Monday, November 9, 2015

Nov 2nd - See that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength

Weekly email - 11/2/15
A day in the life of Elder Clancy

Most people grimace and groan when they hear their alarm go off at 6:30 on Monday morning, but us missionaries smile! Monday is our preparation day or P-Day for short. We get to do laundry, go to the store, and email our families back home. 

This past Monday was a fun one. We went shopping at Safeway right by our house. They had a sale on yogurt - it was 10 for $6.00 #YEAH! Needless to say I stocked up on them. I really enjoy breakfast smoothies by Boathouse Farms but they are ridiculously expensive. (No wonder why college kids gain the freshman 15 when a hamburger at McDonalds is $1 but anything remotely healthy starts at like $5!). I try to eat healthy for breakfast and lunch - I normally have yogurt or an egg of some sort & for lunch I have some soup and a sandwich or maybe even a salad if I am feeling really hipster.

For dinner however it is a different story. For most people it is like a big event when we come over and so they always bring out the 5 course meals and sometimes it is a real struggle to eat everything we are given. People in our ward are so kind to us!! We get $139 put on our debit cards once a month and we learn very quickly how to be frugal. I am normally fiscally conservative (Don't tell my liberal friends) but this Monday I saw Taylor Swift notebooks on sale for a dollar fifty and I just couldn't resist. 

After we emailed home and ate lunch, we headed out for Manitou Springs. Manitou is the quintessential hippie town and reminds me of a Patagonia commercial. Manitou lies at the foot of the front range and the scenery is second to none. It is definitely my favorite town I have visited since being in Colorado. Last time we made the trek we hiked the Manitou incline. It is literally 2,000ft vertical and hundreds of steps to the top. (Lungs destroyed). But this week we decided to drink all of the famous Manitou Spring water. They have 7 or 8 different fountains with mineral water from the local springs and they are kind of hidden around town. Personally I really enjoy wandering the streets and talking to people. Manitou is perfect for that kind of activity. Whether it was the homeless guy asking me for a Book of Mormon or laughing in my broken Spanish to a visiting exchange student from Panama, I enjoy learning everyone's "story". (PS I didn't have a book of Mormon on me so I gave him an Oprah Winfrey quote I had in my pocket instead.) 

Manitou has tons of antique shops and thrift stores along with the normal touristy stores. I haggled the owner of a thrift store to give me a map of the world for $5 instead of $6 and I bought some vanilla jasmine soap at another place before we found our first spring. The water It basically tasted like if you put rocks through whatever process they put almonds through to make almond milk. The good news however, is I most definitely hit my daily values for both iron and magnesium! 

You meet interesting people at these little hidden fountains. It kind of reminded me of a low budget movie I saw on Netflix after I got my wisdom teeth out. One guy was a scientologist who drinks the water everyday and we also met a group of bikers from Arizona. I was half expecting to see Kevin Bacon when we arrived at the last one. 

We spend our Monday evenings with the Howell family. They invite us over every Monday night for dinner & "Family Home Evening". It is a lot of fun but we always leave physically exhausted after playing intense games of hide and seek. 

Most weekdays we wake up at 6:30 & exercise. Some days we work out at our neighbors home gym, some days we play basketball, and others we exercise by walking to the living room and back. Last week when we were playing basketball in the morning I tried to dunk and I hit the ball on the rim and almost did a backflip. But hey ball is life.  I am still working on how to turn that stumbling block into a stepping stone. After we exercise we clean up and get ready for the day. After breakfast we study our scriptures for a few hours and plan out the lessons we are going to teach for that day. 

It is really hard to characterize a "normal day" in the mission. Tuesday we went and had morning scripture study with an elderly lady who can't really leave the house. She was so nice to us and really appreciated us coming over. Scripture study was one thing but more than anything I really think she enjoyed us coming to spend time with her. She has some memory issues and struggles with her daily activities. I made her laugh when I put her hand in mine and said, "Even if I get older and start to lose my memory, it will be impossible to forget that smile of yours". Many people might think I am channeling my inner Bill Clinton but honestly sometimes laughter is the best medicine. I remember one time when I was heartbroken I watched the movie Tommy Boy and I felt a lot better!! 

Wednesday we had an activity at our church called the "Trunk or Treat".  It is a fun little shindig for younger children who might not be old enough to go trick or treating, so everyone backs their car into the parking spots and gives candy from out of their trunk.  Some of the older kids try to finagle some candy too so I gave them the old "Bernie Sanders" and redistributed their wealth. It was an old trick my friend Sheldon and I devised back in the day. We take one piece of candy out of our bowl and pretend to put it in theirs but in reality we take like 5 from them... Hey they said TRICK or treat. So the kicker for the adults to come, is the world famous chili cook-off. Elder Fox and I decided that we would throw our hat in the ring, kind of more of a Don Quixote/Lincoln Chafee 2016 bid than anything else, but none the less we entered. We got Elder Fox's mom to send us her chili recipe and we made it but we really wanted to make it stand out. We added in Hot dogs, Bacon, ground beef, and just a little more bacon. When there are 16 chilis involved you have to do everything you can to stand out. Basically it was like the Republican presidential race and we were Donald Trump in September. Needless to say we won....with a little help from my early evening canvassing of undecided voters. 

Thursday evening we were able to eat dinner with the Root family. They have a very special place in my heart. They had been taught, moreover preached to - that our Heavenly Father was a condescending and quite frankly, mean, God. Obviously they had been pretty jaded to religion for a long time. The reason that fiery sermons of death and hell don't resonate with people is because of the fact that our Heavenly Father doesn't operate that way. He is (as the name implies) the Father of us all. Just like a Father or Mother love their children and want the best for them- He feels the same for us. In fact, just the mere fact that we are down here on this earth is a testimony of his love for us. John 3:16 reads-
For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 
I don't know about you but that doesn't sound to me like a condemning & vengeful God. In fact, quite the opposite. It truly strengthens my testimony to see others build a relationship with their Father in Heaven once again. The impact of a heart touched by Christ is an immeasurable blessing- not only to the heart that was touched, but to those that dwell around it. Ms. Root has pictures of her daughter Amy on her dresser. I told Ms. Root that I was sure that her Father in Heaven has a picture of her on his nightstand, & just like she loves her daughter more than life itself- he does too. 

Being a missionary is an amazing experience. Every 6 months in our church we have something called general conference. It is a meeting broadcast around the world where church leaders speak to us and give us advice and encouragement. I really enjoyed a talk given in October's conference by Elder Dale G. Renlund. He was a heart surgeon and he talked about how tough emotionally it was for him to witness so much grief and pain.  He had one patient in particular that he really became connected to. His name was Chad and he had a rare heart condition that didn't allow many people to survive but Chad was doing relatively well. Here is an excerpt that meant a lot to me, especially as a missionary. -

One evening, he was brought to the hospital’s emergency department in full cardiac arrest. My associates and I worked for a long time to restore his circulation. Finally, it became clear that Chad could not be revived. We stopped our futile efforts, and I declared him dead. Although sad and disappointed, I maintained a professional attitude. I thought to myself, “Chad has had good care. He has had many more years of life than he otherwise would have had.” That emotional distance soon shattered as his parents came into the emergency room bay and saw their deceased son lying on a stretcher. In that moment, I saw Chad through his mother’s and father’s eyes. I saw the great hopes and expectations they had had for him, the desire they had had that he would live just a little bit longer and a little bit better. With this realization, I began to weep. In an ironic reversal of roles and in an act of kindness I will never forget, Chad’s parents comforted me.
I now realize that in the Church, to effectively serve others we must see them through a parent’s eyes, through Heavenly Father’s eyes. Only then can we begin to comprehend the true worth of a soul. Only then can we sense the love that Heavenly Father has for all of His children. Only then can we sense the Savior’s caring concern for them. 

As missionaries we have the unique opportunity to serve others in a place far from home. You would be surprised however, how quickly your heart begins to open up to these wonderful people. As we begin to see these people for who they are - children of our Heavenly Father, and not just "someone" we also begin to empathize with them. Being a missionary has given me so much perspective on life that I sometimes feel overwhelmed. So many times we are able to empathize with big name heroes such as John McCain in Vietnam, Todd Beamer, or maybe brave Malala Yousafzai (The girl who stood up to the Taliban for Women's education). But there are so many other brave men and women who are nameless to most. The nameless but brave young mother who is struggling to continue day to day as she lives in a shelter for battered women. The uncelebrated recovering drug addict who has worked so hard to get clean. How about the unacknowledged first responders, who go out every morning risking their lives for the betterment of others who get no glory and in many cases, receive vehement attacks. All of these people from all walks of life- They ALL are important. As we serve others we will truly understand more of God's love for us and for all of his children. I have been blessed enough to serve and if anyone who is reading this is trying to decide if they should serve or not, serve!
Elder Clancy

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