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, August 11, 2014

Homecoming for Matthew

Matthew's homecoming is scheduled for August 24th at 9:00 am at the Clinton 15th ward.  Anyone who would like to come, I am sure Matthew would love to see you.  We will have a get-together at our house afterwards.  We will let you know our new address if you would like to come.  Just email to let us know if you are coming.  Thanks for your support of Matthew.

Stephanie Clough

The End of my Legend

That's the way I see this.  It's like when you get to the end of a Legend of Zelda game and you are super happy about the way the story played out, but just a bit sad that you are actually done.  This last week was very interesting to say the least, but we saw many miracles. 
Our investigators are struggling.  We had a hard time actually finding them, but many people are doing very well.  In particular a young man named Jose that Elder Lee and I met is doing amazing!  Elder Lee's been teaching him, and he has completely changed!  When I met him he was into drugs and gangs, and used the fact that his father isn't around as an excuse.  But after we taught him a bit he started opening up and wanting to meet with us.  Now, he loves the Book of Mormon, wants to serve a mission, and says he wants to be a Priesthood man.  It's amazing what the gospel does to people when you let it!
Our biggest miracles this week were from working with the missionaries.  First off, we presented the sugar cube temple to the zone, to our district first on Monday, and then to the one in Fillmore on Thursday for district meeting.  We held a discussion about the building of the wall in Nehemia; and how the grammar is worded funny, so that it doesn't say "So and so built this gate" but it says "The gate repaired so and so."  We asked "How do our callings and assignments build us?"  and they said some amazing things!  Especially when we made observations about the temple we built and the symbolism there.  We noticed how the temple was missing large portions of it: there was a number of holes and most of the spire wasn't built.  But instead of focusing on the negative one missionary said "It's not perfect, but it's awesome!"  I love that: that's exactly what this life is all about.  We're not perfect, we've got a lot of building still to do; but we're awesome.  We're children of God, and someday we will be perfect and like Him. 
Tonight is going to be one of the best of my mission.  We're going to go teach some amazing people, and then we're going to go meet with Felipe and Carmen.  Our lesson is on the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  He sacrificed so much for us!  And then we're going to exhort Felipe to sacrifice his Sunday job because he loves the Lord. 
I know this work is true.  I know it with everything I am.  It's weird how more real it gets as you go.
I'm very excited for the next phase of life, I'm going to give everything to prepare for and find my future family and help all of us make it to the Celestial Kingdom of God.  I am so very grateful I served a full-time mission.
Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, July 28, 2014

Thank heavens I'm an Anime Fan: Being able to tie it to the Gospel comes in handy at times!

This week was crazy busy!  It's been one of the best weeks of my mission all around, but at the same time there's been a couple challenges.  But there's some amazing things happening in the Ventura Spanish Zone!
First off, we had to complete the Zone evaluation; when we write to President Felix about all the strengths of each member of the Zone, if we have any concerns for any of them, and what kind of transfer they would benefit from most.  It was an absolute pleasure to evaluate the zone this time around, because more so than ever, we have no concerns, and we had so much to say about each person!  Those that were struggling before have all grown so much, and those that were already doing fine have really kept up the good work.  I'm so proud of all of them!
Then, this week we had 19 appointments!  The work is absolutely bustling out here in Ventura, and although many people weren't there for their appointments we taught a LOT of lessons; almost as many as when Elder Lee and I were serving together! 

Speaking of which, I went on an exchange with Elder Lee this week, and it was a very interesting experience.  I LOVE exchanges, and I was sad to realize that it was the last exchange I'd be going on in my mission.  But, I was super happy and privileged to be able to share it with Elder Lee.  He's grown so much serving as an Assistant, and we saw crazy miracles all day.  We met about four people in a row who were super prepared to meet us, just at the right moment. The spirit was super strong all day long, and we enjoyed being certain that we were where the Lord wanted us to be.
Then, this week we saw an amazing miracle happen with our investigator David.  He's been kinda off and on, sometimes he progresses and sometimes he gets a bit lazy.  But last week we watched the Full length Joseph Smith movie with him, and it left him super thoughtful.  Then, this week we came by on Tuesday, and he told us that even though he has Dyslexia, he's been reading in the Book of Mormon for an hour every day!  He also asked us to start coming by each evening.  He's really connecting with and understanding the Gospel, and two members that came to visit with us shared testimonies that really opened his eyes up.  Finally, the time came for a test of how sincere he really is.  He went to a family party with his wife, and as usual, EVERYONE was drinking a lot.  But this time, he decided before he left that he wasn't going to drink, and even though people were tempting him the whole time, he didn't drink one!  He said he did everything he would usually do at a party, but he just didn't drink, and just like we promised, he had more fun than he had at other parties.  He said when he got home he felt an immense amount of joy, more than he'd ever felt in his life, and that he was super proud of himself.  We were amazed!  We promised him that the joy he felt was the Spirit testifying to him that he did what was right, and that as proud as he was of himself, Heavenly Father is even more happy and proud of the change he's making.  He's starting another job this week so it will be difficult to find him, but he's determined to get Sundays off and join the restored church of Jesus Christ.
I'm excited for what this next week brings.  We're going to see a bunch of crazy awesome miracles, and do everything we can to help people follow this message.  Thank you so much for your prayers and support.  I love this work, and I know it's the most important thing we can do.  If you're in a ward full of less actives now: that's a fantastic opportunity to make a difference!  Be their friend, and a great example, and help them realize how much they've wanted to come back.
Keep up the great work. I love you all.  Ask the Peruvian neighbors if they know where to get some Inca-cola (Try it sometime; it's delicious!!!)  I've had that a lot at Peruvian houses, as well as a really good purple corn drink that I don't remember what it's called.
Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, July 21, 2014

Learned how to make Te de Limon (Lime tea) yesterday. We'll see how it goes!

I'm not sure why the last e-mail disappeared into the void, but I've sent it again, so hopefully it arrives soon!  I guess ya'll just get a massive up-date all at once!
This week was pretty hectic, but super good at the same time.  We were blessed with a LOT of people who wanted to talk with us, and especially a bunch of new investigators.  We also got to go on two exchanges, I went out to Ojai with Elder Griffin, and then I brought Elder Mackay up here to our area later on in the week.  They're both super solid, excited elders, and they've been working very hard.  We also saw a lot of miracles bringing Elder Mackay here; he served here for as long as I will have, and he really reached the people out here.  They loved seeing him, and he was able to really help them refocus on the gospel. 
Ivan is doing awesome.  Unfortunately, we had a hard time running into him all week, and then he wasn't able to come to church, but we found him afterwards on Sunday and had a great lesson on the Word of Wisdom.  He really showed how much he's progressed this time!  He had some questions about coffee, but he had a really great attitude about the whole law.  We were able to use some analogies to running to help him see how important it is to fully obey this commandment. (It's easier to keep running, even when you are tired, then to take a break and start again.)  Unfortunately, he'd drank a cup of coffee just that morning, so we'll have to count three weeks from then and move his baptism to the 16 of August.  He's super awesome though and is really excited to be preparing to serve a mission!
We also had interviews with President Felix this week, which were great but very different than the way I've been used to!  This time we had them one on one after district meeting; companionships just drove down to the stake center for their interview and left right after.  The interviews were also very casual; he asked a lot of great questions about how we do the work and how our areas are going, and in my interview specifically he asked me about my thoughts on some guidelines he wants to adjust.  In Elder James' interview, he asked Elder James what to do with everyone for transfers!  The spirit was very powerful though, and we could all feel how much he cares about us and what we're becoming.  Sister Felix was also super nice and friendly.  She asked a lot of questions about our lives, areas, and plans for the futures.  (She wasn't happy about my plans to attend the Spanish Branch though, she said "I'm concerned about that though because it will reduce your dating prospects!"  I'm not worried about that; how many people ACTUALLY find their future spouse in the YSA ward they're going to?  I haven't met many.)
Also this week we started teaching Blanca, which is Hermana Cisneros' sister.  Hermana Cisneros had just had surgery, and the Relief society helped out so much that it surprised her sister into wanting to know more about the gospel.  So, we came by with Fernando, a youth who's preparing to serve a mission here soon, and taught her the restoration.  She's looking so much for peace and the spirit in her life: she really desires to know the truth!  She asked us, after we taught about the Book of Mormon "Now that's what I've wanted to know my whole life!  There's so many different religions and each one says they're the right one. And they believe it! I've been raised catholic my whole life, but I've always wondered how do I know it's true, or if yours is true?  So now you're telling me that I'll find the answer in here? *raising the Book of Mormon*" Hermana Cisneros replied "No, the only place you can find the answer is from GOD.  You have to read, study, pray and come to church and everything else, but you won't find the answer anywhere outside.  You'll find it in you. You'll feel it and know it's true."  It was a super spiritual lesson, but right before we invited her to be baptized the rest of the Cisneros family showed up and the room exploded with chaos.  Next time!
We also listened to Omar Aranda's homecoming talk.  It was so incredibly powerful!  He's really served the Lord right, he's excited to work and progress in life.  He got called as the second councilor in the Elders quorum too.  It really inspired me to continue growing and changing. I've got a LOT to do!

 I love you, keep it up and do your best!
Elder Matthew David Clough

Sleeping in a bed full of ants is not the funnest thing I've ever done... Email from 07-14-14

For me it's like sleeping in a hammock with a bunch of rattlesnakes in it.  Fortunately prayers work, because I survived the night.  I don't want to know how allergic I am to those little monsters nowadays.

This week has been amazing.  We got the report for the stake presidency done up super quickly, and we were able to hit the streets and work hard for most of the week.  We've had a harder time finding some of our more usual investigators, but the ones we've seen this time around have progressed super well.
We saw Jose again, the one who the YSA missionaries are teaching, and he's doing super great.  He asked us about the people we've been teaching and he is really anxious to start meeting with his missionaries (It's been tough for them to get in contact with him)  We have started teaching his mom, who's also really awesome, and we found out that a few days later the missionaries finally found him, and the first thing he said was "Finally!  It's about time!"  Later, as they taught him the Plan of Salvation, Elder Lee was teaching about the things we have to do in this life like faith, repentance, and baptism, and he asked "Alright, so what do I need to do to be baptized? How long does that take?"  So now he's set to be baptized about 5 weeks from now! 
We also started teaching Liz' father, Ramon.  He's a super nice old christian man, who loved the message we shared, and is really excited to read the Book of Mormon.  We're really happy about teaching them, the whole family has a lot of light.
The best news is about Ivan though; he's doing incredibly well!  We went by earlier to set up an appointment to watch Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Restoration with him, and eventually he said "You know what? Last time I came to church it took a while after church was over to wait for my ride, so why don't we just watch it after church?"  We were floored: we hadn't even suggested he come again yet!  So, we got him a ride, and he came and loved it.  The Priesthood lesson on baptism was perfect for him, and afterwards he got talking to Omar, a missionary who returned just this last Wednesday.  As we were walking out he asked us, "So, it's two years: if I go on my mission in 2015, I'll come back in 2017 right?"  Again, we dragged our jaws on the floor for a while in surprise!  Then, we went to the Hernandez family's house to watch the movie, and it was super powerful.  I've never felt the spirit in a lesson as strong as that one, it was incredible!  Ivan loved it, and when Elder James invited him to be baptized on August 2nd, he said, "Yes, yes I will."  Yesterday was one of the best Sundays of my mission!
We also had a very powerful experience on Friday.  We went to have dinner at the branch president's house, but instead of letting us in they gave us a couple of burrito's to go in a bag, and after apologizing Presidente Rodriguez asked us to take the time from visiting their family and go to the hospital. The Garcia family had just had a baby, and the mom and baby weren't doing very well.  So, we rushed there as fast as we could, and after a bit of a hassle (The hospital was NOT up to date on it's records) and a couple helpful miracles we found the room they were in.  Hermana Garcia is holding up remarkably well, emotionally, and then Hermano Garcia took us up to give his new little daughter a blessing.  It was such a powerful, sacred feeling in the room where the little babies were being cared for in the NICU's.  The little Garcia baby looked really strong compared to the others, and the blessing her father gave her was beautiful and powerful.  We then came down and gave a blessing to the Mother that was really special as well.  It was an awesome opportunity. 
So, we're excited to work hard again this week and help people follow Christ.  We expect to see great miracles and we know great things are coming.  Keep working hard and doing your best: Prepare to serve missions, everyone!  I think that was one of the wisest counsels from the last couple general conferences.  This work is true, and it's so incredibly important!
Elder Matthew David Clough

Thursday, July 17, 2014

17 July 2014

Hey everyone,

We didn't receive an email from Matthew this week, but his new Mission President sent us a letter that gave us a website for the new mission blog.  I will still post Matthew's weekly letters here for the next 4 weeks.  Then he will be home!  There are several pictures with Matthew in them on the mission blog.  The mission blog info is:

It looks like they are having a great time in the Ventura mission!  I can't believe he will be home in just one more month!  The time has flown by.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The most Epic testimony meeting ever.

This week was awesome.  We got a lot done, and we saw amazing miracles, especially with Felipe and Carmen.
They came to church again!  And this time, they came to the Spanish branch.  It was fast Sunday again, and the testimonies were super powerful.  Then, at the very end, Felipe got up and went up to bear his testimony!  He told everyone how Saturday he'd been driving to work when the car broke down.  When he checked it, he saw that the radiator was missing a LOT of fluid, and he was really worried.  He knew that if he didn't go to work then he'd have to work on Sunday.  So, he prayed and asked Heavenly Father to help him. (As a funny side note, he also said "Joseph Smith; if you want me to go to your church, help me out!  give me a hand here!"  We'll work on helping him not pray to Joseph Smith soon enough!)  So, after he finished, he realized that he had a couple water bottles in the back of the car, so he dumped them into the radiator, and then started driving again.  When he got to work, the tank had filled up to the halfway point and when he got home it was completely full!  At the end he said "And so, my purpose in being up here today is to tell you... (he paused for a while to get control of himself)  I KNOW that this is the true church."  It was amazing!  Carmen loved it too, and she said Felipe REALLY wants to come every week, so hopefully this helps them take the steps they need to to come.
We also taught a couple of young people who were extremely ready who we passed on to the Assistants to the President, since they are YSA age.  One of them, Jose, met me and Elder Lee a while back, and when we saw him again he said he'd been reading the book of Mormon!  He shared how he felt the spirit while he read and said he would like to be one of us someday.  It was amazing: he's only been taught once and he wants to be a missionary!  The other, we've taught her twice now since we've been trying to get the whole family to listen to us, but that's coming along too slowly.  Her name is Liz, and she has a lot of basic questions about religion.  She loved everything we taught, and when Elder James invited her to be baptized she hesitated because she'd been baptized catholic.  But what she said wasn't like "I don't want to because I was baptized already." it was "Can I? I was already baptized so is that okay?"  After we explained Priesthood authority a bit and how God want's everyone to be baptized that way she agreed.  She was super happy too, and grateful for us coming to help her out.
Mission leader council was incredible this week.  President and Sister Felix are exactly what the mission needs right now.  They had a lot of questions about the mission and how we go about doing things, because they really want to get absorbed into the culture we've built up here.  It comforted me a lot when President Felix shared that we're going to be continuing all mission rules and policies until we receive direction otherwise.  It would be an utter mess to try and root everything up at once.  He also had us construct a massive list of all the unwritten rules we've been following so that he can review them.  I was amazed at how much sense most of them made.  They also shared their life experiences, how they met and raised a family, what they enjoy together, how they received their call (Dad would be interested to know that right before their call they were on a service mission teaching therapists to fit wheelchairs for people in Tucxla-gutierrez, Chiapas, Mexico.)  They also shared how a short time ago, after they'd received their call, President Felix (Who is an incredibly healthy, active man) was biking along when he felt a sudden burning sensation in his chest, and his shoulders got heavy.  By a series of miracles, they got him to the ER, just in time for him to suffer a massive heart attack ON the examining table.  He was worked on for a long time with no pulse, but after they stabilized him, and he had a stint put in, he received a priesthood blessing that he'd be okay.  The doctors told him that the survival rate for what he went through is about 5%, and if he hadn't been right there he'd not have survived.  As he was set apart, Elder Nelson (of all the general authorities, the heart surgeon!) blessed his heart and told him the Lord intended for him to KNOW that he was supposed to be here now. 
That's all I've got time for this week, I'll let you know what happens next!  Keep up the good work, and stay on the lookout for those who need a hand. 
Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, June 30, 2014

And thus ended the Reign of President Castro over the land of the California Ventura Mission...

And a new one begins with President Felix!!!  Weird....
Actually, It's weird to think we have a new President because nothing seems to be changing.  I'm sure that's because he's getting used to the idea of being a mission President; if I were him I'd take some time seeing how things usually go too.  But I guess we'll really find out tomorrow; because we'll be having Mission leader council, and that's when changes and things are usually implemented.
This week has been mentally exhausting as well as miraculous.  The main reason for the mental exhaustion comes from the goals we've set for the zone.  It took a little bit of doing to get it figured out.  We're going to be building off the family mission plan idea, by visiting families and teaching them the Restoration and other lessons we teach, and practicing with them how to have gospel conversations.  Then, we've all made a list of everything that's holding us back from being the Missionaries the Lord wants us to be.  Throughout the transfer, we'll be keeping track of each little victory we have through the Atonement.  Finally, we'll also be updating our Area Books each night. (just like we're already supposed to, but it's kinda like how we're all supposed to do a lot of things that never really happen.)  But the fun part is that we'll be having the zone building little strange shaped objects out of sugar cubes: each cube representing a success in one of the goals.  At the end of the transfer, Elder James and I have a presentation to give them where each of their sections will come together to make a small more or less to scale replica of the L.A. Temple!  We'll let you know if it works!  We're excited though, because we've seen so many small miracles making this project possible; like the library door being locked but opening up anyway because we really needed to make copies to get the blue prints out to the zone.  AND we've received six amazing referrals in just one week; which, compared to last TRANSFER I think we only received two.
One of our investigators, named Ivan, came to church this week!  He's a youth, (he has about 17 years) and he really liked it.  He got a ride from one of the members here, and while he's still in the "I'm catholic but it's interesting to see what others believe" mode, he really liked the lesson in Priesthood about... the priesthood.  And he likes the Book of Mormon a lot.
I'll let you know how everyone else is doing soon, and I hope everyone enjoys the new ward.  Find reasons to like it, even if you don't!  I love you all, I'll be sending pictures soon (My memory card filled up. :(  )
Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, June 23, 2014

Elder James: Enter the Ninja Slayer!

That's right! I'll be staying with Elder James for round two!  The final round... We're super excited to work incredibly hard here in Ventura and I'm going to be working like a maniac for the last seven weeks.  The mission is a marathon, but now it's time to sprint!!
Which is fortunate, because we should have enough time this transfer to get amazing things done, especially considering that our investigators are doing super well!  We had a really tough week as far as numbers go, but David, Esperanza, Carlos, Ivan, and especially Alicia are doing super awesome!
Alicia scared us bad this week.  We hadn't been able to contact her for ages; since the baptismal interview!  We knew she'd be pretty busy, but she didn't even answer our calls.  So, finally she actually called us back, and when she did, she was acting really strange, and after asking who we were she hung up.  We thought she'd dropped us for sure!  But when we debated about whether to go back or not, we decided to try one more time, and found her outside folding clothes.  She acted completely normal!  It turns out that she'd been busy with a LOT of things: Her son Luis graduated, her car got hit, a family friend passed away, and her phone is being difficult, she can't hear anything when she calls people, which is why she acted so weird!  It was a huge relief to see her again, and we'll do our best to help her prepare to be baptized.
In other news, President Castro's farewell was awesome.  I drew a picture of their family for them and they loved it.  I was really inspired by the way President Castro is finishing his mission.  He's been very dedicated, focused and hard working the whole way through, and he's constantly looking for ways to inspire us to work hard.  I really want to follow his example and strive to make the focus of this last transfer go past what I can do: I really want to spend my time helping the missionaries around me love the work and work harder then ever from here on out.
President Felix is arriving on Friday, and then he'll be in charge right away. I probably won't meet him 'till the Tuesday of MLC, and I'm not sure whether that'll be this next week or week 3.  Either way, we'll continue life as normal in the great California Ventura Mission! 
I love you all and pray for you!  I was mindful of Dad on Fathers Day, even though I didn't send anything.  But I'm convinced I've been blessed with the best Father I could have.
Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, June 16, 2014

Gelling your hair for the first time, + Summer = a really burnt scalp

Which is quite itchy.  Which, in turn, is a problem when you have gel in your hair: it ruins it if you scratch it!

Elder James and I had quite a time this last week.  It was interesting because we weren't in our own area for very long, we went on two exchanges where we both went to the other elder's areas, but we still saw some amazing miracles!  Where to begin...
First off, we haven't been able to find Alicia, unfortunately. She did say she'd be busy with her children ending the school year and one of them graduating, so we're not too nervous but we're still a bit worried.  Hopefully we can get in contact with her again and figure out what she needs to continue to progress.
Then, on Tuesday we had an awesome lesson with Felipe and Carmen.  We read Alma 32 together, and it was amazing how much they got out of it.  About halfway through, we asked Felipe what he'd learned so far, and after he summarized the main idea, he proceeded to tell us "but if we don't do anything and the plant dies, it's not because it's not a good plant, it's just because we didn't care for it."  Which was EXACTLY what the next two verses where going to say!  We pointed out to him how the spirit was enlightening his understanding.  They really loved what we went over, and next week they're going to start going to the Branch's Family Home Evening.
Then, we went on two back to back exchanges with the Elders in Fillmore, and then with our roommates!  In Fillmore I went with Elder Parrish.  He's a super confident, powerful missionary who loves the Lord and loves the work.  He also loves milk: he drinks four gallons a week!  (He used to drink one a day!) I really learned a lot from him about the importance of confidence.  I noticed how much the way he carries himself speaks about the message he carries and helps people automatically trust him.
Later, I went with Elder Sorensen.  It was super fun to work with him.  We talked a lot about his first transfer and his trainer, and how though they struggled to get along, Elder Sorensen is starting to take the right steps and forgive him.  It was awesome to walk it through with him; I can understand why he was frustrated: it's hard when you don't agree with someone you're stuck with 24/7, but it's so important to take responsibility and decide how you feel about things for yourself.
Well, here we go into week five; last week of the transfer.  I CAN'T BELIEVE WE'RE HERE ALREADY!!??!  Time still makes no sense to me.  We'll be having President and Sister Castro's farewell "Zone Meeting" this next week, and then we'll be having transfers! 
We'll see what the future holds.

Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, June 9, 2014

Alicia's going to get baptized!!! ...eventually.

This week has been a bit of a roller-coaster: we've had a lot of ups and downs.  We've had SO MUCH to get done administration-wise, but we got through it and ended the week with an awesome exchange with Elder Lee and Elder Kleinman.  Elder Lee really loved coming back to this area to work with Elder James, and I had a great time working with Elder Kleinman in theirs.  Fortunately, Saturday was a super calm day in the mission, so even though I was attached to one of the Assistants in their area, we didn't have to worry about anything. 
The Mission Leader Council this week was amazing; I learned a ton of super useful things!  This Introduction lesson by President Castro was all about how the Roman Army protected themselves with armor and wise strategy, and how we can apply the same techniques to protect ourselves and fight spiritually.  It was interesting to note that the main vulnerable places on our body, our head, heart, groin and feet reflect our spiritual vulnerabilities, namely our thoughts, our desires, our virtue, and our direction.  He then pointed out how the different pieces of the Armor of God directly correlate to those vulnerabilities. 
Afterwards I had my new Temple Recommend interview.  It felt so good to have that up to date again!  During the interview, President Castro shared a lot of really precious things with me that I'm going to apply.  I'm so grateful for everything he's done for me!

Our week got surprisingly busy when we were asked to get the evaluation of our Zone turned in a week early (technically 2 weeks early!)  This was especially difficult because Elder James and I hadn't even met two of the missionaries!  We did our best with what we had, worked with the district leaders to see the strengths of the missionaries they serve, and even got to go to the other district's meeting and meet the new ones.  We got it done just in time, along with the report we give to the stake presidency at the start of each month.  But in spite of our lack of proselyting time, we taught more lessons this week than last!  It just goes to show that if we take care of our assignments, the Lord will help us accomplish our calling.
As far as our investigators go, Alicia is doing awesome-ish.  Saturday, while I was out of the area on exchange she passed her interview!  She's received a super strong witness of the truth of the things we teach and gained the peace to deal with some family strife she's been facing lately.  But, our District Leader who did the interview was doing it for the first time, and I'm not sure how, but he forgot to tell us until last night that she'd actually drank coffee sometime about a week ago, so she doesn't actually qualify to be baptized yet. :(  So we've got to call the entire branch and re-schedule for next week.  But I know she'll do great!
The five step plan is going well.  It's been interesting to see the different ways it's being received.  Some people have been really excited to try it out and are happy to tell us about their successes and efforts.  Others have grumbled a bit and tried to justify themselves by saying they basically already do all of it.  I thought it was interesting because I can guarantee that the families that are excited to try it out already do more of the work than the ones that have justified themselves.  Hopefully they try it and see it help them out though!
In other news, we've got a missionary that went home a while back for an injury who's coming back today!  Elder Mckay will be in our Zone with Elder Parrish!  I'm super excited and proud of him!
Thanks for all you do, and the support you give me!  I love you all!
Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, June 2, 2014

Missionary Paradise: another name for Ventura.

This week was crazy, most of all because Samuel got baptized!!!  It was quite hectic trying to get it all to work out.  We learned the importance of double checking that the building is reserved for our use, because while we were filling the font, the whole English ward showed up for an 8 year old's baptism!  We wound up having to have all the members from our Spanish branch wait an hour for the
 other baptism to be finished and then start Samuel's.  He was super excited, and very happy to get the holy ghost yesterday.  He's such a good kid!  He's going to be a fantastic missionary some day.
In other news, Alicia is doing great as well, preparing for her own baptism which is scheduled for June 14.  We invited her to come and see a baptism for another woman in Ojai named Alicia which is going to happen on the 10th, and I happened to mention that it's because it's the Ojai Alicia's birthday and our Alicia said "Really?!  June 14 is MY birthday!!!"  I was floored: Elder Lee and I pulled that date out of thin air, we hadn't planned on it at all!  It was cool too, because it made her baptism feel much more of a soon reality than it was before. 
We've also started teaching the members to set up a five step "Family Mission Plan" based on principles from the working with members section of Preach My Gospel to help them know how to do the work.  Oftentimes we think "I want to share the gospel, but I don't know what to do, or I've already invited all my friends, or everyone I know are members!"  But this plan really helps out.  The steps are:
1: Pray for missionary experiences every day.  This is the most important step.  If you do this, you WILL have an opportunity to share the gospel.
2: Set a goal for hours of service the family will give each month.
3: Write down the names of family and friends you want to receive the gospel.  It doesn't matter if you've already tried, if you're scared, or if they know the church super well already.  The point is to have a list of people you want to get the gospel.
4: Commit to talk to everyone about the gospel.  Small comments and testimonies of the church go a LONG way: you don't have to teach everyone a lesson, that's OUR job.  You just need to be a witness.
5: Write down a plan of action for each person on your list.  Things like invite for FHE, to an activity, comment on things you've learned in the gospel lately are really non-threatening and provide people the chances they need.
So far the people we've shared it with are super excited to try it out.  We'll let you know if any miracles come from these efforts.  Another goal the Zone has been putting into practice has brought amazing miracles.  We've made a list of investigators that are progressing or have specific needs and then asked every missionary in the zone to pray for each one at least once a day.  So far, many of these specific needs have been answered! Samuel got baptized, Alicia has a desire to be baptized now, Alma got out of jail, Ricardo set a baptismal date, and Hope is letting the missionaries come back now.  It's incredible how over just one week so many people have received the very blessings we've been asking for.

I'm sorry to hear everyone's getting sick all the time still.  It's amazing how healthy I've been these two years: the Lord definitely helps me get the work done!  Keep being the most amazing family ever, and qualify for those blessings!  I know what we're doing is right. 


Elder Matthew David Clough

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How to use time wisely...

Is the scariest principle I've ever learned in my mission.  Elder James and I have been preparing to teach this to our zone this last week, and it's ridiculous.  We found out that out of the entire two years, if you take out sleep, eating, and other non-work hours, you only actually have SIX MONTHS of proselyting time.  And do you know what happens if you waste just ONE HOUR a day?  You lose a months worth of proselyting time.  That's a whole sixth of your mission down the drain!  So, we've had a lot of good discussion lately about how to use our time wiser, and we've come to a lot of great conclusions. 
This transfer is going to be too much fun though.  Elder James and I get along just a LITTLE too well!  He's a genius future astrophysicist (sweet!) which is how we calculated all that ridiculous math.  We have such a similar personality and opinion of things that it's almost silly.  First off; his ENTIRE FAMILY are massive Legend of Zelda fans (Whoo-hoo! That means he thought my conversion story was boss); the way they usually had fun together was gathering in the living room and watching their mom play a new one.  They also love board games and books almost as much as we do, so it's a pity they live all the way out in Washington; I think they'd be awesome friends for yall to have a game night with.  (Actually, when he played the farming game at BYU he realized that he lives where the game takes place!  His stake is actually called the Rattlesnake Mountain Stake, instead of rattlesnake ridge!  We even found out that on the phone, our voice is scarily similar, we couldn't tell ourselves apart!  Also, on his mom's side he's related to some Cloughs (Nancy Clough I think) from (Yorkshire?) where my great grandpa is from, so it looks like we're about 6th cousins.  (Mom; could you figure out the tree over there so we could see how we're related?  That'd be awesome.)
Samuel didn't get baptized this Saturday; he got sick at camp. Poor kid!  He also didn't make it to church, but he sure wanted to come!  It was funny; when we went to visit him, his whole family was trying to avoid being the one to say the prayer, but as soon as heard us ask who would do it, he started jumping up and down with his hand in the air.  He's a boy FILLED with real intent and charity.  We're planning on the baptism being this Saturday, so we'll see what happens.
Our other investigators are doing super well.  Alicia is slowly progressing towards her baptism on June 10th.  Her son's graduation has been keeping her busy lately though.  Mariela has started meeting with us again, and she's finally started being open with her concerns: she's really afraid of how her family is going to react to her conversion, but she knows that her small family needs to draw closer to God.  Maria, another lady we teach who forgot she'd been baptized but not confirmed in Mexico, is also coming along super well; she didn't even flinch when Elder James said "So I hear you want to be baptized again!"  He's been taking full advantage of being new in the area, and he's being super bold with people.

Keep up the good work everyone, I love you all and know you're doing so great!  I'm proud of all of you.  Tell the Halladays I wish them well, and I'm very grateful for the example they set for me and my sisters.  There's actually a Hermana Halladay in our Zone right now (Wonder if they're related?)  I'm praying for you all!
Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, May 19, 2014


I should be used to the way transfers always blows my mind, but I'm not.  It's crazy what's going on right now!!! 
I'll be staying here in Ventura, but Elder Lee is going to serve with Elder Kleinman as an assistant to the president!  He's completely shocked and a bit nervous, but he'll do so great.  He is super humble, obedient, diligent, and good at this, so he'll be exactly what is needed.  Elder Jenkins is being given another assignment, but I haven't heard what exactly he'll be doing. 
My new companion is going to be Elder James, our district leader in Fillmore!  He's been with Elder Bautista these past two transfers, and I'm super excited: he's an amazing missionary!  Elder Bautista's also staying in Fillmore, and Elder Passey, one of my good friends here is moving to Carpinteria. Best of luck to everyone all around!
This week has been crazy.  For comparison, when Elder Lee and I came in, the members of the zone all taught an average of 7-8 lessons per week.  But this last week, we set the goal, and every single companionship taught over 40 lessons!  I've never worked this hard in my whole mission!  It was amazing to see how the Lord prepared the way for us and prepared so many people.
In other news, Samuel passed his baptismal interview!  He's well on track to be baptized next week.  While we were waiting for church to start, we got talking about what tv shows he likes and then we talked about Naruto for quite a bit!  It reminded me a lot about Danielle.
We taught an awesome lesson to Felipe and Carmen.  We decided to teach about keeping the sabbath day holy, and while at first he felt really attacked (he said "You got me!  You're hitting me left and right: I'm crucified!!!") he finally recognized that the commandment "Isn't you guys' rules; it's God's rules!"  He plans on changing, but won't commit to it yet.
We also had a crazy cool activity; we went to the "swap meet;"  which is a massive market they do in the Ventura College parking lot.  We set up a table, got 6 missionaries together, and started teaching everyone who would listen to us for more than 5 seconds.  It was awesome! 

Yeah, I know Hermana Cannon, Elder Bate and Elder Egan.  They're super awesome: actually, Elder Egan graduated from Syracuse High School.  Also, the reason why Elder Jenkins won't be coming home with me, is because he's from Alaska, so he'll be going over there.

I'm super excited for this transfer; it's going to be stellar!  Short: it's only going to be five weeks: but we'll make President Castro's last his best ever.

Love, Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day Phone Call

We had a great phone call with Matthew yesterday.  He is very excited and working hard.  He said the most interesting thing he has eaten lately was a dish similar to shrimp cocktail but it was made with octopus.  He said it was very good.  Transfers come again next Monday.  He said that transfer will be a 5 week transfer followed by a 7 week transfer.  We were able to inform Matthew of his return date since we had an email from his Mission office last week.  He will be coming home on Wednesday August 13th.  We will inform you later of the time since we don't have that information yet.  He was very excited about it because at the last transfer they had been told that everyone had lost a week or two, so he was expecting to come home earlier.  He will be coming home exactly the same week that he left two years ago so he didn't loose any time.  He said they are teaching a lot and have a lot of investigators but nobody that is ready to commit to baptism yet.  David said that his Spanish sounds good and his accent is good too.  Matthew said he plans on attending the Spanish branch when he returns because they always need help. 


That's what happened last week. And that's a pretty good sum up of what is going to happen this week.  The whole mission is on fire because of Elder James and Elder Bautista's example in teaching 40+ lessons a couple weeks ago, and now that's the standard; that's the goal!
We had mission leader council this week again, and it was amazing!  For the first half, president Castro focused on teaching us about how to achieve God's unity.  He taught us so much about how to become one and how we're going to have to establish our eternal companionship some day.  It was pretty cool, because the night before, Elder Lee and I had been talking about all the things we learned in our missions that will help our marriages!  He showed us a cool diagram: and I'm going to try to represent it here with my limited resources.  Hopefully this works!

The World's Way of Finding Unity:


|                       \                      |
|                        /                     |
|      Party         /      Party         |

|         A          /           B           |
|                    |                         |
|                     \                        |   
God's Way of Finding Unity:

                           /   \
                         /       \
                       /           \
                     /               \
                   /                   \
                 /                       \
               /                           \ 
             /                               \
           /                                   \
         /                                       \
       /                                           \
     /                                               \
A /_____________________________\B

The world's way doesn't work.  It's all a bunch of compromises, and "if you scratch my back I'll scratch yours"  But how united does it really look?  It looks more like a war between Party A and Party B.  If that's the way relationships usually work; no WONDER divorce is so rampant.
But the Lord's way is perfect.  If both Party A and Party B work TOWARDS God, they can't help but grow closer together, and eventually be completely united. It's awesome.
The work this week was amazing. The second part of MLC was geared towards raising our vision and helping us work harder and more effectively.  Last week, our goal as a mission was to teach over 25 lessons in each companionship, which is over the standard of excellence!  But this week, the entire mission will be pushing for teaching 40 lessons!  It's going to be awesome!
I also did some scary math this week; during an exchange with Elder Trujillo. I calculated that if you waste just one minute every day of your mission: you wind up wasting an entire day.  BUT if you waste just one hour every day of your mission: you waste an entire month!  It was a good wake-up call to the both of us to work more effectively.  I also (out of dread curiosity) calculated that if you waste just one hour every day of a 90 year life, you wind up wasting 3 and a half years.  It really makes you think about how precious time really is, and how important it is to use it wisely.  Also, though, it means a lot of good too.  One hour a day, every day, of reading the Book of Mormon means three and a half years of no sleep, no break, study of it!
I love you all, hope you all keep having a good week!  We'll do our best out here, and let you know where the Lord calls us to work next!
Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, May 5, 2014

Sick of shaving troubles; Elder Clough resolves to test out a cream which shaves for you...

Wish me luck; I hope it doesn't eat my face.

Another week has come and gone, and with it, much success and many miracles!  One thing I love about the work is that we get to see the hand of the Lord in so many peoples lives all the time!  I don't know if missionaries actually get more miracles and help than others, I think most of it just comes down to us being more aware of it since we're looking for it.
Tuesday we had interviews with President Castro again.  This time was very different, but very good at the same time.  We didn't go one on one into these interviews; they were companionship interviews.  This time we were accounting for our obedience, just as a family would in a tithing settlement.  It felt great to respond positively for the things we've been doing right!  I need to do a bit better at starting my studies at 8:00 prompt (Shaving's a killer!) but President was very happy with our efforts and the things we've been getting done.  We also did our stake report, and that was a great chance to report on the progress to him and the stake president.  In our zone, the numbers this last transfer have almost doubled since we started!  Everyone is excited for the miracles we've accomplished so far, and the chance to do more in the next two weeks.
Some of the highlights of the week are as follows.  As Elder Lee and I were walking along, we saw a guy we'd seen before and went up to talk with him.  His name is Efrain, from El Salvador, and he's awesome!  He's had a trial come up in his life recently; his brother was hit by a car and is in a coma, but that's awakened in him a desire to get closer to God and he was very excited to learn more.  He wants to come to church, when we find a ride for him.
Then, as Elder Passey and I were on an Exchange, we met a guy walking past us who, when we said hello, said, "hey Elders!"  When we asked him about it, he said his name is Sergio, and he used to meet with the missionaries all the time.  After a few transfers, they lost track of him and he moved to the avenue.  He didn't want to talk much then, but later on, Elder Lee and I saw him sitting outside a restaurant, and he invited us over to teach him!  He didn't remember everything, but teaching him felt more like a role-play practice: everything he said was perfect!  When we asked him if he believed Joseph Smith was a prophet, he said "He could have been..." and when we asked what it would mean to him if he knew that he was, he said "It would change everything!  I'd be going to the Mormon church!"  Then, when we invited him to be baptized he said yes before we even finished the question.  We're seeing him again today so we'll see how it goes!
Finally, one of my favorite people I've ever met tracting was a man named Hong (pronounced Hwong with a super soft g) from Vietnam!  He was super excited to see us and very friendly; he spent about 30 minutes telling us all about what his people believe.  (It's very weird, he basically told us "We're all going to hell; but don't worry!  It's happy there.  Then, if you don't do anything bad there, you get to go to heaven.  But you also got to buy 'hell money' so that you have money when you're in hell, otherwise you can't get anything like clothes or food or stuff."  It was cool!)  He really connected with what we taught him about finding peace, and when we asked if we could pray with him, he was super confused for a bit, but when we explained how it worked really carefully, he invited us into his house and we got to pray for him and his family!  He also wants a Book of Mormon in Vietnamese!
We'll be calling around 4-5 our time, so I'm not sure when that is for you.  I hope you all have a wonderful week, WELL DONE DAD ON THE TRIATHLON!!
Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, April 28, 2014

Fulfilling prophecy; here in the Great California Ventura Mission!

This week has been ridiculous.  I've never worked so hard or effectively in my whole mission.  The Zone really took the correction from Elder Bowen well, and it's evidenced by the fact that the numbers this week almost doubled from the last.  In just our own area, we had 35 lessons!  That may not be a lot in some missions, but in ours that's unheard-of!  One companionship in our zone actually achieved the challenge he gave us already!  They taught over 40!  They're a huge inspiration to us, and our goal as a zone this next week is to accomplish it as well.  The way we've been doing it is so exciting to do: we're staying out of our cars (the "curse of the mission") as much as possible, and try to turn literally every person we see into a new investigator.  It's made for some interesting experiences, and some miracles as well!  Only time will tell what true blessings come from these efforts, and who is brought to the gospel by them.
We also went to the temple this week, and that was an adventure in it's own right!  We went with two recent converts from the ward, and they had no idea how to get there.  It turned out all right, and just as we arrived, we met a group of missionaries on their way home from Australia.  They were really friendly, but the cool part came when they found out that we're from the California Ventura Mission: it turns out that the Sister missionary there has a sister serving in our mission!  She was super excited to be able to write her a brief note and send it along with some lesson helps she'd used in her mission.  Fortunately, her sister is even serving in Ventura, so we'll be getting that to her today.  The temple was beautiful, of course, and I learned so much in the session!  I'm resolved to attend at least monthly.  On the way back from the Temple, we got lost while our ride was looking for somewhere to eat.  We wound up accidentally traveling through Bel-air, Hollywood, and even Beverly Hills!  It was exciting but we were happy when we were back on our way to the mission.
We also had two amazing exchanges this week: one was a tri-pan exchange, meaning we just got an extra missionary for the day.  It was a unique experience to be teaching in a tri-pan, and all the better because our extra was Elder Jenkins!  He's grown even more since last we served together: he's a true servant of the Lord!  His faith and dedication went a long way towards helping us reach out to everyone and reach our goal.  One special experience that day, happened when we ran into one of our friends; Basilio, on our way to visit Ruben.  It was good to see him, but we thought we didn't have any time so we were just going to set up an appointment and run.  Elder Jenkins tapped me on the shoulder however, and said "Maybe we're not that busy..." So we repented and taught him a short lesson on the Book of Mormon.  At the end, we invited him to pray, and since he didn't know how to read and was a bit nervous, he really resisted.  Elder Jenkins said a short demonstration prayer, and then I walked him through saying his own, the way you would help a small child, and although he only prayed for one thing, his son (who's struggling and in jail)  he was super touched by the spirit and was weeping at the end.  Then he said "I feel better!  so much better!"  It was a humbling reminder that in all this busyness and places to go, we need to worry more about the ONE and not the massive amounts of numbers.
The other exchange was a fantastic one, and I got to go with Elder Bautista!!! It was such a powerful experience and an answer to prayers!  Elder Bautista had learned so much from the mission conference, and is really seeking to apply it.  He's learned so much and is well on his way to reaching the next level of his awesome potential.  They're re-awakening a struggling ward, and are really starting to gain the Bishop's trust and admiration through their reliability and hard work.
Samuel is also doing awesome as usual.  We've taught him a lot recently, and he's getting there step by step.  I love teaching him because he's super sharp and yet super humble and loving at the same time.  We'll have to push his baptism date back a bit, because we're waiting for his sister to come up from Mexico, but he'll be ready very soon!
I'm super proud of everyone and all the stuff that's going on!  Keep having those scripture studies and family home evenings, it's the little things that make all the rest fall into place!  Tell Danielle that swimming is super fun but RUNNING will always be king!  I love you all and pray for you every night.
Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, April 21, 2014

And the Great California Ventura Mission promptly caught on fire.

That's pretty much what happened this week.  We had our Mission Leader Council meeting in preparation for the Mission Conference itself, and then we had the number one most spiritual meeting I've ever been part of.  The Mission Conference with Elder Nelson, Elder Bowen, and Elder Garnes was incredible.  It's changed this mission, I can already feel it, and it's changing me too.
I'll talk about Mission conference first: it's the most important part after all!
We had a very strict set of instructions to follow, and I'm proud to say that all our 300+ missionaries performed every word of command with exactness!  We were ready and reverently seated long before the guests of honor arrived.  When they did, the room was already full of the spirit, but we could still feel their presence.  Elder Nelson is certainly an Apostle of the Lord!
The talks were fantastic.  Elder Bowen really put us in our place and raised our vision of what is possible!  He started out asking if we are obedient missionaries and we immediately answered "Yes!"  While he was surprised by our answer (Most people say "I try to be" or something similar) he was pleased and told us it was the right one.  After all, the purpose of this life isn't to see if we will "try" to be obedient, but "(to) prove (us) herewith if (we) will obey every command which the Lord (our) God shall give them."  (Abraham something verse something)  He told us though, that we have to do more.  We have to do ALL the "small" rules; if we can't sacrifice those things, how can we ask a man to forsake his life, at the potential risk of being disowned by his own family?  He said if he was our investigator and we asked him to quit coffee or smoking, etc, he'd ask us "Do you get up EVERY MORNING at 6:30?"  (I was very relieved THAT is something I've kept up on!)  He then talked about how we have to step up our game and do more.  We get excited over 6-7 lessons a week: we SHOULD be teaching 40.  He used the example of how the medical community believed it was impossible for the human body to run a mile in under 4 minutes, else the heart would rupture.  But then, Roger Bannister DID it, and a year later 6 others did.  It reminded me of getting past my own mental barriers in Track to beat the 5 minute mile.  I'm super excited to be doing that the next few months: but I wish I'd felt this way earlier!!!  I almost feel like I've "wasted" a year and a half to actually get the answers on how to do this!
Elder Nelson's talk was interesting.  It was largely composed of a question and answer period, and I learned a LOT!  Out of the list of questions I'd written down all of the important ones were answered fully, even though I never had a chance to raise my own hand (I was too busy writing!)  His testimony was powerful, and his final message was to obey those who are placed as watchmen over our souls (ie, President Castro and his Wife)  Elder Nelson was pretty hilarious too; a joke he mentioned as he invited a stake president and his wife to come up and bear testimony was "Ladies first of course! They always have to break the ice for the men..." So true! 
This week was amazing for the work too: After the conference our desire and ability was magnified tenfold!  The district we were in almost tripled our usual numbers.  We also had 4 investigators at church: Samuel, Alicia and her daughter Esme, and Allison!  They loved it, and we're excited to keep pressing forward!  I've run out of time I'm afraid, but I love you all and hope you feel the blessing Elder Nelson pronounced on you in our presence.
Elder Matthew David Clough
ps: The Balboa family (from Arriagas Chiapas) says Hermana Balboa would have been 5-6 when dad was there: does he remember the Nataren/Orozco family? Or Obispo Jaime Castillejo?

Monday, April 14, 2014

President Castro's pretty much the best fellowshipper in the world.

This week was amazing!  It was just as hectic and busy as I'd expect week one to be, but we got to teach a lot of great people and we saw some awesome miracles.  Working out the Zone Goals was different this time, it seemed a lot harder but then all of a sudden they clicked into place and they're perfect for our needs.  My favorite is that we're going to work on having a more positive, responsible attitude.  Basically, whenever a negative statement is made, like "This area is really hard." or "We can't teach anyone because they won't let us."  one of the missionaries will say a positive response to take responsibility, like "It does seem difficult right now, but if we work hard we'll see blessings."  One of the number one lessons I've learned in my mission is attitude really is everything!
Anyway, this week has been awesome.  Last P-day we hiked up a CRAZY trail, which was basically a game path straight up a mountainside, to the giant wooden San Buenaventura Cross.  We even had to use a rope to go straight up one super sandy spot.  Coming down was the hardest part, but we survived with no injuries.  Blessings!
It was weird not being at transfers meeting for the first time in what seems like forever, but I'm glad we could stay: we've had so many miracles this week!  We didn't get a chance to teach Samuel yet but he did come to church.  He's such an awesome, chill kid.  It was cool, because even though he's only ten, he was really excited to come to church, and got his uncle to take him even though the rest of his family stayed home.  It's amazing to see how humble he is.
We also taught several lessons on keeping the Sabbath day holy to families that can't come to church because of work.  We used the example of Nefi getting the Brass plates and really threw down on how important it is to sacrifice and do the Lord's will.  Felipe, one of our most solid investigators, REALLY loved it, and said: "You know what? This is really hard for me.  Work is what I AM, I work 3 jobs, 30 hours a week EACH.  Nobody works like I do.  But I know I've got to do this.  I know that God loves sacrifice."  It was incredibly humbling to be the ones asking him to step down from his pride a bit.  But they came!  We attended the 9 o' clock English ward with them, and it was perfect.  It was fast and testimony meeting, and all the testimonies were super focused and specific to their needs.  All of the ward, including President Castro, welcomed them with open arms and President Castro even gave his testimony specifically in Spanish, just for them!  Felipe even took a whole page of notes from the testimonies (I've never seen ANYONE do that!) and one of them (I had to peek)  was "We need to be Eternal Family"  Afterwards, they left super happy, and said they could FEEL the difference the moment they crossed the doorway of the church back into the world.  I can only describe it all with one word: Awesome.
I'm very excited for what the future holds: we're going to work hard and see great blessings.  Elder Lee has really gotten into the mode as a Zone Leader, and we'll work super hard to build everyone up. 
In the last letter you wrote me you mentioned you're signing me up at Weber for the same stuff I had; and that's perfect.  Even though I've grown so much as a person, a lot of my life-plans are the same, so I'll start there.  Due to that and comments made by other loving (but ignorantly cruel!) missionaries, I've really felt the time crunch this week:  So much to do, so few weeks!  I know we're doing what God wants us to do, and I'm excited to do that in some way for every stage of my life.
Keep up the good work, love everyone, and love yourselves too!  Keep looking for people to encourage and bless, and let Brother Lowder know I'm mindful of them if you get the chance.
Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, April 7, 2014

Round two in Ventura!

For the first time in a LONG time, I'm staying with my companion!  We're super excited, especially since last week brought so many miracles and blessings.  This next transfer we're going to hit the ground hard and get a lot of work done.
I LOVED Conference!  It was incredibly uplifting, and I really felt the power and love of God in those meetings.  A lot of my questions were answered in that meeting, either directly or by the subtle impressions I felt.  It was interesting how small comments and stories that the General Authorities used to introduce their talks often carried a subtle side message that answered a question I'd been praying about, instead of the main theme of the talk!  All in all, we felt a huge burst of hastening again in the work, and I know that during the next six months, things are going to get hard but so much will be accomplished.  It was really enlightening for me to realize that in President Monson's lifetime, the number of temples in the world has increased times 10!
This week we saw great success in the work, in spite of limited time.  Our most promising investigator right now is a little 9 year old boy whose whole family are members, who just moved here from Mexico.  His name is Samuel, and though he was a little shy and timid at first, he's started running up to us as soon as he sees us.  It was amazing to me how fast he grew to love and trust us.  That's why kids are so Christlike!  He doesn't have a whole lot of Gospel knowledge yet but we'll work with him bit by bit, and he's set to be baptized on the 3rd of May.
We also had a great night after conference.  Fired up with the Spirit, we were led and tracked down several investigators that had fallen off the map for a long time.  We even found Alicia, who was SUPER close before I showed up, but who disappeared after week one.  She only had a moment to talk, but she's still interested, and we'll meet again with her tonight.
Another tender mercy of the Lord was that even though we were very busy with conference and end-of-the-transfer paperwork, we taught many lessons, and by talking with everyone we could we even exceeded the number of "declarations" that the mission has set as our weekly standard!  This was a testimony to me that if we just dedicate ourselves to it, we can accomplish the Lord's goals.
At any rate, I haven't heard much about what's going on with my old companions and friends this time, but I trust they'll do great!  I hope Mom and Danielle get feeling better, and that we can apply the stuff we learned at Conference.  Life's the best!
Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, March 31, 2014

It's not over yet! Transfers is next week. (Don't scare me like that!) Mom thought transfers were this week!

This week has been awesome!
We had a lot of interesting stuff go down this week.  It's been a little bit of a tougher week; I'm afraid we had a lot of investigators struggling to meet with us let alone progress.  But we saw some miracles as usual, especially in the weekend. 
One neat event was that I got to go out and work in Fillmore on an exchange, and while I was there we met a man named Berry.  He's from the dutch colonies in Indonesia, and he's an incredible man!  He's seen a lot of experiences that have taught him to trust God and seek his council, and the way he goes about it is perfect!  Especially in reference to the Book of Mormon, he says he reads it, studying out what is REALLY there, and then he "metaphorically lays it on the Altar of God" to see what God says about it, and if he feels good then he knows it's right!  It was amazing how close to the Lord's council to Oliver Cowdery in the Doctrine and Covenants it was. 
We had three baptisms in the Zone this transfer; and two of them yesterday!  I got to do the baptismal interview for one; and it was a very powerful experience.  I really enjoy doing the interviews; President Castro has really emphasized the importance of doing these in the correct, spiritual manner lately.  It's a somewhat awful responsibility to stand in the Lord's place and give the permission for someone to be baptized into the Lord's kingdom.  Fortunately, I've never felt like I was the one doing the job in these interviews; the Spirit is always very clear and gives me what to say, what to ask, and if they are sufficiently prepared.
We're super excited for General Conference!  I'm kind of intimidated by the fact that some of the revelation I'll receive this time will be directly connected to returning home and what I'll need to do when I do get back; since it's the last conference of my mission. :(  But I'm also excited to find out what the Lord wants me to do to finish strong here and start off sprinting there.  On that note, it's interesting for me to look back and see how my mission has mirrored the way I used to run the mile.  Sprint at the start, stride the middle, struggle through the third, but I intend to give it my all at the end.
I love you all so much and hope you're doing well!  I loved hearing about Danielle's mishaps with pictures;  it's incredibly endearing!  Tell her I'm preparing a special letter for her, but I'm not sure how long it'll take me to finish: it's a complicated thing.  I'll send pictures too, as soon as I find my other memory card. ^-^;  In the meantime, I'll be working and sending prayers!
Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, March 24, 2014

Prepare for the coming!

We're going to be having Mission conference this next month: On April 19th, we're going to be visited by Elder Russel M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve, as well as Elder Bowen and Elder Garns of the Seventy.  It's super exciting, and we're going to start preparing right away!  I can't wait to see what guidance and direction we receive from an Apostle of the Lord.
In the meantime, the work has been awesome.  Elder Lee and I had some amazing miracles, and we've been working with some really awesome people.  The Lord is truly working hard out here for us!
First off, we got back in contact with one of our main investigators, Mariela!  Last Sunday, we'd gone to invite her to church, but after we knocked on her door, we saw her silhouette come up to it and then *Click!*  It seemed like she'd locked us out!  It was super sad and a little weird.  So, we decided to give them a break, thinking that maybe they were annoyed at us coming by a lot.  Eventually, when we talked to her mother in law (Who is a member) we found out that in reality, when she tried to open and talk to us, the door had broken!  She'd been stuck in the RV they live in for hours while someone came to get them out!  So, we went back, and on exchanges Elder James and I had an amazing lesson with them about Agency, Obedience, and the Word of Wisdom.  This was once something they struggled with but now they are determined to live it.  She's been reading the Book of Mormon too, which is progress!
We also got to teach a young father of 3 named Reuben. He's also been reading, and loves meeting with us.  He told us at first that he didn't understand much of what he'd read, but then was able to tell us back Nefi's whole story!  We read Chapter four with him, which was very timely because he kinda struggled with Nefi killing Laban.  He got through it though, and even though he was a bit sick, he was sad we stopped reading and said "I could've read the whole book with yall right now!"  It was great!
We also found out that Hermano Torres, an Eternal investigator we visit every Wednesday, had cracked open the Book of Mormon last week, and just read one verse.  He later told his wife though, that what he'd read was true, and that it felt really good.  Slowly but surely!!!  He's progressed a lot since he first came in contact with the church.
We also had a somewhat sad lesson with a woman who'd joined the church a long time ago, but married a catholic man and so decided to go back in order to avoid contention.  We talked a lot about what her plans are for her family, but while she plans on coming back eventually and hopes to bring him along, she isn't doing anything about it.  She decided to raise her children catholic, and teach them good values and then hope that they can make that decision and join the church for themselves later.  I was saddened because it was very clear to me that she is witholding something very precious from them.  It's an eternal principle that the Lord will work no miracle if we don't do our part first.  I learned a lot from that lesson; I determine to be the kind of parent that I had; that left me my agency but made it very clear what was true and what was false.  We will do our best to help her start doing that as well.
I hope everyone has a great week and sees lots of blessings!  Look for the feelings of the Spirit in your life; if it's not there, do something that puts it there.  And if it's there; rejoice and keep on keepin' on!  The Spirit is a sure sign of God's approval. 
Love everyone!
Elder Matthew David Clough


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The week when it rained miracles

As opposed to previous weeks, I don't mean to say that there was rain which was the miracle, but rather that it's been down-pouring blessings!  The area has been positively exploding: we had more lessons than I think I've ever seen in a week.  But not only have we gotten lots of work done, the people we've taught and the things that have happened have been incredible.
I'm not a hundred percent positive where to start, but I'll give it a go.  First off, last Monday we were walking to a lesson when we met a woman buying corn from a paletero.  We tried talking to the paletero, but he just wasn't having us.  The woman, however, wound up being very interested in what we were up to, and as we got talking, a member walked up too and started helping us out!  She helped us out so much!  The woman was so engaged in the conversation she completely forgot about the corn she'd bought.  It was cool to talk to her, because she kept bringing up views she has about society that are practically the Church's standards about things that most people have a very different perspective on.
I also had a fun moment to teach a less-active young man named Carlos using a guitar!  I played a famous song and asked him how he recognized it.  (Because he'd listened to it a million times!)  We talked about how it's the same way with the Lord's voice.  We must get so accustomed to "hearing His voice" that we instantly recognize Him.  He liked it a lot, but work keeps him from coming.
I think one of the craziest miracles we had this week, though, was while we taught Gilbert; an investigator who's been a bit off and on.  He's had some tough things going on lately, and when we got talking, he REALLY started getting it.  He has some member family, and he's noticed how much he wants the gospel now.  But right in the middle of the lesson, as he was explaining all this to us, his 7 year old son opened the door and ran across the room, and Gilbert said: "Hey guys, I'm having some pretty crazy Dejah-Vu right now!  Ten years ago, when I was in prison, I had a dream about this moment!!!  I was sitting here, and a kid -My SON! walked across the room, and I was talking about something to two guys sitting right there but I couldn't see their faces!!"  It was a very spiritual moment!
This week we also took some time to work in the areas of other members of the zone to find people to teach.  We had them pray about where we could go, and every time we've done this we've had amazing experiences!
I'm sorry to hear about President Reed's wife.  I love that man!  If you see him please let him know I'm praying for his family and their loss.  I'm also certain I'll see his son out here at some point; the mission isn't completely segregated yet!  It's an exciting thing to have him coming out here to the Great California Ventura Mission!  If he want's, I can send him some notes about this particular mission.
I'm praying for you all, and I'm working hard!  I know God answers our prayers and knows our necessities.  I love you all, and can't wait to hear from ya in a week!
Elder Matthew David Clough