Monday, August 25, 2014

week 37: happy with life

I'm happy with life. This past week was powerful. It consisted of teaching the gospel atop a cliff overlooking a rural African township and 2 exchanges! Oh yeah, and driving to Mozambique. There is that too...

Let's see here, lots of change took place this week. The best news is that we got a senior couple in our area! The Scotts,  recently living in Utah, but they are from SoCal. They were cops with the LAPD and man are they powerful people! This is their second mission and I can already tell that they are going to help the unit here grow by leaps and bounds. 

We also got a new Branch presidency and everyone I wanted to be in it is in it! Woo, the work here is just primed to explode. I'm so excited to see what the next few weeks will bring. 

Nelly passed the interview so we will have a baptism this week and then a week or two later we will be baptizing her brother! I'm so excited for them! They come from a very sweet family, unfortunately there father is a drunk and a chump. If he attempts to stop their baptisms again I will beat him to death. Luckily their mom is a member so that helps! 

We tracked about 20 hours this week it seems. We made a ton of new contacts, so I'm hoping that we can knock a few less doors each day and teach instead haha. Of course you always have to be finding, but it's fetching hot here, so more then an hour at a time turns into a bit of a drag. 

Yesterday after the baptism the Scotts told us they heard of a less active member who lives on the border of Mozambique who needed a blessing.... so what did we do? We loaded up the car and made the two hour drive to deliver. On they way there, Sister Scott (her first day driving on the right side of the road) dun crashed the car.... needless to say.... I drove home. Ha

After 9 months of abstinence I have failed. I was at a members house, they offered, and I accepted. Oh man.... I dun played with guns. It made me happy. I figure that rule in the hand book is only for the elders who are not a professional such as I... Uhm. But that's not exactly doctrine so don't quote me on that. :) 

Life is going good. This morning I read the entirety of Numbers in the Old Testament and man does it have some crazy stories! From a talking donkey to a group of rebels inside the camp. Crazy. My favorite one though is as follows. A prince of the Jews takes a local woman into camp as a concubine. Aaron's son hears of this,takes a javelin and as they are uhm... In the act... he kills both of them with a single stab. Fetching crazy, and I'm very grateful that God is a bit more lenient with us today. I'm pretty sure the world does not contain enough javelins to deal with all of the going ons in our day. And what is the moral of said story? Don't sleep with a harlot, and don't turn your back to the tent door. Ever. At least that's what I got from it, what Moses' intent for writing that story I'm not so sure. Maybe he just wanted his writings to be as weird as possible. Probably not, because he was inspired....but yeah. Probably should end this whole thought process. 

Life is amazing, I say this every time, but I'm not sure I've ever been happier. 

And yes the whole Les Mis thing was internalized denial of the highest proportion, but that's okay. It's over now haha.

Thanks for the thoughts on Isaiah, it still makes no sense to me. Life is hard haha. However, there is a verse in 1 Nephi when he is quoting Isaiah (I don't have my scriptures so can't give you the reference) that I like. It describes how the refiner's fire makes us purer. I've realized that if you look at tribulation and hardship through the lens of knowing it is for your benefit (most of the time) then trials, temptations, and hardships are a lot easier to pass through. Not sure why I told you that but there it is.

As I said, I forgot my scriptures and it appears my inspiration is broken so there will be no spiritual thought for the week...sorry. 

It's crazy to look back on the past 3 1/2 years and look at the changes that have taken place. From a not so good period of my life to being so happy I want to skip down the street. Well figuratively, I'm pretty sure I'm still to lazy to skip. But the point I'm trying to make is that the gospel is pretty dang amazing. Too many people see it as only being able to help at certain points of their life and fail to realize it is designed to better all aspects of our existence, whether we are currently rich or poor in spirit or as to things of the world. I've spent many an hour pondering Christ's atoning sacrifice for us and it is crazy to think about the sad state we would be in without it. I'm not sure I've ever told the people involved in bringing the gospel to me, but I'm so grateful for them. 

My dad told me that my grandpa passed away a few days ago. Looking back on such experiences in the past is hard; they were debilitating. I couldn't handle the concept of death, but as I read that ,I was actually happy and smiled a bit. Now, I do not delight in his death of course, I already miss him, but I'm filled with the hope and knowledge that I will see him again one day. And what I look forward to almost more then that is the opportunity I, or a loved one, will have to take his name to one of God's holy temples and act in proxy for him. I'm not sure who reads this, but that probably won't make sense to a few of you. If you'd like to learn more there are funny looking guys that walk around in white shirts and have a black name badge that came help you understand. 

This gospel has brought about a mighty change in my life, and without it I don't even want to imagine where I'd be. The greatest proof that I can think of that this is the church of Christ is to just look back four years ago. Anyone who knew me then knows I'm not at all the same person now, and nothing short of the power of God could have gotten me to this point. I was reading in the Book of Mormon the other day the following passage:
" For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness. He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation. Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price. Behold, hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay. Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance. Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden." 

I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us. We do not see everything from Their perspective so at times it may seem hard to believe, but They never have and never will forsake us, it's we who forsake ourselves. The thoughts I shared may seem random, hopefully you can understand.  I'm typing on an iPad so it is a bit difficult. 
Not sure what else to say, I just received a phone call and that ruined my train of thought. The gospel is true. Live it. 
I love y'all a lot, I hope all continues to be well.
Wait, was that a spiritual thought after I said there would be none? Awkward. 
Elder Kelly McClellan

Sunday, August 24, 2014

week 36: progress

Well let's see here... compared to last week this one was fairly tame. However, the work moved forward and that made it all worth it! We suffered a bit from appointment droppage, but we persevered and managed to have a handful of powerful lessons that led to a number of our investigators progressing!

We actually had enough investigators to have a Gospel Principles class! Apparently that was the first time in months that it has been held. We are gaining new investigators, dropping those that are fong kong, and pressing forth with the work of the Lord! We are still preparing a young woman named Nelizwe (Nelly... she is 14 and her mom is a member) for baptism at the end of this month. Her interview will be this Friday, so I'm literally praying all will go well as we enter into this last week of prep.

We had a ton of service this week! On Saturday we participated in our branch's "Mormon Helping Hands" service project. We drove about  45min north to a small orphanage for girls and did a bit of work there. My job was to do the cutting-in on the painting. I was on a ladder for nearly 3 hours in blistering heat. (Well at least the top of the ladder was blistering.) We mostly painted, but we also did some work on the palisades outside. It was an amazing experience in all honesty. Elder Ah Wong managed to pick up a girl friend, but he didn't know what to do, so he came to me and asked me to give her our number (he didn't mention the fact she was obsessed.) I figured she wanted to learn about Christ so I gave it to her. Sunday she called twice, both times I answered. The first time she said she wanted to be our friend.... I was like okay... well, we teach about Christ.... and then she hung up. That girl was matata (translation, kind of: trouble.)

Later that night we went to brother Maleka's and broke his walls as we took out shelf mounts. It was fun, but again it was flipping hot.

The Sabbath was great, we had a few extra K's left over so we drove to a place called Barberton. It is kinda crazy, my area includes over 10 major towns and tons of township and village. We have a lot of area to cover and a couple million people needing to be taught.

As I mentioned last week I have begun reading the standard works for the very beginning. I've finished Genesis. It's fetching weird, but now I actually understand why the Hebrews were in Egypt and how all the genealogy of the patriarchs worked out. They dun lived in a messed up world. I think my favorite story was when two of the sons of Jacob go and slaughter an entire city after they had convinced that city to be circumcised. It says something like they were sore, so they could not fight and died. Ha, crazy world. I also noticed that when one of the patriarchs would sleep with a servant or concubine it always says that they were married before hand. And when Jehovah speaks he always uses plural forms of words, not singular. So either He has a multiple personality disorder or He and God the Father must be different people. Logic for the win. I think too many people remove logic when they try to decide points of doctrine for themselves. It is a very illogical thought to believe God the Father, Jesus, and The Holy Ghost are the same person. I'm enjoying the Old Testament.

I received sad news last week, I literally have less than 40 dollars to my name. Oh well, who needs money haha. It appears I will have to get very good at living off of allotment alone. Budgeting! Woo. I would sell a kidney at one of the local surgery shops, but I don't really want to get aids. Life is good.

I came to another very sad realization this week - the Les Mis soundtrack is not mission appropriate. Not sure why that took me so long to figure out, but I shall forever mourn the loss of it. I'm getting really tired of the music I have. I'm starting to making grunting sounds for entertainment instead of turning music on.

I don't know what else to include. 

I love you all a lot. Miss you all a lot. Keep on doing the right thing.

Love, Elder Kelly McClellan

Friday, August 15, 2014

week 35: favored of the Lord

This week was full of ups and downs as far as "success" is concerned, but spiritually it was amazing. Among the experiences was talking to a mother who discovered she would soon be passing to the next phase of existence due to a sudden development of aggressive cancer and testifying of the restoration of the gospel to a room full of college kids.  Each were special experiences I'm not sure what I would do without at this point. The amazing thing I find about a mission is that no matter what's occurring there is something to learn from the situations laid before you. I'm not sure if I have become more mature and therefore see underlining meanings in all that happens or If I have just gotten really good at turning crap into gold. Either way, I'm learning a lot and at this point I'm not sure why/how anyone could avoid serving the Lord. 

We are having some success as far as numbers, and we should be having a baptism at the end of this month! Pretty excited for that, it is always nice to see some fruit come. 

Monday we had the outstanding experience of going to Krugar (again!) Most missionary's never get to go, I've gone twice. Pretty sure I'm favored of the Lord. (kidding....) Anyways, we saw 4 of the big 5 and had some amazing experiences there. As we were about to exit the park we came across a pride of lions; to get a better picture I leaning out the window. I dun got shambocked by a park ranger... Err... apparently it is a poor idea to hang out of a car 10 feet from grown lions... oh well. It was fun and fairly exciting. We saw just about everything you can imagine, but the cutest was a baby elephant not even two feet high. From Rhinos to hyenas, they were all there. 

I finished reading Doctrine and Covenants recently... can't remember when because the days blend together, but  any-who, it is apparent to me that that book could not have been written by a mere (how do you spell that? is it even a word?) uninspired man. The amazing thing about the Book of Mormon and D&C is that they don't contradict themselves. Anyone who has ever told a lie and is determined to keep it going knows how hard it can be to support falsehoods. Lesbihonest here (yes pitch perfect...) no one is smart enough to write near 1000 pages of "doctrine" and keep it strait. Plus Joseph, an unlearned farm boy, could in no wise have had such a vocabulary as is used in said scriptures unless he was inspired. Anyone who disagrees with any of that is stupid and illogical. (Don't remove that, my words must stand as said... well typed.)  :) 

I've gotten extremely bold in my testimony recently. Its really quite amazing. First off because it is fun and second because it invites the Spirit into any conversation. We have contacted a crazy amount of people over the past few weeks, even in township I've never had so much success while tracting. 

We are getting a new Branch President soon, our current one is moving to Benoni and I'm really hoping that when the new guy is called we can really turn over a new leaf here in the branch as far as missionary and council coordination. Members are the key to success, I'm praying that we can start getting more people involved! 

I'm starting to read the standard works from the beginning. I'm enjoying the Old Testament. Its all God being like "if you're bad I'll kill you" and the Israelis are all like "well, we worship this cow any-who" and then they die. Repent or be destroyed. I suppose that is a good policy, it makes for a good read at the very least. 

Not really sure what else to include. 

Love ya all a lot. 

Elder McClellan

Oh, and the church is still true.

Monday, August 4, 2014

week 34: the Lord's work

I guess I could say we had a pretty busy week. So I've been in Nelspruit for about 8 weeks now, and for the past 5 months it has been averaging about 10 lessons a week. We pulled out 17, 4 new investigators and had 2 at church. Boom. It was powerful! We had splits with the Zone Leaders Friday (my trainer just became my ZL, so that's funny.) Anyway, Elder Martin from Switzerland came with us and it was pretty darn awesome. 

Saturday we started off with every hour full, then everyone dropped. Fetch. So what did we do? Well, at first we moaned. Then we tracted. And tracted. And tracted. And tracted. We went out with a load of materials and came back empty. While tracting we even had 2 lessons! That was pretty sweet, very rare for that to happen. As it was getting dark we started walking home but I still had a Book of Mormon and L2 pamphlet in hand. For a moment I thought of just holding onto them for the next day but was immediately prompted to try one more house. This house was cheesey. Like I'm pretty sure it was made of gold. I had to push a button to talk to them. Fancy stuff... Anyway, I pressed the button and at first a young man answered and was uninterested. I pressed forward and inquired as to others that stay there and he then directed me to his father. After a brief conversation over the intercom he agreed to come outside. One he was there  we did a brief BRT kinda deal and then I'm not exactly sure what happen. I'd say I went for it, but I'm pretty sure it was not me that was going for it. I can't really remember anything that I said, but it was all about the Book of Mormon in relation to the Plan of Salvation. We got his details and walked away and will try to meet him this week. Yes yes I know, this sounds routine, however it was quite a special experience for me because I'm pretty sure that it has been the only time I have completely gotten out of the way and let the Spirit work. I'm not even sure how it happened to be honest, but as we walked away from that man I'm not sure I've ever been so happy. I cant even really express where the joy came from, but it was overwhelming and at that moment I again had it confirmed to me that this truly is the Lord's work. The day was long, the sun was hot, but at that moment all seemed worth it.

I was able to speak to one of my converts the other day and man is he doing awesome! Brother Thabang from my last area. He has two callings, got himself a temple recommend, finished the Book of Mormon for the first time. He is powerful! He is a great man, and truly is my best friend here. Later that night I was thinking about the concept of success and I've decided that I don't really care what the rest of my mission brings. Do I want success? Sure, but if I'm not able to bring the gospel to another soul I will be content. The work of the Lord is not really about quantity in my opinion, its about quality. Could I baptize more? Yes, but then they would just end up going less active. The sacrifice of two years and a bit of money will be well worth it for Brother Thabang's conversion alone.

We are attempting all that we can to build the unit at this point. We are trying to contact previous investigators, increasing the amount of less active member work we do, tracting like crazy, and almost literally shouting from the street corners the message of the restored gospel. Most of it is not really working haha, but oh well. The best we can do is our best and the Lord will do the rest. Oh hey, that rhymed. And now my thoughts are on Princess Bride.

I'm not exactly sure what else to say. Oh yeah, today was amazing! But I'll talk about that next week. Oh wait no I won't... I'll be emailing later in the week next week as well. Hmm. Basically today we drove to some of the most beautiful views and hikes on earth. I can't upload pictures, so google the Three Rondavels, Mpumalanga, South Africa*. It is pretty sweet. Next Monday I'm going to Krugar again!

* (editor's note - found online - "The Three Rondavels are spectacular peaks which look exactly like rondavels ­– round and fat, rising to a peaked top, but much, much higher than any traditional dwelling. In fact, when you stand on the viewpoint, 1 380m above sea level with the Blyde River Canyon below, you'll still be looking up at those three distinctive peaks which tower 700m above the surrounding countryside. South Africans know the rondavel as a traditional beehive-shaped hut built and used over centuries by indigenous people as their homes. These three geological formations were also once known as 'The Chief and his Three Wives'. The flat-topped peak was named Mapjaneng ('the chief') after a legendary Bapedi chief, Maripi Mashile, who defeated invading Swazis in a great battle near here. The three peaks are named after his three wives (from left to right) – Magabolie, Mogoladikwe and Maseroto. Apparently these mountains were formed when erosion wore away the soft underlying stone, leaving exposed slate and quartzite that shape these dramatic rock formations.")

(photo of the Three Rondavels found on Google)
I'm a pretty darn blessed missionary. I've gotten to do all of the Preparation Days everyone wants to, but no one gets to. I love it. Also, I have yet to serve in Johannesburg! Wooo! That's pretty rare haha, most missionary's never even leave Joburg.

Did you hear they pulled 300 missionaries out of west Africa? Hmm crazy.

Life is good.

 D/C 130:21 "And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated."
Over the past few weeks I've really put this promise to the test. It does work, really. I like the fact God has to do what He Himself says. I've done a lot of thinking upon those of our Brothers and Sisters who have weak testimonies or are wishy-washy about the church. Why? Well, I'm pretty sure that its because they have yet to test this promise. There is a less active member we are working with who blames the church for his misfortunes... what? I called him out tuff. I basically told him that since he got baptized he has not lived the gospel in the slightest and then proceeded to ask in who's right mind would you deserve blessings? He is now going to try living the gospel... he says he can already see a difference... think? Pft.

In Malachi God suggests we test Him in regards to tithing, is this not applicable to all aspects of the gospel? Glen Beck has an amazing conversion story and as part of it he gives an account of doing that exact thing. He had just signed a multimillion dollar contract, and though not a member, he paid tithing. Why? To see if it is true. It is a pretty simple concept.

Alma 32:38-39 "But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out.
Now, this is not because the seed was not good, neither is it because the fruit thereof would not be desirable; but it is because your ground is barren, and ye will not nourish the tree, therefore ye cannot have the fruit thereof."

I don't really know who reads this, and I don't really know if anyone cares about what I have to say; however, I have lived this gospel, I have tested it. I've tried to find fault and at times I've done the opposite of the right to see if said cursings were true (they are by the way). The point I'm attempting to make is that this gospel is true, there is no way around that. Your faith may be weak, you may have doubts, but that does not effect reality. The best way to gain a testimony I've found is by doing. There is not really any way around that.

Alright this is not working, unfortunately I'm exhausted from a long day of driving and mountaineering. Here is the moral of the message I'm failing to convey:  the gospel is true, if you don't know that for yourself, test it.

Not sure what else to write, I'm pretty sure I'm going to fall down the hill walking home. Then again I may just get mugged since its 10 o'clock... anywho...

Love ya lots, 
Elder McClellan