Week 48 -“Coolin’ in Cocula”

Hola!
This area is just too awesome. I am just ecstatic to be here. I love it so much. It’s super green and the weather is just a complete game changer. I’m sleeping with blankets at night. and sweats. It’s just such a blessing and I’m excited to be here.
Elder Barlow and I are getting along great. We are always doing something funny and messing around with each other. Its gonna be a fun transfer. We will only have this one transfer together because hes already been here forever. It will be a good six weeks. He’s loving it because we are obedient. Apparently his last comp wasn’t too obedient so he is just all sorts of excited.
This week we worked the whole week in Cocula. Which is weird for me I haven’t had an entire week in my area in a couple of months. I actually loved it and we were able to find a ton of new people to teach. One of them is named Antonio. He is married to the daughter of a pretty less active family that the missionaries have been working with for a while. His wife, Anahí, hasn’t been to church in years, but it will change. Antonio has loved our lessons so far and it’s been fun to teach him. I see a lot of potential in him. He is 20 and his wife is 18 and they just had a little baby. It is just a perfect situation for the gospel to work in them. I hope that they will choose to let it happen.
We’ve got a cool little branch in the area Estipac. There are two other missionaries there that just hang out with us all day every pday. Estipac is like 30 minutes away and that’s where the building is. The branch is really cool. I really loved Sunday. It was nice and calm and I really enjoyed it.
It’s been raining a lot here and I love it. It’s just really cool here. I cant get over it. It’s awesome.
I’d say that one of the downsides to Cocula is how Catholic everyone is. In my previous areas everyone has been catholic but nobody went to church or anything. Here everyone goes every single Sunday and they can’t imagine that there is life outside of the Catholic. We are just searching for the people that are ready.
I loved my first week here. I still feel a little weird. I dont know any of the other missionaries in the Zone very well, so I’m excited to get to know some of them. Hopefully we can start having some fun activities this week. I just love activities. Wholesome recreational activities.
I’m still loving the missionary life and I feel that the routine we follow has just become my life. It’s not weird to me anymore. I love waking up at 6:30 and studying the scrips. It’s the best. It’s another habit I would love to keep up after the lds mish. I’m loving how much I’m learning about myself and about this gospel. I know that it changes lives. We have to accept it and let it work within us and when we do it changes us. I’m just happy here. I know that that comes from the work I’m doing and the gospel I’m living.
I love you all. Have a sensational week.
Elder Cluff

Week 47-“I love that somehow we do hard things and little by little, hard thing after hard thing, we grow and change into the person that the Lord wants us to be.”

Hola!

Traaaaaaansfer Sunday! After almost an entire year in my zone, after four companions, tons of new friends, quite a new vocabulary, and a whole bunch of Mexico, I have been transferred. I got transferred to one of the cooler parts of the mission called Cocula. It is THE birth place of mariachi. It’s a little village but it is so pretty I love it. I loved driving into it. It’s all green and just like a breath of refreshing air after being in the hottest area in the mission. I feel great.

My companion is a stud. His name is Elder Barlow. He’s from Huntington Beach, California. The man is 6’9″ and I feel tiny walking next to him. But he’s a hooper so I’m sure we are gonna get along just fine. He has the same amount of time as Elder Koyle so it’s gonna be fun. I’m gonna keep being district leader so that will be fun. My companion has been in this area for what will be 7 months so the poor thing is gonna have to grind out another transfer. But he’s super pumped and excited so I’m happy.
We live next door to a panaderia (bakery) and the whole street just smells like Christmas. It’s awesome. Also the house isn’t nearly as bad as the one I was in. I think I won this transfer.

I’m really actually sad to leave Nayarit after a year. There are like certain sayings and gestures and stuff in that state that I wont use here and that makes me sad. I’m leaving a little piece of myself there, but I’m excited to start a new part of my mission here in Cocula.

The last month or so, as a mission we have been doing a Book of Mormon challenge. We have to write down on each page of the book something that helped us that day or sometime. I have learned so much and felt so much during this challenge. More than anything I have learned how the Book of Mormon speaks to me, and I think that is super important. It’s been awesome to see, and even more awesome to feel a bigger desire grow and grow to read it. I just pray every night that it can become a need in my life. Something I can’t go without. I want it to become a part of me so that when I come home it is a daily, constant thing. I have noticed that tons of missionaries stop reading the scriptures almost instantly when they get home and that’s just scary to me. I’m going to do everything I can to not let that happen and to get it engraven in my heart now.

I love the mission. Little things happen all the time that just make you love it. Like today I had to travel all by myself to a new area that I had no idea where it was. I was all sorts of stressed but somehow I did it. I love that somehow we do hard things and little by little, hard thing after hard thing, we grow and change into the person that the Lord wants us to be. 

I’m sure next email will be full of some crazy experiences and that my letter will be more interesting. I love this gospel and I’m thankful that it’s changing my life.

I love you all, have a good week!!

 

Elder Cluff

Week 46-” Our goal is simply salvation.”

Hola!

This week we just had a plethora of things going on. We started off the week with interviews with President. It was a great few minutes and he told me that I would be staying another transfer here in Santiago to continue being the Branch President. I expected as much. Then after the interviews, Elder Koyle and I had divisions with President. It was awesome. I was all sorts of nervous trying to get all prepared and stuff, but everything worked out so well and President gave us tons of compliments, so it was great.

Wednesday we took off to Guadalajara to have a little training and stuff up there. Elder Koyle and I got to ride with President and Sister Clayton in their van. I was just shocked with how strong the spirit was..even in their car… like it was strong, I loved it. We listened to album by Kurt Bestor and Sam Cardon. Fantastic. I think it absolutely nourished our experience. It was fun to ride with them though.

We kinda hung around working with different Elders in Guadalajara all week. We stayed with Elder Knight and Elder Taylor… my MTC comp and my trainer. It was wild. It was great to see Elder Knight again. I love that guy.

Elder Koyle and I discovered a restaurant called “Cuarto del Kilo” and it was just out of control. They sell these hamburgers that are a quarter pound (rough estimate) and just fantastic. I think we need one in St. George. Someone get on that.

Well we finally got back to Santiago on Saturday afternoon. It was good to get back into the area but absolutely scorching right as we got of the bus. In Guadalajara we were working in streets full of water up to our knees and it was cold as can be. I loved it. But it had to end and we had to get back to our humidity.

We got to have a good little lesson with Nadia after a few days without seeing her. She had read everything that we had assigned her and more. She has a great desire to know if it’s true. She says she feels tons of peace and love as she reads and that she believes that it’s all true. Shes so fun to teach because she understands the importance of it all. She asked us “Is it your goal to baptize me?” we assured her that it’s not. I said ” Well certainly we want to baptize you, because we want you to live as a family with our Heavenly Father again, and that’s our goal.” I loved it because the spirit just took it right to her heart. Baptism isn’t our goal, church numbers aren’t our goal. Our goal is simply salvation. She is doing awesome and we are developing a great relationship with her.

Sunday morning my comp and I showed up to the church early as normal to get everything ready. Presidente Arias (district president) showed up a little early too and informed me very calmly and quietly that he was there to give me a little break. I thought that meant help with the services and everything but NOO. The man released me.  I am no longer the Branch President. I feel great. It’s like a little burden was lifted off. But at the same time I’m sad! I loved being the Branch President. I had incredible experiences with the spirit and I felt a love for everyone! I’m all sorts of confused now on what will happen with these transfers next week, but I’m ready to serve wherever it is. I grew up so much in these last 6 weeks. I’m really thankful for the opportunity I had to help this branch.

Its been an eventful week, but a good one. I love the mission. It was fun to work in the city for a little and I’m thankful for the mission I’ve been assigned to. I’m so thankful to have the truthfulness of the gospel in my life. I’m thankful for the knowledge of a restored gospel, and I’m thankfulnI can share it. I’m thankful for a loving Father in heaven who allows us to go through refining processes so that we can become what he knows we can be. I’m thankful for a Savior who knows each one of us, who wants us to lean on him in times of need. I know that we have the guidance of scriptures and prophets that help us know exactly what we need to do to make it back to our Father in Heaven. I know that this is true, and I invite any of you who dont, to ask God. He loves you and will tell you through his Holy spirit. I love you all and hope you have great week.

Hasta la proxima semana amigos. Que esten bien. Cuidense mucho. Byeeeeeeeeee.

 

Elder Cluff

Week 45-“I love the gospel and it brings so much joy and helps us avoid so much heartache and anguish.”

It’s been just a stellar week and I’ve just been busy busy busy. It’s been awesome. We had a great 4th of July here. We made hotdogs at night and they were great but we are convinced that they aren’t actually real meat. We just chilled and had a great night and we were actually able to download Whitney Houston’s “The Star Spangled Banner.” So as we fell asleep, we had American liberty absolutely ringing in our ears. I fell asleep comfortable, and with a single tear rolling down my cheek. We just love America down here.

We had some type of activity every single night in the church this week. It’s good, but it’s really interfering with prime proselyting time. It’s good that we are busy, we just aren’t very busy with investigators. In the words of the famous but complete disaster Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, “it’s tough but it’s good.”

Moving on to the highlight of the week, we found a little family! About a month ago I started really feeling like we needed to teach the family that lives across the street from us. I didn’t really ignore the feeling, but I didn’t do the best I could. I just kinda said “hey we are missionaries could we share this message with you?” They replied with the norm of “oh let us talk and think of a day and we will let you know.” So I just kind of left it at that and was happy because I followed the prompting. Well this week I felt again like we need to teach this family. So I walked across the street and talked with the dad, Daniel. He said “oh we never set up a date what happened?” I was a little surprised because normally they don’t remember these kind of things. But then his wife came out and started talking to us. She was asking us all sorts of questions. She said “I’m Catholic but I just don’t agree with any of it. There is no reason to worship Mary, that’s against the commandments. And why do they baptize us so young, we dont even know what sin is.” We were just standing there in awe like whoaaa there hold on let us in your house!! We gave her the Restoration pamphlet and told her to read it and study it and that we would pass by again the next day. Well we passed by and they were all ready for us and had read the pamphlet and highlighted it and marked it and loved it. We taught them the whole first lesson and they loved it but they were just a little worried about the Joseph Smith thing. I LOVE when that happens because it shows to me that they understood what we just told them. But she said she really wants to know and she is going to pray and read and find out for herself. She was really happy and asked a billion questions and wanted to know everything. It was great I’m excited to teach them.

Now, for the sad part. Her husband works in Puerto Vallarta and he left on Friday to work for two months. If I would have acted faster and more diligently on the first prompting I had, we could have helped them progress earlier! But I also trust that the Lord has his own timing. We will see what happens.

I have had some strong feelings that I’m gonna stay in Santiago for a 5th transfer. Kinda like someone whispering in my ear. “hold on tight buddy there’s a storm comin” so I’m really thinking I’m going to stay. Which is exciting, but that will mean 7 and a half months here and 1 year in the zone. It would be incredible wouldn’t it?

Well that’s my week. Long but fast. I still love being a missionary. I love it. I wouldn’t change it for anything right now. I know I say this a ton, but it really is shaping me! I can see how it well help me so much as a father someday. I love the gospel and it brings so much joy and helps us avoid so much heartache and anguish. I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ speak to us through the scriptures and answer our prayers through them too. I have learned that and seen it in a very real way as a missionary. I love the Book of Mormon and I’m thankful for it. Read it! I love you all and hope you have a fantastic week.

 

ps. sorry for quoting Bruce Jenner. I wont do it again.

 

Elder Cluff

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Week 44-“I don’t remember the last time my clothes were carefully tumble dried!”

Hey! whats goin on fam? Its been a great week out here in Santiago Ixcuintla. My 21st week here to be exact. I’m closing right in on that 6 month mark. Its pretty crazy to stay that long in an area. According to my mission president, the apostles dont want us staying in our area for more than 6 months. Granted there are always special exceptions, but these could potentially be my last three weeks here. I have grown to absolutely love it. I don’t know how, but it’s happened. I love Santiago.
This week we found a bunch of people to teach. They all have a little bit of potential, but there are about three that really stick out. They listen, but the trick will be to help them keep commitments. I bet they will.
I got to go back to San Blas this week. It was soooo good to go back. I got to have exchanges out there and it was so fun to teach all of the people I used to teach again. They all told me I looked so happy and skinny. Everyone tells me I look so skinny but I’m like 164 pounds so I think I’m doing fantastic.
We had a good Sunday. The attendance was rather low this week which is just real upsetting, but we will work with the families that didn’t come this week. We had a spiritual testimony meeting and I really enjoyed it. I love the testimonies of the little kids. They are so real! I love to listen to them.
Last night we had a branch presidents meeting and it was good. To be honest it was extremely long. I felt like a young priest in a BYC with Bishop Mayfield haha! Just kidding I loved those meetings. But it was really long and then we had left and the District President went all the way home about 40 minutes away, and I realized I left my dang bag in the high council room. So it’s still just chillin in there and I really dont know when I’ll have access to that little guy again .
Something that I’ve really found myself thinking about and reflecting on is the importance of scripture study. Many times we imagine missionaries as people who are constantly studying the scriptures and who have huge spiritual experiences every morning. Well it does happen often, but we have a ton of problems and temptations as we study as well. We often have meetings and things in the mornings or exchanges and we find ourselves at the end of the day without a real good scripture study. I feel huge differences. I feel empty and guilty to be honest when I dont get a good read in. I love the scriptures. I think the best thing we can do is pray to feel the desire to read the scriptures. It should feel like a necessity. After we have prayed we just need to read until it feels that way.
It’s about 98 degrees everyday with 90% humidity and it’s just incredible. I honestly sweat a large amount everyday. Its atrocious. The rain is just playing games with us. The skies are black and it starts to sprinkle a little bit and then it stops and its 110% humid. It has yet to just down poor but they say it’s around the corner…who knows.
My companion and I decided that it was no longer worth it to wash our clothes by hand. We have decided to stop withholding the money and take it to a lady. So last week we dropped off the clothes and the next day we picked them up and went back to the house. We opened up the bag, and never in my almost year as a missionary have I smelled such a ravishing smell! Freshly washed AND dried clothes. SHE USED A DRYER. a dryer. I don’t remember the last time my clothes were carefully tumble dried. Wow what a blessing it was. She is such a great laundry dooer and I’m going to bring her back home with me. I’m choosing to leave the fact that she is a middle aged overweight Mexican woman to the side. The laundry was that good. Thanks Juanita. You’re wonderful. You can bet your sweet little boots that our clothes are in her solicitous care right now.
Well that’s a week for ya here in Santiago Nayarit. Count your blessings and use your dryers.
I love you all and I pray for you. I could use a few more prayers down here!
Stay close to the god and develop a relationship with him that cant be moved. He loves us and cares for us. He is there for us and he guides us. Prayer is the key to open the counsel and guidance He has waiting for us. Learn to pray, and pray often.
adios nos vemos fam.
Elder Cluff