Monday, April 25, 2016

April 25, 2016 Letter...

Good for Jake.. really I love him so much. I'm so happy and proud of him. It stinks that I won't be able to see him for four years, but it's better that he's there in the mission. It's going to change his life. What a complete stud. All my friends have sent me pictures of the farewell and apparently everyone got to see each other.. that's amazing! I'm excited to see all of them.

Anyways... I watched that video from Madeline.. that brought back SO MANY memories... wow. That's so awesome for her though! She rocks. Her voice sounds like a big girl voice hahaha.

And thanks for giving the missionaries a ride... God bless you guys.. here that doesn't happen. They charge you... haha. Thanks for that though, really. And PS, I didn't know there were missionaries there haha.

Skyler did the right thing... good for him! I want my iPhone when I get home. Hey something important, don't buy me a phone when I get home! I want to use my old one or one of your old ones until the new 7 comes out.. and THEN you can get me a phone :) would that be okay?

This week has been pretty normal. Monday we decided to play Phase 10 all day and eat pizza, it was a good time. Then Monday night the assistants called us with the transfers.... and I'M STAYING. I honestly thought I'd be going but that's okay. I love my zone and this month we have worked so hard as a zone that it would have been a shame if I would've had to leave before seeing all of our fruits and how the month would end. So yes, I'm happy I'm still here. I can't believe either that I'm in my last 11 weeks.. the time is going by way too fast.

This week, like the past few, has been spent running countless errands from one end of the zone to the other, watching after sick missionaries, talking to landlords so missionaries don't get kicked out of their houses, moving missionary's things after the transfers, etc. It has been never ending lately and I do not know why. The only days we got to actually work in our sector last week was Thursday, Saturday and a little on Sunday. Nevertheless we are seeing a bunch of small miracles and we have a lot of faith and hope, not only for the zone for the month of May, but also for our sector.

On Friday we had a meeting with half of the mission in which President and Sister Larson talked to us about emergency procedures and reminded us of a few forgotten rules. At the end we got to talk to Sister Larson a bit (which is always a great time) and she was like "hey I heard you're ex-girlfriend is getting married" and I laughed and then was like yes.. And I've never been happier.. and she congratulated me and gave me some really heartfelt advice about who to look for when I get home and how to make the right choice. President and Sister Larson are champions and I love them.

Also, we met for the first time this week the new senior missionary couple... guess who they are? I don't know if you'd know them, but I'd assume that at least Zack and Brigham do... they are the Hill family... AKA Principal Hill and his wife from Timberline! How fun. They are GREAT. They are going to specialize in family history and wow they bring such a great and healthy spirit to the mission! What a blessing. We are so excited. Even though we will have very little time with them, we are going to try to take advantage. They are actually living in our zone.. so our missionaries will be able to go out and work with them! I don't know if you knew, but President and Sister Larson also live in our zone.. it's a good time.

This week has honestly flown by.. honestly there isn't enough time in the daytime. I've learned that being here. I'll tell you a fun story. They always say some stories are better to tell after the mission, but I think this one is fine to tell now. This week we went by one of our investigator's house at like 8:30 at night, it's in a pretty rich neighborhood called Santa Catalina where only tranquil people live, and we started knocking on his door waiting for him to opening it. We've heard stories that every once in a while bad people go to his particular neighborhood to rob and assault people and all that fun stuff because it's one of the richest parts of the district that's called La Victoria. Anyways, we are sitting there knocking the door and as we are there, this nicely dressed man starts walking our way. We didn't think much of it and we carried on with our business. Out of  nowhere we see this car drive over and park all fast and stuff and this large man gets out of the car, runs over to the nicely dressed man who was walking our way, puts a gun to his chest and asks him for all his belongings (sadly a veerrrryyyy common occurrence here in Lima.. not my first rodeo). Anyways we were like.. well, that's unfortunate... And then the guy who was getting robbed starting yelling and screaming ASSAULT ASSAULT.. and I was like yikes dude quit yelling you are going to get yourself in more trouble... and then as he was trying to run away, the guy with the gun didn't go as far as to shoot him, but rather started pistol whipping him as hard as he could in the head and were like yep let's go.. so we started walking quickly away (no one even saw us) and then the bad guy got in his car and drove away and the other dude just started limping away to his house.

I tell you this story, not to scare you, but rather to let you know that the choice is yours at chuck-a-rama. Anyways, things are always interesting. 

On Sunday, this random 80 year old guy named Daniel showed up to church and stayed for the entire 3 hours (a miracle) and was like yeah... come teach me. I really believe it was the answer to many of the prayers me and my companion have offered up. It's been extremely difficult to work here due to the small amount of time we have every day, but the Lord continues blessing us and we are very grateful. We are currently focusing in on a lot of part member families that are in our ward and it seems to be going well. We are working with our ward mission leaders parents, the second counselors' dad, and one of our convert's mom, all of whom are not members.. yet.

Love y'allll

Elder Cluff

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

April 18, 2016 Letter...

Cooooolll beans mom sounds like everything is COOL:) haha good to hear that! I'll be skyping you guys for my last time on May 8th.. I prefer to do it at night when we'll be able to talk more comfortably. And I'm so pumped for Zack. I cannot believe that that was his first. That's okay though, at least got it out of the way and he's happy. He's a stud. Everyone is starting to get home.. that's crazy. It's going to be a blast... I'm excited for a summer in Alpine. Summer here is horrendous with the amount of humidity that there is, but we manage so it's okay.

I'm going to be honest, this week has been a real butt kicker. We have worked out booties off getting all the work we've had to get done done. The truth is the first half of the week we didn't have any time to be in our sector and that made it hard. We had to go to Barranco several times to go buy the quarantined Elders food and looks for a new house for them and teach their investigators and all that. The worst part is that our sector is on one side of the zone and their's is on the exact opposite; it's like the extreme end of our mission. But nevertheless it's been good fun. I've been really bumbed out with this sector to be honest. Here we have so many investigators who have gotten to the point of baptism, but just days or weeks before have flaked out. I've never had a sector with such opposition before. To add to the hardness of it, the ward here just doesn't want to help out. In the wards where I have baptized, they have always worked and helped a great amount, but here it's a two man show. We're looking at ways that we can change that to increase productivity and help the ward really advance instead of move backwards.

This week we have had to continue going to Barranco to teach some other people that the Elders there had met before they got sick. They are all doing well and we should have a baptism there this next week! Aweesome. The Barranco ward is a great missionary work ward, who really helps all the members get involved and they see baptisms quite often for that. That makes me happy :)

We have transfers tomorrow and I still don't know if I'll be staying or if I'll go. After the transfer cycle that starts tomorrow, I'll only have one more left. I'll let you all know what my destiny is!

Elder Cluff

April 11, 2016 Letter...

Teej is home..?! How good for him! What a boss. And that sucks about the rooming situation... they're all gonna live like kings.. but hey that's cool. I'll prolly be hanging out there a lot anyways soo I ain't worried. No worrrriess. I went to the office today cuz we had to do a million things for our Pday instead of things we wanted (that's okay) and it wasn't there yet.. So idk when it'll be there. And cool.. I like ties always :) I always need more. I also hope Diego is doing alright. He is a good kid. I hope he keeps figuring it all out! Threeee months. That's true. It's going to be crazy. Everything good though.. we are working hard.. I'm very aware of my departure date and all is well, but I feel like the time is starting to finish.. and that's okay.

This week has been absolutely hectic. We literally had about zero time to proselyte because there were so many other administrative things we had to go do. It has been a rather pain in the rear but that’s okay. We’re in the work of the Lord! Anyways I’ll run ya’ll through the week. On Monday after writing we went and ate at KFC and it was delicious. I miss American food. Plates of pure rice and a little piece of chicken with the side of boiled potatoes are starting to take their toll. Anyways later that night we had an appointment with one of our investigators who is progressing really nice. His name is Jose Luis. He is a single guy who lives separated from his ex girlfriend and kid (thank goodness it’s not together). He’s about 50 years old and had listened to missionaries about 8 years ago before his mom, who lived with him, had passed away. He took that event to be one of the hardest things for him to deal with and still thinks about it often. His dad, who is a member and lives by Cuzco, came to visit and went to our ward for about 2 months, and while there he passed us the referral. So we went and visited and we have been working with him ever since. He is progressing a lot and the good thing is that he understands everything we explain him. The only thing that he’s missing is the spiritual witness that it’s all true. He’s a had a lot of questions that we’ve had to answer, but the answer we give him from the scriptures always seems to leave him satisfied. His biggest iceberg right now is the fact that he was born and raised catholic by his mother, and even though he KNOWS it’s not true, it pains him to change because that is one of the only things still keeping him and his dead mom connected, he doesn’t want to betray her. (Even though the funny thing is that his dad who is a member already did his mom’s temple work and she is now a member. LOL.) To him we explained recently the Plan of Salvation…… finish what happened.

On Tuesday we had an absolutely hectic day. As Zone Leaders we have the opportunity every month to get together with the AP’s and President and Sister Larson and have a council, talking about problems and challenges in our zones and things we have done good and things we can do better. It’s always a great opportunity. I absolutely love working close to President and Sister Larson. I love them so much and I’m so grateful that they are hear in this time to help this work move forward. I’ve formed such a great relationship with the two of them and it’s something I’m always going to honor and cherish. Anyways, something we talked about in this council was that there is an Elder very sick in my zone with active tuberculosis (our zone has a had a load of random problems this week) and that every Elder that has had contact with him would also need to be tested. GREAT. So, afterwards, because I had lived with this Elder when he first got here to the zone (his comp still hadn’t come yet so he was with us for 2 weeks) I had to go get my chest X-Rayed. It was fun. It was about 12 hours of doing non-stop stuff. We got home from all those shenanigans at like 8:00 PM and we worked until the end of the night. But yeah, turns out I don’t have TB, but to be safe we had the whole mission do the TB phlegm tests on Friday. Oh was that fun… hahaha. Like no one had phlegm, so we had 24 missionaries just coughing as hard as they could to muster up phlegm to fill a small fluid collector up. It was hilarious.

If you think that Tuesday was hectic, Wednesday and Thursday were possibly worse. On Wednesday we had to round two of our districts up, with the medical secretaries orders, and travel after the district meetings to a clinic in San Isidro. It’s a clinic inside of our zone, but with traffic and all that it takes a good while to get there. So we all got there at like 3:00 PM only for them to tell us that no, they couldn’t do the phlegm TB tests because it was closed. Okay.. sweet. We had very little time to work that night because we ended up getting home later than we thought. We did have a great appointment though that night with our investigator Carmen. After like two weeks, we were finally able to teach her! She is doing good and knows that our message is true, it’s just that she has a little trouble accepting one of the commandments. She isn’t currently breaking it, but due to the fact that the situation she is in could lead her to break it, she has the fear and doesn’t want to commit to anything she won’t be able to complete. We spoke with boldness to her and we were very direct. We told her straight up the consequences of sin and also what happens when we don’t keep the commandments. The spirit testified of our words and she accepted the invite to pray and ask God if she really need to keep this commandment.

Something that I’ve realized towards the end of my mission, is that I’ve become very direct with people. Elder McPhie and I are very direct with the people we teach and sometimes they take it to be hard, but it’s the truth and the guilty sometimes take the truth to be hard, but also they realize the importance of what we teach, that it’s not some pretty message we’re sharing, but rather something their eternal happiness depends on. I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but more time in the mission has given me a lot less patience with evil and lies and people who don’t want to progress.

This week ended very normally. We were able to finish strong. Sadly we didn’t get to work on Sunday because finally the whole country voted on who will be their new president (thank goodness, now the annoying campaigns can end haha). We weren’t allowed to leave the house unless we had fixed appointments, due to the high rate of public disturbance, and all ours fell through and no one would answer their phone so we had to stay in. We ended up playing Phase 10.. great game. If I remember correctly we used to play it as a family in the camp trailer.

Today has also been a bit hectic, we had to get the zone gathered again to do a second phlegm spit test.. then we had to run all the samples outside of the mission, then we had a meeting with President and Sister Larson and the secretaries to come to an agreement on what we’re going to do with the Elder that’s sick. WEEHOO.

Good week tho... love y'all...

Elder Cluff

April 4, 2016 Letter...

I thought of Stacie when Elder Holland was talking also. She came clearly to my thoughts. That´s pretty awesome how the spirit works in us. I have a lot of hope for her and I think about her often. I plan to work with Aunt Stacie also when I get home. I do love her and want her to be so happy. People really do change. Sometimes it takes big events to stir us up to remembrance, but the Lord will always provide the way to make it back to him. He just wants us to be obedient and wants us to have light in our lives! President Uchtdorf spoke of that Sunday morning. He said "It is by obedience that we gather light into our souls," while talking about the parable of the lost sheep. The goal for her is the temple.. that's where she needs to be. We need to do all we can to help her receive her endowments. That's the goal.

Zack got a 26.. that's what I got.. good for him! Now he just needs to write killer essays to get into BYU and then he's good. I'm so happy you are a grandma! You guys rock.

This week has been a little bit better than last week! On Monday we got to clean the house and rest up a little bit. Cleaning is always just a blast. Then on Tuesday we had interviews and my heavens it was the longest day of my life. My comp and I had to go to the offices at like 8:30 in the morning and then all the zone arrived. We were waiting for like 30 minutes then we're like.. where is President and Sister Larson.. so we called them and come to find out they had gone to our stake center in Limatambo when the assistants had told us go to the stake center of Magdalena where the offices are. Bigggg confusion. So President and his wife had to turn around and drive through a whole bunch of traffic to get to the office where we were. They finally got there and we got the interviews started. My comp and I had interviews first, we talked about the zone and it's progress and it was great. Then we had our personal interviews and mine was awesome. I love President Larson, he is one of the straightest, most obedient men I know. After our interview we had to go tell the rest of the zone to come up one by one... and then my comp and I had to go with this chauffeur and drive from literally one point in the mission to the other doing room inspections of all the missionaries in our zone. It took like 5 hours and in the Peruvian heat, in Peruvian traffic, and it was miserable. We got through it though and made it back to the offices. We thought that everyone would be done now because usually the interviews don't take too long, but we got there and there were missionaries that still hadn't been interviewed, so we had to wait and stay there to help out. We talked to Sister Larson most of the time. She is great. The only thing that stinks is that the mission is apparently going to start cracking down on weights and protein powder. WHAT. Apparently people have too many weights and they are losing their focus (don't look at me). There are also missionaries who are buying protein with mission money and ruining it for everyone. Hahahaha. I just think it's so funny how the culture of the mission is. Like how it's actually gotten to the point where they have to ban weights and protein powder, like 6 months ago it wasn't like that. Everyone is starting to get ripped so they had to put an end to it. I'm fine with it though, I accept Sister Larson's decisions. I'll be home in like 3 months. I'm mean I guess I'll be skinny when I get home which stinks, but I'll be able to throw it back on within a month at my house at GOLDS. Yeah!

On Wednesday we literally walked all day and got let into no where. Suck. But we did have one good thing! We had the feeling to start walking towards the house where our investigator who was going to get baptized then disappeared (her name is Carmen) works in, so we followed the prompting, not knowing why or not really even thinking of Carmen we started going, as we got there, we saw a car driving away and someone closing a gate! It was Carmen!!! We were like.. noooo way. After two weeks we have found her. She told us that she had just been busy lately with work taking care of an old lady, but that she was good and happy. We took out an appointment for Friday and invited her to the ward mission night that was on Thursday. She was super excited and it looked as if nothing had happened. The Lord really answered our prayers and even though that Wednesday had just sucked, we did find one diamond in the rough! It was a miracle! On Thursday we had a ward mission night.. it was like.. more or less. We passed out like a thousand flyers and like 20 people went. It was a great turn out... ha. A cool sister did come though and we got her info and she was way excited and we are going to visit her. So if she gets baptized.. then it will all be good :) Carmen is currently doing well. We are going to have a solid appointment with her today to get her baptized this 16th!

I'm pumped for this month. We have worked really hard with the zone to get them focused and get them going and we are finally going to see the fruits of our labors this month. We have a lot of people ready to make covenants with the Lord and we are going to be setting records this month. Nothing can stop this work from going forward! I read a talk this week on the Book of Moses and how it came to pass, it's a super interesting story of how we have our actual Book of Moses. What else happened...

I absolutely loved this weekend, watching general conference. In the Saturday morning session I was completely struck by the spirit during President Eyring's talk and the testimony he bore at the end. I have never seen so much conviction and power in a testimony. Just listening to the prophets of God speak is evidence enough that the are called of God and that the everlasting gospel has been restored. I love those men with all of my heart. I sustain them and support them.

I'll run you guys through some of my favorite talks.. Saturday morning I really enjoyed Elder Renlund's talk and when he talked about the more distanced we become from God, the more entitled we feel to his blessings and divine help. SO TRUE. I've seen that come to pass in my mission about every single day with about every single person. I also love how he said murmuring is the scripture equivalent of childish whining. He said something along the lines of "Christ is much more happy with a repentant sinner that a self-righteous judger who looks for faults in everyone else somewhat like a Pharisee." I've also seen that come to pass many times on my mission with many members of the church. What a great talk. On Saturday afternoon I loved M. Russel Ballard's talk on having Family Councils!! What a great idea. Apart from having family home evening, we need have family councils! He made me laugh. In the priesthood session, every single talk was just a home run. I LOVED Russel M. Nelson's talk on priesthood power and how we can increase it. Just a great talk. I learned the priesthood power isn't a free gift, but rather a price every priesthood holder has to pay in order to use such power to perform miracles for the ones he loves. Also he talked a lot about the way we treat our wives; to love and cherish her. I think I might have even liked this talk more though, President Uchdorf's talk. He gave some amazing and inspired tips and councils to be able to keep a marriage alive and afloat. He also gave a council to us (in a few months) returned missionaries, that we shouldn't waste our time trying to look for the perfect wife, because in the first place, if she existed, why would she be interested in us? HAHA. Great point. I realized that the key to any marriage is charity. I guess it's the key to any real relationship we have on this earth. He spoke of the great enemy of charity, which is pride, which accelerates its own strength and ignores that of others. He was pretty clear that pride is one of the most dangerous sins. Then President Erying spoke again, and this time he counciled us to make sure that everything we do and that every choice we make leads us to celestial marriage. He also said that when we get home, we shouldn't waste time, that marriage is the single most important thing we can do. COOL.

The second day of conference was just great. And hey! There is going to be another temple here in Lima! I have no idea where, but I would really love to see it after it's finished. I loved the Prophet's short but sweet message. He is the best. Also I loved Bonnie L. Oscarson's talk on how clear our belief is that this is the only true church that counts with priesthood authority of God. The point is getting the gospel message from our mind, to our hearts. I could go on and on about the talks, but I better stop. I loved Jerry R. Holland's, too. What a boss.

Love you guys!

Elder Cluff