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, 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