Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween/witches, TJ's and, interview with Pres

Spencer with his fun district on Pday today.
Hello Familia!

I just want to comment really quickly so you know I read all that you sent me. I am really sad to hear about the wedding stuff, and with Ryan. I'll keep all of the Allison's in my prayers and I hope Katherine is okay too. I haven't really known Cody but sad that he did that.

Halloween here is really different. I don't think we'll be allowed to leave again because it'll be dangerous. It's called Day of the Witches down here and, yes, there are witches here. Not so much in my area but certainly people that have devils inside of them. We walk past a man that quotes pages at a time from the bible and cries condemnation, not repentance, to people on the street. He's always drunk when he preaches and no one ever listens to him luckily.

We've also had a problem with Testigos de Jehova here recently. We haven't ever bible bashed and we never will but they are teaching all the people wrong doctrine and even one of our member families was shaken by them. When we talked to them, we didn't know what to say. We asked if there was anything we could do and the wife (Enni) said she had a question. This started a long conversation about Baptisms for the dead. I finally asked her, "Have you read the Book of Mormon completely?" and she told me no. So, I told her to read it all and pray about it and she wouldn't have any doubts when the Testigos came again for her. She then asked me, "How would I know, if a spirit came to me, if it was from God or not?" Then I had a little miracle. The Holy Ghost allowed me to see through the question to her real doubt. She doesn't have a testimony because she doesn't recognize the Holy Ghost in her life anymore. I asked her about her baptism and how she felt. She told me that she knew that what she felt was true because the burning sensation inside of her was so strong. So I asked her, "Can you have that same feeling with you to keep you without spots (we read a scripture about keeping clean from the world) if you don't go to church and partake of the sacrament and if you aren't reading the BoM?" We left her with that and the invitation to re-find her testimony through enduring to the end by attending church. Well, she came with her family and the Bishop talked with them and now we just need to keep them active again because they are starting to regain their testimonies. God always answers prayers. 

I had interviews with President Bowler the 23rd and it was just great! I got to tell him everything that has been on my mind and what we shared with one another was really uplifting. I got to share my feelings about all that has been happening at home and we both began to cry.  But we know and President wants you to know too, that we have a testimony that God blesses all the families of Missionaries around the world with blessings seen and unseen. President also told me that my group of missionaries that came will be training really soon. I hope not this change (Wednesday, which we still haven't heard of any changes yet but we hope to hear tomorrow or tonight) but maybe next or the next.

I have felt like the world has been trying to take away my testimony ever since I got here to Honduras. We have been hammered with false doctrine and ridiculed on the streets for our beliefs. We have been saddened when someone rejects us but not because it's harmful to us but because they are throwing away the only person who can save them, Jesus Christ. They claim to know who God is but desire that he shows them a sign for proof. They beat on their drums and guitars in their meeting houses and the voice of the devil is so disguised when the preacher is shouting. Mom, remember when we visited the temple in New York for choir tour? I remember being in crowded and noisy streets and then entering the temple and hearing silence and feeling the Spirit there. That's how I want to feel here. It's just that the walls aren't thick enough in the homes to keep out all the noise. It's really hard to create an environment where the spirit can reside. We are blessed in Utah to have that real wall of protection from the world that everyone has named "The Bubble". I know even more now that God lives and he has made a plan that will bring us eternal happiness. I know that families are forever. I have learned how to more fully allow the power of the Atoning Sacrifice to have affect in my life. 

Elder D. was really sick just like me in the beginning of my time in Honduras. We both only had the virus for a day though which is a miracle because all the other missionaries have had it for one full week. I know that priesthood blessings have the power to heal us through faith in Jesus Christ.

I encourage Elder D. to teach me more but I get the impression that he doesn't know what to teach me or how to do it. So, I watch the District videos and study PMG and then I practice what I learn. He has been letting me lead and teach a lot more but that's because we were reading the 12 weeks training book and it says that the trainee should be leading everything now. It's just like Timberline, Kyle! Timberline has been such a blessing. I still use everything I taught and learned.

My Spanish is coming right along nicely. I can read almost anything now and I understand which words that I miss that I haven't learned yet and I'm able to look them up and learn faster. :) I've been really praying to have the Gift of Tongues and I know that God is helping me learn Spanish really fast. 

Dad, you asked about comments about my first Sunday. I don't like Sunday here. I'm not used to it still. The people are pretty irreverent and the deacons rarely let anyone take the trays from them to pass down a row. They walk down the rows, bumping and squishing people as they go until the other deacon on the other side can take the tray. There also isn't a piano player accept me and the piano they have is junk. I haven't played yet but I'll be playing soon because the animo in our ward when we sing is literally ZERO! I tremble to bring investigators to church because it's that bad. I want them to feel the spirit, not to feel how irreverent many of the members are. Remember the story about the seeds that drop in good ground, in rocks, and in thorns. I feel like some (not all) of our members are in rocks and thorns. We are doing our best to work with them but they are still "of the world." There are a lot of good faithful members though that help us and want to help us even more. Just like you said, I'll make this week my best yet! :D I feel bad for the Bishop and the leaders though. I can tell they are weighed down by everyone just like we, the missionaries, are.

Don't worry about the repellent Mom. I have the nets you sent me and I'll keep requesting a mosquitera from the office especially if I go to the South (poor and dirt roads and the hottest climate). The mosquitoes are worse there. I bought a Raid Mosquito killer that plugs in the wall and is like an air freshener. We also keep our pila empty now because we have running water so that has helped a lot.

We called the lady that we are renting from and told her the water and light bill amount and she told us "Okay!" like everything was normal. So, she pays for it all :D I still took some money out because we needed some cleaning stuff. I'll take it all with me when I leave that house though cause I don't want to buy it again if I don't have to.

About the books, I actually don't think any books are allowed but what they told us. So, Dia de Defensa that Elder D. has, is a no go. Same with Return from Tomorrow. But all the Gospel Library I can have (Jesus the Christ and the other books like that) I'd love those books.

Elder D. could leave this change (Wednesday) or the next. It's 50 /50 because he only has 4 months here.

We went on splits for the hike last week and I was with Elder Coe that you mentioned you found a connection with, Mom. He's in my district. He's a go-get-it-done kind of guy and takes charge when he feels like things aren't happening like he wants them to. He is a great elder and works hard and has a great desire to do God's will.

We had a great P-day today, played a lot, got a little sunburned (sorry that's the first time so far), and watched The Saratov Approach (yes we got permission). I still have great experiences after re-watching it. This time, I started crying when the missionaries shared the gospel to their kidnappers and just feeling the power of their words was really impacting. I want to write out specific lines in Spanish about the lessons so that I can teach with more clarity the gospel like they did. Sometimes, because I don't know tons of Spanish still, it's hard to focus in on the short, simple, powerful phrases that invite the Spirit to testify. So that's my goal and I'll tell you how it goes next Monday.

I'm sending a photo of me and some of my district today but it makes me look like I have fattened up a lot in the face. I HAVEN'T gotten fat like it appears in the picture, just a little itty bitty. It's such a small difference that I can hardly tell when comparing myself, to previous pictures from home, in the mirror. My pants aren't tighter from my beefy legs though, after climbing and hiking in my area, which is good. :D Elder D. was showing me how much weight he's lost and I bet he's lost 20 or 30 pounds! I'm finding more foods to buy and so I hope to keep what I've gained here in the City and then go to the south and lose it all like everyone says I will.

Well thank you family, I better run! Love you all! Thank you for all your support! It's exciting that Kristen is going home! I sure have missed that girl. I love you too Lindsay, and I hope you can play in your last volleyball game with Kristen watching :D
Elder Spencer Tuft

Monday, October 20, 2014

50-miler today, Familia Mendez, and Spiritual Moments

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Hiking on PDay with our District (Elder Coe in the red and yellow shirt).

Their food for their hike today.

Looking out over El Sitio.

Spencer with the other Elders in his District for their hike today. They guy in the black shirt must be their guide. (He brought waders and water!) 

Spencer with another Elder in his District who went on last week's Pday to a WWII bunker. Also below:

Hello Family and Friends,

First-off, thank you for your prayers on behalf of all the missionaries. They have been answered here in Honduras, as far as I know.

I'm shaking my head, Dad, about all the earthquake and tropical storm stuff because it hasn't even been on the weather when we visit members and they have the news on. The earthquake was felt by some here but it was only a little tremor. Elder D. and I received a call from the Elders just two doors down from us and they felt it but we didn't. There is no damage here just a lot of rain the past two weeks and especially this week, which leads me to my "50-miler experience" today...

We went hiking today (Monday) for Pday. It brought back memories of the 50 miler cause we were bushwhacking and the mud was just as bad or worse in some places. We hiked for six whole hours and had an hour lunch break at 10:30ish this morning. We left at 5:30 am. Soooo, yeah, we were tired but it was fun. We were really dirty and REALLY stinky missionaries today. I'll send the pics I have.

We've had days with tons of lessons and days without one this week. Lots of ups and downs that way. It's the last week before changes and so the ZL's are trying to find some last minute baptisms (which is stupid cause the people aren't usually ready last minute) and we had a family planned for Nov 1st (next week). So the ZL's moved the date for us to this week, talked to the family for us, and did everything to make it happen this week, the 25th. The problem is, it's a lot of stress for us and especially for them. They aren't ready. They ZL's need to chill. They'd have to get married first, which is a hassle, but is normal here, and then be baptized on the same day. It's just a lot and they aren't ready yet. They believe and have a testimony already, but they aren't ready. So we told the ZL's to go have the interview with them to see if they were ready. This way they could see that the family isn't ready yet for themselves. They finally listened to us and moved the baptism and marriage back a week or two so they can prepare. We have awesome ZL's. It's just that they shouldn't try to rush a wedding or baptism ever.

This is familia Mendez I've been talking about, Denis and Tania. I absolutely despise Tania's mom though (they live in the same house). The reason they aren't ready for baptism and marriage is because Tania needs a stronger testimony, and to not listen to her mom. She can make her own choices, and she needs a little more knowledge first (if her little kid brain can handle it. She's 20 yrs old but still acts childish sometimes... and no it's not a mental disorder). So with her mom, her mom has had the lessons and rejected the church completely. She wants nothing to do with it at all. And so, she's been talking Anti-Mormon stuff to Tania. Denis will not hear her talk bad of the church though. He knows it's the right thing for him and his family. It's just Tania and her freakish mom! The first time Tania prayed she just repeated the words of the member that said the prayer and Tania was laughing the entire time in the prayer. It was really irreverent and there is no way the Spirit will testify to her of our words and through prayer if she isn't listening for the answer. We are working really closely with a member family that are their good friends. We have a plan for them and I'm almost positive it will work but it's going to take time and patience on our part. I feel so sad for Denis because I know he wants this badly and his wife is taking it as a joke. Hno. Castro is in close touch with him nearly every day to help him and we visit them nearly every day, as well.

Now for the cool moments this week. We were at the end of our money for the 15 days it's supposed to last because of some bills that are outrageously high and I still don't know why (that's a continuing theme this week with another bill. I don't know what will happen with that one still.) Anyway, we had no money for dinner or for the next day. We didn't let that bother us though, and we went on our way without money and taught lessons. We taught Lionel (don't know if I've mentioned him yet but he's in a wheelchair from previous gangster stuff he's done) and his uncle (or some relative) came to visit. His uncle was hard core drunk though. He could speak almost perfect English though he knew none (kind of freaky). He kept telling us, "I'm a Mormon except for the Word of Wisdom." and when we just listened to what he had to say he told us a lot. He's an engineer and has a family and he loves the church, but it's just that he loves drinking too. At the end of our chat that was almost beyond comprehension, he gave us each 100 Lps (5$) and that was enough for us the next day!

We also challenge the Barrera Family to be baptized after a great lesson, and they said yes! We weren't able to set a date because of some questions they asked and it deterred our purpose there. But we are going to go back this week and redo all that jazz and set a date if we can. :)

Finally, we watched the Testaments with the familia Zuniga and their neighbors. It was a really powerful experience and the Spirit was strong in the room. It was even better because familia Zuniga has had their Uncle visiting and he's Catholic. When he saw us serving his relatives and teaching them to read, write, and tie a tie for the first time, he was really touched. This sparked his interest and he opened right up to us. He watched all of the Testaments and said it was really good. Then he went to church with us yesterday, and today he left to go back down south where he lives. I hope he will continue to search for the truth and open up again to the missionaries when he finds them there. One  never knows.

Kristen, this week and almost every week in my mission so far, I've had days where all of our plans fall through. I have noticed, however, that every time that happens, if we follow the Spirit, I learn that the Lord allows those plans to fall through because he wants us to find someone that has been waiting for the Gospel. That's how we found familias Barrera y Gevara, and how we have kept Tania and Denis Mendez in contact with us constantly. Those three families are soooo special and I know this because we were lead to find them. There is no other way that we could have found them without the Lord and the willingness to do his will. Love you tons Sis!

Lindsay, get better because missing a month of school is really hard to make up. I'm pretty sure you've already done this but ask Dad and Kyle for a blessing to heal you. If you've already done it, good for you :D Love you tons too! Got your email just barely, so I'll write just a little more for you special, lonely, little sister ;D Nate gave me my fill of High School stuff for the week entonces, yo estaba lleno. Regarding your thoughts: you're on the right path, little sister. I remember having similar questions too, just like those. Well, I'm serving a mission now so they must be the right kind of questions, right? Also, just a thought about Number C ;) If you were to go to battle without a sword or gun or armor, how would you feel in the battle and what do you think would happen to you? You'd probably die. So what are the weapons that we can arm ourselves everyday with? Moroni only obeyed the commandments exactly, read his scriptures, prayed to God in every moment, followed the direction and guidance of the Prophets exactly, and he did everything he did for the salvation of everyone else. So the Lord blessed him in every manner and it was written about him that the powers of hell would shake if we were like unto Moroni. Also another little tidbit: the Devil trembles when we pray. That's why we pray to conquer temptation and, by doing so, conquer Satan. Love you Lindsay. Don't get too bored but fill your life with these questions and then diligently search for the answers :) Ephesians 6!!! (Read the whole thing and you'll find some answers and more questions I hope :) Also, could you send me some good LDS music on CD or Zip drive? I get bored of the same 30 songs over and over.

Mom, I'll tell you about transfers next Monday, I hope. I have interviews this week with the President. A lot of the missionaries are upset with all the "stupid" rules. I don't know any better but I hope our hiking excursion wasn't against the rules. I just trusted the ZL's on that one and we had a guide to take us so I felt good about it. Looking back, I just wonder what the President would say if he doesn't know already :P Mom, I love you :D

Dad, I love you so much. Thanks for all you've done for me. Thanks for your support and advice. As far as the book, I'd like Return From Tomorrow and something else to read. Everything is in Spanish here. While that's good (and I can read almost all of it) it's slow work and my comprehension isn't like it is in English still :) But it's coming along. Also, I made a note to ask for probably two more moleskin journals (black like the ones we got at Barnes & Noble for my mission) and floss. I still have one replacement but I don't think two will last for my whole mission and I don't want to go without floss. The money adds up quick if I buy the floss here every other day. :)

I'll probably have to draw some more money out this month cause of all the expenses for stupid bills. I'm going to talk to president about this cause I haven't bought any extra treats or ANYTHING just to enjoy the past five days and I'm already down to 500 Lps of the 2000 Lps (about $95). It's because we have to buy things to keep the house in liveable conditions (cleaning supplies and mosquito stuff cause they bite my hands and neck now sometimes). Did I tell you that I developed an allergy to deet and bug spray? I haven't used it since it gave me a heat rash looking thing all over my body, even the palms of my hands. Anyhow, we've also had problems with our electricity and some guys came out to fix it and now we have a bill that I hope the owner will pay because she said she'd pay for the light... I don't know, I just hope and pray for the members to feed us a lot this week so I don't have to pull out much money.

The mission is great though, family. If it sounds like I'm suffering, I'm not. I'm always taken care of. Always. It's sometimes a miracle like I told you earlier in this letter.

Thought I could follow along with the hashtag thing so..
(His mom signed his letter "#loveyougobs!")

Love you!
Elder SpencerTuft

Monday, October 13, 2014

Familia Barrera, Familia Gevara, Guillermo, and Elder D.

KBranch up the hill from El Sitio. They walk all over and even around the back side of the mountain.

This is on the cover of the Liahona Magazine and the girl on the left is Spencer & Kristen's friend Lindsey Williamson.

Peanut butter and chocolate - two great tastes for Spencer.

It's what's for dinner! (Every day)

Spencer's district trying to help Sister Woods who just twisted her ankle really badly. (And Spencer takes a picture in her grief.)

Honduran power grid - this is why they have power outages all the time.
Hello Family and Friends,  (Lots of pictures to come later tonight.)

This week has been great. I wish I could do more every week and plan for more and work harder even more every week. I remember in the MTC, the example that my teacher gave to me and my district was and is a powerful motivation to me. I am constantly trying to do more every week to find, teach, baptize, and retain.

Having said all that, I'd like to share a few highlights from this week:
I went on divisions with Elder Head, my ZL. I talked to him a lot about Elder D. and what I could do to help him. He shared similar thoughts about his comp and we had a powerful and humbling learning experience together. We learned more personally and deeply that no one is perfect, and so we must forgive quickly. We learned that we must not criticize anyone and never can we think poorly of our companion. For any reason. I learned that what the Savior said was true, that we should not even think about breaking the commandments let alone actually breaking them. We must always remember the commandments to love God and love our neighbor.

Just a thought from conference: Become really, really good at repenting and become really, really good at forgiving all the time.

So enough with Elder D. and bad feelings. It's in the past, and nothing so serious has happened this week. I took him up on the mountain and it was a great "opening" experience for me to see him.

So with this experience, your probably dying to hear by now Mom. ;D I'll just write what I wrote in my journal:
We had our agendas all planned perfectly and looking productive for today but last night I had a feeling to pray with Elder D. to know if this schedule was right. I felt the comfort of the Holy Ghost as the message I felt I received was, "Don't worry. Everything will work out how I want it to." So I didn't worry.
Today, we went to the scheduled appointments but no one was there to receive us. Feeling disappointed, but optimistic we continued. I joked and pointed to a house on the top of the mountain, " Why don't we go there?" Elder De Jesus joked back that he agreed and so, even though we were just kidding around, we decided that it was the right thing to do. We arrived at the house and shouted, "Buenas!" (that's how we ring doorbells here in Honduras) Still, no answer. We walked all that way, so we were going to enjoy our time up there and while we walked back down. We had a great time. What came next we never expected. We decided to take a new trail to get to our next appointment with a member. We would be early and possibly they would still be at work and so we would have to wait. So when we saw a family that we never have met before, we stopped and felt we should talk to them. The first moments were awkward cause I just stood there smiling as the Dad was fixing his motorcycle and wondering what these two weirdos were doing outside his little fenced yard. My tongue was tied but Elder D. wasn't going to say a word. It was up to me to contact them, he said. So I offered Elder D. to help fix his bike because Elder D. is an expert at motorcycles. The Dad accepted and we were let in. It started to rain really hard and so they lead us inside and we tried to talk but no one could hear anything with the rain beating on the roof. I said a silent prayer that if we were supposed to teach this family that the rain would stop. It stopped! Immediately there was silence. The rain didn't trickle to a stop, it just stopped! We taught a few principles of lesson 1, and asked and received the numbers and addresses of two older daughters that lived in other homes just outside our proselyting area. This family was given to us as a blessing from God. PS this is Familia Barrera, if you were wondering from the subject line of this email.

So pretty cool huh? I read a talk by Elder Bednar about missionaries that went contacting in an apartment complex and they didn't find a family to open the door until the very last apartment on the highest floor. We didn't find this family until we had climbed the mountain, descended, and then listened for further instruction from the Holy Ghost. So I think that's a cool parable for fun missionary work. :)

We also taught Familia Gevara this Saturday too. They are awesome but still have doubts. :P They are the family that has the issue with priesthood authority. So we showed up and asked if they were reading the BOM and only Eddy had been. He read the intro and the testimony pages so far. So, we read 3 Ne 11 with them. I forgot that this chapter also talked about Christ restoring the priesthood to this continent. So after reading this, we testified of the Savior and of the BOM. We also discussed authority with Gretel (she has the biggest doubt still) and I re-invited her to be baptized. The spirit was so strong but still she timidly replied, "I already go to a church." So, after ALL the explaining... she didn't understand that her church is a fraud. I told her, "Gretel, I know that you had really good intentions when you were baptized and we are proud of that, but something really important is the authority to baptize. This authority can only be given by God, like Jesus Christ gave to the Nephites in the chapter we read. Without this authority, we aren't being baptized, we are swimming in water." She still held true to her false religion, but I could see that Eddy was understanding more. Gretel wants us to come back every week and we don't know why. If she doesn't want to be baptized, then the purpose of inviting her to repent and be baptized has little affect. We hope that Eddy will accept the invitation to be baptized next week.

Now with Guillermo. He wasn't baptized this week. We had the pre-interview and the interview with him but in the actual interview, Elder Fernandez (ZL) told us that Guillermo prayed, "Heavenly Father, they want me to be baptized this Saturday, but no." His humble prayer was really touching to us. He wants to be baptized but he wants to know more about the bible first. We thought that he just wanted a perfect understanding of the bible before baptism and we explained that all that is required for baptism is repentance and a broken/contrite heart (D&C 20), showing to the church that they have truly changed, but he still insists that he isn't wanting to be baptized quite yet. We hope that he'll be baptized this month or the next but we can't be sure. He acts just like a little child.

So everything is chill with Elder D.  I've already asked the questions you've told me to ask and done all that you've told me to do. Things are looking up in that he isn't making derogatory comments to me anymore but that just leads us back to square one: poco a poco, I need to invite him to do little things in our planning like sacrificing to work hard on P-day after 5pm like we're supposed to. It's a goal I have and so I'm working on it. I've already passed my time, so I'll send all the pics and this letter. I don't have time to write a general letter this week Mom or Dad but I'll print off the instructions and write it down in another free moment for next week. (I hope that's okay!)

Love you all! Thank you for all your support! I sure do love the 4th Ward. It is the best Ward in this world :)

Elder Tuft
I ask Elder D. about things at home all the time but he hasn't responded with big stories or anything like that because I can't speak Spanish very well. But he has told me little things. Too much to write but I have gotten to know him. One thing that worries me is that he loves to read about anything that happens in the US. He loves Obama and illegal immigration is fantastic to him. You said in your letter, "Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." This is a principle that no one understands in Central America. That includes Elder D. as well as all of Tegucigalpa. He loved reading about Ebola in the US (he said two cases have been found in the US while thousands are dying in Africa) So, that's just a little taste of his background for ya. He's just as poor as all the other people that we teach in El Sitio (not in Kbranch, that's another level of poor).

We work with the ward about every month and recently we've been seeing some action from them finally to do visiting teaching in Kbranch. They haven't made assignments yet but the Relief Society Presidency went with us to visit all the member wives in Kbranch on Sunday. So, there's progress.

We meet with our district every week on Thursday. There are 16 of us but only 8 of us (plus the ZLs) meet together. One meeting for Wednesday and one for Thursday.

I've eaten a lot of rice and cup of noodle soup out here (not to scare you Mom, that's not all we eat) but I have gained 5 or 10 pounds as of last Thursday. It's all the white rice. Once I go to the south, I'll lose all that weight real quick.

Food like in America is not here. I can hardly make sandwich cause the peanut butter is 5 or 6 bucks for about a half a pint here. So, we eat rice cause we can buy 7 pounds of fresh rice for a dollar or two.
Thanks for the laughs. I love that kind of news from home. :) I was shaking my head and then read the line, "Are you shaking your head yet?" and busted up laughing. Everyone was looking at me weird. :) So, thank you for everything and don't talk to the president. (I didn't even offer to talk to the President.) We have interviews every other change and that means this change. It'll be my first with him. I can promise that everything is going well. Just hard, but well. I was bullying (whether intentional or not) but everything is in the past. Let us forget it. :)

PS - added in another email:
Also for my Christmas package: I just wanted to have a game to play with comps in free time. Not Chess because already, no one wants to play with me. And also, Dad, if you have a book to send to me that you really like that has helped you learn more and grow more in the gospel, I'd love to take a look at it. One thing that I really, really want is yoga :) It's a stress reliever and exercise. I'm not motivated to exercise in the morning but I think I would be if I had an exercise CD to do. Thanks! And remember, you don't have to do any of this for me and I'd still love you to pieces. Truly truly :D I'm doing fine here.
Hey stranger. I read your letter. I could just see you saying all those things because you wrote just how you talked. Hope you're doing better after your fall and everything. I don't want a broken sister, I want a happy sister. I guess we could have both... jajaja ;) just kidding. Nate told me about high school so I'm sorry you missed all of that fun homework stuff. ;) Love you lots and I miss you too. It's probably a good thing your concussion happened while I was gone or I'd be going to town with a video recorder :D hahaha
Brother Dave Caron,
Thank you for your letter. I am doing better this week and so is my comp. He does have some things that he's working on and so am I. I hope that, even though we aren't perfect, that we will strive to be perfect in Christ. We've had some challenges and we will have more but things are looking up.Thanks for being there for me :)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Big lessons learned in small and simple ways.

Hello Family and Friends,

Thank you for your kind letters and prayers. I am lucky to have been raised in a strong family and in a strong community. One thing that has passed through my mind every day of my two months here in Honduras is that we don't realize how much we have until we don't have it. I'd like to re-illustrate that my mission, and probably Kyle's mission too, is like a camp-out without the campfire. 

Another analogy that may help you understand what the people are like here (at least a majority of the people): when talking to Evangelists here, which is a big chunk of the religious background (including Family Gevara), it's like playing house with dolls and cars and dress-ups. They think they can go around and say whatever that want and do whatever they want and then say they had authority to do it because God came to them or their neighbor, and gave them the right to do so. It's like playing house because all the kids make up a part of the story and build on each others falsehoods. All that the children imagine is false but to them it's all real. I think it was E. Bednar (just a guess) that said the commandments are like gravity. Just because we ignore it's existence doesn't mean that there aren't consequences for jumping off a cliff.

As far as my experiences with Elder D. have gone, I don't fully understand why he makes cruel pranks on me but I look back and I just have to laugh at how gullible I am. I am a very literal person and he took advantage of that, which I hate. But it's no good to hold a grudge about any of it even if it really did hurt my feelings. He told me that I don't know him well enough to know when he's joking but what he still doesn't understand about me is that I can't tell when ANYONE is joking unless they make it really obvious (It's all in Spanish.) He's difficult to live with but I haven't said a word about how he lives, how his cooking is (burned rice for three nights in a row doesn't sound appetizing to me or fill me up), or anything else. Elder D. told me I need to learn patience cause I have none, but he doesn't know how much I have been patient with him already.

My CCM instructor, Hna Garcia told me that my greatest quality she saw while we were in the CCM was that I always cared for everyone else before myself and that I thought of what everyone else needed first before myself. In other words, we all see things through our own window. Some of our windows are dirty and some of our windows aren't very big. Sometimes we just need to open the window and stick our head out of our bubble and try to completely see the circumstances of our friends. I wish with all my heart that I can see Elder D. sticking his head out of the window to see me. I look to him always for guidance when I don't know what to say, and when I don't understand.

The only exemplar of perfect understanding, and of perfect listening is our Savior. As I have had issues with having no one near me to turn to and to share my troubles with, I am reminded that we always have God. He is always listening. He is always there.

One thing that I'm not good at and I don't know exactly how to do is to succor the poor especially here in Honduras. There are two types of poor. As described in the scriptures, there is the poor in spirit because they have nothing as to temporal possessions. But the other poor that often confuses my eye is the poor in the world that harden their hearts still. On more than one occasion I have seen the poor in spirit and have ministered to them. On the other hand, the poor of the world beg for support as they carry a bottle to sniff their next high out of. As Elder Holland said in his Conference address, "Love the poor in spirit." and "Administer to the poor and needy that they shall not suffer." Last of all but definitely powerful to me, "Do we not ALL beg?" And so I come to the crisis that I've been experiencing in my mind, "Shall I give to those who will not profit from my giving because they spend it on worldly addictions, even though I see their need?"

"I am not my brother's keeper but I am my brother's brother."

This conference also made me reflect on home. In missionary terms, it made me baggy. I couldn't help but see my family and especially my parents when Elder Perry said, "Successful parents are never too busy for their children." Mom and Dad, you are perfect examples of this to me. You are my Prime Gospel Teachers still.

I could hear my Mom telling me, "Don't beat yourself up about it." when Elder Jorg Klebingat said, "Embrace your weaknesses because some of them will be your companions until you leave this life." and again when Elder Uchtdorf invited us to stop allowing pride to cover our weaknesses.

Dad, when Elder Eyring speaks, I always see you there instead. You aren't as old as him, don't worry about that yet. ;) I see you because the calm fatherly smile he has, you have. When he talked about being a dedicated priesthood leader, I saw you and I walking to the Staheli's and helping with the leaves at the Fulmer's. Thank you for your priceless service and loving lessons not only to me but to my friends as we ventured through the years of scouting. I am sure you can see, although you don't admit your help in their growth, the influence you've had in my life and the life of my friends. I hope to have the trust and humility that you have shown me, someday with my wife and kids.
Also, I might have a baptism this week. (Guillermo) He's a little hesitant to be baptized without a perfect knowledge of the Bible yet but we'll work with him. We're thinking positively! :)

My last thought I wanted to share was that the influence of evil is real. BUT, we can find immeasureable happiness in the gospel. As Elder Bednar said, "Our simple desire is to share the message that we treasure so dearly in our hearts, because it has brought us immeasureable happiness."

Con Amor,
Elder Tuft
I haven't put the photos or videos on my google account cause it takes hours to do so. So, I will send what I can through gmail but that means the videos will have to wait for after my mission. Sorry, I don't have control over internet speed.  :(

Also, Yes the mission rules have changed. Phone calls to families during Christmas and Mother's day are limited to 30-40 minutes now and we cannot use Skype. I didn't know this before but now we can't watch Disney movies on P-day either (I wasn't going to do that anyways but I guess it was a common P-day activity before.)

I'll have my Christmas letters for next week and I'll type them and send them. If I miss someone, just let me know for the next week.

I haven't had problems with my bowels anymore, luckily, because magnesium is expensive and tastes disgusting. If I have future problems, that's what I'll use but I'm not going to use it on a regular basis because it's expensive and tastes disgusting.

I don't know where Elder Mahan is from or who is family is. All I know is that he's a great worker and loves to hunt (even here on the mission when he had to hunt for his food in the south.)

I don't know when Elder D. leaves the mission but he's been here for 5 months now (6 after Oct) and so it's really likely he will be leaving here. I'm hoping for a gringo companion that can help show me the ropes more. And one that isn't planching (only wanting to go home and not work anymore). The lifestyle at home really is sooo much better than here. It's a big reason that people want to go home from here.

It's also fantastic that you are sharing the gospel with your friends and in your circle. One day, you could have a baptism even! :)

I read and loved your talk. It was really well written and I felt the reconfirmation of the Holy Ghost as I read it. So, thanks :)

I wanted to take pictures of our new house and send them to you but I didn't have time so I'll do that later. I bought a hammock as well to go on the third floor that has a great view of the area. (That's why you'll find some money withdrawn from my account, $25 about plus transaction fee. And then there was one time where we had no money because of travel expenses so I took out another $5 for that.)

So my answers to your questions: I know I can be more grateful for my companion. I can see his patience with me even though I can see he is frustrated that I don't understand Spanish yet. We had a zone meeting and the lesson was about gratitude. Elder D. was called on to share one thing he was grateful to me for. I'll share as close as I can to the right words that he said about me, "Elder Tuft has a lot of faith. When we set goals at night and plan for the weeks ahead, he always stretches our limits. 'Faith without works is dead.' And I think Elder Tuft does this, and then works hard."

So, not all things are bad about him. Most things are really good. There are just a few pretty big things that I've had to forgive and forget to continue to work in the Spirit of the Lord. In Conference, I learned that we must never hold grudges. And so I'm letting it all go. Even though it hurt at the time. I hope to one day look back and laugh and enjoy the times I struggled and clumsily learned. I will look for qualities that I see in him and that I want to develop. This week I am starting a new study layout that includes time to study Christ-like attributes. I will be sure to look for Christ-like attributes in Elder D. and try to develop myself as I observe him. Thank you for your questions and for your helpful insights. :) Love you!

Also, Thanks for sharing your experience meeting the prophet and in the temple! I had no idea about you meeting the prophet! Both experiences must have been so cool :)
Thank you for your help. You've always been a great example and teacher to me. I'll try to be an unwavering example for him (and for myself) more. It's hard to be consistent but I know I can do it. I feel you with the heating of the water thing. We did that and I will do that more I bet in the rest of my mission. But, right now, we have hot water so I'm in heaven. :) I'll try to respect his authority more and just follow for right now. I hope I can get to know him better but he shuts down when I don't understand something and doesn't feel like explaining much to me. It's hard for him to write well and he frequently refers to me on how to write even if it's in Spanish. So I've felt compassion for him because I can see him learning the things I learned in school already and I think to myself how ungrateful I've been. I'll keep in touch with updates here and there these next few weeks. I have hope that everything will work out alright. :)
Love you lots,
Elder Spencer