Monday, August 31, 2015

Es Menonita?

"Cantan Santos Angeles." You know what song that is?

It's "Angels We Have Heard on High."

When did we sing it? In Sacrament meeting last week.
Yes. We sang a Christmas song in church in August. It was just kind of ironic, because about every morning when we are picking a hymn to sing during companionship study, Hermana Hernandez says "Christmas?" And I say "Hermana, it's August. It's not Christmas time."
It took quite a bit of effort for us not to bust up laughing in the chapel when we realized which song it was.

Spanish Lessons with Hermana Clark:
Vinagron- the nasty monster of a bug that we found last week. It looks like a giant ant with pincers like a scorpion. And it's too hard to kill with a shoe, so our neighbor had to come kill it with a shovel. And they smell like vinagre (is that how you spell it in English? Because that's how you spell it in Spanish...) when you kill them. So that's cool.
Asustar- to scare. But it also means to be scared in a specific instant. It's just really confusing to figure out the grammar.
Menonita- Menonite. As in, "Are you menonite? *gesture toward my arm to indicate the color of my skin* You look menonite."
Paciencia- Patience. As in, "Patience is a Christ like attribute that requires time and trials to develop. It's an important attribute to have. It will serve you well. And if you pray for it, your prayers will be answered one hundred fold."

About the menonite thing... I seriously have at least one person a day ask me if I'm menonite. 
It's because I'm in Casas Grandes. Here, the only white people are either Menonites from a nearby Menonite colony, Mormons from Colonia Juarez or Dublan, or Polygamists from another pueblo. So they see me, white and wearing a skirt, and they say, "Are you Menonite?" Then when we walk away from the conversation, Hermana Hernandez and I quote an Elder from our last district and say "Hola. Soy la Hermana Clark. Soy Menonita y vendo queso." Which means, "Hi, I'm Sister Clark. I'm Menonite and I sell cheese." (Menonite cheese is the best cheese.) We laugh about it a lot. We told our Mission President about it the other day, and he thought it was pretty funny too. Good thing I look Menonite so all the missionaries can be entertained.

Advice for future missionaries:
KEEP YOUR AREA BOOK UPDATED. Update teaching records and write down addresses.
Write down addresses.
Write down addresses.
If you don't, the missionaries who follow you might be incredibly frustrated, as will be their ability to work well in the area until they find all the addresses.
Thank you.

Last Sunday after sacrament meeting, one of the young single adults in the ward came up to us and introduced us to her cousin who came with her to church. Her cousin said "I'd really love to learn from you." So we had a lesson on Monday. We were just basically answering some questions, and when we asked her if she would be willing to have more lessons with us to hear our message, she said, "Yes. And when I understand your teachings better, I'd like to get baptized."

Um. Ok. We can help with that.

We were a little shocked and super excited. She's great, and we're teaching her again tonight!

Yesterday we had a stake conference. Instead of our normal church services we had a big meeting with all the congregations in the area. But, we as missionaries weren't allowed to go unless we brought investigators.
So we passed by one of our investigators houses in the morning and the family was still asleep. So we called and they woke up...and long story short, we ended up waiting outside for an hour and a half until they were ready.
Our awesome ward mission leader waited outside with us because he had to give us all a ride.
We were a half an hour late to the conference...but they came! We all made it together!
It was a trial of patience. Ohhhhhhh it was a trial of patience. But we made it. And it was a beautiful experience for us, and for our investigator. When we are patient and when we act selflessly (like our fantastic ward mission leader), great things can happen for everyone involved.

Well, that's what I have for you this week! Thank you for your prayers- I feel them!
Les quiero :)
~Hermana Hannah Jo Clark

Monday, August 24, 2015

Cambios Especiales

¡Buenas tardes!

So....remember that phrase I taught you all last week? "Cambios Especiales?" well...
They happened to us!

We are no longer in Pradera Dorada, although I'm still with my fantastic companion, Hermana Hernandez.

Thursday we were at lunch, helping make the food, when the Elders who were sitting on the couch got a phone call, then started whispering and practically giggling.
"Hermana Hernandez, can you come over here for a minute?"
She said no, so they told her it was important.
She goes over and I hear "sit down for a minute Hermana."
Then she pretty much started fan-girling.

We are in the Pueblo!
My area is called Casas Grandes 2. The thing is, people refer to this whole area as "Casas Grandes" like I say I'm from Denver. So to specify that we are actually in Casas Grandes itself, we refer to it as "the pueblo."
Hermana Hernandez served here about a year ago, and she just LOVES it. I knew that, because I'd heard stories. The Elder's in Pradera also knew that, so it was fun when they told her that we had a special transfer to the pueblo. We moved over here on Friday :)

I'm not in the city anymore! I am in a legitimate Mexican pueblo. Most of the houses are actually made of adobe (ours is made of cement.). There are horses, donkeys, mules, ducks, sheep, dogs (still), and all sorts of other fun things. It is so different from Juarez. We actually use blankets at night because it gets cold enough for that. It rains for real (it rained in Juarez...but not like this.). It's GREEN here. There are so many trees! It is BEAUTIFUL. Our house is a second floor over a garage, so we walk out each morning and just smile and say "Que bonita!" (how beautiful!)

Spanish Lessons with Hermana Clark:
Esposas- wives. Also handcuffs. True story.
Oveja- sheep. As in "those sheep are so cute!!!"
Avestruz- Ostrich. As in "I had a terrifying dream about a flying ostrich. Hermana Hernandez reminds me about it daily because she thought it was funny when I told her."
Humildad/humilde- Humility/humble. As in "Humility is a Christlike attribute that we all must develop. When we are humble, we can better align our will with the Lord's will. When we make the necessary changes in our lives to do this, we will feel greater happiness and fulfillment in our lives!"

I love being here. There are things I don't like, such as the monstrous cousin-of-a-scorpion bug that we found on our door when we got home last night.
Mostly, this place is so different than anything I've ever experienced, and I love it. I love the people here. They don't care about most of the petty things I used to worry about. They live simply, and they give generously. It's amazing.

This week was a bit crazy with the transfer, but it was pretty great. I love it here! Several times a day we just look at each other and smile and say "I'm so happy to be here. I feel so good." It's a magical little place.

Thank you for your prayers and your support! I hope you all have a lovely week!

~Hermana Hannah Jo Clark

Monday, August 17, 2015

Rancho Cien Perros

Buenas tardes, seres queridos! :)

Another week in paradise!
Hah. Paradise means a place where there is a lot of sun...right? :P
We've been told that the climax of the heat is almost we're hoping that's true.

We sing the hymn "El Amor del Salvador" (Our Savior's Love) a lot. It's a beautiful hymn with a beautiful message! But we find ourselves humming it a lot because we sing it so much.
So we were leaving lunch and the Elders were humming the hymn. The first line says "our Savior's love shines like the sun with perfect light." One of the Elders says the first line, points at the sun, and says, "if this is the Savior's love, I don't want it."
The second line says "as from above, it breaks through clouds of strife." The other Elder looks at the sky and says "Can I PLEASE have a cloud of strife!"
IT WAS A JOKE. They want the Savior's love. 
But we did theorize that maybe He loves the people in Juarez a little more than others, based on the amount of sun we get.... :P

So our area has two big subdivisions, and in one of them most of the street names start with the word "Rancho." There's this one little street that seriously always has at least 5 stray dogs just chilling. Sometimes more. We don't know why. But sometimes they like to come say hi to us....and we don't really like them. We were there this week and we decided to rename the street "Rancho Cien Perros" (Rancho 100 dogs). Hah.
We're really funny.
Or we walk around all day every day and little things become hilarious. One of the two.

Spanish Lessons with Hermana Clark:
Canibalismo- cannibalism. No example necessary. Why did I learn that word this week? Don't ask. (Don't worry either. I didn't meet any cannibals.)
Antojar- to have an appetite for a certain food. As in "I have an appetite for spicy carmeled apples."
Cambios Especiales- Special transfers. As in "Hermana Panta, you have a special transfer. Be in the office with your belongings in one hour." We miss having Hermana Panta in the ward. But transfers happen tomorrow anyway, so more changes are coming.

Transfer calls happened last night. We were sitting there and the phone rang. AHHH!!! We answer, and the Elder says (in Spanish), "Ready, Hermanas? Hermana Clark will be staying in Pradera Dorada."
Then He paused. Hermana Hernandez was freaking out.
"Hermana Hernandez.............will be staying in Pradera Dorada."
He thought he was pretty funny for scaring us.

I'm so happy I get another transfer here with Hermana Hernandez! She is an incredible trainer, and I learn so much from her every day. We also have a lot of fun, so that's always a plus :)
We will be getting a new Hermana in our ward though, and our District Leader has exhausted his time as Executive Secretary to the Mission President, so we'll be getting a new Elder in our ward as well. Fun stuff!

One more Spanish Lesson.
Fe en Jesucristo- Faith in Jesus Christ. As in "When we exercise faith in Jesus Christ, we will be motivated to make the changes in our lives that will align our will with that of our Heavenly Father. We will find greater joy in our lives when we do this."

This week we were walking home and we talked to some ladies who passed us in the street. We showed them a pass-along card we had with some questions on it and asked if they had ever asked one of those questions. One of the ladies was anxious to know where we go after this life. We visited them later in the week, and this sweet woman told us about her life. She has faced some real struggles. She is also mostly blind.
But her faith is incredible.
She just kept saying, "yes, I want to make changes in my life that will allow me to better serve others and feel this Spirit more."
We are excited to see how she grows as she embraces the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Well, We have a Zone Conference, so my time is short.
Thank you for your prayers, thank you for your support, thank you for all the good you do! Go make someone smile! :)

Hasta la próxima semana!
~Hermana Hannah Jo Clark

Monday, August 10, 2015

Nobody Likes the Crust

Hola Hola, otra vez!

It's been another great week here in la mision!
I started by going on an exchange to Casas Grandes! It's about a 4 hour bus ride from Juarez to Casas Grandes. My companion is an Hermana Capacitadora (Sister Training Leader), so we do a lot of exchanges so she can train the other Sisters. Usually the HC's train Hermanas a bit closer to them, but for some reason she is assigned to some Hermanas in Casas Grandes. So we traveled together and I got put with another companionship over there. It was so fun. The whole pace of life there is different. It's a cool place.

Preface to Spanish Lesson:
I had pizza for dinner when I was in Casas Grandes, and I asked one of the Hermanas what you call the crust of the pizza. She said "It's called the 'suegra.' Nobody likes the suegra."

Spanish Lesson with Hermana Clark:
Suegra- Mother-in-law. As in..."Nobody likes the mother-in-law..." (Luckily, I already knew what suegra meant, so I just started laughing a lot and she joined. Then I informed her that my future husband will like his suegra.) I asked several other missionaries though, and people actually do call the heels of a loaf of bread "suegras" as a kind-of joke. So that's fun.
Crema- cream. Any kind of cream. Soup that is cream-of-something, cream you put on mosquito bites, neosporin, body cream, sour cream. Everything is "crema." Watch for context.
Arrepentimiento- Repentance. As in "Repentance is the joyous opportunity we have to change and become better as we align our lives with the teachings of Jesus Christ and use the gift of His Atonement."

Spanglish Quote of the week:
"And through His prophet, Joseph Smith, God restored the Gospel in it's plenitud." -An Elder in my District 
(plenitud means fullness)
Sometimes it's hard to give a Spiritual thought at a District Meeting in English when you are just so used to Spanish.

So it's time for a couple stories about finding people.
Monday night after our District Meeting we went to find a lady named Lupita. We don't have her address, she just told us vaguely what part of the subdivision she lives in and that her house is under construction. So we'd been knocking at this one house all week thinking it was hers. Well, Monday night the lady who lives there answered. She wasn't Lupita. But we talked to her anyway, and she's super cool! We had a sweet conversation about how knowing that God has a plan for us helps us find peace and guidance in this life. She said we could come back and teach more tonight, so that will be nice.

One of my first days in the field, we were walking down the street and this kind looking man waved at us. So we talked to him and he realized we weren't the Misioneras he had met before. He talked to us anyway, though, and said we could come by "whenever he was there, but he was gone a lot." So we usually don't ever see people again when they say that. But last week we here at a taco stand talking with the owner who is a member of the ward (he gives us free tacos. We love him.), and this kind man and his wife walked up to order tacos. I was like "Hola!!! Como ha estado??" (Heyyyy!! How have you been??) Because I recognized him. We talked to them a bit and he said we could come by Sunday. He wasn't there Sunday when we came by.
So Saturday we're walking by his house and the door is open. So we knocked. And He let us in. His house is also his acupuncture clinic. We talked to him a lot about his life, which was really interesting. We sang a hymn, and He said that He felt the Spirit very strong. Which was good, because we did too. We talked a lot about how important it is to have Faith in Christ. Then we gave Him a Libro de Mormón, and invited Him to read Ether Chapter 12. He was super interested in learning more. We're going to teach Him again later this week.

And one last story from when I was in Casas Grandes.
We visited a member family, and one of their teenage sons is having a hard time with the decision to serve a mission. He has learned a lot of English in school, so his mom told him to ask me in English why I decided to serve a mission, and translate my answer from English into Spanish. So he asked, "Why did you want to serve a mission?"
There are a lot of reasons. So I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to say to keep it simple so he would understand it. So I opened my mouth and out came "I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon and of the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That testimony has made me happy, and I know it can make other people happy. So I want to share it and help them receive a testimony too." He understood.

Our purpose as missionaries is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them to receive the retored Gospel through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. We are here to invite. We obviously teach, because you have to teach someone how to do something before you invite them to do it. Ultimately, though, we always need to invite others to act if they are going to come unto Christ and feel the joy that He can bring them.

So I invite everyone to do something this week to invite others to feel the love of Christ in their life. There are so many things you can do.

I hope everyone has a lovely week. Thank you for your continued love and support! :)

~Hermana Hannah Jo Clark
 ​A couple weeks ago I went to the border with another Sister to do some immigration paperwork. We may have stepped into Texas for a few seconds...​

Monday, August 3, 2015

Those Sinful Chiles...

Hola queridos!

This week has been an interesting one. I got sick. Don't worry about it though, because I'm better! :)

Spanish Lessons!
Fresa- strawberry. As in "we should get strawberry yogurt." (no, strawberries did not make me sick.) This word also means "fancy," as is "That house is pretty fancy." Why are strawberry and fancy the same word in Spanish? No idea. If anyone finds out, I'd love to know.
Taza- cup. As in "add 2 cups of water." Also, toilet. As in "send a picture of your toilet to the mission office for monthly cleaning checks." Be careful to watch for context, or you might be really confused.
Now I get to correct a typo from last week! "Picar" means to bite.
Pecar- to sin (I hope nobody accidentally called out their chiles for sinning a lot this week.), as in "Because of our mortal condition, we all sin. Everyone. Even missionaries. But everyone has hope to overcome their sins."
La Expiación de Jesucristo- The Atonement of Jesus Christ. As in "Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can all receive a remission of our sins, relief from our pains, and support through our afflictions."

People have asked about the Spanglish here. It's a real thing. You hear all sorts of English words made Spanish. Hot dog, stand (like lemonade stand), tape, ride (she gave us a ride to lunch). There also verbs that come from English words. Checar (check), parquear (park). It's fun to hear. But the best Spanglish comes from missionaries. A couple of my favorite Spanglish quotes from missionaries:
"He leído eso before." -Me
"I asked her if ella quería escuchar un message." -My District Leader
We don't even think about it. It just comes out. And the Enlgish words come out in a spanish accent about half of the time. It's a talent, really.

People have also inquired after the people, which makes sense since I have said multiple times that the work is about the people, not the lessons. And I want to tell you more about the people, but I'm still trying to figure out how to go about that without divulging too much confidential/personal information about them. So I'll work really hard on planning what stories to tell and how to tell them in future weeks so I can do that. But I'll tell you that the members here are fantastic! I love them! The people on the streets are also super friendly, which is nice. Many people are willing to talk with us, and the rejection we get is very polite.
Contrary to popular belief, not every area in Central America is super receptive to the message of the Gospel. We don't have very many investigators, and we are working hard to find people who are searching for the gospel in their lives. The investigators we have are all great people. They each have their own amazing story, and I am grateful to know them!

People have also asked about my area. We have a third of the ward in our area. The part we have covers two big subdivisions (colonias). They are mazes. They are confusing to begin with, but half of the streets are closed off by a gate we can't get through, and the others have gates with guards. We have to have an appointment in order to enter the street. So there's another reason we don't knock doors. Our area is pretty nice. It's a good place to be.

So to close this week, I'm going to (probably mis)quote Elder Holland (or possibly another Apostle). He once said something like "I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience." So true. But guess what? Just like salvation is not a cheap experience, the results of missionary work are not cheap. They are priceless. It is worth the exhaustion to see the joy that people can find as they embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

I love you all! Thank you thank you thank you for your endless support! I am so grateful for the life I have. Each of you contributes to that great blessing.

~Hermana Hannah Jo Clark