Tuesday, July 29, 2014

4 Weeks at Mexico MTC

Alright I take back what I said about time going slow haha. This week flew by! Like ridiculous! It’s crazy to think that two weeks from today I will be in Chile or on my way to Chile. This week was really good! I do miss all of you but things are getting a lot better here! We have been talking a lot about our actual purpose of us being here on our mission and I think I’m beginning to actually understand the purpose of me being here and its helping a lot! My Spanish is getting pretty good and growing more and more every day. When people in my class have questions about the language and difficulties they actually come to me! Who would have thought?! In Technology Assisted Language Learning my district leader asked me to help people during it because I am so far ahead, haha I still am learning but I know that I am strengthened so much in the Lord. I am so excited to get out into Chile and actually begin to start teaching. I still am a little scared because I have heard that Chileans talk so fast and leave off the ends of some words, but my teacher told me that I will probably will be fluent in 4 to 6 months! I am so excited for that! It’s so crazy that I’m going to be in Chile in 2 weeks but really I am so excited.

The MTC has been good though! I love my district so much, we are so unified it’s crazy. I get to know my companion more and more every day haha. He’s an interesting kid but I love him! He talks about wrestling 24/7 and how he could take on anyone and how he can squat 250 times and take down 6’4” 250 pound kids and he’s 5’6” 130 lbs. hahaha. He has a story for everything! I’m pretty sure him, his dad, or his family has done everything there is to do on the planet! He’s from Florida and is proud of it! I’ll never forget him haha.

Three things I wish I would have brought more of, my OWN clothes, more ties, and pictures of all of you! Future missionaries, those 3 things are essential!. Gym time in the morning has been getting more and more fun, we started playing handball which is ultimate Frisbee but with a volleyball.  I incorporate lacrosse into it as much as possible, I got those around the backs down lol. I miss lacrosse so much haha. I think about it so much, I want to play it more and more every day. There are so many things I miss and I remember another thing every day, but it's good! We play sports as a district against other districts, we’re surprisingly pretty good.  I didn’t think any of the kids would be good at sports but we got some ballers in our district.  Elder Washburn, the elder I talk to about country music and video games, is so good at basketball it was surprising. Oh hahaha my companion when we play! He’s one of those kids who tries way hard in anything we do and thinks he’s amazing at everything haha it’s so funny to watch him fly around and practically tackling kids when were not even supposed to touch others haha. He’s got those wrestling moves down... He does them while we walk to class...

The 16 hour days are hard labor but I know it’s only making me better. Three things my district fights about: Taylor Swift or Queen being better, the whole dinosaur topic, and would you rather be an avatar or be able to have a Pok√©mon.  HOW COULD ANYONE NOT CHOOSE POKEMON. I have met so many new friends it’s crazy, I met this girl who looks like Jennifer Lawrence but with kind of blonder hair and her eyes are SO green, like it’s insane. I thought she was wearing green contacts for sure but it’s her natural color and she helped me find my pen I lost that means a lot to me so she’s pretty chill.  She graduated from Davis last year, Maddy Strahm I can’t remember her name, I am terrible with names haha, but she graduated with you! Teaching our investigators is getting better and better and I learn to love them more and more every time. I missed the 24th of July. That night was pretty sad.  I thought a lot about missing fireworks but we had a really good TRC that day so it made up for it. It continues to rain every day, I have grown to love it.

Elder Haynes and I had an amazing lesson with our investigator, who brought his girlfriend this time, one of the days. We taught extremely well and by the spirit, by the end both of them were crying and after they came up to us and told us how well we did. It helped and comforted me a lot, as well as encouraged. I love using experiences from my life to help teach and testify. That is how you connect with investigators. Haha its funny now that sometimes when I write and email in English I sometimes use Spanish words and I have to correct myself. This week we have talked a lot about the Atonement. Whenever I think I am having a difficult time or having a problem with something, I think about EVERYTHING He went through. We need to realize how much He suffered for us and HOW MUCH He has given us and will give us if all we do is have faith in Him and keep the commandments.. All of you back home. I wish you could be experiencing everything I am. the Lord has given us SO much and has asked for so little in return, we are in so much debt to him. Please do everything in your  power to show that you recognize His total work in our lives. There is a lot of things I have watched, heard, and read about in the last week to help us endure to the end. Enduring to the end is the hardest part about this Church. We talk about it a lot. I testify that if you truly try to keep faith in His name,
He will make up for the rest. I invite all of you to try and be missionaries back home with your families and friends. Serve them. Have charity. It will bless you. I’m going to ask all of you for one more thing. Build a sure foundation, there are seven steps. I pray you all follow them. I know it will bless you. 1. Seek the companionship of the Holy Ghost. 2. Partake of the Sacrament. 3. Pray and fast. 4. Keep the commandments. 5. Study the scriptures. 6. Follow the living prophet. 7. LOVE AND SERVE THE LORD. I will be doing these things along with you. If you ever need anything let me know and I will do my best to help you from about 5000 miles away haha. I love all of you and want you all to receive all the blessings that I know you can. I want to end with some scriptures, Alma 34, especially verse 38, Ephesians 4, and if you’re really feeling up to the challenge Luke 22 and D&C 84. Those all are my reading assignments for you guys haha. I love and miss you all. You all are in my prayers. The Lord can strengthen us in everything. Stay strong everybody

Elder Clay

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

3rd Week, Half Way Through the CCM

3rd Week, Half Way Through the CCM

So I’ve only been gone for 3 weeks... let that sink in haha. It feels like I’ve been here for so long! Everyone I talked to the first week said that time goes a lot faster after the first week. I have disproved that theory because time for me is definitely still moving slow haha. But this experience just keeps getting better and better!  I have very difficult times sometimes but I’m meeting new people and expanding my knowledge of the gospel and my Spanish! The Spanish is increasing in difficulty every day and it has SO many irregular things and rules, so frustrating. But I am improving with the help from my companion and my teachers. My faith grows with everything we do, going on a mission was the right decision. I do think of home a lot even though I know I shouldn’t. I think it will get easier once I’m out in the field. but I am strengthened by the Lord. I have had to say goodbye to Elder Brown and Elder Merrill this week. It sucks because I really looked up to them, they were great examples, and it made my day better seeing their faces and talking to them. They comforted me many times.

What has happened this week... Sirens are my lullaby, I have the craziest dreams, you have no idea haha, oh and one day we awoke to no water. I never realized how essential water is lol. Like no toilet, shower, teeth brushing, shaving, so much stuff was gone and I thought it was so hard and then it came back on by 10. New respect for people who aren’t able to have water when needed. I’m going to do a humanitarian project like my dad did to provide water for  people in Peru.

I had so many amazing experiences this week, starting with the blessing on Elder Dyar. He hurt his ankle when we were playing soccer, the kid was not able to put any pressure on this leg without it giving out because of the pain, he had to get crutches. That night, as soon as we ended the blessing he stood and walked around, the spirit was in that room. It was amazing. Hermando Vargas, he’s the teacher in one of the pics I sent back. Is SO amazing. He is the most happy man I have met. and he credits it all to the gospel. One night he told us how proud he was of us, and how he knew he wasn’t our father but he really felt like he was. I cried, that little guy is in my heart. On Sunday we had a devotional by a man named Herman Cates. It was amazing! He was such a down to earth guy (the first I have met here lol) but he was so strong in faith and smart about things. It was soo cool to see. Before I left my father and a lot of family members gave me letters to open in the MTC. Hermona Cates used two of the scriptures, well one scripture and one quote, that my dad had put in his letter to me to comfort me! It was such a cool and crazy experience.

                                                     Hermando Vargas

Oh haha my mom is gonna love this story. So every Sunday night we watch a LDS movie. This Sunday we watched the movie about John Tanner. Hahaha I remember my mom made me watch it a while ago and I remember complaining the entire time and not wanting to watch it. It’s so funny how things have changed because I LOVED watching it. It was such a testimony builder, how he could literally give up everything for the church because of his faith. I wish I could have the faith he has, hopefully I will by the end of this mission. I have learned the true definition of conversion. It is when your testimony and your life are in line.

Today I had the experience of being able to go to the visitors center of the Mexico City temple, the temple is closed at the moment so unfortunately we couldn’t do a session. Getting let out of these walls was a relief though haha! Back into the real world. Driving through Mexico City was an experience just like when I came here the first day. WE TOOK OFF A GUYS SIDE VIEW MIRROR. Funniest thing of my life. Everyone drives how fast, where, and when they want in Mexico city. It’s bound to happen. Anyways, the temple and visitor center were beautiful and way cool to see and listen to the messages. I’ll send some pictures for your guys to see.

Whenever I hear stories of conversion from families I don’t know what it is but it just makes me want to go out and teach the world the amazing message the gospel is and the happiness I know it can bring. A chapter I studied this week I really liked was Alma 32 especially verse 21. Read it. I wish I could go on. I’ve had so many amazing experiences but I think I’ve written enough. Hopefully I’m being an example to someone out there. I’ve had so many amazing example in my life. I can only hope to be one. I love and miss you all.

There is a site called Dear Elder idk the actual website but you can write stuff to me there and it’s cool because they will print it off for you here and give it to me like a letter! Do it please!  Then I have something I can turn to whenever I need it! I have the Lord of course but it’s cool to hear from you guys too:) and mom I don’t know where you got that information that they do your laundry here for you but that is FALSE. Doing laundry sucks haha. Again I love and miss you all so much. I want to end with a couple spiritual thoughts. No sincere, prayerful effort will go unanswered. Know that. Don’t let the past outweigh the future. The Gospel can change lives, it has changed mine for the better, NO joy can compare. One last thing, In this world, what we do know trumps what we do not know. Until next week

Elder Clay


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

2 Weeks Going On 2 Years!

Hello family and friends!

I’m going to start every email I send back home like this but I love and miss every single one of you! This experience is just getting better and better! Thank you so much to the people who have emailed me! I only have an hour to email on P day so I’m sorry if I can’t get to you every week but I will try my best to respond to everyone! You guys have no idea how much it means to me to get your emails showing me love and support! Thank you for that. I don’t know if any of you have written me letters because I’ve heard they take a long time to get here. But really you guys, my family and my friends, are the best.

I don’t really know where to start I promise this email is going to be all over the place. And it won’t be as long as the first one, well maybe not. Sixteen hour days, five days a week, eighty hours a week studying the gospel and Spanish haha. And I still go to bed excited to wake up in the morning! I love personal study time in the morning, 7 am to 8 am are the best hours of the day! But Sundays and P days are the best days of the week! Sundays are amazing haha. You learn so much, hear other people’s testimonies and feel the spirit the entire day! This Sunday we watched the building of the Salt Lake City temple movie with Wilford Woodruff. It was eye opening.  I have a new found love and respect for the people who made that temple possible. It also made me regret not going through or at least going to the Bountiful temple every single day before I left! I really wish I would have! To my friends who haven’t left on their mission yet, GO TO THE TEMPLE, it is the greatest blessing and testimony builder. Know that I’m jealous of you guys!

Is it a good time to talk about the food now? Good transition I know. Breakfast I survive on Fruit Loops and Nutella sandwiches. Lunch is usually some meat, bread combination. Dinner could really be anything, but I eat about 5 Nutella sandwiches a days. There is a store called la Tienda where you can buy Arizona drinks and AMAZING chocolate candy. BUENO BARS look them up, so good.

                                                   Elder Merrill from Bountiful
I’ll tell you more about my companion. I think I already told you he is good at Spanish, short, and strong in faith. Some more stuff I learned - he has a comment for everything! He is a very confident kid and it shows haha. In the pictures you should be able to see his scar that goes across his eye! It’s sweet!  My roommates... They stink! like smell. Elder Garrett’s shoes are the worst smelling thing ever haha. I’m making him burn them. Plus two of them are really sick and my companion has a bad cough. I’m surrounded by sickness but I’m still going strong! My zone is awesome. We meet every night. We have FHE on Mondays and play this game called Sings, it’s really fun.  I whistle hymns 24/7 when walking around or in my room to keep my spirit up! I bet it gets kind of annoying haha.

We’re to the point in the MTC where everyone talks about what we miss. Everyone has been talking about music lately! It kills ME! I miss music so much. The Land Cruiser and country music up in the mountains.. ugh.. Top 5 things I miss that aren’t living- Music, lacrosse, cell phone, video games, movies with the bros. Pathetic list I know but I loved all those things so much. But really not having a phone is such a blessing haha, so much worry just gone, pointless worry. I will pay someone 200 dollars when I get back if they will make a list of all the good music, all genres, that come out while I’m gone. Cam or Cory make sure to get a list of all the good video games. I know I’m missing destiny ugh. What else... I think I pray so much on my knees that I’m going to get holes in my pants on the knees haha.

Spanish is improving but is still incredibly frustrating and difficult. The only time I feel I can speak at least somewhat good, is when I’m teaching investigators! And that truly is helped tremendously because of the gift of tongues blessing. Teaching investigators is my second favorite time of the day! One thing I’ve been amazed by is the ability to love. Mine has grown so much since I’ve been here. I know I will truly love the people of Chile. Another thing I learned was I built my foundation upon Christ AND worldly things. I have had to tear that foundation down and build a true foundation solely on Christ. I will still say that it is going to be the most difficult 2 years of my life but it will be the best 2 years of my life also. The most amazing experience I had happened this Sunday night, I had the opportunity to give my first blessing to one of my roommates who was extremely sick. The power that we hold is incredible I am so grateful that I have it.

READ MORONI and pray to know if it is true! It is amazing! There are so many scriptures that are amazing that I’ve found when studying. I wish I could share them all with you guys but there are too many. Some good ones are First Nephi 3:7, Third Nephi 13:33, D&C 34 has saved me! There’s something about the number 34 that is incredible right? Second Nephi 4, D&C 11, and a lot others. I hope you guys read those and pray to know if they are true. I think it’s come time to end this email haha. Guys I promise I am the same kid I was when I left except for I have been transformed by this gospel so much. I know that doesn’t really make sense but just know I’m the same Connor (Elder Clay) as I was before I left, if that’s a good thing haha, if it’s not, I promise I have changed so much haha. I have been humbled and the experience of being in Mexico City and then in Chile for two years is going to be amazing. This gospel is true. I believe in it with all my heart. Turn to the Lord WHENEVER you are in need of help. I know I do. I love and miss all of you so much. Until next week.

Elder Clay

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

First Letter and Pictures from Mexico!

This has been the longest, hardest, most frustrating, humbling week of my life. But I have LOVED it! I don’t know where to start, it honestly feels like I left a year ago and it has only been six days. I thought that I knew a lot about the gospel and had a strong testimony in it until I got here. I have learned so much and my testimony has grown tenfold. I don’t really know what to say, this is weird emailing back for the first time. My hands are shaking. I guess I’ll start from the beginning.
The plane flights here were insane haha. So many missionaries, so incredible to see. I met a couple people from Utah, Texas, Florida and all over and made some friends. When I got to Mexico City everything went smoothly but it was way weird because everything was in Spanish. The bus ride to the MTC was kind of nerve wracking. I had to lift everybody’s luggage on to the bus. Worst thing I have volunteered for haha they were all so heavy and they just kept on coming and coming. My body was dead by the time I finished.  If you have seen Mexico City it doesn’t  really look like the friendliest city, but arriving at the MTC was amazing. It kind of felt like I was going into a prison because it is all fenced and walled off with barbed wire on the top haha. But once you entered it, it was amazing. Everything was the complete opposite of the outside. Everything was green or clean. The MTC or CCM as we call it here is really a light in the darkness.
 My companions name is Elder Haynes. He is an amazing person with a strong testimony! He knows the language very well and that is very helpful because I am struggling with the language. He is very short, so dad, when you said how I walk too slow, it’s okay because literally one of my steps is two of his. Really he stepped into a puddle and almost drowned. I felt bad.
Some fun facts about the MRC. It rains every single day, not very depressing right? You hear five to ten gun shots a day followed by police and ambulance sirens. Especially in the night. There’s a sickness going around so were asked to not shake hands. We found a GIANT moth and caught it. We named it Muert. not my choice. We are losing 50 missionaries in the next two weeks and gaining 360. The first week was filled with meetings and orientations for new missionaries. But here is the schedule for the usual day for me. Wake up at 6AM, my companions insist on being the first people up on campus and that makes us the first people in class and walking around.  Then I do my exercises. I’M NOT GONNA GET FAT.  Then I take a shower, go to class, study for an hour, go to breakfast, which is Fruit Loops and a plate of fruit usually, then gym time where we play soccer or basketball or volley ball or ping pong, then class for three hours learning about the gospel and Spanish. Then lunch, usually some type of weird meat, then personal study time for an hour, then language study for an hour, then we go to our investigator. The first time we had that it was so scary, and it was on Friday! You can only teach in Spanish and we had only been here for two days. The gift of tongues was truly an instrument while I’ve been here. We have been teaching a man named Jesus Canseco. Even though he is hired and already a member, I have grown to love and care for him and his fake family lol. Teaching by the spirit and with preach my gospel is amazing and it will truly bless lives! After that 30 minutes it’s additional study time for 2 hours. Then dinner, then TALL which is technologically assisted language learning, it’s very helpful. After that another hour of additional study time then we plan for 30 minutes for the next day then the whole zone comes and we sing a final song and prayer for the day. The entire day I am praying for help haha. You don’t understand how much I pray. It is such a blessing for comfort and learning the language. It has been hard. The hardest experience I have ever been through. I miss all of you so much. But I know this is where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doing. The first couple days were very discouraging and hard to keep my head up but I am trying my hardest. I think back to what Elder Hirsch said when he said BE YOUR BEST EVERYDAY. That’s all I can do and it’s all I will do. You have to trust in the Lord to take care of the rest.
This Sunday was incredible. I was feeling pretty down until we had a devotional that was a talk by Elder Holland. He is such an inspirational speaker. He talked about the story of Peter. It hit me so hard. The part that hit me so hard was where Jesus asks him if he loves him, he says yes.  This happens three times, and, by the way, on the third time there was the loudest crack of thunder outside the building we were in. It was incredible. Uhh then Jesus says then leave your boat, paddles, and fish and feed my sheep. It hit me so hard. I realized that that was what I needed to do. Forget everything else and feed his sheep. I love all of you so much for the support and prayers you have given me. Please continue. I need all the help I can get. I miss all of you so much, hope everything is well at home. Please email or write me if you can. You guys are the greatest. I will continue to be the best missionary I can be for you and our Lord.
                                                   Selfie with Elders
                                             Elder Brown from Woods Cross
                                             Sister Smoot from Centerville
                                               Where to go in case of an earthquake!
                                                       Connor's District
                                            Connor with his companion Elder Haynes
                                            Connors House "#34" can you believe it!!!