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 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

August 1, 2013

Howdy y'all


I titled this email "From College to Colton's Country..." as I went from being at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City to a small country town in Evanston Wyoming. After finding out on Monday night and just feeling like I was going to be torn apart, I made it through---thank goodness to all of you and your prayers. I was staying the night with Elder Pew and his companion and they caught me in tears and so I told them what was going on. They helped me through and Elder Pew told me great things about Wyoming. His companion jokes and said "what if Elder Pew follows you up to Wyoming as he is leaving..."  We all laughed and we both said "No way". One thing that helped me through was what Mom said about a chance for me to get a break and take a breath. The thought sounded great but I did not know if I really needed it. After a really good nights sleep we packed everything up and made it to the office on Tuesday at 11am. I was starting to feel the butterflies and everyone kept coming up to me saying, "I think you're going to Wyoming." I asked why in the world would I go there. The theme was the same---"you just need a break from Salt Lake". I laughed and deep down inside I realized that this may be what I really need. Transfers were made and I got Elder Chaffin as my companion. Around 3pm we left the mission office and started on an unknown journey. Elder Chaffin kept telling me "YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE WYOMING." I tried to believe him but, again...I was holding back the thought. We started driving through the mountains and canyons and I started noticing that my body was beginning to relax. We talked and found out that both of us were Homeschooled which made us connect really well. By the time we reached our apartment I had accepted the fact that I am here and that everything will be okay. Elder Chaffin and I jumped back into work and went about all the appointments that were set. We ate with a family---A REAL FAMILY!!! No more young single adults feeding us pizza! The kids just made me smile and laugh. I missed working with families. Then that night we went to a youth activity where they had a couple talk about pioneers as Pioneer Day was the following day. A gentleman came up to me and said, "Are you related to Harvey Cluff?" and I said "Yes". He then said, "We will be talking about him and the role he played in the handcart rescue. As I sat there looking around me, a feeling of peace came over me and that is when I knew...this was the right place and time for me. Then we went to teach a family and it takes about 15 min to drive to their place and as I looked at the vast country land....I just fell in love with everything. The people are just really nice and loving. On the way home that night (it took 20 min to drive home) the sunset was just breathtaking and I thought of the song "Beautiful Heartbreak" and this part came to my mind:

"I had it all mapped out in front of me,
Knew just where I wanted to go;
But life decided to change my plans,
And I found a mountain in the middle of my road.

I knew there was no way over it,
So I searched for a way around;
Brokenhearted I started climbin',
And at the top I found...

Every fear, every doubt,
All the pain I went through;
Was the price that I paid to see this view;
And now that I'm here I would never trade...

The grace that I feel,
And the faith that I find;
Through the bitter-sweet tears,
And the sleepless nights;

I used to pray he'd take it all away,
But instead it became a beautiful heartbreak."

The next day we started our day at 7am by helping a family cut trees in the Uinta Mountains and logging them for firewood. It was hard work---but it felt so good. Elder Chaffin and I were able to develop better companionship unity really fast. I got scratched up, but I loved it. It was heavy but someone was lifting me higher. We finished at 12:30 and went back to their home to unload and have lunch. We were covered in dirt but we all laughed. That morning Sister Eberhardt called me in a panic asking where things were at the institute building so they could do the mission party. I helped her the best I could on the phone and wished them the best. Rather than feeling bad about not being able to be there I just focused on the moment I was in. If I was down in Salt Lake I am pretty sure I would be more busy with helping with the party than enjoying the moment. After the dirty work we got showered and went to grab a few things from Walmart and I unpacked a little more. Then we went to a home where they fed us some dinner (I got to have goats milk for the fist time in a LONG time! Brought back memories!)  and we watched the grandkids do a water fight in the house! Then we just played with a family who are returning back to church for the rest of the night. It was a good day. I then found out Elder Chaffin's first name which was a tender mercy as his first name is Colton. At that moment I knew that God's hand was in every aspect. Everywhere I turned it reminded me of Colton. It made me very grateful for the brothers I have. I got a taste of country life with them and now I have to live it. :)
So, remember how we joked about Elder Pew following me to Wyoming...well, he came up with me and is one of the district leaders. So, on Thursday we had lunch together where we talked about the trainings that needed to be given. We both just laughed!

Then just when I thought I was free from people asking about my head and story...Elder Chaffin got a phone call last night from someone in the stake (yes we cover the Evanston stake!) saying that they found out that they have a missionary with cochlear implants serving in their ward and wanted to meet with me to ask some questions. I was shocked to see in just 5 days people already know "the deaf missionary". I guess it is a small town thing. In a way it was God's way of telling me that this is the life I have and I can't really run away from it. I see it as a blessing for me to help those wherever I am located.
Dinner with Brady was good and fast...just like the Cluff style. It was signing was bad but we understood each other for the most part. It was good for me and Elder Chaffin as our dinner canceled on us earlier that day. I just thought it was neat how fast he contacted me after finding out I was going to Wyoming. I asked President for permission and he said it would be a really good thing for me. He is amazing!
We had a baptism on Saturday and I only met the lady once but at the baptism I shared my testimony and I never felt the spirit so strong...I almost had tears and I knew, again, that this is where I am supposed to be.
Having our own apartment was a blessing in many ways. I am able to have my own my own sink! Right now I love it--it needs a lot of cleaning which I started on. I got the kitchen taken care of (whew) and now onto the bathrooms. I also have been less stressed this past week than I have in a long time which really helps with everything.
Last night we were on a 30,000 acre ranch where one of our Bishops lives. The grandkids were outside playing and the clean crisp air was rushing through the hills. I was in the middle of nowhere and for once I loved it! I thought, Colton would love to work here! It really is Colton's Country.
This may be the longest email but I have learned that if you really do have the motivation to "come what may and love it" everything will work out. This is the right place and time for me and I am loving every moment.
From my heart to yours,
Elder David Cluff