Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Be Bold!

¡Hola!

It`s my last transfer and I am staying here in Saenz Peña in the Obrero branch with Elder Roberts. We are happy to be together and excited to serve!

This week was really hard, but very rewarding. We are talking to a lot of people, but not very many people are interested. The progress of the investigators has been slow too. It has been a time of much inner reflection. Each day we have made huge changes. I have recognized at a new level the need to see things positively. One´s point of view changes drastically one´s ability to handle a situation. As I remember that this is God´s work and trust and love Him, I am able to love His children even more, listen to, and help them according to their needs. 

Sometimes I feel that I have had to look harder for God, but He is always there. There were several times during the week when I felt the Holy Ghost quietly confirming the truth of what I was teaching. Many of the people we teach have felt it too and that is the most exciting. For example, we have been teaching Gregorio and Marilin, an really amazing and open couple. They both know that what we are teaching is true because they have asked God and received a confirmation. They still have a lot of obstacles to come, but we are really excited for them! I love God! Though many challenging things happen and I don`t understand everything, I will trust in Him.

Be bold! No one can receive the blessings of the gospel if they aren´t invited to receive them. As you open your mouth not to please, but to invite others to learn more about the restoration of the gospel, they will be able to choose for themselves to receive more blessings. I invite all of you to invite with courage your friends to learn more about the gospel. This is eternal life we are talking about! They can choose it as you invite them. As you do, you will find greater courange in your lives and feel even more that God is helping you in all of your endevors.
Have a happy week!
Elder Cloward
We forgot to take pictures this week. Tomorrow, we have a big lunch with all of the branch, so there will be pictures next week.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Your Efforts Are Never Wasted

¡Hola!

This week, I focused on my testimony of the Book of Mormon. Elder Roberts and I quickly recognized the need to have a firm testimony of the book, especially after talking to another religious leader. The Book of Mormon and the accompanying witness of the Holy Ghost that it is true are esencial to know that God restored His truth through the prophet Joseph Smith. It was really great to make a short list of some of the scriptures that have helped me to become who I am and bring me closer to God. The list of scriptures included scriptures about the atonement of Jesus Christ (Alma 7:11-13), the time between death and the resurrection (Alma 40:11-12), faith and trials (Ether 12:27), and paciente in the face of trials (Alma 17:9-11). I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon and can say with greater surety that I know that it is true.

We had some really amazing experiences in which the investigators we were teaching received their own personal witnesses that what we are teaching is true. It was so happy to see them find more light and advance on the path to God. Two of them are Gregorio and Marilin, a young couple we have been teaching for three weeks now. I was so happy when Gregorio told us that he prayed and received his answer that the Book of Mormon is true. Marilin also shared a story in which our prayers for her were answered.

On the other hand, we also saw many investigators lose interest and a couple tried to give the Book of Mormon back to us. That is such a sad experience, because they reject more blessings before they have even tried them. Not all or even very many people get baptized after the first contact with the church and it is important to remember that these efforts are not lost, but that they can lead to future baptisms. For example, the first sister I helped get baptized in my mission had heard missionaries 20 years ago and only after did she choose to be baptized. Her baptism lead to the baptism of several of her grandchildren and last I heard, one of them just recently went to the temple for the first time. Do not fear inviting others to learn about the gospel. It is more likely to have a greater impact than you think!

I invite each of you this week to reach out in a simple way to share a part of the gospel that has helped you with a friend or acquaintance. You can do this through a number of ways: through social media, a short note, or talking with them. As you are inspired, invite them to listen to the missionaries! I promise that as you do, you will strengthen your testimony in that aspect of the gospel. Your efforts are never wasted.

¡Que sigan ayudando a los demás a tener felices semanas!
Elder Cloward

The owner of our pension and his family gave us some Argentine plants to try. We made a salid of brucula (I still don´t know what it is) and rebanete (radish) and boiled some batata (it´s like sweet potato, but not as sweet). It was good except that we put too much oil and vinagre in the salid!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

La Expiación

¡Hola todos!

Service at the Casco family's home.
It´s amazing how much I change every day in the mission. I´m learning things in a week that would take months to learn in any other circumstance with less pressure. It´s super hard to be a missionary, but I wouldn't trade it for anything else.

This week, we had a multi-zone conference in Resistencia and we got to meet President Patanía and his wife. They´ve only been here for a few weeks, but they are already confident and working hard. President Patanía invited us to want to do more (desear hacer mas) and to serve with all of our "heart (feelings), might (actions), mind (thoughts) and strength (health) " (Doctrine and Covenants 4). I am excited to do more! It´s like running fast and then finding out that you can run even faster.

We found some very prepared people right when they were ready to receive us. One lady invited us into her home even before we had asked. We learned that her mother had passed away only a month before and that she is now a bit separated from her siblings. As we shared the plan of salvation, I testified that she would see her mother again, just as I will see my great grandmother. I am so grateful for our forever family! It gives me such hope and happiness and a drive to prepare myself for eternity with them.

We had several ups and downs, but with the help of our leaders, the scriptures, and my patriarchal blessing, we overcame our challenges and found greater strength.

How is everyone doing with the invitations I give every week. Are they helping? My hope is that they stretch each of you to come closer to the savior and help in the missionary work. If you've had any great experiences, I would love too hear them!

President Suarez, the branch president from Villa Angela,
my first area. It was good to see him again!
In the end, the most important act in the history of the world was the atonement of Jesus Christ. He suffered all of our sins, all of our trials, all of our pains, and all things unjust and unfair in our lives. He knows exactly how to help us because He knows exactly how we feel. Because of Him, when we repent in faith, the weight we feel in our lives is lifted. He lives. He was resurrected after three days. Because of Him, we too will live again. I love Jesus!

I invite each of you to prayerfully find one thing you can give up this week that is adding unnecessary and harmful weight in your life. This may be an attitude or grudge or some physical object or activity. As repent of harmful actions and thoughs, I promise that you will feel a lifted weight and will find greater peace, just as I have this week.

¡Que tenga una semana feliz!
Elder Cloward






Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Truth Has Been Restored

¡Amigos!

It´s been a tough week, but we've seen many blessings. We taught Gregorio and Marilin, a very young couple searching for more truth in their lives. I feel that God led us to find them at just the right time. They don´t attend any church, but Gregorio has a strong testimony of service and that God exists. He is very dynamic as he uses his hands to express his love for God and desire to serve everyone. Marilin is much more reserved, but excited to learn more. They accepted a goal to be baptized when they come to know that the Book of Mormon is true. We are super excited for them!

We found several other families that accepted us warmly and are very likely to progress. One lady told us that when she was younger, she used to escape her mother to go to our church. Now she already has grandchildren and we are inviting her to come back and receive blessings for her whole family.

We also gave a personal tour of the chapel to one of the investigators, something I've never done before. It was a great experience for her to get to know the building and it will be more likely that she attends a church service soon.

Thinking about our purpose as missionaries, preach repentance and baptize converts, it becomes very clear that we as 18-26 year-olds can´t do this work with our words only. Elder Roberts and I very frequently invite investigators to find out for themselves by praying and asking God to know the truth of His message. The Book of Mormon is also convincing evidence of the restoration. Without the book, our message of latter-day prophets and restored truth has no foundation nor power. I love the Book of Mormon. As I read, I feel peace. It helps me see clearly what is true. Many times in my life, I have opened the book with a doubt and found an answer that has changed my life. 

I invite all of you to write your testimony in a copy of the Book of Mormon, mark your favorite scripture, and share it with a friend or acquaintance. As you share this invitation, your love and understanding for God and His truth will increase.

¡Que tenga una semana feliz!
Elder Cloward

Monday, July 17, 2017

El Evangelio de Jesucristo

¡Feliz lunes a todos!

We worked a lot on finding new people this week and teaching the new people from last week. We are teaching Cristian, who has already come to church twice, about faith and it´s really cool to see his faith grow and our understanding grow together as we teach. We are praying that he will find his answer about the Book of Mormon. He didn't come to church again this week.

Grido with Elder Roberts!

We taught the Muñoz family again and it went fantastic! They are really receptive and willing to learn more. When we taught them about the first vision of Joseph Smith, they were a little surprised, but they want to know that it is true. We read a lot in the Bible with them and gave them more parts to read in the Book of Mormon. They have really good questions!

There are a lot of little miracles going on besides these, like that one of the members has two grandchildren that want to get baptized, that a man tried to get his work scheduled changed to stop working on Sunday after we invited him to church and promised blessings. We were guided after a prayer in the street to a less active family that had never accepted us to pass by. My companion and I gave talks after just 10 minutes notice. I shared about the first principles and ordinances of the gospel and Elder Roberts taught about charity in a clear and understandable Spanish. An older couple of investigators, the parents of the branch president´s wife received a wheel chair that they had been waiting a long time to receive. The father stood up in the pews right before sacrament meeting started and thanked everyone for their help so that he could again make it to church with his new wheel chair. He was so happy! What incredible miracles they were!

But most of the miracles, I feel, happened inside of me this week. I really feel like I am being polished, just as President Eyring said in the Liahona of this month. It is such a difficult experience in the moment, but it is so much better afterward. The peace after repentance is priceless and real! Don´t put off repentance. Pray and ask for forgiveness with a resolve to correct mistakes and go forward. Don´t hold on to the past, but pray for strength to keep going. Jesus Christ already suffered for the mistakes you have made. As you live the gospel of trust in Him (faith), change to be more like Him (repentance), and take of the sacrament each week to remember Him, you will be clean and have the peace of conscience described in Mosiah 4:3. I Invite you all this week to prayerfully consider of something you want to improve and ask in prayer for help to change it. As you do, you will find greater peace and excitement to continue, just as I did this week. Isn't the gospel just great?

¡Que sigan felices!
Elder Cloward

My shoes are a bit old now.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Invite!

¡Hola todos!

This past Saturday, we had the branch's Capilla Abierta or "Open Chapel." These past weeks, we have been inviting people to attend and we were really exited to see so many people who said they would go. Then, just before the event started, it rained and no one that we invited came. That was a little sad, but everyone that did go felt something special.

Capilla Abierta!
Elder Roberts and I got to dress in white and explain baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. He did a really good job explaining, even though he´s only been in Argentina for 4 weeks! Our part in the tour was very short and it was interesting to ponder the most important parts of baptism. I shared something like this:
"Welcome to the baptismal room! Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, who had authority from God to baptize. He was baptized going under the water and coming out of the water. We are baptized in the same way today. We are baptized to make a promise with God to keep His commandments and he washes us of our sins. Jesus taught, ´and no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom.´ When we are baptized, God opens the doors of the celestial kingdom so that we can live with Him again as we are obedient. After we are baptized, God promises us the gift of the Holy Ghost."

 The branch president's family and us.
From there, my companion explained the Holy Ghost. I am grateful for my baptism that gives me the chance to be clean of my mistakes every time I take the sacrament on Sunday. I find peace through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our zone at the Capilla Abierta.
This week we found several new people to teach. At the very end of the day, we decided to go down a street we didn't know. After talking to several people who weren't interested, we reached the end of the street. At the very end, there was a light in the last house. We clapped the home and a young man came out. We asked him "may we enter and say a prayer with your family?" They turned out to be a large family very similar to mine. They have three older boys and two younger daughters. We shared the Book of Mormon with them and each of the boys read a verse of Moroni´s invitation in Moroni 10:3-5. They are going to read it together and ask God to know that it is true. They, the family Muñoz, are a great happy family!

I am happy to be a missionary! I know that this is God´s work and as I do His will, putting my trust in Him and acting (faith), that everything will be the best. I know that the Holy Ghost is God´s messenger and that by him, not us, the people learn. I invite each of you this week to seek and follow the inspiration of the Holy Ghost as to which of your friends you can invite to learn from the missionaries. If you don´t know the missionaries, get to know them! As you do, you will find more joy in your blessings from God and will help others to have those great blessings.

¡Que tenga una semana feliz!
Elder Cloward

That's a lot of trash!
Making empanadas.
Our new water heater! We don't have to shower with a bucket and a cup and heat water on the stove. Woohoo!











Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Without the Book of Mormon

¡Hola!

Elder Rossi and I got to the mission together.
We working a lot this week with several less active families to help them come back to church. We got to meet one man who haddn´t come to church in many years. The spirit testified very strongly to him about eternal families and without even inviting him, he told us that he wants to come back to church. It is so happy to me when the spirit teaches the people and they are ready to listen.

We have been teaching a young man named Cristian who has already come to church twice. He is learning a lot and has great questions. There aren´t very many young men his age in the church here, but we plan to teach him with a recent convert that is going to another branch. Please pray for him and that we will know how to help him.

Elder Roberts is a great companion. He is learning spanish really fast and is teaching more and more during the lessons. He often looks at me when he doesn´t remember a word and I smile at him urging him on. He has a powerful testimony and is really great at helping the people relate the doctrine to themselves. I am happy we can be a team.

Both Saenz Peňa zones on the way to the multi-zone conference.
I learned a lot about personal testimony this week. We had a multi-zone conference in which we were asked to share what we would lose if the Book of Mormon suddenly didn´t exist. It made me ponder my own testimony of the book. To me, it is the evidence that the priesthood was restored to the earth again. By this priesthood athority, my family is sealed together for now and after this life. We will be together forever! The Book of Mormon also teaches us where we go when we die. I know that my grandpa and great-grandma are still there and that that I will see them again. What great joy and confort that brings to me! It is important to remember our personal testimonies, not just the testimonies of others. This week, I shared mine! I invite each of you this week to answer this question for yourselves "What would I miss if the Book of Mormon didn´t exist?" The answer will help you find your personal testimonies. If you haven´t yet read the Book od Mormon, read it! It will bring your great peace and joy.

¡Que tenga una semana feliz!
Elder Cloward

Elder Ruatta, one of our zone leaders.
This is how we wash clothes here. It's the best pension I have seen yet to wash clothes. Normally the buckets are smaller.

We went and bought alpargatas today. They are traditional Argentine shoes.

There were many options.