Monday, March 23, 2015
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
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
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 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