June 19, 2012

Defenders of Zion

Well, this past week has been one crazy week! All day Monday and part of Tuesday everyone was wondering who was going to be in the new mission. Sadly, everyone from my MTC district, except one (Elder Smith), are going to be in the new mission. We were all heart broken at transfers but at the same time so excited! Transfers were really hard on President and Sister Winn as they had to pick 72 of our missionaries to go to the new West Mission. Everyone was in tears and you could see how much Pres. and Sister Winn care for each missionary. It was a great day as we got 40 new missionaries!  It was so much fun for me to watch where I was just 7 weeks ago. We have two of the "greenies" in our district and they are both awesome! Along with transfers we lost one of our stakes, Monument Park North, and Elder Robinson and I were heartbroken as it was hard to say goodbye to all the amazing people in the area. In that area I met the nephew of Elder Bruce R. McConkie, a granddaughter of Elder Wirthlin, and a cousin of Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley! It was crazy! :)
I also learned this week that second transfers are always easier than the first. :) Elder Steele is still in the mission and is still in Wyoming. I got to talk to him at transfers and he is doing great and happy!
Today we got to go to the temple and we got to do a session! It was an amazing experience! I loved every moment of it and felt so at home. Pres and Sister Winn were also in the session and some of the missionaries that will be in the new mission. It was a beautiful session as we were all dressed in white and I sat there thinking..."I have an awesome mission and we all love each other so much!" I love the Salt Lake Temple! It was just what I needed.

Last week I ran out of time to tell you about the girl we have on date for the 29th. Her name is Sara and she married a return missionary. She has been meeting with missionaries for the past two years (since they got married), but hasn't met with any recently. Elder Robinson and I decided to meet her for the first time and try to pick things back up again. We were on splits and Elder Robinson went to see Sara while I was doing two Stop Smoking Programs that night. After that visit Sara decided she needed to do something and felt really good after that first lesson. She goes to the U for dance classes and her instructor decided to do a little speech. She said, "Life is a dance, full of changes. I am not here to just be your dance instructor and you are not just here to learn how to dance. Dancing is all about changes and so is life. What are some things we need to change in our lives?" She then goes on.."Sara, you look completely different right now. What do you need to change?" Sara then tells her how she just met with the missionaries and was thinking about baptism. The instructor, not LDS, says "Well, looks like you need to get baptized." That was Sara's answer to her prayer. We then told her our story, which happened at the same time as Sara's story; how our stake president set a convert baptism date for the 29th. Not knowing who it would be as the date was only 3 weeks away at the time, he wanted us as a stake to stretch our faith. Three days after we set that date, Sara decided to be baptized on the 29th!! How amazing it is when we test our faith.

Yesterday we had one class and three sacrament meetings. During one of the three sacrament meetings I came across this hymn that totally conveys what I have been feeling these past few weeks. "More Holiness Give Me," Hymn 131. I just love it! Also, our mission theme song is, "Up, Awake, Ye Defenders of Zion," Hymn 248. I love the part, "Remember the trials of Missouri; Forget not the courage of Nauvoo." It is true; if you really think about it, my first time driving away from home was to Nauvoo and most of the trials I faced were in Missouri. Every time I see or hear anything about Nauvoo, Palmyra, Kirtland and all those church heart leaps. I have come to love all those places so much and to have gone there is the greatest gift to me. :)

People here complain about how hot it is when it is 95 and I was thinking it was cooler than that since there's no humidity. It has been funny though and I can't complain. I love the cool nights and mornings!

I gave up on looking for a nice, cheap calender and just got a really cheap big one at walmart and am SOOO EXCITED! I learned that I am a visual person...which makes my photography background more understandable. I have also learned that I am a routine, organized and happy guy! One of the sisters came up to me and asked, "Why are you always so smiley?" I just responded, "I guess I love to smile."
We recently taught primary in one of our wards (one that is no longer in our area) and one of the mothers came up to me and said, "My kids came home on Sunday talking about everything they learned from the missionaries in primary." She said, "That has never happened before and they taught the family the main steps of prayer in Sign Language [Dear, Thank, Ask, Amen]" She was so sad to hear that we were no longer in the stake. The primary president was very impressed with us. :) I am learning that there are lots of "goodbyes" in a mission.

I KNOW THAT MY SAVIOR LIVES! I love being a missionary and working with His children. He really does know each one of us by name and how to best work with us. We all are missionaries and have a powerful effect on all those around us.
I can feel your prayers and love more than ever. I feel so close to you through all these experiences despite our many miles apart. :)
Love you all so very much and have a great week!!!
Elder David Cluff