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.