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."
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,