Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Restoration

¡Hola todos!

This has been a great week. We did divisions with some of the other Elders in the district and I got to do a baptismal interview for one of the investigators in their area. I was happy to see his baptism in Saturday. Hermano Perez went to the baptism and to church this past Sunday. He is really excited for his baptism and we will see today if he will get baptized this week or next week. We are super exited for him!

I got to do the baptismal interview for this young man. It was exciting to be a part of his baptism! He goes to the other ward in Centro.
My companion and I have been a little sick this week, but we are doing much better. We have seem many miracles of protection this week from unexpected dangers and have also been guided to find several prepared families. One day, I felt impressed to contact a house in an area we in which we never had been. After clapping twice, no one was there. However, just as we were about to leave, a man walked by. "Elders!" He said. He and his family were members and had moved in to the house next door less than a week before. Latter, we passed by and we shared a scripture with the whole family. They are going to start going to the church again and have some relatives that could get baptized soon. I am happy to be a servant of God.

We play ping pong on p-days here.
I know that this church is God´s church on the earth. God and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and called him to be a prophet. The priesthood is restored. The Book of Mormon is true. It brings me peace and answers when I read it. I promise that as you read the Book of Mormon and ask God if it is true, he will answer you. This week, I invite all of you to read the Book of Mormon meditate in what you have read and then ask God if it is true. As you do, you will learn to appreciate the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love Him. I love His teachings!

I will be writing on Tuesday next week! We had a short transfer.

Have a happy week!

Elder Cloward

Old Friends- Preparation Makes a Difference


Elder Lundgreen and me.
This was my first week in Saenz Peña! I have really enjoyed my time with my companion, Elder Lundgreen. He is really funny and has a powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon. He's still pretty new in the mission, but he is already confident and knows how to teach really well. We've gotten lost several times because he's also pretty new to the area, but we're making good progress.
We eat a lot, but Elder Lundgreen eats more. He ate 24 empanadas in one sitting. He's got an iron stomach!

There are many parts of our area that are dangerous. Please pray for all of the missionaries that we can be safe, especially after dark.

There is a man here, Hermano Perez, that has been going to church regularly for the past month and wants to be baptized. We are working with him so that he can receive a testimony of the Book of Mormon. We are excited for him! We also found a family that is willing to get baptized when they receive and answer to their prayers. At the beginning of the lesson, the father told us he had no desire to change his beliefs, but after the lesson, he said he would prepare to be baptized. That kind of change only happens when the Holy Ghost is present. He is so amazing as he touches our hearts and brings us peace. He tells us, this is true!

A member here has the Book of Mormon in more than 27 different languages! He helped us find some new people to teach.
On Sunday, we participated in a district conference in which all of the members of the church nearby attended. My companion and I were a part of the choir. When we sang during the meeting, it was our best performance. The spirit was present very strongly throughout the meeting and it really helped me to put everything back into perspective. As I said last week, it is hard to stay focused. Church meetings and activities help us keep our perspective centered on God's plan for us. I invite each of your to prepare for the next time you attend a church meeting so that you can receive the full benefit God is preparing for you. As you do, you will find greater peace and understanding.

Many of the members in Villa Angela, my first area, came to the district conference here. Milton was a boy we began to teach right before I left the area. He got baptized! We were so happy to see each other!
The Caseres family from my first area. Their boys went on splits with us a few times and the family gave us lunch on Thursdays!
Leonel, an awesome young man from Villa Angela. Five of the youth I met in Villa Angela are serving in missions throughout the world and Leonel should be on his mission by next year!
Elder Cloward

Prepare for Eternity

¡Hola a todos!

I´m in Saenz Peña Chaco, in the Obrero branch! I wasn't expecting to go so quick. I'm going to miss everyone in Formosa, but I am super excited to get to know the people here. My new companion is Elder Lundgreen from Nebraska USA. He is super great. He´s been in the mission very little time, but he´s confident and happy. He´s a lot like me, tall, skinny, eats a lot ,and cheerful, and I know we´ll get a long well.

This past week, we had another baptism! Maria Da Silva accepted an invitation to be baptized this past Saturday. It felt a little rushed, but we felt that everything had come together for her to be able to make a promise with God and there was no reason to wait. These thoughts were swirling in my mind, even during here baptism. But as I baptized her, and sat beside her after her baptism. I could feel God´s love for her and her desire to follow Him. I felt the room filled to the brim with the joy in heaven for her decision. She is going to do a lot of good for her family and for the church.
Maria Da Silva got baptized!
This was in the font when we filled it up for the baptism. Ahhh!
I am happy and well! I know that when we follow God, trust in the Spirit, and are obedient, everything turns out okay. Focus on eternity, on our goal to live with God after this life, clean and pure, with all those you love. I challenge each of you to do at least one thing this week to prepare for eternity. That is the purpose of this life!

¡Que tengan una semana feliz!
Elder Cloward

Lots of mud!

It´s hard to walk fast to lunch when you can slip and fall. Even walking carefully, the mud splashes everywhere.

Baptisms to Come

An ¡hola! from Argentina!

We are really excited here in Centenario. This next week is going to be really busy as we work with four different people who are preparing to be baptized! On Friday, Lidia Jara... I mean Espinola, got married! She has been waiting for nearly two years and the day finally came. She was so happy and it was beautiful to be able to participate in such an incredible miracle! We have invited her to prepare to be married in the temple for time and eternity and we have faith that it will happen. She will be getting baptized on Saturday.

Lidia Jara, I mean Lidia Espinola´s wedding. Yay!
Lautaro and Fabricio are also ready to be baptized this Saturday. Sometimes they get what we´ve taught a little mixed up because they are so young. but they have strong testimonies and many people supporting them. As I look back to my baptism, I don´t remember much of what happened before, but I do remember that it was what I wanted and that I was my choice. I wanted to be good, and they do too!

Maria Da Silva is also very close to being able to be baptized. All of these people need many prayers!
This Saturday, we will be having a Capilla Abierta (Open Chapel) for all those who want to learn more about the church and what we do. We have a lot of work to do to get ready.

We got to sing in the stake choir this past Sunday and all of the practices we had came together to produce a beautiful sound. We felt the Holy Ghost as we sang and shared our testimonies with the congregation. I love to sing!
The choir assistant taught the stake choir really well.
The stake choir.
Elder Oliva and I are working really well together and yesterday, we were the means of answering the prayer of a family that was waiting for us. I am so happy that God trusts us with His work and that He gives us the opportunity to receive so many blessings. I love Him!
Elder Oliva and me on the bus.

Elder Cloward

A lot to clean up in our huge pension.

God´s Peace is Real!

It been another great busy week!

We had multi-zone conference and interviews with President Franco. I always feel better after these meetings because they help me put all of my thoughts, expectations, and actions back into place. I feel more at peace and I know what I am doing. I realized that this is how we should feel after partaking of the sacrament every Sunday. As we prepare ourselves for church meetings, they will become tools for our growth and meetings in which we can learn what we most need to learn by the spirit. I want to prepare not just physically for Sunday, but spiritually too.

Elder Oliva and me in the multi-zone conference.
A bunch of great missionaries.
We are starting to work even more with the members here and we have so many references, it´s difficult to visit them all! The ward has made a ward missionary plan and they have called an assistant to the ward mission leader. We also are making a list of all of the members that want to visit with us and the list is really long! The ward here has so much potential, we just have to help them reach their potential.

Elder Oliva and I were the last missionaries in Formosa to receive our interviews with President Franco.
I am happy to be a missionary. Every day, I realize more deeply how important my work is. We invite all, just as Jesus did, to be obedient, to read the scriptures, to pray, and to go to church so that the y can find peace and joy. As they do, we invite them to prepare to make  a promise with God and be baptized to receive even more blessings. God´s peace is real! I invite each of you to seek this peace this week by reading the scriptures.

Have a happy week!
Elder Cloward
Elder Oliva helped the sisters install their new water filter and chlorine dispenser.

Rainning Blessings

¡Hola todos!

It rained a lot this week! On Wednesday, it began to rain really hard, and instead of stopping quickly like it normally does, it kept going. The first day my companion got to Formosa, his boots got mixed up with another missionary´s stuff and that missionary ended up taking them. For all of this week, he had to wear his normal shoes in the mud. Finally now that everything is dry, we got them back. It was pretty silly. It was also pretty sad too. The very day it started to rain hard, we went to one of the poorer neighborhoods of our area and many of the houses were a foot or two under water and that was after most of the water had left. We ended up in it up to our knees trying to get to Facundo (a recent convert) to teach him. It was pretty funny to see his reaction. His house was fine, but he was not expecting to see us on his door step. There was another family that we were teaching that didn't have anything because the rain made it so they couldn't work. I am grateful for the means God has given me to work hard in whatever condition and to comfort and serve those who are looking for God in their lives.

On Sunday, we had our ward conference and a lot of people came, including some less active members we've been visiting. We were so happy to see them all! Several investigators came too. I was feeling a little sick that morning, but seeing so many happy faces and being able o sing in the ward choir made me feel a lot better. In the afternoon on Sunday, we practiced in the stake choir, and got to see the children´s choir practice. Their energy and excitement brought the spirit so strongly. I am grateful for the pure testimony of the children as they testified of their desires to prepare for their own missions and be good.

The stake primary choir. We were so happy to see Lautaro, his brother Fabricio and Fabricio participate!
That night, we had a lesson with the Da Silva family with another really strong family in the ward and we shared the story of the tree of life (1 Nephi 8). Each of the members contributed and at the end, we invited Daiana, the oldest of the Da Silva children to be baptized this Saturday. She thought about it and even considered a later date, but then said "no, este Sábado sería mejor." We are so happy for her! Please pray for her this week!

Keep sharing your lights!
Elder Cloward

God Makes His Leaders


This was an exciting week of personal growth. I have felt that God has been watching over us and his children as countless times, we were directed to people who needed help or who were ready to receive Christ´s restored Gospel, whether on the bus, in the streets or in their homes. We also got to participate in a stake activity with all of the youth. We went with all of them to the central plaza in the city and gave out little cards inviting everyone to an activity that day and also to church on Easter Sunday. Each pair of missionaries was assigned to guide 6 youth 12 and older to share the short message. It was incredible to watch the army of youth in yellow "Prince of Peace" shirts march to the plaza and boldly invite strangers to learn more about the reason we celebrate Easter. Though no one we invited went to the activity, it was an incredible activity for the youth and it really strengthened my testimony of the power of sharing our testimonies.

We had an awesome activity in the plaza! I got to go with Guillermo, a soon-to-be missionary and invite people to church. His enthusiasm was incredible!
At the end of the activity, it started to rain and we ran for cover.
We all got wet.
All of the missionaries are also a part of the stake choir. Last choir practice, the ladies had a tough part they had to learn how to sing. I got to teach it to them, using my hand as a guide as to how high the note was. It was super fun and a little silly as I had to sing a little bit in a very high pitch. It´s wonderful to feel useful and I am so grateful that God made it possible for me to stay in school choir for 7 years, even when I was tempted to drop it several times. I know He has blessed me and I love Him!

I am excited to continue to work with Elder Oliva. He has a powerful testimony and though we are not perfect, I know God is using us to do a mighty work here. He gives us the courage and strength we need to be His leaders.

Have a happy week!
Elder Cloward

Monday, April 17, 2017

Baptisms and a New Companion

¡Hola todos!

This has been a very crazy week! Santiago and Ramiro got baptized! I got to baptize Ramiro and Elder Sears got to baptize Santiago. It was a super rainy week and we jokingly said that everyone else got baptized too. We ended up having to pour a lot of rain out of our boots for how hard it rained. It was so happy to participate in their baptisms because we could just see in they´re eyes something different, something clean and happy. I know that God helps us to make these marvelous changes. The others who did not get baptized are preparing for these next few weeks. Please keep praying for Maria and Daiana Da Silva that they can feel ready and for Lidia that she can get married and overcome all of the complications.

Santiago and Ramiro got baptized! We are so excited for them!
We also had a ward mission activity in which we shared the new Easter video "Prince of Peace" and "Finding Faith in Christ." The Da Silva family all came and invited some friends too.

On Sunday, it rained really hard again and we went to look for the Da Silva family in taxi so they could make it for the conformations. Just when we got to their house it stopped raining, but the streets were still full of water. Santiago and Ramiro are going to receive the priesthood this Sunday!

It rained a lot this last week.
A lot of rain.
I am still in Centenario, but I have a new companion Elder Oliva. He´s from Cordoba Argentina. He´s 25, loves to sing, and is a good teacher. He´s been in the mission a little less time than I have. I´m super excited to get to know and serve with him!
My new companion, Elder Oliva
¡Que tenga una semana feliz!
Elder Cloward


General Conference!

¡Hola todos!

We´ve had a pretty busy week and this next week will be even busier! If everything goes well, five different people could be getting baptized this Saturday. Lidia has been trying to get married and baptized for almost two years now and finally everything is falling into place. She will be getting married this Friday and her baptism is on Saturday. We are so happy for her. The Da Silva family (Maria, the Mom, and her three children Daiana, Santiago and Ramiro) are also preparing for their baptism this Saturday. Last week, their testimonies in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and their desires to be baptized grew as they went to church. They want to be baptized, but they still aren´t sure about it happening so soon. They didn´t make it to the general conference either, so we will see what happens. Please pray for them!

We did divisions in Pirané with the Elders working there.
General conference was fantastic! It is two days where we get to listen to the living prophet and the 12 Apostles. It is really special because, knowing that they are inspired of God, it as if God Himself is speaking to us during their talks (Mosiah 3:13). I learned several things that I want to work on. I know that as we listen to and then follow the counsel of church leaders, we will become the people God wants us to be. We will find greater joy and fulfilment in our lives. I invite you to listen to and then follow the Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson. His words can be found here.

The English room for General Conference
It´s about to start! General Conference in the mission is like Christmas!
Next week, I could be in a different area with a new companion. Transfers are already here! I hope I stay. This is an amazing place and there are so many prepared people to teach and serve. We will see where God wants me to be.

Have a happy week!
Elder Cloward

French toast for general conference morning! Elder Sears made a sugary syrup too.

In between one of the sessions of conference, we bought a bunch of cool souvenirs in a cool part of the city.

Elder Sears fried the circuit breaker while he was showering. It literally caught on fire and melted!

The Joy of Service


Lately in my time here as a missionary, every week just gets better and better. I feel God´s blessings and I feel Him working through me to serve His children. I was thinking a little bit about what the difference is between now and the time that I was struggling a little more. Part of it is that the blessings are more evident: investigators come to church every week and many people are listening and progressing. I feel though, that God is helping me recognize and overcome my flaws and I am understanding more how He speaks to me and what He wants me to do. My calling as a missionary means more to me as I focus on inviting everyone to come to Christ through baptism. I have bad days sometimes, but those days are swallowed up in the greater and stronger joy I find as a servant of God.

This week was a little interesting because my companion got pretty sick and we had to stay in for a few days. It wasn´t fun, but I got to clean our pension "a little".

The pension before.
The pension after. (It took about three hours just to clean this room!)

We also did divisions and I went with Elder Marcolino, a younger missionary from Brazil. He taught me a lot while we were together. He reminded me that our missions are to help others be happy and that I should smile more often. He is a very happy missionary with lots of energy and a desire to do good.

Elder Marcolino and me.
This Sunday was a very happy day. The Da Silva family (Maria, Daiana, Santiago, and Ramiro) came to church again and this time, they stayed for all three hours. I got to teach the Principles of the Gospel class the second hour of church and we learned about the priesthood (God´s power given to man to direct His work on earth). I split the class into four groups and each group learned about a specific part of the priesthood. It was especially great because several members joined the class and helped the family to learn and feel comfortable. Afterward, I shared my testimony about the reality of the priesthood and how it has blessed my life. I felt the Holy Ghost testify too and I saw in the eyes of the family that they felt it too. What a happy feeling it is to feel God work through me to bless those I love. I hope to always be worthy to hear and obey God´s promptings to me. The Da Silva family is preparing for their baptism on April 8. Please pray for them that they can continue to strengthen their testimonies so they can feel ready that day!

¡Que tenga una semana feliz!
Elder Cloward

Elder Sears ready for P-day!

The Atonment of Jesus Christ is Real

¡Hola todos!

This has been a happy week. We are working with a bunch of people that are so close to their baptisms, the just have to overcome for themselves, their own obstacles. 

The Da Silva family. They are preparing to be baptized and just need to come to church a few more times. They are a happy family. (Ramiro (10) is missing here)

We did divisions with some of the other Elders in the zone (divisions is when companionships get swapped around for a day for learning and teaching purposes). I learned a lot with Elder Ordoñez. He is a great missionary from Ecuador who has been a member of the church for only two years. We learned together about how to invite those we teach to be baptized in the first visit. Our mission president invited us, several months ago, to invite everyone three times to be baptized using the Book of Mormon. Sometimes it is hard, especially when it seems like they will say no. I put it more fully to the test and realized how much easier it is if I don´t fear and trust in the promised blessings of God. In no way am I teaching something man-made, but from God. If they say "no" to God´s invitation, I invite them again, knowing that God will bless them for following him.

All of the Elders in our zone. They are hard workers.
In the mission, I don´t always learn new principles, but those principles become more real to me. We were talking about the Atonement of Jesus Christ in Gospel Principles class during church. We talked about how Jesus is the mediator between mercy and justice and it just made so much more sense than it did two years ago. It was funny though because it felt so out of place without an invitation to be baptized and live the gospel. Jesus saves us from death and from sin on the condition that we pay His price: obedience to the gospel. I love the simplicity of God´s plan. I love Him and His son Jesus Christ. I love this work they have called me to do. I know that God´s plan for us is real and the most important things we can do now are be obedient and help others follow His plan. I invite each of you, especially as Easter draws closer, to remember Jesus and share your love for Him with someone you know. I promise you that as you do, your love for Him will increase, that He will become a greater reality in your life, and that you will find greater joy and peace.

Have a happy week!
Elder Cloward

A view of life here. Our stoves are connected to a gas tank and we have a water filter that slowly drips into a jug. It takes about a day for it to fill up!

There are a lot of fruit and vegetable stores like this little one, just on the side of the road. I bought apples.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Forever Families

¡Hola todos!

This week, we met Diego, a great man that is trying to make difficult changes in his life. He is trying to stop using drugs. At one point, he recognized he needed help, but couldn´t find the help he needed. Now he is getting help and is trying to repent and be a better father. From the beginning of our visit, the spirit was very strong and he quickly accepted the invitation to be baptized. He told us, "God has given me a seccond chance and I want to take advatange of it."
We had to walk really far because we missed the bus to a far away neighborhood. Then no one was home, so we just walked a lot! It was fun because there was a lot of wind

Hermano Rivas, a really great member of the church, went fishing and caught us some lunch!

That´s a horse in the road. That isn´t uncommon here.

We all bought a dozen empanadas each for p-day today.

Another lady we contacted told us she wasn´t interested at first, but we talked about what we do and then insisted. She let us teach her and she told us that she had had so many bad things happen in her life that she had lost her faith. We testified that God loves her and that families can be together forever, even when some family members have already departed. As I write this, it feels even more personal. I just recently heard that my great grandma passed away. I know that I will see her again. We are a forever family! In holy temples, we can be sealed to our families and ancestors forever. I am sealed to her, to my grandparents, my close family, and so many more wonderful people. What a joyous reunion it will be after this life! I invite each of you to learn more about temples in the following link and prepare to be sealed to your ancestors. It is one of the happiest and most important things that you can do in life.

¡Que tenga una semana feliz!
Elder Cloward

Repentance is Real!

¡Hola todos!

This week we were super busy as zone leaders. We went to a zone leader meeting on Thursday and the next day we had another meeting relaying the informantion to the missionaries. We are pretty tired, but happy.

Elder Sears on the phone in the rain. 
This Sunday, Alejandro came to church again. He doesn´t always understand everything he is trying to learn, but he has incredible desires to become better and he accepted a date for his baptism! He is trying to stop smoking and needs a lot of help. Please pray for him!

Alejandro has already gone to church three times and he is trying to stop smoking so he can get baptized
The Dasilva family (Maria, the mom, and her children, Daiana, Santiago, and Ramiro), also came to church, but for the first time. We have been teaching them for over a month, so it was really exciting to see them make it to church. We shared 3 Nephi 13: with them and the spirit taught them a powerful lesson about putting God first. I love it when people are ready and the spirit teaches them!

Our area is awesome and there are so many people progressing!
I am happy to be a missionary! I love God and I know he loves me. Repentance is real. God forgives those who make mistakes as they come to Him with desires to change. Because of Jesus, we can change and find peace. 

Though the world is steadly growing worse, we don´t need to fear as we do our best and follow God. Families can be together forever through marrage in holy temples. I am so happy I can be will my family forever! Do all you can to be obedient and share with everyone this joyus message!

Elder Sears and me.
¡Que tenga una feliz semana!
Elder Cloward