Monday, December 21, 2015

32 - A Savior is Born

Email address (preferred):
rachael.clark@myldsmail.net 

Mission address:
 Sister Rachael Geniel Clark
 California Long Beach Mission
 6500 E Atherton St.
 Long Beach, CA 90815


We have met quite a few people and a ton of new investigators for this week to teach and visit using A Savior is Born, it has been so neat! It never ceases to amaze me how a short 2 minute video changes the hearts of people we meet. Most of this week has been spent contacting on the streets and knocking doors.

We missed out on service due to moving. Our special downstairs neighbor finally made it too difficult to live on top of so we did ourselves both a service by moving just down the street. I have found that I'm not the greatest fan of moving an entire apartment.... Last couple times it was just my items into an already existing on. Our new one is almost exactly the same, only squeakier in different areas, better condition than the last, and brand new soft carpet. It also has us sharpening our parallel parking skills vs the other, which is the downside, but upside is we have peace and quiet finally. That last one is the best upside!

Debbie was feeling better this week so we sang some Christmas songs and other songs that my companions Sister Miller and Skelton like using for teaching in lessons. Her husband seemed more open and honest about changing and going to church one day hopefully soon, so that is super cool! I know that her example and baptism changed his heart and softened it. He even tries to teach his party buddies to come closer towards Christ in general, but got discouraged when they didn't want to like he did. He said to Debbie he is getting tired of the party life and wants to clean up, but needs time. He will come in his own time, and for now we just keep inviting.

Tiffany will be able to meet with us more often soon after her job lets her go for the season. She said it was stressful and it made her realize that her answer from God to which she should do (school or work full time) is to do education. She looks forward to going back to school, and it's amazing to see how our investigators' understanding and application of what we teach into their life and the blessings they experience because of it. We also got to teach David her brother last time with the A Savior is Born video. He looks forward to studying the scriptures with us and tentatively going to church and lessons.

Miracle of the week is when we were almost done with walking for the hour before dinner IN POURING RAIN getting soaked (because we didn't expect rain and wasn't prepared for it). We knocked on a door and Aarti and Diya her daughter invited us right in. We only said we were missionaries, and we were shocked that she just said come in, sit down at the table, and have a drink of water. It was almost as if they were expecting us! She is Hindu and said how she grew up in India where in her town they had many religions and was open to learning. She even recounted all she knew of Christ and it was amazing how she knew more about Christ than most Christians we meet! She even said she prays to Jesus when her prayers to the many 3,000 plus gods they have doesn't work. When she moved to america for her nursing and doctorate degree, she asked her mom what was the god of America was, her mother told her Jesus. She she prays to him, mostly. She told us how she yearns to learn more of any religion and that our badges with the church of Jesus Christ caught her eye. I can't wait to come back and teach her, she is so nice! She reminds me of DP, so brilliantly smart and humble to learn. She even pointed to us a great potential just serve project, it may not happen due to it being through a service agency, but we will never know unless we try and work things out with them through just service.

We did our Christmas songs in choir on Sunday. O Come, O Come Emanuel was my favorite song we sang.

I also loved a story someone shared. I wish I could recount it as wonderfully as it was written, but here it is. Hopefully you can find the original somewhere out there in the wide internet.

This story is about an art collector who also shared it with his only family, his son. They would go and find, buy, and display only the finest and world famous art in their estate. War hit, and later, his son went to war causing his father to be worried about him each day. One day a telegram came, and left him with a broken and empty heart just before Christmas that year. He would be spending that and every Christmas after that alone. His son was shot after saving a fellow soldier on the way to a paramedic station. Latter, that soldier his son saved came to the man. He told of how brave and honorable his son was, doing all that he could to save others and constantly brought them to the paramedics. He also said how him and his father collected fine world famous art. He presented that man with a painting of his son. Strikingly accurate, but no where near world famous or notable. That man placed it prominently above the fireplace and spent his Christmas and many years after looking at his son's painting. It became more precious than any that he ever owned. When the man died, he held an auction as stated in his will, of all his artwork. Many collectors and museums came to bid on the prized collection. First up was the painting of the mans son. The auction fell silent, and even complaints arose in the crowd, to move on and stop wasting people's time with the painting. No one wanted it, until finally one neighbor said he would part with 10 dollars, for it was all he had for the painting, since he was a close friend to the family. Once, twice, and sold. The auctioneer then said that the action was all over. He explained that the will stated that the ENTIRE collection would be given to the winner of the painting of his son, because he held it higher than any other. Millions of dollars of art meant nothing more than that man's son.

Just like this man loves his son more than anything else, Heavenly Father loves his son, and those who choose him over anything else will gain everything. This Christmas season, choose Christ, and you will have happiness worth more than anything else material this world has to offer.

Monday, December 14, 2015

31 - Same nice area, moving yet again

Email address (preferred):
rachael.clark@myldsmail.net 

Mission address:
 Sister Rachael Geniel Clark
 California Long Beach Mission
 6500 E Atherton St.
 Long Beach, CA 90815


We finished our last exchange this week with Sister Foster and Apple. We found LOTS of great people to teach and put in the area book for some day later to teach. It was so neat to see the change in people's hearts when we showed the video A Savior is Born. One lady was VERY firm in her beliefs and was adamant she didn't need any more teachings of Christ because she was set. After talking for a while she shared her story of triumph over breast cancer and how we can use those trials to bring others to Christ, and she said she would be willing to watch our video. Then she even agreed to be visited by missionaries in her area. SUCH A CHANGE! I saw this many times as we shared the video and/or talked with them for a while. We also get invited back on occasion to be taught by Jehova's Witnesses, but that won't be happening ANY time soon.

I got to teach quite a few lessons to bilingual families who sadly we had to pass on to the Spanish or YSA wards. I know it's a big help to them finding people, but its sad when you have to pass them on. If things fall though on the Spanish or youth side, we do get them back for the English and family wards, though, but I hope that doesn't happen as fun as it would be to go back to teaching them. It was so neat to see the hope that our message did bring to people that were going through divorced parents or uneven parenting in the home. I love being sort of like Santa, bringing joy to all the world, only we get to do it with the gospel 365 days a year!

Tiffany got a job at Walmart seasonally, so we haven't had a chance to visit her, but other than the stress of a job and juggling child care, she is doing OK, but I know that she misses church and friends at church instead of being stuck at work or home. We did teach her father. He was drunk sadly, but we talked while waiting for Tiffany to come home. He had to be the most miserable person on this planet. He was so deep in drinking long term and sorrow of the world that he refused to see anything good in this world or life in general. He even talked about suicide like crazy till we got him off the subject (though people saying stuff like that aren't going to any time soon generally if at all). Talking with him, it's truly like how the video "A Life Without a Savior" (the sister video to a savior is born). One can't force someone to feel happy or accept the gospel. It's God's gift of free agency, but some days it's discouraging to see that there are people feeling like that every day. Thankfully we weren't there long at all, and the spirit being felt when we testified was the strongest I have ever felt in a lesson. We were loving but VERY bold in declaring the truth as it is.  I just hope one day he will snap out of it and fix himself up and believe in God once more.

Good news is that I'm staying in Buena Park!!!! Bad news is that we STILL will be moving due to one obnoxious downstairs neighbor who breaks all the rules and blames us for the darnedest things. She finally stampeded up the stairs (and we knew it was her because NOBODY goes up the stairs that loudly) and tried to get us to listen to her rant on and swear at us late at night. Because we ignored her, she called the police who were winking and almost laughing at the situation as they came to tell us to be quiet, then left us to listen to her rant. Because of that, and the fact that she WILL call till we get removed (or any future sad person who lives there because she is an unhappy person) we are moving. People like her need the gospel and learn to be happy with life and others. I thought this would be my first time without being moved and packing up, but I guess not... At least it's clean to move out.  The rest of this week will be spent partly looking for apartments hopefully nearby and moving. Just another interesting story for the mission book I suppose.

Other than that, its been an eventful and spirit filled week.

Monday, December 7, 2015

30 - Very merry at Knott's Berry...Farm gift shop

Email address (preferred):
rachael.clark@myldsmail.net 

Mission address:
 Sister Rachael Geniel Clark
 California Long Beach Mission
 6500 E Atherton St.
 Long Beach, CA 90815


Things are going very well this week. DEBBIE GOT BAPTIZED!!!!! Her family came too, except one son. She got a pretty dress to match her husband's light brown suit, and everything went real well. We got double booked for the font, somehow we all picked the EXACT same time to use the building as 3 other groups so we had to take turns..... and we thought we were avoiding everyone else. She also got confirmed the next day on Sunday and Mary was there too for her since she missed the baptism. It was her hope and dream to make it here despite all the initial opposition she received from family, and she hopes that by her example, her whole family will all join and get baptized too. She was glowing and so happy. One of her daughters even said afterwards that she seemed different and even smelled godly and like church. We all had a good time and we had refreshments made from a potluck of all the other events leftovers, ours and the other baptism going on that day.

Tiffany got a job and has been sick the last week so we haven't had a chance to see her much, but she still is determined to be baptized. The only thing in the way now is possibly work and her fear of water, but she is still stubbornly determined which is good.

We met Mario, a youth that lives a few houses down from Tiffany. He is a former who Sister Vandevelde and Skelton had to drop and give him some time. We went with Brother Dortheo's brother's son who is going to Hawaii on his mission in a couple months, so for now, he is going to lessons with us. They have become pretty good friends, and although he couldn't make this week to church, he said when we first saw him that he was wanting to come to Church again and take the lessons again as well. He said life was different without it and missed it. He has been taught for a LONG time, but slowly but surely making his way towards baptism.

Mary Lou is still interested in us visiting and having lessons. She has lots of questions still, but isn't quite ready to commit to a date to work towards for baptism, which is OK. She is so cute and funny. I like her a lot and am so glad we are still able to teach them since they live in the elders' area. Brother Dortheo and her make such a cute couple. I hope Brother Dortheo will pull through his medical troubles and is able to go off of dialysis soon, that is never any fun.

Mary Lou gave up literally everything to be with him and did so knowing in full she would have no job coming here, no car, no house, wouldn't be able to see her family or friends as much. She would even have to care for him until he gets better. That just shows devotion and dedication that is missing in marriages these days. It gives me hope that not all marriages end in divorce or should end in divorce like many people these days say they do.

The Dalogates are on vacation and so is Sister Fox, so we did some more knocking and street contacting this week and found some more potentials for the area book which is cool!
Our goal for this week is to find new people to teach and share the #A Savior is Born video with. My own goal is to find at least 1 person per street for the area book. I have been working hard at a new way to organize the book that is similar the the way I have previously done in Cerritos and Ocean view, so it's keeping my mind busy during my lunches and free time of the day. I don't mind so much, it really helps me know who we should focus on since planning time just isn't long enough to find people.

Today I went to the Knotts marketplace just outside the Knotts Berry Farm and had fun looking through the gift shops briefly. I got a couple small souvenirs for my time here in Buena park. I had been looking forward to going there since Sister George told me about how we can visit the shops on P-day and was happy to hear it's still OK to visit briefly there on P-days.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

29 - Temple day in LA. Rhymes

Email address (preferred):
rachael.clark@myldsmail.net 

Mission address:
 Sister Rachael Geniel Clark
 California Long Beach Mission
 6500 E Atherton St.
 Long Beach, CA 90815


I had a temple day today which was fun, this time we went to the 5:30 session with Sister Pumell, she is a sweet lady from England who is single now after her husband passed away. She always bakes traditional English food, its so neat! I love talking with her about her childhood in England and what life was like during the war and things like that. The other sisters fell asleep the whole car ride over, and hour and more ride to LA, such bad traffic. We had just over 100 missionaries from 3 zones going all at once, so we filled over half the massive rooms. (Elders out numbered us 10 to 1.)

This week was interesting with so many emergency visits to the Whittier sisters for my STL companions, I just came along for support and because I had to. Lots of broken down cars after dark and sadly Sister Lindow still remained sick after 5 weeks out in the mission with only a weeks worth of feeling well, so she had to leave for home. Sister Foster will get a new companion, so I hope I don't get ET'ed. I love Sister Foster, but I love the ward and people and companions I have now so much. That and I am tired of packing up each transfer and moving.

Thanksgiving was very fun. We had dinner with a Filipino family in the ward who cooked us a big dinner. We had fun afterwards talking for a while about thankfulness and also Sister Vandevelde loved discussing about her future career hopefully which is early childhood prevention therapy (I think its called), and with how she loves working with people, especially kids and teaching. The sister we had dinner with has an autistic girl who they shared stories about. She loves singing and is very good at it too, possibly due to her autism being high functioning. She would pop in and out of dinner and would show us her artwork. I was impressed with her skills considering all things. Most of the night was spent with her. The rest was briefly with Sister Fox and her family, then weekly planning (so we wouldn't be out later bothering families during dinner or out with all the Black Friday madness). The biggest chunk of that day we had a specialized training that day (so we wouldn't be sad missing family, possibly wasting time at members houses, or eating 3 or more dinners that day.... or that's what I could figure at least). We saw the new Christmas video they put out about a savior is born and also went over how to better use our time with finding. Lately the missionaries in general have been using referrals and the area book almost exclusively making many people get upset when you see them and you find out you're not the first set of missionaries that stopped by... instead you were the 3rd or even 7th to visit and they aren't to keen to listen to us. So we have been focusing on finding the hard way, by your own efforts. I have been wanting to do this for a while but none of my companions would agree to do it and said that it was a waste of time when we had more likely names to go by.... NOW its acceptable if president says it. Funny how that works out.

We in one day followed President Tew's advice and found from scratch the whole day almost and found 3 people on one street, each leading us to the next by way of referrals. That was so neat and showed what happens when you plan well, follow the spirit, and ask for referrals even from non members. Two of them we had to pass on to other missionaries due to language and age, but that just means we will get more in the future some other day in return.

We helped Sister Brown move more of her house slowly into boxes then next door. She gave us some clothing that didn't fit her and she had lots of excess of so that was fun to go through. Most doesn't fit me or anyone, but it can fit some of our investigators though who are in some need of skirts or kids clothing possibly. We also did service at the park Anaheim Medical Center and listened to beautiful Christmas and piano music and colored with patients and talked. It was way more fun this time because most were out coloring and wanted to talk, other times there is more rowdy music playing on the radio that we can't control and many people aren't around to talk to. I wish we could go there with the piano player every week.

Debbie is Super Close to baptism, Next Saturday for sure. Her husband might come and her oldest daughter who really wanted to come got the day off! She is so excited and is especially excited to visit the temple visitor center again during December. We now got permission to go with them with a member now! SO EXCITING! Not to any events, but to the visitors center which is something! She said she didn't want to leave the temple grounds or the center. She can't wait for next year when she can go into the temple itself.

Tiffany is also progressing real well. Still afraid of water, but she is determined and despite her families daily persecution for her joining and feeding her false things about the church, she still is going strong, and now we don't even have to ask her to come to church or activities, she just says shes going, and to also see her friends from the ward! I love it when they do things without us asking, it makes our work so much easier and for them, a much stronger testimony and love of church and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Dortheos are going well, and we even saw them at church. They are slowly but surely coming back into activity and towards baptism for the wife. They are so nice, especially with all the things they have had to go through.

It's been a good week so far, and my companions and I have had a much better week after shaking off the tiredness, lack of energy to work, and sorrow after Ana's death. It hit my companions harder than it hit me, but still it wasn't fun losing one of our most promising investigators. Mario made sure to mention us in his speech at the funeral and after a brief visit to see how he was doing after giving him some space to mourn, he seems just a little more promising to letting us come back and teach him. I know no matter what, Ana's being taught on the other side and must be loving it!













Monday, November 23, 2015

28 - Unexpected exchanges and Christmas lights

Email address (preferred):
rachael.clark@myldsmail.net 

Mission address:
 Sister Rachael Geniel Clark
 California Long Beach Mission
 6500 E Atherton St.
 Long Beach, CA 90815


Things are going pretty well this week, we had some interesting exchanges with my previous companions Paw and Culala. They stayed in our area and their other companions went with one of my companions. We even had to temporarily exit the mission to get to where one of the Sisters lived because there isn't any other way of getting there without spending an hour or so more and getting lost in our mission. it was interesting, but we got full approval to do it.

We helped move Sister Brown some more into her new home next door and did lots of craft projects with the elderly for service this week. It was fun! As usual with the crafts I went away from the intended project and got creative. Next week I will put pictures of what I did. My camera was dead this week and I grabbed the wrong batteries.

We got to teach Mary Lou, a wife of a less active who came from the Philippines to be with her husband while he is on dialysis. She is in the Elders' area, but we were asked to see her. She loved our lesson last week and asked for us to come back again, I am so excited to teach her more and if Brother Dortheo is up to it, we will be doing less active lessons at the same time.

Brother Dortheo (who lives near us and is brothers with brother Dortheo, very confusing) couldn't come to this last lesson, but we got to have a dinner with his wife and teach about the book of Mormon and she shared some very wonderful spiritual experiences. I can't wait to share about the tree of life with her, I'm sure it will make her happy!

Debbie is still chugging along with faith despite less support than we had hoped from her family. At least her mother in law with dementia loves coming to church with her and her two year old daughter still. Sadly she was sick most of this week so we didn't have many lessons. We keep her in our prayers along with everyone else we teach. They are so strong!

We visited with Jessica, one of the elders' recent converts from a year ago had us over for dinner, and I got to hear her very inspiring conversion story. She said she was given a Book of Mormon long ago, and she always saw the elders on bikes and wondered what we were all about and why they wouldn't talk to her. Latter she was contacted again, and she was going through a hard time in her life and was seeking earnestly for answers from God. She took the lessons and now is a member. It gives us courage that not everyone we meet on the street isn't going to turn us down. Often there are those who wish we would talk to them, we just have to stop and do it!

Tiffany is progressing very well and hearing her testimony has been so neat. She is growing more and more with each visit, and often she asks us questions that we even ask ourselves. One recently is why there isn't just one church on earth to make things easier. Our simplified answer is that people make it complicated, and they find the truth hard to believe, so they stray from it and choose another path that is more pleasing to hear about and allows them to continue in their ways. I have seen it in the book of Mormon while reading these past months many times, and it continue on today. Its the same thing that is happening with the new changes in our own church on policy to help maintain the rights of parents. Daters are going to be haters and leave no matter what. It's just one way the lord is shifting and refining the hearts of the people. There will be no couch potatos in this church, as brother Rex puts it. If they are, they will inevitably fall away. One must keep holding on and strengthening their testimony to continue on. We are like a musical instrument, if one has a violin, one must keep applying rosin on the bow, tightening and loosening the strings and bow hairs to keep it in tune and working properly in addition to regular maintenance. If one becomes complacent and treats baptism as the means of an end of personal growth and commitment, they will fall short and fall away. If they forget to apply daily prayer and scripture reading to their day, their day isn't as good as it could be, and with enough time, they will lose that important daily communication with God and answers to prayers. For the violin, it means you won't be able to play beautiful music with it, instead it will be difficult to play and sounds disharmonious to what others sound like. It also becomes worthless to play with until it is put into correct tuning. Same, too, with people in many different ways.

Anna passed away sadly, but she went peacefully and with family surrounding her like she wanted. We sang for Mario her husband and her family who where their afterwards. I am sad I never got to meet her, but I know as we sang, she was there in spirit. The family said that our singing made her so happy and lifted her spirits when she was in bed and in pain from the cancer that spread through her whole body. He said it was one of the greatest gifts we could have given her and the family. I know she will continue on on the other side with missionaries there. I just hope after a while passes, Mario will continue with the lessons like she wanted him to do, it was her last wish. Anna had some much faith and courage! I hope to meet her some day.

Not much else going on here other than some very dedicated people with computer systems and millions of Christmas lights putting on a show with music. One man talked with us for a while and said he spends 3 thousand dollars a year on fake snow, rental lift for the sleigh display, and electricity! Its his only hobby and he works for a computer systems company so he loves doing it and especially loves doing it for the kids and occasional elderly lady who sits in front of it in her wheelchair for hours a couple days a week during December and end of November when he has it running. I never saw so many cords in my life and electrical boxes too!

Monday, November 16, 2015

27 - Covered with a blanket statement

Email address (preferred):
rachael.clark@myldsmail.net 

Mission address:
 Sister Rachael Geniel Clark
 California Long Beach Mission
 6500 E Atherton St.
 Long Beach, CA 90815


Things are going well this week. We are finding fairly good investigators almost every day here, such a difference from 1 hour south of here in Huntington Beach.

Debbie pushed back her baptism date to first Saturday in December, which is for the best with some family things going on, but she is still ever faithful about being baptized. She is also excited to go to institute and possibly getting a calling at some point teaching the children or youth about the gospel when she is in the church a little longer since she almost became a youth pastor years ago. I hope she does, she is very bright and spiritual, I love that about her, and she never gives up on her family or marriage no matter what bumps in the road come her way.

We haven't had many chances to go by our other investigators more than once due to illness or something coming up, but so many people we find are so excited to learn, or are at least very curious about what we believe. One who lives nearby loved the lesson we had with Rex, one of my companion's, Sister George's, recent converts who gave up literally everything after working towards becoming a priest in the Catholic seminary after 6 out of 7 years of schooling. He knew it was true and the seminary kept trying to stop him from getting lessons. The other day he told us his experience after teaching with the Elders one time and got into a bible bash on accident and said he knew everything he said was absolutely true and even what he learned from seminary years ago too, but he didn't feel good afterwards and like the Spirit was there. Its interesting to see how in true he is to the spirit to be able to tell that. After that he now knows why we don't bible bash. Its fun to see how new converts see things for the first time. He loves coming out with us to teach people with a catholic background. It was fun to have him there and our investigator was excited to hear what he has to say since he was the same religion as he is at one point.   

Sadly many people give us the blanket statement that we believe what we grew up with and don't understand them or have no right to try and say things. It's real sad. If they truly understood the gospel of Christ they would know that we ALL have to be converted of our own free will. Just because we grew up in the church doesn't necessarily mean any one person will believe it or follow it by their actions. I had to at one point do what we ask of our investigators and pray and ask Heavenly Father if it is true and have a testimony of my own just as any convert needs to.

Sister fox is staying strong for the most part and is almost completely reactivated, it's so neat. Hopefully we can help her on the way back to the temple too!

Dianna, who is Sister Vandevelde's recent convert, is also on her way to the temple. While she can only do baptisms for now, she is still excited. Also she is getting married real soon so that's an exciting and stressful time for her too. I knew things will work out well for the both of them!

Sister Skelton and Vandevlede have had their hands full with many STL meetings, trainings, and having to do a training almost every week. Even singing for one of the 70 who is coming. We also did our first two exchanges, both I have been used as a driver for Sister Skelton and her companion. The first, we had to take our car in for a recall (Fords here seem to get recalled one or more times every transfer, it's annoying!) and had to take half a day off for just the car, then we had the other transfer  at a big zone service project with the La Palma Days veteran parade. We at first were with the police helping barricade the street and making sure no one crosses it. Some one even ignored the sign, us, and a police officer and got chased down.

Half way though we switched and were on registration and helped organize people in lines and their spots according to their category. The left side of the road was VIP's and car floats, the right side was schools, bands, and kids groups. It was sort of like being at the top of the funnel, and at the end of the street, organizers would let them out on the parade route when it was time in coordination to the kids groups coming out across the street. Sadly, we couldn't watch the parade like the other missionaries since we were at the front, but we had to because I had to leave early to help out Sister Lindow in wittier since she got the flu real bad. It was interesting to see haul behind trailer floats instead of the fancy car underneath floats we have in Utah. One of the announcers there was from the Anaheim mission area and told us his daily missionary experiences. He loves missionaries and gives out Book of Mormons whenever and wherever possible which was cool. His daughter also lives near where I live back home so that was neat. It's a small world!

Its been a hectic busy week, but fun! We taught every night and found quite a few new potentials and investigators. Now just to appease our crazy below us neighbor who bangs on the ceiling night and day for just tip toeing around the apartment! (Sometimes when we are even just sitting for a while and she bangs for no reason, we joke that she is upset she hasn't heard about the gospel in awhile and wants to join in on our gospel study circle.) Whenever new Sisters come for exchanges, she makes a fuss and makes sure they know she exists!

Monday, November 9, 2015

26 - Future baptisms and mothers

Email address (preferred):
rachael.clark@myldsmail.net 

Mission address:
 Sister Rachael Geniel Clark
 California Long Beach Mission
 6500 E Atherton St.
 Long Beach, CA 90815


Things are going well in Beuna Park. I got moved in already and found we have to tip toe around our apartment because of the local dramatic downstairs who says we stomp around everyday and will yell at our door if we walk. Thankfully she hasn't appeared at our door yet.

We have three investigators that have baptisms coming up within this and next month.

Debbie is a sweet mother who we get rides to church every week with her two year old daughter and mother in law who has dementia (I like her, she is so nice and funny). She sadly doesn't have the most support from her husband, but she is trooping on in faith with or without his support towards baptism. She even came to a baptism in our zone and was crying the whole time and felt the spirit so strongly and loved every minute of it. They even played some new Mormon messages while people were changing clothes and they were so touching, I loved it. She is so prepared and wonderful, I am so excited for her. She has gone through so much adversity, and still is, but she has so much faith. Our miracle with her was each week we have to call around for a car seat so she and her daughter can go to church, but the other day just before going to her home before church, we saw a booster seat that would work for her by a free pile (here they pile up free things instead of taking it  to a good will, sadly. On a mission we have rules against most things we can get from there). That has been termed by my companions "car seats from heaven."

Tiffany is a wonderful mom with her 16 month old son and is so excited to meet people, have fun with the ward, and wants so badly a loving and supportive father for her and her son. She was pretty excited as well with learning about the temple and sealing together families for eternity, she wants that so badly for her and her son. She also is excited to try out a little family history that hopefully I will be able to do some with her in the family history center.

Jocelyn is over 8 and is excited as well for her baptism. She is so smart and very quick to understand the lessons, even though many things are hard for older people to comprehend in such a short amount of time. Her mother who is less active is also excited for her and still has such a wonderful testimony and was helping her learn and teaching her along with us in the lessons, it was so neat to be with both of them.

We have taught lots of wonderful people just street contacting and most people around here will listen to you or take a card, which has been so nice.

I love visiting Sister Fox, a reactivated less active who I got to meet on exchanges last transfer, she is so nice. She going into surgery today so I hope she is doing alright. She is the best and is so nice. She hopes to get back to the temple so I look forward to possibly doing family history work with her some day!

This ward spoils us rotten with dinners, which is real nice and I love getting to know everyone. They are real fun and unique here in Buena Park.

I get to every now and again drive the car though when we do splits which is nice since it's limiting when you only have one driver in the companionship for STL'S. Sister Tew went with Sister Van Develde and I was with Sister Skelton. It makes things so nice when we have so many people to visit and it's hard to schedule things around STL work.

Other than that it's been a fun and interesting week of trainings for my companions since they are STL's and I got to help out with serving food for the new missionaries and trainings. Either way its been fun for the most part with so much work to do and chances to share the gospel. Not so much in the way of service here, only the old folks home, but even our chance this week was fun decorating for Veterans Day and Thanksgiving. I got to watercolor a more realistic turkey which was fun and relaxing, so many patients there had fun watching me too! Though I do miss my watercolors and paper. Crayola and construction paper is a hard medium to work with, but it made it so I had to get creative! In the end they put it up and asked me to sign it too. Sounds like it's a keeper!

Monday, November 2, 2015

25 - 6 months

Email address (preferred):
rachael.clark@myldsmail.net

 Mission address:
 Sister Rachael Geniel Clark
 California Long Beach Mission
 6500 E Atherton St.
 Long Beach, CA 90815


Its November already and almost 6 months since I have been on a mission. It feels like a month or two, not 6; so crazy.

This week Sister Culala, Sister Amulanga (Westminster sister) and Sister Lampson (beach sister) wasn't feeling so good so we weren't able to work in our area much and I was sent to work in other areas to help out. Its been a week! we also did tryouts for the departure fireside that was yesterday and Got IN! that was so great since none of us had a solid enough investigator to get us in and Sister Culala and I were close to a few missionaries that were leaving. So many Polynesians were leaving this time so flower lei's where EVERYWHERE, LOTS OF THEM! so pretty!

I also got to help out at the American homes place detailing the kitchen and pantry. The pantry was the most fun since it was boxing and sorting (and on occasion wiping off spilled soaps and stuff, they get all the damaged goods that stores can't use and give them to the homeless) They loved the organization system I made for them, lots of boxes with what's in it written on the sides so its easy to find what you need! They employ and help house homeless and low income families and individuals, only thing is that they have to work towards getting themselves out of poverty with classes so they don't abuse the opportunities they give! We also helped prep the oven and grill for thanksgiving, I never knew how to deep clean an industrial oven/stove so this was both neat and intimidating. After 4 hours though we were ready to be done and get to missionary work.

We helped out at Shipley's again, more coyote bush trimming, this time we were by the pond and clearing a view so people can bird watch there. We also found a perfectly preserved bird's nest from who knows how many years ago. We gave it to the center and they have it on display now. They said kids on school trips LOVE seeing them.

Secret Garden was still closed while they are putting down and letting the path cure so people can use it. It's some kind of recycled natural soil product. Looks good though, a lot like sand. No Suzan's garden either; they had us go to Bolsa Chica wetlands. Sadly I forgot my camera, but we pulled out with a couple dozen other school volunteers Russian weeds. I don't know exactly what it is called, but I know it's an invasive Russian plant that is thorny, is very prattle when pulled on, so it's hard to eradicate out of there. I did get a few shells though.

All our appointments this week cancelled so it was a slow week. Thankfully that meant we could visit a few members and get Sister Culala home to rest sooner when she wasn't feeling so great. It all worked out in the end!

One neat thing I did get to do was go through TONS of old ensigns from the early 80's to present and look through the articles. I kept quite a few because I loved them so much. Lots of great ones for scripture study and resources, history graphs to help me get dates, places and events correct, ones on family (which also helps with council on how to get along with a missionary companion), the Savior's life, ones to read when I am having trouble or feeling down, and powerful talks to help me grow spiritually.

The historical ones on the Bible really helped grow my testimony. The more I read about the teachings of early Christian leaders just after the great apostasy started, the more it gives me a firm belief that this IS the exact same church Christ founded, and the beginnings of Catholicism and on to other churches. So many Christians in general I wish knew this, if they did, they would realize how corrupted things have slowly become over time. Thankfully, some truths still exist, but it's far and few between now days. This last Sunday I saw a church at one of the libraries nearby that rents on Sunday the auditorium. I won't name it, but it was so sad to see them set it up like a movie premiere with a photo wall, red carpet, and drinks sold at the door.

I can see now more clearly why they say that studies show that the more someone is learned of their faith outside of the LDS church, the less they believe in it and end up turning away. On the other hand, the more learned anyone in our faith, the more strongly they believe in it.

Halloween was spent deep cleaning the apartment. For me I attacked the bathroom. Now it's all clean. FINALLY, white and sparkly, mold completely gone, calcium deposits are gone, too (that was the toughest to get rid of). I found I really like hydrogen peroxide containing products. They do the work for me so I don't have to work so hard and feel tired. The training afterwards was on OBIDIENCE, much needed in our zone, nothing serious or bad, but the few tiny small things add up, and we have a lot of new missionaries that are learning bad habits that we need to stop right away. Unauthorized mini exchanges and phone calls to other missionaries outside their district, and a little on music. I had some part in a couple, but mostly because I didn't know about them either, that and if my companion is guilty, I am automatically guilty. Next transfer I will be happy to not let those happen ever again, I for one wasn't happy about decisions made without my knowing.

Transfers are here, and they are closing our area. There are many reasons why, but mostly there just isn't enough work here and God needs us elsewhere. I will be going to Buena park! I will be with the STL's (they are over Cyprus and Cerritos this transfer). It will be so odd to be with the STL's and forever exchanges, but it will be so cool to be in Cyprus and visit on occasion Cerritos again, I miss that zone so much! I will miss some members and Johnny and Linda our investigator and internigator. I honestly didn't have enough time to get to know many people, and many didn't care that much to get to know me anyways, with exception to a few who loved us so much and obviously I will miss them a bunch. The cars really helped with Sister Culala with shipping her things home since the Filipino shipping center was outside our mission, just barely. They are taking her to Whittier in the Pickering ward. I will miss the Days as well, they were the greatest missionary family ever, and I was so happy to spend some time with them while I wasn't feeling good last week, sad for that reason, but they were so neat. Brother Zeragoza, our actively less active and his funny neat police stories and always wanting to feed us missionaries (he really loves to do that to any missionaries). He loves them all, but no members, so the ward relies on us with them a lot. I hope he goes back some day with missionaries after us. I can tell he wants to, it is just in the right time I suppose.







Tuesday, October 27, 2015

24 - Judging chili and a costume contest!


Email address (preferred):
rachael.clark@myldsmail.net

 Mission address:
 Sister Rachael Geniel Clark
 California Long Beach Mission
 6500 E Atherton St.
 Long Beach, CA 90815


Things are going along. I got real sick this week. I'm doing better, mostly a seasonal cold and migraine combo Tuesday through Sunday. I spent most of my day either sleeping or when I did feel good, doing a visit or two teaching or doing service at Suzan's garden (the project was named this week, they hope to clear out the dead willow trees and in its place put in milk weed so monarch butterflies use the area as a wintering ground again (they used to come, but they don't any more and end up dying due to some bad weather years freezing them, illness/parasites, loss of milkweed they winter on, and unknown reasons....). It's amazing how much progress we have made. It looked like a windy patch of vines, weeds, dead trees and branches, odd articles of personal items and clothing thrown in, and decay. So many trees that four years ago when they first put in the majority of grasses and pretty garden arrangements have died off or are struggling to find any light beyond the suffocating canopy of passion vine and caster bean trees. Already they have perked up a bit after the work. It's so nice looking now, just to get rid of the rest of the pesky plants, then we can fill in things after. Half done already with things out! I did miss some hours of work we were assigned to due to illness too, but that's OK, there are lots of missionaries here who have been excited to get a chance to do it. We get priority since it's our area and everyone else has more service opportunities in their own areas VS ours.

We saw Sister Cathey, Austin, and her grandmother. She is getting along with her grandmother for the most part. We are hoping to do a half hour service at least once a week to sing to her grandmother so she can focus on work at home and have a breather from watching her like a hawk. I hope it works out! We watched a Mormon message on service called LIFT, it really helper her since she has the same feeling as many of the people who stepped up to the plate to help someone who isn't able to take care of themselves with mobility and other things. We always try to leave them all with a smile no matter what!

We have another investigator! We finally saw Wendi, the daughter of that very kind gentleman who gave us a neat wooden pen. We found out he is almost completely blind and deaf. Despite that she still works in his wood shop making things. It scares Wendi, and I would too if my family member was in that shape working with tools let alone power tools at that. She told us she isn't looking to convert, but her brother (I think) is Mormon, and she has a very basic knowledge of things. She is going through a rough time with her divorced husband and trying to stay secret from him and especially her boys from him. She definitely needed our message of the atonement and comfort of Christ. She accepted the book of Mormon we read from with her and said to come back again, but not to be sad if she doesn't convert. Quite a miracle find since I stopped for awhile in front of her home to take a brief break and rest my eyes that were hurting from some bright lights, and when we were about to go to the person we planned to see, we got to meet her. Heavenly father will ALWAYS put people in our paths if we continue in faith and just be obedient. Sometimes we come back empty handed (which here seems almost always), but to Heavenly Father, it's his way to see if he can trust us another time with someone precious to teach.

We had the yearly trunk or treat and chili cook-off! Us missionaries were made judges (and almost everyone had to wear an awful orange hat with judge written on it. I lucked out since they ran out of hats). I was last to make sure I wouldn't spread what had this week. Lots of hot and sadly bland ones. The best we all agreed were the sweet ones (hot chili lovers liked the extra hot version more). In the end, it was all good. I was able to wear my sari (I think its spelled) from little India, minus the pants which I substituted with a red skirt. It was so close to what we wear as missionaries, only longer shirt with lots of patterns of flowers and super long scarf that I got away with it. (other Elders dragged out their super scary ugly ties... boy there are some winners there). It was fun!

Us missionaries decorated our trunk with a spider web that a member out of pity gave us and toilet paper to mummify our car with (since we don't have any funds to splurge on decorations) and gave out pass along cards after we quickly ran out of candy... after a short time kids stopped coming to our trunk for seconds on candy after they saw we only gave our cards. (I knew there were kids coming back for more candy, maybe I should do that when I go home for anyone who double dips homes). We also judged the trunks and costumes. Its been a while since I saw more store-bought costumes than homemade in a long while. Utah is definitely the land of homemade costumes, especially at conventions. The day kids made Hansel and Gretel and won best home made outfits, Peter Pan family made the best family outfit (which there were so many Star Wars groups it made it super hard to see who belonged to who so they sadly were sort of disqualified in most missionaries minds, their were some super good ones though). And scary went to a werewolf prom girl, and mine and everyone else's favorite was a pretty accurate minion from Despicable Me that some little kid was struggling to get around in since it was so dark near the end. He was so happy! He got best of show! So well made, creative, and life size.

One off my bucket list, be a judge for a costume contest. Who would have thought it would take for me to be on a mission? Oops forgot my camera, so next week stay tuned for photos of the fun I did have this week despite sickness.

Monday, October 19, 2015

23 - Conference horses

Email address (preferred):
rachael.clark@myldsmail.net

 Mission address:
 Sister Rachael Geniel Clark
 California Long Beach Mission
 6500 E Atherton St.
 Long Beach, CA 90815


It's been a busy week! Not much in the way of investigators, less actives, or finding, but in service!

We got a new service project which I'm not sure what they are calling, but its in the central park just north of the secret garden right by the park bench café that is infested with passion vine. THEY EVEN GROW INSIDE TREES! They are a menace, carpeting everything in sight and killing everything too. I was told they are dormant in their native environment and are quite peaceful plants, but something about here makes them grow and grow and never stop! We also pulled out linseed oil trees/plants. We were very careful with those plants because of the seeds and oil. Weeds as high as a building, and you name it was growing there. Sister Almulonga, my exchange companion for half the day, felled an entire small tree by herself. A couple of the other missionaries pulled out trees and branches making me and the volunteers in charge a bit worried with everything they tore out and down. I went to work with loppers and cut down the dead growth so only the living was left behind so everyone would not accidentally pull it out they were in such a dead state. I got asked a couple times if I was an arborist since I was so good at it and even said I should get my own pair and be put in charge of that. In all we cleaned up approximately 50sq feet of absolute jungle. We even got our pictures taken for the central park website and/or Facebook page!

A day earlier we did a district blitz and everyone in our district took names we provided of streets to go by and find people to teach or service to give. We came back with a fair good amount which is cool. It was sorely needed, and I made homemade chicken noodle soup with vegetables and cream of chicken soup with potatoes and chives for the lunch for everyone. it was real good!

We had to take our car in several times to the dealership. Every time they would call us to pick up because they figured out the problem, we then came to find out they needed us to drive with them to actually find the problem.... which we aren't allowed to do, so we went home empty handed. I feel blessed to have a car, except Chevy cars in general here cause so many issues that I sometimes wish I didn't have to be the missionary to deal with it.

We went to a less active lady named Debbie and Linda her non member roommate who has been investigating for quite awhile. They was excited for Sisters to teach them instead of always Elders. We talked about parenting, how we joined the church, and its influence on our lives. It was so neat also to meet their pets, most of which are cats who were rescues and a dog who was inherited from Debbie's aunt who passed away. They both met each other at work as a nurse and both their sons are in the military so they keep each other company, but Linda dog sits now since she is retired. We asked them to read a chapter in the book of Mormon, and I look forward to seeing them both again!

We also got to meet Sister Cathey's grandmother who has dementia, and she is really nice. We watched Patterns of Light video with David A. Bednar talking about the differences of the Light of Christ, the Holy Ghost, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I related it to a talk this conference about the really dark long tunnel where the Light of Christ is like a small light, but in that dark tunnel of life, it's very hard to get through on your own.  The Holy Ghost is like that friend who had that strong light that made it possible to get through the very dark tunnel, you had to stay very close to them to get along. The Gift of the Holy Ghost was like having that strong light for yourself. With it you can navigate the paths much more easily and can even help others get through it! The light of Christ is within every single person, its the force that compels us to do good and be good! I like the example in the video about this man who sees a mother with a stroller trying to get on a bus, and he feels that he needs to help her. Many say that they were just doing good, but I know that it's more than that. Her son also showed us some tricks with his mega yo-yo sort of toy since last time we ran out of time, and he is really talented with that.

Sister Culala and I had some rough patches, and both at some point hit a low spot with discouragement, but we are doing much better now and worked things out a lot more than before.

We got to be at stake conference with Elder Christofferson, one of the Twelve Apostles and one of the Seventy too! It was such a great experience. All of us missionaries waited till all the children came up and he even stopped me and talked very briefly with me after shaking my hand, that was so neat! It was packed! He talked about this child at a conference who just couldn't sit still and was most amusing to watch, not so for her parents, but he gave much encouragement to the adults of children like that, or soon to be parents to not give up. The effort they put into going to church despite the struggles, fights, running around, and mess is all worth it in the end! You could definitely tell on the stage way back in the cultural hall that some children were running about so that must have been much needed for those parents. President and Sister Tew came as well and got to have a short time to talk as well. Sister Tew talked about the basic principals of the gospel and living up to that as members. President Tew talked about his mission in Guatemala and the love for those people and now for here, it was very powerful! During this I decided to sketch in my small art book which helped me stay focused, so here are some pictures of ones I did at general conference and this Sunday (one was of a horse I took a picture of at the pony petting zoo that I liked). As much as I would like to draw things other than horses and nature, its just easier and looks better to do these from only memory.

One photo of the outside of secret garden, Westminster Sisters new apartment setting it up, and our apartment that is almost all cleaned up from the depths of dirtiness and making into a Sister's apartment with things I found here and there that work well together.







Monday, October 12, 2015

22 - Headless horseman waiting at the gates

Email address (preferred):
rachael.clark@myldsmail.net

 Mission address:
 Sister Rachael Geniel Clark
 California Long Beach Mission
 6500 E Atherton St.
 Long Beach, CA 90815


Got to go to Buena park on exchanges this week, SO COOL!!!! We got to go air mattress shopping since we have tons of new missionaries this transfer we are short beds for exchanges. I got to see Knotts berry farm theme park too! They had a headless horseman waiting at the gates to go in for knots scary farm for October! I was impressed, the horse wasn't even flinching with everything going on around him, a sign of a well trained horse for sure, and good anatomy of the bones painted on him,it was cool. The Sisters live right across the street from the park so we got to see the park quite often. I hope I get to go there again, it reminds me of Cerritos, only more East. I went with Sister Skelton and we met this lady named Bessie, a very nice gypsy lineage lady. At first she wasn't interested, but then after Sister Skelton offered to share a scripture she said yes and had us come inside (it was 117 degrees F both days there... and humid...). We shared one about the attributes of Christ from The Book of Mormon (I forgot the exact chapter and verse), and she said it described Christ. I shared the poem on Footprints in the Sand and Christ never leaving us, especially during our hard times, Bessie then started crying and her daughter too because she had been going through a rough year, hadn't gone in church for awhile and even thought about taking her life from pills. Her husband then walked by and asked what was wrong and her daughter said she was feeling the Spirit, it was so amazing! I almost started crying too, the feeling was so strong that I just wanted to hug her and let her know how much I cared for her even though we just met each other! She then asked about our church location and time and hopefully she will continue to learn and find the peace and happiness that learning the lessons and being baptized will give her. It won't fix everything, but it definitely helps! We went by several other less actives in their ward and I loved them so much too, that ward feels like home, it was sad to leave! We did get to have lunch at Portillos. It was neat because it was themed like a Chicago café from the 30's and 40's and is similar to Iceburg as far as shakes are concerned (many say they have good shakes but they taste like cold milk with flavoring, not good). Just pumpkin for me, regular flavors aren't that great around here I learned. It was so cool!

We got to teach Johnny again. Still not interested, but definitely OK about us coming over to teach him! It was so neat to feel the spirit as we recounted the first vision and he even sorta agreed with our teachings. I can definitely see him joining in time. Such a great experience! Especially since he is our only investigator.

Almost all the less actives bailed on us this week. Brother Zeragoza had an excuse since he got called in last minute to a court case and was on duty till late into our exchange so that's OK, I figured that was what happened. 

Its been an interesting week, we had a lot of people who we visited late because we have to work till 9pm. Needless to say, they weren't too happy to see us and a dog almost charged at us after bursting through the screen door. Gave us quite the scare and we agreed to only put cards at doors after 8pm for now on. People here hate us coming by later than 7pm because kids are going to bed, they themselves are sleeping, or they are busy.

Not much else this week, we did get to go to the beach, not the sand, but still it was cool. Dog beach was pretty! So fun to watch the surfers and dogs play in the water!

Finally got a photo of Amelia's baptism. I will try and get a better quality one soon, this one is a copy of a copy. Neat photos from this morning and some of the night time at our apartment one day. Nighttime ones finally and first of shiplies.
Till next week!







Monday, October 5, 2015

21 - Unpacking and wigging out

Email address (preferred):
rachael.clark@myldsmail.net

 Mission address:
 Sister Rachael Geniel Clark
 California Long Beach Mission
 6500 E Atherton St.
 Long Beach, CA 90815


Things are starting to settle down now, I finally was able to unpack all my stuff this week. Sort of. Sister Culala and I decided to spend free time on updating the area book to get to know the people more and try to find some people to teach. Most people here are the great fake out, smiles and all. They give them selves away first thing, which is irritating but also good because we know not to waste our time on them, but challenge them to do good and get a possible referral. Almost everyone around here who isn't Mormon is quite frankly rude and insulting, most laying traps and bait for a possible bible bash, but with the spirit guiding our thoughts and actions we avoid them easily, Its irritating though, I wish they would just leave us be. Most of the time they go out of their way to make a fuss, and one man while eating at a restraint openly was being loud and obnoxious and scared customers away from the place. We kindly asked if he would leave us in peace and respect us, but he kept bantering on about how we don't respect other people's belief's and won't just leave them alone... Ironic isn't it? Thankfully one man after that guy left said to us, "Did that guy wig out or what?" Then left and wished us a good day. The odd people you meet in long beach....

We haven't had any investigators this whole week. They either rescheduled for next week because of scheduling conflicts, or the new investigators we did find where not in our area so we had to pass them on to other missionaries. Without work to do, things get very discouraging, but we are staying positive that our area book work, as thin as it is, will lead us to more people.

We did lots of service at the Secret Gardens behind the library nearest to us (Central Park Library) and at Shipley's Nature Center! Mostly pruning to the ground bushes at Shipley's, but at Secret Garden we put stones in the garden beds for walking and the Elders put up broken concrete slabs that used to be the old path and placed them on top of another to make a wall around the flower beds and a pathway. It's so neat that Secret Garden a year ago was a wild and forgotten jungle of a garden, the city didn't do anything with it and it was fenced off so most people avoided it thinking it was fenced off for safety because it was literally so wild with passion vine (I think it's called that) that one couldn't even recognize the path. It was choked to death by the plant. Volunteers who loved gardening took it under their wing, and with missionaries' help they cleared out the vines and did their best to eradicate the pest (its an exotic flowering vine that's beautiful but deathly to other plants as it literally chokes them out, sort of like the vines in Jumangi). After that, they took the recycled concrete path out because people with strollers or wheel chairs couldn't go across it at all. It was so bad from years of tree growth and neglect that they then made it into path liners and foot tall paths (such a wonderful idea and SO pretty when finished). The next thing they did in spring was put in water wise native plants with color to invite pollinators in and welcome in guests to the forgotten garden. We were apart of the leftover branch cleanup, path placement, trimming, and beginning of butterfly garden creation. I'm so excited to be apart of building that! (At least I hope it will happen while I am there.) The people LOVE the missionaries and always let us know it's our garden more than anyone else's because of all the work we did. Without us, the garden wouldn't be where it is or even exist. Its interesting to think that without our help it would still be a forgotten patch of forest to this day. I didn't get photos this week, but next I will! It reminds me of the gardens I wondered around at grandma Bonnie's at the moment in some parts mixed in with the front flower bed of my home. So pretty, and full of butterflies everywhere!

The garden reminds me of what happens if a person doesn't have God,  "the gardener," in their life, its wild and choked out by the worldly things, while pretty and enticing they are, its bad for the good parts of them. Once they are cut back, rebuilt, and lovingly fixed up, they become something more grad and inviting than ever before. I am sure the plants hated, protested, and cried out in pain after being pulled out, uprooted, trimmed to almost a stump, and the only flowers it had taken away, but now one can see its better now than ever before. Trust "the gardener" and you will become better than you ever could have imagined!

General Conference was so good. I was extra surprised by the talks about women and our role in the church, and also about fulfilling our roles in these last days before Christ's second coming. It's coming now more than ever. As I study the scriptures and ponder the teaching, I can more clearly see that its completely true about our day, and it's an important time we live in. Ominous dark clouds of trouble are looming, threatening of danger and lightning drawing nearer and nearer, but those who know and follow the guidance from our prophet and apostles, along with praying and scripture reading, we have nothing to fear. If one has a sure foundation of things like a well built house, one needs not to fear the storms around us. It's heartbreaking to see others struggling in the storm, but they have their free agency to stay out and one cannot force them to the safety within. Its just hard to watch them. I try not to lose hope that one day they will see their surroundings for as they are and come in.