March 26, 2017

My Testimony of The Book of Mormon

This gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ, is not just simply an addition to our lives; but rather it is the way we live our lives. I know this to be true because anytime I find something new within this gospel I also find that it is beckoning me to act and to change for the better. But how do we come to find these truths within the gospel? Well it is my testimony that The Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have read it. I have prayed about it, and I know it does!
Now if I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is a lifestyle and I know that The Book of Mormon contains the fullness of that gospel, then do I not know that the Book of Mormon contains the answers to any and all of life's questions? I am here to tell you that I do know that The Book of Mormon has any and all the answers we will ever need throughout this life. It's no myth. It's no fairy tale. It is real. It has changed my life, I know it has.
"The Book of Mormon, combined with the Spirit, is your most powerful resource in conversion." (Preach My Gospel) As I have been about the work of my Father in Heaven, I have seen the Book of Mormon change the lives of many investigators. But as I have witnessed this change in their lives, there has been a ringing truth within me, that I know to be the voice of the Holy Spirit, testifying to me that this book is not only meant to change the lives of those who read it for the fist time, but it is surely, and maybe even more importantly, supposed to change my life and the lives of all members as well--no matter how many times they have read it and felt a change before.

A Fun-filled Week

This email will mostly be short stories today because i have a lot from this week... 

I like to call this story, "And the real mont bello comes out." So we were just finishing up our lunch one day at our apartment and i was sitting with my back to the window that looks out towards the parking lot when i heard this random groan come from outside, so I turned around and looked out the window and i saw a man laying halfway on the sidewalk and halfway on the pavement. So i told Elder Murdock and then we ran out to help him and he was just barely trying to get up when we got to him so we offered some assistance and grabbed his arms to help him up. We then started to smell the drunken breath and aroma coming from this man so we offered to help him walk back to his apartment. He said that would be great and so we helped him walk back and i have never met or seen a more drunk man in my entire life. He couldnt even keep his legs under him while we were supporting his weight. We had to take his key out of his hand, unlock his door, and then take him in and plop him down on his couch. We were laughing about that for the rest of the day, it was great! And he also agreed to meet with us again but he probably has no idea that he did that. 

Alrighty, Next! We heard a knock on our door the other morning during studies, so we thought maybe it was the other missionaries that live in our complex, so we opened the door and it was actually missionaries for the church of God (a non denominational church) and they wanted to teach us about the last prophecy in the bible. So we let them, and they talked about some neat things ive never seen in the bible, but then after they had taken about 10 minutes of our time i started talking about the book of mormon and they would not have anything of it. They just kept saying that if its not the bible then the church of God doesnt believe it. They made up some excuses as to why they needed to get going and so we let them go, but the whole time i just wanted to stop and say "thank you so much for fulfilling a prophecy given by prophets in the book of mormon. You just helped strengthen my testimony in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ." And then read them 2 Nephi 29:3,6. I cant remember which general authority it was, but one of them said something about how no one can ever kick the Gospel down the stairs. They always kick it up the stairs because they are fulfilling prophecy given by prophets of old as well as modern day prophets when they ridicule us and try to tear down our beliefs.

Another really cool experience from this week was when we got done with the lesson that we had with Maria (I'm sure I'll talk about her more in the future, she's been so prepared). We had just had this very spiritual lesson on the plan of salvation and she had been told for the first time in her life that we dont just live and die but that there's more to be done after this life, and so as we were walking out the door she said "thank you for coming, and thank you so much for the good news!" That really touched my heart because i realized how good our news really is, and how beautiful our story, the gospel and its restoration really is! We have knowledge of things that people have never dreamed about and if we are willing to share it then it becomes this wonderful news to those around us. We bring people eternal joy just by sharing our story as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Well, i gotta go drop my companion off at the church so that he can go to Argentina but hopefully I'll be coming back right after that to email some more.. but who knows. 

i love you all,
Love, Elder Cluff

The Love of God is Real

This week was lots of fun because we taught lots of people and had a lot of stuff going on throughout the week. I'll try to include all the things that i think are important..

First off, Boon and Joni got baptized and confirmed this weekend! they have been so prepared by the spirit, even tho they may not have understood much of what we said in lessons since they arent too good with english. they still learned everything that they needed to through the spirit and his teachings. They have become a such a light of truth even compared to just several weeks ago when i first met them! They loved the feeling of cleanliness they felt both after the baptism and after their confirmation. I was super nervous to do the confirmation on sunday for Joni and so all last week i was praying to have the spirit with me more abundantly all the time so that when the time came to give that sacred blessing then it could truly be the spirit talking through me. I felt this tender mercy as i spoke through the authority of the priesthood that i hold and i found myself not thinking of what to say but rather praying in my heart that i can say what needs to be said and then hearing words come out of my mouth that were not previously determined. God answers our prayers, i know he does. Our Heavenly father is merciful and kind and he has told us in 3 Nephi 22:10 that his kindness will not depart from us.

We had our stake conference on the first sunday of this month and so yesterday was fast sunday, but something different happened during fast and testimony meeting this sunday. We had a non member walk in right before church started because he had been to one of our services before when he was in utah and liked it a lot. He was a very religious man and about half way through the meeting he got up to bare his testimony and it was one of the coolest things ive ever seen in a testimony meeting because he was not of our faith but he bore his testimony of the same truths that we believe in. He talked about how Jesus Christ gave up his heavenly riches to become poor and help others. He then said "we need to always remember the treasure that is within these earthly vessels." I thought that was so cool that he said that because its so true. No matter what type of vessel we have, its still the same treasure within. We are all children of God and that means so much more then we ever give it credit for. 

I believe one of the best questions to ask ourselves on a daily basis is "does the love of God dwell in my heart" because in 4 Nephi 1:15 it tells us that there wont be any contention if we can have that love of God in our hearts, and these days contention is growing worse and worse within the hearts of people because they think at first that it will fix the situation and then it turns into a war--whether that war is between me, myself and i or whether its between two countries it is still coming from the same place and it is not of God. I hope we can all strive just a little bit more to have the love of God in our hearts so that at least within our families, wards, sunday school classes, or just our bedrooms we can have a peaceful place of no contention. 

We also got to go help with some english classes on saturday at one of our church buildings which was super cool to see. There's so many people out there who want to learn and grow in knowledge so badly so that they can progress in this life. Since i saw that, i now want to have that great of a desire to learn and grow in the gospel so that i progress in my eternal life! 

One funny moment from this week. We were in mont bello walking down the street and this kid (probably like 16 years old) walks by us going the opposite direction and then he turned around and said, "hey, where you guys headed?" We told him what we are out here doing and then he said "so you do that around here?" And we told him that we spend everyday around this area trying to talk to people. He then said "oh okay, i was just wondering cause i just dont see too many suited brothers around here." And then before we could reply he turned around and started walking again. After we started walking again Elder Murdock said "hey now when we run into him again we dont have to teach that we are all brothers and sisters"... It doesnt seem very funny now that i wrote it all out but hey i thought it was funny... 

Well thats all i got.. See ya next time!

Love you all, Love Elder Cluff

March 7, 2017

The Lords Work, The Lords Way

This week we had many tender mercies that didn't look the part at first.
One of these took place Friday night. We had appointments stacked from 5-8:30 and when we got to one of them they weren't home and so we figured we could just go to the next one early and as we were walking out of the indoor apartment complex that we were in, this old drunk man stopped us and asked if we were religious, if we were Mormon, and then if we had ever smoked or drank in our life. We happily replied that we had never touched either of those things and he told us with some not so nice words that we were lying. He said some more not so nice words to us and then told us to wait there in the lobby for 5 minutes (he didn't say what he was going to do). We told him we would wait because we thought it could be an exciting lesson. He came back 25 minutes later and said he had to go to the gas station across the road and then he would come back and talk. So we again decided we should wait for him, and while we were waiting this nice lady came through the lobby and asked what we believe in. We talked to her about the restoration of Christ's Gospel for about 5 minutes and then she invited us to come back to her home and teach her more because "you can't mess around with the word." The old man finally came back but once again told us he had to go up to his apartment first. This time we followed behind him and once he went into his apartment we knocked on his door and this young man answered and said that the old guy is just drunk and probably won't talk to us. The apartment was actually owned by the young guy and he was just a Christ-like young man trying to help this old guy out. We asked the young man what his name was and he said it was Alberto. Alberto was the name of a young man we have been trying to find since our second day here because the sisters have been teaching him but they wrote down the wrong address for him. So because of that old drunk man who kept us waiting and waiting we were able to find someone who really does want the gospel in his life and was actually wondering what had happened to the missionaries, as well as find a new investigator who seemed sincerely interested in what we have to say. God cares about all of his children and sometimes we have to actually slow down our pace in order to find them and touch their lives. 

Another wonderful experience that happened this week was on Saturday when we went to our dinner appointment and got there 15 minutes early because our last appointment got done early, but when got there we saw a little black boy out playing basketball n the road by himself and so we dropped our bags by the members house that we were going to and ended up playing basketball with that little boy for 30 minutes and even tho we all loved playing with each other, that wasn't the part that made an impact, it was when this 9-year-old boy asked why we were out here and why we were dressed the way we were, he said "when you first started walking over here I just you were some business men handing out flyers or something", we told him we weren't businessmen but that we just go around talking about Jesus with anyone who will let us, now his reply is the center and meaning of this entire story so really think about this coming from a 9-year-old boy who doesn't really know much about Christ, he said "really?! Man, I wish I could do that." we weren't able to talk to him about Christ much more before he had to go back inside for dinner but the desire that he felt to talk about Jesus increased my desire to do so. we are planning on going back this week to see if we can find him and play some more basketball and teach him about how he can do what we do right now in his life. These kind of moments with children are very close and dear to me because I know that they are much closer and more responsive to the Holy Ghost without even realizing it. 

One more story from this week that I loved, when we first got here we were told that the only people who will really have a hard time switching from sisters to elders would be the Chapmans who are a part member family with the mom being a member and the father investigating, mostly because they had it in their heads that elders were pushy and more like robots, we went over and taught them a short scripture message 2 weeks ago because that was the first time they were available and they didn't seem super open to us being there but they were willing to have us over for dinner on Saturday (the same dinner that took place after we played basketball) and we tried extra hard to just be ourselves and show them that we are just teenagers who are out here talking about the gospel as best we can, half way through dinner brother Chapman said "you guys are some of the best elders we've had, you're just down to earth about everything" and then Sister Chapman said, "ya when we heard we were getting elders we were like ah man, but you guys are great, you play with the kids, you talk about your lives, and you aren't trying to be something that you aren't.", I believe that Heavenly Father truly was watching out for us showing us the directions to take the conversations that night to help them see the things that they needed to in order for their perspective of elders to change.

Well, that's what most of my week consisted of, there were some other fun things that happened as well that I don't have time to write about like we ran into our fist born again Christian which was interesting. we also found 2 people that want to come to church who we've never met before. and we were able to finally meet with Xavier again and help him have a little spiritual upliftment.

An insight of the week, hymn number 98 "I need thee every hour" says, in the third verse, "come quickly and abide, or life is vain" living life without Christ by our side truly is living in vain. so get on your knees, get in the scriptures, get to work keeping the commandments, and get Christ by your side.

And here's the funny quote of the week, "when others would go out clubbing, we would buy milk." -Caroline Otieno, Ali's niece who's less active.

I love you all!
Love, Elder Cluff

March 1, 2017

Becoming More Bold

This week was a great week because it contained many instances where i saw something that i can do better at or do completely different, which is what i have been asking Heavenly Father to show me. One of those things that i have found i need to work on is being more bold and i have learned  that its not very hard to change things if you just pray and try to keep it on your mind. We have been teaching the Boons (the couple that got married the first weekend we were here) 3 times a week and really stressing church attendance a lot because they haven’t come the 2 weeks prior to yesterday, and their excuse was that they didn’t know how to take the bus and they don’t have a car, but we had explained how to take the bus multiple times. So before we met with them on saturday i decided this was an area where i could be more bold but i wasn’t sure how. I talked about it with Elder Murdock and we decided on a failproof plan. We met with them a few hours later and before we left i told them that we would call them tomorrow (sunday) morning at 7 to make sure they are up and then we  would be at their door at 8 so that we could all catch the bus at 8:30 and ride to church together so that there could be no question about how to take the bus on future sundays. We did just that and it worked. We all got to church, we all got back from church, and now they know how to take the bus! If i hadn’t prayed to be more bold and upfront with people i probably would have contacted bishop and tried to find a ride for them since they didn’t know how to take the bus, but now they know how to be self-reliant and get themselves to church without relying on anyone else. This may seem like a very small insignificant experience, but because they came to church and had to sacrifice a little to do so, i believe they will be more prepared to sacrifice portions of their lives for the Lord when they are called to do so. They will be getting baptized on the 11th of March so please pray for their strength between now and then so that satan’s power will be overcome by the spirit of the Lord within them.
Psalms 37:3-7 These verses have touched me this week as i have read them and realized that just like in Alma 37:36-37, as well as the sacrament prayers, it is telling us to remember the Lord and keep him a part of everything that we do. The idea of remembering the Lord in everything we do never seems very hard until we start applying it to our lives, and then for some reason it seems to become a heavy task to try and remember Him throughout the day. This is because as we are trying to open our front door and let the Savior into our lives, satan likes to run around back and see if our back door is unlocked. Because of this, we have to make sure that we are continually locking our back door by repenting, reading our scriptures and studying the Savior’s life, going to church to worship and partake of the sacrament to once again become clean, and praying CONTINUALLY for help and guidance from the Holy Ghost in our lives. Remembering the Lord can become easier and easier as we take part in these sacred things that God has given us. We can’t just try to remember Him on sundays or even once a day. We MUST try to bring the Lord back into our minds continually!
Do we trust in the Lord always? Do we delight in the Lord always? Do we commit our way to him always? Do we wait patiently for the Lord always?
He will bless us, He will carry us, He will guide us, and He ALWAYS loves us more than we know.
Well that’s all i really have for this week.

Love you all


God is Real and I Know It!

Alrighty, i wanted to start out this email with an analogy from an experience we had this week. We had the awesome opportunity on sunday to host a non member memorial service at our building after church. Bishop asked us to just stand at the doors and hand out the programs and bring plan of salvation pamphlets for people to take off the tables if they want. Well after it had started we got to just sit in the back and listen to family members and friends talk about Gorgia (the woman who passed away). The only immediate family that was there was her son and his family which consisted of his wife and 3 kids. Every time either his wife or one of his kids would start crying while they were up talking he would walk up and stand by them and put his arm around them, but he wouldn't say a word and he wouldn't tell them that they can sit down. He was simply a figure of comfort beside them. Often time i believe this is how the Savior treats us and helps us. When times get hard and we don't think we can keep going He walks up to us, puts his arm around us, and simply supports us without taking away the task at hand. He won't speak for us or make the task easier but he will strengthen us so that we can keep pushing forward.

  Having said that, the few days prior to yesterday i was having a hard time making my studies as effective as i wanted them to be and i felt like my teaching wasn't being led by the spirit because i didn't know enough for him to pull from. I prayed with as much real intent as i could find and asked Heavenly Father not to make me smarter or overload me with inspiration during studies, but i asked Him to show me that i am already capable of the work he has called me to do. I then put as much effort into my studies and my lesson planning as i could so that i could be ready for him to give me that confirmation and inspiration, but then all of our lessons canceled the next couple days and it was beginning to get a little discouraging that all our investigators were canceling. But we kept praying and setting up new appointments and then last night we weren't sure what to do at about 8:00 and we had almost exhausted our list of people to stop by in that particular area. It was then that we remembered a new investigator that we had found our first week and haven't really been able to meet with him since and we decided to go there. We talked to him for almost 20 minutes about scriptures we had and about our lives in general. We started to think that we weren't really getting anywhere with him but then he stopped and asked this question with a very serious tone in his voice, "So really, what do you guys believe in?" To which Elder Murdock gave a very well organized and profound answer which gave me the perfect opportunity to start talking about the restoration. The spirit flooded in and we were all touched by the things we felt, including Xavier (the investigator). I then felt that God had answered my prayers and had shown me in the most spectacular way that i am out here going about his work and i am in this area for a reason. 

       We had a trainers meeting last week and they brought up two scriptures that if we put them side by side presents us with a choice. Mosiah 21:16 "...they began to prosper by degrees.." and Alma 47:18 Lehonti received "..poison by degrees..." After looking at these two scriptures, what are we going to choose? Will we let ourselves be poisoned by degrees or are we going to prosper by degrees and become Men and Women of God who cannot be shaken in our testimonies? I pray that we will all choose to take the time and the effort to prosper by degrees and strengthen our testimonies little by little until one day we will be rewarded on high for our dedication and conversion to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Just a couple funny things to end my email. So first off, i swear there are more people in every house every time we go back to them. We always find people and its just like them and their little family and then the next time we go back there's like two more siblings or grandparents and then the next time we go back there's like a whole other family living in their basement, which is awesome because if you get inside one home to teach one person, all of the sudden you're teaching like 10 or 15 hahaha. 
And second is just a hilarious comment that a Brother in our ward made at the end of the memorial service while we were just standing in the back and noticed that Gorgia had been cremated. Brother Thomas leaned over to me and said "so does that mean cremation is my last chance at a smokin hot body?" i thought that was really funny but then we had to try to hold back our smirkish smile until everyone had left. 

Love you all!
Love, Elder Cluff