, have you ever committed this sin?  Or, have you done this or that?"  It's not really that effective and can lead to hard feelings, so I decided to think about it a bit more.  Then when I was reading in 2 Nephi 9.  I was interested in the part that  says that the atonement was "infinite."  Well, I stopped to think about "infinite."  What does that mean?  Well, in mathematics it means without end, continuance for ever, something people have been trying to define for a long time.   In math they also talk about how there is an infinite number of fractions between any two given numbers.  And then, something clicked and I came up with an interesting way to explain consequences to our actions.  Here's how it goes.

Imagine a lake completely still.  If you drop a pebble in the water, what happens?  The one small disturbance sends ripples throughout the water that reach every bank and affect every point of the water's surface.  It is the same sort of thing with our actions.  When we do a good turn, we send ripples through the water affecting, in time, every person in the world, however small the effect is.  When I learned about waves (of sound, light, radiation, or water), but specifically sound, my teacher showed us a graph with squiggles above and below a horizontal line, at any given moment you have an inequality of energy above or below the line but silence is just a straight line without disturbances.  When you have two waves that are opposites with the same magnitude, they cancel each other out.    But if you have two waves that are of the same frequency, they strengthen each other, creating one wave of greater magnitude.  

I think of the atonement like a wave.  The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is like a wave that calms or cancels out the waves of a troubled sea leaving peace and calm.  Now remembering the infinite nature of the atonement, we see that the bank of the lake is not regular, but full of complexities.  And like the world we live in, there are a whole lot of people throwing pebbles, rocks, boulders, and even causing avalanches that disturb the face of the water.  In the end, you have a combination -- a wave equation that is infinitely complex and, in the case of our world, of a magnitude incomprehensible to the human mind.  That is where Christ enters with the atonement.  His sacrifice was infinite -- the wave that counteracts all the waves of trouble in the world.    We I think about the atonement like a wave, I feel like it is easier to repent and make that first step towards change because it was infinite and it's the only way we can calm the disturbances we have made.  We can also see that when we do good, the waves we send (with time) will reach everyone and that when we work together sending out the same good waves they combine and amplify each other.

I love you all.  Conference was great.  And I pray for you all daily.

-Elder Clark