Friday, December 25, 2009

Ana Karina's Baptism

Dear Family of mine-
Hope you are enjoying the sights out there in New York!!! Hope you are enjoying shopping!!!! HaHa! Sorry Dad we`ll go do a bunch of manly guy activities when I get home (remember I still haven`t even seen the second batman movie!). I`m glad you are all having fun!! I remember when we were there in 200.....7? visiting with Melia and Josè. Remember when we went to ground zero and they said that they were going to build another, bigger building on that spot? how`s that going? Just a thought.
So Ana`s baptism on Saturday was GREAT. Honestly in my life I have never been in a baptism that was so spiritual. Ever. There were only about 15 people there (because that day there were 5 activities going on in the chapel AT THE SAME TIME!!!) But it was honestly incredible. One of the sisters in the ward (the district choir director, and one of Ana`s co workers and best friends) sang a special number from a Y.W. disc called " You are a daughter of God" and it was such a good song. Half way through the sister that was singing started to cry and so did Ana and so did I (almost). In a part of the song it said something about how before we were born our Heavenly Father had us in His arms right before we left His presence, hoping that some day we would be able to come back to Him. I could honestly see that happening with Ana right before she came to earth, and I could feel (in a very small degree) how happy and pleased Heavenly Father was because He knew that as she took the step of baptism it was making it possible her return to Him. It was great!!!!
Also, we had another really really good experience this week with a family called Familia Gaete. When I got to this sector 2 months ago, there was a letter in the apartment for that family from one of the missionaries that used to be in this sector. But Elder Butròn didn`t know who they were. Every once in a while when I saw the letter sitting there I felt that we had to find them. But every member we asked didn`t know who they were. Until.......last Thursday we were teaching Carla (she`s a whole different story) with Maritza (a member of the church who`s preparing for a mission, and Carla`s sister in law) and after the lesson with Carla we were going to go visit Max (a recent convert who`s 90 and says he used to be a Mason. He`s really inteligent but a little crazy) and we asked Maritza if she knew who Familia Gaete was. She was "heck yes I do, why haven`t you guys been visiting them?" I said "cuz we don`t know where they live!!" So Maritza brought us to their house! The mom, Wilma, is a member, but inactive. Her daughter, Barbara, is 13 and is not a member. The missionaries were teaching her about 3 months ago but they stopped coming by. We sang some christmas hymns with them and then shared "Permanaced", the lesson to invite inactive members back to the church. They said they would come, but they didn`t come to the chapel yesterday, but we had a cita with them at 5:00 and we went. They said they didn`t come to church because they couldn`t wake up on time, but next week for sure! Then we started teaching lesson 1, the restoration. After the lesson, Barbara asked her mom if she could please go outside for a moment and talk with us privately, so her mom went outside. Then Barbara started to tell us why they missionaries stopped coming. She was preparing to be baptized, but started to have some doubts and insecurities, The missionaries thought she didn`t want to get baptized so they stopped visiting her. But she said that during those 3 months that the missionaries stopped visiting she felt like something was missing in her life, and she couldn`t stop thinking about the church. She said that she knows that this is the path that she wants to follow and has January 16th as her baptismal date!!!!!! So that was way cool. This year for our christmas gift to President Jones, each companionship has to think of a miracle that they have had in the last two weeks, then do a 1 minute recording describing the miracle. Today we recorded all of the miracles in the zone before we played soccer, and we have to burn them onto a dvd tomorrow. So there will be 90 minutes of miracles for President Jones! Elder Marìn and I decided that Barbara should be our miracle. I gave a talk yesterday about the "family mission plan" That was a wonderful experience.
Yesterday Maximo received the Aaronic priesthood, and was ordained as a priest. and I did the ordenation!!!! Màximo asked me to do it for him. This was the first time I have ever done a priesthood ordenation. Màximo is incredible. He will be going on a mission some day. We talked to President Jones about Daniela, since she is so young and her parents aren`t members she will have to attend church for 3 months before she can be baptized. Sad bears. We need to focus on Rafael, her brother, so that he can be worthy of his priesthood. If he stays active, so will she. But without him it will be very difficult. There is much more to tell, but i`ll save it for the phone call!! I sure do hope that you`re flight doesn`t get canceled so that you can be at home when I call! Because answering machines don`t replace families! Everything will be fine. No worries. Suave, porque sauve es todo, as Elder Marìn always said. And by the way I love Elder Marìn. quite possibly more than any other companion. Although I also really love Elder Butterfield and my boy Elder Cannon. We are having a great time now. I`ll send another email with details about the phone call. Happy Birthday Mom!!! Thanks for all you have done for me. I love you so much!
Much love!

Elder Cloward

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tiempode de elecciones

Dear Family:
So yesterday was the day of the Chilean Presidential elections. Here politics is a lot differente. Instead of just two big parties they have seven. And there were 4 presidential candidates. But in order for one of them to win, one person had to get over 50% of the vote. No one did, so they took the top two candidates and there will be a second election in January. Sadly there were 3 investigators that commited to come to church but then didn`t because they went to vote instead. But they will come next week! I`ve learned to be patient with things like this. All that matters is that people accept the gospel. If they do it after I leave the sector, it doesn`t matter. So I decided that this week, due to a time scarcity, I will share my funny stories with the whole family. So there are two new missionaries that we live with, Elder Johnston (from new york, he has two weeks left in the mission), Elder Urbina (from Honduras, he has about 8 months in the mission), and my new companion is Elder Marìn from Colombia. We are both staying here in Talagante. He got to the mission the same time as Elder Krainik, Elder Mawhinney and I. He lived with Elder Mawhinney on the coast for our first 6 months in Chile. He is a great missionary and works very hard. I think we will get along just fine. So yesterday, due to the elections, there is a law about public buildings not being in use for more than one hour, so that everyone can vote. So we had a big combined Sacrament meeting with our branch (Talagante) and the other branch that uses our chapel (Cordillera). So the two new elders, my new companion, and the two sister missionaries that just got here (5 missionaries in total) were asked to introduce themselves in the Sacrament meeting. So the two new elders went first, and after they finished, this little old man walked up to the stand, and stood up to go share his testimony. It was really sweet because he thought we were just doing a testimony meeting and wanted to share his testimony! So he stood up but the branch president explained that it wasn't a testimony meeting. So the other three missionaries introduced themselves, and they let the little old man share his testimony with us. Later on in the sacrament meeting, one of the sisters was giving her talk. There were 3 people that had been assigned talks, but due to the 5 missionary introductions, plus the little old man`s testimony, time was pretty short. And the hermana talked for a long time! So the branch president passed her a little paper, which we all know said something like "your time is up, please finish your talk." but the hermana just kept talking and said "the little paper they just passed me said "your doing a great job with your talk!
keep it up!"" We all laughed pretty hard. When she finished her talk, the sacrament meeting ended and the other two people that had prepared talks didn`t give them. Next week! Also, after the sacrament meeting Ana had her baptismal interview. and passed! So that`s good news. Màximo now comes to church in a suit that one of the members gave to him. Yesterday he was sustained to receive the Aaronic priesthood in the office of a priest, but he will have to be set apart next week. We found out that his grandma was a member. Rafael came to church too, the third time in a row. but his mom went to vote and Daniela was sick.
So being a zone leader is a lot different from being a district leader. In some ways it is easier, but in other ways it is harder. The good side is that my companion and I are both zone leaders, and we both have almost a year and a half in the mission, so any challenges we have we can face them together. In our zone there are two districts, one has 4 companionships and the other has 5. The district leaders do the interviews for the investigators of the companionships in their district, and we interview the investigators of the district leaders, since they can`t interview their own investigators. Instead of doing district meetings every week, we only have to plan one zone meeting every 6 weeks. We also have to plan with the district leaders, the iniciatives of every change. There are usually three iniciatives each change, which are all like fun little plans to help the missionaries improve and learn how to do the work better. On the first Friday of every change we have a meeting called "concilio" where all of the zone leaders (about 18 in total) go to the mission home and we talk with President Jones and he tells us about the vision that he has for the next change and what we wants the missionaries to focus on the next 6 weeks, and he asks for ideas from all of us. We had the meeting this past Thursday in Santiago. It is from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and we eat breakfast and lunch in the mission home. The weird thing about the meeting this Thursday was that President Jones never took time to just talk to all of us. He made most of us talk about how to make the mission better. He usually takes the last half hour of zone conferences and concilio to give one last super spiritual class and then finish with his testimony, but he did it differently this time. He stood up and said "I want all of you to think about who Jesus Christ is and pick the scripture that the spirit indicates to you." and so we all picked a scripture and read them one by one. here is a list of the scriptures that we read:
Alma 7:11-12
Mosìah 3:7-81
Nephi 9:19
Mark 15:24
Alma 34:14-15
Moroni 7:47
D&C 6:363
Nephi 11:10-14
Ether 3:13-14
Mosiah 3:172
Nephi 2:26
Isaiah 40:29-313
Nephi 27:13-14
Mosiah 14:2-7
D&C 45:3-5
D&C 50:41-45
D&C 19:16-19
Luke 22:40-443
Nephi 15:9
Alma 42:23
Mosiah 15:8-91
Nephi 21:14, 16 (my favorite scripture in the Book of Mormon, but nobody read it during the concilio, I put it in after). It was a very spiritual meeting. I have come to realize early in my mission, that the only reason that this work even exists is because of Jesus Christ. And the only thing that can truly motivate us to participate in His work is Love. Nothing else is a strong enough motivation to keep working as a missionary for 2 years. I know that He is sustaining me in every step that I take. President said in his closing testimony that day: "I am here so that I can use every last bit of energy that I have in the service of my Saviour Jesus Christ. Every time I think that I can`t go any farther, that my energy has all run out, He gives me more energy, He makes me stronger and helps me keep going." I know that this is true. I hope you all have a great Christmas and can feel the love of the Saviour and help bring that love to other people, as you have already done to me. I love you!!!
Elder Cloward

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Good News

Dear Family,
Well,there are many eventful things that have happened this last week. Most eventful starting with yesterday. We were eating lunch and we got a call from President Jones. He talked to Elder Butròn and called him as assistant! Haha Elder Butròn was definitely not expecting that. President always calls the assistants the Sunday before changes so that they can be there Tuesday morning and help with changes. So Elder Butròn had about 3 hours to say bye to a few people and then pack up. Elder Finter and Elder Williams (the assistants) came to the pension and picked him up. Elder Williams is going home in three weeks, and he will be a traveling assistant until he goes home, which means that he goes to a different sector every day and does divisions with a different companion every day. Elder Butròn will be with Elder Finter. Right now my companion is Elder Delong, but he is just a temporary companion. On Tuesday we will go to changes together, and we will take his new companion back to his sector, and I will come back here with my new companion. Also, in order for you to understand a little better the sitiuation, there is something I have to tell you that happened 6 weeks ago when I got to Talagante. On the day of changes President called me and asked me if I would accept the calling to be a zone leader, and of course I accepted even though I was really nervous. At first I didn`t want to tell the family because I really want to avoid the whole "look at me I`m a zone leader" attitude, cuz that`s just stupid. I`ve met a lot of moms in the mission who have missionary sons and they only talk about the leadership positions that their sons have "my son`s a district leader and he only has 7 months in the mission blablabla". Although I know that they are just proud of their sons. But if I had a son that was a missionary I wouldn`t be proud of him for that, I would just be proud of him for working as hard as he can, whether he has a leadership position or not. It`s really not that big of a deal anyway. But as I thought about it more, I realized that it was selfish of me to not tell you about my experiences in the mission. So then I decided to tell you about it, and then I just kinda forgot. So now I am telling you. the end. So the zone leaders are usually a companionship. Last change, Elder Butròn and I were the zone leaders, and now that he is gone, a new companion will come to help me with the zone. I will let you know who he is next week.
In other news, President jones is going to send 4 new missionaries to the zone to help in two of the branches that need more support: Esmeralda and Cordillera. They will only be here for 3 weeks. The two missionaries that will be working in Cordillera will live with us, since they obviously can`t live with the sister missionaries that are currently working in Cordillera. And the Elders in Esmeralda will live in Esmeralda.
In other news, Daniela the nine year old, is very excited to get baptized. She made a deal with her brother Rafael that he has to get reactviated so that he can baptize her. When we were in a lesson with her on Friday she said "I`m already ready to get baptized, I`m just waiting for Rafael to come back to church" Every time that she prays in the lessons she prays that Rafael can try harder to become active in church again. Rafael came the last two weeks, but he is struggling with the word of wisdom. The Branch President said that if he works hard he should be ready to baptize her by the end of the month. Also, yesterday as Elder Butròn was saying his goodbyes, we talked to Ana and told her: "Ana, you could get baptized two weeks from now. You are ready. Will you prepare yourself for an interview next weekend?" And she said yes! So Elder Delong and I went by last night to teach a lesson and she has a fecha for December 19.
To answer your questions: 1. i got the package from grandma and grandpa. Thank you very much 2. No, we did not get to watch the Christmas Devotional - so thank you for taping it. I think that's all for this week.
Elder Cloward

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cuenta tus bendiciones

Dear family,
Thanks so much for the list of blessings that you sent me, that was a really great idea. I feel like my greatest blessing is having a family that loves me and supports me and lives the gospel. There are so many Elders here who are the only members in their family (like my companion, well his little brother is a member too, but they are pretty much alone) I am also grateful for the blessing of being on a mission and having the opportunity to dedicate this time to the salvation of my brothers and sisters here in Chile. It`s pretty great. It makes me so happy to know that my small sacrifice during these last...17? months has blessed our family so much and also my many new friends here in Chile that have accepted the Gospel as well as those we have taught. Although, I also know that you are all being blessed through your individual efforts to live the Gospel.
As I have study the Book of Mormon throughout my life, I have realized that one of the phrases that is most repeated is when the Lord says “inasmuch as ye keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land”. I know that this promise is true.
This past weekend we had district conference (like stake conference, but with the district) and the person that presides over the district is the mission president, so President Jones was there and he spoke. He said that life is really just easy, but we are the ones that make it complicated. If we just do what the Lord asks of us, our lives will be easy. I can see that in his family (and also in ours) that we have truly been blessed with happiness because we just keep the commandments. Sometimes we are stubborn and think that our way is better than the Lord`s way, and that`s when we start to have problems. To Mom and Dad, thank you so much for raising us kids and teaching us correct gospel principals. I know that none of us are perfect, but as I grew up I could see that both of you had the desire to keep the Spirit of the Lord in our home, and I thank you so much for your efforts. Your love for others has been a wonderful example to me. To Janessa and Cara, thank you for being my big sisters and being my example. I have seen how both of you have fought with different trials and challenges, but have never put aside your values. Your faith and perseverance are truly examples to me. You have both shown me, in two different ways, how it is possible for us to live the gospel every day. I know that the Lord will bless you for your obedience because you truly seek to do His will before your own. This Thursday I barely realized that it was Thanksgiving, but I did open the tie, and wore it all day. Thank you so much-I love it! Elder Butròn and I both enjoyed the fudge. I got all of the packages and letters, thank you so much for sending me everything.
President Jones always says that if we are unhappy it is because we are only thinking about ourselves. When we think about others and count our blessings we are happy. Therefore, in this moment I am happy, and hope that all of you are too! I love you all and can`t wait for next Thanksgiving when we can all count our blessings together.
Elder cloward
Elder Cloward standing by a train bridge on the outskirts of his sector.

A gringo cow (Elder Cloward) and a peruvian cow (Elder Butron).

Elder Cloward milking a cow.