Monday, December 28, 2015

E-mail Dec. 27, 2015: "Loko Loko"

That pretty much describes our week this week.

Elder Thacker and I both knew that I'd be leaving for India very soon so he prepared himself to get a new companion and continue the work here in San Jose. At least that was the plan, but I'm learning that as a missionary things seldom go as planned.

There's an occasional event in the mission field that we call White Washing. 95% of the time during transfers one missionary leaves an area and a new one takes his place. That leaves the companion who stayed behind in charge of the area for a few weeks as he shows the new missionary where everything is and passes on key information. Once in a while however both the missionaries are taken out of an area and two new ones are put in to basically start the area again from scratch.

Guess what just happened to our area?

Elder Thacker got an unexpected "change of assignment" as he would have me call it. *cough cough, Assistant to the President, cough cough* Elder Thacker has been an extremely effective missionary and has given his all to this work so far, and we're excited for him to be able to serve the mission in his new assignment. That leaves our area in San Jose without any missionaries for a few days though, and we've been frantically trying to update our area book and leave enough notes so the new missionaries can pick up where we left off. Although I'm scared to death that some of the people I came to love in that area will get lost in the new hustle and bustle, I trust that with the Lord's help everything will go well.

I'm in Tarlac today, I'm heading to Manila tomorrow, and I'll  be on a plane to India by Wednesday. Sorry this is so short but these next few days are going to be pretty busy.

Pictures though!

Our returning member, Nanay Marson and her son Jefferson (right).
Also pictured: two neighborhood kids and two white guys.

One of our members raises pigs.

Whoa, hey now...

Gaaah!

And this is what happens when they grow up. It's called Lechon.

Gaaaaahhh!!!

The little boy in the middle is named Zelph, so technically this is a Zelphie. ;)

The one and only Tatay Vic.
I love this beautiful country.


Until next time everyone, Stay Strong and Rock On. :)
-Elder Cloward

Friday, December 25, 2015

E-mail Dec. 20, 2015: "Congratulations, you've lived through a Super Typhoon. ...Again."‏

Now granted this typhoon wasn't nearly as bad as the last one and it didn't hit San Jose super hard, but it did cause some major flooding all over our zone. I was hoping that I'd seen the last of leaky ceilings when I left my last apartment, but my hope was in vain. After waking up Wednesday and saying my morning prayers I routinely hopped off the side of the top bunk, but this time instead of hitting dry ground, my feet landed on wet tiles and I ate it. Later, after nursing my bruised body and injured pride I looked outside our apartment to survey the damage. In short the street in front of our house had become an enormous swimming pool. Almost all day San Jose looked more like Venice Italy, and I was tempted to see if any of our neighbors had a paddle boat so we could still get to our appointments. Luckily the flooding was gone by the next day,  and instead we were plagued with a brown-out across the whole city. A brown out is the same as a black out, and when I asked Elder Thacker why it's called a brown out he said, "because that's when all the browns come out."
Yeah he's a little racist, but at least he's got a sense of humor.

"Elder Cloward what do you want for Christmas?"

I've been asked this question many times over these last couple weeks. But every time, before I can answer, my companion replies with "His Visa." Whether that's because Elder Thacker knows I want to get back to cows and curry or whether he just wants to be rid of me is yet to be determined, but either way his Christmas wish came true.

I got my Visa.

I'll be returning to India shortly after Christmas to finish out the rest of my mission, but I've got very mixed emotions about that. I've truly come to love the people of this country just as much as the people in India and back home. It's bitter sweet knowing that I'll be leaving so many friends that I've made here, but at the same time I'm excited to go back to many old friends. Most of all I trust that the Lord needs me back in India now and I'm happy to be where He wants me to be.

And I apologize, I'll have to send pictures next week.

Anyways until next time everyone, Stay Strong and Rock On. :)
-Elder Rain Clouds

Monday, December 14, 2015

E-mail Dec. 14, 2015: "El Ninyo"

We're in the middle of December with two weeks left until Christmas. It's not that I'm expecting to get 6 inches of snow or anything, but is it too much to ask for a little bit cooler temperatures? I shouldn't complain too much though. A few weeks ago it was starting to cool down a little bit, but then we were hit with "El Ninyo". El Ninyo is a strange phenomenon in the Philippines where once every four years at the beginning of December the weather becomes inexplicably hot and humid. Right now we should be experiencing cool breezes and winter air, but these last several days the weather has hovered between 90-100 degrees all day every single day. On top of that our power went out one day and none of our fans were working. Although I hate to admit it, we got very little done that day. Oh well, on the bright side we have an easy way to start conversations with people on the street now.

"Hello brother! Wow, it's hot today isn't it?"
"Yes, it's so hot, I almost can't take it."
"Well brother if you don't repent and start following Jesus Christ, it's going to get a lot hotter than this."

...Elder Thacker doesn't really like that idea. We'll have to see how well it works though.

Yesterday at church we were expecting many less actives and many investigators to attend. We've been doing all we can for them by visiting as often as we can and even picking them up for church sometimes. As fate would have it though sacrament meeting started and we didn't have a single investigator there. Even our less actives who would have been counted as "returned" had they attended today didn't show up. We were both feeling pretty down during the meeting when low and behold, with 10 minutes of the meeting remaining, Tatay Vic came hobbling up the front walk. We rushed out to meet him and as we walked him inside the eyes of the whole congregation were on us. With triumph and satisfaction on our faces we sat down next to him and couldn't help but smile to ourselves that once again the Lord was working miracles through good ol' Tatay. I'll include a picture of him next week. :)

Anyways everyone until next time, Stay Strong and Rock On. :)
-Elder Clouds

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

E-mail Dec. 7, 2015: "...I've run out of titles"

Yup, when I tried to think of a title my brain went blank. I've got nothing.

I just realized that I've been in my new area for more than a month now and I haven't talked about my new companion yet. Oops. Here's a little but about my pogi kasama.

Elder Thacker is from Highland Utah and is a twin. He's an incredibly organized and hard working Elder who takes on all of his responsibilities with all his heart. He's mastered Tagalog and spends most of every day translating for me while we teach. He's a master photographer and has an unhealthy obsession with Oreos. He works hard to be a disciplined leader yet at the same time likes to goof off and have fun. He has laser sharp focus 99% of the time except for that 1% when he gets something random stuck in his head (for example, he ran around for 20 minutes one day in the middle of studies to find a document to see what blood type he is). He's an excellent teacher and truly understands his purpose as a missionary. We've had a great time so far and we've done some great work. Quote of the week: "Elder Cloward, I finally get your humor now."

Great, it only took a month. ;)

In other news this week my favorite investigator, Brother Vic Toralba, came to church again. A few weeks ago he was at the bottom of our teaching pool because he has a hard time listening to the lessons (he interrupts Elder Thacker all the time, it's funny) and he has a word of wisdom problem. To our surprise however when we invited him to church he actually came, on his own too. Bro. Vic is 67 but is alive and energetic as a man half his age. He has a very unique and fearless personality and he likes to crack jokes all the time. Every time we show up to teach he asks us "why didn't you bring any chicks?" or "Sure I'll come to church on Sunday, if I'm still alive by then." Last Sunday he even leaned over to me and quietly started singing "Pretty Woman" as the YSA girls walked into Gospel Essentials class. Basically, he's awesome. I hope I can be like him when I'm an old man one day. ;)

Pictures!

#ForestSelfie

Just another day in paradise.

The one and only Elder Cox from Ogden Utah.

The one and only Elder Thacker (sorry ladies, he has a girlfriend already).

One of our recent convert's front yard.

This was a random sign on someone's door. So either I was named after a Filipino or a Filipino was named after me. #Awesome

The Sacred Grove is totally in our area. 
Anywas until next time everyone, stay strong and rock on. :)
-Elder Cloward


Friday, December 4, 2015

E-mail Nov. 29, 2015: "What do you mean he's coming now???"

"Hey Elder we're out of Book of Mormons, when can we get more?"
"Umm, let me see... Hey you're in luck, President Clark will be passing by your zone in a few hours. We'll ask him to drop them off at your house."
"*gulp* Our house? a few hours?"
"Yup, make sure your apartment's clean. Take care."
-click-

As I hung up the phone a wave of dread washed over me as I surveyed our less-than-tidy apartment. We'd had a busy couple of weeks and hadn't spent much time cleaning, and it was beginning to show. A combination of garbage, dirty dishes, dirty clothes, and miscellaneous clutter which none of us could account for equated to a scene similar to the aftermath of a super typhoon. As I rushed to tell the other Elders that our mission president would be stopping by in few hours I saw the same expressions of shock and utter panic as each of them also realized how disastrous our home was. In short we spent every minute of our lunch hour (and a most of our language study) cleaning, sweeping, washing, and tidying up until our living quarters were somewhat more presentable. We waited in great anticipation until the familiar white Toyota Foretuner pulled up, right on time, and our mission president and his wife stepped out. As we walked outside to greet them he wasted no time in unloading and handing off two boxes full of Book of Mormons and then without wasting a moment shook our hands and drove off again.

He. Didn't. Even. Walk. Through. The. Gate. Gaaahhh...

Oh well, I learned a valuable lesson through that experience. As we were cleaning Elder Guardiana mentioned how "this is what it will feel like for many people during the millennium," and boy was he right. During out experience with our apartment I thought to myself about how much easier it would have been if we had just been in the habit of keeping our home clean all the time. It reminded me how no one knows when the Savior will come again and how important it is for each of us to stay prepared every day. Unlike our fiasco a couple of days ago when the second coming occurs there won't be time for a frantic "tidy up." Those who are ready will be ready, and those who aren't won't. It made me think about my own life; "if the Savior came today, how would I feel?" I invite each of you to ask yourself that question and determine, as I've done, if there's anything you should improve on. As we live our lives by the gospel each day in preparation for the final judgement the blessings will flow, I testify of that. :)

Oh, and I apologize for the scare last week, I think it worked a little to well. ;)

Thanks again for your love everyone, I wouldn't be where I am today without the support I've received and continue to receive from each of you. I'm happy to call you all my friends and family. Mahal ko kayong lahat. :)

Anyways until next time everyone, rock on. :)
-Elder Cloward

Elder Cloward is on the 2nd row, 5th from the right, behind the sister in the teal shirt.

Monday, November 23, 2015

E-mail Nov. 23, 2015, "I'm coming home..."

Hah! Gotcha.

As I clicked on the contacts for my email this week I wondered how many of you actually read my emails when they pop up in your inbox, so I decided to include a title that would make you check.

Email me if it worked, and then actually read this. ;)

I also included this title because it's also the title of a song I heard this week. One of the Elders in our kabahay showed us a popular song he had that had been re-written with missionary lyrics. Among a clever parody of words about preaching the gospel and crying repentance set to a rap were the words of the chorus- "I'm coming home".

The rhythm and tempo of the song set a perfect mood for a missionary going home after a faithful 2 years, and I couldn't help but wonder what it will be like when I'm looking out the window of an airplane bound for Salt Lake in another 8 months. As the plane floats gently over the ocean and on to the rocky mountains will my mind be filled with joy and satisfaction or will there be a tinge of sadness and regret that always accompanies the realization- "I could have done more"? It made me think back over the last 16 months and how I've served so far. Do I wish I'd done more? Of course, but at the same time as I see how far I've come as a missionary and as a disciple of Christ it fills me with peace knowing that if I continue to strive for obedience and diligence I'll return home with the sweet satisfaction that I've served well. It drives me to do my best every day and rely on the Lord to make up for my weaknesses.

As my time slowly winds down here I can't help but think that missionary life has a parallel to our entire mortal life. The closer I get to the end the more I push myself to work harder and not waste any time. The closer I get to the end the more I realize how short this time really is, and I imagine that down the road when I'm bent and gray I'll feel the same way about life. It helps me to see that time really is precious, and as I've learned to not waste a single minute out here I plan on perpetuating that attitude when I get home. Remember everyone, once time is spent you can't get it back, so make every moment count. :)

Ingat Po! 
-Elder Cloward

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

E-mail Nov. 16, 2015: "Back to good ol' mother nature.‏"

Aaaaahhh, I can breathe again. This morning some of the missionaries from our zone decided to wake up early to go for a hike. I was less than enthusiastic at first knowing how early we'd have to get up and how much time would be sacrificed on one of our precious P-days, but once the journey started I was glad I decided to go. After spending the last 15 months in 4 different extremely crowded cities and never seeing more of mother nature than a bunch of weeds and an occasional palm tree growing out of the sidewalk it was pure bliss to be able to walk through the mountains and enjoy the beauty of god's creations. The funny part is that the mountains here in San Jose look almost identical to some of the mountains in Utah, and after hiking through them and ending up at a waterfall with an uncanny resemblance to the one up Adam's Canyon in Davis county let's just say I was got a little trunky today. ;)

The work people here in San Jose are awesome, and I'm growing to love them more and more. It's funny how love has a strange ability to change your attitude about something, or maybe it's that your attitude can change how much you love something, or maybe it's both; but I noticed this week that I'm learning to laugh at many of the things that used to bother or irritate me. For example, I used to hate it when we'd be teaching a lesson and the investigator's young child would be running around the house half or completely nude (which happens surprisingly often here), but I found myself laughing last night as our investigator's wild and pants-less toddler ended up putting on a show while his parents tried to get him to sit still. It's crazy what a little bit of love for your fellow man can do to help you to enjoy life instead of getting stressed out about the little things, and I challenge each of you take an opportunity this week to love, laugh, and live a little more. :)

Mahal ko kayo! :)

My Pogi Kasama
(translation: my handsome companion)

Matching
(I think his companion's name is Elder Thacker, Elder Cloward hasn't told us yet.)

Beautiful Philippines

Forest Selfie

The waterfall above the waterfall

this would make an awesome water slide

Dinner! Yum.

Monday, November 9, 2015

E-mail Nov. 8, 2015: "Oh, your name's Elder Coward! Ha. Ha. Ha."‏

Wow, I wasn't expecting much of what happened this week. I got transferred to the San Jose zone and my new companion is Elder Thacker from good ol' Utah. Transfers here are very different than India. In India they call you to inform you of your transfer on Monday and usually and it's about a week later before you're on the plane. Here we meet together as a zone on Wednesday to hear the transfer announcements and then we're on a bus to our new areas at 7:00 the Thursday morning. Needless to say I wasn't expecting to have to leave the ward and the people that I've come to love so much so soon, but I know that there's work to do and plenty of new people to meet here in San Jose.

Yesterday as I met all the members of this ward for the first time at church they received me very warmly but just couldn't manage to get my name right.
"Elder Flower?"
"Elder Cloud, diba?"
"Elder Coward, hahaha your name is so funny."
I heard that last one over, and over, and over, and over yesterday. This week as we teach the gospel we'll also take some time to teach a few people how to pronounce their L's. ;)

I've been praying my whole mission to get sent to an area in the country, and it seems that my plea has finally been answered. Most of our area here in San Jose is what's known as 'bukid' or farmland. It's amazing to finally be walking down dirt roads, passing newly harvested rice fields, and seeing stars instead of neon lights at night. On top of it all thew people here that I've met so far are very humble, friendly, and they love the missionaries. I'm enjoying my new area very much. :)

Anyways sorry for no pictures this week, I'll send some next time though. :) 
Until then-
-Elder CLoward

Note from Jen (mom): We got an email from the office of the mission president last week telling us that with this transfer he's also a Zone leader.  

San Jose is in the northern most part of the mission.  He has been in the Angeles zone in the far SW part of the mission.  So it's a big change of scenery for him.  


Monday, November 2, 2015

E-mail: Nov. 2, 2015 "Ups and Downs, Again"

Gaaah, just when you think that the work is picking up in your area and you'll finally have some more baptisms things go wrong. The policy over here says that any investigator must attend church 4 consecutive weeks before they can be baptized so we can tell if they're really dedicated to the gospel. My companion and I have many new investigators who are progressing through the lessons and reading the Book of Mormon but haven't been to church yet. After pleading, urging, inspiring, and doing almost everything short of bribing and threatening (most of the time), we finally got our hand full of new investigators to commit to church with they're whole hearts. We even left our apartment early on Sunday morning to visit each of them and remind them to attend, to which they all responded that they would "definitely come". Later in the day the time for church came, but none of those investigators did. Among the things we heard when we followed up later were:

"My sister's brother-in-law's child was sick so I couldn't come."

"I sent my daughter to church by herself. What do you mean she never showed up?"

"My husband had some friends over and they all got drunk before church. Sorry."

Excuses excuses excuses. Several others were all gone visiting cemeteries to celebrate all saints day yesterday as well, so that means that none of our investigators can get baptized in November because they won't have been to church enough times. Basically, we need a miracle, and that's exactly what we're praying for.

Anyways, on a different note I realized this week how much I've come to love the people here in the Philippines. To be honest when I first got here I didn't know if I'd ever be able to love the people here as much as I came to love the people of India. The culture, language, and people were so different from what I'd grown accustomed to, but as I've tried hard to serve them my love for them has grown tremendously. I used to always be anxious to go back to India, now I'll be sad to leave. Something I've learned is that when we start to take seriously the commandment to love all people, whether those people be our friends, family members, co-workers, or people who live in a different country half way across the world, the Lord not only helps us but begins to change our very nature into a being more capable of spreading His love to all within their circle of influence. I pray that we will all begin to reach out in love a little bit more to one another.

Until next week everyone-
-Elder Cloward

E-mail: Oct. 25, 2015 "You underestimate me, Elder..."

This morning the four elders in our apartment went over the the church to begin our P-day. The Elders from the other ward played basketball and my companion and I took some time to practice the piano. The other elders finished first and lefty before we did and when we got back to the apartment we were pleasantly surprised to see that they had cleaned most of the apartment for us. As I commented on how nice the apartment looked one of the elders half-jokingly said "enjoy it for the next two days before it's a mess again." to which I quickly retorted, "you think it'll take me two days? You underestimate me elder." and proceeded to toss my clothes on the floor.

His silence seemed to indicate that he didn't think it was funny.

Okay okay, so Elder Cloward isn't the cleanest missionary in the mission, but I'm working on it. I'm hoping that by the time I finish my mission I'll have become a much more organized and cleanly person, but then again after I come home I'll probably just have messy roommates in college, so is there really a point?...

In other news this week I've been able to see the hand of the Lord working in my extensively in my life. I've been praying for strength to overcome trials and to be liberated from the seemingly endless mountain of stress that's always on my shoulders, and it's finally beginning to let up. As I started wondering what exactly helped me to feel so relieved this past week I've had to step back and take an honest look at myself these last two months. Although I've had a great desire to serve and to do my best here in the Philippines despite the unique challenges of being culture shocked again and not knowing the language I have to admit that there were a few things that I had a less then great attitude about. I've experienced countless new challenges since being here that have tested my patience to the max, and although I've been doing my best to be obedient and overcome my weaknesses I realize now that attitude really means everything. I've learned these past few months that although we can't always control our situations we can always control our attitude. It took a lot of prayers and searching for me to understand that, but thanks to a very patient Heavenly Teacher that knowledge, and the divine strength I've received to apply it, has made everything easier. Our attitude is manifested by the way we approach any situation. Am I looking at this opportunity with humility, faith, and optimism? or am I complaining, murmuring, and unwilling to give it my best effort? "Choose you this day whom ye will serve" can be coupled with "and choose your attitude for how you'll do it". I testify that if we change our attitude we can change our life.

Mahal Kita everyone. :)
-Elder Cloward

Friday, October 23, 2015

E-mail Oct. 19, 2015: "Congratulations, you have lived through a Super Typhoon."

Those were the encouraging words we received form our zone leaders last night after Typhoon Lando finally moved away. We came in early Saturday night because of the approaching storm and were in lock down the next two days and couldn't even leave our apartment. Although our area was not affected as heavily as others, we still experienced torrential rain, howling winds, more torrential rain, and a slightly flooded apartment. Thankfully though, the Lord was with us and it looks like everyone in the mission was kept away from harm. It was weird not going to church on Sunday and having to stay inside and find things to do all day instead (although I will admit it was nice to have a little time to rest). It was a little surprising though when on Monday we were still under partial lock down even though the storm was almost passed and we probably would have been perfectly safe outside. The church took heavy precautions to ensure the safety of the missionaries, even at the expense of missing church and preparation day.

I think there's a lesson to be learned there. This experience taught me that the Lord greatly values our physical safety, but equally important to Him is our spiritual safety. The mission, under the direction of the Lord, did everything they could to keep us safe during the typhoon, and in the same way the Lord does everything He can, while still respecting our agency, to give us commandments and guidance to ensure our spiritual safety. As we saw the winds howling and felt the heavy torrents of rain beat against our home we weren't very tempted to see what it would be like to go outside. Why is it then that when spiritual storms of temptation and sin come into our lives that we sometimes decide to wander out into the gale, despite God's constant warnings, to see what it's like? I think it's because Satan is a master deceiver, and his expertise lies in covering up the winds and pounding rain so we don't realize how threatening the storm really is until we've been swept away. That's shy it's so important to listen to the Ultimate Forecaster who urges us to stay safe inside His shelter by keeping his commandments and preparing ourselves against temptation. I pray that we'll all be wise enough to recognize the spiritual storms in our lives for what they really are, and that we'll have the strength to do everything we can to stay safe when they come.

We've started teaching an Indian man from Punjab who's living here with his family. His name is Darshen Singh and he's very nice and receptive to the gospel. I cannot adequately describe the nostalgia I felt as he greeted us in his Indian accent and invited into his home where Bollywood was playing on the TV. I remember when I first got to India and every time I saw an American it brought a feeling of familiarity and kinship, and now every time I see an Indian here (which happens surprisingly often) I get the same feeling. I was a little disappointed when we learned that he's so proficient in Tagalog that he'd rather be taught in that language, but his whole family is receptive and we have high hopes for them accepting the gospel and being baptized so I'm still happy. :)

Anyways everyone until next time, stay awesome. :)
-Elder Cloward

We finally have a snail mail address for him in the Philippines:

Philippines Angeles Mission
F. Tanedo Street, Brgy San Nicolas
Tarlac City, Tarlac 2300 
Philippines

That's to the mission office where they sort the mail and deliver them to the missionaries. It looks like I may be here for a little while longer so if anyone wants to send letters or packages it's probably okay right now.  - Elder Cloward


Monday, October 12, 2015

E-mail: Oct. 12, 2015 "Every. Single. Time."

The devil is real, brothers and sisters. That's one thing I've learned on my mission. One example that helps to prove that though is more annoying than anything else.

During our training in the MTC (crazy how I still remember all of that) and on almost every page of preach my gospel (which we study daily) it encourages the missionaries to frequently bear testimony of Joseph Smith and of the Restoration, because that will be the foundation of an investigator's testimony of the restored gospel. All missionaries know this important part of teaching, but unfortunately so does the adversary. Almost every single time, without fail, someone or something will interrupt me or my companion right as we begin to bear our personal testimony of Joseph Smith and of the Book of Mormon. Even during a lesson with no distractions previous to or following our bearing of testimony something always happens right at that crucial moment. Am I saying that Satan controls when the baby starts crying or when friends come to the door or when dishes suddenly fall of the kitchen counter? Not necessarily, but it's obvious that he has some influence and does everything he can to prevent that ever-crucial testifying moment.

I think that happens in our lives as well; why does it seem that whenever we try to make correct choices or whenever our testimony is strengthened things unavoidably get harder? It should be the other way around shouldn't it? Shouldn't things get easier as we come closer to the Savior and begin to follow Him more exactly? I think there are two reasons for the almost predictable increase in stress that comes as we increase our effort to keep the commandments. First, the father of all lies knows us very well. He was our brother and he lived and associated with us for eons before we were born and so he knows our weaknesses. He recognizes when we start taking steps in the right direction and does everything he can to bring us down. The comforting part though, and also ironically the second reason we experience these difficulties, is that our Heavenly Father also knows our weaknesses and He also sees when we progress further along the path of discipleship. God will never let us be tempted above that which we are able to bear, so maybe the reason temptations increase when our resolve to do good increases is because that resolve leaves us a little bit stronger, strong enough to combat even harder trials. With new light and knowledge also comes the necessity of putting that light and knowledge to the test so it can become tempered and permanent, so instead of taking away the trials when they come, our Father in Heaven lets us groan a little as we lift the figurative barbell and strengthen our spiritual pectorals. I testify that even in the midst of necessary trials and temptations our Father is always there, and He will ALWAYS provide the strength we need if we'll reach out to Him for it.

Well, that spiritual thought turned out to be a little longer than I thought it would be. I'll have to write about our new investigator from India next week. Remind me.

Anyways everyone until next week, stay strong and rock on. :)
-Elder Clouds

Monday, October 5, 2015

E-mail: Oct. 5, 2015 "2 baptisms! That's what I'm talking about!‏"

A few months ago a woman came to church who we didn't recognize. After talking to her, we learned that she was a less active member and that she'd been a member for almost 20 years. She told us about her family and she agreed to let us come and visit. When we went to her home we met her 4 children and found out that her two oldest children, Kyle and Trisha, were not yet baptized.

As we started teaching them they seemed less than interested in learning about the gospel and even though their mother continued to come to church, Trisha was hesitant to leave her friends in her Baptist church and went there on Sunday instead. We learned later that the family was experiencing some significant hardships and they all seemed drained of life happiness. Despite all the trials they were experiencing and the initial lack of interest, shortly after we started visiting them the entire atmosphere of the home changed. Sadness and emptiness was replaced with light and joy. They all started to laugh again and we looked forward to visiting them.

Saturday was Trisha and Kyle's baptism and the spirit at the service was incredibly strong. What was it that changed everything about this family? What was it that allowed them to experience joy again even in the middle of their trials? I think you already know the answer. This experience was a powerful testimony to me that when someone, anyone, lets the gospel into their life, keeps the commandments, and makes necessary sacrifices in order to follow the Savior, they'll experience the incredible changing and cleansing power of the atonement. One thing I've learned a lot about recently is that as we desire and try to change and become better people we really are helpless on our own. I used to believe that reliance on the Savior and His atonement provided a sort of boost to the change process as we try to overcome our weaknesses, but I realize now that it's the only way we can truly change. Although overcoming weaknesses and trying to become more Christlike still requires our constant effort, it's essential to realize and admit that alone we simply can't do it. As we humble ourselves and put our complete faith in the Savior and His promises, a power beyond our own flows into our lives that brings with it the necessary strength to change and become who our Heavenly Father wants us to be. I testify of that.

Mahal Kita everyone. :)
-Elder Cloward


Sunday, October 4, 2015

E-mail: Sept 27, 2015 "Why is laughter the best medicine? Because when you overdose it actually makes you live longer!"

Quotes from the past few weeks:

From one of my Filipino cabahays (room mates)- "Hey Joe! You looks like a Joe!"

As one of our recent converts called to invite his brother in for the lesson- "Can you come into the out now?"

One of the sister missionaries who gave the training during district meeting- "Gah... you guys are all going to hell." (thankfully she wasn't referring to us. ...I think.)

As one of the sister missionaries was explaining their investigators problem- "We've taught him the Word of Wisdom but he's still smoking three sticks of espresso each day."

And I found this written on the chalkboard when we walked into one of the church classrooms a few weeks ago- "Being a LDS is best thing happen in my life."

We have a lot of fun over here. Whether it be with the missionaries, members, or people we meet on the street, there's always something said that makes us laugh, and it's usually because whoever was speaking tried to use English and it didn't come across right. On the other hand though I think it's so cool how despite obvious language barriers or mistakes the truths of the gospel are the same. "Being a LDS is best thing happen in my life." is a beautiful declaration from someone who recognizes how important the gospel is to them. It's a reminder to me that although the seemingly insurmountable language barriers in the Philippines and in India are often frustrating and occasionally discouraging, the Spirit can and does speak to those who's hearts are ready to listen. I think the same is true even where individuals speak the same language. Often there will be those who don't care what we have to say and won't listen when we try to reach out, but if we can help them to feel the influence of the Holy Ghost, which I've learned comes as we love and selflessly serve them, He can speak the language that everyone already knows and yearns to hear, the language of the Spirit. I testify of that.

Pictures!


Angeles District 2, from left to right- Elder Clouds, Elder Ditan, Elder Flores (in the front), Elder Gemelo, Sister Mepania, Sister Tikeri, Sister Estrada, and Sister Borrowman.

I love Filipino bugs (this one's bigger than the spider).

A not-so-little friend we became acquainted with a few weeks ago. (I took the picture after hitting him with a broom when I thought he was dead. Turns out he was only unconscious and tried to kill me a few minutes later).

A flaming 1 to represent one year in the refiner's fire completed and one more to go.

A flaming tie because, well, it's hump day, and we like lighting things on fire.

Ending Hump day with donuts and Milo. (There ain't nothing better).

Mahal Kita everyone!
-Elder Cloward

E-mail: Sept 20, 2015 "Oh come on, it's not even October yet!"

These last few weeks I've become acquainted with what the locals over here call the "Ber Months", meaning all the months ending with "ber"- september, october, novemeber, etc. They're characterized by scorching temperatures (at least right now) and every store selling Christmas decorations and playing Christmas music. Our neighbors bought a giant karaoke machine a little while ago so I've been waking up to "Last Christmas I gave you my heart" and selections from the Jackson 5 Christmas album every day for weeks now. I've developed a new love for Thanksgiving because I've realized that aside form being a great time to be thankful, the holiday keeps the Christmas spirit at bay a little bit longer in the US. My Filipino companions all believe I'm a heartless Scrooge because I'm under the strong opinion that the Christmas season belongs in December and nowhere else. I've tried to explain to them that just because I want to take an ax to every holiday tree set up before Halloween doesn't mean I hate Christmas, but I don't think they believe me. Oh well.

This week we taught the son of a recent convert and his wife for the first time. We started teaching them about the restoration and right from the beginning I could tell it wasn't going very well. They weren't paying very close attention and in the middle of the lesson two of their young boys ran in and started crying and and wanting attention. As I saw our lesson catapulting out of control I was worried they wouldn't let us come back if something didn't change. Not knowing what I could do, I said a silent prayer in my heart, "Heavenly Father, this lesson is falling apart, please help us save it." No sooner had I thought the words then the two boys almost immediately stopped crying and remained calm for the rest of the lesson. As the lesson progressed the Spirit entered and the couple began to listen intently. The lesson ended up going so well that for what I think was the first time on my mission, they came to church the first Sunday after we we invited them.

Do you believe in miracles? I do.

God answers our prayers when we put our trust in Him. I didn't say my prayer out loud, I wasn't even able to bow my head or fold my arms, but as I sent up a silent petition from my heart He heard me and answered immediately. Our Father in Heaven loves us and will answer us if we just have the faith to ask. I testify of that.

Anyways everybody mahal kita, manatili kahanga-hangang. :)
-Elder Cloward

E-mail Sept. 14, 2015: "Wow, didn't see that one coming"

Isn't it funny how whenever you get comfortable with how things are going in life God throws a curve ball at you which changes everything and throws you clear out of your comfort zone and into the great abyss of fear and uncertainty?

I thought it was funny too until it actually happened to me.

This week my companion, Elder Operio, got emergency transferred into an area on the other side of the mission. We don't know the exact reason but it sounds like there was a problem between the previous missionaries and some members so Elder Operio gets to help sort things out over there.

What does that mean for Elder Cloward? Elder Cloward gets to lead an area he's only been in for 1 transfer where he still doesn't know the language. In short I was terrified and stressed as anything, but after a lot of prayers and feel good food I've been able to manage.

One thing I've learned about changes and trials is that our Heavenly Father will never leave us alone and he'll give us the tools we need to succeed. My tool for success during this period of growth happens to be my new companion, Elder Flores. Elder Flores is a native Filipino who's been out for 9 months and is about as friendly as they come. He has the ability to connect with people instantly and make them smile, yet at the same time he's incredibly humble and remembers his purpose at all times. We've had a great time so far, and I'm pretty sure I'm learning more from him than he is from me. I'm grateful for the opportunity the Lord has given me to grow, as uncomfortable as it may be, and I know that He'll help me through it.

Pictures!

The view form our apartment

Gosh I love sunsets

I love how my mission looks exactly like what everyone imagines a foreign mission to look like.

Hey look! I'm home!

What's better than an Indian restaurant in the Philippines?  That's right, nothing!

Love you everyone! Take care. :)
-Elder Clouds




Thursday, September 10, 2015

E-mail Sept. 6, 2015 "If at first you don't succeed then try, try again. ...and again, and again.‏"

A few weeks ago I complained about my companion getting a violin because I was sure he wouldn't be able to play it. I was afraid that it would be painful to listen to and that he's end up trying to play it for a few days and then give up.

I was wrong.

I almost couldn't believe my ears but as I listened to my companion playing his new instrument this week I was amazed that not only was he able to pick out the melody for several hymns and popular church songs, but it sounded good too. Considering that he has no formal teacher and he picked it up just by listening to his pen drive of music is incredible, but maybe even more incredible is that fact that I've seen similar results with my efforts on the guitar. I got a guitar for Christmas years ago and I even went to classes every week for a month to learn the basics, but, and anyone who's ever tried to learn guitar before knows this, the beginning stages of that particular instrument often result in frustration and bleeding fingers and I gave up too soon, thinking it just wasn't for me. However when I arrived in the Philippines and watched my companion strumming away on our neighbor's guitar I decided to give it another try. It's taken persistence, it's taken patience, it's taken tips and teaching from my companion and members, and it was just as painful as when I tried it years ago, but I'm proud to say that because of a little dedication I'm picking it up, and quite rapidly at that.

One thing I've learned on my mission (and am still learning) is that with a little dedication and hard work anything is possible. I've seen it with the guitar, I've seen it with exercise as I try to stay healthy, but most importantly I've seen it in abundance with developing Christ-like attributes and striving to become the person the lord wants me to be. The Lord will very seldom help us to change if we don't desire it and ask for his help, but he also won't help us if we ask him and don't do anything. There have been times when I asked the Lord to help me change and then I was frustrated as I waited around and nothing seemed to change. What I've learned is that the Lord will always help us, but He will almost always wait for us to take the first step. I think that's one definition for faith, and as I've set goals and tried hard to improve I've seen the hand of the Lord taking me further then I could ever go on my own. I only play the guitar in the evenings after all our work is done because we're busy and I don't want it to be a distraction, which means there's hardly any time to practice, and yet I'm still seeing rapid progress. In the Same way when we give our best effort to improve ourselves, even if that effort is small at first, we'll be amazed at how quickly the Lord helps us to progress as He makes up for our shortcomings.

Pictures!

Sister I-Forgot-Her-Name, Sister Dominic, Elder Grimmett, Elder Clouds, and Elder Semideni and the Manila MTC. (Sister Dominic was from my ward in Hyderabad, it was a pleasant surprise to see her again).

Beautiful Philippines

My Filipino Father

Ran into this handsome Elder at the mission office when I arrived.
- It's Elder Colt Williams from Layton!
(And no, I haven't gained weight there, it's just the humidity).

Real Beef Burgers!!!

Just another day in paradise


Anyways until next time everyone, mahal kita. :)
-Elder Cloward

E-mail Aug. 30, 2015 "Translation po?"‏

Dang it, I had so many pictures I was going to send this week but unfortunately something is still wrong with my camera and I can't bet the pictures back. I'm going to see if I can get it fixed soon but until then pasensya everyone.

In the Philippines if someone doesn't understand what's being said they'll hold their nose and say "nosebleed" to signify that they don't know what's going on. I've had the biggest nosebleed of my life these last 6 weeks as most of our teaching is done through translation and although most of the members know English they think it'll help me learn faster if they speak to me in Tagalog. It's been a stressful challenge and I've given up on learning this language more than once now, but as I've re-committed myself these last couple of weeks it's been amazing to see the results. For the first time since I got here I was able to follow my enough of what my companion said during a lesson to pick up where he left of without his having to translate for me. As I listen to the talks in sacrament meeting I can pick up more and more of what they say and I can generally get at least the topic of whatever conversation is going on around me. Now don't get me wrong, I'm nowhere near being able to communicate and I can only say a few phrases but It's amazing to see how a little bit of work and a lot of help from the Lord is helping me to be at least a little more effective in the work here. Before I speak too soon though let me mention that we got two new missionaries in our apartment this week, both native Tagalog speakers, so it looks like my happy days of Elder Operio speaking English in the apartment are gone. Here's to the Gift of Tongues and what I'm sure will be many more nose bleeds before I get back to India. Cheers.

Anyways Everyone until next time- 
Ako po si Elder Cloward, ako po si pogi, Gustung-gusto ko ang lahat ng sa iyo.    

E-mail Aug. 23, 2015 "Why does everyone call you Home Schooled? You're not even weird."‏

-Were the words the new missionary who joined our companionship this week said after he met me. Nine Visa waiters from India came to the Philippines on Wednesday, but because transfers are this Thursday they sent them to stay with the other missionaries for a week. Elder Chand is the missionary who joined my companion and me, and it's definitely been a missionary-appropriate party all week. He's from Los Vegas and is serving in the New Delhi mission (third best mission in the world) and there's never a dull moment when he's around. Among the many crazy things he's done this week are flick-boxing a spider, catching a 15-pound duck, and trying to set my hair on fire (he got close too). On top of that though he's a fantastic missionary and Elder Operio and I will miss him after he gets reassigned this week. Something crazy I found out is that although he's from a different mission in India he's already heard about "Elder Cloward the Home Schooled kid", but he thinks I'm pretty normal. I guess we'll see how long that opinion remains after I try to set his hair on fire this time... ;)

In other news this week we had a less active family officially enter the "returned" status as they re-attended church for the fourth week on Sunday. This has become one of my favorite families in this area and it makes me so happy to see them returning to the blessings of the gospel. The best part is that we didn't even have to do anything. We showed at their home after they'd stopped attending for about 6 months because they got offended by a member. The story they shared was sad and the offense was real,  and we honestly didn't know what to say to them. As we pondered I prayed in my heart that we'd know how to help them, and almost immediately we started sharing a principle of the gospel which we were prompted to give. We knew that it hit home when on fast Sunday they came to church and the sister bore her testimony and mentioned, almost word for word, the message we'd left with them and how it helped them  have a desire to come back to church. It was a testimony builder to me that God really does know his children, and all we have to do to help someone is to listen to the promptings that come by His Spirit.

Pictures!

Loko Loko (and yes that's a Selfie Stick)

The one and only Angeles District 2.
From left to right- Elder Clouds, Sister Tikeri, Sister Borrowman, Sister Mepania, Sister Halblieb, and Elder Operio

Elder Chand and the Duck

"Hey, where are the keys?"

"Ah, there are the keys!" (Don't worry I didn't actually drive it).

Anyways everyone until next week stay strong and rock on. :)
-Elder Cloward

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

E-mail August 17, 2015: "Elder Operio...Why?"

That's it, my companion has gone crazy. All week long my companion has been talking randomly about a violin and I had no idea why.

"Man, I wish I could play the violin."
"I wonder if I could ever play the violin."
"Elder Cloward, let's go look for some violins."

I thought he was just kidding, but I was wrong. Today we walked into a music store and after I took my time looking at instruments and playing their grand piano, I turned around to see Elder Operio holding a brand new violin and receipt that said "SOLD". I tried to talk him out of it, I tried to talk the sales lady out of selling it to him, I told him that he didn't know how to play but his response was, "I don't need to know how to play, I can teach myself."

*Eyeroll*

So here's to my overambitious companion and what I'm sure will be bleeding eardrums as he learns to play it. I'm really not one to talk though, we borrowed our neighbor's guitar and I've been teaching myself every night after planning. I guess we'll just see who can master their instrument first and then decide whether or not it was a bad idea.

Our investigator, Brother Abello (a-bel-ee-o) got baptized on Saturday, and it was actually one of the best baptisms I've been to so far. Bro Abello is an old man the my companion started teaching and he's taken hold of the gospel and run with it. He progressed faster than almost anyone else I've seen and his commitment to the Savior and his teachings shone through as he willingly accepted our challenges and kept his commitments. Even though I couldn't understand most of what was being said during the baptism service, the Spirit was strong and we could tell that he felt it too. It was a good week. :)

Sorry this is so short this week but we've had a crazy hectic day and we have to head home really soon.

Until next time everyone stay strong and Morm-on. ;)
-Elder Cloward

E-mail August 9, 2015: "Cat Tails & Cloward Tales"

Let me tell you the story of Elder Cloward and the cat:

One month ago when I first arrived in my new apartment my companion warned me to watch where I step because some local cats made a mess on the front porch. "No big deal" I thought, "I'll just clean it up so we don't have to worry about it." And so I did, but when we returned after our first day of proselyting in my new area I was surprised and dismayed to see that the cats had returned and done their business again, except this time it had rained and spread the mess and the smells all over the place. Not wanting to mess with the mess at that time we left it for a few days, but every day we left it, it got worse and the stench began to seep into our apartment through the windows. Finally I got up the courage to clean the mess, and it wasn't very pleasant. Because we'd let it sit so long, it was very difficult and nauseating to clean. To quote Mormon- "And now behold, I, Mormon, do not desire to harrow up the souls of men in casting before them such an awful scene of [stinking cat mess] as was laid before mine eyes; but I, knowing that these things must surely be made known, and that all things which are hid must be revealed upon the house-tops—"

So what did I learn from this? The mess left by the cats reminded me of sin and the consequences of not repenting. Sin is gross, sin has a stench, and it's much easier to repent as soon as we can than to let it sit because we're afraid. If we do let it sit it only gets worse and worse until the guilt and pain begin to seep into every part of our lives, and it's usually harder to clean up than if we had repented quickly. The wonderful promise is that if we repent quickly and thoroughly the mess can be washed away completely and the stench will be completely gone.

To continue with the story, after that incident we made sure to clean up quickly the mess the cats made, but the pattern continued. We'd clean up in the morning, we'd come home to a new mess. Over and over and over this was repeated until it about drove me crazy.  So I decided to do what needed to be done and rid our apartment of those wild cats. My first attempt was futile and, in retrospect, kinda pathetic. I concealed raw chili sauce inside two loaves of bread, broke it up, and scattered it over our porch. I hoped that the cats would eat my fiery sandwich, get serious indigestion, and be scared to come back. My plan failed miserably though when instead of leading them to stay away, the chili sauce led to a much worse mess the next day.

10 points for Elder Cloward's brilliance. Yay.

I figured now that the only way we'd be able to get rid of them for good would be to catch them and move them far away from our apartment, however I realized soon that it was much easier said than done. For anyone who's ever tried to catch a wild cat, you know that they're extremely skittish and you can't get close to them without scaring them off. I decided to try a trap made from materials we had on hand, namely a wash tub, a plastic hanger, and a jump rope. The plan was this: I would put some dried anchovies underneath the wash tub and then prop up the tub with the hanger. I would attach the jump rope to the hanger and conceal myself inside the apartment with the other end. When the cat came along and went under the tub for a snack I would pull the rope letting it fall to trap the unlucky feline. My companion thought I was crazy and rolled his eyes every time I scared the cat away because some part of my trap went wrong. What my companion didn't realize though, is that every time it failed I learned how to make the trap a little better until two days later to his utter surprise I successfully nabbed the little mess maker. We were both excited to be rid of the problem until we realized that we had no cage or anything else to transport it in. We decided to use a cardboard box but as we tried to move the cat form the trap to the box it slipped through the slots in the lid and got away. Undeterred and still determined to solve the problem, I tried to catch the cats again with my trap, but there was a problem. The cat's knew what we were up to now and they were much more careful. They recognized our faces and wouldn't come near our apartment until we had left for the day. I knew I would have to be smarter as well, so I started trying different methods to lead them to where I could trap them. I started luring them in by making a trail of food from where I knew they rested to my trap. I started disguising myself by wrapping up in a blanket so they wouldn't recognize me when they came close, I started cooking different foods for them so the smells would draw them in, I even moved the trap as close as I could to where they slept so it would be more enticing to try it again. My companion said I was obsessed, I called it determination, although I will admit there were times when I felt a little bit like Capt. Ahab chasing Moby Dick. Regardless though, as I employed all my efforts to catch them, it finally worked again. It was late at night, my trap was baited, and I was concealed with my jump rope ready to pounce. As I waited in the darkness I saw the two cats slowly come out of the shadows and make their way to a treasure trove of steaming scrambled eggs and corned beef. I was surprised when the first cat followed the trail, looked under the tub at the almost irresistible bait, and walked on by. I realized that this was the same cat we had trapped before and knew not to go into the trap again, no matter how enticing. His friend, on the other hand, didn't know what was waiting and slipped right in, and with nothing more than a quick jerk I had nabbed him. This time we knew we needed something more than a box to keep him in (the tub itself was too big to transport anywhere) and as we looked around, a MacGyver-like instinct kicked in and we realized that the cage from one of our stand-up fans would be perfect. After unscrewing the cage and using a sheet to protect ourselves from flying claws, we slipped the cat inside and the next day we set him free in a neighborhood far away from our apartment.

Through this experience I had to learn how to perfect my trap enough that it would be effective yet still enticing enough to lure in the prey, and I realized that what I was doing was exactly what the devil does to bind each of us. Look at this story again and instead of Elder Cloward and a couple of cats imagine that it's the devil trying to ensnare the saints. The devil has been doing what he does for a long time and his traps are made with extreme cunning. Just like my trap with the cats, his plan consists of 3 steps- lure, trap, bind. He lures us by enticing us with things we like, he sets the temptations as close as he can to us, and he often disguises himself so that we'll come near. He traps us by tempting us enough that we eventually commit sin, and he binds us by telling us that it's not that bad or, if it's a big sin, by making us scared to confess and repent. My challenge today is to remember that the devil is good at what he does. He doesn't chase after us with a net, he doesn't stand out in the open and wait for us to come close, he slowly and carefully lures us in until it's too late. Remember also that we have a friend who is always there to rescue us. We have a perfect Redeemer who can break apart any cages that we've fallen into if we'll only turn to Him and do what is necessary to repent.

So, if you think you're being led on to temptation right now, get away as fast as you can. If you've already fallen and you feel bound by the adversary don't let the sin sit and stink, repent and come back, today.

Anyways everyone until next time, don't be a foolish cat, be a wise saint. :)
-Elder Cloward

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

E-mail Aug. 2, 2015: "That's right Satan, take that!"

During this last year on my mission one of the most prominent things I've learned is how to ask inspired questions and how to be led by the spirit as we teach. Inspired questions are questions given to us by the spirit that spark an idea or a feeling in the mind and heart of someone we're teaching. It often comes as a question that requires contemplation on their part and, if it truly is inspired, it's exactly what they need to hear in the moment that they need to hear it. Learning to listen to the Spirit and to recognize what He wants us to say and do is something that's difficult at times and was hard for me to learn, but this last week as we were teaching I felt over and over again the confirming voice of the spirit as I said things that were not my own words. One example was when we were teaching two sisters about the Book of Mormon and they didn't seem particularly interested. It was hard to get responses from them and they weren't understanding what we were saying very well. As we neared the end of the lesson as we were about to testify about how they could receive an answer I had the impression to ask them if they've ever felt like God had given them an answer to something before. My first thought was "I can't ask that, what if they never have and they get embarrassed?" and "They'll just respond to this the same way they have to all the other questions." I asked the question anyways though, and the results surprised me. Instead of looking down and mumbling or not answering at all both of the girls lit up and energetically expressed that they had felt like that before and went on to describe how it felt to them. The entire mood of the lesson changed after that and we finished the lesson with all of us feeling uplifted. There were several other times this week when  similar thing happened during a lesson, especially as we were teaching less actives. The results? We had more less actives at church this week than I've seen in a long time and most of the people we're working with are beginning to keep their other commitments as well, every time. It's encouraging and refreshing to see how when we trust in the Lord His Spirit works through us and settles into the lives of those around us. I can see more and more how God really is in charge of this work, and slowly but surely I watch as Satan's tactics crumble and he loses his power over the lives of our brothers and sisters. Miracles happen when we listen to the Spirit, I testify of that.

In other news this week I officially miss Indian food. Don't get me wrong, most of the Filipino food here is great, but it trends to be very mild and sweet and I miss the kick of a good chicken curry. My withdrawals for something spicy are so bad that I've started putting chili sauce and turmeric powder in everything I cook at home. From corned beef and potatoes to sweet and sour instant noddles, it does the trick, and I go to sleep each night satisfied on a full and fiery belly. I often ask my companion if he wants me to prepare extra for him but he usually declines, and once when I asked a member to try a dish I had prepared he took one look at the deep red color and utterly refused. Oh well, curry's not for everyone I guess.

And once again I apologize for not sending pictures. I've taken plenty to send but my camera isn't working right now so I'll probably have to get it fixed first.

Anyways everyone until next time rock on. :)
-Elder Clouds

Monday, July 27, 2015

E-mail: July 27, 2015 "One year older and wiser too"

This week marks one year from the time I packed my bags and said goodbye to my friends and family and entered the world of curry and missionary work. When I think about this last year I can't believe how fast it's gone, yet at the same time I feel like I have far more than a year's worth of memories that I've gained. I've learned more and grown more out here than any other time in my life. I've experienced more happiness and joy and also more stress and frustration than I thought was possible, and more than anything I've started to learn how to trust in the Lord and let Him do for me what I can't do alone. In short this last year has been the best year of my life, and I'm sure that this next year will go even faster and be even better. Thanks to all of you for your support, encouragement, letters, emails, and funny comics about getting an appendix taken out. Although I'm trying to stay focused on the work it's refreshing and encouraging to hear from each of you. I apologize for not emailing or writing back to each of you very often. Missionary work is busy as, well, missionary work, and sometimes in the craziness I forget or don't have time to reply. I'll I'll be better at it from now on though. :)

It was really funny to see the power of perspective when I landed in the Philippines. After we landed we met up with the new missionaries at the MTC as we traveled to the mission together, and as we traveled the greenies and the missionaries from India made many comments about what they were seeing. Her are a few of the contrasting opinions I heard:

"Wow, look at all the street dogs."
"Wow, where did all the street dogs go?"

"Man, I thought we were going to die on that ride over."
"Man, that was the safest ride I've had in a year."

"It's hard to see so much poverty."
"It's great to see so much wealth again."

"The traffic is really crazy here."
"The cars actually stop when we cross the road? No way!"

"This is nothing like back home."
"It feels like we're back home again."

The contrast went beyond just conversation though when on our first night we all decided to walk to the local 7-Eleven for a snack. We needed to cross the road and so at the first break in the traffic ALL the Indian missionaries instinctively ran across leaving the two new elders and several angry drivers thinking we were all crazy. "You can take the missionary out of India, but you can't take India out of the missionary" has become my new catch phrase.

As I thought about these differences in perspective it made me think back to when my companions and I would occasionally have an argument about something. He would want to do something one way that I thought was totally crazy, and he would think the same thing about my way of doing it. Most of the time it never came down to one person being right and the other being wrong, it was simply two different people with different experiences seeing the same problem and offering different solutions. If I think about how those new missionaries came straight from their homes in America it's now surprise that they think it's so different, even though I think it's basically the same. In the same way if we take the time to look through someone else's eyes, to understand why they see something the way they do, we would be much more capable of solving any problems productively and peaceably. That's my challenge to you this week, before you judge someone else's way of thinking first try to understand it, they may end up being more right than you thought they were. ;)

Anyways everyone until next time- rock on. :)
-Elder Cloward

Here are some pictures Sis. Clark sent us:

This is a map of the mission so that we can keep track of where he is serving.
(If you click on the map it will pop out into another window a little bit bigger.)

Top: Elder Cloward and his new companion, Elder Operio
Bottom: Elder Cloward with Pres. & Sis. Clark


Monday, July 20, 2015

E-mail July 20, 2015: "Hello, ako po si Elder Cloward, hindi ako nagta Tagalog."‏

Translation: Hello, I'm Elder Cloward, I don't speak Tagalog.
My companion helped me learn that much to start my talk for Sacrament meeting yesterday.

Holy flip, I'm definitely not in India anymore. For the last several months I've heard from other missionaries what the Philippines is like but I could never picture it very well. When we landed in manila I had to double check my flight ticket to make sure I hadn't boarded the wrong plane to California. It was so green and lush and organized It looked like we had stepped back into America. There were so many crazy differences from India, the replacement of curry hotels to beef restaurants being among the most notable, but as we started to get around we noticed a lot of similarities as well. The main mode of transportation for us here are jeepneys, which looks like the offspring of a 4x4 jeep and a school bus, and trikes, which look like a motorcycle and an auto-rickshaw holding hands side-by-side. To us they're pretty much the same thing as autos and share autos, but the wide roads and lack of traffic means that we get where we're going a lot faster.

I've been assigned to the Philippines Angeles mission serving in the Angeles zone, the biggest part of the biggest city in the mission (I've come to terms with the fact the I'm never getting out of the city on my mission, so I'm just trying to roll with it now). Our mission is very close to Manila so after we met the other missionaries at the MTC we drove to our mission in a van. It was a big difference from taking flights just to get to the other zones like we do in India, but It's cool to know that the church is so established here that the areas are that close together. After we arrived at the mission home we went through orientation with the greenies, and who should I run into but Elder Colt Williams who was there at the same time to pick up a trainee. It was great to see him again and after we had chatted for a minute about our missions he went back to work with the other missionaries speaking what sounded to me like perfectly fluent Tagalog. (We took pictures but my camera's being fussy so I can't send them today, sorry).

 I've been wondering if they would let the Indian missionaries speak English because we likely won't be here very long, but that hope was shattered the moment the mission president dropped a 'learn Tagalog' book in front of each of us and said "you have an extra 60 minutes for language study every day, get to work." No classes, no instruction, no anything. For any of you that have seen The Other Side Of Heaven that's pretty much what I feel like right now (I've already secured my own Tagalog Book of Mormon for the side-by-side approach as well). My new companion is an awesome Filipino Missionary named Elder Operio, and thanks to his help I've already learned a few phrases, but I've got a long ways to go before I can converse or teach in this crazy language. Regardless of that they asked me to speak in sacrament meeting yesterday so I gave most of it in English and then read my testimony that had been translated by Elder Operio. I tried to break my English the same way I do in India to help people understand, but I learned real quick that Indian-English doesn't work over here. Thankfully though I found out that most of the members speak very fluent English, so it'll be a little easier than I thought.

We went on exchange with some of the Ward Missionaries the other day, brother Edsel and Sister Mariel, and they Insisted that I try Balut after only being in the country for 24 hours. Now let me tell you about Balut- Imagine a chicken egg that's been fertilized and left alone for several weeks until the embryo has developed into a baby chicken. Boil it, crack it, slurp it, munch it; that's how they do it and that's how I did it. I've never been closer to throwing up because of crazy food in my life, but I managed to get it down. I'm glad I tried it, but the next time someone tries to play 'Kill the American in His First Week in a New Country', I'm going to opt out. Included is the video. The brown thing on top is the baby chicken, and I'm trying to dilute the flavor with with salt and vinegar.

Anyways everyone pray that I survive as I try to master this new culture and language. Until next time, magandang gabi po.
-Elder Cloward

Here's his video of eating balut:  



Here are a couple of pictures that Sis. Clark sent today of the missionaries that got there last week:





And, just because I like to find things out and share them with you: 
This is his new mission president:  (from lds.org Feb. 2014)

Scott Boyd Clark, 54, and Sandra Gail Clark, four children, Naperville 3rd Ward, Joliet Illinois Stake.  Brother Clark is a former stake president, high councilor, bishop, ward Young Men president and missionary in the Japan Sendai Mission. Vice president and general counsel, National Surgical Hospitals. Born in Salt Lake City to Wallace Ivan and Colleen Christensen Clark.

Sister Clark is a former stake seminary supervisor, counselor in a ward Relief Society presidency, stake camp director, ward missionary, counselor in a ward Young Women presidency, seminary teacher, and temple coordinator. Born in Murray, Utah, to Jay Kent and Bonnie Jean Curtis.