Thank you for all your letters. I loved that quote you sent Dad, and Kristen too! I'm sad to hear that Bella died but we'll see her again, I think. I hope!
Lindsay, I love you. Keep moving forward! I pray for you and I hope that you can keep up in school and find answers soon. And listen to Mom and Dad always! They know what they are doing even when they don't. (That made us chuckle!)
Dad, Elder Saucedo shared the same comment with me this week when I told him what I thought of the trees being white. Hahaha, learning things everyday :D We didn't get to work with the Bishop yet but we did with his son-in-law who is the bishop in the other ward. I'll write about that experience first I guess ;D
On Monday, Elder Huff and I found a new family and the Dad was an active member but he said he got bored of the church. He said that there were boring teachers and topics being taught and that he had read the Book of Mormon but that he got lost in the reason for having all the wars and reading about Nephi's journey through the desert. So we took a few member's (The Son-in-Law and his wife and the bishop's wife) with us this week and they taught him how to study the scriptures and we taught the "Big Picture": The eternal importance of keeping the commandments and especially going to church. We told him to ask himself, "What can I get out of this lesson? What does God want me to learn?" The members shared the conference talk that was given this past General Conference about not listening to a talk and say, "Oh, this talk is perfect for Brother Peterson!" Rather, we taught him to say, "Is it me, Lord?" Like the Apostles did after the Last Supper.
Miguel Antonio is doing great too! He's reading the Book of Mormon and then on the 21st of Feb, he'll be baptized. He's coming to church with his sister who is already a member, and he's going to all the youth activities. We'll keep checking up on him and sharing lessons with him especially about the priesthood I think. He's old enough to be ordained a Priest. So I hope the ward will get going on that.
Alan, the brother of Fernando who was baptized will be baptized on the 8th of Feb. as well. He's ready but we wanted him to wait a little because we don't want him to get baptized because of the excitement from his brother's baptism. I haven't heard the grandma in the house since last week because she's working but we did find another man there and he told us a bunch of lies too. hahaha it was funny to hear him tell us about an LDS Chapel up in the mountains that was recently built but at the same time really sad because he knows that we know he's lying. After hearing his train of lies, I wanted to just give him a hug because he looked so sad and hopeless. I don't want anyone to suffer any kind of pain. I have felt the pain that comes from breaking just one commandment here and another one there, and even that pain is terrible. To the people here in Honduras, that's a way of life, and that's the way it is. Then they cover up their pains by burying themselves in false doctrines and saying and truly believing that they repented only to go right on back to sinning again. It is so sad.
Tuesday we visited EVERYONE, because Elder Huff said his tearful goodbyes as he left the area. He's now with a senor companion that is really planch. President pulled him aside and told him to straighten out this missionary and that he was relying on him to help this elder. He went to Villa Olympica, which was the area right next to El Sitio in the next Zone over. It's a whole new experience in the city areas.
I'm training now... Surprise! The ZLs called me and said, tell Elder Huff to pack up and Elder Tuft, you are training this next change. Elder Saucedo is just great. He's from Columbia too, like Elder Rincon. But they are from different parts of Columbia. His parents aren't members and he is the only member in his family besides his aunt and uncle. His family is really supportive though and they look really nice from the pictures I've seen so far. He is really up tight about the rules which is great but he takes them to the next level sometimes. I think that's because of the CCM though. The first day he got here, he told me at night, "Elder, you need to stop talking to so many girls." Well, the first girl he told me that bothered him was Damaris (investigator 40 yrs old), the next one was a 30 yr old street contact that was just by chance that we talked to, and the last one was a 16 yr old that Elder Huff and I talked to before because her pulperia is the closest one to our house and so we buy our food from her most often. I think he just hasn't talked to any girl in two whole weeks while at the CCM and it's getting to him now. Other than that, we didn't talk to any girls that day. But I'm starting to feel a little of what Elder D. felt with me as I started to learn about the mission. It's not a problem but I just felt a little bugged when he didn't trust me, especially in the situation. I think that God wanted to let me feel just a little bit of what Elder D. felt when he trained me.
Elder D. is now AP too! :D He's just an awesome guy and I love him a lot. Even though we had some problems, I think they just came from a lack of communication and understanding.
I talked to Elder Coe about Angel and Helen from El Sitio this past week at changes and he said they've gone downhill now. They started asking the missionaries for money and not having the true desire to follow Christ anymore. I wrote them a letter but I hope to see them change their lives for good. Sad news but good to know.
This week, we had a random person call us and tell us they wanted to be baptized and we thought they were joking but then the person put the bishop on the line and the bishop of our ward explained the whole situation to us. His name is Stuart and he's been a member without baptism for four years because his parents wouldn't give permission to him to be baptized. Now he's 18 and still wants to be baptized so his baptism is this week on Saturday. I'd like to think with all these baptisms that God is saying to Elder Huff and I, "Thank you." Because we haven't had baptisms in forever. A ward member was telling Elder Saucedo and I that she thought that God chose us to come here because we were going to change everything around.
On Thursday, the first day for Elder Saucedo and the first lesson of the day, we went to a house that we had contacted and we set up an appointment to come back. We went in and the husband said his wife was busy in the back and couldn't attend us today but he'd be happy to listen. So we started with the Restoration, the first lesson and he asked us some off topic questions here and there and I had the impression that he was trying to catch us in our words. Well, then I started looking around in the house and I realized that we were in the house of a preacher because of all the chairs they had for members and the spaciousness of the house. So, I felt like we should continue with the lesson and bare powerful testimony of Joseph Smith. When we did, his wife came out from the back and began to rage on us because we were talking about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. She told us to set aside the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith and pick up the Bible for once. Eventually, with the Spirit gone, Elder Saucedo pulled out Galatians 5 where it talks about the fruits of the Spirit and asked, "Can you feel peace, love, and tranquility now?" And the wife responded, "Yes, and doesn't it feel delicious!" I saw, in that moment, the face of Satan bearing down on us and threatening us to give up on our testimonies. She continued saying that she had seen Jesus Christ in the flesh in the very room in which we sat, and that his presence was glorious and that if we would just give up what we were preaching, we too could have the same glory, even like Moses. That is where I drew the line and we bore testimony of the Divinity of God and Jesus Christ and that the Book of Mormon was more correct than any other book. We bore testimony that Joseph Smith was called of God and that God loves us, every one. She looked at us in disgust as she said, "In the name of the Lord, I call you to repentance for your blasphemy!" and at that, we told her we had other people that would like us to visit them and that if they would just read the Book of Mormon with an open mind that she would know of the truthfulness of our message. So we shook their hands, and when I shook the wife's hand, she told me, "Have more faith." and I told her, "With respect, I don't need to see God to know he exists." And we left it at that, went to the home to pray and ask to have the Spirit with us again and to pray for that family that their eyes would be opened. Then we went to the next lesson and I felt the Holy Ghost really strongly in that lesson. The difference was sooo stark between the two lessons. I can describe how both felt and I know that God is good, and happy, and just. It feels good to feel the Holy Ghost. I felt nervous and unsettled when I felt Satan. Satan is confusion, uneasiness, and chaos.
It was quite the experience and even scary when I go through it in my mind but it was an experience that tested whether I would be strong and true or not. We all have those tests in our lives. I'm interested to hear what you guys think about it all. Kristen and Kyle, did you guys have experiences similar to this in you missions in Central and South America? I try to keep the smile on but really that was an unnerving experience, seeing how far someone can go in the opposite direction.
Got to go now, but I bear firm testimony that God loves us and wants us to return to him. We can feel the difference between following God's commandments and disobeying them. My testimony comes from the Holy Ghost bearing witness to my heart that God lives. I can feel that it is true. It's nothing logical, it's all in my heart. I can reason around any person's experience and even my own, but I cannot deny the feeling I had and have while serving my mission. I feel that he lives and I feel that the Book of Mormon is true. We all can feel it too if we search in the scriptures humbly and meekly and with an open mind, ready to learn from God. If we seek peace, we will find it. If you seek Satan, you can find him, but his power is not of God, and will never compare against the Light. By the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all men can overcome the power and temptations of Satan. Satan doesn't love us, he just wants to conquer us. God will never abandon us and so we should never abandon Him. I know that Jesus is the Christ and that he died and rose again for us. He loves us and I love him.
Love you Family,
Hurrah por Isreal!
Elder Spencer Tuft