Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Last Week here in the CCM!...


It's the last week here in the CCM and I'm really happy to be leaving. I'm told that we shouldn't be happy to leave here because it's harder outside the CCM and there's a lot less babysitting done.

President Cox got results back from some CT scans he had done recently. His right arm was really swollen after he exercised one day and so he got it checked. The report came back from SLC from Elder Nelson that he needed to come back home to get it taken care of. He had a blood clot. So, he went back on Sunday and the surgery went fine so he'll be back to send off my group of missionaries on Tuesday. The replacement president has been awesome besides the fact that he won't let us go just outside the gates to the shop that comes every two weeks for the missionaries who need or want essential missionary supplies. So we have to deal through the fence like the convicts we are.

My Spanish is getting better everyday. I don't know a ton but I can speak the essentials to the natives here that know no English at all. Now all the newbies are asking us to help them with their Spanish so last night I was helping a guy in our room memorize "Our Purpose" in PMG and he's basically got it down in one night! Everyone is really great here!

I do know Elder Jones! He's in my District and he's a really great guy! I didn't know him before but once I knew he was from back home, we hit it off really well.

This next week in the CCM, my district has decided to have an English fast. So... no spanish the entire week! But today we can speak English cause it's our P day :) It's hard but it's also fun. The worst is when someone wants to tell a story but can't cause it will take 15 minutes and won't be as funny. Hahaha but I love my district. Our teacher told us the other day that we have a rep here in the CCM... none of the other districts want to be taught by or teach us because they can't keep up with us and our Spanish. Either our Spanish is rank or it's super super bad...

Did you send the package? I'm really excited for it! I told you last time to send what you felt impressed to send (at least I hope I told you that) but it's so hard to remember at crunch time what I need to tell you to send. So I just hope at this point... haha I wrote it all down but wasn't able to get my list of things to write so I only remembered half of the things I planned on saying.

I'm glad to hear about Milo! Santa Vaca!!!! El esta un gigante! Kyle, if my spelling is wrong on that word, you can correct me in two years... ;) haha

I keep praying for everyone! I've truly been blessed here in the CCM. Oh! and also, thanks mom for getting me the glasses that have the protective coating, because they've fallen off my face a few times and survived it really well! They barely have a scratch on the frame.

Con Amor!
Elder Tuft

Mommy! Love you!
Daddy! Love you!
Everyone! Love you!
Love you Grandpa and Grandma!

PS: It has rained buckets here! And sometimes it floods through our window in the night but even then, I don't sleep with a blanket cause it's so hot! hahaha

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

HELLO! :) EYE of another Elder, Health, and COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS!

CCM Guatemala City July 2014 - Elder Spencer Tuft (third from left in back)
Hello Family,

I've had a great week this week and it's been the exact same as every other week in the CCM. But Some cool things happened and I'll share them later in this letter. :)

My health is great! Everyone else is getting diarrhea and constipation but I've been fine the entire time. I know that God has blessed me with good health and also... thank you mom for the pro-biotics and women pills (pre-natals). Sundays here are really cool! We have a normal Sacrament meeting in Spanish and Elders are randomly called up to give a talk in Spanish, even if they don't know the language very well. I got called up and talked for 4 minutes and bore my testimony and sat down. I shared the story to everyone about some things Grandpa said to me the last time I saw him and bore my testimony about the Plan of Salvation. P-days are just like a Sunday after church. We don't do a ton besides one Devotional at night and free time the rest of the day after the temple. We don't have culture class here because we venture out sometimes into the real world and get familiar that way, like when we went to the market. We also have teachers that are from around here and they don't act any differently than anyone back home. These are normal people here living normal lives like you and me. The pace of traffic and people around here is like freeways on I-15 during rush hour except the speed limit is only as fast as your car can go. American drivers are the scary ones down here that we have to watch out for. 

They don't celebrate Pioneer Day down here. But two nights ago, some idiot lit some fireworks at 11:30 at night that were like gun shots so some of the elders got out of bed and laid on the ground with there hands over their head. Of course I ran to the window ;) hahaha I knew they weren't gun shots but our teacher said that we'd see 1-3 murders on our mission, so some of the elders were spooked.

Earlier last week I had the opportunity to give one of my district members a blessing. He split part of his skin between his eyelid and eyebrow. He was playing basketball and conked heads with another elder. He went to the hospital but he's back and almost healed now :). He said that the nurse came in with a shot for him for the numbness and he kept saying "En mi ojo!" but the nurse put it in his bum! hahahaha  He said that hurt more than anything else. 

I'm excited for Kyle and Jess this week! Buenos Suerte!!! 

Got to go! Send me anything Mom! I'll love it I promise. Just tell me what you send so I can make sure I get it all :) 

Con Mucho Amor,
Elder Tuft
Gpa Y Gma Tuft,
I love you guys so much! You've given me everything, because everything is the Gospel! :D
I'm glad to hear all the good news from home.  Another new, young, and active family in the ward! Keep up the good work that you're doing. I know life wasn't meant to be easy. Everyone has their own challenges and no one understands but the Savior and God. So while it's hard, I promise that it was meant to be that way. Just a thought from Elder Holland: "The Atonement wasn't easy for the Savior so our lives won't be easy for us." We can ask for a priesthood blessing when it gets hard just like when the Savior had the comfort of the Angel when he suffered for us. We will still have to endure but our burdens can be made light so that we don't feel them. In one moment in the Garden, the Lord suffered for everyone. He suffered for the pain of that eye sore you had. If not then the Gospel is not true. Keep looking up, things go better when we do :) Love you Mom. All I have I owe to you and Dad. "Remember who you are!" :D 

Just put anything in the package that you think I'll need. I have my Patriarchal Blessing but could you send me my call letter? Also send music! I love to play the piano but can't without the music! Ask Lindsay if she can find anything that I've played before. Nothing too hard cause I don't have time to practice down here. Also, music to sing would be great, like Come Thou Fount and Amazing Grace, even with the harmonies! That would be great! :D 
Love you Dad! I'm praying for Gpa. He can still touch the lives of anyone with the Gospel. He hasn't forgotten the Gospel. He still has the strongest testimony ever! Let him share it with someone if he can! I love him and will pray for him. Keep sending me your loving messages and thoughts. They mean a lot to me! :D
You got your own studio! Wow, that's what happens to the youngest, I guess! ;) We, as the youngest, are so blessed in our family. We can learn from the mistakes of others, and watch the lives of our siblings unfold. Count the many blessings we have and I promise that your hip will seem like it's nothing compared to what you've been given. God loves you and will bless you to heal completely as you live your life faithfully. Do all you can now to live the life you want to live in heaven. Salvation is not a cheap experience. :) Love you Lil' Sis! Keep smiling, if not for yourself, then for others!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hello from Guate!

Elders Spencer Tuft with CCM companion Elder W.
 (This mom has tried 4 times to separate the paragraphs, and I've done it many times and it won't hold once I update the blog. Sorry.)
Hello Everyone,
It's still great here in Guatemala and I've had a lot of fun. It's good to have an hour to write this week instead of 30 minutes.
We finally got to go to the Temple today cause it's been closed for two weeks. It has a beautiful Celestial room and I'm glad that I could go again! We'll be able to go every P day I believe. I learned today about the similarities between Adam and Eve's experience in the Garden and when Eve is being tempted by Satan to eat the fruit and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. If you don't know exactly how they're related, just go to the temple after reading about the Atonement in the four gospels and pay attention when Eve's given the fruit. Also, in the Celestial room on the ceiling are mirrors that are angled in different directions. When I looked up from all areas of the room, I never could see myself in the reflection. I thought about how getting to the eternities with our families is not a selfish reward but that we have to serve others to have eternal happiness. That's what temple work is about, that's what God's plan is. I could clearly see other missionaries in the room through the mirrors but I never could see myself.
I bought a leather scripture case two weeks ago that I got today and it's really awesome. It's personalized with my name on it and mission, but I also got to choose what pictures were burned into in. So I chose to have the Savior knocking on the door and the Shepherd carrying the lost lamb. These pictures have a lot of meaning to me because I could see the relevance of Christ more clearly. I can see myself as the sheep or the person on the other side of the door. Now I can see myself as the Shepherd sent to gather His lost sheep and the figure outside the door waiting for someone to open. I know that it's God's plan to first save us from death and then send us to testify to others of the awful death that Jesus Christ made possible for us to overcome. It is only through Christ that we can live with God again.
A lot of the things I have read from Missionaries in the past seem like they are really basic principles and doctrine of the Gospel... like they are the Primary answers or something. I was too proud to realize until now that the answer is always in the Doctrine. Elder Bednar gave a talk about this exact topic and we got to watch the Devotional about it. He said that many people are guilty of teaching applications of the Gospel. For example: A friend could have gone to the Bishop for problems with addictions and the bishop might have him try different applications to try and fix the problem, such as set goals that progressively undo the chains of addiction. While this is a really important thing to discuss and rely on, the most important thing to do is not correct applications but learn the Doctrine behind different principles that have applications. So the Doctrine could be the Atonement, the Principle could be repentance, and the application could be setting progressive goals. Until people understand the fundamental doctrines of Jesus Christ, they will never be able to change their heart. Temporary fixes to any problem is not an eternal solution.
About my companion: He is such a great person! He has memorized all the scripture mastery verses and when we are in a lesson and I want to share a scripture that pops into my head but I don't know where it is I can ask him and he'll pop out the reference. He has a really strong desire to serve the Lord and he does it well. He has a fire to learn Spanish like I've never seen in anyone. We have had some talks together about things... like how he debates everyone's opinions and leaves no room for any opinion but his own. You may have thought that I was bad at this but he's worse. Everything is an argument and the first two weeks I tried to see if I could get him to realize what he was doing. I may have said this before but I told him that he could either choose to be right or to be happy and I think it's had a big impact on him. He still has his moments where he wants to have the greatest and best story to tell and have the spotlight on him but he's doing a lot better than the first week. He hates being corrected at all, even if it's something small. I get the feeling that he was a lot like me when we were younger. I don't know but I think he's had troubles accepting everyone for who they are and was bullied because he was known as the goodie-goodie boy. It helps me understand him more because I've been in a similar situation. He's been willing to work with me and I've learned to just let him think he's right until he realizes that maybe someone else is right for a change. I'm a lot happier when I have the Spirit and I can't let a difference between us make the Spirit leave.
I'll try to send one picture we took (Me and my companion) but if it doesn't get there I apologize! It's good to hear from everyone!
Really quickly before I have to go I wanted to share something for anyone in our ward that is going to be leaving soon. I hope this will help them: The first week is brutal and you get worked really hard. Then everything seems like it's slowing down and that you can relax for a little bit and not study as hard. Tell them to never stop working and always strive to have the spirit with you even if the people around them are goofing around. Tell them to not judge anyone like they're in high school because people tend to group together in groups like the Preps and the Nerds but that isn't who they actually are.
Mom, our zone leader is Elder Cook and he's a great guy and pretty tall. I haven't talked to him much cause he's in another district. Also, Hermana Richins left last week and said that she was grateful to have a hello from her Aunt Jeanette.
Love ya, bye!!!
Elder Tuft
PS Dad, what was the scripture that you read that hints that other families may have been led out of Jerusalem at the time of Lehi? Some of the Elders have had some questions about this topic (how the American inhabitants have ruins in Central America but then the plates were buried in New York) and I may share it with them to help, but probably not.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Earthquake, Companion issues, Safety issues, LEARNING LOTS

Hey all,

We have 30 min to write this week cause all the other elders and sisters are leaving, and we are leaving as well, to go on a tour of Guatemala City and then eat out at the Wendy's here (which has proven to be safe in the past).

I've been taught about all the safety issues here in Central American including rabies from animal bites because that's common here as well. But don't worry about me, the dog is the one that needs worrying... ;)

My companion and I had a rough spot this week. I'm so glad that I have had friends that I've had issues with, and that we've worked through the good and the bad, because Elder W. has definitely thrown me a few curve balls. We are doing fantastic now though. We've moved past most differences even though we still have our weaknesses. It's easier to see someone through the eyes of Christ when you pray, fast, and try your hardest to do so.

The 4th was wonderful this year. We sang the National Anthem as Norte's here and all the Hispanos thought we were crazy but we didn't care. I felt the testifying feeling of the Holy Ghost as we sang. I know that I have been raised in a blessed nation.

Here's what I wrote this week in my Journal:

I have been pondering in my heart and in my mind the times in my life how I've been blessed with revelation, protection and the small whisperings or words that come to my mind. I know I have been blessed to know many things but one thing I only can hope to know (but probably never will until we move on into the eternities) is how I will do in the end of this life. I have been troubled concerning eternal salvation that comes through Jesus Christ because I don't know how I will turn out at the end of our mortal test. Mortal Eyes are so limited. We cannot afford to close off any avenue of Light and Knowledge because we will halt our progression. I hope to be an instrument of many miracles and conversions in the eyes of the Lord because I want to have greater joy in the life to come.

One thing Elder Bednar told us this week was: "You will recognize and follow the voice of His Spirit as you seek to become who He needs you to become." This was my answer to the questions I've had this week. We may never know what is ahead of us, but the Prophets do and the Lord does so I/we need to trust in him always. Thrust with all our might. Build with all our faith. Fortify with all our might, mind and strength. But most of all, listen to the promptings that come and then do something about them. Never give up. :)

Love you,
Elder Tuft

Mom and Dad,

Yes I felt the earthquake but I didn't know what it was because I was asleep. All I knew was that my blanket fell off me and I was wondering why. So I grabbed my blanket and kept sleeping. Other Elders said they woke up and were wondering what their companion was doing above them on the top of the bunk-beds because it was shaking so much. We get so tired here and it is so much work that any sleep we can get we won't lose.

Everyone in my District is going to "Tegu" Honduras with me but we probably won't be companions but rather we'll be senior companions all together and junior companions together. Maybe even district leaders together later.

Love you tons,
Elder Tuft

PS Thanks for shorter letters.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Con Todo Mi Corizon (With All My Heart!)

Spencer Tuft, three from the left in the back row, arriving at the MTC 25 June 2014
Spencer is with Elder Al Burningham, who is Uncle Mike's Father-in-law. He and his wife are Public Affairs Missionaries and help on Wednesdays at the CCM/MTC there in Guatemala City, Guatemala. YEA for them being able to get this picture because after they took it they were told NO PICTURES. Photo-bomber is Elder Rigby. :)

Hello Family from Guatemala!

Our flight here was filled with about 32 missionaries and we were all from Utah besides two! I knew two people there and we sat sort of next to each other for some of the flight/flights. We talked to a guy on the flight to Guatemala City who was in LA for some reason and I gave him a "Soy Mormon" card. The new pass-a-long cards are the "I'm a Mormon" cards. We didn't know how to talk to him very much so we just said hi and gave him the card which he took and looked at it for a minute before putting it in his bag. Hopefully a missionary that actually speaks Spanish can find him a teach him and he'll remember the flight to Guatemala City with all the missionaries.

I felt like a cow going through customs... They herded us through gates and booths really quickly but the only thing that we had to do was hand them our passports and they stamped them and let us through. So I don't know how that works. We sat outside the airport for an hour while and waited. That probably looked weird because there were almost 60 missionaries by then that were just grouped together. Everyone spoke English who flew into Guatemala that day. We have probably 20ish Hispanos in the CCM here where as 6 weeks ago there were 100 Hispanos and 20 Norte's (That's what they call us).

My companion is Elder W. from Riverton, Utah and we are both very strong headed. Our thought process is like this: We go separate ways not knowingly, turn around, and say, "Elder! Where are you going? Come over here!" and one of us will have to listen to the other for a little while.

I've been assigned district leader for the first little while... I think for two weeks. But because no one knows what we're doing, including myself, we just travel around in a pack and I choose who's praying and such. I know right now I just need to be an example for everyone and check up on all the needs, attitude and health of everyone. The President here at the CCM is really nice and a powerful teacher. I've learned a lot from him and I think everyone has as well. I also have (a) great teacher/s. Hermano Morales teaches at night for our investigator studies and Hermana Garcia teaches all day basically. She's sort of like a babysitter to keep us in line while we're here at the CCM. But I've learned tons from Hna Garcia. She has a really strong testimony and we can relate so much to her experiences.

We wake up at 6:30 and don't stop till 10:30. Even while we are just getting up and getting ready for bed is a big chore because we have to do it quick so we aren't late and so we can get some extra study or journal writing time in. The first week is the worst cause everyone is so lost. I feel like I'm just learning the gospel over again because I have to learn it in Spanish. This is what makes me feel so lost because I don't know much Spanish. We have fun laughing at each other though and joking around and that makes the time go by. We focused so much for the first few days that now our district is struggling to stay serious and/or happily centered on the work of salvation. I hope that I can be a good example to them but sometimes I can't help but laugh. We are in jail here. :) Maybe not jail cause jail's no fun but we're literally locked up with walls all around us so we can't hardly see out into the city and we have strict obedience to obey. Everyone has a sense of boringness around them that only the Gringos don't have. We only get to go outside maybe once or twice a week but we can play on the concrete slabs for PE.

The food is great and different. Look up Liches. They are like really hairy strawberries that taste like grapes and have a huge seed in them.

In four days I've been taught all the Spanish basically that I was taught in school minus the vocabulary. And I've already relearned all the forms of conjugation just with me and my companion so we are way ahead in the process of learning Spanish... at least that's what we think right now but we'll see next week.

The first Sunday was like church all day long besides meals. There wasn't a time that we weren't in class and everyone was getting so tired by the end because we are all not used to this schedule. But I tried my best to not fall asleep and learn all that I could. I have really good notes and advice to use throughout my mission now and I'm sure I'll learn just as much or more next Sunday.

I packed everything I need so far but who knows if I forgot something yet. I won't know completely until I get to Honduras. The weather is great and my skin got worse at first but it's getting way better now. I hope the humidity helps me. It's only about 30 to 50% humidity all the time and I believe it's the same way in Honduras. It doesn't get even close to 90% here. Ha ha ha!

My mouth (wisdom teeth) is good, feels good and I've been cleaning it out well so I don't get my wisdom teeth pockets gross again. They are starting to close again so I'll be really careful until they do. I sometimes miss taking the antibiotics because we're so busy but I'll be done probably by Thursday or Friday. Grandma's temple name she gave me won't be done for two weeks because the temple just closed for cleaning for two weeks.

Tell Lindsay not to use the computer for a few days here and there at at time or so, so she doesn't get attached to it like me with my iPod or computer time. Even though she is a girl that doesn't mean she's invulnerable to computer addictions... not that she's addicted right now but it could easily happen. I'm grateful that you've limited my time on the computer because it never became an overwhelming problem. Passions can limit our sight of what is truly important and I don't want Lindsay to lose sight of what is most important.

Tell all my close friends in the Quorum that will be going on a mission soon that there is nothing they can do to fully prepare for the MTC experience except to for ESP and Journal and daily DEEP personal study. The language will always make people struggle no matter how well they know the gospel. Tell them to study the language for 30 minutes a day and try speaking it as well as much as they possibly can!!!!!!!!! You don't understand how much that will actually prepare them... still they will struggle and that will be alright. Work is hard and work for the Lord is harder but way more rewarding.

Elder Rigby is photo-bombing the pic you sent with Elder Burningham and I, and he's a crack up!

If you and Dad could possibly shorten your letters then I could read both and answer all your questions. I could only skim yours today mom (I think I got most of it) and there's no way to print them off until I get to Honduras (and even then who knows). Love you much and what's with the bunny replacing me??? Okay well sorry I wasn't entertaining enough ;) Hahaha jk

I read your letter and that's what this letter is based off of so I hope you enjoy. I tried to answer all the questions but there isn't time. Just a few hundred words that I want to say more but don't have time so I apologize. Did my Regent's stuff get sent???

Love you, thank you, and goodbye :)
Spencer (the person with fast fingers ;)