Monday, September 5, 2016

God´s Truth Shines Through Any Cloud

This week was awesome! It feels almost like it was two weeks.

This picture about summarizes the week... Lots of rain, cold, and happiness!
I have been focusing on teaching the people we find according to their needs rather than according to the lesson plans. My companion and I split wit the zone leaders for Tuesday and Wednesday and I got to go with Elder Perez. He´s from Columbia and has only a few weeks left of his mission. He taught me so much! He and I contacted a small house made out of wood boards. A lady came out and as we started talking, she told us she didn´t believe in God. That surprised me because most people here believe in God. She told us that one of her children had died when he was only four days old. Her face was sad and cold. Elder Perez told her that we could tell her where he had gone and she let us pass and sit down. That also surprised me. As we taught her about God´s plan for us, she began to change and she began to smile. She even laughed a few times. I felt that I had been prepared to teach her as I told her my family´s story that something very similar had happened to us. We kept our faith, though at times things didn´t make sense, but we continued to believe in God. Then the miracle happened that is my youngest sister, Anatolia, who we adopted her from Ukraine. She is a miracle! It was amazing to feel the spirit so powerfully testify to her that God lives and loves us! Since that lesson, every time we pass by, she smiles at us. We are going to teach her more tonight!

A kilo of Ice cream each!
 My companion is progressing fast, though it feels slow at times. He teaches more during the lessons. I like when he talks, because I tend to teach very seriously, while when he teaches, we all chuckle with him as he works through the Spanish. It makes the lessons more relaxed. He doesn´t mind, though he wishes he could understand the people.

Our Zone.
God is blessing us to find many more families to teach. Thank you for all of your prayers! One day, it was super cold and we wanted to teach someone and get out of the wind and rain. We clapped a house, but no one answered. As we were about to leave, a three year old boy opened the door wide. We saw into the house and his dad rushed to the door. They may not have intended to answer us. We asked the man if we could come in and share something, just as a big gust of wind picked up. He let us in and we warmed up a bit. They reminded me a lot of my family. Their ten year old boy was playing Minecraft and there was Gravity Falls on the TV. The father looked very much like my dad. They didn´t accept the message as well as we hoped, but they did listen and said another day we could come back. We had several more experiences like this, as well as many witnesses that God has been preparing His children here to receive us. I love Him. He is very real to me. I am happy that I´m still not even half way done, that there is still so much time to work as hard as I can to invite people to come closer to Him. Time is going fast!

These are the deals at our favorite fruit stand, "Mega Frutas." Crazy!
God lives. He loves us. He sent His son to die for us. Through Jesus Christ and His teachings, we can repent and find joy. We can live with our families forever. He sends us prophets to guide us to Him. What a glorious plan!

Have a happy week!
Elder Cloward
It was 54 degrees in the pension this morning. We are going to buy an electric heater.

Listen, Listen to the Still Small Voice


Thank you for all of your prayers and emails. You all are great!

The branch mission leader Sebastian. He just turined 26!
We had a really exciting week and are starting to see great progress in the area. We found some new promising investigators. One family, the Biaz family accepted us very well and the mother is full of questions for us. They felt the spirit as we taught about the Book of Mormon and want to know more. A few days later, we passed by to invite her to church. She would have come if it hadn´t rained. She said, though, that she is reading the Book of Mormon and really likes it so far, but that she had some questions. When we taught her the last time, we told her it is "a rule" we have that someone without a tie says the first prayer and someone with a tie says the last prayer. She didn´t get that it was a joke so when we passed by, she asked us why that was a rule. That was pretty silly!
It rained hard Saturday night and on through Sunday. There were only eight people at church, five of us being missionaries. That was an interesting experience. We´ve got some work to do to strengthen the members here, and we´ve already started working more closely with the Elders Quorum president, Presidente Escobar. He and his wife have only been members for about a year, but they are very active in the church. Presidente Escobar told me that if he´s not doing something every day to strengthen the church, he feels empty. He is an incredible example to me!

Walking to church on a rainy day. There were only 8 people that attended because the rain was so strong.

We had two really great opportunities to teach large groups of young children. It is one of my favorite things to do on the mission. At one time, I got to teach five to six young boys (ages 8-11) the ten commandments using hand signals to remember them. They enjoyed it so much and asked us when we would be coming back. Another time, we got to do an experiment with about six to seven young girls (ages 10-12) using yerba (kind of like tea leaves), soap and a bowl of water. We taught that as we got to church, we keep ourselves clean of the dirtiness of the world. They loved getting their fingers dirty in the yerba and watching the soap repel the leaves away from their fingers. I love children because they listen so closely and the lessons have to be powerful and brief to keep their attentions.

My companions bottle cap collection. Currently, he and I have collected about 242 bottle caps. It´s a fun thing to do while walking from place to place.
Many times this week, we missed really important opportunities and didn´t get to help people because we were late, or spent too much time with other people. I am glad this is God´s work, and that as I do my best, He makes up the difference. I love Him and I know He loves us! He guides us every day to find people who are prepared to listen. One day, we were walking past a family and I noticed that a young boy and girl were trying to get a ball out of the ditch with a stick. I went over an pulled it out for them and waved at their mom. We kept going on, but after a few blocks, I felt more and more that we needed to go back and share a message with the family. We did return and found that the ball was in the ditch again. I felt like time had rewound as I pulled the ball out of the water again and then asked the mom if we could share a message. She accepted and we had a very spiritual lesson. As we seek to recognize, understand, and obey the promptings of the Holy Ghost, God works through us to bless His children. I am so very grateful for the experiences He has given me that have made it possible to understand the Spirit and how it communicates with me.

Do all that you can this week to listen and obey promtings you may receive. Sometimes it may be difficult, but it will always be right and good. You will feel a powerful peace that God is happy with you.

Have a happy week!
Elder Cloward

A Representative of Jesus, A Representative of Happiness


We had a multi-zone conference this week in Resistencia. Our mission has been focusing on using the Book of Mormon more to invite people to action. President Franco, our mission president, has challenged each of us to invite our investigators to be baptized, inviting them three times using three different scriptures. At first I was a bit skeptical, but in the meeting, we got to see some missionaries do a practice with President Franco and his wife. In the practice, "Hermana Franco" said yes after being invited once, but for "President Franco," he still wasn´t certain after the three invitations. Eventually, he did accept and we all cheered. It was kind of a silly practice, but at the same time, there was a strong spirit there that was so happy! Since then, I have been trying to apply the same principle in our lessons, and we are seeing miracles because of it. I know that our leaders are inspired by God.
After the meeting, we started back in our little bus-van that we rented, but it quickly broke down. We had to wait at a gas station for three hours while a new bus came. We didn´t make it back until 2:30 AM! We were pretty tired the next few days but God helped us to recover quickly. What an adventure!

I´m happy here! I haven´t had my camera around with me as much because our area gets pretty dark at night.

We started praying for miracles in our area. It is only through miracles that missionary work is possible. We have been working hard, but teach many fewer people here than my past areas.

On Friday, we were guided to a man who talked to the missionaries a long time ago, but never joined the church. He has since separated from his family and feels very lonely. We taught a very spiritual lesson (using the method) and he has great desires to change and be baptized. He is going to have a hard time giving up smoking and drinking, but he wants to stop. It was a miracle!

My companion and me in the plaza.

We also met another lady whose children got baptized, but she didn´t get to. She also wants to be baptized. Both of these people have a lot of obstacles, but we are excited to help them. Yay!

Today, I spent most of the day cleaning mold off our beds. We should be mold free!

This is a difficult time to be a missionary here, but also an exciting one! We have to give our all and try new methods to help more effectively the people. Sometimes it leaves us pretty tired. However I know that this work is God´s. I am happy to serve Him and His children.

As missionaries, our purpose is to invite others come unto Christ by helping them to accept His gospel and apply it in their lives. The change is hard, but always brings greater happiness. I am happy to be a representative of Jesus, a representative of happiness. As members of the church, you too are representatives of Jesus. Find at least one thing you can do differently this week to better represent Him.

Have a happy week!
Elder Cloward