Being Zone Leader is very interesting and I'm just taking everything one step at a time. As for your question about Elder Ulbreg and the 5 week thing...this transfer is actually a 5 week transfer and transfers day will be on March 27th! We are expecting a bigger group of new missionaries coming the next few transfers. June 31, 2012, the day before the mission split, we had 210 missionaries in the mission. Now on June 31 of 2013 in the same area where we had 210 missionaries, we will have 700 missionaries the day before the split!!! How crazy is that!
This past week I worked with the following languages: Spanish, Korean, Chinese, ASL and finally ENGLISH! I was doing exchanges with one of our Spanish speaking elders and that was interesting and the other languages...not really sure how we managed to do that. Thanks to Temple Square we are able to take them there and have Sisters help teach in those languages.
I also got to spend the day in my first area and help the missionaries build faith in that area. That area has been struggling and the District Leader asked if I could do exchanges with his elders since I spent 6 months there. I was all for it and was excited to be back. The exchange was set for this past Saturday and I had about a week to prepare through a lot of prayer and studying. The day came and we started with a prayer. I then asked Elder Sakuma, "How many new people do you want to find to teach today?" He paused and said, with thought, "seven people". I then said, "Ok, do you have faith that we can reach that goal?" And he said "Yes". I then responded with excitement, "Yes, we will!". That day we contacted every referral, talked to everyone, worked with leadership and members, skipped lunch and we worked hard. I was able to introduce him to some part-member families that I knew about but that he never heard about. One is a single mother of three. Her oldest son is baptized but the other two are not. I felt really impressed to go visit them. Before I even knocked on the door, Shona, the mother, opened the door and her mouth dropped. She was almost in tears. She said, "Elder Cluff! I am so glad to see you!" I then asked how everything was going. She responded, "Well, my ex-husband just passed away un-expectantly a few days ago---the father of my three boys." The oldest is 14 and the youngest is 7. She goes on and says she doesn't know what to do and starts to list all the things their dad was planning on doing with the boys--pinewood derby, a trip to California, and camping trips. I then felt impressed to say, "Heavenly Father loves you so much and he wants to help. Will you pray and ask for help?" Tears about to fall, she said yes. I then asked if it would be alright if the missionaries came by and talked about the Plan of Happiness? She said, "Yes, that would be great." I was able to see that their hearts are changing through this life changing experience. The missionaries now have a part-member family that is ready to learn and rely on God. After some words of encouragement she left to go pack up all of his personal items and let the boys see his apartment one last time. I was grateful I was able to act upon the prompting to go visit that family.
Another experience was Elder Sakuma said, "We need to go visit Anthony, a non-member." I paused and said, "Is this the crazy Anthony that was on drugs and got really mad at me and threw a Finding Faith in Christ DVD into the street?" He said it wasn't. We then pulled up to the house and I said, "Are you sure??? This looks just like his house." I kept picturing him like I remembered and braced myself for the approach. We rang the door bell and the door opened slowly, calmly, and Anthony opened the door. I almost fainted and I then said, "Anthony is that you?" He said yes and I could see in his eyes that he had changed and was saying sorry for what he had done in the past. He now is clean, has a job and is making huge changes. It reminded me of President Monson's talk at the priesthood session about how "Men can change". That was a huge testimony builder. After we got into the car Elder Sakuma then talked about how in some of their visits with Anthony he would often express how he wished he could say sorry to the missionary that he was rude to. Me showing up at his door was an answer to his prayer.
At the end of the day we were able to find 7 new people to teach! There are miracles all around. At the end of the day our testimonies were strengthened. I was able to help remind the leadership that miracles do happen and share experiences that I saw when I was in the area. Elder Sakuma learned that working with members is key to the work in those two stakes. He liked how I use my implants to break the ice with people who are not interested in talking with us and we got referrals from them too! The Lord blessed us that day; our faith and hope were increased and miracles are happening all around.
I was able to run into some of the members that I worked with and they all said, "Wow, you have changed and you seem so much more confident than before!" They also said that some members still talk about the talks/testimonies I gave in the wards. That meant a lot to me and it made me want to always strive to become a better follower of Christ.
All is well and I am happy. I am doing much better than I did about a year ago. :)
I love you all so much!
Come what may and Love it!
-Elder David Cluff