Monday, November 26, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

It is always a unique experience to be a missionary during the holiday seasons.  As it got closer to Thanksgiving, we had a lot of invites to Thanksgiving dinner.  We ended up going to eat at our Ward Mission Leader's home with his family.  It was delicious food and it is always good to be with a family, even if it isn't my own.  

One of the highlights of Thanksgiving Day was that we were able to visit an older sister in our ward.  We were able to share about the difference between a temple and a church with her granddaughter's husband who is not a member. We also got to set up a time to go back and share more about the church with him. We had visited before a few times, but were never able to teach anything until Thanksgiving Day.  

On Thanksgiving morning, we also played ultimate Frisbee and ate chips and salsa at an indoor sports center that is owned by a member. There were a bunch of other missionaries there too. It was great!

Usually during the week there is a theme or pattern (it seems) to the lessons we teach.  This week it felt like we talked a lot about church and keeping the Sabbath day holy.  Something that really stood out for me this week is that keeping the Sabbath day holy is more than just a list of "do not’s" but also includes the list of "do's.”  Our Heavenly Father tells us what we need to do to be the most happy and to have the most peace in our lives.  This includes being careful how we spend our Sundays.  I am also so grateful for church.  It is nice to learn from all those around us.

I love you all and I am so grateful for the amazing examples you are to me.  I am grateful for your love and kindness and the light and hope you give to others.  Keep up the great work!  You are in my prayers.  Love, Sister Cluff.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving!!

I was writing in my journal last night about all of the miracles I have seen in the last week. It included setting 3 more baptism dates.  It is going to be a white Christmas with all of these baptisms coming up.  I am soooo excited.  
In David's last letter to me, it talked about how time flies by when you are doing something worthwhile, or something you are really engaged in.  I feel that way when I am helping someone prepare for baptism.  For me, seeing these individuals’ progress and work towards baptism is incredible!  You see the light in their faces.  It reminds me of a scripture, Alma 5:15,19, which talks about Christ and receiving his image in your countenance.

I want to share an experience with you from this last week; this man's faith is truly amazing.  Last week we invited a man named Todd to be baptized.  He was really excited and happy that he could be baptized.  We told him that we felt inspired to invite him to be baptized on December 1st and we invited him to pray about that date.  When we went back last week, his friend told us what Todd had told him after we left. (Todd's co-worker invited him to learn from the missionaries and he also sat in on the lessons.)  He told us that Todd said that if we felt inspired to ask him to be baptized, that that was his answer.  It was a very amazing experience.  Todd has a ton of faith!  He is able to recognize the spirit because he feels so happy during the lessons and when he is learning on his own.

I am so grateful for the gospel.  I am grateful for the joy that can be found in it.  I am so grateful for my family and friends.  Life wouldn't be nearly as great without all of you.  I am grateful for my Savior and all that he has done for me.  I look forward to focusing on his life and birth this Christmas season, especially.  I am grateful that He not only died for us, but lived for us and showed us the way we need to go to return to our Heavenly Father.  I am grateful for the Book of Mormon.  A few days ago, our mission president gave us each a special copy of the Book of Mormon to highlight all of the names of Christ, because the Book of Mormon truly testifies of Him.  It is an amazing thing.  Today I decided to start this beginning of the book of Ether. It brought a sweet spirit.

I love you all so much!  Thank you for all you do!  I love you!  Love, Sister Cluff.

Co-driving & Double Baptism

So many things have happened this week, but right when I try to write I forget. But here are a few things I can remember….

I get to be the co-driver again!  President W, who is in charge of the vehicles, said that we can both drive in this area.  This is pretty sweet. [Usually the senior or more experienced missionary will be responsible for driving.]  This last week my companion, Sister S, has been driving so she can get to know the area a little bit better.  It is hard to know where you are going when you are the passenger.  She is doing great and knows the area just about as good as I do.  I hope I can continue to get better at learning new places like she has.  We both feel like it is good for her to learn the area in case she has to take it over. Or in other words, in case I get transferred out.  We will see what the next transfer brings.  We still have a month until transfer calls.

It has also been snowing a bit this last week, but nothing much is sticking.  It reminds me of being home for Christmas.  I’m getting that Christmas spirit even though it is before Thanksgiving.

We had two baptisms last night.  One was for a 9-year old named Tatum and the other was for a single mom named Jennifer.  They are not related and we didn't teach them together but we had a double baptism and it was great!  I love baptisms soooo much!!  It is just so special to be able to witness someone making those special promises with our Heavenly Father. Baptisms are always miracles.

I love you all! Thank you for all the good you do!  Love, Sister Cluff.

Stake Conference and (non)Politics

This week has been great!  We have had the chance to meet with so many awesome people.  We also had stake conference [a “stake” is made up of multiple congregations in a specific geographic area] this last weekend.  For our conference we had a broadcast from our church leaders in Salt Lake City. Elder Quentin L. Cook was presiding.  We also had Sister Dibb speak and a few others. The main theme was missionary work. Elder Cook talked a lot about the new change in missionary age.  Since some missionaries will be leaving home earlier, more preparation for missionary service needs to happen before the MTC [Missionary Training Center].  Time at the MTC is also going to be shortened. Elder Cook said that just because the age was lowered, it didn't mean everyone ought to or should go out at that earlier age.  I think this was very wise counsel because being a missionary is hard. Some other topics covered during the conference were:  family mission plans, how to help your marriage, how to keep progressing, serving your neighbor, etc.  It was a really great conference.

My Dad asked if I would share what happens when someone brings up politics.  As you may or may not know, we can't discuss politics as missionaries. I have had quite a few times over my mission where we knock on doors and the person who answers says, "We're not interested, but we are voting for Romney." Sometimes they say "your guy" instead of Romney.  It is pretty funny.  I just try to respond that it is good they are voting.  I would say the same thing if they were voting for Obama too. I am not really interested much in politics right now so this isn't a hard mission rule for me to follow.  Sometimes it is non-members who ask and sometimes members who ask what we hear when we go out tracting.  Even though we don’t spend time talking about politics, it'll be interesting to see what happens with missionary work after the election.

I love you all so much! Thank you for all you do and your service. Keep up the great work!  Love, Sister Cluff.

Transfer Calls

This week has been really great.  We have seen so many miracles.  We have invited many people to be baptized and most said yes.  It is always so exciting when you see someone truly preparing to make those special promises.

I also got to help for our ward's service project.  The project was cutting wood for people in our ward who need it to stay warm and who can't afford it or can't do it themselves.  This includes some of the older people in our ward. Sister N and I were wood stackers because we didn't think it was very safe to be swinging an axe.  There were also nifty wood splitters that made splitting a log easier.  I found out that a cord of wood is 4 ft x 4 ft x by 8 ft.

We also had a ward Halloween party that same night and many people were wiped out from the hard work.  We only stayed for a few hours.

Our biggest news of the week was that we got transfer calls.  Are you ready?  I am..... staying in the same place!  My companion is going to a different area with an awesome companion.  And my new companion is going to be Sister S.  I believe she is from Utah.  She is a cosmetologist and she is also awesome!  I lived with her in same apartment for a period of time.  We had a blast together.  She also lived close by another area that I served in previously.  She has been a missionary longer than I have, she will be going home the end of January.   I am excited for this new transfer.  It is going to be a great companionship for us and the people we are working with.

Well, family, I don't have too much time to write today so I better get going. I love you all. And don't worry, I am doing well. Love you!  Love, Sister Cluff.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Snow and Spiders

Yes, it snowed this morning.  We kept hearing rumors all this last week that there was supposed to be snow showers on Saturday, then Sunday, and finally when we woke up this morning it was snowing.  It was snow showers.  It alternated between big fat flakes and almost rain. Luckily it is not sticking too much to the road and seems to be clearing up. Unfortunately a little snow means winter is here.  I broke out my big coat this weekend because a missionary Elder asked if I was freezing in my sweater.  I said “yes” and that is when I knew I was really cold. The Elder who talked to me is from Mesa, Arizona.  He was shivering with his big coat on. I wish our car had a thermometer.  I feel like it would be nice to know exactly how cold- cold was on that day.

 We have also had a lot of experiences with spiders this week.  First there were several little baby spiders that were on Sister N's side of the car.  One dropped down from the ceiling on its little web and she got it out the window.  The other one was somehow trying to crawl in the car after we were stopped.  Sister N tried to kill it by slamming the car door on it a few times.  It was super funny.  These spiders were so tiny you could hardly tell it was a spider.  My other spider adventure happened when a pretty big, brown, hairy spider dropped right in front of my face while we were eating at a restaurant (a member gave us a gift card for dinner). I was brave after internally freaking out for a few seconds.  I killed it in my paper napkin.  It was probably one of the most alarming spider experiences I have had.  Yuck!  Luckily, we were done eating because my appetite was gone after that.  And last but not least, we had a cat spider (maybe it is the same thing as a wolf spider, we are not sure) living by our outside light that we had to walk under.  It was probably the size of a dime (legs included) and we couldn't deal with it.  We also couldn't kill it because it was too big so Sister N caught it in an old Jelly jar and we gave it to a spider loving lady in our ward.  I wanted to get the missionary Elders to come and kill it, but catching it and giving it away works too.  The “cat spider” lived under the light for less than 24 hours and I named him Kitty.  I did not like riding in the car with him, especially since Sister N kept checking him to make sure he was okay in the jar. I wanted nothing to do with the spider. I have had enough of spiders for a while…including Halloween decorations.

Now, on to something more spiritual than spiders and snow.  This last week we set two baptismal dates with people.  I feel like it is always a miracle when someone is preparing and working towards baptism.  It’s exciting when they understand they are preparing to make promises to God to keep the commandments and always remember the Savior. 

I don't think I have any other exciting news to report. I love you all! Thank you for all the good you do!  Love, Sister Cluff.


It's Autumn Time

Let’s see… what happened this week?

We had interviews with our mission president, President Y, this week.  We didn't know we had interviews until Friday, when we got called.  We were told there is a senior missionary couple in our district who was picked for a video.  The Church is making a short documentary to encourage more senior missionaries to serve and also explain a little more about what senior missionaries do.  I am so glad I was not the “spotlight” but just one of the extras as our meeting was getting filmed.  During the filming, I got to accompany two sisters singing a duet to "How Great Thou Art."  In case you didn't know, it is kind of a hard song (2 flats) so I decided to just play the top hand.  It worked out fine, but I just felt like sort of a wimpy pianist.  My companion and I also were asked to teach part of the Plan of Salvation.  I was a little stressed out.  On the bright side, it is always fun having one-on-one interviews and talking with President Y and Sister Y.  It feels like they’re my parents while I am far away on my mission, even though I only see them about once a month.

This past week, I also got to find out where the hospital was in our current area.  There is a less-active sister who had a surgery.  It was good to visit her even though she was hurting.  I am glad we were able to brighten up her day a little.  I like doing good works.  I want to do more things like this in "real life" (aka after my mission).  I am also thankful to be well and not have to be in the hospital right now.

On the way to church yesterday, it was beautiful.  Fall is definitely in the air.  All of the leaves were changing colors and the wind was blowing and there was that nip in the air.  It is crazy how one day it suddenly hits you that it is Autumn.  The other day I was singing "It's autumn-time. It's autumn-time. The leaves are falling down.  It's autumn-time. It's autumn-time. It's all around the town."  [Lyrics of a song that young children learn in Primary, the meeting held for children age 3-11]  Thanks mom, for singing that while we were growing up.  It made the song so special.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true.  I am so very grateful for it and for our Heavenly Father's goodness and mercy.  I love you all.  Thank you for all the good you do in the world today.  Enjoy that autumn weather!  Love, Sister Cluff.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cave Adventures

This is how Sister Cluff looks underground
 with windblown hair and paint
on her shirt from a previous service project.

Today was a fun activity for our missionary district.  We explored a cave.  

Sister Cluff, Sister N - a blurry cave photo

The Dark Hole... or cave entrance

Inside the Cave

We were equiped with a lot of glowsticks, water, flashlights, etc.  It was fun.  Also, it was safe and approved.  No worries!  

Sister Cluff's new companion - Sister N from Utah

Hope you enjoyed seeing the pictures of our fun activity!

Yea! More Missionaries!

I was so excited to hear the announcement at General Conference about changing the age of missionary service. [Note:  The first presidency of the church announced on Oct. 7 that young men could now serve missions beginning at age 18 and upon completion of high school or its equivalent.  Young women could serve missions beginning at age 19.  The previous age requirements were age 19 for young men and age 21 for young women.]  Elders being able to go out at 18 will be great.  And, sister missionaries going out at 19 is awesome too.  There will be more missionaries!  I am soooo excited and happy about that.  It reminds me of the talk during General Conference that talked about sharing the load.   It is a lot easier to share the load with more missionaries and also more members helping out.

This week it got cold up here.  I am not sure what the temperature is but I saw frost on the ground and slipped on my first ice.  Someone left their sprinklers on and white does not always mean the sidewalk is clear.  I slipped first on one foot then on the other and then on the first again.  Luckily I didn't fall down.  I am going to have to learn how to walk on ice again or maybe I could just sprinkle some salt on my path as I go.  It is not really that icy yet and I am not ready to break out my heavy winter coat yet. 

Also this week we got to meet some golden investigators.  It is a family with a mom, dad, and 2 little girls.  I am excited to keep teaching them.  The way they became interested in the gospel was that as the mom met with co-workers for the first time she could sense something different.  Most were Mormon.  She has been on looking at the church.  She could feel the spirit that the members had with them.  Member missionary work is very, very important and worthwhile. 

I love you all so much!  Thank you for your great examples.  Thank you for your support.  Love you!  Love, Sister Cluff

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Exciting Driving

Damage to Car - side view

I guess the biggest news this week was I hit a deer on Thursday morning!  We were all meeting together as missionaries to play dodge-ball or basketball.  So this was about at 6:25am and it was still dark.  It wasn't around a turn or anything but it was a dark stretch of road.  I suddenly saw a brown furry thing.  It was a deer and I hit him.  Sister N and I think it was about a 4 point buck.  He was running across the road coming from the driver's side.  He didn't fly up which was lucky for us because there could have been a lot more damage. He sat up, and looked dazed after we hit him.  Someone called the cops for us.  I was directing traffic around our car and the deer. (Yes, Mom I put on my emergency blinkers.) 

Busted Headlight

There was a lady who said she could have tagged him for us if it wasn't past deer season.  She was a hunter.  I decided once again, that I never want to hunt. When the policeman arrived, he said that we could go and he would probably have to put down the deer.  He probably had a couple of his legs broken.  We were pretty shaken up, but we are okay now.  I decided to write you about it since Sister Y took a picture of us with the car and wanted to put it on the mission blog.  I figured I better tell you before that happened!  It was unpreventable so I am not in trouble.


More Scratches

We had zone conference the next day and our accident was the talk of the zone.  All the Elders kept wanting to look at our car.  One Elder said that we were really lucky it didn't cause more damage (believe me, I know).  He said he hit a pheasant with his truck and it left that much damage. 
Luckily President Y and all the adults were very understanding.  I even got teased about being a Bambi killer, by President L (he's in our mission presidency) but did it in a loving way. I knew he was teasing which weird enough helped me feel better about it. We also got a replacement car while this one is being fixed. It is actually a car I have driven before in another area.

We are continuing to do good work over here.  This is one of the friendliest wards I have ever been in. We are working on helping members with their family mission plans.  It is exciting to tell stories of member missionaries and their efforts.  I have told some of Dad's stories about home-teaching.  Thanks, Dad for your great example!

I love you!  Thank you for all you do.  Love, Sister Cluff
P.S. Mom, I am fine, really.

My New Area

I was asked a lot of questions about my new area and my companion so I am going to try to answer them. 
It is very green here and smells like pine trees.  It also smells smoky due to the forest fire nearby.  So, every time I go outside I feel like I am going camping.  Some of the homes also feel cabin-y, at least from the outside.  I hear there are a lot of mountains but I haven't really seen them due to the smoke. It is a high desert area.  It reminds me of camping in the mountains of Arizona, except with rivers.  I hear there is not too much rain here.  I just keep hearing about the snow.  Some years I guess it snows 3 feet and other years it snows maybe once.  I hear it is usually above freezing and then drops below (lowest is the high teens) during the night.  Right now it is hovering in between the 60-80's where a sweater is starting to sound like a good idea outside.
My new companion is Sister N, she is from Ivans, UT (near St. George).  She has been out 3 months and had 2 transfers.  I am her first companion after her trainer.  I think she is figuring out how I am different and similar to Sister K (her trainer).  Sister N hasn't told me how I measure up yet.  I think she is still calculating.  She is great!  She was really quiet with Sister K but has had to speak up since I have been here, because I know nothing about the area.  I don't know if I could even make it home without the GPS yet. 
The ward is great out here.  This area hasn't had sister missionaries in a really long time.  Sister missionaries just came in about 6 months ago, so we are novelties still.  It is fun and they treat us well.  The ward boundaries are bigger here.  It is quieter during sacrament meeting, because there are not as many children.  In my last area, there were a lot of children, so it is different.  I also have found some "family" here.  There are some Laytons here, and yes they are descendants of Christopher Layton.  They have the book and everything.  I also found someone who is related to the 2nd president of BYU (Benjamin Cluff, I believe).  There are also a couple of others who have the Cluff name in our ward.  I think they are less-active but I want to meet them.
The work is going good here, it can always be better but there is a lot of hope.  It is starting to get dark earlier and people don't really like strangers knocking on their door after dark.  Right now we are trying to schedule appointments at that time, and meet with people who just moved in to the ward, and hopefully start teaching more people during that hour.
I love you all!  Thank you for all you do!!!  And I love your letters!  Love, Sister Cluff

Packing and Moving

Yesterday was transfer day.  I was travelling all day.  I decided to send pictures of packing and moving.  All three of us were transferred out of this area because it is time for Elders to take over.  We are excited for this change because most of the people we were working with were men.  This will be great for the incoming Elders.  One of the Elders is a brand-new missionary.  They will see a lot of miracles there.

Bags are packed!  Sister Cluff's bags are the cute multicolored ones in front. 

I was moved to a new area.  This meant a 2.5 hour ride north towards the mission office and then another 3.5 hour drive in a westerly direction.  During the trip, I got to see a beautiful water fall. 

Beautiful Oregon Waterfall

Sister Cluff

What I know about my new area:

1. There are a lot of tourists.

2. It is the snow-iest place in the Oregon Eugene mission.

3. It is beautiful.

4. There is a forest fire not too far away and right now it is a little smoky, so I can't really see the mountains.

My new companion is Sister N.  She is great!  She is from the St. George area as well.  Sister F was from that area too.  Sister N has been studying to be a theater technician at Utah Valley University.  And that's all I really know about her.  I am sure I will know a lot more by next week.
I am excited to be here and see all of the miracles.  I love you all!  Thank you for all you do!  Keep up the great work!  Love, Sister Cluff

Short Report

There is not much to report on this week.  We talked to a lot of people, taught quite a few lessons and picked some pears.
I guess one of the most exciting things was that we platform-picked pears.  This involves a large machine with a platform you stand on and it drives slowly along the row of trees.  You pick pears as fast as you can.  We also got harnessed in.  It was really hard work but a lot of fun.  I felt like an old lady later in the day, but it helped me appreciate my body that works well.
The work of the Lord is rolling forth.  It is a great thing to see and I am so very grateful I get to be part of it. 
I love you all and I continually keep you in my prayers.  Thank you for all you do for me.  I have been richly blessed to have such great family and friends.  I love you!  Love, Sister Cluff

Picking Pears

Fall is coming!  The leaves aren't changing yet but it is about 15-20 degrees cooler.  It has been wonderful!  And there are more leaves on the ground than before. 

In this area, there is a church-owned pear orchard.  Every member, 12 and up, has been asked to donate 12 hours to picking pears.  It is great!  We went on Saturday for the first time and it happened to be the day people from my previous area were assigned to help.  IT WAS AWESOME!!!  I got to see some of my recent converts (one got baptized after I left), and some other wonderful ward members who I love.  Also, picking pears was really fun.  I learned the proper technique and I when I grow up I want a pear tree.  Sister W said my pear tree wouldn't have that good of fruit.  The pear trees there had a ton of pears and they were big and beautiful.  The Lord truly blessed the pear harvest.   This was definitely a highlight of the week.

Another highlight from this past week is that we got to go to the temple right after I finished emailing you last week.  It was amazing.  It was like a breath of fresh air.  I really missed the temple and the peace and love you can feel there.

We also might have a baptism coming up.  It is for a little boy named Eli.  He is 11 and I sure wish Andrew [Sister Cluff’s little brother] was here to be his buddy.  He likes robots and building things also.  We are excited for his upcoming baptism.  His parents are not active members but they want him to be baptized.  Eli has already memorized the first 3 Articles of Faith [The Articles of Faith are 13 statements about basic Church beliefs.] in his first 2 Sundays at church.  I love helping people get ready to be baptized.  It is such an exciting time in their lives.

Thank you for all you do and I will keep you in my prayers.  Love, Sister Cluff

Missionary Conference

This last week we had some exciting things going on.  Our mission had a conference that included leaders visiting from Church headquarters.  We had the presiding bishop there, a member of the Quorum of the Seventy [Elder Snow], an apostle [Elder Andersen], and one of the presidency of the Seventy. 
On Thursday, Elder Snow spoke to us.  He is the Church historian and a member of the Quorum of the Seventy.  It was great.  He talked to us a lot about how we can become better missionaries so that we can be better servants of the Lord.  One thing he said that stuck out to me was how we needed to become excellent missionaries.    This means more refined in all ways including the way we look, teach, talk, etc. I have really been thinking about this. 
One funny story Elder Snow told was about a missionary from the south he knew when he was a mission president.  This missionary started each sentence with "I tell you whut" and when he was talking with President Snow it was "I tell you whut, President" in a heavy southern accent.  It was really funny.  My companions and I like quoting that.  That missionary was filled with faith.  He told President Snow they were going to have 25 baptisms in a low baptizing area.  Up until then, the highest record had been 3 baptisms in a year for that area.  By the end of that year, there were 33 baptisms!  So many people were converted to the gospel.  It was amazing!
            Elder Andersen's meeting was great too.  Elder Andersen told of some personal experiences he had when he was with President Monson to celebrate his upcoming [85th] birthday.  It was great. 
All together for our conference, there were about 250 people there.  It was in the chapel and the overflow area (the little area behind the chapel, not the cultural hall) of a church building.  About 200 missionaries attended and the rest were people who drove us to Eugene.  It was a very special experience.  It felt really good.
We have a temple trip this afternoon and my time to write is about up.  We are on the 1 hour library computers.  I love you all!  Thank you for all the sweet letters, prayers, thoughts, and support.   It is always so good to get your letters.  It is one of the highlights of my day.  Love,  Sister Cluff.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Exciting Events Coming Soon

Our sister missionary trio has been going great.  We all have fun together, and I feel like we work well together too.  It has been a good week but nothing is really standing out to me to write about so I will share the things that are on my mind.

There are a couple of exciting events coming up this week.  An apostle is coming!  It is Elder Anderson and he is coming on Saturday.  We are excited.  There is also a member of the Quorum of the 70 [group of church leaders] coming, Elder Snow.   There are going to be two different meetings and it is going to be great!

Oh, and next week's P-day [preparation day] is going to be different.  P-day is going to be on Tuesday instead of Monday.  We are going to the temple next Tuesday and so our P-day gets switched to that day too.  I am soooo excited!  I haven't been to the temple since my MTC [Missionary Training Center] days.  This experience has taught me how special the temple is and how much I want it to always be a part of my life.  It will have been 11 months since I last attended the temple.  And, I never want to let 11 months pass before going to the temple ever again in my life.  It is a special way to remember the covenants that we have made with God.

Well, I am about out of time to write.  I love you all.  Thank you for all the good you do in the world, and keep going!  Love, Sister Cluff.

Service in Skirts

On Saturday we were driving back to our apartment for lunch and in our apartment complex we saw a moving van being unloaded.  Sister W and I decided we needed to offer our help, even though we had just been tracting for an hour and a half in the hot weather.  It was about 105 degrees that day.  We were expecting to hear "No thanks.  We got it covered.  Thanks for the offer."  This is the answer we normally get when we are wearing our skirts and looking all missionary-y.  But luckily that is not the answer we got.  They said that they would love our help.  It was a young dad, his father-in-law, and I believe a sister-in-law (young teen) who were doing all of the moving.  He told us that it was a crazy coincidence that we showed up because he had been praying a lot more in the past week.  God answers prayers.  I don't know what he prayed, but I am grateful we were there to help with the last half of the moving truck.  And I felt like I could sympathize with moving, since our family has moved many times.  The last part of the move is always the hardest and a great time to have fresh help.  I was so grateful that Heavenly Father gave us the prompting to ask even though it didn't seem likely that we would get to help.  It is always good to help someone in need.

And in case you wanted to know I am still in the same area with Sister W but we have an exciting new addition.... We are going to be in a trio!  Sister R is coming down from Roseburg.  It will be fun to hear how my old area is doing.  Transfer day is always crazy and Sister R is going to be coming in soon so my email is going to be a little short.

I love you all so much!  Thank you for all you do!  I’ll write again to you next week.  Love, Sister Cluff.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Teaching, Sisterhood, and Make-up

This week had an amazing miracle.  On Monday we were going to teach these 3 little kids (well 2 little kids, one is way too little to listen).  Their mom is a member, not currently active, but their dad is not a member and he didn't really have any interest in learning for himself.  When we talked to the parents, they said the kids wanted to learn about Jesus.  On Monday when we went over to teach the kids, the dad had a bunch of questions.  He said he had been doing research and wanted to know what he needed to do to join the church.  He loved how family centered the church is.

This taught me once again that God knows what he is doing.  He teaches and prepares people to hear the gospel.  Some of those people are around us.  It is up to us to keep our eyes open so we can recognize and help those people who have been prepared.  I wish I had shared the gospel more before my mission.  I didn't realize how important it is to share.  I would rationalize to myself that it is just another church.  But it's not.  It is the way to return to Heavenly Father.  The gospel explains where we were before, what our purpose is here on earth, and where we are going.

This past weekend there was a Relief Society [church organization for women ages 18 and up] sister's retreat.  Sister W, my companion, and I got to be there because there were 4 sisters we were working with who were either less-active or recent converts.  On Friday night there was dinner, a fireside, and swimming --but we didn't do the swimming part.  Then on Saturday, there were a few classes and one of them was a class about make-up. 

We went to the make-up class.  So, I am kinda stubborn.  I am pretty sure Sister W didn't believe me when I told that to her before.  I knew what I wanted and what I didn't want for make-up that day.  There were these cards that had how to do a certain make-up look.   The card that I picked out (or people picked out for me because it was purple and would look good with my eyes) was an “evening out/elegant look.” I didn't like it when I tried it so I took it off. Sister W decided she was going to do it for me.  I wasn't having any of that that day.  I had decided it wasn't happening and that was that!  It was partially because of the dramatic make-up look and since I was just going to be going tracting, I didn't think it was appropriate in that situation.  She tried a few times to help me and I blocked her-- one of the talents I learned from having an older brother.  Did I mention that I won?  Haha.  It was funny.  Some things just don't change.  And yes, I do wear make-up every once in a while. 

 By the way, our recent convert did great!  It was great to see the sisterhood being developed.  It was also good being there to encourage the other people that we meet with.

I’ve shared a little of my week’s experiences with you.  You got to read about some seriousness, a funny story, and a spiritual experience.  I hope life is going well for all of you.  I love you!  Keep up the great work!  Love, Sister Cluff.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Here a Cluff, There a Cluff...

I am so glad I have a family to write to.  Thank you for all of the support you give me. 

One of the most exciting things for me is that we got our own car this week.  Sister R and her companion just came in last transfer (about a month ago) to a ward that is adjacent to ours.  Some elders wrecked a car, so therefore we have been sharing the car.  We got to use a car for half of the week.  It really makes you appreciate the members when they give you rides and share their air-conditioning.   I am glad it is not too hot here.  On Friday, we got a 2011 Toyota Corolla.  It was almost like Christmas!  I have driven more different cars on my mission than drove in my pre-mission life.  It is crazy.  I am starting to get an opinion of what I like in a car and what I don't.  I don't know if that is very good.  Oh, well.  It is fun driving a Toyota again.  It reminds me of our little Camry.  I was driving a Subaru before.

So, funny story.  Ever since I got here I have heard that there are Cluffs in another town about 25 minutes away.    (No, I haven't met them yet.)  But since I have been in here, I hear about them at least 3 times a week.  My standard answer is that we are probably related… but only if they are good, otherwise, we are not related.   I guess we are related because they sound like good ones.  There are also some more Cluffs somewhere in a different direction.  They have twin boys on missions in Brazil.  They are in our stake and I saw their missionary pictures on a ward mission bulletin board.  I met a sister yesterday whose maiden name is also Cluff and she said she was pretty sure they were related back to Benjamin Cluff.  A guy we met while tracting said I looked like the Cluffs in the other town and that I must be related.  I wish he was interested in learning more about the Church.  I liked him.  I love our family!  Maybe one day I will serve around the locally famous Cluffs.  I wonder if they like to play Uno too.

Mom requested a story about the funniest or most awkward mistake I have made so far on my mission.  Here it is:  I have asked probably about 10 people (non-members we tracted into) if they were members.  It is kind of awkward.  Sometimes they just seem like they would be members.  Sometimes it is how they respond, like the missionaries are their friends already.  In most of my areas it could very well be that they are a member and I don't know them yet.  I did this here in this area and Sister W, my companion, was really embarrassed and said, "I will let you know if they are a member."  (She actually knows all of the members in the ward.)  I sometimes have a hard time with names and faces.  One time an investigator who made it to church.  I thought she was just a regular ward member because my brain recognized her as someone I knew... but I didn't connect the dots.  Missions are definitely an adventure.  I have a lot of stories, sometimes they just require a trigger, so thanks for the question, mom.

I love you all, and I might try to reply to some of the other questions next week.  Thank you for your support and prayers!  Love you! 
Love, Sister Cluff

Meeting People

Today we finished up painting birdhouses.  It was great!   That is why the email is coming a bit later than normal.  We will usually be emailing after noon, more like 1-3pm because the library doesn't open until noon on Mondays.

This week we have had a lot of success.  We have been out finding people a lot this week.  When you are on your mission you are continually finding new people to teach and work with.  We are building up our investigator/teaching pool currently.  It is hard work but really exciting when you do find people who are ready.  I have such high hopes for these people.  

Everyone's story is so interesting.  I think one of the things I love about being on a mission is meeting people and learning their stories.  You all know how much I love stories. 

Well, family and friends... I keep running out of things to say.  My life just seems so routine.  There are highlights though; one of them is an investigator who is going to be getting baptized.  It is always so good to see them determined to do what they know is right.  I love you, my friends and family.  Keep up the great work!
Love, Sister Cluff