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

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