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 30, 2013

And now Eric is the coolest member of the church...

This past week has been awesome, and FULL of awesomeness. Of course things like Christmas and calling home and stuff were highlights of the week, but Eric's baptism on Tuesday was exceptionally powerful. It was totally perfect; everything went the way it needed to, and the spirit was so powerful Eric was in tears before he even entered the water. He was on a massive spiritual high all week long; every time we saw him he was grinning ear to ear, and his soon to be wife was super ecstatic. Sunday, he received the gift of the Holy Ghost, and afterwards bore an incredibly powerful testimony. He talked about his favorite scripture being 1 Nephi chapter 4 vs 13. "It is better that one man perish than a nation dwindle and perish in unbelief" He said that the first time he read it, it struck him in a metaphorical way, with Laban being Eric's "natural man" and the nation being his posterity. He said "I'm so excited and grateful to let my old self die so that I and my family after me can have this gospel." What a BOSS!!! Right after that we also got to go and participate while the Bishop conferred the Aaronic priesthood upon him. He will be married to Lanessa on January 8th!

In other news with investigators I've worked with; Leticia out in Simi Valley has been a total boss apparently. This last week that branch had 17 investigators at church!!! (Remember how dead it seemed when I was there!?) AND Leticia was the one who got most of them going! I was super excited to hear about all that.

One of the gifts that Elder Jenkins received this past week has really impacted me spiritually. It's a Musical CD called "Lamb of God" by Rob Gardener. The best way to describe it is, take Phantom of the Oprah, but replace the story and themes with the Last week of the savior's life, especially focusing on the Atonement. It is INCREDIBLE, and super emotional. I highly recommend everybody check it out, it's really made me think on the plan of salvation and what Jesus Christ did for us. Some favorite tracks of mine are "Is it I?" a Duet based on two of the Apostles speculating on whether it was himself who would betray Christ, and "I know this Man" a solo by Peter, expounding on his emotions directly after denying Christ 3 times and the repentance he goes through because of it. I don't know if there's a movie version of it all, but it would probably be the absolute most intense/ beautiful movie of all time if there were. (So if there isn't one, I'll make it!) But definitely take some time to listen to it on YouTube or something; it's really made it all a lot more real to me.

I really love the mission, and I'm super grateful to everything everyone has done to support us. We took the two Elders who room with us out to Olive Garden (Thanks for the gift cards!) And everyone just had a great Christmas. Thanks for being the best family in the world, I love you all!


Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, December 23, 2013

Hello everyone!

This week has been pretty crazy again.  We've been getting everything in order for Eric's baptism; and that's going perfectly.  It was kinda funny, we gave him a heads up that oftentimes, the week before baptism is a super tough one; the adversary works really hard to prevent it, and he said. "Huh?  Oh, yeah.  Don't worry, I'm staying strong.  I've been reading my Book of Mormon a lot more lately."  He's awesome!!!  We connected really well this week too; after one of our lessons we got talking about his interests, and it turns out he's a massive Pokemon and Legend of Zelda fan!  So, naturally, he really liked my conversion story.  

I got to go on two exchanges this week; one with Elder Slaugh and one with Elder Payne.  Both of them are really awesome, solid elders, and it was a total blast.  On the exchange with Elder Slaugh, we ran into a guy on the street named Joe, and as we got talking, he asked if the church had any programs to help people who are financially struggling.  I told him that I didn't really know what there was, so I gave him the Bishop's number and said that even if the church didn't have anything to help with, the bishop could at least tell him where to go.  Later, I kinda regretted not giving him the missionaries number as well, but RIGHT before we finished our day, we ran into him again, and he told us "I lost the card you gave me!" Miracle!  So we were able to give it to him again, and with our info as well!  It was really cool.

The Christmas devotional was Super fun, and way spiritual.  There were a number of awesome musical performances, and our Zone sang "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day."  The lunch and games afterwards were the best though; every Elder I've trained was there; Elder Mortimer, Elder Lewis, Elder Law and of course Elder Bautista!  It was great to see them all and see how well they're all doing.  It's really weird being some of the oldest Spanish missionaries left; in three transfers I think we will be the oldest ones, and there's not many ahead of us now.  

I'm still not quite used to all this YSA work.  It's great fun, but it's weird being around a bunch of young people.  It's great though, because they are ON TOP of their missionary work.  There is a bunch of fire and drive; Elder Jenkins and I haven't spent a single minute tracting since we've arrived.

We're very excited for Christmas coming up, especially since Eric's getting baptized!  I'm very excited to call and talk to everyone, I hope this Christmas is a good one all around!  I'll do my best and work hard, and we'll talk in a bit!  Love ya!

Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, December 16, 2013

It's been FOREVER since I wrote last!!! Like, FOUR WHOLE DAYS!!!

Hellos to all the peoples!!!  This week has been pretty good since we last talked.  It's kinda weird to think that we could have so much go down since Wednesday when I got to write.  It's kinda weird actually writing on Monday; I feel like I haven't done that in forever!  But we've been pretty busy and have gotten a lot of great stuff done.  We had exchanges with Elder Eggleston and Elder Dollar, a district leader training meeting, and we actually got to get out and proselyte!
Well to start with, the district leader training meeting was fantastic.  Elder Jenkins and I had to have everything all set up and ready before-hand, and thankfully he was right on the ball.  We were able to have 100% of everything in order, which was a huge relief because I can imagine it would be awkward to have President Castro come in and find it all a mess.  Elder Jenkins also led a great edpep on teaching simply.  Way to go Elder Jenkins!  I got to see Elder Law there, and it was a super happy re-union.  He's doing super well out in Lom Poc; his Spanish is practically perfect!
A really neat miracle went down at the training meeting; a man walked in looking for the bishop.  It turns out, he'd met Elder Jenkins before when he walked into a DIFFERENT church building looking for help.  He'd recently had a lot of tough trials and was looking to move out here from Arizona.  So, Elder Jenkins was able to point him to the local bishop, who turns out to be someone he knew back in Arizona.  The man was REALLY grateful, and expressed a lot of desire to join the church as well.  It was awesome!
That same day we had a lesson in the Hunt family's home.  They live in and operate a MASSIVE care center for older people, and two of their employees had agreed to meet with us; one a Hispanic mother of three kids and another YSA woman.  It was weird, because we started off teaching Monica and her kids in Spanish, and then had to accomodate Domonique (the YSA woman) when she arrived.  Both of them seemed to be really interested, they were really good lessons!
Eric is doing great; we'll have to move his baptism date to the 24th, but he's excited for it anyway.  Hopefully we can meet with him more often in the coming week; I've only seen him twice.  He came to the YSA ward though, and loved it; although the Gospel Principles class on the final judgement had a little too much deep doctrine for him.  It was kinda scary to sit there and hope he listened to the spirit and not his fears.  He asked good questions about it afterward though, and is going to read some scriptures in the Doctrine and Covenants on the questions he has. 
We have our Christmas devotional coming up, and that'll be a blast!  We'll be meeting in the Santa Barbara Stake Center, so that'll be interesting.  We're planning on calling between 11-1 o' clock on Christmas.  I hope you all have a beautiful Christmas, and that you all feel the spirit of the season.  Keep looking for those opportunities to serve, teach and testify, and more than everything, have fun!!  I love you all, and I'm very grateful for everything you all do!
Elder Matthew David Clough

PS: I broke my glasses finally; they were on their last leg anyway, and when I tried to fix the lenses that kept falling out, the frame snapped in half. :(  So I'll be utilizing my contacts for the next little while until I figure out what to do about them.

PPS:   I forgot a miracle!!!  During the exchange with Elder Dollar in Nipomo; as we biked out to a remote family, the road we were on turned into a half mile of sand!  I had about 1-1 and 1/2 inch street tires, and I wrecked several times during the first ten feet.  There was just too much psi on the sand, and when I tried to bike it just fish-tailed or dug into the sand.  Finally, I said a prayer in my heart, saying that if it was the will of God that we should visit this person, give me the ability to bike the rest of the way without falling again, but if we were wasting our time and were to turn around, let me fall.  It wasn't easy; I had to fight it the whole way, but I finished the rest of the half mile without stopping or falling once.  We didn't find the person we went to see, but we made a good connection with the husband, and he was very willing to have us return.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

So I've been frying my brain on a desk for the past week and a half...

Sorry this letter comes late!  We've had a CRAZY week this past couple of days!  It's been pretty weird getting used to the new assignment as a zone leader.  It's kinda blowing my mind; there was SO MUCH administrative work to get done!  It took us straight from Transfer tuesday 'till sunday to get it all figured out; we had Zone Goals to create and report, Evaluation forms to fill out, Exchanges and district meetings, and all other kinds of stuff.  It was really weird sitting in the church all week instead of proselyting!  We did manage to get a little bit of work done, but largely we've had to rely on the Lord working in our area instead of us.  I have met one investigator; his name is Eric and the lesson we had with him was amazing!  It was incredible teaching with Elder Jenkins; he's super developed as a missionary!  Eric's story is something else;

Eric met with Elder Buckmiller and Elder Haws originally, which was RIGHT after Elder Buckmiller left Taft.  He was atheist, but he really caught the spirit of the message and was progressing way fast.  At some point though, he slipped up, felt unworthy, and dropped them!  After a long while, he texted Elder Bernards and Elder Jenkins (Who had no idea who he was)  and said "I want to be baptized.  Can you give me the lessons so I can do that?"  They thought it was a joke for a while!  But after they realized what was going on, they started teaching him, and now he is set to be baptized on the 25th of December.  White Christmas!

The reason I got this letter off late to everyone is because we didn't have P-day till today!  On Monday, Elder Jenkins and I went down to Ventura for a "Zone Leader training" meeting.  It was a super spiritual meeting and really helped me catch the spirit of sacrifice that this assignment requires.  It's a very curious point of the mission, because of the 14 Zone Leaders, 7 were new.  The coolest part of the day was President Castro took us on a hike up into the mountains, and as we went up, we broke into different groups and discussed different parts of the 5 areas of focus: we are Preach My Gospel Missionaries, We Baptize, We Obey with Exactness, We Seek to Be Trusted More Than Loved, and We Teach With Power and Authority.  As our group went up, we discussed "we seek to be Trusted more than Loved.  It was SUPER helpful to analyze leaders I trusted and ones I struggled to trust.  When we came back down, we had a short soccer match.  It was great fun, and I actually scored a goal!  President Castro was the Goalie on our team, and it was really wierd to see him out of his suit and running around like that but it was awesome!  To his credit, we won 5-0, so they never actually managed to score on him although really talented players tried!

Tuesday we had our Mission Leader Councle meeting.  It was super insightful to see all that goes into those.  We learned a lot about SO MUCH it would be impossible for me to recount it all to you now.  But it was really great.

I love you all, and I'm very excited for this transfer and this Christmas season.  I don't anticipate to have e-mail problems like this for the next little while, but we'll see what happens.  Take care and be awesome!


Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, December 2, 2013

Transfer calls have come in with most epic news...

I'm leaving already!!!  I barely got here, but I'm getting called out.  :(   I'm staying SUPER close though, I'm going to be in Santa Maria.  Elder Bautista and I are WAY disappointed to be separating already; I think the only missionary I've gotten along with as well as I have with him would be Elder Buckmiller!  I've learned so much from him and this hard area; and I am certain that when I make it to the Celestial kingdom, these last six weeks will be one of the pivotal-points where I got put on the path to make it.  I'm a little disappointed to be leaving the area without any progressing investigators, but we have 4-5 appointments lined up for the first week; and that's WAY more than we had coming in.  The area is organized and prepared nicely; and most of all; WE GOT THE TRANSLATION DEVICE YESTERDAY!!! WHOOO!  I feel like; if nothing else, that's why I came here, because we fought so hard to get it!  It felt good to finally hold one.  I also know that this area will be taken care of because, 1: Elder Bautista is a mega-boss!  and 2: His new companion is going to be ELDER MORTIMER!!!!  It's going to be so awesome to watch these two tear it up!  I can't believe the first missionary I trained is going to follow up train the last missionary I've trained so far!

But on to my next assignment!  I'm going, as I said, to be stationed in the Spanish branch in Santa Maria, AND, I'm going to be working in the YSA ward, so that's going to be new.  Actually, I already know my new companion pretty well; but it'll be interesting to see how he's progressed.  Hopefully I don't disappoint his expectations!  I'll be serving with ELDER JENKINS!!!!  I was hoping for a last transfer run with this man, but this is super exciting anyway!  He's going to have to help me out a lot though; because I'm also going to be a zone leader.  I've given up panicking when I get new assignments;  I still don't feel ANYWHERE near qualified, but from what I've seen so far that's a pretty common thing.  It seems like every time I start figuring things out the Lord puts me somewhere where I don't know what I'm doing again. :P  But I shall do my best.  

This week was an interesting one.  We had a great start and a fantastic finish, but in the middle, we got stuck in the apartment for two days while Elder Bautista was pretty sick.  He used some kind of mexican throat spray though and it went away pretty darn quick!  The best part of this last week was when we dropped by a potential investigator named Edgar.  We asked if we could come in and have a lesson and he welcomed us on in!  The Lesson was really good, and he payed attention, but after Elder Bautista asked him to read and pray to know, and he agreed, I asked him why he wanted to do that.  He thought a minute and said, "Well, I'm actually pretty interested! I want to know more about this book and get closer to God."  It was awesome!!!  Hopefully he is ready to start progressing; he could be the key!  

I love you all, I'm very grateful for all your love and support.  I can't believe Elder Hoffman's coming home soon; I got floored when I realized how far along I'm coming.  It really does go way too fast; and if it slows down for these next months, I won't be any the sadder.  I love this work!

Elder Matthew David Clough