Tuesday, May 31, 2016

¡Una hola a todos!

We found so many new people to teach this past week, and most of them were big families! We are excited to keep teaching them.
There were several disappointments and some amazing learning experiences. Lilia and Julio are some investigators her that have been investigators for almost two years. They come to church almost every Sunday and are basically members. They are waiting so that Lilia can get a divorce so they can both get married and be baptized, but the papers have already taken nearly a year. This week, they were so close, but then they found out that they need another signature and have to wait at least another week. It´s really hard for all of us to wait so long, but we trust God has a plan for them. Lilia´s mother came to church last Sunday for the first time and she loved it! We went and taught her twice and she loved everything we taught. However, on Saturday, Lilia sent us a message that her Mom doesn't want us to teach her anymore. That was really sad and really hard for Lilia too. We hope to go at least one more time to help her mother overcome her doubts and not fear the changes that will come.

We made pizza! Mmm...
This week I have been praying for charity. Moroni in the Book of Mormon, says that charity, the pure love of Christ, is a gift from God. I want to have greater desires to serve and teach others, not just because I should or because I am a missionary, but because I love them and want them to be happy. There were several lessons we taught this week where I noticed a huge difference when I loved the people and wanted to help them and others when I was just telling them what I know about Christ´s church. Both are good, but when I have love for those I teach, the Holy Ghost is the teacher and we all feel more peace and happiness.
Another divisions picture from a few weeks ago. We are standing in a field in Avellaneda.
For example, yesterday, we found a new family to teach. We taught Susana and three of her 14 children. Her three children were all 9 years or younger. They all sat in their own chairs and listened as we taught the restoration. My companion began to teach to the mother and I felt the impression to teach to her children and to be very simple. I taught them what everyone does when we pray and then I told them, pointing to a picture, "this is Jesus! When we do what he says, we are happy. I love Him!" I knew then as I know now that He is my savior and I do love Him!
The children loved the lesson, especially since I gave them some paper and they all tried to draw Jesus. He is the center of our message and we should never forget Him, especially in our daily lives when other things seem more important, but really aren't.
A young boy with his pet bunny. It was funny watching him run all over the place trying to catch it.
This week, I also realized again how important church is, especially for those who are investigating the church. If these people to come to church, they can´t receive the blessings of baptism, of the gift of the Holy Ghost, of the Temple, or any of the other blessings God is waiting to give them. It´s the same for members of the church too. The blessings of church attendance are worth infinitely more than anything else we can do on a Sunday. Infinitely more, because when we do, God blesses us abundantly and we come so much closer to our ultimate goal to live with Him with our families after this life. As my dad always said, people have a two-second decision to make every Sunday. They have to decide to get up out of their warm beds and go out into the cold or rain or heat and go to church, or just keep sleeping. Our job as missionaries and members is to make that decision easier for others so that in those two seconds, they chose to get up. This week, we did all we could, but not very many people came to church, especially because it was so cold. It´s a good thing we have next week to try again!
Alejandra is doing much better. She is out of the hospital and recovering in her home. We have a Skype call with her in an hour. She may be baptized this week with her daughter, but we still don´t know. Keep praying for her. She says she really appreciates all of your prayers!

¡Que tenga una buena semana!
Elder Cloward

Thursday, May 12, 2016

A busy week as fall rolls in

¡Hola todos!

This past week was the last week of the transfer. For this next transfer, Elder Felkins and I are staying in Avellaneda. We are super excited to work hard, especially because this is Elder Felkins´ last transfer.
It´s fall here! Lots of leaves and it´s getting colder.
We did a lot of traveling. We went to Las Toscas again to teach Alejandra. We taught her and her daughter the 10 commandments with hand signals to help them to remember them. They loved it a lot! I wish I could share some of them, they´re really funny and clever.

There´s a house here with two pet ostriches. Crazy!

We also had a muli-zone meeting and got to hear from the mission president and Elder Salas, one of the seventy. I learned that even as missionaries, it´s important that we practice every day during our studies to teach more effectively. I also learned how important it is that the missionaries and members work together. When the early Saints were building the Salt Lake temple, they had to carry the huge blocks to the temple on a difficult 4 day trip. Brigham young then had a train track built that could transport each of the blocks in just hours. However, the people cutting out the bricks had to stop working so they could work on the railroad. Sometimes the things we need to do as missionaries seem to not make sense at first. No one will be working on the temple if we build a railroad! If we teach the already active members, we won´t be teaching investigators. But the truth is, when the missionaries and members work together, the work becomes faster and more efficient.
We made polenta! It´s a kind of corn paste with red sauce. The corn was pretty tasteless, but the red sauce was really good!

We taught Samuel the story of Samuel the Laminite from the Book of Mormon. We had him act it out. He got up on a chair and started waving a big shovel in the air as Elder Felkins and I threw stuff at him. All the while, his older brother narrated the story, oblivious to the chaos. It was super funny!
We met a bunch of new people to teach the last few days, including a small family of 4. I´ll give you an idea of some of the people we teach. The mother went back to Secundaria (high school) to finish and the father works at a meat factory and catches birds as pets for fun. It was super cool to see all of his birds. They have two young daughters. One of their daughters hurt her head really bad yesterday and we have been praying for her. Her name is Ariana. We are excited to teach them about how Christ´s teachings bless the family.
There were so many miracles that happened this week, but I can´t share everything. My favorite part of the week was when I got to Skype my family for mother´s day. They are all so happy and it made me so happy to see them. They had some really great questions and helped me want to keep working hard. I loved speaking in Spanish to them and teaching them a lesson about the importance of daily prayer and scripture study. These things are a protection to us from Satan. Just like mosquito spray, they have to be applied each day to protect us from the sicknesses of the world that can hurt us.
I know that God lives. I know that He loves me! I have felt His love very strongly this week. I know that when we obey Him, we are happy and other people are too. Families can be together forever. I am here to bring this message to all and help them receive these blessings.

Have a happy week!
Elder Cloward

Monday, May 9, 2016

Samuel´s baptism and some miracles!


This week was incredible! God helped us accomplish His work and there were many miracles!
Early in the week, we found some new prepared investigators, a young father and mother that are interested in the church. We found Valeria, the mother, on a bus on the way to Las Toscas. They have a 2 year old daughter. We are excited to keep teaching them.
Me and a cow.
On Friday, we went to Las Toscas again to teach Alejandra and her daughter Milagros. Alejandra is incredible. She reads the Book of Mormon whenever she has a spare moment, which is almost always because she doesn´t have a job and stays home most of the time. She has already read all the way through Mosiah and parts of Alma. But last week she got really sick. She told us something was wrong with her heart, and that the doctors don´t know what happened yet. When we went to teach her, we taught her about the priesthood, the power God has given to man to do His work on earth. We shared the story of the Book of Mormon when Christ visits the people in America and heals each of them from their sicknesses. We invited her to receive a priesthood blessing. We explained that what was said in a priesthood blessing was not from us, but from God, and that she could be healed according to her faith. I felt the spirit really strongly with her and we could feel how strong her faith is. I gave her the blessing. It was an incredible experience, and reminded me when I gave a priesthood blessing to my Mom right before she left on a long trip. I didn´t know at first if I was worthy to give a blessing, but the Spirit told me that I was and God filled my mind with what I should say. It was so happy to serve her!

A really big soy bean field. We use it as a short cut to one of our investigators.

Me, Samuel, and Branco (7), who wasn´t baptized, but wanted to be in the picture. He is the son of some of our investigators.
Then, on Saturday, we had Samuel´s baptism. We took him and his brother early to the chapel to get everything set up. That was when we started having problems. We wanted to heat up the water for the baptism, but the heater was broken and the gas pipes had a leak, so we couldn't get the stove to work either. We also couldn't make the chocolate cake we had planned. We ended up sending the cake to the other Elders to make and we left the water cold. We were all super excited and a little bit crazy before the baptism, but when the service started and we were all in white, I felt calm. I got to sit by Samuel and Jona, a 17 year old investigator of the Sisters who also asked me to baptize him. I really loved talking to them about the importance of the promise they were making with God and seeing how ready Jona was to be baptized. Agustin, Samuel´s brother, gave a short talk and then we all went to the baptismal font. 
Samuel´s baptism.
I got in first and nearly jumped right back out because of how cold it was. I started breathing really fast and felt like I was on fire. But I quickly overcame my fear. I remembered when I was baptized and how incredible it was it stand with my dad, as I stood with Jona and Samuel in the water. I baptized Jona first. When he came out of the water, he was so cold, but so happy. I could see how he had changed.
Jonathan (17), an investigator of the Sisters who asked me to baptize him.
Samuel was next and it was so cold, he jumped of the last step into my arms. He was shivering as I said the prayer. I felt the spirit strongly that what I was doing was right. I put him slowly under the water and he came out freezing and excited!
Samuel, right after his baptism. It was cold!
Jona and Samuel made a promise, being baptized, to keep God´s commandments, always remember Christ, and take Christ´s name upon them. I am so happy that I could be a part of their decision. It fills me with joy!
Samuel received the gift of the Holy Ghost on Sunday. He was at first nervous, but I could tell that during the prayer, just like I did when I received the Holy Ghost, he felt it. The Holy Ghost is a guide he now has for the rest of his life if he remains worthy. What a blessing God´s plan is for His children!

Have a happy week and make good decisions!
 Elder Cloward
Today, all four of us got a kilo of Ice cream! They had it on a good deal of 2 kilos for 100 pesos ($17.5).

Sunday, May 8, 2016

¡Una semana feliz!

¡Hola todos!

It´s still raining, can you believe it? Fortunatly, it stopped just long enough for Sunday. People here don´t come to church on rainy Sundays.
We had some really great experiences this week trying to reach our weekly goals. We put a weekly goal to have 9 investigators who excepted a day for their baptisms. For nearly the whole week, we invited everyone we could to be baptized, and nearly everyone of them accepted! I know that God made it posible to reach this goal. Now we get to help all of these people prepare themselves to reach their goals.
We found a few really prepared investigators too. One day, we felt prompted to visit one of the members, even though we only had 30 minutes left until lunch. As we were walking, a man called to us. He invited us to come to his house and teach him the following day. When we came, he was super excited to see us. We taught him about the importance of the Book of Mormon, which he understood perfectly. He said "this book is going to be my guide so that I can return to God." Sometimes, phrases like that that our investigators say strike me. That IS what the Book of Mormon is for. It´s another testimony to me that what I am doing is right and true.
We had interviews again with the President Franco, the mission president. I learned so much from him and I can´t wait to apply it.
We are continuing to work with Samuel,  our 11 year old investigator. He asked me last week if I would baptize him and I said I would. Using some ideas from my Dad, we gave him a calendar to help him see how many days are left until his baptizm, and to remember to pray and read the Book of Mormon. We also played the Name Game (or in Spanish, pronounced Na-meh Ga-meh). He and his siblings had 3 minutes to write down as many names of people they knew as posible. They got a huge list together! Afterward, we invited them to invite these people to Samuel´s baptism. What a great idea!
Samuel our 11 year old investigator who asked me to baptize him this week!

 His baptism is this Saturday. Please pray that he can keep preparing himself and that he can make it that day. I´m so excited for him!

¡Que tenga una semana feliz!

Elder Cloward