Monday, December 28, 2015

¡Hola amigos!

¡Hola amigos!

I know I wrote home Saturday, but some other really great things have
happened since then!

I got to Skype home to my family! I really loved being able to talk to
each of them. I know that God loves us and I felt His love and Spirit
as I spoke with them. We all cried a bit and I felt more peace
afterward. I can`t wait to see them again in May, but as my Dad said,
until then I will try to focus more on the people I am serving. My
family will be there when I get back. That is happy to me!

On Christmas, I got to have my first asado, which is the Argentine
equivalent of BBQ. My companion cooked the meat and did a pretty good
job. We cooked it out on the church soccer field. There may or may not
be burnt holes in the grass now ;). There was a lot of meat though,
probably too much.
My companion cooking asado.

Saturday, our branch had a fun mini nativity where members of the
branch dressed up as Christmas characters. One of our investigators
came to the activity, which was really exciting!
Characters from the activity. The branch president is the shepard in brown.
All of the characters from the branch activity.

The next day, we woke up and there was a bird in our pension! We
didn`t have any windows open, but there are two small holes that it
must have gone through. It made it out safely.
The House Sparrow that got stuck in our pension. Poor girl!

The work is going very well. My companion and I improve together each
day. We are focusing on finding more people that God has prepared to
hear His word. We seek the guidance of the spirit to know what God
wants us to do. I know that this is God`s work and I am so excited to
be a part of it. I am happy to share the joy of the teachings of Jesus
Christ with God`s children and share the joy my family has
experienced.

I invite each of you to share something important to you with a
friend. This could be a scripture, a teaching of Christ, an experience
that has been a blessing in your life, or a picture that represents a
blessing in your life. I am learning that we don`t have to step
outside of ourselves to share Christ`s gospel. We share what is
important to us that we know will bless our friends. Share as if you
were talking to a sibling or someone close to you. I promise that in
sharing, you will have greater joy and happiness.

Until next week! Make memories; your life is from God, and He gives
you freedom to be happy through the Atonement of Christ! Act, do not
be acted upon.

¡Nos vemos!
Elder Cloward

Friday, December 25, 2015

¡Feliz Navidad!

Merry Christmas everyone! We have had another two weeks of much learning and many miracles.

First, some of the fun stuff. I bought some indoor "slippers" (Toms, I think they are called), or traditional Argentinian shoes for less than $8. I also got a potato peeler, which is so nice because before, I had to use a knife.

New Shoes

We have learned that whenever we get lost (sometimes even when we have the map) it is for a reason. One day, we were going to a specific investigator's home and some how passed it by 6 or 7 streets. We walked back by another way and saw another investigator that we had met a few days previous. We ended up setting up a member lesson with her (a lesson with a member of the church involved), which was amazing because it was our first set member lesson and both the member and the investigator were available at the same time the following day. God works through small miracles. Another day, we accidentally passed someone we had intended to teach and ended up teaching a different investigator who has relatives in the church and is more likely to receive Jesus Christ's teachings. We make plans for every day, but sometimes God uses our talent for getting lost to accomplish His purposes. It is both funny and humbling; a powerful testimony that this is His work, not ours.

Oops, I should probably get our of the road. However there is a siesta in Argentina that lasts for several ours in the middle of the day, otherwise, it would be really busy. Also, 9:00PM is the normal time for dinner. Pretty crazy!


This week was also a week of practice and listening. My Spanish is improving, though always much slower than I wish. I am able to teach more parts of the lessons now and Elder Takapu let me take charge of one of our lessons. I taught what I thought was an excellent lesson and shared my testimony. Then the lady we were teaching turned to my companion and said something to the effect of: "I don't understand him. What is he saying?" This is harder than I thought... I can understand a lot more than I can say at this point and just need more practice. I practice frequently with my companion and learn through the spirit every time. I am learning what it means to teach a lesson (bad), and teach through conversation with an investigator (very good). That's why in Spanish, we call it a charla (or chat) because we learn so much more through conversation than through lectures.

Buying Meat for the Asado. Mmmm!

The people in Argentina love to talk! And sometimes we can't get them to stop talking. It's great because we get to know who they are really well, but frustrating sometimes because we can't say anything back and have to interrupt them constantly if we want to say anything and cut them short when we have to leave. Its great practice for listening to Spanish, but I don't get many opportunities to speak. I know that God will help us in our individual trials. He knows each of us personally and wants to helps us. We just have to show Him that we are willing to work hard for His help.

Where we buy eggs and vegetables.

Christmas is a little different here, especially because it is so hot. Fortunately there have been a lot of clouds so it's only in the upper 80's. Last night, I couldn't sleep because there were so many fireworks right above our pension and it got really hot because the power went out in the city. Many stores and homes have small decorations, but as for Christmas traditions, I have heard that it is a special day to be with family, eat food, and watch a movie. As for whether there are many presents given, I'm not sure.

Our district and the zone leaders.

I am well and happy! On this special day, I get to talk to my family through Skype, which is really special because I only get to do that on Christmas and mother`s day. My parents will probably write how that goes below. I love my family and know that they are a blessing from God. My goal as a missionary is to share the happiness I have in my family with the people of Argentina so they can have this great joy in their lives as well.

My favorite bird here. It looks like a dinosaur and sounds so cool!

An Astronomy center in Villa Angela.

Cicada- yes, they are here too and as loud as ever.





Breakfast for the Zone. My companion is a great cook!

I know that Jesus Christ lives! He loves us and died for us so that we can change, repent, and return to live with our Heavenly Father again. I love them so much. I know that if we follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, we will live with our families with God forever!

You all are awesome!
Elder Cloward

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Miracles!

¡Hola amigos!

What a week! My companion and I grew so much. God has blessed us many times to find the people who are ready to receive our message. I have discovered countless times my weaknesses, but God has made everything work out.

Every day at night, missionaries set goals and make plans for the following day. My companion and I made plans every day this week. However, almost none of our days actually go to plan. Some days, nearly all appointments fall through and absolutely nothing goes to plan. That happened a lot this week. One day, my companion and I ran our of ideas for who to help because no one was available. We decided to pray to ask God what he wanted us to do. We prayed once, without any ideas of what to do, and didn't receive an answer. We realized then, that in order for God to help us, we had to first put forth some effort and think of some ideas for Him to chose from. We prayed again with ideas in mind. We didn't receive a definite answer, but God did send His peace. I know he was pleased with our efforts and was happy that we prayed. We just started walking and God led us to a family we had taught, but couldn't find again. God works many small miracles like this that are mighty, but easy to pass over. When we receive blessings like this, we should always pray and thank God. There were a lot of thank you prayers this week.

My companion on a dirt road.

My companion and I have half of the city of Villa Angela to help. That is huge! One night, I just felt so overwhelmed by the task. I told my companion, "we are so imperfect, yet God trusts us with all of these people." Though we are far from perfect, we are giving our all and God is with us.
God's help is evident in our work. There are some children that we have passed by many days who like to try to speak English back at us. "Hello!" they say. Once one of them shouted, "my name is Lukas!" Through conversation as we passed by in our work, we befriended them. One day, my companion and I decided to actually visit with them and their parents. That same day, we had received a reference for a family nearby. We decided to contact that family and went to ask the kids where the family lived. Before we asked, they invited us into their home and we quickly learned that the reference, and the family in front of us were the same! They are an amazing family. They have 14 year old and 8 year old boys and a 12 year old girl. We taught them that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth, that Joseph Smith prayed to know which church was true. When I taught that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father, the Holy Ghost confirmed powerfully the message I was sharing. Afterward, we invited them to read the Book of Mormon, evidence that Joseph Smith was called as a prophet, that Jesus Christ lives, and that the gospel is restored. The whole family listened intently and accepted our invitation to read the book and pray about it. We learned that they were searching for jobs. I got to talk with the children, who were really excited to talk to me and learn more. I then showed them a toy my family gave me, that you drop and it bounces over your head. They loved it so much! They immediately asked, "how much is it?" We'll have to see, but I may just give it to them. Every time we pass, the youngest runs up to me to ask to play with the toy! We passed by later, and the father of the home now has a job! We look forward to visiting them again.

Main street.
Sunday was a really special day for me. My companion and I gave talks in sacrament meeting and I taught about the Holy Ghost. I felt the Holy Ghost as I spoke. The joyous feeling of they Holy Spirit is priceless. We were fasting that day that our investigators would come to church, but it rained that morning, and hardly any of the members even came. This is a sad thing that happens here. Even still, I had a very spiritual experience. I remembered again why I was serving a mission and how I want to help everyone to feel Gods love. It is empowering to have a purpose you know you can achieve!
Our pensión.
Many other small miracles happened this week that I don't have time to relate. Many of them included being in the right place at to right minute to see specific people who were out and about. We taught a lesson to two drunk men, something I never could have seen myself doing before my mission, and may have even convinced one of them not to commit suicide. I still cant speak Spanish very well, but God did use what little I do know to share a scripture, 3 Nephi 17:6-7. Jesus invites all who are afflicted in any manner to come to him and he will heal them. I invite each of you to come to Christ with your own afflictions, willing to do whatever He asks and I promise as He promises, that He will heal you. He is filled with compassion.

¡Hasta luego!
Elder Cloward

P.S.
I probably wont email next week because I get to Skype my family on Christmas. Hurray!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

First Week in Argentina

¡Hola amigos!

I am in Argentina! It is amazing here! I have a lot to say.



I left the United States last Monday. We went to the airport at 8:30AM and got to call home. How happy it was to talk to my Mother and sister again! I can't wait to Skype home for Christmas! We then went on an airplane to Atlanta. It was really weird being outside of the MTC talking to people that werent members of our church. I was the only one going to Resistencia Argentina, but there were about 23 of us in total going to Argentina. I got to invite serveral people to learn more about my mission on the way. Right before I got on the airplane to Argentina, I called most of my family members. At about 9:20PM we left on the plane. Wow! I got to sit next to a Lady who was searching for a job and was taking vacation in between. I loved talking to her and knowing that really good people were also going where I was going. I hope she will pray about what job to get as I was prompted to ask her.


Buenos Aires

We got through security and I met a stake counselor of Buenos Aires that took me to a church building to wait for my flight to Resistencia. I missed saying goodbye to my MTC friends, but I'm sure I'll see them again.

I got to meet a missionary that was finishing his mission the same day I came. He was really friendly and he and another lady took me for a walk around the city. Everything is so different here! The buildings are tall and old looking and the trees are exotic. We bought a buffet lunch and shortly after, I went to the airport again. I met up with two other new missionaries, one from Chile, one from Argentina.

The other two new missionaries and me
That's when I realized, I cant speak Spanish. I couldnt understand anything they were saying! While we waited in the airport, they tried to teach me new words in Spanish. It was really hard and fun. We arived in Resistencia late. The mission president, his wife, and his Assistance were there waiting and smiling. I was so excited!

Sister Franco, Mission President Franco, Me, and My Awesome Companion Elder Tacapu
They took us to a hotel and we slept. We woke up and had a really small breakfast, which is common here. We then went to the mission office and received some training in Spanish (I hope it wasn't too important ;) ) and I got to meet my knew companion! His name is Elder Tacapu. He is from the United States and his family has a Tongan origin. I'm so glad he speaks English. He is an amazing teacher for me and for each person we meet. He is very brave and already, we are very good friends.

A hamburger with fried egg. Strange but tasty!
We had lunch and I got to meet some of the really great missionaries of the mission. We sang a little and waited for a bus to take us to our area in Villa Angela (So much traveling!)


Our Zone
Well, enough history. I'm here now in this beautiful city serving the people here. We have a pension with a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and clothes room, a lot of space!


Home Sweet Home (Kitchen)
Little things, like how different the keys are, the sidewalk, and crazy traffic remind me how different this place is. We get to wash our clothes by hand in buckets and cook our own food, two things I have never done before. My companion and I mastered an hashbrown recipe, but it takes about an hour to cook.


Failed Hashbrowns (we realized to late we had to drain out the potato juice first. We figured it out for lunch today, but it takes way to long to make them. Still tasty!)
Hot dog spaghetti
My Spanish is developing rapidly, though I don't have to use it as much because my companion and I often speak English together. Yesterday, the branch president (the leader of the church in our area) asked us to share our testimonies and both my companion and I shared scripures and our excitement to serve the branch. God blessed me a lot! I didn't struggle with the words, they were given to me. Given to me by God. Wow!

Bird in Buenos Aires
Our branch is really great. Its really small though - maybe 50 members max. In Elders quorum meeting (meeting for men 18+), there where only 6 of us, including my companion and me. On Saturday, we had a service project cleaning a nearby clinic and we got to meet a lot of cool people. I cant wait to help each of them!



One family we have already grown close to is la familia Esquivel. They have two daughters, Brenda (12) and Aby (5?). Brenda asked me on Sunday when we were comming back. She loved having us over. We learned that Hermano Esquivel is less active. For about an hour, he told us his story, which I didnt understand very well. My companion and I then shared a scripture with him. We bore our testimonies to him of the importance of church attendance. I then pulled a picture of my family out and showed to him and his wife.



I explained how much we loved each other and how church attendance has blessed us. As we spoke to him, he began to change. He accepted our invitation and went to church this week! Latter, my companion told me how much of a miracle it was. He hasn't been to church in 12 years. I am so grateful for Gods miracles. I know that miracles are real because many other miracles occurred this week.

Bird in Resistencia
Cardinal In Villa Angela

Saturday, December 5, 2015

First Letter from Argentina

I am now in Resistencia!  Yesterday was really crazy.  We made it to the Buenos Aires airport in the morning and found some church representatives.  I left with one of them before I could say good bye to my friends.  That was hard.  We were suddenly in a different world.  The trees are very different here and the birds are even more so.  Wow!

We went to church headquarters where I met Elder Briceno who was going home from Resistencia.  He and another lady took me on a walk through the city and we got a buffet lunch.  At about 4:30, I left for the airport to go to Resistencia and met Elder Rossi and Sister Agilera, two other new missionaries going to Resistencia.  That's when I really realized I can't speak Spanish!  I can't tell what they are saying at all!  Elder Rossi is from Argentina.  He has been helping me learn.  If Ever I didn't know what he was saying, he would explain himself until I understood.  He has been so helpful!  We made it to Resistencia late at night, met President Franco, who is so nice, and the president's assistants took Elder Rossi and me to a hotel.  I was so tired, I slept just fine.

A lot of things are different here and I feel kind of helpless.  I recognize now that I need God's help even more than before.  I have to listen harder, pray harder, and work harder.  I play now that I can have the spirit with me always.

I hope all is well at home and that you are happy.  I will email you next week.  I have faith God will bless my Spanish because all I want to do is help other people.

Love,
        Elder Cloward

P.S.  It's funny to learn a new language because I'm starting to forget some words in English.  Oh dear!

Letter From The Mission President

Dear Cloward Family,

Sister Franco and I are pleased to inform you that Elder Cloward arrived in La Gran Misión Argentina Resistencia last evening.  We welcomed him to the mission, ate dinner, and let him rest. Today we had a small briefing of the fun facts and necessary information about the mission.  After that he met his new companion, Elder Takapu, and they headed off for their area called Villa Angela I in the province of Chaco.



A mission is a wonderful experience filled with challenges and successes that strengthens the testimony of each missionary.  A great support that you as a family can give your son during his mission is uplifting letters.  In addition to using email, you can send letters to the office address:

Élder Matthew Elijah Cloward
Misión Argentina Resistencia
Entre Ríos 435
Resistencia Chaco CP 3500
Argentina

 You may also send letters (and only letters taped shut; no envelopes) via the ¨pouch¨:
                                              
                                                               Élder Matthew Elijah Cloward
                                                               Misión Argentina Resistencia
                                                               POB 30150
                                                               Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0150

It will be our privilege to work closely with Elder Cloward here in Argentina.  We are blessed to have him join us in this mission to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Thank you for sharing your son with us. 

Sincerely,

franco
President Rodolfo C. Franco
Misión Argentina Resistencia

Friday, November 27, 2015

Last Week in the MTC!

Hola amigos!


Western Scrub Jay (Yes I still like bird watching!)

 This week has been really eventful, especially since it has been my last week in the MTC. I got my flight plans last Friday and I am beginning my journey to Argentina this coming Monday early in the morning! I am the only one going to Resistencia, but fortunately, I will be on the same flight as my companion and 16 other missionaries going to his mission of Rosario. We will travel to the Atlanta airport from 2:20 PM to 7:54 PM, then travel to the Buenos Aries Argentina airport from 9:01 PM to 9:10 AM. What a night that will be! I will probably try to call home during my layover in Atlanta or before I leave Utah. After I get to Argentina, I have no idea how I will get to my mission, but I trust both that my mission president will send someone to get me, and that the ride back will take most of Tuesday. Wow!
 
Diana (one of our practice investigators of the MTC), me, and my companion.
We have spent a lot of time preparing to our departures. We concluded all of our investigator lessons, which was sad to me because teaching is my favorite thing to do here. The cool thing was that we taught our last lessons as if we would be teaching again soon. It's cool because it shows we have trust for the missionaries that will replace us in the field. We are all on the same team, Jesus Christ's team, so investigators are often taught by many different sets of missionaries.
 
My Companion with Hermano Myers (AKA Lucas); he has a sock and tie match.
I've been busy as Zone leader. We get to interview all of the District leaders about how their districts are doing and plan all of the meetings for our Zone. It's so great to be doing so much good work.
 
We got to teach a member through Skype who lives in Columbia. She served in the same mission in which I will soon be serving! Her father doesn't go to church, which makes her sad. We invited her to invite her father to pray. Some of the most powerful experiences I have had have come through prayer. It's really cool being a missionary because it gives me an excuse to be fearless. I know though, that being a member of Jesus Christ's restored church on the earth should be excuse enough to be fearless. I invite each of you to invite someone you know to pray and ask God if He is there and if He loves them. I testify that they will receive an answer, even if it doesn't come right away. Know that after you make this invitation, it is up to them to accept or reject your invitation.
 
Our district with Hermana Ellison (AKA Sandra) with our favorite names for the Savior.
In other news, we went to the temple on Tuesday, probably for the last time in two years. Temples are holy buildings in which we make promises with God and receive blessings. We can also do essential work, such as baptism, in the place of those who have died without the opportunity to do this work for themselves. This means that through temples, people can still be saved even if they didn't have a chance to be baptized. God is so merciful! I will miss going to the temple.
 
Just yesterday, the MTC missionaries packed nearly 358,000 meals for hungry children throughout Utah. I got to lead a table of missionaries in the packing process which was so much fun! I love to help other people!
 
Elder Oaks, a modern-day Apostle of Jesus Christ, spoke to us yesterday about the importance of being grateful for everything God gives us, even the trials of our lives, because those trials bring us closer to Him and help us grow. In another meeting themed on Thanksgiving thanks, missionaries shared talents with us, including piano playing, yodeling, organ playing, and even rubber ducky sounds to the tune of "Rubber Ducky." I have no idea how that number made it in...
The coolest package ever from my family. I was ooh-ing for a good 10 minutes. Thanks so much! A missionary couldn't have a better gift!
 
I have felt the spirit countless times this week. If you want to feel God's love more in your life, you must pray with a humble heart, recognizing your weaknesses. You must be willing to repent, or ask forgiveness from God, and then change your life to live according to His will. I know this great change is only possible through Jesus Christ, who loves you personally. I promise that through repentance, you will feel His love.

Love you all!
Elder Cloward

P.S. - The next time I email, I will be in Argentina!

P.P.S - I accidentally left a read pencil in one of my white shirt pockets and that shirt is now pink. Why did it have to happen on the last week?!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Tiny Seed Needs Sunlight and Water

Hola Hermanos y Hermanas! Hello brothers and Sisters!

What an amazing week! I have grown so much. Some of the changes I have had to make in my life have been particularly difficult, but I know I am becoming who God wants me to be.
 

District Elders being silly
Last week we learned in class some new ways to teach more effectively. We have to back up the scriptures with our testimonies, not back up our words with the scriptures. It makes sense, but it's much harder than one would think. However, it makes a tremendous difference because God's words are always better than ours. We are also learning how to ask inspired questions that invite investigators to think deeply. No more "how do you feel?" and "what do you think?" By asking inspired questions and using the scriptures to answer doubts rather than trying to explain what we think, we invite investigators to answer their own questions. I know that this way to teach invites the Holy Ghost, which is the ultimate teacher.
 
Scatter Sunshine all along your way... Every passing day!
I was released from my assignment as district leader this past week so another Elder could experience what it is like. We learn so much in leadership positions. My favorite thing I got to do as a district leader was interview other Elders in the district about their progress and their relationships with their companions. It was so cool to hear each of their testimonies about how God is helping each of them to become better. Whenever there were issues between companions, it was incredible to see how just talking with the other companion made up the difference. I know that when you have a problem between you and another person, you can resolve it if you just have a brief "companionship inventory." Discuss strengths of the relationship and of each other. Then say "you can be even more effective if you..." I know that this builds me up and I have seen it mend relationships. So cool!
 
Our District Mission tags
This last Sunday, my companion and I were assigned as the new Zone leaders. Wow! This means we now serve 4 districts. God is teaching us how to lead and it is difficult and exciting! It is particularly difficult for me because I am a sit-back-and-observe kind of person. I am also learning how to lead in a way that those I lead will feel loved and also want to do what is right. I am not very good at it, but I look to Jesus Christ, who is our perfect example of a leader. I will continue to pray for God's help and guidance.
 
I am trying to learn how God talks to me. I am learning that when I am humble, God can teach me. I struggle to find a balance between seriousness and fun so that I can hear and feel the Holy Ghost always. It is hard.
 
Elder Maisey and I got to teach a special lesson this week. The MTC staff connected us to a member of the church in Argentina! That was so exciting! We could hardly understand her because the connection was poor and she spoke Spanish so fast, but we learned that she has a two year old daughter and that her husband joined the church a few years before they were married. Wow! After seeing the light of Jesus Christ in her eyes, I can't wait to go to Argentina! We invited her to share her love of Christ's gospel with someone she knows that needs it. I would also challenge each of you to do this. Remember how grateful you are for Jesus Christ, who died to save us. Go tell someone how much you love Him and how much he loves them. You can change lives!
 
Most of the Elders in my Zone (The one smiling was the preivous Zone leader. He is an amazing example to me of a leader who helps everyone feel loved and also encourages them to do their best)

Our district had an English fast this past Tuesday. We tried to only use Spanish throughout the day. It was hard, but I know my Spanish was strengthened. I would recommend not doing this very much because we couldn't speak very much and I felt less effective because of this. Even still, it really strengthened my Spanish and humbled me.
 
Yesterday, we shared our last lesson with our investigator Diana. It was really hard to say goodbye because I have felt the spirit so strongly in our lessons with her. She is amazing and wants to learn more. After our lesson, we talked to someone who watched our lesson remotely with her, and she showed us some notes Diana had been taking of our lessons with her. She said that she had felt happy and peaceful when we prayed with her and that because of this, she wanted to pray more to receive answers from God. Wow! That is why I am on my mission. I am hear to invite all to come to Christ, through faith repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.
 
I invite each of you to pray to God tonight. He is your Heavenly Father and he loves you. He will answer your prayer with peace. Begin by addressing Him. Then have a conversation with Him. Tell Him what you are grateful for and what you need. Ask Him questions. Then close your prayer "In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." He will answer. You may not hear words, but you will feel His love for you. You will have His peace. This is my testimony to you.

I love you all!
Elder Cloward

Thursday, November 12, 2015

MTC Halfway Point- What a spiritual week!

Buenos dias amigos!

I love it here in the MTC! It is somewhat sad to me that we have passed the halfway point. It goes by so fast. The campus is really nice, being right next to my dream school BYU. The mountains are fantastic and it has snowed a little this past week. However, even more fantastic than the snow balls, delicious food, comfortable dorms, friendly missionaries, awesome companions, and excellent language trainers, are the powerful spiritual experiences everyday.
 
At the Provo Temple. I will miss this place.
 
On 11/6, Elder Inman was sick. His companion, Elder Starr, and I gave him a priesthood blessing. The priesthood is the power of God given to man to serve God's children on the earth. It is by this authority that we can baptize and also by which we can bless the sick. I am happy that God trusts me with his power and provides me with opportunities to serve.
 
The next day, we taught Lucas again. We focused on teaching him just about baptism. Here is a portion of my journal entry for that day:
 
"After sharing multiple scriptures (Mosiah 18: 8-11) about the people of Alma desiring to be baptized and the example of Jesus Christ, he prayed with us and asked God if he should be baptized. During the prayer, I realized that the only thing I wanted in the world was for Lucas to receive an answer from God. [I prayed mightily for him]. After the prayer, he was noticeably affected, but still unsure. The spirit then prompted me to tell him that this decision is really big, that it is not our decision and we can't make it for him. It is up to him to choose. I then invited him to be baptized again. It was quiet for what felt like two minutes. Finally, he replied 'I know God wants me to be baptized. Yes.' That was the coolest thing to hear! I know it will bless his life... Hurray!"
 
I must have invited him three times during that lesson to be baptized. My companion thought I was really pushing him, but I know I felt and obeyed God's promptings to me.
 
Snowing!
We sang this past Tuesday, an arrangement of "Nearer My God To Thee" for the devotional. This song applies so powerfully to me right now. If I am not coming closer to God each day, I am falling away from Him. I especially love the line "Angels to beckon me." I know that angels are with us daily to protect us and invite us closer to Christ. During the song, I was able to focus on the words of the song and felt the spirit very powerfully, as I plead with God to help me come closer to Him. What a great song!
 
 
 
My companion and I had a contest to not look at the screens while we were singing. If I looked, I had to do 10 push-ups, him, 30. Even though we focused really hard, me 10, him 90 (he is really built!)
We are learning to teach more specifically and with more power. My companion and I have a long way to go, but we are on God's side and have great love for our investigators and desires to follow Christ. I invite each of you to come closer to Christ this week. Read the scriptures, serve someone in need, or give a heartfelt prayer of gratitude. I know this will bring you greater happiness and peace.

Have a happy day!
Elder Cloward

P.S. To answer some questions, my departure date is either Nov 30, or Dec. 1, I'm not sure which yet. My Spanish is coming along nicely. I can communicate, but at this point, every sentence I give has at least one error in it. I'm getting all of our recent language lessons confused and there is little time to review or fully incorporate what I am learning. Still, it's fun to pop a Spanish word that the rest in the district don't know and have them decipher what I'm saying. Next Tuesday, our district is doing an English and food fast. I am excited for this opportunity to develop.
 
This is my last week as district leader. It has been a great, but difficult experience. I am excited to see who will be assigned this next week.

Love you all!
 
Spike Ball With Elder Maisey


 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Second Week- Awesome!

Buenos dias!

 So much happens in a week at the Missionary Training Center, I have to look back at my journal to remember anything.
 
This week, Elder Maisey and I continued to teach Lucas and Diana, and a new investigator named Sandra. Even though these people are members of the church pretending to be investigators (people who want to know more about the church), they have become very real people to me. I spend all of my time and effort thinking about them and preparing lessons that will invite God's love and spirit into their lives. Lucas was our first investigator, and this week, he surprised us all. One day we showed up to class, and there he was, ready to teach us! His real name is Brother Myers. He's probably my favorite person in the whole world right now, partly because everything he teaches us is so profound and personally powerful that I just want to write everything he says down. He has taught us to be misionaros imparables, unstoppable missionaries, who don't let excuses get in the way of working hard and doing their best. However, I love him even more because I have felt the Holy Ghost testify through me to him of the importance and power of Jesus Christ and His gospel in our lives. He was the first person we taught to pray, even though we didn't even know how to pray in Spanish ourselves. Just yesterday, we taught him how to repent and be clean from sin by praying for forgiveness from God. As he prayed with us, the joy of the Holy Ghost was so overwhelming, I almost cried. I remembered all of the times I have repented and become clean. I invited him to continue on the path to the savior and be baptized. There was a long pause as he thought about it. He almost said yes, but told us he wanted to pray about it before he made the decision. I told him I know God will say yes.
 
In other news, A lot of medical issues have come up in our branch (a group of districts or classes each consisting of about five companionship). About two weeks ago, I got a little bit sick, but pushed through. Now nearly everyone except my companion and Elder Starr have gotten sick in one way or another. Elder Inman used hydrogen peroxide to clean his contacts, put then immediately put one in his eye. Needless to say, he had to leave the MTC to get medical attention, but he is okay now. An Elder from another district was rushed to the hospital to get his appendix removed. That was scary, but he is okay and recovering too.
 
Today it snowed briefly, and Elder Inman, who has never left Florida, was so excited to see snow for the first time. Snow is so clean and pure. I want to help my investigators feel this same way.
Elder Maynes, the President of the Quorum of the Seventy ( a group of 70 church leaders) visited on Tuesday and taught about going out each day to find new people to teach. God is preforming miracles for people in Argentina so they will be ready for me to teach them when I arrive. However, if I don't do my part by searching and opening my mouth, I may miss my chance to serve them. I know that as I am brave, God will speak through me to His Children and they will feel His power and peace.
 
The food is good here. I eat a lot, but still weigh less that any of the other Elders by at least 5 lbs, even though I am taller than most of them by several inches.
 
Time is flying by, though we do so much each day here. I am happy and well and hope to hear from more of you. Thank you for your support!

Friday, October 30, 2015

MTC Week 1

About to get on the plane.
Hola amigos! You soy un misionaro de La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Utimos Dias. I am a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am in the missionary training center (MTC) in Provo Utah. I love it here! I have learned harder and felt the Holy Ghost with more power and frequency than ever before in my life.

 Before entering the MTC, I visited my family in Utah. One of my favorite visits was with my great grandma Price. She is very old and speaks a lot, but nothing she says makes any sense. There is a good chance that I will never see her again. I sat with her and held her had as she spoke. The entire time, I felt an intense love for her that I know was from God. I told her I love her and that I was going on a mission. She smiled and said, "I'm proud of you."


Me and Elder Maisey, my companion
 
My first day in the MTC, our teacher spoke only Spanish. I am glad I took 3 years in high school; it's really making a difference. As missionaries, we have companions with us at all times. My companion is Elder Maisey. He is from the opposite side of the US in Alaska - so cool! He is very social and outgoing and he feels like the other half of me. Thursday or Friday, we met our Branch Presidency (the three leaders that take care of our "Branch") and they assigned a district leader for our district (our district has 8 Elders and 3 Hermanas). That night,we shared our testimonies with each other. I was last to share. The spirit told me, "you are very likely to be assigned as the district leader." I told God, "I don't want to be the district leader." I told him though, that I would be myself, and if he wanted me to be a leader, I would. I shared a powerful testimony full of the spirit. Later that evening, I was asked to be the district leader and I accepted.
 
Our classroom
My companion and I have already taught five lessons to two different investigators. Our lessons are only in Spanish (God does so much for us!) It is hard because we can understand for the most part, what the investigator is saying, but not how to reply. We have gotten Lucas and Diana (our investigators) to pray with us and read parts of the Book of Mormon. We can't speak, but the Holy Ghost testifies through us of the truth of our words. We have invited both of them to be baptized. They feel God's love for them, but are not yet ready to make the big step.
 
 
 
Our district. (Elders Cambell, Andrew, Cloward, Wandry,
Maisey, Shaffer, Starr, Inman, and Hermanas Riley, Davis, and Bryce)
Last Tuesday, Neil L. Anderson, a living apostle of Christ's restored Church, visited the MTC. He bore his witness of Christ and our district bore ours through the MTC choir. That was incredible!
 
While at the MTC (five more weeks), I read and respond to emails only on Thursday. If you sign up on DearElder.com, (for a small fee), you can send me letters any day and I will get them. That would be great!
 
 
 
 
God has blessed me with a small but powerful testimony. I know that Jesus Christ lives. I know God wants everyone to come to Him in faith, repent, be baptized by proper authority, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. I know that God loves me and that my entire family is supporting me, not just those who are alive now, but also those who are in Heaven.

Our zone leaders decorated our door!



Elders Inman, Starr, Me, Maisey, Wandry, Shaffer, Cambell, and Andrew at the temple.

Good MTC food. I eat way too much!