Monday, January 25, 2016

Fitness Chocolate

First off, a funny story. At lunch yesterday, after we ate, the Sister who fed us gave us some chocolates from a box of "World's Finest Chocolate." We ate a few then when she closed the box, her husband said, "ohhh I thought it said "fitness chocolate."
Hah. We laughed a lot.
If only it was fitness chocolate.
Next off,

​Happy Birthday to my sweet niece, Joya, and my awesome brother-in-law, Gregg.
This morning my companion and I went to Paquime. They're some cool ruins here in Casas Grandes. They're closed on Mondays, which is why we didn't go sooner, but we found a connection and they let us in today! So that was fun!
Spanish Lessons with Hermana Clark:
Familia- family. As in, "the family is the basic unit of the church."
Barrio- ward. As in, "several families who live in the same geographical area make up a ward."
Rama- branch. As in, "If there aren't enough people to make up a ward, the congregation is called a branch."
Estaca- stake. As in, "several wards/branches make up a stake."

This week all the missionaries serving in the Colonia Juarez stake (where I am serving) had an activity in a branch here. The branch has some great members, and we worked with them to find all the families who live in their boundaries to update all of their records. It made me think of the part of 3 Nefi 18:31 that says "I know my sheep, and they are numbered." It was great to all work together in finding some people who the branch had lost.
There was also a worldwide missionary broadcast from the church missionary deparment this week. It was super cool! They haven't had a worldwide broadcast like this in about 10 years, but they felt inspired to do it now. I am so grateful that I saw it! This work honestly isn't ours. This is the Lord's work. The Spirit teaches and converts people. We are just instruments in the hands of the Lord.
Our investigators keep learning, and it's a special experience to be a part of. On Saturday our investigator was telling us all about some scriptures from the Bible that she understands better now thanks to the Book of Mormon. Her knowledge of the Bible is super impressive, and listening to her find the connections strengthens my testimony of the Gospel.
We have one investigator who has listened to several missionaries but never progressed much. We were talking with her about the Book of Mormon and she asked "And who is Joseph Smith to you guys? The missionaries have never really explained it to me." So we got to teach her about the resoration of the gospel. When she heard the experience you could see the understanding enter her eyes.
"So this church is the church that Jesus Christ established, and it's led by a prophet like in the days of the Bible?"
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the same church that Jesus Christ established during His life, restored in its fullness. Christ leads the church through His servants, the prophets (Amos 3:7). 
I am so grateful for the understanding I have of the retored gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ loves us, and He is the way to eternal happiness in eternal families.
Have a great week, everyone!
~Hermana Hannah Jo Clark

Monday, January 18, 2016

They Really Are One In Our Hands

Spanish Lessons with Hermana Clark:
Panteón- Cemetery. As in, "We'll meet you in the cemetery at 4." There are two cemeteries in the Pueblo, and they're both in our area. This week we happened to meet up with members there to go on visits with us a few times. Every time I said, "we'll see you in the cemetery" my companion and I just about died laughing afterward.
Mascota- pet. As in, "We have a pet. It's a dog named Pinto." We don't actually have a pet (that's against the rules in the missionary handbook.), but we do have a...friend. There's this dog that follows us. Every time we pass it's house, it comes out and follows us for the rest of the day. Before, it used to just follow us to our next appointment, but now it will follow us and wait outside. typically about 20 minutes into a visit it starts knocking on the door. The people we visit always say, "Sisters, your dog is knocking." It's ridiculous haha
Mandamientos- commandments. As in, "God gives us commandments to help us find greater happiness. We can learn about the commandments in the scriptures. As we learn about and start to live the commandments that God gives us, we come to know just how important they are."

So remember the investigator who we met outside her house and later she told us that her sister had recently gotten baptized and had been praying that the missionaries would find her sister? We met the sister this week! We also met our investigator's husband, and he's super cool. Their whole family is super cool. We found out that she and her husband have been reading quite a bit of the Book of Mormon, and they love it. We explained that the Bible and the Book of Mormon work together to testify of Christ, and the husband said, "It's true. They really are one in our hands." We love these people. They love learning more about the restored Gospel, and they really want to get baptized by the right authority.

We started teaching a new investigator this week. She's my first convert's sister. She came to her sister's baptism back in October and wanted to learn more, but she was hesitant to listen to us because she doesn't want to stop drinking coffee. This week she finally agreed to let her sister bring us over to visit her. Within the first 3 minutes of being in her house she mentioned that she really loves coffee and asked us why we don't drink it. We gave her a brief explanation of the Word of Wisdom, but we mostly started to focus on the first principle that we teach- God is our loving Heavenly Father. We found that she has great faith in God and is willing to put what we teach to the test. She is great, and I'm sure she will come to understand the Word of Wisdom as she learns more about the basic principles of the Gospel.

We have an investigator who is preparing for baptism, but her husband hasn't been as interested. When we visit her, we invite her husband to listen and he says from the other room, "I'll listen from here." But we found out that a few months ago he was working harvesting on the same farm where a young woman from the ward works and they knew each other. So this young woman came with us to a lesson this week. He answered the same as always, but this time the young woman walked near the other room and said, "we prepared a message to share with you. It's about faith and it's going to help you. Will you please come listen?" He came and listened. She bore a powerful testimony of faith, and it changed him. We went by a couple days later, and he listened again.
The influence of righteous youth is powerful.

Stay awesome, stay strong. Come unto Christ, the time is now. He loves you. I promise.

Have a great week, everyone!

~Hermana Hannah Jo Clark

​This snow was one of the things that almost interfered with the baptism last week. Good thing we conquered it!

​It didn't keep me from making this tortilla either.
I hope to make more circular tortillas one day...the Sisters here are helping me practice.

Monday, January 11, 2016

My Heart is Full!

What a beautiful week it was! My heart is full!

Spanish Lessons with Hermana Clark:
La hora- the time. As in, "the time of a stake meeting changed about three times and interfered with the time we had planned a baptism.
Obstaculos- obstacles. As in, "various obstacles appeared to keep this baptism from happening."
Superar- overcome. As in, "with the help of many leaders, members, and other missionaries, the baptism happened!"
Confirmación- confirmation. As in, "the baptismal service was beautiful, but the confirmation was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

Back in September, we spoke one day in church. When my companion was speaking, she saw a family enter the chapel and got super excited because she thought it was a family who we had met the day before. As it turned out, this family was not the family we thought they were, but they were a family who was ready to receive the Gospel.
Once they decided to start coming to church every Sunday, they were determined. When they committed to read the Book of Mormon and pray, they followed through. They had a lot of questions. Especially the dad asked us a lot of questions. Thanks to all these questions and their determination to understand the truth, they grew firm testimonies.
Each member of the family had their own struggles in their own time. One day all but one of them wanted to get baptized, the next day only one of them. As they worked together to strengthen their family and their understanding of the Gospel, they had some beautiful experiences.
Saturday, January 9th, they got baptized! All 5 of them together!
The dad's mom and a few of his siblings are members. His Brother-in-law and nephew baptized and confirmed the family. His mom said the closing prayer, and it was so sweet to hear her give thanks that her children, one by one are accepting the gospel.

On Sunday, the family was confirmed. They each received the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the blessings they received were beautiful. I started crying as I heard them give the oldest son and the daughter promises associated with the full-time missions they will serve. The last one confirmed was the dad, and he received great promises that as they stay firm in the Gospel, they will have the chance to be sealed for time and all eternity.

It has been a beautiful experience to work with this family in their journey toward baptism, and I love seeing how they continue to progress.

This work isn't about increasing the number of members in the church. This work is about eternal families. I am so grateful to have been a part of helping this family become an eternal family. This baptism won't only bless this family though, it will also bless the families of those who these future missionaries will teach.

Our Heavenly Father loves us, and He has a plan for us. He has a plan for families. We can be together forever as we follow the example of Jesus Christ.

Have an awesome week! :)

~Hermana Hannah Jo Clark

Monday, January 4, 2016

Do You Want to See It?

Photos first!

​This is the less-than-a-centimeter of snow that kept us inside for a whole day...
They tell us that it actually snowed a lot in Juarez, and that's why we had to stay home.

​Happy Birthday to my super cool sister, Holly! :)
(Yes, my name is on the wall in the internet place where we email on Monday's. Am I official yet?)

I hope everyone had a great New Year's!

So last Tuesday we had special transfers! Hermana Acosta went to Juarez and I recieved a new companion, Hermana Nakandakare! I'm finishing her training.
She's from Peru, she's 10 years older than me, and she was teaching in a University before she came on the mission. 
Honestly, I didn't know how to feel about being her trainer at first, because I felt like she should train me. But this week has been great! We get along really well and we teach each other a lot!

Spanish Lessons with Hermana Clark:
Dormir- to sleep. As in, "We celebrated the beginning of a new year at midnight by sleeping. It was fantastic."
Suerte- luck. As in, "We did companion exchanges with our Sister Training Leader this week, and it was just our luck that the buses weren't running that day....but we actually did have good luck because as we went walking trying to figure out how to get from Nuevo Casas Grandes to the Pueblo, a member pulled over and offered us a ride!"
Compromisos- Commitments. As in, "When we teach people, we invite them to make and keep such commitments as praying, reading the scriptures, and going to church. Following through with these commitments helps them to learn and prepare to make and keep covenants with God."

So we did exchanges this week. Our Sister Training Leader is Hermana Mercado, and she's fantastic. She's super animated and happy. I learned a lot working with her! 
While she was here, we visited a family who we teach who are planning to get baptized very soon. We taught them about how we can have eternal families. We explained to them that baptism is the first covenant we make with our Heavenly Father, but it is only the first step toward more covenants, such as being sealed together as families for time and all eternity. We asked them what kind of things they think we need to do as families to prepare to live together for eternity, and it was so sweet to hear them give all the right answers. They really understand how the gospel enhances the family, and they are preparing really well to be sealed one day.

One more story. We were visiting an investigator and her Sister-in-law was there. We asked her if the missionaries have visited her before, and she said that the Elders taught her everything, and she just could never accept that the Book of Mormon is true. She started to make a lot of the typical arguments that we hear. Honestly, I was getting a bit irritated because we had already heard all the same arguments about 2 hours earlier, but then she made a certain argument. "If God was going to send more scriptures after the Bible, wouldn't He have told us in the Bible that he was going to do it?"
In that moment, I felt so grateful that I had gone to seminary and learned the Scripture Mastery scriptures.
I said, "He did. Do you want to see it?"
She looked super surprised and said, "sure, let's see it."
So we read Ezekiel 37:15-20. 
Look it up. It's a good one. When I learned it as a sophomore in high school, I didn't understand it really well. I thought it was really long and it talked about sticks, so it made me laugh. But now I am so grateful to understand it.

We explained the meaning of the Stick of Judah (the Bible) and the Stick of Joseph (the Book of Mormon). The scripture says that stick of Joseph would be added to the stick of Judah and they would become one in our hands. It explains that the Book of Mormon and the Bible complement each other to testify of Christ. She thought for a minute, and you could see the battle in her eyes. We asked her if she'd read it before, and she said she'd never understood it that way. She said "I guess only God knows the truth." So I said,
"God knows all truth. We can also know the truth if we ask Him. But only if we ask Him. He wants to let us know the truth, and He will answer us, if we are willing to hear Him."
She looked at us for a minute and said, "Well, come by next week."

We're looking forward to it. :)

I hope everyone has a great week and stays strong with their New Year's resolutions! Love you all!

~Hermana Hannah Jo Clark