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, 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