Monday, March 23, 2015

The Work Rolls Forward

The work is rolling forward in Arjona! We ended the week with 30 people with a baptismal date, and 7 of them came to church. We have possibly 2 baptisms this week. The first is Alejandra Polanco. She is 14 years old. I have a rule here in the mission not to proselyte to children until the age of 18. And many times the women until 25, because of the cultures of the Caribbean Coast. But Alejandra would be the only exception to this rule, because she is truly above her years in knowledge and maturity and goes to church every Sunday without fail. She lives far from the main street in Arjona. In one of the poorest neighborhoods in Arjona called Las Margaritas. She and her family (of 6) live in a two room mud and brick "house" that currently has no roof. The parents can't read. The majority of the poor people that we meet, and even some of the rich ones can't read. She can read really fast, and understands. She will have her interview this Tuesday, and she has the testimony of the Gospel to pass. The other is Domingo Acevedo. He is a divorced man, that doesn't drink or smoke (which is a miracle here in the coast), and he works as a chef in a small poor restaurant on the outskirts of Arjona. He was invited by a friend to church, who is a recent convert, and he goes to church every Sunday (he should... his name in English literally means Sunday!). He has the understanding level of a 11-12 year old even though he is 53 years old. We cannot baptize people that don't understand the concept of Repentance. He understands it, and lives it. He is not the smartest, but knows that he feels good in the church, and goes. He knows that it is true. We teach the discussions from the children's section of the Liahona, and such. But he understands it. This week we led the zone in every single aspect (called indicators). The work is going well here. To be a consecrated missionary you need to know how to work with the people you teach, and teach them in a way that relates with their culture, and that they understand. The coast of Colombia is known by all of Latin America by the word Corroncho. It means lazy, drinks a lot, loud, jokes around, is forgetful of their commitments, is strong Catholic, and speaks with a strong slur. A consecrated missionary here needs to try in lessons to be more funny, laid back, and loud while teaching the doctrine, or they literally will not understand it. I have tried it 100 different ways and this is the most effective. Arjona is dirt roads, no cars, 95 degrees with 85 percent humidity. The hottest in the mission. The running of the bulls happened, and we were surprised how many drunks there were in the streets. Literally hundreds. There are beautiful horses that are parading around town, and in every corner they sell the Vallenato sombrero and Aruana, which Is like a scarf. My visa expires early in September of 2016, so every 5th I celebrate another month. I have almost 7 months in the mission! The time really is flying by for me, and I love it. We had a good meeting on Sunday. I gave a talk because the guy who was supposed to come, didn't. I gave a talk that was aimed at various parts of the Ward. Our Bishop is hesitant to work, and we haven't had a Ward Council in a long time. Our members do not read the Book of Mormon. Most people here do not read, much less read the Book of Mormon. And the members are mean and start up rumors against each other but we are working to help them out. I hope this week is good, and that you guys continue to read the Book of Mormon together. I wish I had more time than just 2 hours to read it per day. Love you all.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Area Transfer to Arjona

This week was the 234th birthday of Arjona, and Vallenato is popular here too. So I bought a Vallenato sombrero! I am super happy to hear that everything is still going well with Ava! It really is a miracle that has brought us to together as a family a lot! She is so little and cute! Tell her she is like a Little Rapunzel. I was transferred out of Valledupar. I am in an Area close to Cartagena. It is the hottest part of all the mission. It is pueblo, so it is poor and so it is dirt roads, jungle, desert, people ride horses and mules to get around, and it is pretty dangerous. This week they will hold a running of the bulls, which is only legal here in Arjona. My companions name is Elder Puchoc from Peru. He is extremely quiet, and the members don't have as much trust in him. But he is very obedient, and humble and is a good person. When I arrived in the area, we had 2 people with baptism dates, and he had little excitement to work. I changed that. We programmed 17 people for baptism this week, 5 of which I programmed at the same time, its a familia grande! He is starting to work hard too, and we have lots of plans for the ward. Everyone here is a convert, because the church started in Arjona in 1998. No one knows what a real ward should be like, and so the sacrament meeting felt like an evangelical or Baptist fusion with LDS. It was a little weird. My area now is very poor. Extreme poverty poor. The family (9) that we programmed lives in one room that is made of dirt and pieces of random wood. They use the bathroom outside, and have a pack of wild dogs that lives nearby. But they are prepared to hear the Gospel. I asked my companion if we could open up a new area in a neighborhood called Cara de Perro (Dogface) which is known for being dangerous in Arjona. He didn't want to very much, but I felt like we should. We went, and programmed about 10 people for baptism, and if there are people with machetes or knives in the streets, we talk to them first and shake hands with them. Now, when we enter the neighborhood, there are a bunch of our amigos! They love us there! Granted some of them are drunk...but the area is really receptive! The whole neighborhood says "Missionaries!" when we pass by! We helped 4 investigators go to church, and 7 less actives too. One of the less actives was a lady who left the church during a time in her life where her sister was very sick, and she asked the quorum of elders to visit her, and they didn't, and her sister died without a priesthood blessing. I felt prompted to tell her that even though she left the church and denied it was true, that God hadn't abandoned her and still wants her to enter his Kingdom, and that she received the Holy Ghost, and has the Right to two things: feel the promptings of the spirit again, and reunite with her sister in the Celestial Kingdom. She was crying hard, and it was beautiful to hear afterwards "I have always known it was true. God knows that I know it, and now I know that he still loves me even after denying it for all these years." I also pray for you guys. But it feels like everything that happened before the mission doesn't exist. We watched Rise of the Guardians the other Pday, and I felt like Jack when he realizes that he had a family and a life before being a guardian. Anyway, the work goes on. We have a girl that is going to be baptized soon named Alejandra. She is also an investigator of gold like Katherine. And only has 13 years! Wow! Hope everything goes really well back home! I'm happy to see that everyone there is happy. I am too :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Life en la Costa Caribeña‏

This week went by really fast for me! It wasn't the greatest week, but we worked hard anyway! We had one of the best lessons I have given in my life with Nilson and Carmen about why the Book of Mormon and the Bible compliment each other. They were knocked over with shock at the lesson, and Nilson said that he believed what we said because he felt it. Neither of them came to church though, and we were pretty sad for that. Karen is too ill with her depression to comprehend the lessons,but the family still loves us a lot. Luis got sick with Chikungunya and couldn't come. But we had a lesson with his two sisters, and in the middle of the lesson I had the impression to change the whole lesson. I told them the story of Peter and Jesus. Jesus said "do you love me?" two times to which Peter responded "you knowest that I love you", and after he said "feed my sheep" I told them that every time the missionaries ask people to commit to something its because God loves them and wants what's best for them, and He asks us the same question with every commitment. "Do You love me Wendy/Yaritza Polo?" "You knowest that we love you" Then God tells us "Go to my church/read my scriptures/talk to me daily and nightly in prayer". They both came to church and Wendy was "rescued" or is active in the church again. I have also reactivated a separated mother whose child doesn't want to see her again. We had 6 less actives come to church this Sunday. And the Bishop told us "I know that cambios(transfers)are this Monday, but you guys are the 4 best missionaries this ward has had in years, possibly forever". We were pretty happy afterwards. I am very happy. I have focused on only three things: the people, the Lord, and becoming consecrated. I feel like I was born into the mission, and that life before the mission almost didn't exist. It is weird. But good. I have quite literally never been happier in all of my life. I'm so glad that I am an example to Nick. I want him to change the list to say "Be like Jesus Christ" instead of "Be like Clark". This is going to sound very Baptist/evangelical but I have come to know Jesus Christ very personally. I only think of him almost all day long, and I am trying to be more like him, finding and giving service everywhere we go. I have washed dishes, ironed clothes, and cleaned houses all of this week, and the people are more receptive of us! It is great! One of my pairs of shoes is unrecognizable as a shoe because I have worn them in so hard. Definitely serve as missionaries. Without member missionaries, the work does not exist. So transfers are today and I will find out what happens tonight. To be a missionary, (I have realized this week) we should focus on the less active families and people. Ask the Bishop and missionaries who they are and immediately befriend them. There were about 300 people that live in my area that are members. 4 of them died without the ward knowing. About 260 of them have moved without the knowledge of many. And the rest are almost all less active. This shouldn't happen, because the ward should be like a family. Much love, See ya next week (in Email) Élder Clark Manwaring

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

This is HIS Work and Glory...‏

This last week was tough, and disapointing in some aspects, but I am much tougher! I was still sick and I got worse and worse, until I figured out that it was the Multivitamin that you gave me before I left that was acting like The Terminator in my stomach. Lets hope it "wont be back" (Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation). I am so deep in the spirit and love for the people that surround me, sometimes it kills me inside when I can't comfort someone with a hug, I love these people so much. I am much more Costeño now. I am much less timid or shy, and more open to share my feelings with people, and have a good time! I am loving my mission so much! Ay Hombe Wey Pa Jey (it means woo hoo in Vallenato) I pray for you all so much! Nilson and Carmen are progressing so well, especially Carmen. She almost became a Nun in the Catholic church, and is a women's pastor in a evangelical church, but is learning and growing in testimony so rapidly, its crazy! The Mom (Emma) and Karen her daughter next. We visited them several times during the week. One of the times, we came as Karen was having a severe episode of depression. It was one of the worst sadness's I have ever seen. I could see in her eyes that she was trapped inside of herself and wanted to be normal, but was wrenching in pain on the outside and screaming and crying. I told my companion "We need to sing a hymn". I chose my favorite. Abide With Me tis Eventide. It reminds me of when I felt the spirit in our home in Utah, when the house is clean, there is a candle lit, and the house seems to be a soft shade of orange in all the house. She stopped crying and went to her room and fell asleep, exhausted after crying for hours on end. Her Mom said that she had never seen even medicine calm her that fast during an episode. It sounds like this week has been super busy for all of you guys! Especially you and Avita ;) You guys are really starting a change in the world of pediatric Cancer, and helping out others as well! I hope it goes really well for you guys on TV again! Wao! I also hope you did well in Stake Conference! Another story: We met up with a less active guy of my same age named Luis Miguel Polo. He hasn't been to church in years, and the missionaries have been visiting him for 10 years, with is about 100 missionaries. I asked him "where do you want to be in 5 years?" He answered easily and I wrote it on my mini whiteboard. I then asked the same question, but in 10 years, it was harder for him to answer. But he did. I wrote it and then asked where he would be in 25 years. He stopped and he said: "I will be 50 years old, and nothing will matter to me." I told him "Your family will be what matters to you. And if you strive to be more like Christ you will mean the world to them." He stopped and said "I will do everything to make that a reality" and so I said "You can start by going to church with us tomorrow." He did! And he bore his testimony in front of everyone, and thanked me for helping him set his priorities straight, and progress towards his goals. His inactive sister came too. I almost cried I was so happy! Congratulations to Lauren for her accomplishment(getting accepted to BYU)! And Nicks campaign is freaking awesome and endorsed by his brother ;). Muy Bien! The story is touching and was a little hard to read. But I am excited to see how it turns out in the Magazine. Ava is marvelous! And cute! Love you all so much, and I hope it goes great for all of you guys this week. This is quite possibly my last week in Valledupar, because we have area changes this next Monday. Te Amo al Tizo (Costeñol for the most), Élder Manwaring

This week in the Valle! ‏ 02/23/15

Colombia supports Nick! I will tell the stories of this week first. First, we found a man who has one good eye and the other is all light blue, he is addicted to all hardcore drugs that exist here in Colombia, and has been for 25 years. He is 36 years old. He is Rolo Cachaco (from Bogota). We taught him the Word of Wisdom and set a plan to get him out of addiction. His dad met us and we gave him a little pamphlet/book of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We finished the lesson, and walked away, but the dad followed after us running and said "I read the pamphlet, and how much does a Book of Mormon cost?" He had read and underlined almost the entire pamphlet in 15 minutes and he wanted a book of Mormon! So cool! Katarina is doing awesome and attends church every week! I know that she will be a leader in the church someday. Another story is that the couple that can't have kids invited us over again, and immediately we felt the spirit. The guy is named Nilson Diaz, and the wife is named Carmen Ariza. Carmen told us defiantly in the Restoration lesson "Everyone knows the first pope was Peter, the disciple of Christ." I know from experience that arguing never works, so I bore my testimony, stronger than I have ever before. Afterwards she said that she believed my words, that like the wind, she couldn't see it...but she could feel it. I committed them to baptism, and they both came to church and sat next to us. They said afterwards "this is how the church of Christ should be. There are no guitars, or yelling, or paying money to receive "revelation" from a pastor". Awesome! And another story of success. We passed by a more poor part of the area (which means that they are still rich) and a girl yelled to us "brothers!" (Hermanos!) She looked slightly deranged, but I walked up to her, and asked her how things have been. In a few short minutes, we had both her and her Mom out on the front porch talking to us. The girl explained that she almost was baptized, but fell into deep depression and was hospitalized days before the baptism. She felt like she had no friends, and the Elders were her only friends. They both believe that the church is true. The Mom dreamed a vision where she spoke with Joseph Smith. She and her mother explained that the missionaries were angels in their lives, but left after a time (sent to another area). She and her mother cried so hard the day they left, and the ward didn't continue to befriend them. The girl named Karen re-fell into depression, and they thought that God gave up on them, until we passed by that house and decided to talk to them. They both accepted baptism dates! Woo Hoo! And Lastly, I had 3 days of a stomach bug. The reason? I bought unlabeled Granadilla seeds in a container. I ate a bunch, but it tasted a little different. Its because it had certain preservative that causes blowout diarrhea. Those three days were crap. Literally. I lost about 8 or 9 pounds. In the house of a member I had diarrhea while going to the bathroom. The house was small and the noises were echoing in the house. I heard laughter in the living room. But I am costeño, so it didn't bother me. I left the bathroom and said "Did you guys hear my concert/symphony in the bathroom?" To the kids in the house, and there was less tension afterwards. :) That is so cool that you guys and going to be famous on KSL and Worldwide in the "Friend" magazine. Friend doesn't exist here in Colombia. Liahona does. But send me a photo of Ava in the magazine when it comes out! And Tell the littles that I love and miss them, and that they should pray often. And that the family can do scripture study every night! I recently finished the Book of Mormon for the 2nd time in my mission! I know the Book of Mormon like the back of my hand now! Love you guys and hope everything goes really well for you guys this week. Stay close to the Lord. You are a good person Mom. When I introduce myself to the people I teach, I show them the picture of the whole family in the Library. They always say "Your Mom looks like she is from Colombia, she is very beautiful." or "Your Dad is a lucky Man." Love you all so much!I appreciate all of your encouragement. I have really felt the hand of the Lord in the work.