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.