Saturday, October 22, 2016

Repentance is a Change in Character

¡Hola! ¿Como estan todos?

This is the last week of the transfer, so next week I will be writing on Tuesday. I am excited to see what will happen! My guess is I will stay with Elder Zabala for his last transfer in the mission and stay one more transfer, or go this transfer to a new area. We will see.

We did divisions with some other Elders. Elder Hernandez (Chile) and I got soaked on the way back to the pension.
This week has been very interesting, especially because of all of the rain we have been receiving. We weren´t used to it raining so much, so we went out several times without rain gear. We got soaked multiple times! It was pretty silly. The streets were full of water after it rained. I brought my tall boots thinking I would be fine. However, there was so much water, I didn´t see a ditch and fell in! My boots filled up and I was no longer dry. As I poured the water out of my boots, I looked up and saw a family staring out at us from their house. It was pretty silly.

A lot of water.

Elder Zabala and I are learning a lot together. It was a tough week and we really had to come closer and work together to make it through. I have recongnized several of my weaknesses that I have had for some time. Now that I have recognized these weaknesses, I can receive help from God and He can make my weaknesses strong (Ether 12:27). When things are difficult and we seek to follow God and to become better, we can know that God is strengthening us to help others even more.

Elder Zabala, our mission leader Sebastian, and me. The streets were full of water!

We are seeing slow but steady progress in our investigators. Brian and David, the sons of Oscar Martinez are beginning to enjoy more and more the lessons we are teaching. Hermano Martinez is an inactive member who wants his two sons to be baptized, but is having trouble coming back to activity. He is beginning to change though and we have hope that he will come back to church.

Yanel is also reading the Book of Mormon and has many great questions. She didn´t come to church again and we don´t know why. We are learning to be patient with these people as we do all that we can to help them. When ever I think, "why don´t people come to church? Why is it so hard for everyone?" I remember my own weaknesses and try to do better myself. One can change his behaviors, but if he does not change himself, it means little. I am greatful for Christ, who helps us to change ourselves, especially when it seems impossible. I promise that He can help you when it is most difficult as you are humble, teachable, and patient with yourself.

Have a happy day!
Elder Cloward

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Building a Happy Family is Like Building a House - Brick By Brick

I have a new companion! His name is Elder Zabala and he´s from Paraguay. He only has two months left of his mission. I have really enjoyed being with him so far because he has a strong desire to work hard, be good, and love others. He is a good teacher and loves to be silly.

My new companion, Elder Zabala. He´s from Paraguay.

 We had some very special and important lessons this week. We got to teach Florencia again, who has been difficult to find because she is often busy or not home. We taught her and her children the ten commandments using signals with our hands and they loved it a lot! She still wants to be baptized, but didn´t come to church. We have several people like that and it´s difficult to find their needs. We also got to teach Yanel about getting married to prepare for her baptism. She is anxious to obey the commandments and protect her family, but her boy friend, Federico, doesn´t want to get married just yet. Please pray for them, especially Federico, that they can get married so Yanel can receive the blessings of baptism.

Elder Zabala is very likely to finish his mission here in Goya. He is really friendly and excited to work hard!

Yesterday, I really enjoyed one of our Sunday school classes about the family. I got to share my testimony about the importance of love in the family. God wants families to be together forever and we must do all that we can to be a forever family. However, it takes time to construct good traditions and love in a family, just like your must build a house brick by brick. If there are struggles in your family or in your relationships with others, be patient and do little things each day to strengthen these bonds.

I know that God loves us. As we do the little things in life, reading the scriptures, praying, and going to church, and as we are grateful for the things we have, we will see little by little the miracles that happen each day in our lives. I love the mission here and I am excited to serve another week!

¡Que tenga una feliz semana!
Elder Cloward

Elder Caceres and me.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Evidence of the Restoration

¡Hola! ¿Como están todos?

This week was very abnormal for me. My companion, Elder Caceres ended up having to go home for health reasons. I have been tagging along with the zone leaders until I can get a new companion. I am really enjoying it with them and hope that I can get back to work in my area. There are a bunch of people progressing!

I went with the zone leaders to Esquina, a small city south of Goya.
I went with the zone leaders to Esquina on Friday, a small city 2 hours south of Goya. Seven years ago, there was a branch of members there, but the church was disbanded for unknown causes. The missionaries have recently begun to visit again and the people are really prepared. There are several large member families with young children that the missionaries are teaching. Just this passed Sunday, four of them were baptized and in two weeks, there are 12 more that want to be baptized. It was a wonder to to teach a huge group of children between 8 and 11, each with their own Book of Mormon that they were reading. They reverently sat and listened, answering questions with enthusiasm. What an incredible experience!

Then, on Sunday, the church payed for two busses so that people from Esquina could attend church and general conference. 35 people came, 12 of which were not members of the church! It was a miracle!

The church rented two small buses and 35 people from Esquina came to general conference in Goya.
One of our investigators, Yanel, and her sister´s daughter, Myra, also came to one of the sessions of general conference. I am so excited for her. Please prayer for her that she can overcome her obstacles to be able to get baptized. She needs to get married which may be really hard for her. I think she can do it, but her family may or may not support her.

If you didn´t get to watch the general conference, I highly recommend it. The prophet and the 12 Apostles speak to the whole world! If you watch with questions, they will be answered. 

I bought bag of cheep cheetos for general conference. We only ended up eating half of the bag, there were so many!
I know that Thomas S. Monson is the prophet and that he guides us in our needs. Prophets are necessary to guide us and not only help us interprete the scriptures, but give us revelation for our day that protects us in this changing world. The effects of when we didn´t have a prophet are still evident today. There is a lot of confusion and many churches that all teach about Christ, but have conflicting ideas. God doesn´t want us to be confused, he wants us to be happy. He restored His full truth through the prophet Joseph Smith. His evidence for this restoration is the Book of Mornon, another testament of Jesus Christ. I invite you to read it, or share it with a friend so they can know that it is true. The Book of Mormon teaches us how to find Joy with God in this life and after too. I love the book!

I still don´t know who my new companion(s) will be, but I know that everything will work out okay, because I am doing my very best and God wants us to have joy!
We went to the beach and played football today.
Have a joyus week!
Elder Cloward

What Compliments Have to Do With the Atonement of Christ

This week was full of spiritual experiences and there are so many people now that are progressing towards baptism. I am so happy for them!

We have begun to teach the family Lopez. The parents are inactive members of the church and their sons, Victor (17), and Raul (15), are not members of the church. The moment we invited them to be baptized, they both said yes! They are slightly mentally handycapped, but they understand very well what we are teaching them. It is amazing to see their progress and excitement. We taught them how to pray yesterday and Victor repeated the words that I said so that he could learn because he can´t read. He wouldn´t settle for that though, and right after the prayer, he said "now I am going to try." He prayed for other people who were suffering, that God would help them. I felt the spirit very strongly when he prayed.

We had lunch with they zone leaders. Giso. Mmmm!
We are still teaching Yanel (corrected from the last letter: Janil). She is amazing! We invited her to start reading the Book of Mormon from the begining, but not only did she read the first four chapters and relate back to us perfectly what happened, she also read the first three pamphlets and understood them very well. She is excited to be baptized and is teaching herself to be prepared because we can´t teach her fast enough. We are praying that she can come to church and also that she and her boy friend can accept to get married so that she can get baptized. It is amazing to teach people who have strong desires like her.

The difference between shined shoes and walking work shoes. For my time in the mission, my shoes are still in good condition. I hope I don´t have to buy a pair here.
My companion was sick for several days this week, so I got to go on divisions with our awesome zone leaders who helped us teach these investigators. It was interesting to see how they taught differently, and yet how their different methods also helped the people we taught. I learned that we are each who we are for a reason and we shouldn´t try to be someone that we aren´t or try to be someone else who we admire, because God can use us as who we are to help others. That doesn´t mean that we shouldn´t change and become better, but we should hold on to the good charactaristics that we have to build God´s kingdom. I´m looking for the traits that make up me and trying to teach in that way rather than the way of all of my companions.

Elder Caceres´ street!
I also learned what a difference it makes to tell someone that they are awesome. Compliments empower to do more good and invite happy feelings that help us to work hard and work together. I invite each of you to find good things to say about other people with the intention to make them happy. Don´t be discouraged if it doesn´t look like it makes a difference at first. Positivity makes problems easier. It´s just like the gospel. Though following Christ and being a good person doesn´t get rid of our problems, it does make them easier and help us to be happy. I love Jesus and the hope he provides for all of us. As we follow Him with out fear of what others will say or think, we have peace in our lives.

Thanks for everything. You all are amazing!
Elder Cloward

Learning, Protection, and Promised Blessings

¡Hola todos!

It´s been a great week with my new companion, Elder Caceres. We have been focusing especially on a new family. Eliana and Janil, two sisters have had really hard lives in the past, but have begun to listen to us. God has helped us answer many of their questions and we are praying that they can make it to church next week. I have felt the spirit talk to them through us several times and they are reading in the scriptures. One morning, before we went to visit them, I felt so excited. We were going to teach some prepared people more about how to be happy! It brings me so much happiness to teach people that are interested and I felt a little bit of Christ´s love for them. That was really special to me.

Elder Caceres crossing a sketchy bridge across the giant ditch. We´ve been practicing our "parkour" skills. There was another time when there wasn´t a bridge, so we jumped into the ditch, and jumped up the other side really quick. Not something I thought I would be doing as a missionary.

We also found, and have begun to teach several less active members, including one of the first member families here in Goya. It is normaly very difficult for people to return to the church, but when they have desires, it is posible. We have hope for them.

Really tasty gum.
I have learned more and more here in the mission the importance of keeping the commandments. We teach people who are not living the commandments, who are not happy, or who are suffering for their actions. I am greatful for God´s commandments that protect us and help us to be happy. It only takes seconds to mess everything up, but as we work diligently to do what is right, and keep ourselves in good places, we will be protected and have lasting happiness.

So far, I´m doing pretty good, only speaking Spanish this past week. There are a lot more words that I have to learn so that I can better express myself to my companion, and there are a lot of times when we don´t understand each other, but we teach very well together. Sometimes, I have no idea what to say or how to help a person, and then he begins to teach and everything he says sounds so perfect. I know that we are together for a reason.
Us in the plaza. Elder Caceres is pretty silly and a really good teacher.
I am happy to be serving God with all that I am. Right now, it feels like so little, and I make so many mistakes, but God expects us to do our very best, and I am doing the best I know how. I am greatful for Jesus Christ and his sacrifice. All of us can be forgiven, no matter what we have done. Sometimes repentance takes time, but God blesses people who have sincere desires to be better. As Elder Caceres taught several times this week, the blessings are always there, right infront of us. God waits for us to do our part, to reach for Him, and then he blesses us abundantly. "Adam fell that men might be and men are that they might have joy (2 Nephi 2:25)."

¡Que tenga una semana feliz!
Elder Cloward

God´s Love and A Companion from Uruguay


How is everyone? I´m doing great here in Argentina! We just had transfers and I am still training. However, Elder Phillips was transfered to Resistencia and his new companion is from Uruguay. My new companion, Elder Caceres, is also from Uruguay. It´s only my first day with him, but I can tell we are going to work well together. He has a very difficult history full of perserverance and going the extra mile when others would quit. For the next little bit, I will only be speaking spanish, which will be exciting!

Elder Phillips went to Resistencia. I sure am going to miss him!

Learning is so fast here. As I look through my journal of what happened at the begining of the week, it feels like two weeks ago! We had a lesson with a family in which one of the family members asked me "if I feel good in my church and I feel what I am doing is right, is that okay?" Afterwards, I talked about the question with Elder Phillips, and we realized that as people do good things, the spirit confirms to them that it is right. Every church has a piece of the truth and they are not wrong. Our message is that there was a restoration of the full truth and that God put His church again on the earth through the Book of Mormon and through prophets. We can have even more truth, even more happiness, and we can live again with God and our families forever. I love this message and know it is true.

We found a great new family to teach. Eliana was visited by the missionaries before and we taught her the restoration, she felt that it was true. It was a sweet joy, especially because it felt like we had been guided to find her house.

 I got to baptize Alexis (8), one of the sister´s investigators!
We had a baptizm this past Saturday and I got to baptize an 8 year old boy the sisters have been teaching. As I was sitting next to him during the program, he said quietly "I am so excited! I am getting baptized!" He knew what he was doing was good and he couldn´t wait. He is being an example for all of his older siblings too, who are not yet baptized. That was so happy to me!

We have been teaching Florencia and her boyfriend Jose some more. Their three children are so amazing! They like to have fun, but when we say a prayer, they all gather, fold their arms and close their eyes. Florencia is excited to be baptized and Jose said he would too. They still have to get married and they are a bit worried about doing that so soon. Please put them in your prayers that they will have desires to be married and that that will go smoothly.

I might have too much stuff (I´m on the left).
Yesterday was one of the happiest days of my mission. I was with the zone leaders for the whole day while I waited for my new companion to arrive. One of the new zone leaders is the previous asistant to the president, Elder Dangelo. He has this exciting energy about him that is just contagous. He taught me so much through his example about my role as a missionary. He reminded me that it is not our responibility as members nor as missionaries to get other people to change or to accept God´s commandments. We teach, promise blessings, encourage, and inspire, and then leave it up to them to choose happiness. I also learned even more the importance of inviting with the Book of Mormon focused on big goals. For example, we taught an investigator that hasn´t been progressing very much, about the ten commandments. After reading, Elder Dangelo would ask, "will you keep these commandments so that you can be baptized on October 15 and live with God and your family forever?" Who can say no to that? It gave a real reason for why we were teaching and why she needed to do these things, but left her to decide to be obedient. I am exited to put these things in practice and want to be more involved and excited to work, just like he is. It´s going to be a good week!

My new companion, Elder Caceres, is from Uruguay. We are going to have a great time together!
God knows what we need. He has prepared everything to help us grow and be happy. Sometimes we have challenges, but these challenges lead to greater happiness as we put our trust in God and choose to love Him through our actions. I love Him very much and will try my best this week to show it.

Have a happy week!
Elder Cloward