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December 30, 2013

Bittersweet Moments

 Sounds like you had an interesting week...Welcome to Missionary Work/life! I smiled really big as I read your letter, as I was doing the same thing that you all were doing. We had two baptisms on the 14th! Each hold an interesting story of how it all came to be. 

  Our first baptism was for Amanda. She is a single mother of two young kids (3 years old and 4 months). She wanted to have the blessings of the Gospel in her life. She started meeting with the missionaries and accepted the invitation to be baptized on the first day. She went to church twice but did not make it the third time so we had to move the baptism date to the 14th. She came to church for the 3rd time! Whew...but then we realized that the missionaries never taught her the Word of Wisdom and the commandments so we tried to set up a lesson but she was so busy the first half of the week. So...we taught her over the phone. We got the time and everything set....then she got a fever! "Oh my goodness!" I thought! Then Elder Smith started to doubt that this baptism would happen and started to feel discouraged as this will be the first baptism he has had in the 4 transfers that he has been here. One thing after another kept coming up. She made it to her baptism interview and all went well! Now we started to see that it really was happening. Saturday morning came and her baptism was set for 12pm. We were very busy that morning. I went on splits with our Ward Mission Leader, who is blind, to teach a recent convert. As you can imagine a deaf missionary and a blind Ward Mission Leader... it was a very interesting lesson but really cool at the same time. In the middle of the lesson Brother Panter's phone got a text from Elder Smith, who was filling the font for the baptism, and the phone read to him saying, "The water is cold and the water heater is not working right." A typical missionary nightmare was becoming a reality. After the lesson we went over to help set up for the baptism and figure things out. We had the Church facilities manager come and inspect the water heater but he could not find the problem so that baptism was really cold. Then Amanda came and we opened up the baptismal clothes closet and found that none would fit her. Luckily, she brought her own white stuff just in case. We then realized that almost all the clothes were super dusty as they have not used them in a while....which is really sad. The bishop arrived to baptize her and they got into the water and they both looked at us and said "It is very refreshing!" Amanda started to shiver and they both got out rather quickly after the baptism. I guess we were just trying to make it a very memorable experience. :) 

  Our second baptism was for Ben. The bishop that did the first baptism drained all the water out as he forgot that we told him to leave it full. Ben's baptism was set for 4pm. So, we quickly ran to grab some lunch and then we spent a few hours slowly filling the font with hot water...but that did not last long until it just came out cold. 4pm came and the chapel was filled with people there to support Ben. This is the 2nd time I have ever seen the chapel be filled like this. It was amazing! We had our Assistant to the President Elders, President Banks (counselor in the mission presidency), Elder Keller (Mission Presidency Secretary) and Sister Winn our Mission office secretary all there to watch the baptism. We had a table full of Restoration Pamphlets and Book of Mormons. We shared the 1st lesson during the changing time and invited everyone to take a pamphlet home with them or share it. By the end of the baptism we left with 1/3 of what we brought. It was so cool! We had many non-members, less actives and members come and show support. It was a neat experience. Ben's baptism was also...cold. Yesterday we talked to our High Councilor over missionary work and asked him to talk with the stake about fixing the water heater and also updating the baptismal clothes wardrobe. We have 3 baptisms on the 28th and 2 on January 4th! Lets hope the water is warm for those baptisms. :) 
  
  I learned a lot this past week about faith, trust and prayer. I was struggling with being patient with myself and my hearing...again. I just simply wanted everything to sound right and perfect...but it was not. Last Saturday during one of my "moments" I was praying for someone who just might understand me to be placed in my path to help me. Seeing Kimball on Thursday and giving me a blessing was the greatest day so far that week. In the blessing I realized that Heavenly Father answered my prayer in a very real way. It was such a tender experience and to see just how much Heavenly Father cares for each of us. How amazing is prayer and faith! I love this gospel and the blessings it brings. Kimball's voice sounds just like  Dad's and during the blessing I was constantly being reminded that I will be okay. My physical ears may have issues but my spiritual ears won't...as long as I keep doing the things that will allow me to hear my Savior's voice---I will be okay. Heavenly Father must be really patient with me as He has to remind me more than once. :) Elder Smith also got really interested in what Kimball does. The 3-D printing blew our minds away! He gave us a 3-D printed grande! He was the happiest Elder alive for the rest of the day and could not stop telling people all about it. 

   It was also good preparation for the following day. On Thursday night I got a phone call from President asking for my help with another Emergency Transfer. I asked who it was for and what he had in mind. He said the name of one of our elders in our zone who has only been in the field for about 3 weeks. He goes on to say that we needed him to be at the office the following day at 1pm for his father to pick him up. My heart sank. Friday came and we picked him up, went to Cafe Rio and then to the office. We got to the office and Sister Eberhardt asked me "Do you know why he is going home?" I said "I am not sure...I don't think he even knows why." The office staff and I just wanted to shake him and say "You can do this...keep holding on." But, he kept repeating to me "I came out too fast and this is not what I expected it to be like." That brought up many more questions of "What did you expect a mission to be like?" I am seeing a theme of these new missionaries who have no clue what a mission really is all about. We are here to "Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." Some do not understand that we have to do hard work to invite and help others through faith, repenting and baptism! just like what Colton said "nothing worth doing is easy." It is so true! Some new missionaries have no idea that we actually live by Preach My Gospel and the White Handbook. Dad, my advice for you as the bishop of these future missionaries....PLEASE get them interacting with the missionaries, go on exchanges, go to transfer meetings, ask the missionaries if the the youth can help with Zone Meetings or District Meetings (More ideal when they are not in school). Does the stake do Mission Preparation classes? 

  Anyway, after the father picked up this Elder, President came up to us and said "Are you busy this afternoon?" We responded nothing set until the mission Christmas fireside which starts at 5pm. He said "Would you take two more elders to the airport if Sister Banks does not get back in time?" Elder Smith and I looked at each other "Two more elders???" When they came down to the office I was sick to my stomach when I saw this one elder. I was his first Zone Leader when he came to Wyoming. He was on his 3rd transfer. I about cried and tried to make the best of it. It was really hard. Sister Banks came back in time so we did not have to drive them to the airport. I helped load up their suitcase and gave a hug goodbye. I will never forget the look of this Elder when he saw me. The Mission Christmas fireside came and his trainer, who I was also his Zone Leader at one point, came up to me and said "Do you know?" I nodded and tears about fell down his face. It was a bittersweet day. At the end of the fireside Sister Eberhardt had me sign "Silent Night" in ASL. Everyone sang along as I signed. Familiar faces all in front of me. Memories of good and hard times flooded through my mind. We have all gone through so much. I have been the Zone Leader for half of the missionaries in the chapel during my time.  Then all the zone leaders were to help give out individual gifts from the Eberhardts to each missionary. I picked up three bags that had the names of the Elders that had left earlier that day. Sister Eberhardt and I almost cried as we moved them to a different room. "Brokenhearted I started climbing" once again. 

  Last night I got a referral for another part-member family who has some deafness in the family and they sign. The father texted me and asked if we could come over tonight for dinner. He goes on to say, "I want to help my children more and become active again in the church." I then found out that the mother is not a member. The Lord really does work in mighty ways. After all, He is "Mighty to Save...".   

   I love my Savior and my gift to Him this Christmas is a White Christmas, having people dressed in white for baptism and the temple. I did this last year and it was the greatest gift EVER!  

From my heart to yours, 
Elder Cluff 

December 9, 2013

Christmas Once Again

Hello Family and Friends! 

   I wanted to take a moment and wish you all a Merry Christmas! I have learned that when you believe---anything is possible.  Here is a little story that I read and felt to share with all of you. 

“A Favorite Christmas Song”
“Next on the program was one of my favorite songs—“C-h-r-i-s-t-m-a-s.”
I looked up to see a sister with stooped shoulders and one hand held close to her body, walking with an awkward stride to stand beside the piano. She stood with one hip lower than the other and offered a lopsided smile before she began. I admit I wrongfully wondered if the song would be any good.
“When I was but a youngster, Christmas meant one thing,” she sang. The song went on to tell how a child learns how to spell Christmas and discovers what the holiday is really about.
“C is for the Christ child, born upon this day; H for herald angels.”
Her mouth was slack on one side, and she had difficulty forming the words.
“R means our Redeemer; I means Israel; S is for the star.”
Cautiously I looked around the room and studied the faces of her ward members. No one seemed embarrassed. In fact, they sat smiling and listening contentedly.
“T is for three wise men … ; M is for the manger.”
She continued singing and turned her face upward, fixing her eyes on a spot somewhere on the ceiling. After a few moments I looked up too, but I saw only ceiling tiles. When I glanced back at her, though, I noticed tears gleaming in her eyes.
“A is for all He stands for; S means shepherds came.”
When she finished, the hall filled with applause. Her cheeks flushed red. As she made her way back to her seat, hands reached out to touch her arm or shoulder as ward members expressed genuine gratitude. One sister, sitting close to me, told her what a nice job she had done, to which she quietly replied, “Thank you. I hope He liked it.”
He? To whom had she been singing? Even as I asked myself the question, I knew the answer. I realized she hadn't been singing to anyone in the room. She hadn't performed for the approval of the audience. She had sung to the Savior to praise Him.”


I pray that this Christmas we will remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

Love,
Elder David Cluff

December 6, 2013

When Faith Endures

Mom and Dad, 
   First, the mailing address was changed just because of my area. We live with members and they are not home all the time and it would be a hassle to have the mail thing figured out. So sending it to the mission office is the best way at this time. Plus, I live in an "estate neighborhood." I am not kidding....people actually live in an estate and the house we are in is kind of in the middle of a house and estate. I will attach a photo of one of our neighbors. So, apparently Mitt Romney lives in one of our wards! This should be a very interesting transfer. 
   
   Thanksgiving was great. Our zone got together and had a turkey bowl and then about 12:30 or so we all split up and attended the missionary thanksgiving day! Some missionaries asked if we could go with them to a 1pm to help eat the food. Then we asked them to go with us at 3pm to help eat the food and then President and Sister Eberhardt invited us over for a 5pm dinner. Lets just say I ate very little and made myself busy being the dishwasher. Since it was an All Day P-Day we went back to a church building as a zone around 7:30pm and played some games. Luckily, no one threw up their dinner(s). I survived and then caught a cold and was not myself the next few days. I am doing much better today. 

   Yesterday was simply crazy, dramatic, heartbreaking and inspiring all at the same time! I don' t know how that is possible but it was. On Saturday night I met a part member family who has a 15 year old son who lost a lot of his hearing. He was so excited to meet me and the mother was asking me questions and so forth. They wanted to pick up their signing again. I told them I can translate for them when they come to church. The son at the beginning did not want to go to church but now he is so excited to go. The morning came and we told them the plans and such. As we were making the plans, Elder Smith remembered that we had to help teach a class at 11, plus meet this family and also meet another investigator...all in two different buildings. It was 10 minutes to 11 when we realized that we were stuck. After a few phone calls and making arrangements we got it all figured out. It was a moment of Good, Better, Best choices. It was so hard. We told the High Priest Group that we could not teach last minute and they were okay with it and asked if we could do it this Sunday. Elder Smith went on splits to meet the investigator and I stayed with the teachers for each class and interpreted for this young man. Sacrament meeting came and I sat up my chair in the isle and this young man just had the biggest smile. He was just so happy to have me sit by his side for all three hours. His mother sat next to him with tear marks from the drama that happened with our miscommunication and comments from her husband, who is not a member. During the sacrament hymn I was signing about Christ's Atonement and tears about filled my eyes as I portrayed the scene in Sign Language. During the silence of the Sacrament the mother mouthed "Thank you!" and I wrote on a post-it note "Thank you for your faith when everything seemed to be falling apart." I was able to sign for all three hours and it did not feel long at all. It was a tender experience where many lessons were learned. Elder Smith and I learned right off the bat that communication is key in all we do. With transfer week it is very important that the missionary that is leaving makes notes of appointments that are set up for the coming transfer. 

   We are looking forward to a great week and the little deaf girl that I taught in the deaf ward is getting baptized this Saturday from what I just found out! I am so excited!! We may have to go on exchanges with the Church Missionary Department tonight but we will see. I know all the Zone Leaders have a meeting with them on Wed from 9am-4pm. Should be fun! 

Well I've got to go but know that I love you! 

Have a great week! 

From my heart to yours, 
Elder David Cluff 

December 2, 2013

Blessings Once Again

Transfers was on Tuesday and now it is Thanksgiving and our P-day. I got transferred and learned that things often don't go as we planned. Although, there are many blessings in disguise. On Sunday night I was awaiting that phone call that I would be released as Zone Leader and made a trainer. But, that phone call never came. I prayed that I will be able to handle whatever is thrown my way. Mondaymorning came and I found I would be leaving Park City and staying Zone Leader. It was a rather rough day for me personally. I was humbled and comforted by the Lord as I studied the scriptures and knew that this was what needed to happen. I said my goodbyes, packed my bags once again and headed to the mission office to see what the next 6 weeks awaits for me. They called up all the newly called zone leaders and current zone leaders. I was the oldest zone leader up there, going on 8 transfers as Zone Leader. I am now in the Cottonwood Zone serving with Elder Smith. He and I were in the MTC together and already served around each other in the Salt Lake Zone. We were rather shocked to find ourselves serving together. The first day in the mission he and I got to know each other rather fast. It was the transfer day and 1st day for us in the mission. Elder Smith and I were the first ones all ready to go. Sister Winn was not ready to go to the mission office. So, she asked if Elder Smith and I can go drop things off at the mission office and take photos of the rest of the new missionaries that arrived that morning. She handed me her car keys and gave elder smith her iphone. She gave us simple directions and said "I will call you when I need you to come pick me up." We got in the "big truck", as she likes to call it and off we went. Getting there was easy but getting back was the hard part. We got lost. Elder Smith and I looked and saw there there was a GPS in the car. We clicked "Home" and hoped it would not take us to Delaware Luckily, we made it back to the mission home! Whew! That was how Elder Smith and I first met. He is awesome missionary and we get along great. 

The first night being in the Cottonwood zone I had a feeling that this is where I need to be. Although it did not make sense as far as what I thought would happen...it was the right place. I met one of the bishops in the area and he said "Hey, we can use you to get into some homes!" He went on to say that there is a young family with a little boy that has Cochlear Implants and the mother is less-active. I knew I had to meet this boy and his mother. We attempted yesterday but she was at work. Then things just started falling into place for me. When I was serving in Kamas, I loved it but I did not feel fully comfortable there. From the start I felt that I would only be there a very short time. Now in this area I just feel like I have been here before and that this is the right time and place for me. He really does "Know [my] faith" (2 Nephi 3:19and me. 

This morning I was studying the Book of Mormon and a few things really stood out to me. I love this phrase in 2 Nephi 3:21:"the weakness of their words will I make strong in their faith." I often felt weak in words but I have felt that my faith has been what keeps me going.  "O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever." (2 Nephi 4:34) As today is Thanksgiving I kept thinking of things that I am grateful for in my life. I am so grateful for the blessings of the Gospel! I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who teaches me each day and lifts me up when I fall. I am grateful for the time I have in helping others come unto Christ and feel His warm Light through His gospel! I am grateful for the Book of Mormon and how it helps answers questions in life. I am grateful for people who truly embrace our Savior and accept the invitations we extend to them. I am grateful for Heavenly Angels, both seen and unseen, that help me each day. I am grateful for a wonderful family who have been by my side every step of the journey. I am grateful for all the people I have come in contact with as they have helped me find what matters most. I know that God loves each one of us. No matter how far apart we may all be, our hearts are united. With a bother serving his mission in London, family and friends located all over the country I feel close to them all. It is such a great feeling to know that Christ did die for each one of us. 

   Blessings and miracles happen each and everyday! When we have the faith to see what God sees in us, amazing things happen. We see who we can become and realize that we are more than what we think. We are sons and daughters of a Heavenly King! 
 
   I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving and hope that we will always be grateful for the blessings we notice in our lives. 

Trust in His Plan

 This morning, after a long wait, we got the transfer information. I am still trying to figure out what is going on. So this much I do know. 1. I am leaving Kamas (Super sad about it) and 2. I am STILL Zone Leader (going on 8 transfers as Zone Leader). I am not sure what to think about that. I totally thought I would be released as Zone Leader and do something else....guess not. I am just going to embrace whatever comes my way. I pray that I will have the strength to continue to help all the missionaries. Dad, you may understand this aspect but I am tired of dealing with all the missionary drama that always seems to happen each week. Deep breathing comes in handy when I just want to say something rather harsh to some situations I encounter.
But, it is a Beautiful Life and I will keep smiling and trust in His plan.
I was thinking about what a short time I have been in this area and just how I was able to see God's hand each day. I was able to see lives change, make connections and say thank you to people who helped me live the dream of hearing. Grandma Olson sent me a letter telling about how they loved driving through Oakley on her Birthday and how Brother Smart's mother helped raised money as the PTA president in the School I was in at the time of getting my 1st Cochlear Implant. On Saturday I dropped by their home and gave them a thank you note and expressed the joy that I have felt being able to come back and say "Thank you". It was has been a neat experience. I also met many people who just wanted to hear a miracle story and I was able to say "I am a walking miracle".
I love this work and am grateful for such an awesome family! Thank you so much for your letters and being able to help me with my batteries so fast. Elder Daines was impressed with how fast everything was. I love my Savior and know that He Lives! I know that the Book of Mormon really does help change lives as they read about the testimonies of Christ. 

Miracles and Simple Blessings

Hello everyone! This past week has gone by so fast and lots of things to do and get done but we still see miracles happen everyday! 

On Thursday we got a phone call from a member saying "Hey, can you come to my house as I need to talk to you about someone that I need you to teach." We had meetings most of the day and said we can come over at 3pm. We showed up and he told us the story. Brother Thacker goes on to say "So, I was helping a lady pull stumps out of her yard and stuff. I decided to ask if she had any religion. She said she did not grow up with anything and went to every church growing up to find what fit with what she felt to be true. So, I asked her if she would be interested in having two young men, missionaries, come share with her what I believed. She said YES! I then said...so they may invite you to be baptized on their first visit are you okay with that? She again said, yeah!." Elder Daines and I almost fell over at this point as we listen to him tell us the story. He then had us get into the truck and drove us to her house!! She was home and he introduced us to her. We asked if she would be willing to meet with us at the Thacker's home. She said yes to 6pm on Saturday! We were so excited as you can imagine that someone actually, really, wants to meet with us! Saturday came and we had an amazing lesson. We taught about the restoration and after the Joseph Smith Story we asked if it all makes sense and if she had any questions. She said "this feels like what I believe and feels right!" We then invited her to be baptized and again she said YES!!!! Now at this point I am about to faint and fall off my chair. She did not want to agree to a date, yet but we have another lesson with her this coming Thursday! We are super excited. Brother and Sister Thacker have already served a full-time senior couple mission in Oklahoma. They then said "That was easy! Why do members make it so hard to open their mouths?!?"

 Miracles do happen every week! I pray that we will all keep our eyes open to the simple blessings that we receive each day and how God's hand is in every moment in our life. It is a beautiful life!

November 25, 2013

Snow Once Again

Trying to contact a referral on the mountain. We may have gotten stuck but we made it out and  learned how to better drive in the snow. I think we will wait till spring to try the mountain again. :) Got to love Utah Snow!


Woke up to 4 inches of Snow!!
All is well! 

November 6, 2013

Good Times...No, Great Times!

What an amazing, crazy, fun and blessed week it has been! 

I am grateful for all the Divine Signatures that I find placed in my life each day!  Your package came and the bread was all in one piece. I was craving that the day before the package came and it tasted soooo goood! Good memories. :) Thanks for the package...I loved it! :) 

  On Tuesday I was on exchanges with a district leader in Coalville till Wednesday morning. The Elder I was with is a great missionary and he goes home with me. He is from the South Mission when we split and created the new Utah Salt Lake City East Mission. In the short 24 hours that I was there I learned that the first Stake President for that area was W.W Cluff. It was really neat to see that. The guy that we ran into asked, "You are a Cluff?" and I said "Yeah...". He then went on for about 15 min about the Cluffs and really wanted to take me to the cemetery  to see the grave sight. We could not as we were already busy with appointments. I thought that was cool. 

   Wednesday came fast and when I got back to Kamas we had a meeting with the district leaders in the Zone to do our weekly training meeting with them. We are to train the District Leaders but in reality we are training each other and learning how to help the missionaries in the zone. After that we had to make a trip to the mission office to pick up supplies for the Zone. We got there around 1:30 and after we got everything, Sister Eberhardt walked in. She asked what we were up to and we helped them bring in food for their Halloween party (for the rest of the mission except Park City and Wyoming Zones.---but I think our food was much better and we had a good time.) The rest of the mission was also going to the Temple at 4 to see the new film....but we were not invited. Sister Eberhardt said, "Well, while you're down here....go to the Jordan River Temple before the rest of the mission gets there." Elder Daines and I said with excitement, "Yes...thank you, thank you!" She gave us some names to do and we were on our way to find home. We had to hop 3 different missions to get to the Jordan River Temple! When we pulled up we were so excited and may have felt like little kids on Christmas morning. It was the best thing that happened that day. It was worth the wait. The film was amazing! We walked out of the temple and both just felt a renewed strength and felt uplifted. I miss going more often. 

   Thursday was Halloween and it was a crazy day. We now know why we don't proselyte most of the day. We had a zone/district meeting that morning and then went to 5 Guys for lunch--for the first time since I left St. Louis! SO GOOD! Anyway, while we were there we got so many comments like "nice costumes"...people did not believe that we were really real missionaries. We got a laugh about that. Cleaning the leaves on the tree was a more daunting task than we had thought. We started at 1 pm and finally finished the last leaf at 3 pm...just in time for the trick-r-treaters. We were expecting about 1800 people to come through main street. We counted that wrong as we had 1,850 pieces of candy and ran out! There were still 100's of people coming through. I was on the main floor cleaning up when all the sudden this flood of people came into the center and I had to call some other missionaries down to help get them out. Good times! We closed the center down sooner than we had expected. We had an awesome dinner and a good time with the zone. Elder and Sister Jerman are the directors for the Family Tree Center and they provided the dinner. They are awesome! 

A week from today I will hit my 19 month mark. It is weird how fast time is going. I feel like I just got here in the mission.

Well, all is well. We have a mission council meeting tomorrow at 9 am and Elder Daines and I are training all the zone leaders on how to teach active members. Should be fun! 

From my heart to yours, 
Elder David Cluff 

November 4, 2013

Halloween in Park City


This is where you would find me on Halloween!! We gave out 1,850 pieces of candy and ran out! There was about 2,000 people that came through main street. It was a great night and lots of fun with the Park City Zone!! Enjoy the photos! 

 Cleaning the Tree! 1pm to 3pm! 
 All ready to go....loaded up 1,850 pieces of candy! 3pm to 5:30pm
 The first group to coming up!!!!

 Yikes.....too many people! 
 Decorating Contest!!! (This is not mine....mine was a disaster.) 
 FOOD! Had a yummy Dinner, Hawaiian Haystacks and an awesome apple desert.  
 Yum! 

 Meet the missionaries that I get to work with everyday! They are all awesome! 
 An attempt to do a zone photo....
Got a good one! Whew!!!!


 Happy Halloween!



October 24, 2013

I've Moved!

Family and friends,
 
As you know this past week was transfers and I left Wyoming. As sad as that was for me, I really love my new area. I am still a Zone Leader (7 transfers) and training a new zone leader, again. This is my 3rd time training a new Zone Leader and we turned his area into a Zone Leader area for PARK CITY!!!! Elder Daines, my new companion, is from California and has been out for a little over a year. He was already in the area when I came in. I am in the Kamas Stake which has 3 sets of Elders to cover it--two sets of English and one set of Spanish! It is the vision for every stake in our mission!
 
My apartment address is:
1216 Cow Alley
Oakley, UT 84055
But…my mailing address is:
PO Box 494
Oakley, UT 84055
 
I live in a trailer…love it!  They remodeled the inside so it looks really nice and it is a new missionary apartment. The members, the Lakes, that own it live up the street from us and are super nice. They have us over for Sunday lunch and like us to feel a part of the family. They just got set apart to be Church Service Missionaries yesterday for the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. They are an awesome family. The members here are just really nice and I get to enjoy farm lands once again. I really love it. My companion and I clicked really well. He is an awesome missionary and I knew him from different parts of the mission. Things have gone better than I thought. I am not able to work in the deaf ward, yet. But, yesterday we were doing sharing time for a primary and right before we were to do our part, they were all practicing “I am trying to be like Jesus” in American Sign Language (ASL)! I about cried. There is something about watching little kids sign. Mainly it reminds me of my childhood. When we got up I introduced myself in ASL and all the kids were all super quiet. The leader that was teaching the kids the song came up to me after and said “I have 3 hearing impaired children.” One of them I knew from my connection with deafteens.org and the deaf in St. Louis. One of her daughters went to school in St. Louis for her Senior Year and lived with her aunt or a friend in the Frontenac ward. Remember, a few years ago there was a young woman that was deaf/hearing impaired living in that ward and someone told us about her. Well, that was her. CRAZY! The mother was shocked to see that I was serving here. Small world. Then the stake president said “My wife is hearing impaired.” on the first day I was here. You never know where the Lord will place you. As much as I wanted to go to the Deaf Ward, this is where I am needed right now.
 
In our zone we cover the Park City Family Tree Visitor Center (or known as “The Tree”). The Director that works there with our Full-Time Sister Missionaries said that if they find a deaf group wanting to do a tour, they will call me up to help as I am about 20 min from Park City. I've been to the tree a few times now, know what’s there and it’s a neat place to visit. On Halloween our zone will be there to help with the tours, tourist, trick-r-treaters, and also have a dinner and games with the zone. It will be fun as we can’t proselyte on Halloween from 3pm on. The Director is awesome too and he and his wife will be there.
 
We also had a baptism on Saturday and that was special as always and we have another one for this Saturday. Life is awesome and can’t get any better.
 
A funny side note. So, over the course of my mission and the many companions I have encountered, they always seem to do the same thing the first night with me. I try to warn my companions that I REALLY DON’T hear anything at night. The moment I take my implants out….I am gone. So, the first night I would say “Need anything before I turn off?”  They laugh but they don’t believe me that I REALLY DON’T HEAR A THING! The next morning Elder Daines said “Wow, you really don’t hear a thing.” I laughed and asked what do you mean? He goes on to say “So, after you fell asleep I decided to test you…I called your name….nothing, I started acting like I was in pain….nothing and then I yelled for help…..nothing.” After that he thought….”Yikes, he really does not hear a thing.”
One elder decided to talk to me while I was asleep and tell me his whole life story and how he got on a mission. He wanted to see if I would say “Elder, I can hear everything…” Super funny!
My personal favorite is when they play music to help them fall asleep and I don't even know that there is music playing.
I thought all of you would enjoy a little laugh.  It seems to blow their minds that I can’t hear a thing at night.   
 
Hope all is well and have a great week!
 
From my heart to yours,
Elder David B. Cluff 

October 15, 2013

Leaving Wyoming

Sounds like you had a great time with Grandma and Grandpa and all the kids. Looking at the photos I can't believe how tall everyone has gotten. Sam and Sadie!! Wow! They are growing up!
Tomorrow is transfers and guess what! I am leaving Evanston. :(  Right now I am still Zone Leader--I was really wanting to train this transfer. We will see what happens. I am not sure what to think about this transfer as it has been a crazy few days. The transfers now start at 1:30pm tomorrow and we have some special training to do. It will be interesting to see what happens. The Lord's plan is often different than ours. Last week we did a lot of traveling. I had to do some more baptism interviews in Green River on Thursday night and then we did exchanges with the Elders in Lyman area and stayed the night at their place as we had a zone meeting the next morning in their area at 9am. The zone got together one last time before the transfer and at the end I shared my testimony and expressed my love for each missionary in the Zone. I have come to love each one of them. Despite the challenges we faced as a zone we all made it through. At that moment I knew this was my last time seeing all of them and that I would be transferred. Everyone seemed to sense it. The new missionaries whom this zone is their first area kept saying to me, "You can't leave now! Not yet!" I hate goodbyes. I was doing splits with a young man and he kept telling me...I think you're staying. He did not want me to leave.

President Eberhardt came up to Evanston on Wednesday for a meeting with us and both stake presidencies to talk about the Spanish Branch. President Eberhardt made a comment about how he hates doing transfers. And right then a member of the stake pulled me by the arm and said, "Don't take Elder Cluff from us!" President then had this sad look on his face as he knew I would have to leave. It was hard.

I am really going to miss Wyoming, especially the landscape, hills, open fields, quiet moments and the fresh air. I am going to laugh my head off if I got put back in the Salt Lake Zone. We will see what happens.

Ok, so this past week I had a dream come true! We got mail and in it was a new name tag for me and it was for American Sign Language (ASL)!  It made my day as I always wanted to have an ASL name tag and serve an ASL mission. I have already got to work with the deaf ward and that was awesome and then in Evanston I met a young man who is deaf and wears cochlear implants too!!! I was able to talk to him a few times and people thought we were speaking a different language as we talked about implant programs and new gadgets that are coming out. It was fun. :)

This week will hold some interesting experiences. All is well and I am so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the peace that I feel each day! May God bless each of you in all you do!

With love and from my heart to yours,
Elder David Cluff

Miracles, blessings and simply tender mercies all around

A miracle and tender mercy occurred while in Green River. Lets start with the beginning...about a month and a half ago (last transfer) I was on exchanges with an Elder in Rocks Springs for 24 hours. That night we were teaching a less active mother and she said that her sons live with her mom in Green River and they are being taught by the missionaries there. As the lesson went on I felt to have her watch the Mormon Message "Lifting Burdens" and we saved it on her phone to watch later. We left with a prayer. At the end of the exchange I kind of thought, "Did I help this area that much as it felt like nothing really happened." Our lives kept going and walking through unplanned events that would soon take place. On September 27, 2013 I had to help conduct an emergency transfer and I was made a District Leader and Co-Trainer, for the time being, as well as keep my responsibilities as a Zone Leader...all in one package. I was slightly overwhelmed with the sudden change. But there was not much I could change so I just had to embrace the moment. With that said, my district was located in Rocks Springs / Green River area and I am here in Evanston. Though 100 or so miles away from my district we work through the phone the best we can. On Thursday I would go up for district meeting and make sure everyone is still alive. :) The Sisters needed to have two baptism interviews done and the elders needed one too--So three interviews in one day. They had them all set for Thursday while I was up there. Elder Mohlman, Elder Taka and I got up bright and early and were on the road at 7:30am to head to Rocks Springs. We arrived just after 9am; we helped the elders in Rocks Springs and District Meeting started at 10:30am, then lunch at 12 and weekly planning that afternoon. We had to head to Green River at 3:30 to start the rounds of interviews at 4pm. The sisters were so kind and bought us all pizza to eat in between interviews as we did not have time for dinner. The first group arrived and as I held the door for the family the mother then with excitement said to me "Hey!!!" as if she knew me. I stood there, scratching my head, trying to remember as to where I have seen her. We got talking and it turned out to be the lady that I taught in Rocks Springs on the exchange. She started to have tears run down her face. She then looked at me and said, "I was hoping you would come back with the other elder but I learned that you were only there for that day." She goes on to say, "I watched that video you left for me 5 times! It was just what I needed and your testimony really helped me. I was praying that I could somehow thank you." Tears began to flow and the spirit was so strong in that foyer of the church building. It was a moment that not every missionary gets to witness. Sister Olsson, one of the sisters that works in Green River, said "that was awesome!" God answers our prayers. It was a moment I will never forget and made it worth being in the car for about 5 hours that day!
You never know what little things can do for one person. God sure loves us all!

From my heart to yours,
Elder David Cluff

The Lord's Plan--Often Different Than What We Think

I am not really sure how to explain this past week. Reading about the Zone Leaders and the Elders in Pacific made me laugh as we may have had similar experiences.

The week started out pretty good, except it snowed on September 25th! I am just glad it all melted in a few hours. On Wednesday we were supposed to have an all day meeting in Salt Lake City but last minute (the day before) they decided to make it a mission wide meeting---except for Park City and Wyoming zones. It was all good as we were able to do exchanges as planned with the Green River Elders. It was an OK, weird exchange but it prepared us for the following experiences. Thursday morning we rode up with a member to Green River / Rocks Springs area for a District Meeting. It was very interesting and I will have to tell you in person about this whole unforgettable day. As we drove back to Evanston Elder Taka and I felt that the elders we did exchanges with were not the best companionship and one was being trained and did not know any better.

With that said I will tell about the following days. Friday morning we went to Elder Pew's District Meeting in Evanston and had a great training. We went to lunch and two members decided to spoil us at Wendy's. A member paid for all our food and then another member ordered everyone a frosty. There were 8 of us. It was a good time. We went back to the District Building for weekly planning and the next few hours would soon change our lives around. Around 3pm President Eberhardt left a message asking to speak with me. I called him back and we talked for about 15 min about the elders we just had exchanges with. He was getting reports from different people and the stake president about the elders and he felt that we needed to pull them out as soon as possible. With Transfers only 2 weeks away it kind of put a twist on things. One of the elders was a district leader and trainer and we had to release him from that calling. We talked and the best solution that we came up with was to bring them to Evanston and put the new missionary with Elder Taka and I to train him and get him ready for transfers. (We have a lot to do) So that Friday night they drove down and we made the switch around 9:30pm.  It was interesting to see how it was a blessing that we pulled the sisters this past week out, as we needed a bigger apartment for Elder Pew and his two new companions.  It was also a tender mercy that Elder Taka and I re-arranged our apartment a few weeks ago which made it possible to hold 3 elders. In the meantime my calling got a little switched up. I am what they call a "ZL,DL,CTR" which stands for Zone Leader, District Leader & Co-Trainer. Elder Taka was called to be the main trainer. So, right now I am a District Leader for the missionaries in Rocks Springs and Green River and still a Zone Leader for the whole zone and I help train with Elder Taka. I think after this I can do anything president throws at me.

The bishop asked us to do a presentation on the Work of Salvation for the 3rd hour, combined Priesthood & Relief Society meeting. Elder Taka and Mohlman did not know much about how to present it so they had me do it all. Elder Taka was also doing paperwork for a meeting we had with the stake right after that. I prayed really hard that I would be able to get up there and help excite this ward about missionary work. They handed me the microphone, TV and the laptop and said you got the whole hour. Lets just say they told us about this 3 weeks ago and I kind of forgot until Saturday night. But, I stood up and the first thing I said was, "Raise your hand if you're excited about missionary work." Most of them raised their hand but in a shy way. I then said, "We've got some work to do." We talked about what it means to hasten the work and why we want to do it. We showed clips from the website and did a role play. Each bench had to work as a team to come up with a solution for how to get these two young woman to feel comfortable and want to come to church and how to help teach them the gospel.  They all got excited and worked on it for about 5 minutes. After they shared their ideas I said "Okay, this is a real situation that is going on in your ward and will all of you go and DO what you came up with? They live across the street from the church." By the end of the meeting all three of us shared testimony and I then asked again, "Raise your hand if you're excited about missionary work." They all raised their hands higher and they were more motivated. They realized that it is not hard at all...it just needs you and your love & testimony of the gospel. It was neat. I just hope that they all went home and applied what they learned.

I am feeling much better and I feel great strength to do the things that I need to do the next few weeks. It will be interesting. I am not sure what to say about next transfer. When President talked to me he kind of hinted that I would be coming back to Salt Lake and every other missionary is feeling the same thing about me. They don't want me to leave Wyoming and I don't want to either. We will see what the Lord has in mind. As I read your letter to Colton it reminded me of how I felt around that time in my mission and recently. Last transfer was great, had great baptisms and I felt like I was able to catch my breath. Then the first day of the transfer, got into a wreck, things kept falling through, issues with the zone and areas, dealing with constant change and trying to multitask with more callings added to my plate. I got that letter on Friday after everything was settled. It was calming to read those scriptures and to say, "If Nephi was able to do that, I can this." I decided to let go of the things that I can't control and just "Go and Do" the things that I can control.

We will be watching conference at our stake center and help greet all the visitors. It will be interesting to see how the priesthood session goes as it will be on TV and everything. 

Elder Vaka sounds really familiar...maybe I ran into him at the MTC. 

I love you all and all is well. I know Christ Lives! How great is this work!

From my heart to yours,
Elder David Cluff

Twists and Turns

What a crazy week it has been this past week!
On Tuesday morning president called and was asking me if he could pull the sisters out of Evanston to fill in for two sisters that got their visa in Salt Lake. As we were talking he kept saying, "Your phone keeps breaking up..." I laughed and said "No, I just have a sore throat." It was decided that the sisters will leave today. It will be interesting as in the meantime we have to take care of their Spanish investigators. Yikes! As the day went on my throat got worse. I ended up having to go get some more medicine/ cough drops. The following day we were supposed to go to the temple but they ended up having to work so we could not go. It was a good thing because I woke up with a 102 degree fever. I was very weak that morning and as always when I get really sick I end up falling all over the place if I try to walk around and do things. I stayed in bed, took some medicine and prayed that the fever would go away. By 10am the fever was gone and I was left with a little cold and feeling a tad weak. I had to be healthy as Elder Taka had a dentist appointment at 1pm for two root canals. He was in there for an hour and a half and lets just say it was pretty funny when he walked out. I was a little worried when he was backing me up in the parking lot. :) We were both a little off that day and somehow we made it through the day. :) Then most of the missionaries in the zone got sick, mostly with a cold. It all the sudden turned into real fall weather. Crazy! A few times I caught Elder Taka wearing a beanie, coat, and gloves in the apartment! Pretty funny to watch. We are all healthy now. :)
I really wanted to go to the temple but we just got word this morning that all the Utah missions are changing their policy on Temple Attendance (3-4 times a year under the direction of mission president), General Conference (only 2 sessions at the conference center throughout your mission), Caffeine Free missions, and other little things that pertain to downtown Salt Lake City. It was interesting to get the email. So, things are changing very fast. I am bummed about the temple but I will be able to go as much as I want when I get home in about 6 months.
I got my contacts, thank you!!! The DVD came in perfect timing. It was Friday and we had a lesson at 5 and it was about 4:15 and I felt to check the mail. I always check the mail when we get home and are done with the day but that day I felt strongly to check it at that time. I did and saw your package. I opened it and saw the DVD. I then said "I need to show this to the family we are teaching." I put it in my bag and went to the family. They are less active but they have been coming to church 3 times this past month for the first time in a long time. We were having dinner with them and the mother said "I have a goal to reach the temple". I said "Awesome, that is the goal we have for the whole family and that is why we keep meeting with you!" We talked about temples and goals during the dinner and then I said "Can I show you a little video?" We then went into the living room and showed the slide show of "Reflections of Christ, Another Testament." It was powerful as we watched the images of Christ loving all the people and watching the people embrace their Savior. At the end we asked "Can you imagine yourself embracing the Savior?" They answered "I don't know if I would feel comfortable with that right now." We talked about it and more concerns came out and we talked about the Atonement and how it can help them right now. It was amazing and at the end they felt more hope and that they can embrace the Savior, who loves them so very much. They met with the Bishop and are working on getting to the temple! It is an amazing feeling to help prepare families to connect for eternity. I hope everyone gets a chance to be a part of that process.  So, thank you for sending that DVD and helping with the missionary effort! :)
Life is interesting, full of twists and turns and you never know who will be placed in your path to teach or inspire you along your journey. I have seen that all through my mission. Even though we only had the sisters here for a short time I learned something from them and I learned what I can do better as a missionary. It has happened over and over in every area I have served in. It is neat to look back on and say, "Wow, that person taught me something that affected me today." The Lord does work in mysterious ways. 
From my heart to yours,
Elder David Cluff

September 26, 2013

Hastening the Work

Mom and Dad,

What a week it has been! Tuesday we had a Mission Leadership Council meeting at 8am in Salt Lake City and we were there until around 3pm. It was a long day. I was just very glad that president did not make any comment to all the zone leaders about the accident. But, the word got around pretty quick and other missionaries would come up and ask me about it. It does not take long for any news to get out. :) Today I got the police accident report. I hated getting it as I was just fine not having to see it. I did get new tires for the car on Wed so that is an improvement---just need the body to get repaired. Just like dad and concrete---I think I hate dealing with these types of situations.

I love the fall weather and I have been wearing my sweater most days but I love it. So far no flooding at least in our area. The Elders in Mountain View area are having to deal with a lot of sand bagging and such as they got it the worst. On Saturday Elder Taka woke up rather cold--I guess it is from being from Tonga. :) We were trying to figure out how to turn on the heating for the night. We have these weird base board heating things and all it has is numbers and not an on or off. That whole ordeal led us to having to re-arrange the whole entire apartment. I did not complain as it was in need of change to be more functionable. It looks much better and we figured out how to turn the heating on....now we have an issue of how to turn it off. We sure make a fool of ourselves. That was a good day despite the fact that every appointment fell through or they said they would be home but they were not.
Last night we found a new family to teach! A WHOLE FAMILY! It was a tender mercy! It just made my week and I sat in our living room after we were done planning and just smiled and enjoyed the moment. This week we are supposed to go to the Bountiful Temple with a member (if everything goes as planned). I really need to go to the temple and just feel at home for a little bit. All of us missionaries in Evanston have been stressed out lately and when the member offered to take all 6 of us, we were almost in tears. When you're in Wyoming you don't get to go on the normal temple trip to Salt Lake City. I have not been since June...yikes! I loved reading your letter about the temple and everything. It sure lifted me up.
Dad, I can't believe it either that I have been out for almost 18 months. In a few weeks all the sisters that I came out with are heading home! Weird. Elder Taka made the comment the other day. "Wow, you look more tired than the other missionaries I worked with." (He has only been out 6 months and so has the others he worked with). I laughed as I don't feel tired but I guess I have been out awhile. :) As for your questions: Let me know about how the members are in the Evanston area. The members are great. They just want to know the how of missionary work and gain a stronger desire that leads them to doWhat do the Bishops do to help with missionary work? The Bishops meet with us at least once a month if not more and they invite us to Ward Council. They also set the example on the How and the Do of missionary work thus motivating the members in the ward council who then motivate all the members in the ward. As a missionary we want every bishop to know that we truly want to help assist him in the work of salvation...not tell him how or do it all ourselves but shoulder to shoulder, arm and arm. When members see that the bishop trusts the missionaries, everyone else will also.  How do the members support the missionaries? They do more than they realize. They help by letting us help them (teach, do service, anything), giving us referrals, going on splits, teaching investigators, less actives and others in their home. They help us the most by being pro-active in doing things without being asked. When we cover more than one ward it is hard for us to keep up with everything and often things fall through. But, when we work with the members and they are willing to help, it helps us so much. It is a huge stress reliever.
We had an experience last night using the work of salvation website. We showed the clip “We are one” and they started talking about people they know but not sure what they can do. So we then showed them “I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go” music video and one of the daughters in 2nd grade said “I am going to make a card for my friend and invite them to the stake primary activity.” This is the excitement that we are seeing as we use this resource when visiting members. It takes less than 30 minutes to do this and we often walk out with a referral and the members know that we are there to help them and work shoulder to shoulder.
  How is it going with sisters in Wyoming? The sisters are doing amazing. In Wyoming there has been a rough bump of Elders and most members have lost trust to let them teach their dear friends. Luckily, Evanston has always had pretty good missionaries. But Rocks Springs was always known for the President sending the rough elders there as they are far, far from Salt Lake City. When the sisters went to Green River, within a week they had 4 people on date for baptism. The members know that they can trust the Sisters with their dear friends. It has been really cool to watch that part of the zone blossom. They are able to get into the single sisters homes and do more than what the elders can do. Plus, the young women have been more excited than ever. If we get up to 250 in our mission that will mean three sets of missionaries per stake! We are having to split and create new areas next month, again to accommodate the amount of missionaries coming in.

Everything is well here and I pray that I am able to take everything one day at a time. I just have to keep breathing and smiling. He LIVES!
From my heart to yours,
Elder David Cluff

August 9, 2013

One More Thing....

As I was writing my letter to president I was reminded of something that happened yesterday and I felt to share it with you.

"Yesterday, we were teaching a group of Young Men in one of the wards. We were wanting to help them learn how to teach using Preach My Gospel. We did many role plays and often they were reading straight from the book rather than teaching from what they knew and bearing testimony. To help them understand that sharing testimony is the most powerful tool you have when you are teaching I decided to share my Testimony in American Sign Language. I started to sign my testimony; the room fell into silence and the Holy Ghost testified to each of them that the things we taught are true. As I signed "amen" the boys sat still and they knew that they felt the spirit despite the fact that I was speaking in a different language that they could not understand.
It was the perfect lesson!

I know that Jesus is the Christ and that through Him we can become what Heavenly Father sees in us. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that as we truly read and study the words of the prophets we can find answers to our questions. I love this Gospel and as we embrace it we can see our lives transform and the lives of others. "


These are the experiences that I live for and they build my faith and keep me going. When temptations, conflict or contention arise I find that signing a song or my testimony helps and keeps me strong.

From My Heart to Yours,
Elder David Cluff

All Things Cowboy

Mom and Dad,

  I read Colton's email and yeah....I am in the same boat as him. Him in London and me in Wyoming....who would have thought. I mean this past week I have had to help walk horses back to the barn (stepped in horse poop), pulled huge weeds that seem to be the only thing that can grow in Wyoming and they are hard to pull out, unloaded and stacked hay. We also went to the county junior rodeo to talk to one of the bishops and make contact with our investigators. I kept laughing as Colton and I seemed to have switched roles for a little bit. I mean everyone here wears boots and cowboy hats---EVERYWHERE. It seems that Heavenly Father is making Colton and I come to really appreciate each other. Interesting how the Lord works.
   I am learning to find Heaven within...despite how very different all this is for me. A family in one of the wards kept telling me that they think it was a blessing for me to be here in the stake where there is a young man who is 17 years old and has Cochlear Implants. I was able to meet him and it was neat and I started to see why the Lord would put me here of all places. This young man is a huge example to me...he does rodeo WITH HIS IMPLANTS ON! His father made sure the surgeon placed the magnet in a way that would make it easy for him to wear his cowboy hat. He is one of the first that I have met that makes jokes about being deaf...like I do. I am learning just how much of a city guy I am. Wyoming is growing on me though. Yikes! Last Tuesday we had meetings in Salt Lake at the Mission Office and when we drove back in I almost missed the open space in Wyoming and the clean air. We had good meetings. Sister Eberhardt was talking to me and asked how I like Wyoming and then said that they thought it would be really good for me to have a break and then they will bring me back "home" before the winter hits. We shall see, but I just think it is funny that they have me bounce back and forth between Salt Lake and odd areas on the edge of the mission. We have to go back next week for a meeting from 9am-4pm (yikes) on Tuesday and then back again on the 30th for a Mission Tour with Elder Arnold.
   I can't believe Sam will be 15! Hope he got my Birthday Card. I was just thinking how he could be driving me around when I get home. I am not going to dwell on that thought as that kind of freaks me out. Speaking of driving, attached is a photo of the car that we drive around. It is a really nice car and great for the time we spend driving to Kemmerer, Lymon and this week we will be going to Rocks Springs. Our area is just the Evanston Stake (Elder Pew covers the Evanston South Stake) but our zone goes out to Rocks Springs (about 200 miles away from us) and other surrounding towns. Our area is about the same size as Rockwood 1st and 2nd combined. But our zone is the biggest zone out of the whole mission. Our phone is the only phone that can text and it is an old flip phone....that is how many years I have traveled back. All the other phones in the zone are flip phones and can only call. So, things are done very differently here.
   I am excited to see what comes from all these house projects. (Is the bathroom in the basement finished yet?) haha I love you all just the way you are.

I am hoping I am able to write a letter this week as we should be doing a lot of driving.

I love you all and hope you have an awesome week! (I will pray extra hard for everyone on the road before sam takes the wheel.)
From my heart to yours,
Elder David Cluff