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 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 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