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

Missionaries on Parade

Happy 4th of July!  We had most of our p-day on Wednesday afternoon/evening.  We had to be in by 8pm and didn't get to participate in any fireworks things.  But next July I can watch them.  In the morning we got to be in a parade with 6 other missionaries in Eagle Point.  It was fun, we were passing out cards and we had a float that said check us out on And we had a "dancing Book of Mormon". It was great.

We have had a busy week of finding people, parades, lessons, etc.  We also got to paint bird houses today with a member.  They are super fancy and I will have to send a picture of the finished product next week. 

I love you all!  Love, Sister Cluff

Acclimating in Oregon

I am trying to get used to the heat down here.  It is weird. 

My new companion is 5'2" and has blonde, straight hair.  I should have taken a picture.  Oh, well.  She is from Grantsville, UT and has 4 older half siblings in their 40's.  Her favorite flowers are Snapdragons also.  She is fun and a super fast talker and she loves to laugh and do missionary work.  She is always at it.  She is a really hard worker.

My area, like I said before is kind of hot.  It is more rural than the last two areas; it kind of reminds me of the Central, Safford, and Thatcher area in Arizona.  It is green, but has fewer trees and the grass is not super green.  But, it is beautiful and there are really good people here.  At church on Sunday it was so weird being in a family ward.  It was soooo noisy.  You can still feel the spirit in noisy chapels, if you are listening for it. 

President Young has asked all of the missionaries to be the first ones to bear their testimony on Sundays during Fast and Testimony meetings.  It is kind of nice not having an option because you can't talk yourself out of bearing your testimony then.  I bore my testimony about the Spirit working through other people to help bless your life.  I truly testify of that.  I have been on the receiving end and on the giving end.  I will never forget the time I was prompted to give flowers to a visiting teacher; it took a couple of weeks before I actually remembered while I was at the store.  I won't ever forget actually giving them to her.  She started crying and said she had been having the worst day ever and thanked me so much.  Since I have been on my mission I got a wedding announcement from that sister and she wrote a little note in there that said she would never forget the flowers that I gave her.  I am so grateful I was there and listening to the spirit.

Well, I don't have too much time.  We are busy building the kingdom of God.  We only have an hour to email today and then the rest of our p-day is Wednesday afternoon/evening.  I love you all!!!  Thank you for your letters and prayers!  
Love, Sister Cluff

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A New Area

I have been transferred.  Unfortunately, I don't have much time to write. 

We had an awesome baptism last week on Monday night.  Julie got baptized.  She was our miracle baptism. 

I am currently down in the southern part of the mission.  I’m still in Oregon, just a little north of the California border.  It took most of the day to get here.  I got down here at 2:30pm and left my last area at 9:30am.  It has been a long day and it’s not over yet. 

My new companion is from Utah, her name is Sister W.  I don't know her very well yet.  But, next week will be another story.  It is going to be great but hard.  I am the senior companion in an area I have never been in before.  Luckily, Sister W has been here thru a couple of transfers.  She is pretty new missionary I think. 

Sister F is taking over the last area, so I am leaving it in good hands.  That is such a relief.  Well, I love you all!  Thank you for your love and support! 
Love, Sister Cluff.

Teaching Moments

Hmm, what to talk about.... 

One of the most exciting things this week was that we set a baptismal date with an older sister.  She is 67 and we have a fellowshipper [church member who introduces a friend to the Gospel] who is 82.  It is so fun to have lessons with them.  No, really it is.  They tell all of their tales.  This last lesson we had we were going to teach about the plan of salvation but then Sister S (the investigator) said the only issue she had about being baptized was that she didn't understand why she needed to be baptized again.  It was amazing to feel the Spirit guiding Sister F and I in what we needed to say.  I was able to share an analogy I had thought of the other day showing why it was important that we have God's authority or the Priesthood power when the ordinance is performed.  It was something like this:  imagine a legal contract, there is the actual contract and then signatures on the bottom.  When we get baptized we sign our name and when it is done using the Priesthood authority it is as if God signs his name to the contract.  Baptism is like signing a contract, we make promises and God makes promises in return.  I kinda like my analogy.  I never realized before but I am an analogy kind of person.  Sister F was then able to share a scripture that talked about how when we strive to come close to God we feel good.  Sister S has a testimony of the Book of Mormon and believes that Joseph Smith was a prophet.  Now she understands why she felt good during her last baptism but why it is important to be baptized by someone holding Priesthood authority. 

I love helping in the work of the Lord.  It is just so good.  Yes, at times it is hard... but I think of people, like Sister S, who is going to be blessed as she makes her baptismal covenants and Julie who is going to be baptized in just a few short hours.  Life is good and it is even better with this gospel that helps us return to live with our Father in heaven.

I love you all!  Thank you for your prayers and letters (hint hint) I would love more letters.  Thanks to all who have written me.  I love you!  Love, Sister Cluff

P.S.  Transfers are coming again.  We will find out on Saturday what is going on.  On Monday, I may be moved.  I started packing today, because I am pretty sure either me or Sister F are moving… or both of us are moving. 

Sister Missionaries

(L to R) Sister S, Sister H, Sister F, Sister Cluff
These are the four of us who lived in the same apartment. 
Sister S and Sister H moved to another area.  Sister F stayed on as my companion and we stayed in the apartment. 
This picture was taken on May 14.

Baptisms, Baptisms

Last week was great!  Exciting things are going on in this area.
  • We had Lauren's baptism on Mothers' Day.
  • Tara's baptism was on June 2nd.
  • And... 
Chelsea was baptized on June 8. I have a funny story about her baptism.  The missionaries get to do the [intermission] part [of the baptismal service] while the people are changing [out of their wet clothes].  We decided to watch the Restoration DVD, which takes about 20 minutes.  While the movie was playing, we were asked if it could be stopped soon.  It does run longer than it takes them to get dressed, which takes about 15 minutes tops.  We were asked if we could then just bear our testimonies briefly. All this was communicated in note form during the movie.  We decided to stop the movie right after the first vision.  For some reason, the movie ended up “phreaking” out right when Joseph saw a pillar of light and going back to the menu.  It is a good thing I had the first vision memorized and was able to share what happened next. So, it was pretty exciting.  It is interesting how there is almost always some sort of a distraction/interruption during the first vision, or retelling of it.  Satan doesn't like it being shared that much.

We are getting ready for another baptism next Monday!  It is for Julie and we just set the baptismal date with her yesterday.  It was super exciting!  I’ll have more to share about that in a couple of weeks.

I love you all, and sorry I am not writing more.  Hopefully the pictures in the last few blog posts make up for that a bit.  Love, Sister Cluff.

Getting "Mugged"

This week has been great.  We were able to help Tara get baptized on Saturday.  Her boyfriend of 3 years, who is a RM [returned missionary], was able to come down and baptize her.  Even in a singles’ ward we help families become eternal, which I had never really thought of before.  It is a sweet thing.
Sister Cluff, Tara, Tara's Boyfriend, Sister F
This week we have been doing a lot of tracting (knocking on doors). On Friday we knocked on a door and there was this girl in her 20's, Julie, who has been dating a member and she told us that one day she was going to be baptized because she wanted to be married to James in the temple.  She came to church this Sunday.  She is so ready, but the sad part (for us) is she is going to be moving up to Portland for an internship this summer.  We only have 2 weeks before she goes up and we are also going to try to get her involved in a YSA [young single adult] ward up there.  I am so glad we tracted into her so that we can help the missionaries up there find her and teach her.  It is also good that we could help her have a "home ward" here as well.  She is a great miracle for us as well as for the missionaries up in Portland.... They don't even know how lucky they are yet.

On Saturday when we were tracting, we knocked on this guy’s door.  He served over in Iraq and he gave us 2 mugs that he made.  I wish I had taken a picture.  They were half blue and half purple and had faces on them -- one smiley one a little sad (but even the sad one was cute).  So we got "mugged."

I love you all so much!  Thank you for the nice letters and prayers and thoughts.  I am so blessed to have such a great family, how did I luck out?  I love you!  Love, Sister Cluff.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Member Missionary Work

You know how you forget everything the minute you sit down to the computer?  Yep, that happens to me too.

Are you wondering how our movie went last week?  As you recall, we passed out flyers for about 10 solid hours on campus, probably hundreds of flyers.  Our campus outreach had solid member turn-out but despite all the ward missionaries’ best efforts there were only 5 non-members, and 2 of those were from member efforts.  Members are vital to the work.  Missionary success is pretty meager without member help. This activity just showed me this to a greater degree, so will you all please make the effort to invite friends to activities?  I promise you will be happy you did.  Think of how great it would be if your friend, neighbor, etc. was sitting by you at church.   

We have a baptism coming up.  Yah for baptisms!  Tara is going to be baptized on Saturday night.  She has had a lot of members help her to get to this point.  She has gone to church (our church) off and on since she was in middle school and she is finally ready to be baptized.  She was scared to tell her parents, they reacted badly when she mentioned it about 3 years ago.  But, she decided and told them and the Lord smoothed her path.  Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ truly love us and watch out for each of us, we just need to trust in them. 

I love you all so much!  Thank you for all your prayers and thoughts. I love you!!  Love, Sister Cluff

Driving Around Oregon

Sister Cluff smiles and drives.

Here are a couple of photos taken along the roads of Oregon.


Electric Poles

Sprinklers in background.

Best view from car window.

First Sunburn

So, this last week was super sunny and nice except for the fact that I got a sunburn.  It wasn't too bad and it was mostly on the one arm.  I guess that was a big "first" of my mission, my first sunburn.  We spent time to handing out flyers on campus and I didn't even notice it until an hour and a half later, after we were done.  It was good though.  We are having a movie this week on campus.  It is the Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration movie.  It is going to be great.

This last week I found something really cool in the bible dictionary.  I think it is one of my favorite parts of the scriptures.  Under faith it says, "Faith is kindled by hearing the testimony of those who have faith.  Miracles do not produce faith but strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, faith comes by righteousness, although miracles often confirm one's faith."  I look at so many people and I see that.  Miracles don't automatically make you believe.  We look at people in the scriptures like the Israelites, Laman, Lemuel, and others, and see how they see these amazing things but they forget or disregard them.  We need to have faith first and miracles will help strengthen that faith that is already there.  Obedience strengthens faith as well, and the opposite is also true.  Disobedience destroys faith, it breaks it down.  These are just some of my thoughts.  Thanks for letting me share.

My week was pretty normal, we tracted, taught lessons, etc.  It was great.  Thank you for all of your support and love!  I love you all and pray for you every day.  Keep going!  Love, Sister Cluff.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Missionary Highlights

Yesterday’s Highlights:
I got to talk to you all, since it was Mothers’ Day, and there was a baptism.

The Baptism: 
The baptism went really well.  I was able to play “I Know that My Redeemer Lives” on the piano and it went pretty well.  I don't particularly like playing [the piano] in front of people.  Luckily, it wasn't my big day, but Lauren’s. 

Lauren is amazing.  She invited a bunch of people.  About 8 people that she invited came to her baptism.  We also had a good turn-out from members of the ward.  Sister F and I got to give talks on baptism and on the Holy Ghost.  We also had the confirmation right after the baptism.  [Confirmation is when priesthood holders lay their hands on a person’s head in order to become a member of the Church and also to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost on the person who has been baptized.]   The reason we did this right away is so she can go on the temple trip next Saturday to do baptisms for the dead.  [“Baptism for the dead” simply means that a living member acts on behalf of a deceased ancestor.  We believe baptism is the first ordinance needed for salvation.  Members also believe that those persons for whom they do vicarious ordinances will have the chance to either accept or reject any work done on their behalf.]  My mission president and his wife came to the baptism as well.  It is always really great to see them.
Sister F, Lauren, Sister Cluff

Miracle Quarter: 
On Saturday we were using the library computers to make a baptism program and print it.  We had figured out how to get a library card and everything and we had printed 2 pages, then another because of a goof-up.  So, I had printed 3 pages which cost $.30.  I accidentally printed off 2 more pages (5 pages = $.50).  I only had 1 dime and 4 nickels ($.30).  It was a problem.  I knew if I just had a quarter I could pay it then.  (Exact change was preferable and I didn't want to break up $20 for a quarter).  The only alternative I could see was to pay what I had and then come back another day to pay it back.  I really didn't want to.  Sister F only had 2 pennies.  I had a prayer in my heart and went on a search in my backpack.  Nothing.  I checked my wallet and when I took out the $20 there was a quarter.  I am pretty sure it just appeared as I have no recollection of seeing a quarter there before.  It was my miracle quarter.  It was not that big of a deal to anyone else, but I know my prayer was answered.  I know God loves me because He does answer prayers.  It is not always how we expect or want, but He does answer.

Exchanges went well.  I got to be with Sister W for 24 hours and my regular companion, Sister F, got to be with Sister R in Albany (Albany, Oregon not New York -- Oregon does that a lot, mooches names from other cities i.e. Dallas, Phoenix, Albany, Springfield, Salem, etc.).  Anyway, it was fun to be with Sister W and reminisce a little.  But it was also great to have Sister F back, she is truly my companion right now and it was sad with her gone.

Another thing, I am not getting transferred.  Although I have loved meeting everyone so far, it is nice to not have to pack or switch companions or wards.  One of my favorite parts of being a missionary is getting to know new people. 

More Mail:
Thank you for your prayers and support.  By the way, I would love some mail.  I have had a mail drought!  Love, Sister Cluff.

Mothers' Day

This is Sister Cluff’s Mom writing.  I thought I would take a few minutes to share some of my thoughts about the Mothers’ Day phone call.  As you can imagine, I was greatly anticipating talking to her. 
We agreed on a time to talk and she found a ward member who was willing to let her use their computer.  We were able to Skype.  With her mission president’s permission, we attempted to add two other households to the conversation.  During the time Sister Cluff has been serving both her sister and her brother have married… so she has a new sister-in-law and a new brother-in-law.  She was as anxious to talk to them as to us.
Oh, the joys and the frustrations of technology!  It was so fun to see her face and watch her as she talked.  She looked well and seemed happy.  The frustration came in when we tried to add extra people.  Only two households could see each other at a time, while the others listened.  Also, due to some password problems (we had to switch some accounts around); it was hard to keep track of who was saying what.  The user name that would flash up didn’t match the voice of the person talking.  Another sort of funny thing was that her companion was in the same room as she was.  The companion was also on a Skype call… and sometimes we could hear her louder than our missionary!     
Overall, it was great to see her and talk to her.  She was excited about the upcoming baptism later that night.  She spoke kindly of her companion.  We got to hear her laugh.  I love her laugh.  I admit it was a little bittersweet when the call was done… knowing it would be 7 more months before another call.  A little piece of my heart is with her in Oregon.   

Phone Call Anticipation

I don't really have time to write this week.  Sorry about that.  I am not sure where my time went to.  I guess it was spent trying to figure out how this Mothers’ Day thing [phone call] is going to work.  President said I could Skype, but I need to keep it all within the 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour 45 minute limit.  We will be Skype-ing at a member's house if we can find someone.  We are not exactly sure who.  Maybe our dinner appointment person will let us?  [Note:  Missionaries are allowed to call home twice a year, on Christmas and Mothers’ Day.]

Some things I am excited for this week:
Mothers’ Day - (of course)
Lauren's baptism - (on Mothers’ Day)
Exchanges - (My companion, Sister F is going to be with Sister R.  Sister W is going to be
my companion for a day.)
Transfers - (I’ll find out what is going on this Friday or Saturday.)

I love you all!  Sorry for the short letter.  Talk to you soon!!!!!  Love, Sister Cluff.