Monday, May 23, 2016

Return Travel Information !!!

Nope... We aren't excited at all for Elder Cluff's return!!! :) 

May 23, 2016 Letter...

Yes, I got the epi pens... Thank YOU! I have them on me as we are speaking.

And good for dad and grandpa.. honestly that sounds awesome! Good for them. Plastic injection.. what does that really entail though? What does the machine do haha? And yes that is awesome that dad is finally getting to his retirement! June 15th.. that is insane! Good for him. What a stud. I hope he has fun and stays safe these last few weeks that he is there!

And good for them! Good to hear that the Osmonds are doing well and are finally moving to the holy land in Alpine. That's awesome!

But yeah, this summer we've got to make the best of it and have as much fun together as possible. It's going to be a blast and I'm super excited.

This week has been pretty good on us. This week we did a really good follow up with Christian and Jenifer and it looks like at the end of this month they will be getting baptized. I’ll be sure to update you on what happens. To be honest, not much happened this week. We’ve just been working our keesters off in our sector and going to Barranco to work in the sector over there, which is now basically ours.

You asked me last week how the sick elder and his comp are doing and they are doing really well. The elder that had tuberculosis is almost back to normal! So that’s exciting. This Wednesday I went to the temple with the sick elder’s companion, since he didn’t get to go last week. The temple, as always, was so good. I love the house of the Lord.

Today, I’m actually going to the offices so that I can begin to do a little bit of research for my classes that I’m going to be taking this next year and also get them arranged. Sister Larson told me to come and she said she’d help and also other elders that have gone to BYU said that they’d give me a hand. So that’s going to be awesome. Also, they said something about a BYU sports pass.. something about it being like 100 dollars, but it apparently gets you into all of the games. So that is going to be a must have!

Yesterday at church we were just sitting there and out of nowhere I saw one of my heroes from the mission Elder Jeffery Patterson there with his mom and dad. I was like what?! It was awesome. We got to talk and he says that he has come back to visit and is doing really well. I can tell he’s continued progressing since he’s gotten home which is awesome. He is such a happy dude! He gave me a few pointers and tips for finishing up my mission, which are going to help a lot. That kid is a king for giving heartfelt advice. A year ago here in the mission, he gave some of the greatest councils and advice I have ever received from another missionary. I love that guy. The cool thing is that I’ll be seeing him at BYU, so that’s going to be siiiiccckkk. Anyways, it was cool seeing his parents and also they gave us American candy which pumped me right up: A 100 Grand, a Kit Kat, and Swedish Fish; not having tasted two of the three in over two years. God bless them.

This is also just such a great time to be in the mission. I can honestly say that lately I have been feeling the spirit so strongly with such a great gratitude for the work I’ve been able to do here in this work. I really have loved my time here and we are working and praying so that this week we finish with a few more baptisms, and that the zone will be able to accomplish its goal, which it hasn’t been able to do in years. We are very excited. We can really see that the work is progressing so much here in Lima and the Lord is shedding so many of his blessings over us and all of his missionaries.

The converts I’ve had here in this ward are also just doing amazing. They are all active and progressing beautifully. One in particular though is progressing unlike any I’ve ever seen before. Her name is Maria. I sent a picture of her baptism like 3 weeks back. She is actually one of our converts from Barranco, and we went to visit her yesterday and WOW. We were like.. well sister, how is your reading of the scriptures going.. And BOOM she explained to us literally the most beautiful and understood thing I’ve ever heard a recent convert of such little time explain. She talked about her reading in the Book of Mormon, explained to us the Restoration better than most missionaries do, told us about her sincere desire to just go and share the gospel with all of her family, which she is doing through her weekly family home evenings (she tells us that she shares the Restoration whenever she gets the chance and she is trying to teach her big family that they need to be baptized in the correct way because in reality it’s something highly symbolic and significant, etc.). She also talked about the new classes on self-reliance she’s going to in the Stake Center every Sunday with her sister (member, who lives with her and who’s helping her progress). We just listened and we were like.. wait… you got baptized like three weeks ago.. WHAT IS GOING ON? What have you been reading?!?! She told us that she has just had the greatest desire to learn more because it makes her feel good.

We came to the conclusion that when someone really is desirous to know the mysteries of God and learn and understand His gospel, then that’s when the spirit can unfold many great and marvelous things unto them. Saying that just made a scripture come to mind, 1 Nephi 10:17. Aweeeesome stuff there. What happens here is that Lehi had just been carried away in a vision in which he had seen the tree of life. He partook of the fruit of it, and said it was “desirable among all other fruits”. We know that the fruit represented the infinite Atonement of Jesus Christ, and was desirous that his family could also partake of it. Many other things happened in this dream, as we know, and then it concluded. Lehi then went to his sons and explained to them what he had seen. We know that Laman and Lemuel after having heard about what Lehi had seen, didn’t understand the meaning of it all and became a little confused. Really the spirit wasn’t there to teach them, because they didn’t ACT in order to be taught. They never bothered to “inquire of the Lord”or “keep his commandments”. (see 1 Nephi 15:7-11). Nephi on the other hand, teaches us a very important lesson. I’m sure after hearing about what his father had seen in the dream, he was also little bit confused, and didn’t understand everything, but for that reason he was “desirous also that he might see, and hear, and know these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost… which is a gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him… for he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them.” (1 Nephi 10: 17, 19) Nephi didn’t just passively wait for the knowledge to magically come unto him, but rather he became and agent that acted so that the Holy Ghost could teach him. He did so and was able to see and learn what his father had seen, heard, and felt in the dream. The Holy Ghost unfolded literally every mystery unto Nephi, from the beginning to the end. It is cool to see this story come to life with Hermana Maria. She will continue progressing and I pray that all of my other converts can have that same great desire to learn and know more.

Love you guys!

Elder Cluff

May 16, 2016 Letter...

Okay sounds good! Thanks mom. Everyone seems to be doing really well and that's great. Good to hear all that :)

So these week has been pretty hectic, but we have been able to get a lot done in our sector and we are superrrrr excited! We finally got to see a lot of fruits of our labors. I’m going to try to remember all that happened this week.

So Monday we worked as if it were a normal day because on Wednesday we had the opportunity to go to the Temple. The temple was awesome, by the way. This was my second to last time being there and the spirit was felt so strongly. I was able to get get the five family names done. I was also able to receive a lot of answers to a lot of questions which has made me super happy. The biggest one being what I need to study when I get home. I meditated a lot on what dad had told me and recommended me to do while we Skyped, and I feel that it is right. I feel really good about it. So that’s how I will proceed. I need to get my classes at BYU figured out so I can start that going in that direction. Anyways, I really love the temple and I’m excited to go there with you all when I get home.

This week we worked so hard with our 3 investigators that have baptismal goals for this month, Daniel, Christian and Jenifer.

Jenifer is doing well and she is excited to be baptized, the only thing is that we weren’t able to meet with her much this week. Keep her in your prayers.

Christian is a stud. This week we had a few visits with him and they all went great. Christian has been giving it his all, reading and praying about the Book of Mormon and if he should be baptized or not, and going to church every Sunday for the three hours. When a person does this and completes with his commitments like he is, it’s REALLY hard that they don’t obtain a strong testimony of the gospel. I’ve seen that it’s usually the case that when a person acts for themselves, instead of us treating them like objects by acting upon them, they progress and that’s when the spirit is able to testify and teach. That’s exactly what’s happened in the case of Christian. For a while, each time we’d go and invite him to be baptized, he’d be like.. yeah we’ll see… I feel good… but we gotta see… and we were like.. dude… But then we put our trust in the Lord and as always, he has does his work. Christian told us the other day as we verified that he wants to be baptized… that he has felt that the Lord has answered his prayers! We were so pumped. He is excited and we are going to help him get ready for this week! He is really progressing. Yesterday he even brought one of his friends to stake conference! And at the conference they talked a lot about serving missions… and Christian is like 23 or 24 so it’s a definite possibility that he one day leaves and serves.

Daniel is killing it. This man is my hero. He is one of the biggest miracles that the Lord has given us while I have been on my mission. I’m not kidding. I told you guys last week that he showed up the church all alone that first time we met him, and from there we followed him home and took out an appointment and began to teach him. And now, after three weeks of visiting and all of the help from the spirit, he is BAPTIZED! This week was his baptism and it was such a special experience. He is 78 years old and he doesn’t walk well at all because his knees are super weak. So to baptize him, we had a member do it, we had to put a chair in the water, sit him down, and baptize him like that so it wasn’t hard on his knees. It worked great and he was so happy.

It warms my heart every time I hear this sweet old man speak in his soft simple voice and bear his testimony that for the longest time he was a lost sheep, going to and from whatever church, until he found the true church of Jesus Christ. Now he has purpose and real joy in life. I love him. It’s funny because the first time we explained to him that he needed to be baptized as the savior was in water by someone holding priesthood authority, he made the firm decision then and there to do so. I remember him asking us.. "well, how can I be baptized then?" We were so stinkin surprised and didn’t really even know if he understood what we had taught him or if we had misunderstood the question, but it was certain. The spirit had testified to him since and long before the first visit. The Lord constantly reminded us that He was in control and that this man was learning by the spirit. It was so evident as we saw how much this man remembered even in spite of his old age and the fact that he told us that he was an extremely forgetful person. He could remember every important principle we taught him, or at least where to find it in his pamphlet hahaha. And yeah, every time we go to his house, we just find him there reading his Book of Mormon and it makes us happy. One time we went to his house, looked through his window, and there he was sleeping with his Book of Mormon on his chest.. awesome. :)

His health is pretty delicate and we don’t know for how much longer he’ll be here with us, but I know that when we are on the other side, he will be one of the people who I will see and it will be a happy reunion.

Anyways, apart from that, the week was pretty smooth. We did a lot of visits, taught a lot of people, and it was a blast. We are killing it out here and it’s good because we are on our final stretch. In two weeks I’m pretty sure I’m going to have my last transfer and from there it’s going to go by extremely fast which is a super weird feeling. Also, I got rid of my 500 pounds of weights the other day and my bench and every thing else. It was fun. Now, I don’t have to worry about it.

Elder Cluff

May 9, 2016 Letter...

So yesterday was awesome.

You and dad look great and healthy that makes me extremely happy. Mom, you look younger and so happy.. so sorry that I scared you with the soy. Sister Larson will be emailing you tomorrow you know about the epi pen! Dad looks really great and happy. I’m so glad that you guys were able to pray and fast about your future and what you’re supposed to do. I felt really good when you told me what your future plans were. It’s not going to be easy, but that’s okay because this journey of mortality was never meant to be so. You guys have taught me that since I was a kid. The only things that’s going to be weird is that you could be moving to St. George.. wow. That’s crazy and a little bit weird, but if what’s the Lord wants, then let’s do it. But I’ll probably be engaged or married by that time anyways, so I’m okay with that. Hahaha.

And yes the brothers look great. They look really big. Skyler and Ashley also look awesome. My nephew Jet is a boss. I’m pumped! And holy cow… Skyler has gotten giant. And Zack also looks bigger. He says that he weighs 160.. that’s dope. But ya'll gotta remember when I was a junior in high school I was shorter than him and weighed 165 soooo yeah :) I was good. I don’t like seeing all of my results go away, but in two months I’ll be able to work out again. My stomach is doing a lot better and I’ll be able to eat more, and much more healthily now.

Like I said yesterday, this week we have the same 3 investigators that are progressing towards their baptism for this month. I would love it if you could pray for Daniel, that he will continue feeling the spirit in order to be baptized. Also for Christian, that he will realize through the commitments of reading and praying that being baptized is what the Lord wants for him. And lastly for Jenifer, that she will keep complete with her commitments. We need these for this month so that we can meet our goal as a zone! It’s going to be great.

So yesterday was terrible at first, but I’m just so grateful for President and Sister Larson and the love that they have for us. Those are two people I really do love and admire. They have taught me so much I wouldn’t trade them out for anything. Anyways, yesterday my comp was going to Skype at 3, but I was in the hospital, so the secretaries came to stay with me and take Elder McPhie to the office so that he could Skype. Turns out the the office internet was jacked up, so President was just like yea, come on over to the misiĆ³n home, so they went. I got better after the medicine and sleeping in the hospital for a bit and then we also went over to the mission house, which by the way is so cozy and reminds me of home. President and Sister Larson were so loving as they always are and let us talk with our families there in President Larson´s office. Then sister Larson asked us if we were hungry and we told her yes, so she made us German pancakes with whipped cream and cinnamon syrup and raspberries... WOW..... just like you used to make and they were AMAZING. Yesterday turned out great after all.

I love you guys a lot,

Elder Cluff..

May 2, 2016 Letter...

Yes, the temple is the best. I cannot wait to go with you and dad and maybe Skyler and Ashley when I get home. It'll be a blast :) And yesss Skype... can we do it at 5:00 PM Peruvian time? I think that would be better! If you guys could maybe make the sacrifice! And yes mom I get to register here in the mission, but what I'm asking you for is A LIST OF CLASSES, REQUIREMENTS AND IDEAS so that when the time comes here, I will be able to put all of my classes in. You know what I mean? :) I know that I need English, also like American Heritage (I want to know if there is a way out of that one) also, I'm going to take the most advanced Spanish so I can test out and get the credits, and a few others I'll need. I'll be calling you I believe from a members house!

Good to hear also that school is almost out and everyone is doing well. :)

It’s good to talk to ya'll once again. This week has been a great week though, things are definitely improving here in our sector. We didn’t have as much time as we would have liked, but we did have more time to work and teach the gospel than past weeks, so that was really nice. We also had to continue going this week to Barranco to continue teaching the investigators there that can’t be taught by the sick Elders. Anyways, our labors in doing that have paid off and we had a baptism this week for a sister named Maria. She is really great. We met her about three weeks ago and when we met her, she had desires to follow the Savior and do His will. She just had a lot of fears and doubts because her husband was traditionally catholic, like every single person here, and she wanted to be baptized together with him. Although that would have been ideal, we couldn’t let her wait. So we began teaching and sharing many testimonies and with the help of the members who did a great job, she was able to listen to the influence of the holy spirit and gain a very strong and unshakable testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I can really say that her conversion was due to her own actions and diligence, reading, praying, and going to church, which brought the spirit to testify to her and confirm to her the truth. Her baptism was also a great experience and she is now super happy and shared with us a powerful testimony. We passed by her house yesterday and taught her about temples and family history and she is very excited to get in on that!

On Friday this week we also had one of the most special and miraculous days of our lives. We had taken appointments out for the whole day, because this day was one of the few we would have to work here. I’m going to tell you about three miracles we had this week (they all basically happened on Friday)…

First miracle: The first appointment we had on Friday was with a brother named Daniel. He is a 78 year old man who has prostate cancer and severe osteoporosis, which inhibits his ability to walk well. He is from the mountains of Peru (not from Lima… which means he’s humble and receptive hehe) and has come here to Lima to get medical attention. Anyways, last week at church we were just sitting in the chapel waiting for the service to start, when all the sudden this little old man walks in limping. We didn’t think much of it because we thought he was from the sector of the other Elders. They then came over and told us that he was from our sector and that he just showed up at church because a random member in the street had invited him. We were like yeah… okay. So after church we took him home and we then took out an appointment with him. We had taught him for the first time on Wednesday and we felt something very special about him, the only bad thing was that we couldn’t talk much due to the little time we had. So on Friday in the appointment we found out that he was born and raised catholic and that’s all he has ever known, so we decided to talk about the baptism of Jesus Christ and the example he gave us and also receiving the gift of the holy ghost. We had to teach this lesson in one of the simplest ways, due to his age, like we were speaking to a child, but the spirit was SO STRONG and he understood every single thing we explained him. At the end of the lesson he was asking us to baptize him because he wanted to follow the example of the Savior in the correct way. He was like.. I didn’t know.. my parents just baptized me when I was little… Then in the final prayer… it made me choke up so much.. he was asking to Lord and thanking him in tears for showing him the correct path. I really do love this man. I love the Lord. I was able to realize from this experience once again.. (as missionaries we tend to forget) that the LORD directs and performs his work.. not us.. when we think it’s us.. we lose. We have been struggling in our sector for the past month or two due to the little amount of time that we’ve had, but this man was literally sent to us from the hand of the Lord. One member felt impressed to invite him randomly to church and now he is going to be baptized next week.

Second miracle: On Friday, right after Daniel, we went to this guy named Christian’s house that we had met in the street a few months back. I had met him with my last companion and we had talked and everything, but he didn’t know the direction to his house nor did he have a cellphone so we lost contact with him. Then with Elder McPhie the other day we were walking by and this dude caught my eye, and I was like hey I know him, so we talked and we made a firm appointment and we went. Christian 24 years old and is from Colombia. He came here alone to Lima to work and study. So yeah in the appointment we explained to him all of the Restauration, and he loved it. He was super excited and accepted the invitation to be baptized this month. This was such a cool experience because I had completely forgotten about this guy, but the Lord had put him right in our path so that we could teach him and bring him the gospel!

Third Miracle: Right after that appointment with Christian we went to the Lares family’s house, a strong family of converts of 4 years that has one missionary out and serving, and another missionary that leaves this month. They are awesome. They called us early on in the week and told us there was this family friend, a girl named Jenifer that needed a lot of help and that they wanted us to teach her. Apparently, she has suffered her whole life with self esteem issues and anorexia. So we got to the Lares family’s house this day and waited for her on Friday. We honestly didn’t know how it was going to turn out, but we were hopeful that it would turn out well. She arrived and we began to teach her. We taught her about the importance of obeying the commandments of God in order to receive his divine help. We also touched on the Atonement of Jesus Christ in order to overcome difficulties and hard moments and to be clean to enter into the presence of God. We tied it all off with baptism and explained to her that she can really start everything all over again through baptism. She explained to us her sincere desire to change and the fact that she wanted to do better, that she wanted to be happy, and she understands that kind of happiness can only come from God. So we began to testify more of the baptism and at the end she asked us if she could be baptized… We told her YES. I could see a lot of pain in her eyes honestly from a lifetime of heartache, but as we taught her, that pain slowly dissipated and she began to smile from ear to ear. The spirit was super strong during the lesson and it really did testify of the eternal truth that we were teaching. We are so thankful to this family Lares for wanting to share the gospel and recognizing that the gospel is the solution to our day to day problems. What a great experience.

So yeah, all those experiences happened in one day. We went from having about zero people for this month of May.. to three… in a matter of a few hours, thanks to the Lord. I am ever grateful to him for helping us out when we most need it. Those three people I talked about also came with us to church and stayed the three hours. They are progressing right now towards their baptism!

Love you guys and I'll see you on Sunday!

Elder Cluff

Maria's Baptism