Sunday, May 6, 2012

Baptism Commitment

I love being able to write to you and hear from you even if it is only once a week.  It brightens my day.

Our miracle baptism:  Sister F and I have a few baptisms coming up, one of the baptisms is for a girl named Lauren.  Some elders had tracted into Lauren about a month and a half ago.  We were finally able to contact her a few weeks later.  We had set up a time but then it was cancelled with no successful appointments following that. Last week we got a really long text at 1AM and Lauren said she had felt herself slipping away from God and wanted to meet the next day.  

Sister F wanted to set a baptism date during that first lesson where we were getting to know her and her expectations.  We role played it and during the lesson Lauren brought up that she saw the success/happiness of her LDS [Latter-day Saint, Mormon] friends and she wanted that for herself even if that meant being baptized.  She was the first one to bring up baptism.  We were able to commit her to a day.  That day is Mothers' day which is also her birthday.  I love that the Lord puts people in your path who are ready.  I am so excited for her and this big step she is ready to make.  She is our miracle baptism because she does want to be baptized so quick.  Many of our other investigators have been investigating for months at least.
My companion, Sister F, doing dishes.

The baptism news was the biggest thing that  happened last week.  
I love you all!  
Thank you for all your letters! 
Love, Sister Cluff.

Scheduling vs. Sharing

Was anyone was holding their breath about my performance?  Just kidding.  I know you all had much more important things to think about.  Sister F and I did well though.  It was no concert or anything, but it was nice.  We got compliments; I am not exactly sure what that means.  Elder B was there with his wife.  He was recently released as a member of the Quorum of the 70 [general church leadership].  They are going to Pocatello, Idaho soon, where he is going to be a mission president.

The weather here has been amazing!  It has been in the 70's and sunny.  It is weird to be hot, but awesome.

On Saturday we were tracting and the first person we talked to was a member.  The next few houses we tracted into had people who were not interested.  We kept persevering and we found someone by the name of John.  He said that he used to be Lutheran and that he used to not be very nice to missionaries because they seemed to knock on his door all of the time.  Since then, he had regretted that.  He had been having a rough day and didn't want to cause us to have a bad day.  John said one of the reasons he was open to hearing what we had to say was because we had kind faces.  I think it was also because the Lord was blessing us.  We had been studying that morning about finding when you teach and teaching when you find.  We have been working at teaching more when tracting, not just scheduling appointments or asking about the weather.  We also have been working on testifying and sharing the gospel to bring the Spirit into our brief encounters.

Last night we had an awesome meeting.  It was a fireside where we had recent converts speaking in our ward.  It was great to hear their stories and to hear how many different times members shared the gospel and how the Lord worked in their lives.  I know the gospel blesses people’s lives because I see it every day.  I see the effect that the Atonement can have when people use it.  It changes people for the better.  It makes their lives better. I am so grateful to be a part of this great work.
I love you all!  Keep up the great work.  Love, Sister Cluff.

Talent Show

So much has happened this week and then when I sit down to write it down, I forget.  How is that even possible?

In the CH Ward there is an annual talent show.  It is a pretty big deal and the missionaries, the Sisters and the Elders, always share their own talents.  So, from day one I told Sister F that we had to perform.   She took it all in stride like it was no big deal. 

I found out that we can both play the violin.  We have been on the hunt for two violins.  Monday night we attempted to find violins that members owned and it was surprisingly difficult to even find people who played the violin.  I thought playing the violin and playing the piano were normal things in the Mormon community, but it is very rare around here.   Brother and Sister H (Brother H is in the bishopric) took it on themselves to find us 2 violins.  This happened on Thursday night and the talent show was on Friday night.  We finally got 2 violins at about 2PM on Friday.  We created an arrangement that we practiced about 3-4 times.  Then we had to stop practicing to teach a couple of missionary lessons.  After that, we basically performed.  I was freaked out and Sister F tried to reassure me.  Her reassurance didn't work very well.  Anyway, it was very last minute but I played the violin in a talent show, a duet.

Sister F is pretty quiet but she is more outgoing in some ways than I am.  She is teaching me to just go for it.  I am pretty sure she is training me.  She is very confident, sweet, and cute.  She is the youngest of 6 girls.  She kind of reminds me of Aunt Shawna, which is fun.  I am learning to whistle using my hands like Aunt Shawna does.  It is going to be my talent when I come home.  I just have to learn how to get consistent and be able to switch notes now.  I blew my first note this week!

Continuation of the talent story:  President and Sister Y came to our ward on Sunday and the ward told them how well we did playing our violins.  President Y asked us to play the musical number for the specialized training meeting.  That's what happens when you share your talent, I guess.  But it is good.  I will let you know how it goes.  It was fun to be able to play the violin.  It reminded me of playing at home with the family.  Another thought is how can you say no when you are serving other people? Jesus Christ served us in the best way possible.  He is always the ultimate example of service.

Well, family, I love you all.  I am sorry I am missing all the exciting things [graduations, wedding] that are happening but I will be thinking of you all this week.  I love you!  I expect some great (and detailed) letters next week.  Send pictures.  Love, Sister Cluff.

Fresh and New, Again

We are missionaries.  I once again learned that it doesn't matter who my companion is, because we all do the same thing.  Sister F is great!  She is from Santa Clara, UT (near St. George) and she is part Hawaiian.  She went to BYU Hawaii for school and worked at the Polynesian Cultural Center.  She is friendly and sweet.  She is not afraid to talk to anyone and everyone.  She even passed out a Book of Mormon to a man at the airport.  His granddaughter is a member and she was able to share more about the church.  She is a great missionary and I am excited to learn from her.

When you are teaching someone new [to the mission], they help you feel excited about the work.  Not that I was ever really burned out or anything, but missionary work feels fresh and new again.  It is fun to teach her about how to tract, to share my stories, and to share any other advice.  As a trainer, I help her know what we do and how we can improve [as missionaries].

I have a great example of why it is good to have a companion.  I had just parked the car and we were ready to tract some apartments.  Then, we saw a guy with a push mower, the old fashioned kind…the really old ones without a motor.  He was older and I didn't really want to talk to him, but then Sister F asked me if we should go talk to him.  I knew we should because I didn't really want to and I figured that was Satan trying to stop us.  Anyway, we went over and talked to him.  His name was Charles.  He said there were some Elders who came by another day when he was planting his garden.  He also said he was a descendant from the Mormons, from when there was polygamy and so he was from the 3rd or 4th wife.  [Note:  The practice of plural marriage was not taught after 1890.  Any member practicing polygamy today is excommunicated from the Church.]  He is really interested in family history and he noticed how his extended family, who were members of the church, were more united and seemed to have fewer problems than the family that didn't have religion.  When I first found out he had recently talked with Elders, the thought of just cutting our conversation short crossed my mind.  We visited with him for a few minutes.  Really, only God knows what our part in Charles' spiritual journey was on that day.  So, that is my fun tracting story of the week

Happy Easter, by the way.  Our Easter church services were all about the Savior and his resurrection.  All three meetings were focused on the Savior.  I loved it!  I love our Savior, Jesus Christ and how he has provided a perfect example.  I love that he suffered for our sins so if we act on the Atonement we can be clean.  And, he gave us a gift which is given to all -- that we will be resurrected.  It was good to have all 3 hours focus on it.  Our third hour of meetings was a class for the Chinese investigators where we reviewed what we learned in Sacrament meeting and Gospel Essentials [a class for investigators and those who are newly converted].  The chapter from the Gospel Essentials book happened to be the life of Christ which was perfect for Easter.  The Savior makes it so you can have a fresh start.

I love you all!  Good luck with all of your travels and God bless you!  I love you and I am thinking and praying for you.  Love, Sister Cluff.