Tuesday, December 30, 2014

E-mail Dec. 29, 2014: "Christmas isn't over yet..."

Wow, Christmas day has come and gone but the Christmas Spirit still lives on. Everywhere you go the lights, sounds, and other signs of Christmas continue to shine and enchant us. Over here it seems like just because a holiday is over doesn't mean that you can't stop celebrating it, which I actually kind of enjoy. Back home if I had gone to a restaurant after Christmas day and heard "chestnuts roasting on an open fire" I would've complained to the manager, but now I love how it helps to keep the feelings of joy and laughter alive a little longer.

Christmas day flew by like a flash. We watched the first presidency Christmas devotional in the morning, then in the afternoon the stake president treated us to lunch in his home, and last we were able to take a little time in the evening to unwind and watch some of the church videos to end our day. It was easily the most unusual Christmas I've had to date; the lack of family being gathered around a lighted tree, or snow falling softly outside, or almost any of the other things I've grown accustomed to over the years made the day feel different. However, no matter how different it was, it will forever be one of the most memorable holidays I've had. Being without most of the things that I'm comfortable with during this time has taught me what this season is really about more than any of the stories, songs, or lessons I've ever learned  on the subject. For that I'm grateful. :)

Aaand, more pictures!
Enjoy. :)

I hope everyone had a happy Christmas, and until next time, peace out. :)
-Elder Cloward

"Welcome to Hyderabad!"

Another beautiful Indian sunset.

The original Hyderabad zone, from left to right- Elder Bandi, Sister Katuka, Elder Surya, Elder Ravindran, Elder Stephen, Elder Cloward, Elder Pushparaj, Sister Yelamanchelli, Elder Gill, Elder Anderson

The Metro rail, while currently under construction, stretches across all of Hyderabad and makes it feel like a "Back to the Future" movie.
A first person look at one of India's many bustling streets.
Some more of the awesome members in our ward.

Several of the ward members gathered for a birthday party.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A note about letters...

From mom (Jen):

We had a great time talking with Kaiden on Christmas!  He is doing great!  He mentioned that he can get real, snail-mail letters!  We didn't realize that.  He says they take about 2 weeks to get to him and if anyone would like to write him a letter, he LOVES getting mail.  The letters just need to be sent to the mission home address as listed at the top of the blog.  

He also reassured us that he did buy himself some socks.  :)

Here are some pictures from the call:

Monday, December 22, 2014

E-mail: Dec. 22, 2014 "I wonder if frying it would make it taste better..."

"If they don't get baptized by the end of the month, I'll eat my tie."

Those were my words at our zone training when they asked us to write down the names of our investigators who had a baptism date. What usually happens is each companionship will write down five or six names of people that they think will be baptized, but unfortunately usually only one or two actually do. Our zone leaders want us to be more realistic and so after I wrote down our two names they asked me how sure I was that they would actually be baptized this month, to which I gave my confident, (but not well thought out) response.

To make a long story short, the other Elders are literally making me eat those words, and Elder Cloward will probably be suffering from some tie-induced indigestion next month.

The day before the baptism for one of these women we had her interview and found out she would have to meet with the mission president to resolve something first. She should still be able to be baptized in January but until then I'm hoping the other missionaries forget my rash agreement. Prayers in that regard would be appreciated...

The other women who we had a date set for did get baptized though, and I had the honor of performing the ordinance. I had to prepare her and myself and I had to make sure the baptism service was organized and nice and so most of that Sunday day I was pretty stressed. However, when the service started and the speakers shared their feelings about baptism my anxiety left and was replaced by the Spirit. The ordinance went perfectly (I only had to dunk her once) and it was an experience that I'm sure this family, nor myself, will ever forget. :)

Oh, and I finally have more pictures. :)

My first day in Bangalore, from the apartment we stayed in that night.

What most of the streets in our area look like.

The first of many new friends I was soon to make.

The view from our apartment in Hyderabad.

Elder Ravindran's Indian masterpiece.     (Disregard the Coke...)

Cake fight! And the winner is- Elder Cloward!

One of the many beautiful sunsets that are so common here.

My trainer, Elder Surya. A.K.A. The Pigeon Whisperer 

Monday, December 15, 2014

E-mail: Dec. 15, 2014 "Gloomp"

That was the closest word I could think of to describe the sound that was made as I accidentally dumped out my entire bottle of consecrated oil on another elder this week. One of the elders in our apartment was having some lower back pains so he asked us to give him a blessing. He asked me to do the anointing so I found my small bottle of oil (that I thought was almost empty) and started to tip it out over his head. My attention got distracted for just a moment and when I looked back my bottle was empty and there was enough olive oil on his head to fill the other five virgin's empty lamps. The other Elder then gave the blessing and quickly washed off his hands.
In a very literal sense I think that this Elder knows what it feels like to "have blessings poured out upon your head."

We also gave a few other blessings this week to other people who requested them. One such occasion was at the home of a new investigator whom we were going to teach. As we arrived, the man (who is well stricken in years) was lying on his bed in what I could tell was a considerable amount of pain. We sat down and at the same time a nurse came to the home carrying a machine that he quickly hooked up to the man's chest to find out what was causing the pain. After the test was finished and the man was given multiple shots we shared a short message and asked him if he would like a blessing. He agreed, and after giving the blessing we left so that he could rest, Several days later the member who had been with us to see this man told us that the day after we had come the pain had left completely and even though the man didn't know if it was more the medicine or the blessing that had healed him he was giving thanks to God for the miracle. We're going to continue to teach him now that his heart is being prepared.
Our God is a God of miracles, and those miracles happen through the power of the Priesthood. I testify of that.

We've encountered something we call the "white tax" when we have to take an auto somewhere. My companion, Elder D'Vaz, has taken the initiative to bargain for our prices because he looks like an Indian and the auto drivers will give him a better price. Last night as we were coming home I walked a few paces off into a shadow so that he could negotiate alone and get a better price. He got the price he wanted and gestured for me to come over. As soon as I stepped into the light the auto driver's face fell and he demanded that we pay him a higher price. I was ready to tell him "heck no brother, you're racist" but my companion exercised his Christlike love and gave him the price he asked for. I learned that I either need to learn more humility or get a spray tan, we'll see which happens first.

Anyways until next week study hard and stay strong. :)
-Elder Cloward

From Jen (mom):

One of the other moms on our missionary parent's Facebook page posted these statistics this morning:

"In 2005 India had 5,951 members. Today India has 11,690 members. In just ten years the church membership as doubled. There are currently 82 missionaries serving in the Bangalore mission. This week they have 6 baptisms, 7 confirmations, 37 investigators with a baptismal date, and 95 investigators who attended Sacrament Meeting."  Incredible!

Monday, December 8, 2014

E-mail Dec. 8, 2014 "Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow... Please!"

Well the Christmas season is here and I barely even noticed. It's so weird not having to wear a coat to shop for Christmas trees or not being able to see the lights or hear festive music. The culture down here is predominantly Hindu and Muslim so it's difficult to even talk about Christmas with anyone, however the church has issued a challenge to the missionaries and to the members of the church worldwide to spread the joy Christmas to all over the world this year. If you have time go to christmas.mormon.org and watch the video that the church made and think about what you can do to help those who are in need of this message this Christmas season. Oh, sorry, now that I'm a missionary I'm learning that "when you have time" means "if you remember it in a few months please make a note so that you'll remember to remember it next year", So on second thought, stop reading this email and check it out right now. :)


Do it now.

Stop reading this and watch the video, dang it.

(From Jen (mom): "I've included it in the post below to make watching the video easy on you!")

Alright, now that you've all been spiritually uplifted try to do something to share this message with your friends and family this season, whether it be through facebook, twitter, other social media, or if you really want to be old school and actually tell people about it face to face that works too. ;)

In other news this week was a slow week. We had appointments bunk left and right and there were many time when we sat down on the side of the road for a good chunk of time just trying to think of what we could do and who we could go visit. I knew long before I came on my mission that I would have weeks like this and I know that the Lord is giving me a chance to learn patience but I have to wonder if there's more I could've done that would've prevented a lot of the stress that came this week. And if I'm being completely honest the answer is yes, there were several things I could have done better that would've helped us this week. I fear that if I'm not constantly checking myself, I'll fall into a rut where I get lazy and keep doing the same things because it's easy. I don't want that, so this week my goal is to study Preach my Gospel really hard and find out where I can improve and work a little harder to make that happen.

Anyways sorry this is short but my time is up and it's about time to go save souls again.

Until next time-
Elder Cloward

"He is the Gift" – Christmas Video – #ShareTheGift

Monday, December 1, 2014

E-mail: Dec. 1, 2014 "Spin the bottle? I thought this was supposed to be a church activity..."‏

The best part? It was a church activity. ;)

Our ward mission leader told us how they put a new spin on spin the bottle for a YSA activity, where after you spin the bottle the person it lands on has to share a scripture or something similar. I thought that was clever, but I have to say that maybe if they played it the right way they'd all finally start dating each other.

Sorry, it just takes forever for people to get married over here sometimes.

Happy Thanksgiving all! Thanksgiving here was a blast, although the American missionaries and their lucky native companions were the only ones celebrating. We went to a place called "Thugs of Grill" where you pay about $8.00 for all you can eat barbecue served on kabobs over live coals in the middle of your table. Along with that the place featured an Indian buffet complete with all the best dishes and endless Gulab Jamun (the only desert that will be left after the earth is cleansed of imperfection). In short I ate until it was physically impossible for me to eat any more, and then we all waited an hour for the food to digest and went back for round 2. I'm beginning to notice that I'm a little heavier than I was 4 months ago, in fact the first words that one of my MTC batchmates said to me after seeing me for the first time in 3 months were- "dude, you've put on weight."
"No elder, I'm sure it's just the cut of this suit..."

Anyways because of that we've finally started do our exercises in the morning, and I'm hoping that all of Elder Cloward's extra kilograms can be turned into muscle pretty soon.

The work continues to move on over here. We're trying hard to find more people who are truly prepared to hear the word of God instead of people who just want the white guy to visit their family (which we have a lot of). One of the only indicators we have that people really want the happiness that the gospel brings is by their commitment to keep commitments. Think about that as a member of the church now; even though we've been baptized are we truly converted? Are we doing the simple things that our leaders encourage us to do? And if so are we doing it for the right reason? It's helped me to see where I can improve in my life.

Oh, and here's a conversation we had with one of our investigators after teaching about the three kingdoms:

"So brother, which kingdom do you want to go to?"
"The last one."
"What? Brother you know you can only be with your family and Jesus Christ in the Celestial kingdom, don't you like that?"
"...I like stars more."

From now on we may teach about the sun, moon, and stars concept in a later lesson.

Anyways this is Elder Cloward saying "Don't be fool, Stay in Sunday School. :)

from mom (Jen):  I had no idea what Gulab jamun is, so I looked it up.  Here's what wikipedia says about it, I also found the picture above on Google.  :)

"Gulab jamun is a milk-solids based dessert, similar to a dumpling. It is popular in countries of South Asia such as India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh, also in the Caribbean countries of Trinidad, Guyana, Suriname and Jamaica and in Mauritius. It is made mainly from milk solids, traditionally from freshly curdled milk. In India, milk solids are prepared by heating milk over a low flame for a long time until most of the water content has evaporated. These milks solids, known as khoya in Pakistan and India, are kneaded into a dough, sometimes with a pinch of flour, and then shaped into small balls and deep fried at a low temperature of about 148 °C.[1] The balls are then soaked in a light sugar syrup flavored with green cardamom and rosewater, kewra or saffron."

Friday, November 28, 2014

E-mail: Nov. 24, 2014 "First, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, alcohol."‏

There's a sister we've been teaching recently who's making a lot of progress so we're beginning to review the previous lessons we've taught her. When we teach the gospel of Christ we go over it in five steps; faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. When we teach the Word of Wisdom we explain the five things we're not supposed to take into our bodies; drugs, alcohol, tea, coffee, and tobacco. As we were reviewing the five steps to follow Christ with this sister she got them confused and so she told us how after faith comes alcohol.

It's a good thing she didn't remember the ten commandments or else stealing and adultery might have come next.

I may have already mentioned this but I'm still dying to ride a camel, it would be a much calmer way to travel. In order to get around we have to take the Metro Express buses and I learned the hard way that "express" means that the buses don't come to a complete stop at the bus stops. The buses here don't have doors and so anyone can jump on or off going any speed. Thankfully though I think that I'm finally getting skilled enough that I don't have to fear for my life whenever we go places anymore. The other way we get around (which I prefer) are the auto-rickshaws that are like little three-wheeled doorless taxis that will take you anywhere you want to go if you can tell them how to get there. The only thing we have to be careful of there is to not hire any drunk drivers (which is harder than you'd think sometimes).

It's amazing to see the way the gospel changes people. People whom I had very little rapport with and didn't mesh well with in the beginning have become some of my best friends as they've listened to our message and accepted us in their homes. When I first got here I focused very hard on commitments: "Sister you're coming to church on Sunday right?" or "Brother I want you to read these chapters before I see you again". This week we visited with a group of teens who all joined the church but have not been coming despite our consistent efforts these last three months. This time we didn't ask them to come to church, instead we shared a message and played a fun game with them for a while. Guess what? Come Sunday they were ALL at church without us giving any invitation. The most important thing we can do for those who are struggling or wandering off the path is to be their friend, I testify of that.

Anyways until next time study your scriptures and stay cool. :)
-Elder Cloward

A quick note from mom (Jen):

After last week's letter about not having enough socks, I asked him about the store situation.  Here's what he told me about stores over there...

We have one store here that somewhat resembles a very very small Walmart. It's called Spencer's but it's way down the road so we usually shop at one of the small stores we pass by each day. 95% of the stores are smaller than my bedroom back home and you can't go inside. Instead you point at the product you want, point again when the owner gives you the wrong item, then kindly correct him when he says he doesn't have what you want but you can see it right behind him. It's a very different way to shop but it's kinda nice because we don't have to go very far to buy anything. Anything you want to buy, whether it be groceries, pens, hardware, or anything else, is sold this way.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

E-mail Nov. 17, 2014 "I'm probably, most likely, definitely coming to church."‏

That was the response we got from a man we met this week, and unfortunately despite his convincing statement he didn't come. In fact, all 10 of the people that committed to come to church this week mysteriously went missing Sunday morning. It was really frustrating to see people whom we thought were making so much progress fail to keep that crucial commitment, and the hardest part is not being able to make them see why coming to church each week is so important. The second hardest thing about that is having them tell us face to face that they're coming and then just not showing up. I went on exchange with some other elders about three weeks back and it was interesting for me to watch as their investigators, instead of committing to an invitation, told them flat out "no, I won't read the Book of Mormon, I don't believe in that one." It reminded me of the parable Christ told about the father who told two of his sons to go to work. The first son said that he wouldn't do the work, but later changed his mind and did it. The second said that he would do the work, but never followed through. Which son do you think the father was pleased with? Our actions will always speak louder than our words, even if our words are packed with good intentions.

Okay, spiritual rant over.

In other news, this week I've encountered an undesirable situation in which I don't have enough socks to last the whole week. I think I accidentally left some at the MTC, but the biggest problem is that after the socks I have left come out of the washing machine it takes 72 hours, three fans, 150 degree weather and a blowtorch to dry them out completely. I tried wearing a slightly wet pair one day because I literally had nothing else to wear except for white ankle socks (and that's just a no-no) and the results were not great. That night we had FHE with a member family, and although my nose was out of commission due to a cold, I realized, when the wife discretely plugged her nose during the closing prayer, that I had unleashed a deadly monster into their home the moment I took off my shoes. After that I knew that something had to be done, and because we lack a dryer I was forced to get creative. In short I realized that by keeping my socks on a frying pan on low heat it would finish drying them out and I could wear them immediately. My method worked beautifully on the first two pairs, but as I once again got caught up my own brilliance I neglected to watch the third pair.  Almost 45 minutes later the apartment was filled with smoke (that tends to happen a lot when I'm there) and I was forced to lay my charcoal-black pair of socks to rest.

You know how people say you can tell a lot about a person just by looking at their sock drawer? Well if anyone looked at my sock drawer now I think they'd be able to determine that I'm a pretty "smokin' hot" individual.

...Okay, I know, that was terrible.

Anyways until next time, this is Elder Cloward saying pray hard and peace out. :)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Email: Nov. 10, 2014 "MTC Pictures!!!"

Hah! I finally figured out how to get the pictures off my camera! Here's a few from the MTC:

My MTC district.  The coolest bunch of spiritual guys that world has ever seen.

 My and my companion, Elder Pereira.


...Yup, this pretty much explains our relationship.

(Insert cat call whistle here)

Chillin' on P-day with our caffeine-free Mountain Dew.

Someone was showing their love for my companion.

"Challenge Accepted"

And last but not least, this is our "Indian in the Cupboard"  ;)

Note from mom (Jen): 

I asked him for more details about every day life and this is what he told me this week:

Change in plans, I'm not DL right now (thank goodness) but I picked up my new trainee on Thursday and we've started the process of re-breaking in our area. His name is Elder D'Vaz, an 18 year from Canada who is about as great as they come. It's been super easy to get to work because he's obedient to the mission rules and works hard, I'm excited for these next three months. :)

I went to Bangalore for training on Tuesday and I had the chance to see more of the metropolis that is the center of our mission. It's almost completely westernized there, with huge shopping centers, tons of side shops, a Lamborghini showroom, and several Krispe Kreme locations (we passed three just walking that day). It's interesting to contrast that city with Hyderabad where although there are tons of building and plenty of shopping centers, the traditional Indian culture is still widely preserved. 

When we interact with people it's almost like living in America 60 years ago; most of the morals and values that were so common in the 50's are still very prevalent here, which I love. It's so easy to talk to anyone and have a good, sincere conversation. 

There are 4 people in our apartment; Myself and my companion, and our zone leaders; Elder Ravindran and Elder Dusara. Elder Ravindran is a native from Bangalore who is half business machine and half comedian. Elder Dusara is from Washington state and I'm pretty sure he wrote the book on having fun. The most interesting thing I've eaten so far would probably be a chicken heart, which actually wasn't bad but I about died when the Elders fooled me into thinking it was a different part of a chicken... 

Love you and I'll talk to you again next week. :)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

E-mail from Pres. Berrett Nov. 6, 2014

Dear Brother and Sister Cloward:

Your son has been asked to be a trainer of a new missionary. Attached is a photo taken today of your missionary and Elder D’Vaz of Kelowna, British Columbia Canada. We are grateful to have your son serving in our mission.

President David Berrett
India Bangalore Mission

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

E-mail Nov. 4, 2014 "Oh come on, just a little won't hurt!"

But when it comes to chili powder "just a little bit" really does hurt. A lot.

I used to think I could handle spicy foods, in fact whenever I would go to a Mexican restaurant I would liberally apply the jalapenos and habanero sauce to prove my ability to tolerate it.

Then I got sent to India.

To put it simply the spiciest food you'll ever find in America is what the natives here would feed to their newborn children. The amount of chili powder they use here is inconceivable (and yes, that does mean what I think it means). The curries all have chili powder, the two minute noodles I've become so familiar with have chili powder, the jam that I had at a member's home for breakfast was more chili powder than fruit; and, thanks to one of the other elders, I found out the hard way that my chocolate milk was also full of chili powder. Regardless though the food here is unbelievably delicious. Even the simplest dish prepared by an Indian puts an expensive restaurant back home to shame; and so despite having to apply ice packs to my tongue each night, I'm happy. :)

We often read in the scriptures how we're supposed to plead with the Lord for those things we stand in need of, but how many of us actually know what it feels like to desperately cry to and beg our Heavenly Father for the spirit to touch our hearts? I don't think I know that I've ever felt that to the extent that God wants me to, but this week I met someone who did. I was on exchange with the other Elders and they were teaching an investigator who had taken more than a year to really progress in the gospel. They had previously invited him to fast to receive an answer about the truthfulness of the gospel and when we met him at 8:00 that night he confirmed that he had started his fast early that morning but then surprised us all when he told us that he was still going (we took him out to dinner afterwards). At the end of an excellent lesson he was invited to give the closing prayer, and it was unlike any prayer I've ever heard before. This humble man didn't go through the motions as he spoke, he truly and fervently petitioned the Lord to give him that witness that couldn't come from anyone else, and he didn't stop praying until he had literally poured out his soul in that request. To make a somewhat long story short, he got his answer, and it was an experience I'll never forget.

As I was walking with my companion down a busy street one day we were discussing some of Christ's teachings from the bible. We talked about how we shouldn't notice others imperfections before acknowledging and trying to correct our own, as He taught using the symbolism of the beam and the mote. I learned a valuable lesson that day: If you're going to demonstrate what it might look like to physically pull a beam out of your eye make sure you're not on a busy street where the people who are around aren't already watching you.

Yeah I know you probably think I'm a geek, but I'm just grateful I learned to not act out scripture stories in public before trying to put a camel through the eye of a needle.

Anyways until next time- pray daily, seek the spirit, and rock on. 
-Elder Cloward

Monday, October 27, 2014

E-mail Oct. 27, 2014 "I said religious, not racist!"

This week we celebrated Diwali, one of the biggest holidays in India where everybody spends all there money on fireworks to see who can put on the best show. That night was spectacular, we stood on top of our apartment building and watched a 360 degree fireworks show going on for miles an all directions. Here in India however they don't call them fireworks, they simply call them "crackers", and so that morning when I asked our zone leader if we would be buying any he gestured to me and said "we don't need any more crackers, we have one right here."

Yes he knew full well what that meant, and it took a while to get the other American missionary to stop laughing.

The last few weeks my companion and I have been having a really hard time teaching discussions and finding new investigators. We started making more phone calls and we were able to pick it up again this week, but I'm learning that very few things will ever just happen in missionary work. Everything that you get done is because you've put in all your effort to make it happen, and then the Lord helps you out and makes up for your shortcomings. The Lord will only help us if we show Him that we're committed and willing to work for something, and that goes for all aspects of life.

This week has cooled down significantly due to the "outpouring" of rain we've received and I almost had to put on a jacket this morning when I woke up and it was only 75 degrees. I'm continuing to fall in love with this place as I become more and more submerged in the traditional languages and culture. Everywhere we go almost all the women wear sarees (the colorful traditional Indian dresses) and have a bindi on their foreheads. I can hear Hindi music playing almost anywhere I go and during the festival this week I was constantly aware of people burning incense in the streets as the sweet aromas carried me away even further into this Indian reality.

Until next week-
Elder Cloward

with Gandhi at the International Peace Gardens in SLC

Monday, October 20, 2014

E-mail: Oct. 20, 2014 "Pictures! (well, a few.)"

It only took me 3 months but I finally figured out how to get (a few) pictures into my email. I'll try and get the rest sent next week but here's what I have now. Sone of these are from last P-day when we went to an old Indian castle ruin called Golconda Fort. It was epic. Enjoy. :)

His comp is the one on the front left,
in the blue checkered shirt.

Monday, October 13, 2014

E-mail Oct. 13, 2014 "...but what will you do about the light in their eyes?"

Conference came a week late here so I got to watch it this weekend instead, but it was well worth the wait. I felt completely uplifted and recharged after the messages that were given and I'm so grateful for the opportunity we have to listen to a living prophet.

My companion has a gift for noticing any and all details in anything. We'll be walking through a crowd of hundreds of people and he can find and point out a ward member on the other side of the street in the split second they're visible, and it's a skill that has helped us in our work in multiple ways. One such example is that he can look at someone's face and determine whether or not they're a Christian as they walk past. At first I thought he was making it up, but as I tested his abilities he was right every single time. I asked him how he can tell and he says that the face of any Christian is literally physically different than that of a Hindu or Muslim. There's an important principle to be learned there: when a person willingly follows Jesus Christ over time the change that takes place on the inside manifests itself through your physical features. If that's how drastically just being a Christian changes someone, think of how much more a faithful member of the restored gospel can be changed if they remain true to what they now is true. Just some food for thought. :)

I also invented a new game this week, I call it "cockroach golf". The rules are very simple, when we come back to our apartment each night I walk inside and after switching the light on I see how many I can hit across the living room with my makeshift driver (a broom) before they scatter. It requires speed, agility, lightning reflexes, and leaving plenty of crumbs on the floor before we go out in the morning.

Entertainment in Hyderabad is golden.

Until next time-
Elder Cloward

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

E-mail: Oct. 6, 2014 "Everybody watches white people..."

And they do:
"Elder Cloward, stop petting that dog, people are watching you."
"Elder Cloward, don't sit in that room, People are watching you."
"Elder Cloward, Get your head back in the train, people are watching you."

I can't get away with anything over here, It's terrible.

This week has been pretty awesome, our investigator who was baptized last week got confirmed and is happier than ever. It's incredible to see the effects that one or two good examples can have on people. Madhu, our recent convert who took over a year to join the church, is helping others to come unto Christ without even saying anything. There's a sister who we started teaching who was visited by the missionaries several time more than a year ago but didn't make any efforts to continue to learn after they (unfortunately) stopped coming. She recently asked the missionaries to come back though, because she saw the almost unbelievable changes that her friend Madhu had made because of the gospel. The husband of the women we just baptized is a less-active who is beginning to keep the commandments and come back to church because of the example of his wife. One of my favorite quotes by a general authority goes something like "preach the gospel at all times and in all places, and if necessary use words." When we take upon ourselves the name of Christ through baptism and taking the sacrament we have the responsibility, not the option, to be an example for Him in all times and in all places. When we do so we will make a difference, even if we don't always find out about it.

Oh, and what do Joseph Smith, Tom Hanks, And Toby McGuire all have in common?
Apparently to Indians they all look like Elder Cloward.

Until next time-
Elder Cloward

P.S. Pictures are coming, I promise.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

E-mail: Sept. 28, 2014 "You still look like a greenie, Elder..."

Wow, we really put the pedal to the metal this week. The biggest thing I'm learning from my companion is how to stay busy, he always knows what we can be doing and he's always being proactive with talking to people and setting appointments so that we'll continue to stay busy.
This was easily the busiest and most fruitful week I've had so far.
Oh, and did I mention we had another baptism yesterday?
The sister we baptized is a perfect example of what it means to truly follow Jesus Christ. As we taught her she not only kept all her commitments each week but went above and beyond by finding ways to get more out of our discussions (such as being prepared with a notebook and pencil to write down everything we taught her) Her example has helped me to realize that true disciples of Christ don't simply do what they're asked and wait for more instruction, they actively find ways on their own to come closer to their Savior.

In other news we had an unexpected transfer this week so a new elder moved into our apartment. He's a 21 year old ball of energy from Washington and he knows how to turn any downtime into fun time. He's good to talk to as well, one of my first conversations with him went as follows:

"So how old are you Elder Cloward?"
"Take your best guess."
"Hmm, I'd say about 18."
"Wow, not bad, how could you tell?"
"You've just got that 18 year old swag, ya know?"

Either this Elder has the gift of discernment or my "swag" vibes are a lot stronger than I thought they were. Yikes.

Anyways until next time, this is Elder Cloward signing off. :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Email Sept. 23, 2014 "Rainy season? This much water would make Noah blush."‏

"...And thank you for sending Elder Cloud and Elder Surya to my home, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
Elder "Cloud" is going to start teaching pronunciation classes on p-days now. Regardless though, the prayer was offered by a very faithful little boy who's doing an excellent job at preparing for baptism, so I don't mind. ;)

This week has been very insightful and very stressful, funny how those two seem to go together more often than not. I'm continually reminded to pay more attention to the million things that are constantly going on around me, especially when I about get hit by a bus,
and over,
and over again.
Please pray that I stop walking around with my head in the clowards. The hardest thing that happened this week was probably all the potential investigators that we set appointments with that never showed up. I had been praying that we could meet people who are being prepared for the gospel, and so the last few weeks we met a bunch of people who had been wondering about religion and had excitedly accepted teaching appointments. I thought it had been an answer to my prayer but then all of our appointments with them feel through. As disappointing as that was though, that same night the Lord reminded me that He's still listening and watching by sending us one of the best investigators we've had so far. It just goes to show that every cloward has a silver lining.

Oh, and my companion refers to our potential investigator sheet as our "hit list", I'm not sure if he completely understands what that means, but I'm going to let him keep using it anyways. ;)

Anyways until next time everyone. :)
-Elder Cloward

Monday, September 15, 2014

E-mail Sept. 15, 2014 "Wait, is that a monkey?"

"...And please forgive my companion because I know he's not listening to this prayer. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
"-Amen. Alright our goals for today were-"
"Elder, what did I just pray about?"
This was my companion's way of letting me know that I need to pay more attention to things.
Thanks Elder.

Speaking of my companion I don't believe I've written about him yet. Elder Surya is an excellent example of what it means to be a bold, hardworking servant of the Lord; but he's also a perfect example of an incurable tease and practical joker. He's doing a fantastic job at training me and all the while keeps things fun and energetic, I'm going to be sad when transfers come.

I think this is the week where India is really beginning to feel like home. I'm getting less and less alarmed when I turn around just in time to avoid a cow who's trying to plow through me or when I see a family of monkeys in a tree right outside of our apartment in the middle of the city. I'm beginning to love the people and the different cultures and traditions and it's becoming easier to teach with the Spirit and with confidence. Prayers are being answered daily and I don't know if it's because of the power and authority we hold as missionaries or simply because the gospel has finally become the center of my life. It's amazing the change that takes place when prayer and scripture study become as meaningful as they're meant to be. In fact I'm spending so much time teaching people and learning about the gospel that I'm even dreaming about mission life. Sometimes these dreams are so vivid I think they're real, but then when Batman raises the title of liberty I know it's time to wake up.

And I just want to say thank you so much for each of you who have been writing me even when I don't have a lot of time to write back or don't write back for several weeks. Your emails are worth more than gold and they give me an extra boost each week. Thank you so much. :)

Until next time.
-Elder Cloward

Monday, September 8, 2014

E-mail Sept. 8, 2014 "Another week full of blessings and buffaloes"

Yup you read right, there are buffaloes everywhere over here, out in pastures, wandering the streets, and occasionally trying to get into somebody's house. They're not the kind of buffaloes you're thinking though, over here they look just like cows with horns. To be honest, no, I can't really tell the two apart, but my companion says they're different so I'll take his word for it.

I'm constantly being reminded of how worthy a missionary has to stay to be able to do this work. Little things that I did before my mission can drive the spirit away if I don't watch myself, and even though most of those things weren't necessarily bad I'm beginning to understand that to be a missionary means to live a higher law.  Some of the investigators and less active members that we thought we were making progress with are beginning to slow down and show less interest in the things we're teaching them, which aside from angry dogs is about the most frustrating thing a missionary can experience. I think the Lord is testing my faith and patience here because I have to remind myself to continue to pray and work for them without seeing any immediate results. I know He knows what he's doing though, so I'll continue to trust in that.

This week I also realized how great of a blessing a microwave is, because when you need to rewarm pizza and you're apartment is lacking one you get a little desperate. The only other thing I thought I could use to rewarm it was a tiny little mini oven, but after opening it and realizing that it needed some major cleaning before it would be safe to put food inside I feared I might actually have to endure cold pizza.

Then I saw the toaster.

My ingenious procedure for rewarming cold pizza with a toaster is as follows:
-Step 1: turn on toaster.
-Step 2: turn toaster on its side.
-Step 3: insert cold pizza.
-Step 4: get so caught up in my own brilliance that I fail to notice that my pizza has caught ON FIRE  and is filling the kitchen with smoke.
-Step 5: immediately unplug toaster and sheepishly explain to my companion why our apartment smells like burnt tomato sauce.

...By making a few changes to some of these steps I think that this could still be an invaluable solution.

Oh, and my favorite conversation of this week:

"Elder why are you rubbing your leg like that?"
"Because I burned myself while I was ironing my pants."
"Wait, were you wearing the pants while you were ironing them?"
"...I thought my garments would protect me."

And because I know you're all thinking it, let me make it clear that no, that was not me.

Until next week, Adieu. :)

Monday, September 1, 2014

E-mail Sept. 1, 2014 "Week four in India! Oh wait, maybe it's week three..."

Holy humidity Batman. Now that the rain has stopped and the temperatures are going up again there's almost enough water in the air to swim to our appointments. I'm sure I'll get used to feeling sweaty and sticky all the time but if I go to eat breakfast one more time and soggy (not stale, soggy) cornflakes come out of the box I may have a problem.

We've spent a lot of time visiting less active and recent converts this week, in fact that probably made up 80% of our teaching. It's interesting to see the patterns that are consistent with the different members we visit, like even though the less active members will give every excuse for why they weren't there on Sunday when we ask them if they're praying and reading the Book of Mormon the negative response is universal. Contrast that to the faithful recent convert members we visit who are reading and praying every day and, not surprisingly, are the ones who come to church consistently even though several of them live an hour+ away. I've come to learn that faith is a plant that you have to nourish at home, not a battery that you recharge on Sunday.

The language is still a struggle sometimes, and there have been several occasions where the person we were teaching only understood Telugu (the native language) and so my companion had to do most of the teaching. On one such visit my companion was teaching the lesson in the language that the member could understand and I was trying to follow along so I could at least know when to join in with my testimony. I felt like I knew where the conversation was going and right when I was about to bear witness of Jesus Christ my companion said "No, Citric Acid is good for kidney stones."
Lesson learned: If I listen to the spirit then I'm sure that despite the language, I too will know when the appropriate time to bear testimony of the negative effects of unbalanced minerals in your kidneys comes.

Oh, and on a side note the cell phone that my companion and I use is very old and keeps falling apart so I figured out how to shove a pass along card inside of it to hold it together and it worked. It just goes to show, the gospel really can fix anything.

I'll be sending pictures as soon as I get an SD card reader to put them on the computer, they're not so easy to find over here.

Elder Cloward over and out. :)

another fun photo from his pre-mission photo shoot!

Monday, August 25, 2014

E-mail: August 25, 2014 "Second week in curry heaven"

I think the most important thing I've learned this week is exactly how much the Lord loves his children and will give them incredible amounts of strength when they choose to follow Him and change their lives for the better. I've been here a week and we've already had two baptisms, and while technically the previous Elders from this area did most of the teaching and set the baptism dates we got to see them take these final steps before entering the font yesterday. One of the converts, Mathu, has changed his life dramatically in order to be a part of the church, including quitting tobacco, resisting negative comments from his family, and committing to keep the Sabbath day holy even to the extent of telling his boss that he has to have Sundays off or he'll look for a new job. It's been amazing to see the gospel change these lives the way it has. :)

The second most important thing I've learned this week is to not get into a cake fight with an Indian, because you'll lose. We visited a less active family this week and it was one of the boy's 16th birthday so my companion got a cake and, well, one thing let to another and before we knew it we were cleaning frosting out of our ears. Be it known though that, like a true American, I didn't get involved until I felt that my personal safety was in jeopardy and I had no other choice but to defend myself.

I also witnessed my first beef-deal this week. It was perfectly smooth and almost undetectable- late at night away from any streetlights a man pulled up close to another man on his motorcycle and quickly withdrew a small black plastic bag from under his jacket, and like a flash the exchange was made and the customer tucked the contraband away into his bag and left the scene.
On a totally unrelated note my companion made the most delicious and satisfying beef curry that I've ever had that night.

Everything else continues to go well here. I'm getting to know the members and investigators, I'm studying Preach My Gospel and the scriptures like crazy, and I'm feeling the spirit more than I think I ever have before. I'm constantly reminded of how different my american ethnicity stands out like a sore thumb here though as all the Indian children don't even try to hide their astonishment at seeing someone so white. The courageous ones will come up to me and shake my hand while the more shy part of the group will take pictures from a safe distance. It's fun. ;)

I've got to sign out now but until next time may the spirit be with you. :)

-Elder Cloward

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

E-mail Aug. 18, 2014 "Greetings from Hyderabad"

Hey I made it to India, after a 41 hour flight and two fun layovers in Chicago and London I'm finally here, and all I can say is holy flippin' cow. We arrived at the airport Thursday morning at 5:00 and we almost didn't make it through because the people in charge of the immigration counter couldn't understand why we were here, but thankfully we finally got it worked out. President Berrett picked us up from the airport and took a cab with us to the mission home in Bangalore, and I got a hard slap in the face from reality as we drove.

We're not in Utah anymore, Toto.

The best way I can think of to describe this place is a giant messy apartment that reeks of culture, curry, and diesel fuel with millions of roommates that don't have time or money to clean up. Oh, and the traffic in this apartment needs tons of work. Most of the roads don't have lines on them and the few that do don't make a difference. Nobody here obeys traffic laws, probably because there aren't any traffic laws to obey. if there's any way you can possibly pass and cut off that bus in order to get where you're going a little faster, even if there's only 0.5 centimeters of clearance on both sides, you do it, and you do it terrifyingly fast.

The city structures are unbelievable, it consists mostly of 5+ story apartment buildings with tiny little three-walled shops in the bottom. You can tell that the cities are trying to expand to accommodate the people better because on every block there are enormous concrete frameworks for new apartments and business buildings going up, but I realized that most of them haven't been touched in years. These giant grey skeletal monoliths are so frequent that they look like a part of the environment now. I'll look down the street and instead of hills or mountains rising up in the background I see these lonely, desolate structures just waiting for someone to come and notice that they're still there.  

Oh, and don't let me forget to mention the ruthless raging monster I've come to know as Jet Lag. It preys on my fatigued human body in the most critical moments, such as the stake open house where I fell asleep twice when I was supposed to be teaching. My only refuge from this enemy is at 9:30 back at my apartment when I can lay down in bed. 

But then I'm attacked by the ravening Snoring Roommates beast, so I'm pretty beat up right now. 

Basically I feel like I've touched an Indian live wire because I am culture SHOCKED. The Lord is helping me to adjust though and I've come to know that the People and food here are fantastic and I'm loving getting to know them both. 

The church is true and the Lord knows what we need, I testify of that. Until next time, this is Elder Cloward signing off. :)

Friday, August 15, 2014

E-mail from Sis. Berrett

Dear Bro. and Sis. Cloward,

We are grateful for the arrival of you son in the India Bangalore Mission.  He arrived safe and in good spirits.  We have great need for him as a missionary.  We felt the strength of his testimony as he shared with us his feelings for missionary work.

Your son has been assigned to work in the city of Hyderabad, in the West Marredpally 2nd Ward, serving with Elder Surya from India.  Elder Surya is an experienced, dedicated missionary and we are confident that they will be able to help and support each other in the work of the Lord here in India.

We have attached photos of your son the morning that he arrived, one with President Berrett and me and one with his companion.

Many parents have asked about sending packages to their missionaries. Postage is expensive for those sending from outside India and custom charges are often assessed. We recommend that for birthdays and holidays that you put money in their personal account to save on customs charges and risk of damage.  If you send a package, especially from outside India, it should be sent to the mission office.   THE FIRST LINE OF THE ADDRESS SHOULD READ -- “Indian Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,” This is for customs purposes. The missionaries name should be written elsewhere on the package. Please keep in mind that most of our transfers are done by air travel. The local airlines have a 15 kg (about 33 lbs.) weight limit.  Missionaries struggle to keep within that limit so they transfer very light and discard items not necessary.

The Mission Office address changed about 6 months ago.  The new address is as follows:

India Bangalore Mission
No. 2, Rear Building
Garudarcharpalya, Mahadevapura Post,
Opp. ABB Tech Park
Whitefield Road, Karnataka
Bangalore 560048

Thank you for your help in your son's preparation and your support of him as he serves.  The people of India are so grateful for the truth and knowledge the missionaries share.  I know he will come to love the people with a deep love.

with Pres. and Sis. Berrett

with his companion, Elder Surya

***Note from Jen: It looks like Hyderabad is about 569 km (354 miles) north of Bangalore.  It would be about an 8 hour drive; but they fly, so it's a quick 1 hour flight.

Monday, August 11, 2014

E-mail: Aug. 11, 2014

Wow, I can't believe I'm leaving the MTC tomorrow, These last 8 days have flown by (because the first three days literally lasted three years) and I can't believe my district will be splitting up and we'll have to get new companions. Yikes. Oh, and we found out that my companion will be serving in Boston Massachusetts for three months due to complications with his Visa, and we're all pretty bummed about it. :( Anyways things are still as great as ever, we watched "The Testaments" last night and it was incredible spiritual, but it almost got hard to understand the dialog at the end because of all the sniffling sisters. I'm totally ready to get out to India and actually start teaching people! And as much as I love the classes I'm to the point where it's getting very difficult to pay attention anymore. Please pray that I survive my last two three-hour blocks today, because I'm not sure if I'll make it otherwise.

So you know how I really like the slug bug game? I've been going through withdrawals since I've been here because there obviously aren't any Volkswagens on the campus so I decided with my district that we would start hitting people whenever we saw a redhead instead, which are surprisingly common here.
I think I'm winning.

It took a while for it to catch on but now I've got everyone playing, except I've noticed that they don't go after other, they only go after me, and they've started hitting hard enough to leave bruises.
...I think that means that they like the game.

Oh, and once again the home school stereotype precedes me. We went to a meeting where you had to get up and tell something you learned about your companion and Elder Pereira's words were, and I quote: "My companion Elder Cloward is home schooled, but he doesn't act like it. He's not sheltered and he's actually social."
Thanks Elder, I appreciate the compliment.

And hey, I just want to say thanks so much for all the letters I've been getting from people, they really are worth more than gold here. Once I get to India I'd love to still get letters but if anyone would like to talk to me more than once a month (it takes awhile for letters to get there) you're welcome to email me too. :)

Quotes of the week:

-"So wait Elder Cloward, does that mean that all your school dances were in your living room?"

-"Baptism by fire? that sounds like it would hurt." "That's why we have a baptism with water right after."

-"I bet it was easy to be Prom King since your family were the only other ones there."

Later everyone! :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

E-mail: Aug. 6, 2014

"Do you want a Book of Mormon?
Come on let's go and pray,
We never see you anymore, 
Come out the door, 
We fear you've gone astray,
You used to be real active, 
And now you're not,
We wish you would tell us why,
Do you want a Book of Mormon?
Let's go read the Book of Mormon-
*Go away Elders*
Okay bye."

It definitely helped my first opinion of the MTC when an Elder from another district popped his head into our room and sang that to us our first night. ;)

Wow, this place is absolutely amazing. the Spirit here is unbelievable, everyone is super nice, our testimonies are growing, and we're learning tons about The Doctrine of Christ. It's also a boot camp. An amazing, fun, uplifting boot camp. It's basically like a crossover between EFY and Seminary on a very illegal amount of steroids for 8 hours a day. Thankfully though that's pretty much what I was expecting so it hasn't been too much of a shock, I mean at least I'm not learning a language. 

"Hey I'm Elder Cloward, where are you going on your mission?"

"I'm going to the Baltic North Mission speaking lkjnegvbyow, I've been here six weeks learning the language, what about you?"

"I'm going to the India Bangalore Mission speaking English, I'm here for 12 days."

"...I hate my life right now." 

Yes that was a real conversation I had.

My companion's name is Elder Pereira (per-air-uh) and I literally couldn't have asked for a better one. He's an Indian convert to the church of four years from California and he's about as spiritual, humble, and fun as they come. we get along great and we have a lot of fun teaching together. In fact all 8 guys in our district are just plain awesome. Every one of them has a great testimony, a great sense of humor, and they all work hard. I really lucked out with these guys, even when they use Elder Cloward as the punchline to a prank. We were sitting at dinner one day and one of the Elders popped up and said, "Hey Elders, did you know that if you mix ketchup and salt together it creates a chemical reaction and you can feel heat coming off of it?" So of course Elder Cloward holds his hand right over the cup of ketchup to feel and SPLAT.

I've showered three times since then and I'm pretty sure my hands still smell like condiments.

But as great as the Elders are they come nowhere near the profound awesomeness of the sisters. They're everywhere, beautiful, spiritual, amazing daughters of God who are all completely off limits unless you're talking to them about the Restoration or asking how to get to the mail room. They really are amazing though. We had two sisters in our zone and they left this morning, but not after presenting us with as many snacks and leftover treats as they could muster before saying goodbye. Our whole district is missing them pretty bad, but not just because they were fun and pretty, the spirit that they brought to all of our meetings was incredible. 

Oh yeah, "Spiritual", haha. So we all recognize that it's not appropriate to call the sisters beautiful or pretty or anything like that out loud because we're not supposed to be paying attention to that, and so it took me until about the third day to realize that when my companion was saying "wow those sure are some spiritual sisters" or "there's a sister shining with the spirit to your left", it meant something a little different. I also learned the hard way that when another Elder sees you deep in thought and asks you which scripture you're thinking about while there are sisters in the room "and they were exceedingly fair" is not an appropriate answer.

We have an amazing set of teachers who are helping us to live and breathe Preach My Gospel, my favorite of which is Brother Derenthal. He's an RM of about 3 years who looks just like Joseph Smith and has a sense of humor just as great as his teaching methods. We're learning so much about the Gospel and How to teach people, and let me tell you they don't waste any time. The first night we were here we met as a group to teach investigators and we've been teaching and doing tons of role playing since then. It's amazing how when you're doing your best to learn how to help change and convert people the Lord begins to change and convert you too. I've learned more about myself and about our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ than I ever thought was possible in just a week. It's astounding to realize just how much we don't know about the Gospel, and yet the Lord still helps us and allows us to do this great work. The Church is true everyone.

Oh, and I have to include some of our favorite quotes from this week, just so you can get a better idea of what it's like here. ;)

"Stop being dumb, I know you feel the spirit!"

"If at first you don't succeed, then try it the right way."

"H-no! ...That means Heavens no."

"The title of this is not 'Joseph Smith and Friends.' "

When referring to investigators: "Ain't nobody a project."

"Sure you can stay home from church, I'm going to light the house on fire on my way out though."

Love you everyone, I'll see you in 2. :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dropping him off at the MTC!

I've decided that this "curbside" drop off thing is actually really great.  A lot less emotional than when we had to go in!  Kensi & Afton have had the hardest time today.  But we were able to stop the tears and distract them with the ferris wheel and fudge from Scheels on the way home!   (Okay, so maybe the fudge was a little bit for me, too.)  :)  We will all miss him, but are so excited for this adventure that Elder Cloward gets to have!

Nic and Luke got to say their goodbyes earlier this week.  You'll notice they aren't in the pictures.  They are at NYLT Boy Scout Camp this week.  They've been committed to camp since before Kaiden got his call, so off they went.  They got to talk to him this morning on the phone before he left though.

Ready to go!

With Afton, Kensi & Garrett

all of us

outside the MTC right before they whisked him away!

A few pictures from MTC day!