April 19, 2017

I Want To Be Obedient

This week was a wonderful week and a great growing experience. we had a zone conference on thursday and President Mendenhall gave a teaching at the end about obedience and the difference in just being obedient vs. being obedient and wanting to be. i felt that there were a few things that i have been obedient to just because I'm supposed to--not because i want to and so i made a resolution to find those things and do whatever it will take to grow my faith in that area enough to want to be obedient. So once the conference was over I went up to President and told him I want to be obedient. he told me i have recognized the key to success and then he told me "it'll be hard, you'll be tempted a lot, let me know how it goes." and i wasn't quite sure what he was talking about because I didn't see why i would be tempted more than i am now if i am just changing my mindset, but president's words were fulfilled and as i try to change and want to be obedient the adversary truly sees my actions and he uses many different road blocks and speed bumps to place in my path. It has been such a cool experience the last couple days though as i feel those temptations or self doubt, i am then able to turn to the Savior and ask him to take these things away from me so that i can accomplish His work and go find those who need me without delay and i have truly felt the power of the atonement in my life allowing me to forget about anything satan is throwing at me and throw myself into the work that i am out here to do. its not often a big relief in one moment or a lightning bolt striking away my fears or temptations but rather it is most often a subtle realization that what i was feeling hours earlier or days earlier is no longer there. The Lord makes us clean most often through cleansing with a spray bottle and a cloth, not a firehose. We have to truly want to be obedient to the Lord or else the immense blessings and miracles will not often follow. this is the Lord's plan so we must go about fulfilling it his way. 
          We had many wonderful talks and musical numbers yesterday in church regarding this easter season but one in particular stood out to me. it was a talk about the resurrection and one of the questions posed to all of us was "how can we prepare for our own resurrection?" that question really touched me and made me think a little bit more about this life and what i will do while I'm here to prepare for my own resurrection. what will i do to make my resurrection a glorious time when i will get to stand beside my brother Jesus Christ? How can i prepare my mind, body, and spirit so that i can take as much with me after this life? I don't really have much insight on that question because I'm still pondering it a lot in my own head but now you can ponder it too. 
           Another point during this week that stood out to me was when someone was explaining to us how there is always good and bad going on in our lives but we just have to choose which one to look at. It really is our choice whether to see all the bad in our lives or whether to look at all the good because we can't really do both at the same time. If we are so focused on the bad in our lives then we will hardly ever see the good and we will fall into all sorts of depressing moods, but if we choose to look the other direction and see all the good that's happening, all the tender mercies, all the miracles and all the love in our lives then the bad quickly departs and doesn't come back unless we invite it to. I love the hope and the peace that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings into our lives. it says in the prince of peace video "He offers peace to all who follow him" and i love the use of the word follow when we talk about the Savior because following is an action. it is something we continually do and the act of following is what brings the blessings. we don't just come unto Christ and then stop. we come unto Christ and then we follow him, we plant our feet in the same places he does and we look forward to the place he is leading us to which is Eternal life with our Father in heaven.  

Well, that's all folks!  have a great week and remember that we celebrate the Savior and His resurrection year round. it has Eternal value so why would we only value it in our own lives once a year? never stop believing, never stop pushing and wanting to be obedient. 

Love you all!
Love, Elder Cluff

A Fun And Busy Week

This week has been full of fun moments and tons of testifying, I believe that is just part of the reason it is so important to continually grow our testimonies because that is so much of what missionary work is. it is being able to truthfully testify to others that you have felt something in your life and that you KNOW that it can be felt in their life as well and that it can change their life because it has changed yours. This is not an easy task though. in order to testify to others you have to first find people to testify to, and then you have to be willing to put yourself in a position where you are going to feel uncomfortable and talk to these random strangers wherever they may be found. A great example of this from this past week was when we felt that nothing was getting done inbetween the hours of like 11 and 3 and we weren't sure what to do because no one was home and we didn't want to just go out and tract for 4 hours so we decided to take the bus around to the places we want to go because then as we are traveling we are also able to talk to others on the bus. I was all for this because no one likes tracting, but then once we got on the bus i felt so uncomfortable trying to talk to the person sitting next to me. nobody gets on the bus to meet other people unless they are weirdos like us missionaries and so i decided that i needed to come up with a reasonable question that i could ask on the bus before i jump into teaching, so i saw this teenage boy sitting a couple seats behind me and i got up, walked back to the row beside him, and asked him if he knew where a good place to eat was around here. He said no just as any teenager probably would and then i told him about the easter video and i just had friendly conversation with him about spiritual things just like i would with a friend. It was so cool to see that once we are willing and we come up with a plan, then often times, even if its not a very good plan, then Heavenly Father uses us and our small plan to bring about His mighty work and His marvelous plan. All we have to do is try our best and Heavenly Father sees that and he helps us.
         We met with Anthony twice this week and we felt impressed to stop teaching him things that will help him resolve his concerns but to instead give him commitments that will help him exercise his faith, take a jump, and find out for himself without us saying the same thing the last 20 missionaries have. so while we were brainstorming how to do this and what commitments to leave we decided that ever since he started being taught by the missionaries we have been beating around the bush with his concerns and not actually asking him to use repentance for what its intended and change his life, his point of view, and his heart. His biggest concern right now still lies within the Godhead Vs. the trinity and so we asked him to truly take moroni's challenge and ask God The Eternal Father, having faith in Christ his son, believing that he will get his answer from the Holy Ghost, because how can we expect to get the promised answer if we aren't even following the first steps?  He said this would be a hard commitment but he has been doing it for almost a week now and he is slowly progressing towards being able to truly pray that way in sincerity and not just because its a challenge. the second time we met with him he told us he still just has a hard time reading the Book of Mormon without his mind jumping to scriptures in the bible that he believes contradict the things we believe and the things the book of mormon teaches, and in companionship study the day before we had actually talked about that very issue he has and so we decided through prayer and study that we needed to change his course of action when he comes across these things. we told him that when he comes across things that don't make sense he needs to first get down on his knees and ask God to help him understand and teach him and then instead of looking for things in the bible to go against what we teach, go to scriptures that will uplift and clear his understanding of the doctrines we have taught. the inspiration behind this came from the several talks in conference that talked about how you have to first start walking down the path and then you will receive the confirmation that its the right one, and how is God going to be able to confirm to us that things are true if we are looking to disprove it? whereas if we are willing to take some steps to help us understand what we are being taught then God will be able to tell us we are on the right path and these teachings are right. God can't help us if we don't help ourselves! we all need to take the steps necessary to help God confirm to us the truth of the gospel in whatever area we are struggling. there is so much bad and evil in the world, if you look for things to go against the gospel you are going to find more than enough to make you question yourself, but you will never feel the Spirit of the Lord in those times. Now if we search for truth and light then the Spirit of the Lord will dwell upon us in such abundance that we will never deny the truthfulness of the things we have found and felt. 
That's about all i have time for today but i hope that as you read the things i write that the Spirit may touch your life the way it has touched mine through these experiences. i pray for you and your well being. 

Love, Elder Cluff

Arvada.... Plus the whole stake... plus Golden

We've been having a great time here so far! there's not a lot of work right now so we have been trying to meet with people who might know other people that we can teach. I cant remember if i already told you guys this or not but Elder Tonga was actually here with Elder Olsen before me so that was a pretty cool transition. I'm able to tell people here that i came out with Elder Tonga and that we had a blast in the MTC together and apparently he's told some of the people out here about me too so hopefully its all good things!
   So since we cover the YSA we have a HUGE area. Our YSA actually draws from 3 stakes-- Arvada, Westminster, And Golden. Golden actually isn't even in our mission (its in the south mission)  but we got permission to go there from our stake president and our mission president and none of the YSA missionaries have ever been there before so we get to be the first to go in there and gather together the flocks of YSA, plus Golden is where school of mines is at so there's a ton of college students that are way too smart.. 
      I have found it to be superrrrr helpful to be with an ex-AP tho because there's a lot of things floating around in the mission that the missionaries say is okay or approved but they really aren't. For example every missionary i have talked to up until this point has said that we are allowed to listen to disney music in this mission and when i got here i asked Elder Olsen if we could and he said that disney music has actually never been approved but missionaries just decide to make their own rules to abide by and then it spreads from there... so my ignorant disobedience has now been put to an end and i have already felt more confidence in our companionship and in my spirit as i have been strictly obeying these small seemingly insignificant rules or commandments. 
      We have one investigator, Anthony, who is actually taking things very seriously. He's only 24,  he's the coolest guy ever, he's been dating a super strong member for like 7 years, he comes to church every sunday, and he's read the book of mormon multiple times so he's doing everything right but he's been investigating for like 20 months and he just can't get past a few questions about things like the godhead not being the trinity, having a living prophet today, and there's a couple other things but its so cool to see the Lords hand working constantly in our lives and his to help him progress towards answering his questions. Elder Casta's talk in the sunday afternoon session of conference was so perfect for him because it practically paralleled his life and encouraged him to take the next step. 
     The Lord's love for us was shown immensely during this conference and there were so many talks that at least touched on the fact that we have to be all in. The time is now to straighten out our lives and give our EVERYTHING to the Lord. We have to constantly nourish our testimonies and we have to constantly listen to the spirit in order to have an unwavering faith in the Savior in these last days which are so dark and  brutal to those of us who are trying to stand firm in the faith and live worthy of God's blessings. 

    -The Cluff Tradition Continues-
So the other day we got a call from our Choir director Sister Heebs and she asked us to come to Choir practice yesterday because they are lacking when it comes to male voices; so we agreed, and Elder Olsen is like BYU vocal point material so we... He could definitely help out. So we showed up and we got about half way through practice and there was one part that she kept asking us to try again because it didn't sound right. "Not everyone was hitting the same note", so after 2 or three tries i leaned over and told Elder Olsen "its probably me, watch" and i didn't sing at all the next time we tried and then Sister Heeb said "thats perfect!!" and i just started kinda laughing in the back..But to make it even better we went to the Heebs house for dinner afterwards and she asked me how i liked choir and so i told her i loved it.... but i have absolutely no singing abilities and she told me that's not true. so we told her what happened in the middle of choir and why the note finally sounded right and then once she heard that she told me in a very sweet way "well maybe you can just move your mouth and Elder Olsen can make up for you" and i just started laughing once again and told her about how that's been a tradition in our family to be asked not to sing in choirs.

Well... that's it for today.. thanks for all the support and prayers! 

Love, Elder Cliff (everyone gets it wrong)