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, (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!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Six Weeks of Training

Elder Cloward started his missionary training today.  He'll have six weeks of intense Spanish language training in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah before he heads off to Argentina. Here are a couple of pictures:

Elder Cloward in the Austin Airport

Elder Cloward was able to visit with lots of family members
in Utah before starting his training.  Here he is with
his Grandma Cloward.

Elder Cloward arriving at the Missionary Training Center

Monday, October 19, 2015

Church Talk & Leaving Tomorrow

I'm leaving tomorrow morning early to begin my mission!  I'm nervous and excited and working hard to get everything packed up today.  Here is the talk that I gave in church on Sunday:

Hello! My name is Matthew Cloward and I have been called to serve a mission for Jesus Christ in the Argentina Resistencia mission. I love Jesus Christ. I know that He loves me and you. I hope you can feel that.

I would like to teach about why it is important to learn about Jesus Christ. I pray that the spirit can confirm the truthfulness of the things I say.

Jesus Christ plays a central role in God’s plan for us. Before our lives here on earth, we lived in Heaven with Heavenly Father, the father of our spirits. Our Father created a plan, known as the Plan of Salvation, or the Plan of Happiness. In His plan, we would go down to earth and receive bodies, learn, and grow. In Job 38:7, it says that when we heard His plan, “all the sons of God shouted for joy.” We were so happy to have this great opportunity. We were given the gift to chose right from wrong, so that we could learn for ourselves to chose the good. However, we knew that we would make mistakes and because “no unclean thing can enter into [God’s] kingdom,” we would be stuck, cast away from God forever. We needed a savior, someone who could free us from the mistakes we would make. The center of God’s Plan of Happiness is the Savior, Jesus Christ.

In John 3:16, we read:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 

Jesus is God’s only physical son. Heavenly Father sent him both to live as an example for us and to save us from our sins. God promises us that if we have faith in Jesus Christ, we won’t perish, but have the greatest gift God can give, which is eternal life. That is a happy promise!

Jesus Christ lived a perfect life free from sin. He provided an example for how we should live our lives. He said in John 8:12:

“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

The Savior can be compared to a light house. 

A light house shines brightly. It warns sailors of dangerous rocks that could destroy their ships. It helps them know where to go so they can make it to the harbor safely. Likewise, the Savior is a guide in our lives. While on the earth, he taught his gospel, which is the only way by which we can return to Heavenly Father. That’s why the most important thing we can do in this life is learn of Jesus Christ. He is the only way we can return to live with God again. If a sailor chooses not to search for the light of the light house or chooses not to follow its warning, he won’t make it back to the harbor. If we don’t search for and then follow the teachings of the Savior, we won’t make it back to Heavenly Father. In order to return to God, we must first learn about Jesus Christ so that we can follow His teachings. And as we follow his gospel, we will have great happiness now as well as in Heaven.

I would like to share some examples of people who have had great happiness in this life because they had desires to come closer to Jesus Christ. Enos was a prophet of the Book of Mormon. 
We can follow his pattern as we search for Christ in our own lives. First, he studied the “nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Enos studied God’s words from the scriptures. He also prayed about them and received a testimony for himself that they were true. Second, his “soul hungered.” He remembered the words he had studied and desired to have the same joy as the people in the scriptures. Next he acted on his desire and prayed in faith for a forgiveness of his sins. He prayed all day and into the night. After “mighty prayer and supplication,” God told him that he was forgiven. He didn’t stop there though. After his guilt was swept away, he was filled with a deep love and a desire for others. He prayed for his friends and even his enemies. That’s what learning about and applying the teachings of Jesus does for us. It fills us up with the love of the savior. It causes us to want to share our joy with everyone.

Alma the younger was another man from the Book of Mormon. His steps of coming to Christ were similar to those of Enos, except that at first, Alma did not want to learn of Jesus Christ and actually worked to destroy Christ’s church. As he went out spreading lies with his friends, the sons of King Mosiah, an angel appeared to him and said:

“if thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God (Alma 36:9).”

Alma was paralyzed with fear for three days and three nights. During this time, his soul was “raked with all [his] sins” and he was filled with “inexpressible horror (Alma 36: 12, 14).” He could not bear to see God again because of the many sins he had committed. As he felt these feelings of despair, he remembered the things his father had taught him about Jesus Christ. Alma says, in Alma 36: 18-20:

 18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
 19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
 20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!

 Alma felt the power of repentance in his life. He knew that Jesus Christ had saved him and from that time forth, he went to the people throughout the whole land inviting them to repent as he had and feel the same great joy he had felt.

I too have felt the power of repentance in my life. I have made mistakes that cause me to feel terrible and lost. When you feel these feelings, know that God has not abandoned you, that he is always there, but that you have to seek for Him. The first step of repentance is recognizing and acknowledging your mistake. You must have a desire to repent because if you don't want to change, Christ can not help you. Sometimes you have to humble yourself to take this step because it is hard to give up some sins. However, after you choose to confess your sin to God, and sincerely repent, the love that comes from Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that you just want to share it with everyone! Just like Enos and Alma, I have felt the happiness that comes after repentance and I want to invite everyone to feel this peace and joy. God has called me to share His gospel to the world. Repentance works! I will invite everyone I can to learn about the Savior, who is the only source of lasting happiness and peace on this earth.

I would like to invite each of you to come to Jesus Christ. Learn of Him every day so that you can find peace from Him every day. Remember that coming to Christ is not a one time event, but a every day process. The gospel of Christ is a gospel of becoming. After the Sons of Mosiah repented and came to a knowledge of their Savior, they still had trials and hardship. God called them to preach to the Lamanates, a people who were their enemies. Their mission was exciting, but also very frightening. As they traveled to their mission, they began to be afraid of the great work that the had been called to do. However, they fasted and prayed much to come closer to Christ. Then Jesus spoke comfort to them. It says in Alma 17: 10-12:
 10 And it came to pass that the Lord did visit them with his Spirit, and said unto them: Be comforted. And they were comforted.
 11 And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.
 12 And it came to pass that the hearts of the sons of Mosiah, and also those who were with them, took courage to go forth unto the Lamanites to declare unto them the word of God.

I too will be going to teach the Lamanites. I am afraid. But Jesus Christ brings me comfort and I know that I will be okay.

I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior! He loves each of us! I know that God is real and that he loves us too. Because they love us, they restored the fullness of the Gospel to the earth through a young boy named Joseph Smith. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know this because I have prayed to know and the Holy Spirit has testified to me that it is. I am grateful for the Holy Ghost that brings me peace and happiness when I share truth. I hope that you have felt the Spirit's quiet and peaceful message. God loves you!

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.