Mailing Address

Elder Matthew David Clough
California Ventura Mission
3301 West Gonzales Road
Oxnard, California 93036

Phone: 1-805-485-1034 (only necessary for packages)

Monday, December 31, 2012


Holy Hannah banana, mom's email just about blew my mind! I can't believe Brian and Aj are heading off, especially Aj! It's crazy to think they're out there, and I don't really know why.  It just seemed like it should have been a lot farther down the road. At any rate, I wish them both all the success in the world. It was also cool to hear about Brother Embry's daughter going out too. Wasn't her name... Amanda? (It's not Amanda but I'm not sure what her name is.  She is just older than Amanda)  I don't know why I think it is; I really have no idea. But make sure everyone else goes too; it's the most important thing out there now!

So, we had a really great week; Christmas was especially good stuff, and after that the days just seemed to fall into the normal groove.    The highlight of the week was definitely seeing Brother Palmer get baptized! It was really cool to see and affected a lot of the members in a very positive way. They all knew that if he didn't know VERY deeply that this was absolutely true, he'd never be doing it. But he did. Brother Bryan baptized him, and then Sunday we all stood in the circle to confirm him and give him the gift of the Holy Ghost. I can't wait to see how it's affected him over the course of a few days. I'd never realized how much it completely changes people as I have out here. Seeing Rosario, Ernestina, Guillermo, and now Carmen grow so much in a few short weeks has been absolutely miraculous. Another cool thing that happened just last night was when we finally got around to going to the Savea's house again. So, as we were talking, waiting for dinner, Fusi comes into the room, and guess what? Fusi's opened his mouth! He's speaking in both English and Samoan. Sometimes he tries to go back to his hand guestures and babble, but Sister Savea tells him off when he does.  It was really awe inspiring to me, to see a blessing like that work so suddenly. I felt very grateful to be part of that.

Another cool experiance that happened this week; Elder Marquez and I were on exchanges, teaching Katrina (Benjamin's wife) in Maricopa. He was sick and couldn't meet with us, but she told us she'd read, and she really loved the plan of Salvation when we taught it. Unfortunately they didn't make it to the baptism, or to church, but she told us she loved that Matthew is really starting to like us. She says we're good people to look up to, which is nice to hear, all things considered.  Anyway, after that we decided to go tracting, so we picked a street, walked along it a ways, and then I just walked up to a house and knocked on the door. Inside I could see an older woman and a teenager, and she answered the door. Right after she did, I hear this old man shout "Come in!" A bit perplexed (this is a VERY uncommon occurance. It's never happened to me before.) we walked in and he asked us "who we were with" so we told him we're missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He then replied "Oh. Well I go to the Church of Christ, so I'm not interested." But I figured we were in there for a reason, so I said "that's fine." and started talking to him anyway. He's got a pretty interesting life; he was an electrician on airplanes; specifically, he helped work on and design? the really cool black triangle bomber, the air force uses all the time. He's got a cool picture of him and a bunch of guys standing in front of one of them, and on the front row is Neal Armstrong. Very cool. At any rate, we taught him and his wife the Gospel of Jesus Christ (article of faith #4) during which she gave us some newspapers from the Church of Christ (interesting stuff, mostly true. closer than a lot of other peoples stuff I've read) so we took the opportunity to give them the Restoration pamphlet, and we taught them the whole restoration. The spirit was incredibly strong.

So that's been our week. Yes, I did get the packages for Christmas, and I'm really very grateful for everything you all do for me. Also, tell Dad I finally realized why he never uses punctuation correctly. Spanish is worse on your punctuation than it is on your spelling, believe it or not. They use question and exclamation marks like parentheses in the middle of the sentence, run on sentences are completely legal and in fact required (I've read paragraphs in Predicad Mi Evangelio that are a single HUGE sentance whereas in Preach My Gospel the same paragraph is composed of 12 different sentences) and so are double negatives. (some passages in the Book of Mormon REALLY confuse spanish speakers because they're not in Double Negative format.) So I've developed sympathy for him.

At any rate, I love you all, and can't wait to hear what you've all been up to. Stay feelin' good!


Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, December 24, 2012

White Christmas!

This week has been absolutely crazy! We've been on a kind or roller-coaster of excitement.

The first thing that happened was that Alicia passed her interview! We were so happy and excited to see her finally ready. So, much to our surprise and dismay, the VERY NEXT DAY their father decides to go back to Mexico. Alicia had been crying all day when she found out, because she wouldn't be able to be baptized Sunday. So, Thursday morning at 2:00, in spite of everything we said and talked to them about, they hauled off. Of course, we gave them the direction to the church down there, but it's at least a 2 hour drive, so if her parents won't come to church when it's 5 minutes away, how are they going to come down there!? Not to mention how they're going to pay for the gas and provide for their family. It was a really tough morning. The rest of the day was good though. We went to the Christmas devotional with the other zones in Bakersfield. It was really cool to see Elder Jenkins and Elder Vaca Guzman there. The President and everyone gave really great talks, to inspire everyone, and also showed us the PianoGuys Christmas video (the one mom was talking about) It was really great!

So, that was pretty rough, but we still pushed forward for Carmen. We were exceedingly busy, though, and didn't quite take as much time as we might have to visit her. Fortunately she's a trooper, so she fought pretty well. Then, when we asked Rosario to give the talk on the Holy Ghost, she not only accepted it right off (which was a huge surprise for me) she ran by Carmen's to talk to her, which was HUGE because Carmen was struggling in her testimony. She was saying she wasn't sure she'd received an answer that the Book of Mormon is true (which isn't true, she was on FIRE up until the last day before the baptism.) Rosario talked to her a good bit, and then when we passed by we helped her really get excited and in gear. So on Saturday, we got ready to baptize Carmen. It was... something else. So, in most church buildings when you run the water in the font, you've got to run it straight hot, and then it'll run out of hot water and the water will be about right. So we did that. Apparently the building in Taft has an infinite supply of hot water, because when I got in the water to Baptize Carmen it was VERY VERY hot! She couldn't get in, and I couldn't blame her. It was a lot hotter than any hot tub I'd been in. So, we ran the water straight cold, and I jumped in and started stirring the water around for close to 15 minutes. My hands and feet were redder than a stop sign and I was pouring down sweat. Elder Johnson about laughed his head off, as well as the Zone leaders.    So then, I forgot part of the Baptism ordinance (comisionado), so it's a good thing Elder Johnson reminded me. When she was baptized and I went to change, though, the spirit was very strong. So, then the next day Elder Johnson gave her the gift of the Holy Ghost. It felt really good, especially since Elder V gave me the mandate to go help her.

Brother Palmer is progressing like a boss. He's a licensed Baptist Minister, but he's received a witness that the Book of Mormon is true, and while he has a hard time with certain ideas in the Gospel, he's told us he's going to learn and work on it. We've taught him everything, he's good with it all, so we're having his interview on Wednesday and on Saturday he'll be baptized by Brother Bryan, his home teacher. He's super excited, underneath his cool, grumpy shell.   When his wife bought him a triple combination this weekend, he got all happy and said "Now I've got All of them!" That's real cool, given his total alliance and devotion to the King James.

As for Isaias, we're going to have to wait a bit longer; we haven't had much time to teach him, and he's got a learning disability anyway. So we're going to plan on next week.

Also; while Brother Estill and Sister Estill were coming back from Fiji with their son, Elder Ben Estill; they ran into Paul and Family! It was really cool to talk to them about Paul and his mission and stuff, but they forgot to mention that they know his cousin! So if someone could let Paul know at some point in time that I ran into Elder Estill and family, I'd appreciate it.

So that's pretty much it; We've been having a totally crazy time here in Taft. I'm sorry I haven't had time to send out a lot of letters and mail to people, but I really think about you all a lot. I love you and wish you all a merry Christmas!


Elder Clough

Monday, December 17, 2012

It's the end of the world as we know it!

Or at least that's what it seems. Dec 21 2012 is coming up fast, and it's making a lot of a bigger fuss than it should.  I did really like an add by Dominoes, advertising their BIGGEST sale ever (just in case) on that day. I kept it.

In other news, I need to wish you a happy birthday Mom!  Love you a ton, and thanks for everything.

So, the day after the world ends, we're going to have two baptisms! Carmen passed her interview Sunday with President Ellige, and Elder Vaca Guzman is hyper excited to hear about it. Alicia also came to church, so she'll be ready for the 22nd! Unfortunately, at her brother's birthday party, her dad was definitely drinking, so I don't think he'll be ready to baptize her.   It's really sad to see that, but maybe seeing that he can't, and he should will wake him up.

We had a ton of crazy miracles last week too! First off, at the Christmas party, Sister Palmer, an older woman whose husband is not a member, came up to us and told us that her husband wanted to talk to us. (exciting!) I was hesitant at first (my mistake) because the last lesson Elder V and I had had with him did not go well. He's told us that he was going to study it, but he was highly skeptical, and is of the disposition that if it's in the Bible, then it's true, otherwise, it's wrong. (fortunately, it IS all in the bible, it's just misunderstood most of the time. ) Elder Johnson knew it was going to be good though. So later on, Elder Mancuso (who is the new missionary this transfer) and I went on exchanges, this past Saturday. During that exchange, we talked to him, and he was totally different! Brother Palmer told us that he knows it's true, wants to be baptized and though he'd have a hard time accepting some stuff, he told us he'd learn! Apparently, during the time after me and Elder V last taught him, he actually did study, and realized that the Book of Mormon was telling him the same stuff his "King James" did. (So by his own logic, it's true.) Then, he prayed and asked Heavenly Father that if this "whole Mormon nonsense" wasn't right, to turn him away from it. Funnily enough, He led him deeper into it. So, we asked him to be baptized, he said yes, and so he's going to be baptized on the 29th! Then Elder Mancuso and I also talked to Carmen's son, Isaias, who is 12 and looks about 7. So, after comparing the Gospel to, we asked him if he'd be baptized, and he also said sure! So he's also going to be baptized on the 29th! Later that day, we drove out to a town called Maricopa, to visit the family of Matthew, the little boy that called us over. Benjamin (the dad) was sitting right out front at his gate, and waved at us so we hopped on out and ran over to talk to them. After we talked for a little while (said his luck is really going up, but still no job) we taught them the restoration. As we did that, we emphasized more than usual on how Joseph Smith was a prophet, just like Moses, or Noah. Benjamin was actually really excited to find that out, because his parents had taught him that we worship him. (Not!) We testified again that he was a great man and a prophet of God, but just a man, and the way to know that is to read the Book of Mormon. So, we gave one to them, and he was so happy to get it he had us sign and date it! Apparently that's what he does when someone gives him a bible. (Good foot to start reading it on huh!? Sometimes we work for EVER to get them to understand that it's similar to, but not, a bible) The family has promised to read and pray, so WE'RE praying that they do it! As we left, he walked us over to our car, and then told us that he was gratefull that we'd come. Apparently, he'd been praying for guidance in his life, in any form God would give him, and that's when Elder Johnson and I showed up. It was very humbling but exciting to hear.

So the work is going great here. The Spanish class at church moved to a different room, because it's about doubled (or tripled) since I showed up, but that's not saying much when you've only got 1 real solid member.   It is still cool to see it beginning to grow.

I hope you all have a wonderful week, and remember that when times get hard, that's when we need to fight that much harder. Heavenly Father can only bless us if we are doing.


Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, December 10, 2012

To the dump! to the dump! to the dump! dump! dump!

Hola Familia!

This week has been pretty packed! We've been working like crazy to get stuff rolling here in Taft. We'll see what happens and how it turns out!

Sunday was a tiny bit of a panic. We'd asked Alicia, Carmen, Paula, and Olga, all 4 of whom now have baptism dates (Alicia and Carmen on the 22nd of this month, and the others on the 26th of January.) Unfortunately, none of them came. However, Alicia had been ready, and although her parents were supposed to call someone to get her a ride, they didn't. They wouldn't answer their phone, and then when we called a member and asked her to drop by and pick her up, the member just called and since no-one was answering, didn't go get her.   Moral of the story; when the missionaries ask you to go pick someone up, it means we've already tried calling, please just go and do it. After all the only reason we ask is because we can't do it ourselves. Well, next week the plan is to set the ride anyway, and THEN if the parents can take Alicia, we'll tell the ride not to go.

I also tried translating for the first time in Sacrament meeting. It didn't seem as hard as I expected, but since I don't know all the grammar rules and words anyway, who knows how much they understood. 

We had a lot of chances to do service this week. We hauled a truck load of garbage out of Carmen's yard, and took it to the dump, we did the grout in Brother Estill's kitchen, and we helped Aaron and Terry pick up branches and leaves while they trimmed trees. It was pretty crazy. It was really cool to learn to grout and all, but it was especially fun to go to the dump. 

I also gave two blessings this week. Poor old Terry, who's had health problems through the roof, got ran over by his own car door. I guess while he'd been grabbing bags from the seat over; being half in and half out of the car and all, he accidentally put the car into reverse. The crazy part is, that with a messed up back and all, he tried to hold the car back with his legs (while he was lying on the ground) and he totally destroyed the door. It was bent and wrinkled to pieces! Then, after it ran him over, he got up and chased after it, tried to get in, and it happened again. The car was in pretty bad shape, and he was in really bad shape. So that night, me and Elder Gigena (our Zone leader who was on exchanges with me) went over and gave him a blessing. Afterwards, we got to teach the restoration to him, which seemed to go well enough. Later, the most awesome Savea family invited us over last night for dinner, and when we finished we gave their son Fusi a blessing. Fusi is the man, but when he talks no-one understands him! He speaks, and he's speaking words, but it's not Samoan, English, Spanish, Portuguese, or Italian! (Elder V. couldn't understand him, that's why I list the extra three at the end) At any rate, being three years old, he ought to say a lot more than he does now, and so his g-parents and parents were worried and had us bless him. It was a great blessing, I just hope that it was what the spirit was telling me, not just what I wanted to say. I'm not quite good enough to tell yet; I just kinda say what I think on.

So, that's what's been going on in Taft; I'm not quite sure what else to mention... Elder Jenkins Baptized Miriam this last Saturday. Elder Johnson was sad to have missed it, but I guess he's supposed to be here. Also, we're going on exchanges with Elder Foote the Great, and his trainee Elder Mancuso this week. The weird part is Elder Mancuso is newer than I am, and we're going to be here in Taft.    Greenies in the house! I guess we'll find a way to survive.

I love you all, and hope things are going great! Go do some missionary work out there too; It's a lot easier than it looks. After all, I apparently count.


Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, December 3, 2012

03 December 2012

So, another week has gone by! It's been pretty wild. I'll get into the details of what happened in a minute.

Elder Johnson's a really cool Elder. He's way more mellow than Elder Vaca Guzman, but we do some pretty random stuff occasionally. Like throw nails and screws at an apple.   It was rather fun, and a good way to relieve stress. At any rate, he's a very excellent missionary, and I'll be able to learn a lot from him. He also is doing a great job as a District Leader; he has a lot of love for the missionaries, and tries his best to inspire them to reach a little higher.

We've definitely had an interesting time here in Taft, now that Elder V's gone. We went and visited Carmen, who'd been a really solid investigator, but some issues came up, and she got scared. Her son called a lawyer on Elder V, and the lawyer told her a lot of lies about the Church, and Elder V called him out on it. Regardless, because of the situation, he promised her he wouldn't come back, which was really hard on both of them. As soon as he left though, me and Elder Johnson came to see her, and she was hyper excited! She pulled out some chairs, sat us down, and taught US the restoration. With later lessons, we've realized she's not really a "progressing investigator," because she know's it all now! Looking back in the Area book, it's really clear how much her testimony has grown. So, we're planning on having her baptized on the 22nd! Elder Vaca Guzman is going to be WAY pumped to hear about it, he really loved her, and promised her when he stopped teaching her that she would be baptized.

Then, when we were tracting in Maricopa, a small town that we cover with Taft, a young boy, about 2-3 years old called out "Hi!" and waved at us. We went over and said hi back, and the mom came out. She started talking with us, and was very attentive, and interested in what we were saying like few people I've taught yet. The husband also came out, and was super friendly and excited to see us. He said he was Southern Baptist, and really loved what we're doing, going on helping people and what not. He told us that God had sent us there, so that he could send us to go and help out a woman who really needed God in her life. We asked if we could come back and talk with him and his family, though, and he said absolutely! The wife was still kind of in shock, because little Matthew (the boy) is hyper shy, and rarely speaks to family, let alone strangers on the street. As a matter of fact, when we said hi back to him, his face changed, like "Oh, man, what am I doing!?" During the entire visit he hardly looked at us. So, we'll head back over this week, and see why exactly he called us over.   The woman that the father told us to go see was VERY disinterested, but we did our best to talk to her and share a bit about what we teach.

Probably one of the biggest miracles of the week happened last night, though. We'd had a rough day, no-one was home, Alicia's family might be taking her back to Oaxaca, and even our dinner appointment cancelled on us.   So we felt a bit down, but went over to a family's house to help set up their Christmas stuff. The father and his brother are both less-actives (IN-actives, really) and the two oldest girls are very recent converts (right before I showed up.)   The mom pulled her records from the Church a long time ago, and while she believes in the Church, and in Heavenly Father, she has serious problems with Him, and has a lot of very difficult-to-answer questions. Despite her outward appearances and personal vices, however, she is a really wonderful person. So, after we got done setting up the stuff, Elder Johnson told her that we need to share a message, and to my surprise she said "sure". So, since the kids were all in bed, we taught her as an investigator, for the very first time. The Spirit was very strong while Elder Johnson was teaching, and it was great until he told her that Christ knows what we're all going through. She said "I know he died for us, and that he suffered a lot of stuff, a lot of really hard things. But that was 2000 years ago, and the world was completely different back then." I realized while she was talking, that she was expressing her deep, real concern RIGHT THERE! She doesn't understand the atonement at all! So, I testified to her that in the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ suffered more than just for our sins: He felt all of our pains, weaknesses, trials and fears. He knows us more than anyone else can, and we know this because of the comfort and support He gives us. I told her about scriptures in the Book of Mormon that teach us this, and she blew me out of the water when she said "Well, I guess I need to read the Book of Mormon again."   So, we gave her a copy, asked her to surprise us, and we all left wondering how on earth it all happened!

Well, I've gotta wrap up, so I'll just say; it was GREAT to see Elder Jenkins again. He's struggling with the language a bit, but it's coming along, and Elder Johnson was really happy to train him. We talk a lot about the funny stuff he says and does, and we're really excited to see how he turns out, because he's gonna be legendary.

As far as Christmas stuff goes, I really have no idea.   I seem to be holding up pretty well with what they give us; It's not expensive to live out here in Taft. So, whatever you think is a good idea works for me.  The only thing I can really think of is a small assortment of photo's from our family, and important stuff that happened in our lives. I've seen how cool they are to have around; Elder V used them all the time, and Elder Johnson has a set too. Wish I'd have thought to bring them already!

I love you all, keep up the good work, and have a great week!

Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, November 26, 2012

Here goes transfer 2!

So here we are on the last P-day of the transfer! It's been a hectic, crazy week, especially since we got a heads up that Elder Vaca Guzman would be getting out of here. We got the transfer call this morning; Elder Vaca Guzman is going to Buena Vista South Bakersfield to be with Elder Burgos, and I'm staying here in Taft. That's great, because there's a lot of unfinished business I have to see through. My follow-up trainer is going to be Elder Johnson; who interestingly enough, was Elder Jenkins' trainer. It's gonna be interesting to meet him and see how Elder Jenkins has been. Another crazy thing about this next transfer is that poor Elder Johnson is going to be the District Leader too! Training and being the District Leader sounds like a lot of responsibility. I'll definitely do my best to help him out and make his burden a bit lighter.

I'm not sure what to talk about today... Elder V had a scary time last Monday. We went to a doctor about his back, and found out his Fillet Mignon isn't working well. He told him that he'd have to go to physical therapy three times a week. Then, President Castro called us and it seemed like he'd have to go home!   Fortunately, on Tuesday the Physical Therapist himself told us that he'd only have to go once a week. So, we'll see what happens. He's feeling a lot better already, because of the stretches and stuff the therapist taught him, and by next week he should be good. That is if he doesn't push himself and get hurt again.

I didn't get the mail, because when transfers come up, the mission office holds all the letters and gives them to us at Transfers meeting, but since we're both staying in this side of the mission, we're not actually going to Transfers meeting.  So I'll get the letters (Or whatever there is) in a little while.

So, that's pretty much all I can think of to talk about... We're doing great out here, and we'll see what the next month and a half has in store!

Con amor,

Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, November 19, 2012

Transfer 1, week six! AH!

I can't believe we're winding down on the last of the transfer! This last week is probably my last with my awesome companion! He's been here in Taft for three transfers, and they usually pull him after that. Also, since I'm in training, the standard procedure is to spend one transfer with your "Dad," and then you get your follow up trainer, your "Mom." He's done a really good job, although he's really struggles with health troubles here.  I'm not totally sure what to expect, but I'm sure it'll all be great!

We had a great, though relatively normal week this past week. We really saw how the Lord blesses us when we do all we can within a given bound; we didn't do hardly any Declaring this week because Elder V's had a hard time walking about, (I think we talked to 2 people)  But regardless, we have 4 new investigators, which is more then the entire time since I got here! One of them had a shirt with Gaara on it, which was cool because I was able to talk a bit about that and break the ice. I thought I'd share that for Brittney; she knows who I'm talking about.

Remember Fusi? Cute kid in the Iron man suit? We went to his birthday party yesterday, and it was great! The older brother and sister have really grown to love us, and man, we'll miss them if we get transferred out!  Their dad tells tons of stories, and he's a seriously spiritual chief! Most of what he says is in Samoan, though, and his daughter-in-law has to translate for us. He's told us that even if we forget him, he'll never forget us, and he wants us to visit him in Samoa sometime. (If only! If I make that kinda money I'll visit everyone I meet out here!) At any rate, we're dropping by sometime today to play the guitar and piano, sing Samoan songs, and hang out for our p-day activity. I'm gonna get seriously outclassed- he has recorded CD's being sold out in Samoa, and Elder V was a Bolivian Rock Star before he came out here!

We also visited for a part member family's birthday party, and MAN it was nuts! We didn't stay long, because Latino parties get pretty crazy pretty quick. I did eat Tacos de lengua (cow tongue) for the first time there, though. They were okay, but I think I'd like to stick with the regular beef, if it's all the same.

There's not much else I can think to write of just now, just a weird sensation I had the other day. We were driving down a dirt road and Elder V rolled down the window and said "Hey listen; that's what it's like driving in MY country!" when I heard that noise though, I thought of riding in Grandpa's truck out to his farm; and the weirdest thing happened! I felt like I wanted to do that! Before that, if someone had asked me about farming, I'd have said NO WAY! I'd be bored to death! I'd never be able to do a menial, simple job like that! But now I'm not so sure. After all, the most important Man in the world was a carpenter for most of His life. Honestly the only problem I'd have with being a farmer now is the plain and simple fact that I wouldn't know what I was doing. :P At any rate, we'll see what happens. Fortunately I don't have to worry about it for quite some time.

One more thing; Mom needs to look up William Joseph's music for you guys. He's pretty awesome!

So that's my thoughts for the week; it was a rather uneventful week, but they happen. I love you all, stay safe, and more importantly, stay strong! You can do it!

Love, Elder Matthew Clough 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Baptism? Yes please! 12 November 2012

Well, this week has been absolutely nuts; lets see if I can relate it all.

First off, we dropped by Ernestina and Guillermo's house on tuesday, and we were fortunate enough to find Rosario there as well. We talked for a short while, and when we started teaching them, Ernestina said "well, yeah... when are we getting baptized?" We just about fell out of our chairs! So, we talked a bit, and decided that they had to be baptized on the tenth, because they're going on a trip to Mexico soon. We were shocked! First they drop us, then they get scared around us, and now they're on board again! So, we ran around like chickens with our heads cut off for the entire week, because we had to get everything in line for the baptism. We were fighting the Zone leaders the whole way back from the temple to get them down here to interview them on Thursday, but found a solution by doing a companionship exchange from Thursday through Friday. So they pass the interview with flying colors and Saturday shows up...

And Rosario won't answer her phone all day long! It was super scary, because she's the one who backed out first last time, and Ernestina and Guillermo were wondering what was wrong. We went ahead with the plans anyway, and got everything ready, from the program to the water in the font. While it was filling, we left Mynor to watch it, and we headed back to the apartment to grab some things. We decided to call her one more time, so while Elder Vaca did that, I knelt down and prayed. I just prayed for her to answer the phone, because if she did, everything else would work out. Before I'd finished, she picked up, and the first thing that she said was "I'm on my way, I'm coming!" It was great! So then we show up at the church, everyone's there, and Rosario shows up and tells us she's not going to be baptized. :( Her daughter was still in Bakersfield, and she wanted all three of her children to be there for the baptism. So, we start the program. I gave the talk on baptism, and Elder Vaca Guzman baptized Ernestina and then Guillermo. It was awesome, and the spirit was very, very powerful. After the baptism service was over, guess who showed up? Rosario's daughter! And Rosario felt the spirit so powerfully that after the closing prayer was said, she hopped up and asked to be baptized on the spot. So, we waited around for another hour for the font to fill AGAIN, and though the service was very short, and most of the people had left, Rosario was baptized, and it was the best one of the night. :)

So, Sunday morning they were confirmed by Elder V, and the blessings pronounced upon them were awesome. Guillermo physically shook when Elder Vaca said "Recieve the Holy Ghost!" so strongly that though my hand was on top, I could feel it. It was great, because many lessons before, he'd asked us what it feels like, when you get the gift of the Holy Ghost. Now, it seems he knows! ;) Now, they're all preparing to do baptisms for the dead soon, and go to the temple as a family in a year. Hopefully the Lord will soften Benito, Rosario's husband, and we can teach him and her two daughters.

The temple was awesome! I'm not a huge fan of the L.A. temple's outer design, but the inside is positively georgious. Brother Estill took us, and the only problem was he ran us through sessions like roller-coaster rides. It was still a great trip, and a huge pleasure to go with Elder "Papa Vaca"

Last night, we had dinner with the Savea's, and if I haven't mentioned them before, they are a huge, wonderful samoan family. We always make sure that if we visit, we haven't eaten anything for two meals, because they feed you enough to last for three! Their son, Fusi, was running about in his Iron Man costume, and he's way cool. Fusi's the man! So, the main reason I brought them up in this letter, is that after eating a ton of stuff, I also ate a fish. No, I didn't eat "fish" I ate A FISH. Like, all of it, (Except the gills, you don't eat this fish's gills) and I can now officially say I don't like to eat eyes. I barely got that part down. Either way, just thought I'd report the latest, most gross thing I've eaten out here. Not sure if I'll top that (Knocks on the wooden table!)

This discussion reminds me though; How's Paul doing? I might have met the family of someone who knows him; Elder Mark Estill, who's finishing up his mission in Suva Fiji real soon. He hasn't written me back, so could you find out for me? Thanks a heap in advance!

We've had a miraculous week, we really have. I thought a lot about Brittney this week. I felt bad for not answering your questions and letters, and I promise I'll try harder. I love you a ton, and I want you to remember that, but I'll do better to show it! Keep up the good work, I'll send you a letter really soon. Thanks for all of you guys' love and support, I can't tell you how much we thirst for news from you all.

Also, could you send me more pictures like the one you sent of Danielle? I'd love a recent one each of Mom, Dad, and Brittney at least.

con grande amor;

Elder Matthew Clough

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hola otra vez! 05 November 2012

So we're already halfway through the transfer. <:[ I'm gonna be freaking out three weeks from now; Elder Vaca Guzman will be taking off for who-knows-where, and I'm gonna get my follow-up trainer. What am I gonna do about the Spanish work? There's a high chance that I won't get a Spanish trainer, and most of the non-native speakers don't speak it very well. We have to translate for sacrament, teach in Mizteco, etc etc. It's gonna be exciting!

We actually haven't gotten started on learning Mizteco yet. :/ We've been so busy with all this other stuff going on we've hardly had time to talk to Hermana Garcia. We'll get it done though. We had a crazy week, we taught a lot of people and saw a number of small miracles. We went to visit a very recent convert, but she was busy so we talked a while with her husband, who's been a long-time member. Turns out that he has been going through some really tough times, and just broke down in front of us, and it was all we could do to help him feel better. He seems to be doing quite better though.

Today is gonna be hectic; we've got a half P-day because we're going to L.A. to go to the temple Wednesday! ^ - ^ The rule out here is that you get to go on your birthday month, but Elder V didn't get the opportunity to go last month (Whoo Octubre!) so the President gave us the go-ahead to go now. As a result, we only have until three instead of six to get all our chores done. O-o So, tell Bishop Roselund that I'm exceedingly sorrowful for lack of time to write him, but I will do so soon! It's not that I haven't wanted to write him, it's just incredible how packed our days are.

One thing I think I've learned a lot about since getting here is how to pace yourself. President Castro likened the mission to a marathon the first day we were here, and I've seen a lot of that out here. Elder V is a great example for this. There's a lot of "hot" and "cold" missionaries, out here, and it's a constant battle for President to get them to level out. The cold ones are hyper-disobedient; and don't care a bit about the work. The hot ones are so absorbed in "following the rules" that they miss one of the first ones: Missionaries should strive to understand the spirit of the law. Like the pharasies of Christ's day, they take the rules and build fences around them to the point that they forget the purpose of the rules. The most important rule is to love the people; and I've already seen a lot of missionaries who don't realize that.  It's possible to be exactly obedient, and be relaxed at the same time. After all, in a marathon, if you run the first mile at your PR, you're not going to make it. X _ x

Thanks a heap for the letters! I love hearing from all of you; and I'm sorry that I probably won't have a chance to respond this week. But I love you, all of you. I know the gospel is true. I've seen some pretty awesome stuff out here, and I'm only three weeks out! I never imagined I'd be able to teach like I have been, and I know that it's by the Savior's power that it's possible. Stay strong, do what you have to do, and don't worry about the rest. I know that His plan for us is greater than anything we'd ever be able to work out for ourselves, so look for it: ask Him what he wants you to do, and be excited about it, because it's going to be great.


Elder Matthew Clough

Monday, October 29, 2012

29 October 2012

Well, here we are again on P-day. It's been an interesting week, that's for sure. Elder Vaca Guzman's back has been killing him; he's had trouble with his sciatic nerve. We had to stay in the Apt. for most of the weekend because of it. We went down to a chiropractor today to get it fixed; we'll see how well it fixes him up. Our two investigators didn't get baptized either; we went on splits with the traveling trainers, and the one I was with kinda intimidated one of them. She'd also not told her husband yet, so it's back a few steps with them. Elder V and I dropped by rather recently though, and they're still on great terms with us, and they still want to be baptized, they just got scared. We'll work with them. ;)  Our other investigator is still pretty solid; though we're pushing his baptism date to the end of the year because he's going down to Mexico to see his son married and won't be back till sometime in December.

A ton of really cool things happened over the past week. One of my personal highlights is that while tracting we met a HIGHLY drunk man. The poor man was having a total breakdown because he'd recently lost his young son, and we were able to talk to him and help him feel a bit better. Later, we dropped by his apartment and tried to visit him. His roomate just about had a fit when he saw us at the door (he's new in the US) but thankfully, Elder V's Bolivian. :) As we talked to him, we found out just how tough his life's been. He's had a ranch down in Mexico, but a man came and shot him seven times, (nasty scars all across his stomach and shoulders) and his family stole everything he had. So he comes here, and finds the SAME man, here in Taft! When he'd been drinking, he'd been seriously wanting to kill the man or kill himself, but we talked him down and calmed him. That night, we committed him to stop drinking, and as far as we're aware he's kept it. He's looking a heap better. At our last lesson we taught him the plan of salvation, but he didn't understand much. He was very tired, but the worst part is he actually doesn't speak much Spanish. So tonight, me and Elder V will be learning "Mizteco" from Hermana Garcia, so we can actually teach him. O.o; Wish us luck! (Or the gift of tounges, either or!)

So, to answer the questions: (These questions were asked by the Stake youth leaders for Standards Night.)

1. Things you wish you would have done differently to prepare spiritually for your mission?

A: The biggest thing really is that I wish I'd not waited till I was 18 to start preparing. Don't wait! I also wish I'd done more work with the missionaries themselves.

2. What is the most common questions you have been asked?

A: Are you Jehova's Witnesses? (no joke) Other than that it's hard to say; each investigator and contact is SO different that they've each got different needs and concerns. Rather, I'd suggest learning the doctrine thouroughly but simply; that way you can answer any question anyone has.

3. What do you wish you would have learned how to do from your mother so you were better at it now in the mission field?

A: Drive. I've had to drive a lot lately because my companion's been out of it, and it's been hard getting back behind the wheel after two months in the MTC.

4. What do you eat the most?

A: It's hard to say on this one. We actually eat a huge variety of stuff because we teach Americans, Guatemalans, Mexicans, Colombians, Puerto Ricans, etc. And, my companion's Bolivian. ;)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ventura begins! 22 October 2012

Well, I'm here! The last plane flight seemed to take forever; I sat next to a woman who, soon as she saw me, jammed earphones rather violently in her ears and turned to read a book at the window. Yikes! But you know what? We don't try and convert you if you don't want to listen. That's not how Christ did it.

Showing up here was AMAZING though! The Santa Barbera airport was drastically different from the other two we went through; it was like a spanish ranch house with airplanes on the side. The air was beautiful; after 3 years of lung-cracking dry Utah air, it actually felt great to breath in the heavy, sea air in Santa Barbara. We met President Castro and the A.P's, and then they drove us out to the mission home. At the mission office (in Oxnard) we filled out a bit of paper work, and then Elder Jenkins and I went out to "Declare" (which is Venturian for tracting) with Elder Van Tassle (Who doesn't speak Spanish.) It was neat but really hard, not because we weren't willing to do it, but because we couldn't understand most of what the first hombre was saying! He had his car out running, he was mumbling, and he spoke spanish with a seriously thick mexican accent. We had a blast though, and it was a real pleasure to teach a real person with Elder Jenkins, after all that time spent in the MTC. I had my interview with President Castro who is the Man! I'm hyper excited to work for him and gain his trust. That night we stayed with a member family in Ventura. Their house was sweet, it was like a roman villa setup, very similar to my future home. ;)

The next day we went out to a gorgious church building in ventura. I've NEVER seen a chapel like this one, it had a chandelier, some kind of sparkely cieling, etc etc. The building itself looks more like a spanish mission from the outside than a church building! Anyway, we had transfer meeting, where the oldest generation gave their testimonies and "died." We got our trainers and areas. Elder Vaca Guzmán is my trainer, straight from the land of Bolivia. He´s hyper excited to be training for the first time, and he really knows how to love and help the people. We got a ride from a recent convert to head to Taft California, which is a small town just outside of Bakersfield. It´s pretty sweet though, there´s a river that runs through the middle of town, and it´s really green, it´s like a rainforest out here! I´ve included a picture, so you can see just how gorgeous it really is.

At this point you´ve probably seen the picture already. It´s something of a tradition to tell the greenies when they head out here just how vibrant and lovely taft really is. Actually, the main deal out here is the oil fields. There´s miles and miles of the big old drinking rigs. That´s the reason Taft survived the economic crash rather well. The air is fantastically awful, I think it´s worse than smoking. The town is literally surrounded by mountains just about as close as the wasatch front is to Clinton, but you literally can´t see them. There´s some kind of purplish white haze in the way. Not only that, but I´ve learned a bit about a wonderful ailment known as ´´valley fever´´ some kind of fungus grows in the dirt around here, and if it decides to move to your lungs, you´re pretty much finished. Ay ay ay! But seriously, I actually really love it here. The reason is entirely the people. I'm running out of time, but I'll give a quick overview.

The first thing is that it's a little bit difficult here, because the Elder I'm coming in for was seriously rebelious.   So we're constantly apologizing, and striving to represent better. We work almost every day with a recent convert  from guatemala. He's a very humble, kind man who just wants to help everyone. We're hoping that in a year from March, he can go to the temple and go on a mission. If he does, the MTC is going to explode from sheer intensity. (Although from the E-mail, it sounds like it's going to anyway) We have a decent sized pool of investigators to teach, and a TON of Less-active-Recent-convert work to do. One of the coolest things to be going on is we have two baptisms in a single family coming up, a sister and her daughter. These two have been investigating off and on for FOUR YEARS! They're getting baptized this Saturday, but the coolest part about it is that her husband; a grouchy old mexican, is getting baptized on November tenth! We were at his house, and every day for the past week, we've asked him "Have you quit coffee yet?" And he'd say "No, I'm not gonna quit coffee." I wondered why he'd say it with such gusto, when we asked him this time, and he said "Actually, I've quit coffee for 6-7 days." He'd been teasing Elder Vaca Guzman so bad! It was hilarious, and he was laughing pretty hard. At any rate, that night Elder Vaca Guzman shared a powerful lesson, and I committed him to baptism. When we suggested he get baptized in December, he said "Do I have to wait THAT long!?" It's been amazing to see.

Thank you so much for the letters and the love: any more mail should be sent to the mission office in Oxnard; we get same day forwarding from there. Keep up the good work, it sounds like Stake Conference was pretty amazing! Have a great week, be careful, and work hard!

Con Amor;
Elder Clough

Monday, October 8, 2012

Missionary work For the Win!!!

I can't believe it's my last P-day in the MTC!!! The Japanese speaking elders that board with us, Carter Choro (Elder) and Searle Choro left just this morning. I'm e-mailing early, because we decided to help carry their bags down to the travel office, and since we've got so much time, we figured we'd do our laundry now. It was simultaneously hyper-exciting and very depressing to see them off. We've really grown to love and appreciate them, and I know they'll be powerful forces in Japan!

It's also kind of crazy to think that this time next week, Elder Jenkins and I will be getting ready to head off to California. I forgot to bring my Flight Plans down to the laundry room, but we report at the travel office at 6:00, then hop a plane to Denver Colorado, and transfer to another going to Santa Barbera. (Weird huh? We'll go east a whole state before going west.) I'll send a brief e-mail later today detailing the flight plan more, but I'm not actually sure if I can call from the Airport. I was under the impression that the Elders call if they're going out of country. I'll find out, and either way I'll let you know what's going on. Also, funnily enough, I'd bought a call card at the book store the same day I recieved the package. So now I guess I've got two of 'em. :) Thanks so much for the packages by the way, we've had great fun sharing the candy. It was a most pleasant surprise.

General Conference was phenomenal. I really don't think I've ever listened and learned so much from Conference before. I have twelve full pages of personally applicable notes! The announcement concerning mission ages totally caught the MTC on fire. I can't believe that in 3-6 months, this place will be flooded with 18 year olds! It's so awesome that the women's age got dropped to 19 as well. Maybe now I won't have to wait till I'm 29 to find an RM. ;) I would seriously encourage everyone who's able to get out here, as soon as circumstances allow. Take advantage of your youth and this oportunity! This change in the requirements was made for all of you, who are much more prepared, and much more willing. The work is going to accelerate to the breaking point now. It can't be long before everyone's heard our message.

I was absolutely land-blasted by Elder Hollands talk. I don't know how it happens, but every time that Apostle speaks, I swear it's directed straight at me. The two scriptures he quoted are HIGHLY sacred and important to me.  It really re-awakened me to a sense of the work to which I have been called, not just for two years, but for my whole life. I'm never taking up "Regular Fishing" again.

Cool spanish fact: The word for work is usually "Trabajar" but the word for missionary, temple, or other "artistic works" is "obra." It is no mistake, nor coincidence.

As far as things that could help; my electric razor stopped charging in the first week we were here, so I bought a little "Mach 3" and Gillete, and now I've got really awful looking razor burn on my neck. How do I get this to go away, when I still have to shave every day?

con grande amor!

Elder Matthew Clough

Monday, October 1, 2012

Que pasa? (What's happening?) Monday October 1, 2012

Hola otra vez! (Hello again!)

It's been crazy how fast this week has flown by. I've been really busy, but as usual it's all kinda blurred together. I'll see what I can do to remember.

Spanish is coming along well enough, I've really been able to see the Gift of Tongues here. My strength is DEFINATELY listening. I've found that I've never really had to translate what I hear into English, I just kind of sit back and relax my focus and I can understand because I don't think in words, I think in ideas and feelings. We've been teaching a native speaker, Jorge, who is really helping our ability to understand. When I've listened to him, I've understood a lot of words and phrases I've never heard or seen. Thank heavens for the help! Speaking is awful though. >_< I speak in present tense SIEMPRE! (AGAIN!)  Spanish has something like 13-14 tenses, and each of them have their own irregulars, and conjugating gives me nightmares. Nonetheless, I'm grateful of the challenge, it keeps me working. Another thing that horrifies us all are false cognates. (words that sound like an English one but mean something totally different) Dad can attest to the "Embarasado" principle. (For those who don't speak Spanish, it DOES NOT MEAN EMBARRESSED! [It means pregnant.  It is a funny story from David's mission where a sister missionary thought she was saying she was embarrassed to be speaking and instead said that she was pregnant and that it was all the bishop's fault.] ) You never know when you mean to say one thing and wind up saying something totally horrific.

Speaking of which;  two Elders in our district had an hilariously awful experience with the importance of proper conjugation. In a lesson with Marcos, they wanted to say: "We would like to...", but instead of "Nos gustaria..."  said "Nos Gustamos". Which is NOT okay. (I'll translate this one for added inhibition: "We please each other." It's a weird way to say "We are romantically in love") Their investigator was laughing his head off for half the lesson.

On a more serious note, we've been doing a lot better teaching. I've tended to dominate lessons in the past, leaving little room for Elder Jenkins (or the spirit for that matter) to work with me. Lately, though, we've had pretty good lesson balance, and we've DEFINATELY brought the lightning of the spirit to a few lessons. Isabel is getting "baptized" this Saturday, and Jorge has a tentative date for 3 weeks from now. (Unfortunately we'll be gone) We haven't taught Marcos in AGES though, things keep coming up that are out of our control.

We watched "The Testaments" yesterday. Ugh, that movie is powerful enough at home; here I was crying my face off during the very last scene. Ay ay ay! I love it though.

Thanks a heap for the addresses; I'll use them soon.

Con amor,

Elder Clough

Monday, September 24, 2012

Third lap of the mile

That's what this week is. I just realized that we have three Sundays left here in the MTC. Que Loco! (It's crazy!) The district that left today is the last one that was here when we came: from now on, we're the Viejo's. (The old ones) The only ones in our zone that have been here longer than us are the two Hermanas(Sisters): Hermana Moeller and Hermana Spivey, and that's cause they had to stay an extra week for visitors center training. Which sounds absolutely mad, by the way. Hermana Spivey was telling us that visitor center missionaries cover all the same stuff we do, but they only have 5-10 minutes to do it. Good thing they're better at it than we are!

Some cool stuff happened this week: We attended the Brigham City temple dedication. It was really cool to sing The Spirit of God (Go Ensign Ward!) with all the missionaries. It was a beautiful temple, too. Elder Jenkins and I also did Sealings today, and that was quite incredible. I had a small insight into just how incredible it's going to be to get married for time and eternity someday. (In ten years or so) :) I'm not gonna lie, it was a bit rough to get the news on how some of my best friends are struggling. It helped me to see, in a small way, how my own family had to be feeling when I went through my own trouble last year. I'm absolutely, terribly sorry to have put you all through that. I know, however, that the Lord helped me back from myself, and that He will do the same for them. I don't know if any of them read this, but I want them to know that I know something similar to how they feel, and that the Lord knows EXACTLY how they feel. I know He will help each and every one of you. Don't make my mistake: Remember Who You Are!

Another thing we did lately was watch Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration. That movie is incredible. Even if you're not LDS, I encourage you to watch this movie, and admire his sacrifice. I'm pretty sure I bawled for 25% of it, but that's all right. His life was definitely one of the most difficult, yet most powerful. During a meeting with the Branch President, we analyzed the reason we use his exact words when teaching about the first vision. He showed us how the words are very precisely chosen. He also helped us recognize common false doctrine concerning it. For example, Joseph didn't ask which church was true. He asked two questions: Which of all the Sects was right, and which he should join. It really helps show the honesty of his desire to know.

Sorry if I don't cover all the stuff y'all want to hear. I don't have a ton of time to write, and the weeks seem to blur together. That's why a lot of my e-mails are just a bunch of scrambled facts. I'm not really all that sure WHAT happened THIS week, I just know it was awesome. I'll try harder to answer more questions and tell more information as it goes on. In my defense, however, I have been keeping a daily journal, even if one or two entries are three sentences. :P

By the way, I saw Elder Jacob Cameron (Senor Taco!!!) and Elder Frank Owens. It's good to see people showing up and taking off. I'm really proud of their work.

I'll try to write letters more diligently. I'm not very good at it, but I can hardly expect letters if I don't write any. Can I get the address for the families we used to home teach? I feel bad about taking off without saying bye. Can I also get an address for Eric? His or his parents would do. I'd love to contact him and see how he's doing. Also; can I get the address for Zach and also Tyler? I've thought about them a lot, lately. One more: I want to write Petyr, but I don't have his address either. :P Sorry for the giant list! Also; if anyone could let me know how to contact Elder Snyder, Elder Seawell, Elder Guerra and Elder Martin, I'd greatly appreciate it. I've written the Girardin's once or twice, but I'd also like to contact a few of the old Ensign ward families (Snyders, Seawells, Dannemans, Meiers,etc) once or twice so if any of their addresses can be found, I'd be most grateful. Sorry again for the essay assignment! ^_^;

Also, I don't suppose you (Brittney) know what Stephen's been up to? Is he getting ready for a mission, or did I miss him?

One last thing: I'll be sending my camera card soon, e-mailing the pictures is just too much of a hastle. I'll include an explination, some of them are a bit... needing of one. :)

Take care, family and friends. I love you all, and hope you all are feeling joy!

Con amor,(With love)

Elder Clough

Monday, September 17, 2012

Buenos Tardes! (Good Afternoon!) 17 Sep 2012

That's not quite as cool as Bula Vinaka (Fijian from his cousin Paul's mission), but it's still fun!

This week was pretty crazy.  Our old district leader got released, and the new one is Elder Doermann.  He's an awesome missionary with a really pure spirited attitude.  Funnily enough, our old district leader; happy as he was to be released, is the new zone leader! Heh heh!  And now Elder Jenkins is the senior companion, so I'm free! (I guess Matthew had been the senior companion up to this point.  He neglected to inform us about that!)  I can relax and focus on teaching and stuff.

I always think about so much stuff to write about during the week, and then I get here and poof! I've only got thirty minutes to write and it's gone!  Maybe I should start writing them down somewhere.

We've got a ton of investigators now (for the MTC, that is.)  We've got Isabel, Marcos, Jorge, and one other that's actually one of the other missionaries in the district. (Don't know who he is yet.) 

At any rate, I'm going to try and send some pictures, but the computers around here are a little sketchy.  We'll see if it works.We didn't get any pictures so I guess it didn't work out.  Too bad :(

Con Amor! (With love!)
Elder Clough

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mi Familia! (My Family) 10 Sep 2012

It's been another crazy week at La CCM! (MTC) I'm not really sure what I've already talked about, the weeks just kind of blur together.  It's good though, I can't believe we've been here this long. 

We've been really busy here.  It's a good thing too, because it keeps us focused (sorta) :P  We still get a little off topic, but a good hymn gets us back on track soon enough.  We've listened to a lot of really good lessons this week that really helped us figure out who we are and what we do.  We watched a stellar talk by Jeffrey R. Holland that he gave in the CCM (MTC) a few years back, that was about obedience and a line I really liked: "Don't you waste a single chance to be apostolic."  It really got me thinking about how we're supposed to teach.  We're not here to say; "Hey, uh, you know, I've got a message that you might kinda maybe wanna hear."  We're supposed to represent the Lord, Jesus Christ.  We're supposed to teach with power and authority the most important message anyone we meet will ever hear.  It's kind of mind-blowing.  Granted, over the past few weeks, my mind's been blown so many times I'm surprised I have one left. 

It was really great to be able to go to the temple again today.  We feel the spirit almost all day long here in the CCM (MTC), but it's still not the same.  I had some really great impressions today, that should help me to be a better missionary.  We're really kinda impatient to get out of here, even though we love every minute of it.  I really just want to start teaching real people who have no clue who they are. 

Thanks for the letters and support.  It really keeps us rolling.  Sorry I don't hand-write back very often. I don't have a whole lot of time for that, and I'm not very keen on it anyway.  I sent a few over the past week though.

Nos Vemos! (See you later!)

Elder Matthew D Clough

Monday, September 3, 2012

Como le va? (How is it going?)

Sep 3, 2012 10:07 AM
Hola familia y amigos! (Hello family and friends!)
Holy Hannah bannana, I can't believe it's Septiembre (September)!  The days still fly by, and I'm having a hard time remembering everything that's been going on.  We've been working our tails off by studying like maniacs.  I was led to believe that at the MTC, more than six hours each day is spent studying the language.  Wrong!  We spend TOPS 3-4 hours.  Every other second of the day is geared in some way towards studying the doctrine or practicing teaching.  We had a bit of a hard time focusing the whole time this week, but we've still been doing awesome.  Hermano Hopoate is really proud of us. 
We have two "new" investigators: Isabel and Marcos.  We've only taught Marcos once, but it went really well.  We've taught Isabel twice, and the last time was a real doozey.  We wound up teaching next to nothing of what we planned to.  Instead, we talked about how it's hard for her to have trust and faith in God when He took her son from her.  Fortunately, the spirit was very strong with us that day, since we were able to console her about it, and help her understand that through the gospel of Christ, we can be together as families forever, and that wanting to have faith is the first step.  My companion, Elder Jenkins, is a real life-saver during those kinds of situations.  It seems like he can pull a scripture out of thin air in any given moment to share.
Teaching in Spanish is difficult, because you know what you want to say, but you don't know how!  It's getting a lot better though.  This fast Sunday, I bore my testimony completely in Spanish, and I THINK I got the grammer mostly right.  It was fascinating to me that I've learned enough already to be able to share what I want to in Spanish.
I've met my cousin, Elder Jacob Clough, about thrice now, but I haven't had my camera on me in order to take a picture. :/  We have great fun exchanging "Hello Elder Clough!"s.  I've also met Elder Egbert, Elder Hayward, and unexpectedly, Elder Preston Williams from Syracuse High.  He's the district leader of the Jovenes: The new district. 
I've been doing a lot more singing in the MTC than I have before.  Our district sings in the Choir at every practice we can, and we start every class time with a Spanish hymn.  For all the missionaries getting ready to go: Sing in the Choir.  It's one of the most amazing things we do here.  I love the way some of those are written.  Elder Ripley has also been setting up a boy-band style rendition of "Oh Holy Night" that the whole district sings in.  Me and Elder Summers sing low bass, and it's one of the coolest things I think I've ever done.  We've joked that in two years, we should come home and call our group "District C"  We've performed it for President Ricks; our branch president, and for our Maestra; Hermana Christiansen, who wants to record it.  I'll have it E-mailed back if we ever do that.
I've got another joke for you folks to try and figure out. 
Que hace una pes? (What does a fish do?)
Nada nada nada! (Nada can mean either nothing or he swims, so it is nothing, nothing, nothing or swims, swims, swims)
It's kinda weird, but it's hard to imagine life being anything except what I'm doing right now.  I'm so grateful to be out here, and I can't wait to be out in the field.  Yo se que el Evangelio de Jesuchristo es verdadero. (I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true.)
Nos Vemos! (See you later)
Elder Clough
P.S. I'm having a hard time filling up the memory card to send home.  I want you all to see the pictures, esp. of Elder Jenkins and my district, but I'm working on it as fast as I can. Lo Siento! (Sorry)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hello guys! August 27, 2012

Hello guys!
It feels so nice to say that.  I have a hard time saying "Elders" instead of 'guys.'  It's very important though!  Our Branch President is really adamant about it:  There's only two groups of people we refer to as "Elder So and so."  The Twelve Apostles and the Missionaries.  The reason for that is that both of us, the Apostles and the Elders, are called and set apart as special witnesses of Christ.  It's kinda mind-blowing to think about.  One of our Maestro's (Teachers) said "You stand on a pedastal with Prophets and Apostles when you say 'Yo se que El Señor JesuChristo Vive!"  ( "I know Jesus Christ Lives!")  It has been awesome to feel this happening as my companion and the others in my district testify as we teach.
Amalio improved a lot!  After the last lesson I talked about, we taught him the Restoration, and most importantly, the Book of Mormon.  During the Book of Mormon Lesson, we started by talking about his family troubles.  He told us a lot of things that were really hard to imagine dealing with.  I finally told him that I had no idea how to help him with his personal troubles; I'm only 20!  I don't even have a girlfriend or a family of my own.  I testified, however, that the Lord does know how to help him.  We were led by the Spirit to turn to chapters in a Spanish Book of Mormon that we certainly hadn't even planned for in our English one, but they were perfect.  We testified that if he did what the Lord wanted him to do, he would find true peace and happiness, come what may.  By the end of the lesson we had committed him to baptism!  Hooray for Amalio!  Good thing too, since the day after that we no longer have him as an 'investigator.'  We'll teach our new 'investigator,' Isabel, tonight at 6:00.  We're excited, what with being able to actually understand, if not speak, Spanish. 
We heard a pretty impressive talk by Elder Bednar, given last Christmas in the MTC.  It was "The Character of Christ."  Basically, he summed up the Character of Christ as "To turn outward when the natural man turns inward."  He talked about a time when he was on the phone with a woman who was telling him about a horrific accident that had occured, where two young women were in severe condition, and a third was dead.  He was on the phone with this woman, (realized that she was simultaneously on the phone with a nurse at the hospital) when she learned that the one who had passed away was her daughter.  Instantly, she told him "You need to tell the other mother's what is going on."  Later, on the day of her daughter's funeral, being the relief society president; she was called by a Sister (Who didn't know about the situation) who chewed her out because she'd been sick and no-one had brought her a meal.  On the way to the funeral she brought a dinner she had prepared herself. 
Wow!  The concept here kinda floored me.  I can hardly imagine that, but I'll try to love more like He did and care about myself less.
Nos Vemos!
Elder Clough
Ps: For you upcoming missionaries: to avoid the usual unfortune side effect of the MTC food: eat the Cottage Cheese.  I think I'm the only one in the district who does, and I've got no problems.

Monday, August 20, 2012

First email from the MTC August 20, 2012

Hola de la CCM!!!

CCM: That's what they call the MTC in Español although I still don´t know why they call it that.  It´s truly been awesome to be here.
I can hardly believe it´s been five days!  It feels like it´s been five weeks.  Our district is scheduled to leave October 15th, so by the time we leave, I think I´ll hardly remember life before the CCD. (I think he ment CCM)  The first day was madness.  We get hauled off, dragged through what seems like every building on campus, and stuck in a room with Brother Hop´oate, a huge Samoan who immediately starts talking to us in Spanish.  I was so grateful for High School spanish, although it certainly helped my speaking a lot less than my hearing.   By the end of the day, we get marched back to the main building where we cumulatively taught 3 ´´investigators.´´  A warning to those who are getting ready to go: DON´T FORGET RULE NUMBER 1!  Which is ´´Teach people, not lessons.´´  We got chastized heavily by one of them.  Oh well!  We´re here to be trained after all.
The rest of the days have been a bit of a blur.  We got an investigator: Amalio, on DAY 2!!!  Of course, he only speaks spanish. It´s simultiously hyper exciting and something of a nightmare.  Amalio is a Catholic who loves the Bible, but doesn´t agree with Catholic teachings, in particular, praying to saints and the hipocracy of many of his preachers.  In the first lesson, mi Compañero (my companion); Elder Jenkins, and I told him something like 7 times that God loves him, even though I´m pretty sure he said he believed it the first time we said it.  In the second lesson, we talked about prophets and that led into dangerous territory; the great Apostasy.  It kind of floored him when he came to the realization that the Pope is not the prophet.  I wanted to soften the blow a bit and tell him something like, ´´I´m sure he´s still a good person´´ but the spirit was very precise when it told us to tell him that he´s right, the Pope is not the prophet, and does not have the authority to direct the Church.  We ran out of time however.  Today, we´ll be talking about the restoration, and hopefully he´ll feel the truth in our words. 
Amalio´s lessons with the others in our district has been downright hilarious.  Elder Hilter tried to explain how the priesthood was taken from the Earth before it could be restored, and his visual demonstration with the Bible (He held up a bible and said ´´Sacerdocio.´´(Priesthood.) and then hid it under the desk and said ´´¿Donde esta el Sacerdocio?´´ (Where is the Priesthood?) led Amalio to exclaim ´´Magico!´´ (Magic!) And in order to demonstrate how priesthood authority was confirmed to Joseph Smith, he ´´gave´´ his companion the priesthood as Peter James and John!  I love the Elders in our district, Districto C.  They are powerful spirits, but they all have an amazing sense of humor as well.  It helps us survive the rigorous schedual.
Amalio also told us a Spanish joke.  What´s the difference between uno Pera (one pear) and Elder Ripley´s Novia(Girlfriend)?   Uno es una pera, Y Uno no espera!  Ask Dad to translate for you, it´s absolutely hilarious.  (David said the translation is "One is a pear, and one is not waiting.  I guess that is to suggest that the elder will be getting a "Dear John" letter eventually.)
The spirit here has been amazing, the work has been fun.  It´s hard to believe we´re going to be here for 10 weeks, but we´ll love every minute of it.  It´s frustrating, because when we´re praying and teaching, we know what we want to say, but we don´t know how in Spanish!
Well, I´ll be writing back next week.  I love you all
Hasta luego! (Until later!)
Elder Clough