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July 12, 2013

Exciting Times, Lots of Changes and Things to Learn

I met my new mission president, President (John) Eberhardt, from Sandy, UT--he is a very nice man and I felt the spirit testify that he is my new mission president and that he was called to this mission. The mission home is their home in Sandy. :) Well, earlier that morning I got a text from the bishop over the deaf ward. He asked me to speak in their ward that coming Sunday. I kind of panicked a minute and took all morning to finally say yes. I was super worried and asked him, "Is it okay if I don't sign my whole talk?" He said that is just fine. Whew....but I still did not feel comfortable doing it. I got the topic "How can the ward members help the ward youth prepare to serve missions." Uh....that made me feel very inadequate to help these members help the youth. But, the follow things I am about to share seemed to be an answer to what Heavenly Father wanted me to share.  

1. It started Friday morning with District Meetings and running into President Eberhardt again as he came to watch one of our district meetings. After, it was weekly planing and trying to help the missionaries stay focused. Then at 4 we started filling the font for our 6pm baptism for the North Korean investigator. It was amazing--the spirit was so strong. He asked me to share his story while he was changing and everyone was so touched by this man's faith and hope. It ended with another great lesson. We invited the member to teach the plan of salvation to her non-member friend. It was amazing to see her testimony grow as she taught the plan of salvation. The spirit was very strong. We just added our testimonies and helped point things out. A perfect lesson! Elder Park and I went to bed with smiles on our faces...not knowing what would be in store for us the following day. 

2.  On Saturday we had a long to-do list to do to help with getting everything switched over to the East Mission. We had to pick up DVR's, Tiwi Card (driving cards) and also all gas cards. Our zone has the most cars (10 cars and only 1 walking area) Well, we got into the car and all the sudden the car just smelled bad. We made it to Sugar House area where we were going to meet up and start picking everything up. The car kept saying to get an oil change for about a week but the car coordinator kept saying to wait until he calls and tells me to change it. I would check the engine oil and make sure there is still some...there was. But this time I felt that there was something else wrong. At the same time I kept saying this is a brand new 2013 car with less than 6,000 miles on it, yet I am not a car guy. I called the car coordinator and his wife answered and I told her the situation. She then said, "Can you make it to the Big O tire shop? They will check it for us." We made it there. The guy said that it would be two hours before he could even touch the car. So, we called up some elders to pick us up. We kept going about our to-do list when a few hours later the car coordinator called and said that the transmission oil was gone and it caused some major damage to the car and is being taken to the dealer as it is still under warranty. They said they were surprised that we made it to the shop as it would not even make it to the dealer. They said that we won't have the car for the weekend and so we car hopped with the other Elders in the zone until our amazing Assistant to the President let me take their car while they would use the mission truck. The trick was trying to get the car to our area. They had me drive their car by myself, one AP drove the truck by himself and then the 2nd AP drove the car with the elder that I was on exchanges with at that time.  It was weird but we got it all sorted out and made everything less stressful. We ended finding a new person to teach and is on date to be baptized. :) In only a few hours our lives changed very fast. 
 
3. Sunday: Oh my goodness, what a day. We started having meetings at 9am and running from place to place until things started to calm down by 11am. I was finally able to catch my breath after trying to find last minute rides for investigators and get all 5 investigators to church and at the same time figure out what in the world I am going to say for my talk in the deaf ward. 12:15 came and the member that was going to go with me to do exchanges for the deaf ward while Elder Park confirmed the North Korean convert at 1pm. The deaf ward started at 1pm and we arrived around 12:45. Branden, the guy that came with me was awesome! He is leaving for his mission and helps us a ton over the past few months. Every time I am with him he learns some ASL. He is so awesome and we have become good friends. Anyway, we walked in and everything was quiet but hands were all over the place. I then whispered to Branden and said "What did I just get myself into??" I started to panic and getting really worried. After many experiences with the deaf world...I was not sure how this experience  would be. I worried that I would not be accepted for who I am. But, Heavenly Father reminded me many times before getting up that everything will be okay. Halfway through the meeting, Kathryn, the little girl that I have been teaching in that ward came running into the chapel and sat right next to me and gave me a hug. Everyone just smiled. It was fascinating to watch how they do everything in ASL. They had a baby blessing and that was very interesting. My turn came and I went up. I introduced myself in ASL and said that I am really nervous about signing my whole talk and the interpreter came up and stood next to me, this really nice old lady said "I got you". I started talking a little about me and my mission. I then said something I was not really planning on talking about; "Teach the youth in the ward to cope with change." It will help them so much in the mission. I talked about how today they have so many resources to prepare to serve (Sunday school, priesthood and YM/YW and personal missionary moments.) I talked about the broadcast and then I shared my personal testimony and I felt the spirit testify to me that this is His work. The feeling of "Everything will be okay" kept coming back throughout the day. When I finished, some people would sign to me "I felt the spirit and thank you". I was grateful for the many lessons I learned during the time I was in the ward. Branden and I walked out and he said it was interesting to watch the deaf ward. 
   After, I went back to the Institute to meet back up with Elder Park and finish the rest of our meetings. We had a stake meeting at 4:30 and 5 minutes into it I got a text from an elder saying that they needed an emergency exchange. Once the meeting was over we got it sorted out and then at 8:30pm President Eberhardt called me to talk about the situation and had us all meet him at the mission office at 9pm. He wanted to talk to one of the Elders and the 3 of us just waited in the front office. 10:30pm came and he finally came out and said can you three be a trio for a little bit? We said sure, done it before. We finally got home around 11pm and then in bed by 11:45pm. I have learned just how fast everything can change. Since President Eberhardt has been in the mission I have met him 4 times! Needless to say it was a long night and we have a long day ahead of us today. 

That is how my weekend turned out and today I am now in the Utah Salt Lake City East Mission! It is crazy that it is already July and on the 4th we have a big mission get together so we can all meet all the missionaries in the newest mission in Utah; we are the pioneers! Dad, the mission boundary is getting smaller. Pretty much anything east of 700 east out of the mission except for parts of state street and the north west side of the mission. Then it goes all the way down to 90th south covering Cottonwood Canyon and Park City. We will still cover a corner of Wyoming. We are only getting 6 new missionaries this transfer. So a smaller mission. The Map should be coming out on LDS.org anytime now. 

Exciting times, lots of changes and things to learn. Tomorrow we have a mission leadership council meeting and I believe that is where we will be talking about the new mission stuff and possibly when we get the ipads and such. 

I love this work!
 
I love you all so much and wish you the best. I am grateful for everything that I am learning!
 
From my heart to yours, 
Elder David Cluff 

July 2, 2013

A Leap of Faith

This past week was filled with many tender mercies. We had a lesson with an investigator from North Korea. He has been taught all the lessons for the past month. He says he wants to be baptized but was worried about what will happen after. We were at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. He decided to tell more of his story of how he came to America. He told Elder Park in Korean and then Elder Park translated for me. He talked about how there was this big river at the top of North Korea and on the other side was China. He wanted to have a different life and decided that he needed to leave. So, he jumped into the river and swam across leaving behind his mother and sister. His father died when he was 14 years old. He made it across the river and then started his unknown journey. He walked for a month and a half in unknown territory until he reached a city in China where he learned Chinese and lived there for two years where he also read the bible three times. After some time he was able to take a bus to Thailand. On the ride down he was in the very back of the bus when the government stopped the bus to check for ID. He started praying that the Lord would help him. The cop checked everyone and when he got to the last few rows he all the sudden just ran off the bus. Everyone looked out the window to find that he was just using the restroom. After that he went to the driver and said the bus is all clear and can continue. He made it to Thailand where he became a refugee and they decided to send him to Salt Lake City, Utah at age of 23. His social worker happened to be a member of our YSA ward who is also Korean. He started coming to church and then his story with us began. 

As I pondered on that story I felt to tell him, "Just like how you jumped into that river and did not know how everything would turn out after you crossed, it is the same thing with baptism. It takes a leap of faith. You have been taught everything and you are ready. Do you have the faith to be baptized?" In the past he kept saying that would get baptized in a few months or next year.  I then felt to invite him to be baptized this coming weekend. He said "Yes". He is preparing to be baptized this Friday night!   It was amazing to see his faith grow and how all of his experiences prepared him for this moment in his life. 

That is why this week will be amazing! 

Hastening!

Last night's broadcast was absolutely amazing! We were not shocked as we have been seeing it coming for the past 6 months. All the training that we have received all go hand in hand with what we learned last night. Pretty amazing! It will change everything and help us all feel like we can do something more than what we have been doing. Elder Park (my new companion) and I were just so excited after and at the end of the broadcast people came up to us with an extra sense of their purpose and also gave us referrals. It is now all online at: http://www.lds.org/training/wwlt/2013/hastening/special-broadcast?lang=eng The music and the videos were perfect for all of our members. Some would comment saying that the videos helped them understand what they can do. The spirit was so strong and it lifted my soul to a much higher ground. Loved it! 
 
A little about my week:
Transfer Day (Wed, June 19th):
It was a long and emotional day for all 250+ missionaries. Not only are we getting two new mission presidents but we are also getting all new office staff. It will be a few weeks before everything will feel somewhat "normal" again. My day started at 6am as I had to help my two companions (Elder Portas and Guo) get packed and out the door. It took two cars to take all of their stuff. Along with trying to help them I got a call from an Elder saying that his companion was extremely sick and was throwing up all over the place and could not drive to transfers. We quickly went down the street, picked them up and had the sick elder stay with Brother Badger during transfers. He just slept it off the whole time. Now at this point I had to take three elders to transfers and take two cars. We managed and got everything loaded up and left a little after 9am to get to the mission office by 9:30. As I walked in I saw one of the AP's and he asked that I go pick up some more Elders that did not get a ride. He handed me some keys and said you have 30 min. The keys he gave me were to the 15 passenger van! I grabbed an elder and started the van and off we went. As we got driving, the Elder made a comment, "Wow, we are really high in the van. We are now flying!" It brought back many memories from the big blue van back home. After finally getting the Elders, we made it back to the office and had no luck parking that big van when every mission car took every parking spot! It was nuts. So I made up my own parking spot. :) It was a crazy day as it was the last time the whole mission would be together before it splits next Monday. The transfer meeting was long as we had 42 new missionaries coming in and 8 new office staff. After all their introductions/testimonies, President and Sister Winn gave their last transfer talk. After that we all sang "Called to Serve". Never before has this song brought so many tears as it did at that time. We all knew it would be the last time we would sing this song as the 250 Defenders of Zion in the Utah Salt Lake City Mission with the Winns. We all felt the spirit confirm that this is the right place and wherever we go, it is where the Lord wants us. 

I have known for a few weeks that I would be in the Utah Salt Lake City East Mission---I tried not to let it get to me that I would be saying goodbye to half the mission . But this one Elder came up to me after finding out that I will be in the East Mission. This Elder was one that I worked very closely with a few months ago when he felt that he should give up and go home. When he realized that he and I will be in two different missions....with tears running down, he said, "no, this can't happen." He gave me a hug and held on tight for a minute.  I was caught away with emotion and realized that this is all really happening. We talked for a few minutes and knew that this is God's plan for us and that we will meet again after our fight for truth in our own missions. These moments happened with many other missionaries including Elder Steele. I was able to talk to him and we smiled, gave hugs and best wishes. He said, "At least we will have someone from our home stake serving in almost every Utah Salt Lake City Mission."  We laughed and went our ways. 
 
As I pondered on these experiences, it made me think of our life before we came to earth. We lived with God. He loved us and we loved Him. We were surrounded by our brothers and sisters and loved them just as much. When the time came for each of us to come to earth we all must have exchanged hugs and said, "We will meet again after our journey on earth is finished." God knows that we will need some help while we are on this journey here on earth; so at times we may run into those that we had known in the life we had with God, before coming to earth. We will feel that we have known them and they will help us through this life. Heaven and Earth are closer than we think. Each one of us will play the role where "You helped me when you never knew you were." Each one of us can be that Heaven-sent Angel. 
 
"Last moments with the Winns" (Friday, June 21) 
Wow, that was an emotional day. I was trying to be strong as our whole zone got together for the Winn's last visit. Being one of the leaders I tried not to let the tears drop. :) They only spent an hour with all of us. Each missionary got a photo taken with them and then as a zone. Then they waited at the door to have each missionary come up and say their goodbyes. I went half way through and showed the book that Sister Winn gave to me in May of 2012 and the things I wrote about my hard moments in the mission to Sister Winn. When she saw it, tears fell down her face and as she read each page she laughed and cried. She gave me a hug and tears just kept falling down her face. Then President Winn was next. I gave him a hug, said Thank you, and he said a few words and tears again fell. At that moment I just about lost it---it hit me that they really are leaving. Sister Winn let me use her camera the whole time to capture all the "simple moments." I looked through the lens and just loved every moment. Taking the photos reminded me that I do remember how to capture all those simple moments. Our zone lined the hall and sang "Called to Serve" as they walked out the building. At the end, everyone was in tears. We all went to lunch with puffy faces and red eyes...at the end we were having tears of joy. We all made it through and will be welcoming the new mission president this Thursday! Then the following 4 weeks will be crazy but we will all survive. "Come what may and love it!" 
Amid all these changes I am training a new zone leader but this is his last transfer here in the mission so I pretty much get to do everything until July 24th (next transfer date). I am loving every moment of it. 
I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know the Book of Mormon is true.  I know that through prayer we can find peace, comfort and develop a better relationship with God who truly loves us. I know we have a living prophet that leads us today. We are all children of a loving Heavenly Father--we are each a Son or Daughter of a King. We each have a bright future and families are eternal! 

 From my heart to yours, 
 Elder David Cluff