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, January 20, 2014

McKay, formerly Elder Johnson, brought his family for a visit!!!

That was definitely the highlight of this past week.  We were sitting there in Sacrament Meeting in the Spanish branch, and when I turn around, I see Mckay Johnson (Elder Johnson) sitting next to the other pair of Elders!!!  It was so good to see him again and talk about how his life is going!!!  He brought his parents too, which was a little weird.  It's hard to think of my companions families, you know?  I only know them!  He also brought a girlfriend, which was a major shocker.  That was FAST!!!  All in all, I was just happy to see his smiling face and talk a bit about how the mission is going too.  One thing that's nice about the fact that almost everyone's from Utah; It'll be WAY easy to visit with most of my mission friends!  

In other news, my new companion, Elder Archibald, is AWESOME!!!  He's basically the same person as me.  That statement is so true it's scary.  I don't know how many times we've said the EXACT same phrase or even sentence at the exact same time.  He has the greatest sense of humor though; he was actually on the BYU's stand-up comedy show. (I found that out from other missionaries though, he's so humble he'd never bring it up.)  He's also an artist, but whereas my art is a little more action-oriented/epic his is goofy and ludicrously funny.  And when it comes to missionary work, he's a complete boss.  We were able to really crank out the administrative stuff, and had bunches of time to go proselyting.  We finally found some Hispanic areas in our area, so we'll be in there a LOT; I haven't taught in Spanish in FOREVER!!!  We also had a couple amazing lessons with two Chris' and a Carlos. 

One of them is a guy I've mentioned before, Chris in Nipomo; he's the one who cried on the doorstep when Elder Whited and I found him.  We had another fantastic lesson, he hasn't read yet, but hopefully he will soon.  One crazy thing though, is that the member who came with us, Tony, knew Elder Archibald from College!!!  It was REALLY weird, because they didn't see it coming until they saw each other.  Miracle!!!

I had a really intense moment with the other Chris.  He's been really difficult to contact and teach, and when we were talking, it became pretty clear he didn't really want to change yet.  He started making excuses and justifying himself, saying, "I'm still young, I've got time, and I can make mistakes."  I almost started laughing right then and there, and said, "Do I look ancient to you!?  I'm not a 60-year old here to tell you how to live your life!  They send us on missions when we're YOUR age, so we can be an example that you don't have to ruin your life now.  You CAN choose good things, and happiness now."  I felt the spirit really super strong, and though we haven't been able to find him again, hopefully something sticks in his brain.

Another amazing blessing was Eric and Lanessa came to the YSA ward so Lanessa could sing in the program, and Eric passed the sacrament to us!  It was a very spiritual moment and very special to have him stand and represent the Savior for me, after all the times I did that for him.

Things are going well in Santa Maria; we'll be doing a BUNCH of building up the area, looking for new people to teach, and doing our best in the Lord's work.  I love you all, and I'm praying for you often.  Keep working hard, keep helping everyone you can.  Keep being a basketball BOSS Danielle!!! 


Elder Matthew David Clough

Friday, January 17, 2014

Santa Maria, Round 2!!!

Transfers calls are in!!  It's pretty crazy as usual.  I don't think I've gone through a single normal transfer.  Then again, if that's the case I don't know what a "normal" transfer would be like.  I'm going to be staying right here were I am now; the junior zone leader with Elder Archibald.  I've heard lots of awesome things about Elder Archibald; he's quite the character I hear!  Elder Jenkins got quite a surprise; he's going to Ventura to be an Assistant to the President with Elder Reese!!  That's going to be quite a heavy assignment; but Elder Jenkins definitely has what it takes; I've learned so much from him!  I'm very grateful I had the opportunity to serve with him this last transfer!  It's crazy to think how huge of a blessing this has been; A year ago we'd have never imagined we'd be set up for such a miraculous transfer!  We got to go to an awesome Zone Leader Training, we celebrated Christmas together, we started our final year together, we saw a beautiful baptism and watched that man progress in the gospel and finally get married!  Eric and Lanessa's wedding was BEAUTIFUL!  It was such a powerful moment to watch them suddenly change from youth, our peers, and instantly grow to be adults.  The bishop performed their wedding, and Eric absolutely glowed.  The gospel DEFINITELY blesses families, because they are starting on such a great foot!  Elder Jenkins and I talked about doing a road trip together around this time of the year so that we can show each other our missions and be there for when they are sealed in the L. A. Temple!  If that happens, it'll be the coolest thing ever.

Another crazy thing is that today we also got the "Transfer News" for President Castro!  The new President has been announced: Brother Dell C. and Sister Maurine Felix from Cottonwood Heights, Utah have been called as mission president and wife to succeed President and Sister Castro on or about July 1, 2014. No further details have been released about Brother and Sister Felix at this time.  It's SUPER weird to think about them; especially since we'll be in our last transfer when they arrive.  For now, I'm excited for the chance to continue to work with and learn from President Castro.

Elder Mortimer is taking off for my old Oxnard area; he's going to have a blast!  Elder Bautista's staying here in Arroyo Grande with a new companion, Elder Passey.  They'll get bunches of work done!  Another cool thing is that Elder Nalder is serving in Oxnard still, but his new companion is Elder Carter!  He's going to train him to be a Zone Leader too!!! I can't wait to see them here soon!

We had a super cool miracle last night too; right after we got out of dinner, (which had been rescheduled to be 30 minutes earlier)  we got a call from Juan, a recently returned missionary, asking us to come to a certain hospital and give his grandfather a blessing.  The poor old man had recently suffered a heart attack, and was in the ER.  We happened to be withing a 3 minute drive of the hospital where they were.  It was a really neat blessing, and hopefully it does him well.  
A miracle in the zone happened like this; we had a goal this transfer to invite 200 people as a Zone to be baptized.  We weren't as diligent as we could have been though, and by the end of week five, we only had invited 64.  So, at the district meetings on week 6, as well as over the phone, we committed everyone to do their best.  At the end of the week, the number of invitations skyrocketed to 132; more than double the work we'd done the past five weeks!  The best part is that out of all that, new investigators were found, and some even set dates to be baptized on!  Boldness with the spirit really does work wonders!

Well, We'll be carrying on in the work out here!  I'm really starting to get excited about all the things going on, (It helps now that I understand my assignment a bit better!)  I'll keep you posted on how this next transfer goes, and for now, Viva la MISION!!!  I'm especially happy to hear about Brittney's success out at Snow; I don't have time to write anymore, but I always pray for you two.

Keep being awesome everybody!!!

Elder Matthew David Clough

Monday, January 6, 2014

2014: the year of the Gathering

That's what President Castro calls it.  I really hope we live up to that name, and see a lot of success.  This last year was amazing; I don't know what the mission-wide numbers were, but in the Santa Maria Stake, we saw about 50+ people join the church, which is up from 27 last year, and a record since the seventies I think.  Whoo!!!  The work is definitely hastening, and I don't think it'll let up any time soon.  All over the Zone, new people are being found, and many of these people are really very prepared.  One of those people we hope to start working with is a young man named Victor.  We found him while looking for his cousin, Dino, but since we didn't find him, we just started talking to Victor.  We had a pretty standard conversation, and we left with a return appointment.  One cool thing is that after we invited him to be baptized, we asked him "And why would you want to do that?"  and he said, "I just feel like it would be the right thing to do; I'd want to follow Jesus."  I wasn't there for the return appointment, (I was on an exchange) But they had a great lesson, and left him to read Alma chapter 40.  We'll be seeing him later tonight again, and we've already found out that he did read the assignment!  So, we'll see what happens: hopefully he's paying attention to the Spirit.  

We also had the first Multi-Zone Spanish Language Training meeting this mission has ever seen.  In this meeting, we ran it like a Zone Conference, but instead of focusing on teaching skills; the talks, edpeps (role-play practices) and classes were on language skills.  I got to teach a short (15 minute) class on preterit vs imperfect verbs.  It was pretty fun to do; and President thought it was hilariously confusing when I'd congratulate people for correctly identifying imperfect verbs by saying "Perfect!"  At that meeting, Elder Bautista, Elder Mortimer, Elder Lewis and Elder Law were all there, so it was especially cool to see them all again at the same time, and see the progress they've all made.  In Elder Mortimer's case especially; I was able to go on a brief "exchange" on the ride down to Solvang where the meeting was held, where it was just the two of us again, and I could talk to him about the mission and how it's going for him, and how he's holding up.  It was a big relief to feel the Spirit witness of how good he's doing.

This week has been jam-packed with a bunch of crazy administrative stuff too; it's almost as weird as week 1 was.  In this week, we do a Zone Evaluation Report; which is when we go through and list the strengths of each missionary in the Zone, if there's any major concerns that need to be taken account of, and even some suggestions on what transfers should be like for them.  It's an intensely revelatory experience, that's for sure!  We also have to do a report for the Stake Presidency on all the recent converts and progressing investigators.  And finally, I've spent a LOT of time trying to crank out the Written Exchange Report, which is a unique hand-written report we have to do whenever we do a New Missionary Exchange.  And y'all know how awful I am at writing letters! (There's a reason why I send so few.  It takes me about 3 hours per letter! Sorry Mom!)  But I'm starting to get used to all the paperwork and reports.  

All in all, it's insane to think it's already week six.  AND it's already January of 2014!!!  This is the last year for President Castro; it's weird to think that real soon here, our new Mission President is going to be called and announced.  O_O;  Not to mention that the missionaries that'll be replacing our group will be finishing their papers.  It's been hitting me a lot lately how much I need to step it up a notch, so that we leave behind the right culture to this mission!  Either way, I'm excited to really work my tail off.  I love this mission and the change I'm making in me.  

I wish everyone well; I love you all and I pray for you all, especially those who are struggling.  Thank you for being such amazing examples to me.

Elder Matthew David Clough