Tuesday, July 26, 2016

God´s Merciful Plan of Happiness - Transfers!


This is the last week of the transfer again. Next week I will be writing on Tuesday. I have no idea whether I will stay or go, whether I will train, or be a leader; it´s a really exciting time for a missionary. However, more missionaries are coming, so it is very likely that there will be more missionaries in Avellaneda. I am happy about that.

I had divisions with Elder Bess again. We visited Lilia and Julio, a couple that he and his companion started teaching at the very beginning of his mission.

There are some really beautiful places here in Argentina.

Some really great things are happening here, and the work feels slow and fast at the same time. We taught an older lady about prayer this week. She doesn´t always seem to understand us very well, and her family isn´t very interested in listening to us, but we have felt that we should keep teaching her. We taught her this week how to pray. She can´t read, so it was difficult and I didn´t know if she was going to understand, but at the end, she gave a beautiful prayer and understood perfectly. That made me really happy!

A goofy picture. We are happy that it is p-day!
We went back to Las Toscas again, for the first time this transfer. Alejandra and Milagros were happy to see us. Depending on what happens for transfers, it may have been the last time I will ever see them. They are really amazing people!

Las Toscas
We met a really great man on the bus back who happily accepted a Book of Mormon. He was really curious about what we do and was surprised and grateful when we offered him the book. That was a happy encounter.

We also got to have interviews with President Franco, the mission president, this week. I always learn so much from him. Sometimes I learn things even just being in the same room as him. He taught us about using the Book of Mormon to invite people to come closer to Christ and keep His commandments. I have begun to study the Book of Mormon by topics so that I can better teach in this way. It is really fun!

The route going through Reconquista
I am grateful for God´s merciful plan of happiness. We all make mistakes and by ourselves, we come short. But through Christ, we can reach our potential and be who God wants us to be. Through the Atonement of Christ, all things will be made right. As we do all that we can, we accept Christ and His sacrifice. I love Him! Do all that you can to show your love for Him this week!

Elder Cloward
I got two really good Argentine bird books today. They are probably the best books that exist for Argentine birds, just stuffed with information of each species... and in Spanish! 

Unforgetable Memories

¡Hola todos!

We had some very unique experiences this week, not all of which I will be able to relate. It was a week full of spiritual experiences, testimony builders, and unforgettable memories.

A picture of a part of the center of the city.

On Saturday, I focused on strengthening my testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith. I prayed that God would help me know if he was a prophet. Then I read out loud his experience when he prayed and saw God and Jesus Christ. I felt good and happy and I realized that my prayer had been answered, just as God had answered Joseph. I am glad God hears and answers our prayers. Later that evening, we spent all of our time trying to find new people to teach. We didn´t have a single lesson, which doesn´t happen very often. As the night was coming to a close, I prayed that I would be able to share with someone my testimony of the Book of Mormon and give them a copy. I did get to share my testimony: "The Book of Mormon is one of the most important books in the whole world. I know that as you read it, you will have greater peace and happiness in your live and in your family. I know this is true because I have seen many blessings in my live and in my family."

Us with a great member family here. They made empanadas for us!
Not very many people accepted us, but a realized for myself how important the Book of Mormon is to me.
I gained a greater testimony of following spiritual promptings. Sometimes what we feel prompted to do doesn´t make sense, but I learned that as I follow these promptings, I am more at peace and I don´t have to regret missing an opportunity to do good.

This week, we got an order for all of the missionaries in our zone who wanted alfajores and on Friday, we went to the alfajor factory to buy some boxes. We didn´t get to see any alfajores being made, but it was a fun experience because afterward, we were running all over the city with 6 boxes of alfajores (144 alfajores to be exact)! That was fun.

Six boxes of alfajores, 24 in each box. An alfajor is a treat composed of soft cookies "glued" together with dulce de leche. They are a lot cheaper when we buy them at the factory and are really delicious
Too much sugar.
Yesterday, I got a little sick. We left in the afternoon to go work, and I prayed to God that, if it was His will, I could stay out all night, or at least long enough to teach one person. We did get to teach someone, a really great man in his 80´s. He shared with us some really amazing experiences he has had in his life and some really hard things too. We began to teach him about the plan of salvation, God´s plan for us in this life. I was doing fine, right until the end of the lesson. I started to feel really dizzy and cold. I started to ask the man if I could use his bathroom, but it was already too late. I felt really bad, because I was sick, but also because we hardly knew the man. He was very understanding and kind. It was a funny experience that I don´t think I will forget. I hope he lets us go teach him again. I got some good rest and I´m doing a lot better today.

We are having good success here in spite of our weaknesses. It is a hard but happy work and I am learning to enjoy it even more. Thank you for your prayers. Where ever you may be, listen to the Holy Ghost and share the gospel with everyone. I promise that you will be more grateful and happy for your efforts.

¡Que tenga una buena semana!
Elder Cloward

I love this work!


Thank you for all of your prayers and all that you do to participate in missionary work. I really felt God supporting my companion and me in this large area we have.

 We have three families in Avellaneda now that are really progressing. I believe I already talked about Lilia and Julio, who have been waiting for about a year to get a divorce so they can get married. They are getting super close, and we will probably know tomorrow how much longer it will take. Milagro, who I already mentioned, is part of the Gomez family. She has four younger siblings, all of whom have names that start with "m." She is still excited to get baptized! This week we went to teach them about tithing. We normally can only visit them once a week, so we expected progress to be slow. However, as we began to teach how God only requires us to give Him back only one tenth of what we receive, María, Milagro´s mom said something that surprised me. She said, "I would give all that I receive to God because He has blessed me so much." She told us "ever since you started coming to teach us, the family is closer, work is better, and the children don´t fight as much as they used to." It made me so happy to hear her share her strong testimony with us and it made me realize what a small part I have as a missionary in teaching God´s children. He does nearly all of the teaching, and it is our responsibility as missionaries and members to help them focus on Him and what He has to say. We invited her to be baptized with her children and they said yes.

Lentil flour... interesting. We found a health food store here. There was garbanzo bean flour as well and a bunch of other things we didn´t understand.

A similar experience happened with another family we are teaching in Avellaneda. We found Valeria a little over three months as we were traveling to Las Toscas on the bus. She seemed really interested in what we do and we wrote down her address to go and visit her just before we got of the bus. Now, several months later, they have a regular habit of praying as a family every day. She and Luciano have a young four year old daughter, Lourdes. This week, we were teaching Luciano the ten commandments. We were trying to finish teaching the lesson because we had to catch the bus back and we had already spent several times visiting them teaching them some of the commandments. But then, he started to tell us of some of the great blessing he had received in his life. We listened as he shared his testimony of God and of the church. He has come to church once before, and he told us he knows it is true and wants all of his family to come and see. We weren´t teaching about that, but the Spirit testified to him that the church is true. He knows because he is trying what we are teaching and knows it is good. That makes me so happy!

Eating torta frita (fried tortilla) with Agustin.

I know that this is God´s work. Our part in his work is hard, but rewarding. It is marvelous and miraculous. God loves us. He wants us to be happy. As we seek Him, we find joy. Our trials and difficulties remain, but they are made easier and they don´t matter as much. I love this work!

¡Hasta luego!
Elder Cloward

La Cortada

What an incredible week this has been. I feel like I am growing fast and that God is using me and my abilities to help the people here.

Elder Curtis and me in front of the chapel.

 We have been focusing on a small neighborhood here called La Cortada. It is by far the most poor and dirty of the neighborhoods in the city. It always has mud and floods easy, and there is trash everywhere. However, the people there are also very humble in heart. We are finding many people who love Jesus ans are willing to listen to us. God is preparing people and we are finding them. We pray especially this week that we can visit each of them again and help them begin to live more fully Christ`s teachings.

One lady we met, Estela, works with the young children in the Catholic church. She told us how she loves to teach them about Jesus and Mary. I told her that my mom also teaches the children and that it`s a happy job. We shared the Book of Mormon with her in Alma 7:10-13 where it talks about Mary, but focuses on Jesus and His Atonement. She loved it and understood us perfectly when we told her that we believe in Mary and what she did, but that we don`t adore or worship her. We made a wonderful connection with her that we hope to continue.

An Argentine sunrise from our apartment window.
There was another day when we were walking down the street and passed a bunch of children. One of them called out, "what do you sell?" I told them, "we don`t sell anything. We share a message of Jesus Christ. Do you want to learn more about him? Come here, I want to show you something!"  A group of six or seven children crowded around me as I shared pictures of Jesus and shared my testimony of Him and of the Restoration of His church. It really reminded me of how I used to teach my younger siblings and again, or how my parents have always been good at teaching young children and keeping their attention. I know God is preparing me for short moments like these to share my testimony. It makes me happy!

Some members, my companion and me.
Today we celebrated the forth of July with hamburgers and hot dogs! Being away, I am even more grateful for the United States and the blessings my family and I have had there. We have been given much, so much will be required of us.

4th of July Celebration!
Keep inviting your friends to learn more about Jesus. He is the center of God`s plan and the only one who can save us. I love Him. He loves us. I want to do all that I can to serve Him and help others go to Him. When I make mistakes, I can change and try again, because He helps me and wants me to be better. When I do my very best and trust in Jesus, He makes everything turn out okay.

¡Que tenga una semana feliz!
Elder Cloward

First Week With Elder Curtis


First weeks in new areas feel really long. Elder Curtis and I are learning how to work together and we are making good progress. There is a lot of work to do now that we have two areas in two different cities to work with.

The roads get really muddy here when it rains and we walk all over in our boots.
We have been visiting recently with a really big inactive member family in Avellaneda, the Machuca family. Some of the family members have been members of the church for longer than I have been alive. On Friday and Saturday, it rained pretty hard and all of the roads near their home turned to mud. We tried to go and visit this family with the branch president in his car. We got stuck in the mud. Elder Curtis and I had to get out and push until he got unstuck. That was an adventure! He ended up turning back because of the mud, but Elder Curtis and I made it to their house. We invited this family back to church and they said they would come. Even though there was mud everywhere, they came to church for the first time in a long time. I was so happy to see them when they arrived!

We are working really hard to find new people to teach. It´s hard work, but it has been fun to talk to so many people.

I love working hard here and sometimes I forget to take pictures. I am happy and well!
There was one man that the other Elders had been teaching for a few weeks that told us he doesn't want us to teach him any more. He told us he was convinced that all of the churches are the same, just with different view points and opinions. He said that it is the responsibility of each person to find their way back to God. It made me very sad, though I had only just met him. We shared our testimonies with him, that there is one true church, the church Christ established and restored in our day. We don´t need to look for our own way alone. God has provided a way for us to return to Him. It is not an easy way, but it is a happy one, a way of hope. That way is Jesus Christ. Learn all you can of Him and keep His commandments. Christ has established a church with His teachings so that we can work together to return to live with God after this live. Our message is not always easy to follow, but it is a message of gladness and joy. 

God lives! He is our father in heaven. Christ paid the price so that when we make mistakes, we can repent and be forgiven. I love Him and love to serve Him! As I remember Him, he supports me and helps me to do His work.

Thank you for all of your prayers for missionary work. Continue to pray and show your faith by teaching and inviting others to learn about and follow the teachings of Christ. You will find great happiness as they find joy in God´s plan of happiness.

Have a happy week!
Elder Cloward