Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pictures, last transfer

Lunch at our Favorite Place
SisterB - another convert to In-N-Out!

At our mission Family Home Evening

Me and SisterJ playing at Pres S's before FHE
On the 4th of July - Love Br&SisM

Me and SisterB at the Call Center

Emailing Mom on P-day - LOVE YOU!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Happy Independence, 2012!

     You will be very happy to hear that SisterB and I hosted a kick-butt, stars-and-stripes, grand ol' PARTAY in our patriotized apartment tonight.  It was SO much fun and I have plenty of photographic and video evidence.  I bought Stars&Stripes Funfetti to make cupcakes and we used EVERYTHING in the ID4 box.  Thank you so much for the party box!  Switching to an ID4 theme was inspired.  I think we all needed this.  We didn't think we'd get to celebrate tomorrow, so we really enjoyed the chance to party.  Of course we just found out that we're having a musical thing tomorrow night and we're going to get to.....ready? this is AWESOME for us......WATCH FIREWORKS!  Last year we played in the park, but weren't allowed to watch fireworks.  So I am super excited.
     Everyone loved the:
  • decorations
  • lemonade
  • beach ball (SisterD and I played some interesting soccer with that)
  • tub of teddy grahams
and especially......homemade frosting!

I've been thinking (or rather "am currently" thinking) about why I was so willing to get super patriotic for ID4, when most of the time I act like I'd rather be from the Mother Country.  I'm not really sure I have an answer.  Despite how much I love Britannia, I guess I am proud to be from the Promised Land.  My patriarchal blessing does mention my being blessed to have grown up in this country.  Guess it is more than the family history love coming to pass from that blessing.

Days like today are why I don't want July 18th to happen.  I'm ready for all most that being home implies.  But the "going" - that's hard.  Leaving this experience for the things that come next?  It's like high school all over again.  You're excited for what you think college will be like, but you're terrified of leaving the security, comfort, routine and friends of high school.

Anyhow.  Time to write a quick response to ElderH and head to bed.  Yes, I'm writing an elder from outbound.  It's fun.  Currently we're discussing how terrible I am at frequent correspondence, and funny tracting stories.  He's going to visit SoCal when he gets home and we [me, SisterL & ElderH] are all going to hang out.  Should be fun!

Proudly independently yours,
Sister Clayton

3 July 2012 - Pickett's Charge

In our family, it has become tradition to watch the movie 'Gettysburg' every July in preparation for the 4th.  Today is Day 3 of that battle - Pickett's Charge.

Y'know, sometimes a mission feels like poor Pickett's Charge. You've been asked to do something impossible but you go out with a fire ready to make the impossible a reality. Then you hit that fence and the impossible laughs you in the face and you're pretty sure that it's going to stay impossible today. So do you turn back?  Do you stop?  Do you keep going? That's when you decide if you're going to be a disciple of Christ. Actually, that's when you should be remembering your choice to come out on the battlefield at all and you remind yourself that you've already made that decision. So what does a true disciple do? You square your shoulders, you get up. Like Ginger would say, "pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again." You jump that fence and charge the hill. Now there's a few differences in being a missionary and fighting the Civil War. First, you already know who's going to win the war. Second, when you reach the top of that hill you're greeted by family and friends and you keep going with your life (well, that was true for them too, but they were also technically prisoners of war, right?). Third, you wouldn't keep charging past your brothers and sisters, the whole reason you're in that battle is to help them get to the same hill (man, this hill is very useful as a metaphor, but I think I'm mixing). I think most important is number one and the fact that you have the most powerful and loving being in the universe walking every step of that hill with you.

See? Bridging. The gospel can be related to everything. Why? Same reason we share it - because it's true.

(and for the record, the one ancestor who I know fought in the Civil War served in the Fourteenth Iowa Infantry under General Grant.  He was a prisoner in Andersonville and after he escaped, returned twice to bring out more prisoners.  He survived the war to return home to Illinois.  Thank you gggGrandpa Wendt.  We remember.)

Sister Clayton

Monday, June 11, 2012

Transfer Conference - 5 June 2012

We had quite the visit Monday morning.  Apparently when the Gillettes were over the Boston Mission, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s son served there and Elder Holland would visit, speak to the missionaries, etc.  So the Gillettes gave a standing invitation for Elder Holland to us when our schedules lined up. (Elder Holland is one of the 12 Apostles) He would have come sooner, but that darn schedule hasn’t allowed it.  But Monday worked.  In my mind, the reason is this:  Sister Pei (and all the class that’s leaving) was in the MTC when Elder Holland came and gave the talk that we have watched several times during my mission.  So her class got a talk from him right at the beginning and at the very end.  I love symmetry.
I did get some decent notes, quotes, spiritual impressions, so here goes.  Don’t waste the time you have, cause you never get another time like this.  It’s not going to be easy, so enjoy the laughs AND the tears and more.  Live and teach after the manner of the Spirit (Moroni 6:9).  As we try to be as Heavenly Father is, we follow His lead and we adopt His attributes and we become like Him.  I can’t say that right, but maybe that’s the point.  We see becoming like Heavenly Father as something huge, something that happens when we die. But it's gathering little bits of His likeness one attribute at a time.
And the cool thing about Elder Holland’s talk?  He got up there with nothing.  Not until he started a Q&A session did he grab his scriptures (oh yeah, I’m getting Q&A with all the best on my mission!).  He just has so much Spirit and smarts he doesn’t need anything.  And we’re an easy audience to please – any topic coming from him would make us happy.
At the end we filed out row by row because he wanted to shake all our hands.  Yep.  But don’t worry, I’m still going to wash it....I should have saved the water! (love Br Bytheway)  But when it’s over, it just feels like a dream, like it didn’t really happen.
I love how Elder Holland talks about the relationship between Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as regards the Atonement especially.  When he was speaking yesterday, despite the spiritual powerhouse that he is, I was praying really hard throughout because for some reason I wasn't feeling it. Not in the overwhelming sense you would expect. So I was praying to be in tune, to feel the Spirit, to be touched. I didn't really cry at all, but the tears came, in an overwhelming rush of feeling, when he was closing and telling us how proud he was of us. And the phrase that got my tear ducts working? "I think I can say I represent your mothers and fathers and ... the Lord, Himself, when I say we're proud of you." I darn nearly lost it. I've gotten good at controlling my crying though I guess. I just don't do it in public anymore. But when he said always gets me when people talk about my parents. Cause I know it's true. When Elder Zwick came and spoke in our Mother's Day sacrament meeting, he said much the same thing. I hadn't been emotional until he started saying things on behalf of our mothers. (Yep, the Elder Zwick that I believe spoke at your last official stake conference came with his wife to be our special speakers for Mother's Day. Woot!) It's a feeling I think I described to my Mom about President Holmes while I was outbound. When I finally understood all the times he would say, "You know Sister Holmes and I love you, right?" and repeat it until he knew I knew. All the times he said "we're proud of you; you do good work; we're so grateful you're here; we feel lucky to serve with you". It just hit me that no matter how inadequate I feel, no matter how much I think I need to improve (and feel I never can) - he loves me. It's the same for my parents and President and Heavenly Father. Doesn't matter where I'm at, you know where I've come from. And regardless of all of it you're going to love me more than I can comprehend.

Hey Dad, I know you’re speaking in Sacrament Meeting soon, so I’m looking at my notes now for quotes to give you.
"He's gonna ask for your heart; lock, stock, and barrel. And that's not always a pleasant experience." Something Elder Holland said about missions/being a disciple not being easy. A lot like parenthood, I think. It takes everything you've got whether you want it to or not. You can choose not to give it, but you'll get the best experience (on both sides) when you forget about the pain and give it all.
            Reminds me of something in one of Laura's letters that I've been reading over and over.  It was after a stake conference or something.  Someone made an analogy between Heavenly Father and a construction worker. While he's doing the building and remodeling to make your perfect mansion, it hurts! Sometimes it's little things like a leaky pipe or whatever, but other times he's taking down walls and doing the major stuff. But at the end you have an everlasting, beautiful mansion that is just for you and uniquely your own. Something else Elder Holland told us about missions being hard? "And if it's isn't hard, if you don't feel like this is hard, ask yourself if you're doing it right." It's supposed to be. Missions, parenthood, life - it's meant to be hard. Like Elder Holland emphasized - "Why should it be easy for you....when it was never, ever easy for the living Son of God?" and put the tear-jerking Elder Holland emotion into that. Yeah.
From a talk he gave in the MTC that we get to watch sometimes, "When I said leave your nets, it was forever! When I said follow me, it was forever! When I said be a missionary, it was forever! ... Peter, you can't go home. ... You (missionaries) need to stay the course, you need to see it through. You can't go back. ... Do you love [Him]? Well then feed [His] sheep. And do it forever."  Yeah, basically every missionary should be able to hear that talk.

But I gotta get going. Things are all worked out and I'm on exchange for a little while before Sister Pei and I go to the park one last time. Then she has her dinner at 5 and I get up at the opposite 5 tomorrow to take Sister de Montigny (going home) and Sister Lui (going outbound) to the airport. Depressing, but by next pday I'll be over it. And by next pday it'll be 5 weeks till I do it.
It’s really weirding me out that all this departing nonsense will be happening again TO ME in another 6 weeks.  Trunky or no, I have to say I’m excited.  Not to leave, but to do the next 6 weeks and then leave.  I’m probably going to sound trunky to other sisters, but that’s what it is.  I don’t want to go, I’m terrified of it actually.  But I’m ready.  I’m going to rock this last 6 weeks and then I’m outta here.  I’ll go just like I came – terrified, with a few restless nights and tears, but ultimately ready and trusting that it will all be ok.
It’s been a busy day.  Spent the last hour or so with friends who aren’t leaving, but who I won’t see as often now.  And now I’m ready to start fresh and plunge into a new era.  Last chapters are always the best, right?.....Well, really the climax chapter-this is the chapter that counts.  The stuff that happens my last few days, that’s the final chapter.  But for now, there’s going to be some spiritual butt-kicking.  I plan to go out like I did that year in the soccer play-off semi-finals: scoring the Golden Goal and winning the game.  THAT’S the high I want to feel in 5-6 weeks.  Time to kick it up a notch – BAM!

Sister Clayton

(PS:  New Compy is SisterB from Indiana!)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

P-Day in the Park

SisterP and I had so much fun spending our P-days in the Park.

Me and SisterP at Work....more or less

Time for P-day fun at BY Park!

Movies?  What are movies?  Oh, yeah - distractions.

BY Park

BY Park

Time to head home.  P-day can be exhausting.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Finish Strong!

I went to the Finish Strong meeting with compy, since I'm killing her this transfer.  (don't you just love mission-speak.  Killing your companion means she goes home at transfer time)

Finish Strong is basically a meeting with all departing sisters and their companions.  Sister Gillette says she always forgets the name and calls it Forever Strong, which is an equally appropriate name. (she blames it on her granddaughters wanting to take her to Forever 21 and mixing the two names.  yeah.  She was being cute in that meeting)  It is focused on not slacking off in your last few weeks.  Kind of like a pump rally in the middle of the 9th.  Right when you're getting a little stiff because you haven't moved since the 7th inning stretch and nobody's had the energy to do the wave since the home run in the 4th inning.  Something like that.  Don't ask why or where the baseball analogy came from.

We talked about what sins a missionary could commit in their last 3 weeks, why we won't do that, being strong even when you go home, companions not adding to the trunkiness.  At the end we watched the Mormon Message from Elder Holland's "None Were With Him".  (which made me think of my Dad's talk last Easter and how much I love Elder Holland)

I liked it when I went with Sister Ishijima near the end of my first transfer here.  It always seemed to be a little different every time President Holmes did it (I've killed several companions), he had smaller groups meet in his office, which was really neat.  But I really liked it that time with Sister I.  It was very personal and there were lots of tears.  We talked about being strong, but he ended with having each departing sister give us a piece of advice/what they learned that they would take home, and then he had their companions say something, too.  It was a really spiritual thing.

This one with President Gillette wasn't bad.  I learned alot to help me with the next 9 weeks.  I can't believe it is the middle of May.  Just 2 months.  Anyway.  Good meeting.

Love you all
Sister Clayton

Monday, April 9, 2012

General Conference April 2012, part 1

*drumroll* Conference referral total: 7,541!!!!

This mission is awesome. We almost didn't make it this time. But I'll save that for when I write the Conference Report letter.

 In the meantime, check out the TSquare Mission Blog
 There are great photos, and even one of your fav missionary and her buddy, Sister dM.

Give each other big hugs cause I want to right now and I can't.
Sister Clayton
(longer letter later - read the book!)