Sunday, April 8, 2012

Trying to Be like Jesus

So on Friday we got transfer calls.  I am staying and Sister B is leaving.  It is kind of sad and kind of exciting.  I guess the most exciting/scary part is that I am going to be a trainer now.  My new companion is Sister F.  I get to go to training tonight and tomorrow.  Sister F flies in tomorrow.  It is going to be hard but really good.  This opportunity is going to help me grow whether I like it or not.  Ha ha.  I will grow as a person and as a missionary.  This upcoming training has been on my mind a lot lately.

I loved conference!  I think they get better and better and faster and faster every year.  One of my favorite talks (almost all of the talks were my favorite), was Pres. Uchtdorf's talk about forgiving and not judging.  When he talked about the story in the Bible of Jesus Christ and the adulterous woman, and how Jesus said, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." (John 8:7); I thought of myself and how often I judge people even though I feel like I am generally a good person.  I had the thought that when we judge/criticize/blame someone it is like casting a stone at them.  So one of the things I want to keep from conference is that determination to "drop" the stone of judgment that I create in my thoughts. I probably won't do this literally because it would look silly but I would like to start paying attention to how much I do judge and to "stop it" like Pres. Uchtdorf said.  I am also trying harder to forgive others.  I don't really hold many grudges but I can always do better.  I am trying hard to be like Jesus. And I really have come to love the Primary song, "I’m Trying to Be like Jesus."

I’m trying to be like Jesus;
I’m following in his ways.
I’m trying to love as he did, in all that I do and say.
At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice,
But I try to listen as the still small voice whispers,
Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught.

I’m trying to love my neighbor;
I’m learning to serve my friends.
I watch for the day of gladness when Jesus will come again.
I try to remember the lessons he taught.
Then the Holy Spirit enters into my thoughts, saying:
Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught.

Anyway, I love you all and the work is going.  I know this church and this gospel are true.  I love the spirit that you feel every time you choose the right.  I love the light and peace that comes into your life as you follow the Savior and use His Atonement in your life.  I am grateful for my Heavenly Father and everything he has given me.  I am grateful that I can share all of these things with people every day, all of these things that make me the most happy.  I love you!  Love, Sister Cluff.

Mission Snow Day(s)

In case you haven't been watching the weather, we got snow!  It actually stopped us from going out.  The first day it never really stuck much but it was constantly snowing and they didn't want us driving.  We got to deep clean the apartment and plan for the next week.  On Wednesday, we ended up being able to go out and drive at 4pm.  On Thursday, when there was about 3 inches of snow, we got to drive at 11am.  I was just thinking if we were anywhere else they would laugh at 3 inches of snow.  It may be because Eugene got about 8 inches of snow and I guess it was super dangerous so they kept most of the mission inside.
 My birthday last week was fun.  Sister C, Sister H, and Sister B got me a cookie dough ice cream cake from cold stone.  It was delicious.  The rest of my birthday wasn't as exciting.  I wrote letters and did laundry.  Everyone kept kicking me out of the kitchen when I snuck in there to help with birthday lunch.  It was weird.  But, we have a pretty small kitchen so I wasn't too sad to get kicked out.
We had interviews this week and that is where we get a one-on-one interview with President Y.  He is awesome and I always look forward to seeing him and Sister Y.  We also had training.  President is pushing the idea of becoming master teachers.  He wants real growth in this mission.  Real growth means that we aren't just trying to get numbers but we are trying to help people make and keep covenants.  It is a tricky thing to do but I feel like I am growing and learning every time I heed his counsel.  He is truly inspired and I trust him.  I also trust in the Lord that he will send me where I need to be.  It is hard sometimes but I can recognize the rightness of every action, you know? 
I love you all!!  Happy General Conference Weekend!!  [General Conference is where we hear from our church leaders who are at church headquarters in Salt Lake City.  The meetings are broadcast world-wide over a weekend, two times each year.]  Did you know that you can receive revelation from conference?  Go with a question and take good notes.  That's my plan.  I love you!  Love, Sister Cluff.
 P.S.  My keyboard is super annoying.  I am kind of a keyboard snob. (snob keeps wanting to come out as nob)  Anyway I just thought you would want to know -- at least it is not in another language like the one at the MTC!

P.S.S. I got my hair straightened today.  Sister C (the one in the picture) straightened it and did my make up.  I am not sure how I feel about eye-liner.

Birthday and Baptism

Dancing in the rain, anyone?

Happy Birthday to Me!  Thank you to everyone who wrote a special birthday note! 
I loved them all!!!! 
Thank you for all of the kind words.  Thanks for the packages too. 
And thanks to the other sister missionaries for helping me celebrate my birthday.

Happy Birthday Sister Cluff.

Lynzi's Baptism:   Lynzi's baptism was awesome!  I even got the chance to bear my testimony about the Savior and how he gave us a perfect example of baptism and how to live our lives.  It is through Him that change is possible.  I have seen such an amazing change in Lynzi.  She was pretty quiet and still is but she is not afraid to come out of her bubble.  She was so happy with each step she took.  She was excited after she "passed" the baptismal interview on Thursday night.  Really happy and felt amazing after her baptism on Saturday and she was super happy after she got the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Something she said that was really interesting to me was that she felt amazing after she was baptized, a kind of happy she had never felt before, and she felt a different kind of happy after she received the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Lynzi is a very special person.

A special day for Lynzi.

 My Spider Story:  We have had a resident spider living in Sister B's and my get ready/study room and at first I thought it was dead.  It was curled up in a ball but one of its legs was hanging out.  It was creepy.  It had really long spindly legs and couldn't even tuck them in.  It was probably the size of a dime including its legs if it was spread out.  Anyway, it lived in the corner by my dresser and I thought it was dead so I tried to fan it with a paper to see if it would phreak out.  I wasn't sure if it was alive.  It didn't move.  The next day it was in another corner of the room and but I never saw it move. I had been watching it for about a week - maybe more. Anyway, so one day I was getting ready and I hadn't put in my contacts yet.  I walked across the room and when I turned to walk back I saw something black hanging and coming down.  I quickly grabbed my glasses.  The spider was moving!  It was probably a little below eye level and it was crawling horizontal on a web thing.  I felt like it was going to attack.  I don't know how it was doing it but it was super creepy and I was really scared because I almost walked into it twice.  I didn't want it moving around anymore so I got up the courage and clapped it between my shoes.  It was super gross and when I tried to get it off my shoe it wouldn't come.  I did a “spider dance” [phrase coined by Dad when Mom gets excited over spiders and other creepy crawly things- includes jumping, shivering, and other signs of repulsion].  It was really gross. Luckily I didn't scream.  The other missionaries never even realized there was a crisis.  I didn't wear those shoes for a couple of days.  Ha ha.
Some Thoughts:  When I was in Sacrament meeting, they were talking about charity and the idea came to me that doing your best is always good enough because the Savior makes up the difference.  He can always make up the difference if you are doing your best.  The Savior makes up the difference through his Atonement.  The Atonement overcomes so many things and it is so amazing.  Our part in using the Atonement includes faith (which is both in word and in deed -- keeping the commandments is one way) and repentance (which includes changing who you are).  So, your best is always good enough.  What a comfort this is to me.
I love you all.  Keep spreading the word of the joy of the gospel, there are people looking.  Love, Sister Cluff.
P.S.  Oh, my scheduled departure date from my mission is April 18, 2013

Feelin' the Birthday Love.

Finding and Teaching

I always like holidays because it is something to get excited for.  This St. Patrick's Day is going to be really special because we are having a baptism!  It is for Lynzi.  She is 18 and she works at McDonald's with a few members.  She has really come out of her shell since she has been meeting with us and coming to church.  When we first started meeting with her, she was pretty quiet and you could tell that she felt uncomfortable.  She had been meeting with other missionaries before.  She already had taken most of the discussions and had a baptism date before we started teaching her.  It has been an interesting experience.   You definitely develop a love for those people even though you don't even know them well.

Another exciting thing was this Saturday we committed someone to be baptized!  We had a lesson with someone who has never really set a date to be baptized even though she knows everything and has been doing it for quite some time.  Her boyfriend is a member (He is currently in California) and so she went to church a lot with him.  She has been asked to set a date multiple times but this time we were super bold and the Spirit was there.  She said yes!  It was a sweet experience.

Another story from this last Saturday was that we were going to tract for an hour and then eat dinner.  Well, our first 20-25 minutes that we knocked on doors, only 1 person answered.  We knocked another door and an Asian lady said that she wasn't interested and shut the door.  We then proceeded to knock on her neighbor's door (we were in an apartment building).  The Asian lady, from the previous apartment, cracked her door open and asked us if we taught about Jesus Christ and the Bible.  We said yes.  We had told her before that we were sharing a message about Jesus Christ so I am not sure what made her open her door again.  She invited us in and we ended up teaching her a lesson.  We learned that Lee is here on sabbatical with her son from Korea.  She is an English professor with a PhD and teaches at a university.  She said that she has time to learn now.  I guess she had a colleague who was a member (he went to BYU) and he introduced her to the Church, but she never really got her questions answered and had been thinking about that ever since.  That was about 10 years ago.  We taught her for about an hour.  There was a language barrier but on our next visit we are taking a Korean member to teach Lee and her son.  It was a miracle.  She also gave us some food because we were going home to eat probably cold cereal.  She is amazing!  Look at how God prepares people to learn more.

I love you all.  Thank you so much for your support and love!  Keep sharing the gospel, who knows when it will touch someone's heart?  We all can help with the Lord's work.  Love you!  Love, Sister Cluff.

My Life

My Apartment:  is two bedrooms, 1 bath and it has an upstairs and downstairs.  Both bedrooms and the bathroom are upstairs.  There is a kitchen and living area downstairs.  One of the bedrooms Sister B and I use as a study area and it also has clothes in there.  The other bedroom has 4 beds (there is 1 bunk-bed) in it and the rest of the clothes.  I am on the top bunk of the kid bunk-beds.  They are short which is pretty good because there is no ladder just a few rock climbing rocks screwed in which I am not good at using... so I get to step on someone else's bed to get up.  Sister B sleeps underneath.  Luckily everyone sleeps pretty good and I haven't really heard much sleep talking happening.
My Companion:  is Sister B, who is amazing and is soon to be leaving.  She is trying to decide if she is going home in the middle of May or end of June.  She is leaning towards May because then she will get to be there for her little brother's high school graduation and get to be there more for him as he is preparing to go on a mission.  She is from Branson, Missouri and it was fun remembering that one time we drove through Branson.  There was a tornado there just a few days ago but everything is fine for her family.  She graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Sociology, or something like that.  She wants to be a counselor when she "grows up."  She is 24 and super amazing.  I want to learn as much from her as possible.
My ward:  is a Young Single Adult Ward.  It is bigger than the one in the Chicago area, but smaller than the typical Provo YSA wards.  It is a pretty good age spread, pretty even, maybe more older than younger people.  There are more girls than guys.  We have been teaching quite a few Chinese foreign exchange students.  We are actually helping teach an English class for them and they are helping us learn some Mandarin.  It is crazy and hard.  We work primarily with the sisters in the ward or the girl investigators.  We get to go to some of the activities, like FHE [Family Home Evening, held on Monday nights].  The whole ward goes to the same one here instead of being divided into little "families.”   We got to go to the CES [Church Education System] Fireside, etc.  So, in that way I almost feel normal but our purpose is missionary work.  It is weird seeing a bunch of YSA students going about living life, worried about classes, midterms, and finals.  It makes me almost miss school!
My Testimony:  I love you all and I know this church is true.  I see it bless people's lives every day.  I can see a change in them when they are doing what's right and keeping the commandments that God has given us to help us.  I love you!  Love, Sister Cluff.

Life without Walmart

Currently, I am in the C.H. Ward, which is a YSA ward [YSA= Young Single Adults, ages 18-30].  We help the sisters in the ward and the female investigators.  It is super fun.  Since we cover all of the YSAs in the stake [a stake is a grouping of several wards], we don't have to be as worried about leaving our area and getting permission to be outside of our area.  This is pretty sweet.  The Zone Leaders [missionaries who are responsible for overseeing other missionaries in a prescribed area] are serving in our ward and in another ward, called the P Ward.  I am living with 3 sister missionaries, my companion and another companionship.   It is super fun.  There is a church member here who owns Curves (the fitness place) and she lets us work out for free.  It is pretty cool.
It is crazy that there are so many similarities and differences between the various missionaries and the mission areas.  The current town I am serving in is much larger and also more compact.  It is an older college town, more like the places we have lived.  We have access to things… everything except a Target or a Walmart.  The people in this town decided they didn't want to run out all of the little stores by getting a big department store.  My last area also had the small town feel to it, but they at least had a Walmart!  But, I like it here and I don't have time to shop anyway. 
We have been teaching many cool people and it is fun to learn their stories and see how they are growing closer to Christ and changing so that they can return and live with their Heavenly Father.  I know this church is true.  I feel it in my heart.  I love you all!  Love, Sister Cluff.