Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Picture Time!

Our sweet Hermana Clark got time later in the day to send some pictures!
A side note: If you are new to Blogger, you should know that you can click on the pictures to make them bigger. :)

Her sister training leaders, Hermanas Garcia and Bossell.

She didn't say, but I'm thinking this is her district. 

A direct quote for this caption: "The epitome of awkward Elder/Sister pics..."

And here are some pictures from the MTC drop off! P.S. They are a little out of order.

Isn't she just the cutest? She needs letters. ;) Send her some letters.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Welcome to the MTC! We're housing an endangered species...

"Welcome to the MTC!" You hear that about every 2 minutes your first day in the MTC because you have an orange dot on your name tag to show that you are new. More on the other part of the subject line later...

It's crazy- I've only been here 5ish days, and I know I won't be able to share all the experiences that I want to share with you about this week. I know it'll only get harder in the field.
But here is what I can fit in the time I have!

I love my District! There are 6 Hermanas and 4 Elders. Hermana Romero is my companion, and she is fabulous! She's from L.A. and is going to Costa Rica. the other Hermanas are Gomez, Sorenson, Cragun, and Greenman. I love them all! We love the Elders too. Haha :)
And my whole Zone is great, but I just don't have time to introduce everyone. But, Elders Pendleton and Gray in my Zone were in my ward at BYU, so that's cool! They both leave the MTC tomorrow.
And I have seen so many friends here! From home, BYU, other places- I run into people all the time!

So last week was weird at the MTC because there was a seminar for all the new mission presidents. We were eating in the gym instead of the cafeteria, and everyone was looking around corners all week hoping to see General Authorities.
Here's the explanation of the subject line.
So it's our second day in the MTC. We're sitting in class, and this announcement comes over the speaker. "Will all Sisters in the MTC please report to the East side of 19M immediately no matter what you are doing."
Oh my heck. We were all flipping out. We were guessing all sorts of things. Sisters were whispering "maybe we get to meet the prophet!" "It's going to be some crazy announcement!" "Maybe we can serve longer!"
So we all get seated and a member of the MTC presidency says, "Sisters, I have some news that is going to alter your lives a little bit."
AHHH! This has to be HUGE!
Hah. haha.
"A bat was spotted in building 17M."
Yep. 17M was my building.
"All Sisters living in 17M will be going directly to dinner after this meeting, then you will pack up your stuff and move to your new assigned buildings."
Some Sisters were pretty upset/scared/irritated.
One sister asked, "What are you doing with it?" and the man in charge of security said "They're an endangered species in Utah. So we'd love to kill it, but we can't."
My district? We were trying so hard not to be irreverent with the LAUGHS pouring out of us.
It was SO FUNNY.
We were packing our stuff and we would just look at each other and crack up. Hermana Gomez was humming without really thinking about it, then Hermana Sorenson goes "Hermanas, she's humming 'I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go.'"
So there's my funny story. Fortunately, this is the MTC, so people had a pretty good attitude. And all Elders who weren't in class at that time came to help the Sisters move all their belongings from 17M to their new buildings. Gotta love the MTC. :)

Other than that crazy time...I am learning so much! It's INSANE how much you can learn and grow in 5 days!
I learn a lot in classes about how to teach, about the Gospel, and about Spanish...but here's what's most important.
As missionaries, we need to learn to develop the Character of Christ.
Elder David A. Bednar gave an amazing MTC Devotional a few years ago called "The Character of Christ." I don't think it's available to the public, unfortunately.
But every Sunday night at the MTC, they play a few talks and movies that you can choose from to watch. My suggestion TO EVERY FUTURE MISSIONARY is to watch this devotional your first Sunday
It. Will. Change. Your. Life.
It changed my perspective significantly.

For a while I was constantly worrying and stressing about Spanish. Because I am not fluent. It's been frustrating to be trying to teach a lesson or comment in class and know exactly what I want to say in English, but not be able to translate it into Spanish very well.
It's been difficult to try and learn the best sequence to teach lessons.

But we're not here to learn Spanish, and we're not here to teach lessons.

We are here to teach and love people. We are here to teach and love God's children.

Something Elder Bednar pointed out was that in Christ's life, every time He experienced extreme affliction, He immediately proceeded to look outward and serve those around Him.
Even directly following His suffering in Gethsemane, He healed the ear of the Guard who Peter attacked.
The natural man would turn inward and think about himself in the midst of trials.
Christ's character is to turn outward when the natural man would turn inward.

Sorry I can't type accents, so this spelling will be a bit incorrect...
Pero, yo se que tenemos un amoroso Padre Celestial. El nos conoce perfectamente. El nos ama perfectamente. Yo se que si quiero comunicar con y ensensar a las personas en la mision, no debo enfocarme en la idioma, sino tengo que AMAR A LA GENTE. Tengo que enfocarme en las personas, y no en la idioma ni los lecciones.

If you don't speak Spanish, find someone who does! And they will probably laugh at the spelling!

I love you all!

~Hermana Hannah Jo Clark

P.S. We're cutting our email time 10 minutes short, and I'll send pictures a bit later when we're on different computers.
I would love to hear from you via letters or DearElder.com! But If you send me a letter on DearElder after noon on Saturday, I won't get it, because I leave the MTC July 6th!
That also means I might not get to email next week. Chao!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day and Farewell!

Happy Father's Day!
Because it is Father's Day, I need to give a shout out to my dad.
My dad is fantastic. He is one of the hardest working people I know. He loves to serve others. He has taught me to give. While I was at BYU this past year, I took Spanish classes, and in one of them I had to report a certain number of conversation hours outside of class each testing period. Each time I was coming up on a test, I would call my dad and talk with him in Spanish for a while, and he was always willing to help me with that. And since I found out that I will be spending 12 days in the MTC instead of 6 weeks, he's been entirely more willing to practice Spanish with me than I have been to practice Spanish with him. So thanks dad.

But I don't only have my awesome dad, Richard. I also have a perfect, loving Heavenly Father. We all do.
In preparation for my mission, I've been studying Preach My Gospel, the manual missionaries use to teach, quite a bit.
Something I found to be interesting and profound is that the first principle taught in the missionary lessons is that God is our loving Heavenly Father, and we are His children. Explaining our relationship with our Father in Heaven, Preach My Gospel says "He loves us. He weeps with us when we suffer and rejoices when we do what is right. He wants to communicate with us..."
I know that this is true- that our Heavenly Father loves us. The evidence of His love for us is all around if we look for it. But right now, I want to talk about 3 main pieces of evidence that show that our Heavenly Father loves us.

First, that He sends prophets.
Second, that He sent His son, Jesus Christ.
And Third, that He has given us the Book of Mormon to reaffirm the first two pieces of evidence.

God shows His perfect love for us by sending prophets to teach His word. He doesn't come to us Himself all the time, because if He were always physically here, we would not have to exercise faith, and therefore wouldn't grow.
He doesn't leave us alone to try and figure life out though. He gives us commandments and instruction so that we can best grow and one day return to Him. One way He gives us commandments and instruction is through His prophets. Instances of God sending prophets to teach His commandments to His children are found throughout the scriptures. Men such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses in the Old Testament, and Lehi, Nephi, Abinadi, and the Brother of Jared in the Book of Mormon are just a few examples of prophets sent to guide God's children by teaching His words.
God didn't just send prophets back then, and decide to leave us to fend for ourselves. He sends prophets in our day. Joseph Smith was a prophet sent to restore the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Earth after the God had taken His priesthood authority from the Earth following the death of Christ and His apostles. President Thomas S. Monson is God's living prophet on the Earth today. He and the other general authorities of the church speak the word of God to us twice a year in general conference.
The fact that God guides prophets to do His work and help us know what we should be doing demonstrates that He cares about our success. He wants us to do what is right so that we can return to Him, so He provides us with the instruction we need to do so.

The second piece of evidence is explained well in a commonly quoted scripture.
"16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
Our loving Father in Heaven sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to teach us the way home to our Father in Heaven, and then provide us with the greatest gift that would allow us to make it home.
During His mortal ministry, Christ taught us to love one another, and to love Him and our Father in Heaven. Then, when His mortal ministry was finished, He took upon Himself the sins and pains of all mankind. 

In Alma 7:11-13 we read:
"11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me."

Our Heavenly Father sent His Son Jesus Christ to feel every pain we would ever experience. The pains caused by our own sins, the pains we feel as a result of other people's sins, and the pains we feel as the results of our mortal conditions- He felt them all. He felt each pain, so that He would know perfectly how to bear us up through them and heal us from them. And once He felt all of our pains, He gave His life on the cross and overcame death, so that we could each one day overcome death and be resurrected as He was.
This gift is the ultimate sign of our Father's love. That He would provide us with a Savior to deliver us from all that which would keep us from returning home to Him.

The last piece of evidence I wanted to address is the gift of the Book of Mormon.
On the Title Page of the Book of Mormon, we read that the book was "written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and revelation...to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers...and also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God manifesting Himself unto all nations." The Book of Mormon is a record of ancient people who lived in the Americas. The record holds several accounts of God sending prophets to teach us the way back to Him through Christ. Aside from testifying that God sends prophets, it testifies of our Savior. The Book of Mormon provides a second witness of Christ's mortal ministry and of His great atoning sacrifice. Additionally, it gives us an account of His ministry, as a resurrected being, to God's children who lived on the American continent at the time of His death. Because of his love for us, our Heavenly Father guided the hands that provided us with this record, so that we could know the way back to Him.

So our Heavenly Father loves us. Therefore, what?
What do we do with this information?
Here's what I think. If we stop to think about just how much our Heavenly Father loves us, and we realize how incomprehensible His great love is, we should feel immense gratitude. We should give all our love to Him.

Matthew 22:37-38 says:
"37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment."

So how do we do that? How, in our mortal capacities do we show Father in Heaven, who loves us perfectly, the love He deserves in return?

In preparing this talk, I thought of several scriptures I wanted to share. But there just wasn't a way to make that all fit, so I think something Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said gives us a good idea of where to start.
“'If ye love me, keep my commandments,' Jesus said. So we have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord."

Brothers and Sisters, I don't make the choice to serve a mission lightly. I'm not leaving my family for 18 months and going to Mexico to have a cool cultural experience or to better learn the Spanish language. I'm not serving a mission to impress anyone or to meet some other person's expectations. I am serving a mission because I love the Lord. I recognize that I am incredibly blessed to live in the circumstances I do. I have been blessed with a loving earthly family and a great understanding of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Through trials I've faced in my life I have been blessed to see the Lord's hand bearing me up, and I am grateful for those trials, because through them I have come to know my Father in Heaven better.
There have been a few times since receiving my mission call that I've thought about the people I'm going to serve and wondered what in the world I have to offer them. The trials I have faced in my life don't compare to the trials many of the people in my mission will have experienced. But I've realized that they don't need me because of my knowledge or my abilities to help them and heal them. If all I have to offer them is a testimony of their Father's love for them, and of their Savior's atonement, that is enough. Because that is all they need. To feel their Father's love.
I know that our Heavenly Father loves us. I know that our Savior Jesus Christ truly performed that absolutely selfless act of the atonement so that we could become clean from our sins and be healed from our pains. I know that we can communicate with our Father in Heaven through prayer, and that He will answer us. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and if we will study it out and live its teachings, we will grow nearer to our Father in Heaven than we can any other way.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


Pushing Against the Rock
"There once was a man who was asleep one night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and the Saviour appeared to him.

The Lord told him He had a work for him to do, and showed him a large rock explaining that he was to push against the rock with all his might. This the man did, and for many days he toiled from sunup to sundown; his shoulder set squarely against the cold massive surface of the rock, pushing with all his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling his whole day had been spent in vain.

Seeing that the man showed signs of discouragement, Satan decided to enter the picture - placing thoughts in the man's mind, such as 'Why kill yourself over this?, you're never going to move it!' or 'Boy, you've been at it a long time and you haven't even scratched the surface!' etc. giving the man the impression the task was impossible and the man was an unworthy servant because he wasn't moving the massive stone.

These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man and he started to ease up in his efforts. 'Why kill myself?' he thought. 'I'll just put in my time putting forth just the minimum of effort and that will be good enough.' And this he did or at least planned on doing until, one day, he decided to take his troubles to the Lord.

'Lord,' he said, 'I have labored hard and long in Your service, putting forth all my strength to do that which You have asked of me. Yet after all this time, I have not even budged that rock even half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?'

To this the Lord responded compassionately, 'My friend, when long ago I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I told you to push against the rock with all your strength and that you have done. But never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. At least not by yourself. Your task was to push. And now you come to Me, your strength spent, thinking that you have failed, ready to quit. But is this really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled; your back sinewed and brown. Your hands are calloused from constant pressure and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much and your ability now far surpasses that which you used to have. Yet still, you haven't succeeded in moving the rock; and you come to Me now with a heavy heart and your strength spent. I, my friend will move the rock. Your calling was to be obedient and push, and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom, and this you have done.'"
(I found this version of the story on this website.)

A friend shared this story at his farewell a couple years ago, and it stuck with me. I think it's a good story to keep in mind as we go through hard things. I shared it with my family last night, and it was interesting how each of us was able to directly apply it to a different situation we had recently experienced.
Whether you are dealing with high school, starting college, feeling like you will never finish college, getting ready to serve a full-time mission (oh hey, that sounds familiar...), having your first child, struggling to raise your fifth child, suffering from infertility, dealing with illness or the illness of a family member, struggling with depression or anxiety, grieving the loss of a loved one, or whatever else you could possibly be going through, your Savior is aware of you. He (and only He) knows exactly what you are feeling. He will help you through it! If you are giving all you have, no matter how much that is, it is enough! He hasn't asked us to conquer the world. He already did that. He has asked us to give all we have. That's enough. He has already made up for what we can't do.

So this video is kinda old...but I really like the story! I heard it at a stake conference when I was at BYU this year, and I loved it. It's called "The Parable of the Bicycle."

All you have, however much that may be, is enough.

Have joy!

<3 Hannah Jo