27 April 2012

{week 2} "companions"

Fam fam,

This week I have really gotten into a routine here at the CTM. The only difference is that a missionary in my district decided to go home, so I am now "companions" with a different set of Elders in my district. These new Elders are awesome. They make me laugh so hard! I have almost peed my skirt so many times from laughing so much! The three of us are really social with the Brazilian and Americans, so one could easily say we've got this place on lock down.

With these two missionaries I've learned that we can still have our fun personalities and teach an amazing lesson with the Spirit.

We have been teaching a lot, and I can definitely tell my portuguese is improving. It is pretty easy to feel the Spirit because of how much work goes into each lesson for studying the topic, writing down phrases/sentences in portuguese, and learning how to teach with others. I am so grateful for this opportunity to be speaking a foreign language. My teacher Irma Jardim said it best: you missionaries are essentially an investigator in Portuguese. You learn the simple words and rely on other's to help you learn. Speaking of which, Jardim won't be my teacher anymore because of schedule changes. So I'll be getting a new one tomorrow hopefully. It makes me so sad because Irma Jardim and I would talk all the time about what its like to be a sister missionary and all her experiences, she was essentially my Macarena. My whole district got so annoyed with us cause we would talk though out class just to each other. Oops, I guess in a district of all teenage Elders I need a feminine influence!

Elder Cook came to the CTM on Monday. He spoke with his wife, and 4 other people. Elder Cook's talked about how missionaries are not marketing the church, we are establishing it. We are the builders of His kingdom. His testimony was so strong and just what I needed. Sister Lysenko gave the closing prayer after the devotional and she did an amazing job (we say every prayer/song in portuguese)

Before every devotional on sundays we sing the brazil national anthem, our ctm presidente plays the piano and is so animated. I can't stop laughing when singing it! It is just so upbeat and fun!

Every devotional we all sing in the CTM Tabernacle Choir, all the songs we sing are: 1st verse portuguese, 2nd spanish and 3rd english. kind of cool to do that for hymns that I know.

My room is now me and 2 brazilians. I think that is why I'm picking up portuguese so fast!

Love you,
Sister Clark

{in true kenz fashion}
below is the picture she's referring to - I guess we just have a thing for grafitti

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19 April 2012

{week 1} solo

Thank you so much for using the Mission Ties thing! It really helped a lot! (leave a comment with your email if you want info on how to send free letters) The internet is pretty slow here and we still only have about 30 minutes to write! I hope you all got the picture of all the new missionaries, sorry i only sent it to kenz, I couldn't remember off the top of my head what dad or moms emails were with all the dots and middle intials...
I don't have a companion! I came into sao paulo and there was one other sister there at the airport who had come on another flight, i thought she would be my companion, but she is in the 9 week program and i'm in the 6. The ctm president's wife told me yesterday that i'm not getting a companion the whole time i am here. So my district has decided that she has honorably bailed from the mission. Or liz, find out if there is a sister in the mtc who started the same day as me and is a 6 weeker, cause she would have been my companion. As a solo sister it is so strange, kind of nice most of the time though. I'm allowed to go where ever I want by my self as long as I see any other missionaries in sight. So strange because I had mentally prepared to be latched onto someone's side while here. Guess that is something I will learn while in the field with my trainer.
My english is already going down the toilet (Speaking of which, you can flush the toilet paper down the toilet in the ctm. Thank goodness!) I am either speaking portugues or speaking english to the brazilians, africans who are learning english. So my thought process has been really dumbed down. Sorry if nothing makes sense. In the ctm we are allowed to go outside and walk around the town (about a 4 block radius each way from the ctm) on our p day. It was so much fun today! We were out from 11-3 today eating at a rodizio restaurant and going to the different shops to get more essentials. I went with Lindsey Haselden and her companion and their district becuase my district didn't want to go out.
My district of elders is pretty strange, they wanted to build a mattress fort inside instead of going out. They are amazing though and such hard workers. My teachers are amazing too. I have two teachers. Irma Jardim and Irmao Leo. Irma Jardim is just like me and my whole district hates it when for half an hour we are just talking about brazilian culture instead of learning portuguese. Oops. From day one, I knew that after being in the ctm for six weeks I'd miss her the most. Irmao Leo is this really lanky italian brazilian. He speaks portuguese with an italian accent, so it gets pretty interesting in class.
Being in the ctm with Sister Lysenko is pretty much the highlight of my life. We are always making eachother  crack up! My roommates are two brazilians. One speaks english really well and the other is learning. One day they impersonated me and Sister Knoche (the other sister who came the same week as me but is on the 9 week program) doing the door approach. For Sister Knoche they made it all nice and sweet. For me they made it gangster. I guess my body language speaks louder than my words! Hah! They know me so well.
So far I can bare my testimony, say a prayer, recite the first vision, state the purpose of missionary work, and ask if someone will be baptized in portuguese! It is so amazing learning this language here! I use it all the time in the hallway, at all meals, and devotionals. Its pretty awesome to be able to practice this much and not feel like it just a challenge or obligation. It is mostly like a puzzle to me of how to say things with the few words I know.
Two elders (i guess my companions for this instance) and I have already given 3 lessons in portugues to our teacher Irmao Leo who plays an investigator. One of the elders is really struggling with the accent but he is so determined and is amazing at memorizing things, just not the accent. The other elder doesn't speak much but has the most sincere testimony at the end of each lesson. I have never felt the spirit so strong as i do in these lessons. spanish has helped out so much! Thanks macarena. 
For the first week we have mostly been studying the basics of preach my gospel, and I have had so much clarity with everything I study. I love being a missionary! 
funny things- 1. there are 2 buttons on the water fountain. one for brazilian water - room temp, and american water- cooled. i feel like its the 1950s in the south.... so strange. 2. when we were were walking around the first dayin the neighborhood i saw a bearded lady. brazil is awesome. i loved it. 3. my teacher irma jardim was wesley's teacher! he told her about me! so the first week irma jardim walked in and said SSSIIIISSSTTEEERRRR CCCLLLLAAARRRRKKKK!!! best welcome ever.
Life is a blast. I've never worked so hard, been so happy, and accomplished so much in my life.
the church is true!
love you all.
sister clark

09 April 2012

Abby's Farewell Talk

       This is a copy of Abby's farewell talk she gave in Short Hills Ward on March 18th: 

       Good morning brothers and sisters. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Abby Clark. I’ve grown up in this wonderful ward; I graduated Summit High School in 2008, and am a student at Brigham Young University studying Art Education. I have been called to serve a mission to the Brazil Salvador South Mission and I leave for the Sao Paulo, Brazil Missionary Training Center on April 10th
        The importance of sharing the gospel and my reasons for serving a mission are what I am here to talk about with you today. 
        The purpose of a missionary is to “Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ, His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.” Each aspect of this mission statement I have a strong testimony of. 
        Joseph Smith restored the church to the earth when he read the scripture James 1:5, did as instructed, and asked God which church to join. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him in the Sacred Grove in Palmyra, New York. Through this first vision and other occurrences we now have the restored truth, the Priesthood, and the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ. I know that this indeed happened. I have walked through the Sacred Grove, I have been healed though the power of the Priesthood, I have asked God to know if the Book of Mormon is true and through the Holy Ghost I came to know its truthfulness. 
        The Plan of Salvation, Plan of Happiness, or Plan of Redemption is perfect and it can be applied to all people. Once we understand the questions, “Where did we come from?” “Why are we here?” and “Where we are going?” (Questions that are answered in the Plan of Salvation) we can bring joy, love, and purpose, to our lives. Like it says in 1 Corinthians 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” The key part to this Plan of Salvation is Christ’s Atonement; He suffered on the cross for me, He went through everything I have gone through and have yet to go through in this life where I am being tried and tested. Through the Atonement we can have eternal life and dwell in heaven with Heavenly Father.
        In “The Plan of Salvation: A Flight Plan for Life,” a talk by Elder Duane B. Gerrard, he likened life and the plan of salvation to flying a plane. He said in his talk, “Are you familiar with your flight plan of life—the Lord’s plan of Salvation? If not, then do as we do in the airlines—enroll yourself in a refresher course, the Lord’s recurrent training. These refresher courses, as he says are:
                -Become more actively involved in Christ’s teachings
    -Always attend Sacrament meeting, and keep the Sabbath day   holy
                -Pay tithes and offerings more frequently
                -Give more of yourself to others.
                -Show more love to family and friends
                -Be an example. 
        These bullet points are so simple, and proof that the gospel is not a complicated list of rules and traditions that are hard to follow.  
        Elder Quentin L Cook gave the last Church Education Fireside to the young single adults. He said to stop wearing a mask, stop being someone who doesn’t reflect who you want to be. Be someone who represents God and be proud of it! This reminds me of the “I AM A MORMON” campaign. In this campaign, people define themselves with their heritage, background, and hobbies and then proudly say: “I am a Mormon.” This is the best way to do as Elder Gerrard councils, being an example and showing love to family and friends. I still cringe at the fact that one of my good friends from middle school and high school found out my senior year that I was a Mormon. She just said, “I always thought you were a little different, a little weird, but it makes so much sense now!” The weird part is probably my personality. But differences in behavior is being a Mormon and sticking to those standards. After that incident, I have thrown in the phrase “I am a Mormon” into so many conversations without any effort at all. I do that so others may know, and so I can know who and what I am representing in my actions. 
        In the Book of Mosiah, Mosiah’s four sons Ammon, Aaron, Omner, and Himni repented of their sins and wrongdoings after an angel appeared unto them to convince them of the power and authority of God. They could not dispute this power of God. They knew the gospel was true and then wanted to share it with others. In Mosiah 27: 36  it says: “And thus they were instruments in the hands of God in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, to the knowledge of their Redeemer.” I love the phrase “instruments in the hands of God,” it makes me think of individuals playing in an orchestra together to create one melody. Each part of this orchestra is crucial and the song wouldn’t sound the same if one of the instruments was missing. I used to play the french horn in elementary school. And if anyone has ever played the french horn they know what a difficult instrument it is to play, especially for an elementary aged pip squeek like me. Anytime we were all playing together, I would just make it look like I was playing and hum my part. I’m pretty sure the concerts would have sounded better if the loud humming had stopped and french horn playing had started.  
        These instruments of God were united in one purpose of bringing others to Heavenly Father. Mosiah continues in 27:37 saying, “And how blessed are they! For they did publish peace; they did publish good tidings of good; and did declare unto the people that the Lord reigneth.” This is missionary work: working towards peace, establishing good works, and testifying of the Lord.
        I was talking to my uncle Jamon recently on this very topic. He said that on September 11, 2001 Merrill J. Bateman was supposed to give the BYU devotional. It was meant to be a “Welcome to BYU address,” but instead, he talked about the gospel. My uncle Jamon says he remembers Elder Bateman stressing the fact that the gospel brings peace. It is a message of peace, and it unites all different types of people towards one cause of bring them unto Christ. As many of you were living in the tri-state area when it happened and witnessed first-hand the consequences of other’s actions, I can’t think of any more powerful of a reason to want to share the gospel. 
        Heavenly Father has indeed prepared me for this calling. As a sister in the church it is an option to serve a mission when you are 21. When I was putting in my papers to get this call I thought that over the past year was the only time I was preparing, and I regretted not preparing everyday of my life. But once I received my call and had A LOT of time to prepare for it, I realized that Heavenly Father had been preparing me my whole life for this opportunity to serve. Every righteous choice I’ve made can be connected to serving a mission.
        While in high school my family was able to serve in the East Orange branch. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Going from Short Hills where I didn’t have a calling (granted I was still in Young Women’s) to East Orange where I was kept busy every hour helping out, was a big change. It made me realize how important the fundamentals are in the church and how the gospel can turn people’s lives around for the better. 
A little while ago I became utterly obsessed with a group fitness class called Zumba, through that class I have become friends with many Brazilians, and even went to a Brazilian festival where I was in shock that I couldn’t understand a single word they were saying even though they insisted that it was similar to Spanish. I have been able to get a glimpse into Brazilian culture and the spirit of these people through this. 
        When my sister Elizabeth came home from her mission, Elder Bednar of the twelve apostles came to talk to the Young Single Adults in New York and New Jersey. Liz wanted to go to both. I made fun of her for wanting that, because I thought he’d be giving the same talk. Little did I know, it was a question and answer. The first night, in New York, Elder Bednar said that the young single adults of the church were not doctrinally grounded enough and that we hadn’t sacrificed the time to earn that foundation of the gospel. The second night, in New Jersey, I asked him, as he put it, “a follow up, reporter’s question” about what we needed to do to earn that foundation of the church.  
        While he was answering my question it felt like there was energy channeling from Elder Bednar to me, and Heavenly Father to Elder Bednar. To quote one of my favorite movies, “Tron”, it felt like “ribbons of light” connecting me to Elder Bednar, and Elder Bednar to Heavenly Father. Elder Bednar said we need to find themes in the doctrines of the church and connect important points all across the scriptures.  He said, “Don’t be an object in the scriptures; be an agent.” That statement resonated with me. Be an agent. Choose to represent the scriptures and the gospel. And that day I did.
Joseph Smith said, “A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.” This is why I am so excited to serve a mission! 
        I know that God lives. I know that Christ atoned for our sins. I know that the church is restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. I know that the book of Mormon is true and that President Monson is a true prophet on the earth today. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.