January 29, 2017

Be Not Afraid

Hey Everybody,

We once again had a lot of meetings this week but i learned a ton this week not only from the meetings but from the book of mormon as i read and also from some talks that we listened to. One of the talks we listened to was one of John Bytheway's. I can't remember the title but he quoted John Taylor and this was the quote: "When men say unto us, you are not like us, we reply, we know it, we don't want to be. We want to be like the Lord". And i had to pause the talk because i wanted to write that quote down and it really stuck with me for a while. Before i go on about that let me mention another thought that i have had all week. I've had a hard time knowing when to train my trainer since he's falling back into his old routines that he was in before he got the call to train. I'll admit sometimes it's so much easier to just let him sleep during our "lunch break" and personal study and just study my scriptures instead of waking him up and telling him we need to be out working or studying our scriptures and lessons. I started to think that as long as i'm trying to be obedient then it would be okay if i just study the gospel until he wakes up. But then i had this very sharp thought one day earlier this week and it was this: "You can find loop holes for rules and instruction, but you CAN NOT find loop holes for choosing the right!" Every time i think that maybe there's a way to still obey but also give into other circumstances i have that same thought come to my head and then i think about what John Taylor said and i tell myself that i do not want to be like anyone but the Lord. If everyone around me hated me and persecuted me, it would all work out in the end as long as i am honoring and obeying the Lord and trying to be like him. I love the lessons that we can find in the scriptures from just reading even a few verses. I read Alma 49:4 the other day and i thought, "Am i disappointing satan and his followers with my preparations of defense against him? Do i have any place for him to come in without my permission or is his only way in through my entrance where i am personally guarding, ready to smite down any temptations?" And in the chapter just before this in chapter 48 verse 16 it says that moroni didn't like shedding the blood of the lamanites but his heart glories in keeping the commandments and in resisting iniquity. Can we honestly say that we glory in resisting iniquity or is that still a burden to us to give up our sins and resist them as they try to arise again? We have to build such strong defenses that nothing can come in unless we swing open the door and welcome sin into our lives ourselves. But the great thing is that the Savior is right there helping us to build those strong defenses every time we ask him to help and try to do what's right. How mindful of our situation do you think the Lord is? Don't you think he would know best what we need and what will help us the most? "Oh, how merciful is our God!" -Alma 24:15

"Happiness comes from your situation, Joy comes from your focus." Where is our focus? Are we focused on our situation trying to find momentary happiness? Or are we focused on Christ, ready to face trials with Joy in our hearts? "There is no such thing as a bad day, just bad moments." Don't let a bad moment get you down and make you think that you are having a bad day. Let yourself get back up, look to the Savior and say, "Today is still a good day". President Hinckley's Father once said, "Cynics do not contribute, skeptics do not create, doubters do not achieve." If we find ourselves unhappy or maybe a little down, let us remember this quote and find a way to contribute, create, and achieve. "Stand a little taller, rise a little higher, be a little better. Make the extra effort. You will be happier." -President Hinckley.

It is not my hope to tell anyone that they are not being/doing enough. My hope is to show everyone that there is never a limit. There is never too much scripture study, never too much knowledge of the Gospel in our minds. We can ALWAYS grow and find more Joy in our lives and bring more happiness to the lives of others until they too can find this Joy themselves. We are here to show God that we want to live with him again and that we are willing to do what it takes, so why wait till tomorrow to read the book of mormon? Why wait till next week to go to church? Why wait till next month to get a new temple recommend and go back to the house of the Lord? Why wait to show God that we love him? He will bless us immediately when we do what's right (Mosiah 2:24).

Love you all,

-Love Elder Cluff

January 19, 2017

My Week

So at first I was thinking that this week didn't bring much fruit because we had a lot of little meetings and some service projects and things but when I thought about it again i realized that during the meetings I was learning to be a better missionary, and during the service projects I was doing what I love (physical service) and I was building relationships with people that could, in turn, show us the friends and family in their life that need the gospel. So it was a pretty good week after all.

One visit that we had with a less active family, the Lahtis, really changed my perspective on how we live our lives and how we view the ever-outreaching hand of Christ. We went to the Lahtis to help them take out their Christmas tree and then I asked if we could get the family together and share a scripture with them. I had elder Otterstrom share the scripture so that I could distract the baby they were watching so that the family could listen. While this baby (who was about 18 months old I think) was playing with an empty two-liter bottle he suddenly threw it on the ground, grabbed my hand, and then jumped on the bottle to smash it. As he grabbed my hand I immediately thought about how he knew without a doubt that I would not let him fall. He knew that my hand was there for his support and protection as long as he stays close by. He trusted me even though he didn't have much of a reason to. I then thought about how this is the way we need to view Christ throughout our whole lives. HE is ALWAYS there for us. He will NEVER let us fall, and he will ALWAYS be a sturdy support. But any truly sturdy support isn't something that can move, so just the same, Christ will not move or adjust his boundaries for us. We must stay close by to receive his help and strength. But how often are we hesitant to take the hand of Christ because we think we can get through it without him? how often do we reject divine help and guidance because we think it's not the time or place to use it? I don't think that the baby I was distracting really needed my help. He never showed signs of struggle during his attempt to smash the bottle, but he grabbed my hand because he didn't want to take a chance when he didn't need to. If Christ didn't want us to use his help ALWAYS then why would his hand always be there for us? Why should we take a chance at falling if there's a sure way to never fall and never be let down? another reason we may not take Christ up on his offer of help may be because we feel we aren't worthy or that he's probably mad at us right now but there's one scripture that will clear this up right quick, 2 Nephi 20:4 "...for all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.". I think that's pretty clear and I can't really expound on that so hopefully, the message is there that Christ and Heavenly Father will never forsake us.

STOP, before you read this next story you must know that you will be judged for unrighteous judgment.... No making fun. 

Okay so since we weren't able to email yesterday you now get to hear a funny story from our p-day (it was still yesterday). So there's a massage therapist in our ward who does missionaries for free and he's also kind of inactive so we had thought about letting him work on our backs on p-days in the past but we didn't really like the thought of getting a massage, so we didn't. But then we heard that its pretty similar to a chiropractor so we finally gave in and went yesterday--and it is NOTHING like a chiropractor. And its NOT a "massage." I'm still sooo sore from that and it was like 15 minutes of physical torture on your muscles. Elder Otterstrom went first and it didn't look like it hurt too bad but it still made me a little hesitant. After he was done i laid down on the floor and brother George (knowing that i played rugby) felt my back and said "and you're sure that you weren't the ball?" And then he continued to push and pinch and elbow all over my back... the worst was he told me that the hits i took have made my leg a little less then straight so he asked Elder Otterstrom for help and then said "you ready to feel what its like to break a leg? cause that's probably what this will feel like." And then they twisted and cranked my leg for like 45 seconds and then he said: "there you go, now its straight again". I think having my year old injuries fixed was way worse than it ever felt when they were inflicted upon me in the first place. I have definitely had the wrong image in my head my whole life for what a massage therapist is...

(For those that don't know what rugby looks like, here is a peek.) 
Photo by: // Eureka Rugby Team 2014

Well, I think that's all I have this week.

love you all!

love, Elder Cluff

Good, Bad and Everything In-Between

Okay, so there wasn't really a lot of good and bad this week. I just thought that was a cool email title cause I never know what to put in that box... but there was quite a bit of the in-between that happened.

So on Wednesday, I went on exchanges with one of my zone leaders again but this time I stayed in dove valley and Elder Otterstrom went to their area. We did a lot of trying to find former investigators and one of them that actually opened up was Dani, a girl in like her 20's. She is the only one in her apartment so we couldn't go in but she came outside in the 15-degree weather and talked to us for almost an hour just about so much random stuff in the scriptures that I can't even remember. But the one thing that I do remember was her excitement for the different stories in the bible, and even tho she was a little over the top and a little crazy it still made me want to study those stories that she showed such excitement for and it made me want to find that excitement within myself for the Book of Mormon so that when I talk to people about it, they will want to learn more and read it for themselves.

Then on Thursday, we went to go find some other names that we had. When we parked the car we noticed that there was a cool park right in front of us and we both wanted more pictures to send home to our families so we thought "what better place to take some weird pictures than a park." So we walked over and took a picture on the little rock wall and stuff. Then we realized how low the pavilion was, so I told Elder Otterstom to help me move the picnic table over so that I could climb on top and he could take a picture of me. I climbed on top and struggled to get to the peak because it was metal with snow and was super slick so I kept sliding around. I finally got to the peak and got my picture and then slid back down and jumped off... and it was about then that I realized the member we were going to have dinner with that night lived right in front of the park so all their back windows look out at the park. I was just hoping that they weren't looking out while we were out there and we quickly left, but then when we got to their house for dinner the first thing she asked us before even asking how we were doing was "did you guys have some fun at the park earlier?" We both looked at each other and kinda laughed and told them that it was, and then the husband said: "well wasn't it Nephi that said you have to unstring your bow sometimes?" So then I felt better about it and I didn't feel like a bad missionary for playing at the park for 10 minutes haha. 

Saturday was another interesting day. We went to go see a guy named mike that we had run into a few days earlier but he told us to come by another day. When we went back Saturday he was out shoveling his driveway so we offered him some help and he said he was done. Then he warned us that he used to keep the missionaries there talking for hours. To that, we replied, "well we have time so can we talk for a little bit?" He said we could so we started talking about what he had been taught in the past and what the missionaries talked about before. Then he told us that he's just the kind of guy that needs proof and nobody has that, so he doesn't believe in religion. It all started when his sister died when she was 15 and he was only 13. His mindset ever since has been "if there's a God then he would've saved her." I told him that there actually is proof and we have it with us-- it's the Book of Mormon, and that it can bring comfort and answers to our lives. He didn't take to that too well either and he kept telling us that the feelings we think are the holy ghost are actually just our minds giving us what we want in times of need and that there's always a scientific reason for things. But the whole time we were talking to this guy, and ever since we talked to him, I haven't been able to stop thinking about Alma 11-12 where Alma and Amulek are preaching and these Judges lawyers keep coming and try tearing Alma and Amuleks doctrine apart; but then just a few verses later those same men who were called children of the devil (I think) were now trembling before the lord and asking questions about eternal life and inquiring to know more, and this was because they had the spirit with them to testify to these wicked men that the words which Alma and Amulek spoke were true and that they did not lie. So moral of the story, I don't have the spirit with me enough hahaha. No, I'm half joking, but I can't stop feeling like there's more that I need to do with mike and that i can find the things that i need to know in the Book of Mormon so that i will be ready the next time we go by so that if he's willing the spirit will be able to touch his heart and tell him that there is a God and that there is a Savior and that the Book of Mormon is true and it is, in fact, the word of God to help and guide us.

I was in D&C 122 the other day because one of the talks we listened to was talking about liberty jail. As I read the second half of verse 6 I couldn't help but get a little teary eyed imagining my own son (when I have one) asking me those heart-wrenching questions: (1) why can't you stay? (2) what are the men going to do with you? After feeling that oh so small portion of the pain that Joseph Smith might have felt, i then thought about how I don't want any dad to ever have to answer that first question in this way, "I'm so sorry son, but I can't stay because Elder Cluff didn't follow the precious promptings from the holy ghost to talk to me and bring me the Gospel when we were on earth". It is my honor and my duty to follow those small promptings from the holy ghost so that I can bring others the gift of their salvation. I am going throughout the land declaring faith and repentance to everyone that will listen.

Just as Simon Peter recognized and bore testimony of in John 6:68-69, there is nowhere else for us to go because Christ has the words of eternal life and he is the son of God.

Let us lift our spirits and overcome the natural man so that we can become the pure souls that we all have the potential to be!

love you guys, 
-Love, Elder Cluff

January 3, 2017

Twins & Happy New Year!


So this week was fun, on skype I mentioned how it stinks that i bought a bike and then we got a car, well on Wednesday at about 10 we got our car taken away to give to another companionship so we were back on bikes and I was super excited but then the AP's realized that no one in our district had a car now so they found one to give us and we were back in a car by 4... so that was disappointing but it makes p-days a ton easier.

We also had to get the bike that I had borrowed my first two weeks back to an elder in our zone before he left on Wednesday but we didn't want to walk his bike to their apartment and we didn't have a bike rack on our car (this was Tuesday afternoon) so we just decided that I would ride the bike as fast as I could while Elder Otterstrom drove the car right by me and it's only like a mile so I figured I could keep up and I did but then once we got there I realized that the altitude really gets to you when you go from sitting down in a car to trying to ride 25mph on a bike for a mile, and the rest of the night I felt like my throat was kinda closing up but water and a warm dinner fixed that pretty well. moral of the story, don't try to keep up with a car while you're on a bike when you are 5,000 feet higher than you are used to.

There are now two Elder Cluffs in our district! it was super confusing until we made up a nickname for the other Elder Cluff. But he's from California his first name is Canyon, and the weirdest thing ever is that his birthday is august 6th 1998!!! We're twins!!

We were finally able to have a sit-down lesson with one of our investigators, Christie, and it was super good, she just soaked in everything and said that she's finally putting the pieces together about the restoration. It was super cool to see how the spirit changed when we started talking about the first vision and you could tell that she was listening so much more intently. She just has a hard time committing to do things especially going to church and I'm not sure why so that's our next barrier especially since we got her to say yes to having the 21st as a goal to be baptized.

I hope this week will bring more fruit and more teaching opportunities, I want to be able to find those who need this message because I know they are out there and I know that I won't have charge over this part of the Lords vineyard for much longer.

I also can't wait till I get to the end of this mission and can know that I did what I could and that the savior made up for the rest and then I will be able to return back to my family and "with the voice together shall 'we' sing..." and "break forth into joy..." (Mosiah 12:22-23)

Love you guys. Stay strong and keep up the good work!

(the kingdom of God or nothing)

-Love, Elder Sam Cluff