Tuesday, June 21, 2016

"Signing out!" and "Signing back in!"

LAST LETTER HOME!!!  This Mom's getting giddy!

Hello Wonderful and Terrific Family,

I hope you can feel how excited I am to see each one of you face to face! I have been dreaming the past week and have had a preview of Mom's and Dad's hugs. I can still feel them from when I left the airport two years ago.

I've had the impression this week to tell you all (and it's more for myself) that even though I'm leaving, I'll really never leave. A part of my past will always stay here in Honduras. A part of me will never be able to "sign-out". That part of me will be 100pre Catracho! Now, I'll need your help and patience because I'm not in the loop of things at home. I'll have to "sign-in" again to real life. Truth is, I'm nervous about that part because I'll have to rediscover how to live life. Honduras life is an extended camp-out. Life in Utah is a dream.

I feel torn in my heart (part of me longs to stay with these people and the other part longs to be home). I love these people. Nephi describes best what I feel: (I'm changing the verse a little bit)

"But I, Spencer, have spoken what I have spoken, and I esteem it as of great worth, and especially unto my Hondurans. For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry.

And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people. And the words which I have spoken in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal.

2 Nephi 33:3-4

I'll tell you more when I get home. It's been an amazing two years!

All my love,
Spencer James

PS to Mom:  As far as my arrival, I'll just be happy to be home, Mom. I might be hungry but I think I'll just want a P&J sandwich and some 2% milk. Thanks :D

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Earthquake, Family Nights

Hello Family,

I hope this week has been as great for you as it has been for me. There wasn't much new but it was fun.

Talking about the earthquake, I didn't feel anything. We were on splits with the Assistants when we heard a rumbling but Elder Bustillos and I were on the bed and he was moving his foot up and down so we didn't notice it very much. We had a few members call us because we live on the second floor in our house in Danlí. They were worried about us and I thought that was really nice of them to think of us. I think that God protects me a ton. I've been in two places where an earthquake has occurred but I haven't felt either of them. In Guatemala, I was asleep and in Honduras I was on a bed. I think I should keep away from the beds if I ever want to feel an earthquake.

We had 12 investigators in church this week. We brought 5 people (all were kids ages 10 to 12ish) and 5 got there on their own, and 2 came with a member. It was crazy when we realized we couldn't do it all on our own. The members stepped in and did their part and it all worked about very well.

Elder Bustillos and I reflected on why so many investigators came this week. Some came because of the Noches de Hermanamiento that we are doing. Others came because of lessons with members.

In the family nights/noches de hermanamiento, we play games with the families to get them to interact more. They love it! :D I love it too! We tried to teach them some boy scout games that I've learned over the years but I think the Honduran mind just can't keep up with advanced American boy scout minds... ;) We had to change the game because they just aren't capable of so much fun in one night. hahaha ;D

Dad, This week we were able to draw up a list of people to visit about Family History. We also were able to get empty family trees to be able to fill out with recent converts and less-actives. This week, we're planning on making the initial visits about the family history and then we'll commit them to keep on it and not stop. Every month, the ward goes to the temple, so we can use that as motivation for them. This month, the ward went and actually, one of the ward members took 2 names to the temple and did all the work for them. I think the ward is doing better than we've been thinking. It just takes time to show the results.

I'll be going to the temple the day before I get on the plane (22nd of June) so I'll go to the temple with Edward I. Johnson here in Teguc. I hope he doesn't have to fly far in the spirit world to make it here to Teguc on time. ;)

My plans for this week: Work it! I just wanted to let Mom know that I took out all the money of my account to go shopping. So, I still have the money. I don't think I'll need two suitcases actually. Can I give one away??? It's just that, I don't think I'm going to bring very much home.

Mom, can you send a list of things you for sure want me to bring home? That would help me a ton! :D Also, I still have the oils from Elder Rigby. There is an Hermana in the mission that is very allergic to deet and I was wondering if I could give the oils to Hermana Oldroyd so that she can manage them and give them to people that have allergies as well? I used them in the south but when I went to Teguc, I stopped using them. Here in Danlí, I've used OFF but in lesser portions and I've been fine. I think I used OFF so much at the beginning of the mission that my body started to take on an allergic reaction. Now that I haven't used it for a year and a half, I'm fine to use it but not as much as I did before.
Only 6 of the 10 Americans are going home this transfer. The rest extended another transfer.

Also, about contacting drunk people: I've only every contacted drunken men this once. President didn't tell us to do it, he just shared a story with us that happened to talk about contacting drunk people. He wanted us to learn that: 1)we need to follow the Spirit always, 2) that we need to be creative and try new things. There are many drunk men that I would never contact but the nicer ones are really funny to talk to when they are drunk.

I hope I answered your questions. I got to get going now.

Elder Tuft

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Service Project, Service Video, Interview with President

Hello Family,

It's hard to know what to write because my mind is flooded with emotions and important things left to do today.

Yesterday, we visited a 16 year-old girl that already has a one-year-old baby. Her name is Keidy and she's super awesome. She didn't want to pray at the end of the lesson but when we taught her, she did it all on her own. We all three prayed actually, and it was neat to feel the Spirit there with us. We taught her about repentance and baptism. She wanted to go to church yesterday as well but told us she slept in until 11am.

We also found a less-active family while contacting the past week. We went and shared a message with them and the husband looked like he was soaking it all in. He looked like he was determined to make a change in his life. Today, we'll go back to visit them and we'll watch the movie, Together Forever, with them.

We also have a psycho investigator named Natzy. The mom, Nancy, had a bar in the house before and so that gives you an idea of how their lifestyle is. Elder Bustillos wanted to go up on their roof to see the surrounding neighborhood and they let us go up. Well, I took a picture of all the garbage they had up there! It was insane! Almost all of the bottles were beer bottles. It was incredible. The other pictures are the after shots of what we did to clean it all up. It was a great change for them. Nevertheless, their hearts still are hardened and didn't come to church this week. They also slept in and turned off their phones. But they were really nice and gave us a little breakfast afterwards.

I also had an interview with President this week for my new temple recommend and I didn't know that the questions changed after going through the temple ordinances but it makes sense. It always makes me smile that the answers I give always start, "yes, yes, yes, yes, yes," and then suddenly, "NO, NO." hahaha because it starts asking about committing crimes and such.

Dad, We wanted to take up your Family History challenge this week, but we came up with nothing mostly because we had to travel to Tegucigalpa for meetings and then have more meetings in Danlí and doing splits. But this week we are going to do it. FOR SURE! 100%!

The temple name that I got from Grandma was Edward I. Johnson. Would you be able to search out his background info so that when I go through the temple, I know who I'm going to accompany there? Thanks :D

In the meeting for just zone leaders this week, President told us a story of some missionaries in his son's old mission that had a lot of success doing new things to find new people. They would contact the drunk men in the street and ask them to take them to someone who would receive us. So that's what we did, just to see how it would work. The idea was that the Spirit would work through them in their drunkened state, to lead us to the chosen ones. So the first pair of drunk men we found, we contacted. One of them told us, "I'll take you to my girlfriend's house!" and then added as an afterthought, "What do we do with the rest of the beer?" Elder Bustillos asked, "Can I chuck it?" The first drunk man said "Yes! Throw it far!" But the other drunk man was really sad, really really sad, when Elder Bustillos grabbed the bottle and threw it. It was hilarious. Well, we went to his girlfriend's house and now we are teaching his girlfriend and her mom. Hahahaha It worked! :D They aren't super positive but they learned a lot and were attentive.

Mom, we were carrying pamphlets in those boxes. And I do remember Bro Nachos! (we say Nachos but we know it's Nackos.) Thanks for your testimony.

Dad, It's been raining here in Danlí so there have been more mosquitoes and so I use a little bug spray but not as much as before. I just apply a lot less and it seems to help.

That's about it for this week. I got to go now.
Love you family!
Elder Tuft

Monday, May 30, 2016

Perseverar hasta el fin

Hello Family,

I'm really enjoying the mission. It's been super tough, but I'm loving it.

Lots of things to write but little time to write so I'll try my very best to cover everything that is needed.

We won't have the baptism this week for Ana Bran because she is working on not drinking coffee and she has to make it to church these next few weeks. She'll get there but we'll have to be patient with her. She couldn't come to church this week because of not sleeping at all during the night. Her baby boy doesn't sleep at night because it's so hot inside her house. So she was exhausted and wasn't in very good condition to go to church.

I wanted to thank you, (along with that man, Herold Pierre, that you met at the Payson temple) for what you've taught me all my life. You are a great Mom. I always am amazed by the great blessing I have to be a part of a wonderful family with wonderful parents that love me.

Dad, I'm doing excellent today. We went to the cascades here in Danlí again and I loved it more this time because we hiked all the way up the mountain and took a few pictures. I've attached a few pictures from our adventures. I hope you can imagine being on top of the tropical mountain with me eating lunch like we've always done every summer.

There is a Pizza Hut here in Danlí. Honduras has rich people and then there's a big gap and all the people that live farther away from the main roads are dramatically poorer. In fact, we went again today and I like Pizza Hut here a lot but I think it's always better back home. The Oldroyd's are the only other couple here in the mission with us. Elder Oldroyd is in charge of housing and Hermana Oldroyd is the perfect nurse for the whole mission. I love them a lot. They remind me of you and Mom. Hermana Oldroyd pulled a "Mom" the other day when we went to the office. She pulled out a jelly belly bean game and we spun a spinner to decide which bean to eat but the difference was that there were bad tasting beans and good ones so there was always a 50/50 chance of eating a bad bean.

I'll take you up on the challenge for Family History. I just wanted to let you know that I forgot to look at the temple name I have to tell you who it is but I'll send it next week for sure!

I'd love to play Greed in Oregon. Just saying that if we can, I'd love to play that one with the family. Also, I'd like to learn how to play Nertz (or Charlie like Grandma says) again.

Thanks for the great poem. I'm going to print it off. I hope Kaleb enjoys the mission. It's too bad that I won't see him for 4 years now... yikes that's a long time.

Love you family SUPER DUPER! AND LET'S PLAY DRESS-UPS WITH THE SCOTTISH KILTS! but mine has to be green and red please! And I want to be barefoot on the sand when we take the picture in Oregon! :D I'm stoked. (This was a joke, and we are not wearing kilts for our family pictures.)

Elder Tuft

Monday, May 23, 2016

Housing Checks, Coming up soon: Baptisms, Family History

Hello Family,

I'm doing fine this week. I little tired but well. We've been working really hard and I've learned a lot.

We went and did housing checks with all the missionaries in our zone, with Elder & Hermana Oldroyd this week. They are funny and great people. I liked spending the day with them. There was only one house that was in bad condition because the Elders hadn't cleaned in at all for a few months. So they are cleaning it today. We went to Pizza Hut with them as a little treat. They were so nice to us and asked us what our plans were after the mission. We started talking about school and we ended up talking about marriage. They gave us a few tips and gave us some great advice.

We had mini-transfers in the zone this week and we are really happy for the changes. A few missionaries were assigned to be the new district leaders or trainers and they really stepped it up. All they needed was the little motivation and trust in themselves and they became better missionaries on their own. God sees us for who we can become and not for who we are.

We have a baptism not this week but on the 4th of June. Her name is Ana Bran. She wanted to be baptized this week but we did the pre-interview and she's not quite ready. Pray for her baby and for her. Her newborn doesn't sleep at night and keeps her up all night long. In the day he sleeps and she can't sleep because her house gets really hot and uncomfortable. So she's draining in energy. She's also a single mom and has two kids.

As far as Family History work goes, they haven't done anything this week with it. They don't have much direction but not because they can't do it but because searching their ancestors is the hardest part for them. I don't have much control over Family History. We'll see if we can talk about doing an activity for Family History and Missionary Work combined.

Talking about Family History work, Grandma gave me a name to go through the temple and do the work for him. I don't have the name right with me right now but I'll send the name to you next week and you can send me a little bit of his story so that I know who I'm going through the temple for.

In the ward right now, we are doing activities every week to help bond the members better and to help them bond to the new members and investigators. It's working really well right now. I hope it keeps going.

I read Section 109 of the D&C this week and it was interesting but I apologize beforehand because I can't remember what I wrote down about it. However, I have always had in the plastic holder for my temple recommend, a little quote which is from D&C 109:13 and I like it a lot. It says: "That all people who shall enter upon the threshold of the Lord's house may feel thy power, and feel constrained to acknowledge that thou hast sanctified it, and that it is thy house, a place of thy holiness."

We had five members from our ward receive their endowment this past week and they've grown so much from the experience. Two of them were sealed as well. They shared their testimonies in Sacrament Meeting this week and the Spirit touched my heart. The temple is beautifully simple and simply beautiful. Because of the way we are taught and the symbolism, the teachings of the temple intrigue the mind of the learned, yet is enriching to the unlearned.

I love being in the temple. I remember that before I came to Honduras, I went very frequently to the temple. I love the temple. I wish I could go more often as a missionary. I feel sad for missionaries who can't go to the temple because there isn't one close by. There is an indescribable feeling of joy and peace and happiness inside, especially for those who take the names of their ancestors to the House of the Lord.

Love you family,
Elder Tuft

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Family week, temples, answers to questions

Hi family and friends,

This week was family week and we had a few activities planned as a ward. Everything turned out great! On Monday we went to a family home evening with the family Tovar and they had invited another family to their home and we shared the movie, "Together Forever" with them. They are a new couple and are thinking about marriage. So Dad, relating to what you commented in your letter, I've found that telling someone that they need to get married isn't a great option. But teaching them correct principles and letting them decide for themselves is always the better option. We are teaching one family right now. It's a couple. They are expecting a baby but aren't married either. I think it would be best to share the movie Together Forever with them, as well. That movie has a great impact on new couples, I have seen. It's a really simple and easy way to share our beliefs and then testify that those principles have brought you happiness and peace.

Running out of time, but I just wanted to say that I LOVE THE TEMPLES! They are truly the "House of the Lord". "I have a family here on Earth. They are so good to me. I want to share my life with them through all eternity. Families can be together forever, through Heavenly Father's plan. I always want to be with my own family. And the Lord has shown me how I can."

Just a quick comment about Daysy. She didn't go to church this week because she went to her mom's house this weekend. Pray for her and for us. God will bless us if we have faith, hope and love.

Mom, talk to Dad about the SLIDER account. I think it was him on Friday that "hacked" my account. If not, just change the password.

I haven't been with a companion that has had Dengue in the transfer that we were companions. Elder Bustillos and I are looking good so far so we hope we don't get Dengue and we can have a healthy transfer.

Dad, Everything has been pretty normal this week. The investigators that came to church are people that members have brought and we haven't taught yet. We will be teaching one of them next Sunday because he lives so far away that he can only come Sundays to church. Good luck in the garden. I look forward to working along side you in the garden. I didn't work a ton in the garden with you before but I feel like I'd like to more.

The family history part of the ward is a little disorganized right now. They just called some new young adults to work as a team to teach the ward about family history. It's not been too productive up til now. We'll see how things go this week. We've been trying to attend their meetings to know how we can help but they haven't had a meeting for a few weeks now that we know of. I'll look into it.

I'll read D&C 109 this week and tell you what I learned and think next week.

Love you all,
Elder Tuft

Monday, May 9, 2016

Poem, Last Transfer period starts this week, Elder Bustillos

Hello Wonderful Family,

Well this past week we have had quite the roller-coaster ride. Elder Bustillos has been a little delicate on the health side of things and I think it's because we are working ourselves really hard. Some mission leaders have told us that if we are not baptizing it is because we don't have enough faith but I'm here to tell you that there are somethings that your faith cannot control and so I don't worry so much about the results as much as I worry about doing my part the best I can and leaving everything in the hands of God.

We have a really positive investigator named Daysy. I think I told you about her last week but she's been really great and doing all the commitments except she hasn't gone to church yet because of the holiday. I hope everything goes well with her.

We did a lot of splits this past week. I told you guys in the phone call but if you didn't understand, I just wanted to clear that up. I think that's the most exciting thing that has happened yet. They are really great.

Elder Bustillos and I went home early yesterday because he was going to throw up and I fell asleep at 8 pm. I slept solid until 6:30 this morning and I was still in my church clothes. I remember nothing... :P I'm pretty sure that I needed that sleep because we've been working super duper hard.

Here's the Robert Frost Poem that I translated:

Nature's first green is gold,
its hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower,
but only for an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
As Eden sank to grief,
so dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

La primavera, oro ha de ser,
color que no se sabe mantener.
Su hoja fina es el flor.
Tiempo es su cobrador.
Hojas se envejecen.
Así se puso en Edén,
como el sol obedece.
Jamas el oro permanece.

That's the best I could translate the poem and still retain the rhythm. Hope you can make it better.

There's not much more to say but I love you all! Have a great week!

I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. He is God's Only Begotten Son. They both love us so much and that's why we are serving missions: to bring to pass the imortality and eternal life of man. The Book of Mormon is true and it stands as its own witness. Anyone can read it and ask God with real intent and receive an answer by the power of the Holy Ghost. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Tuft