Monday, February 23, 2015

Interviews, Baptisms, Josè Jimenes, Listening to the Holy Ghost

 Displaying DSCF4099.JPG
Hello Family :D

This week was a great week, full of stresses and happy faces! The ward held ward council and we were invited to come. From now on we are expected to come because the Area Presidency and the Mission Presidents talked to all the Bishops and told them what needs to happen and change to make Central America grow stronger and bigger in the church. Little by little, poco a poco. YAY! We can go to ward council now! :D And to show us their appreciation, the ward planned absolutely everything for the baptisms this week. The Bishop's counselor complimented us hugely too! He held up the weekly report page of investigators that we fill out every week and told the Ward Council, "Look in the back where there are two nice young men in white shirts and ties. Those are your most valuable persons you have in the ward. This page is completely full of great things and great progress. Do you know what that means? It means these missionaries are working really hard. Thank you missionaries, and well done."

So that made us SMILE a lot. I had the opportunity then to reflect on how much we actually have done. I thought, "Naw, we haven't done that much." But we have done a lot. We want to do more and we want to help more, but what we've done is a lot of work. This ward rocks!

The ward also has the new challenge to reactivate five families every month and so the Bishop has told us he's going to be visiting with us more... He's gone out with us one time so far... but we're hopeful. He's a really busy guy. He works as a bus driver from Danli to Teguc and makes the trip at least 2 times both ways every day, if not 3 times.

We went walking the other day, like normal missionaries in Honduras do, and a man on a motorcycle waved us over to him and we almost didn't go because many people had rejected us that day and many people had what we believe is wrong and we thought he'd be another one of those. But we went over anyway and it turns out that that guy is less active and told us, "I want to come back to church again. I've had some things happen in my life and I know from experience that the only happiness that lasts exists in the LDS church." So we are visiting him more and what's even better is his wife isn't a member but is ready to listen to the gospel and be baptized if it's true. :D After that hard day, the Lord gave us a gift. That gift was this new less-active/friend named José Jimenes. Some things that people don't understand about less-actives is that they are not broken people, just broken-hearted. Once they realize that they are missing something in their life and they find it, they become some of the strongest members in the church. José is just amazing!

This month, we've been studying the Holy Ghost and personal revelation. One of the ideas we were asked to do... and I still need to do it... is keep a daily journal of the revelation that you receive and how you acted after your received it. What was the result? The other idea was to recognize and keep count of how many times you feel and follow the impressions of the Spirit everyday. I would also add: write your experiences down on paper. As we get better at recognizing the Spirit, we will have more revelation. Some revelations we haven't received only because we haven't listened hard enough.

We still haven't heard from Angel except that he said he still wanted to be baptized but other than that... nothing. We haven't heard from him since this past Sat. and isn't answering his phone for us or for any members. I don't know what's happened to him. We don't know where he lives either... because we taught him in a member's house and he always just came to the house at night on his own.

The funeral happened last week. Here they bury dead people the next day and the night after their death, they hold mourning services. It was really confusing and really fast too. After one day, it was all over. The mom was a wreck though. She still doesn't look the same. I can't imagine how she feels still. Dinia died because of a bacteria in her blood, not from cancer. They have all the equipment here in Tegucigalpa and Dinia had an appt. to have surgery to help fix everything but she died before they had the appointment. I haven't seen Angel since her death so I honestly don't know how he feels.

Not a ton happened this week. Just good lessons and I finally learned how to ask inspired questions. I'm not even near perfect at it still but I have been able to 1) Listen; 2) Interpret the Spirit; and 3) Ask the question that the Spirit directs. The other day, Elder Saucedo looked at me after a lesson and just was dumbstruck because of the questions I had asked our investigator. Here they typically don't know why it matters what church you join and not just because you like it. This is what they normally say, "It's the same God, right?" "God won't come for a church, WE are the church." "All the religions are His church. It doesn't matter which one we join." So generally, I just ask, "Why do you think that Christ came and establish His own church with Apostles and Prophets? Why would He do that when there were already Pharisees and Sadducees and Scribes--- essentially, 'Other Churches'?" or sometimes I have asked, "Why would God teach one thing to one people and another doctrine to another people? Isn't God unchanging and constant, the same yesterday, today, and forever?" That normally makes them think hard and long about the purpose of God and church in their life. The only thing they do understand is that church helps them grow closer to God. That's always a plus. :D

But, having said all that, it's not like a formula. We don't have a specific and robotic output for every input, or in other words, we don't just respond the same way because people ask the same questions or say the same things. It's a continual process of revelation that is different for EVERY person we meet. The Spirit directs which questions and with which words and with which intonation and EVERYTHING. I have come to realize more and more, that in a very intimate way, this work is the Lord's work. That's why I think Jesus is called the Husbandman many times in the scriptures (also because of the Atonement) because he is very intimately related in every way to our salvation and freedom from death, spiritual and physical. I have felt the love that He has for all of God's children. It's hard to explain but it's real. It's very real.

Love you family and have a great week full of fun surprises. LOVES! :D

Hurrah por Isreal!
Spencer Tuft

PS I was able to baptize Miguel Antonio :D He is sooooo PILAS!

Inline image 3Inline image 2

Monday, February 16, 2015

Great week! E. Saucedo had hot sauce, Pablo Morazan, 2 baptisms for sure this week.

Hello Family,

Everything is going just fine. This week we had a shocker. Hna Dinia, Angel Ramirez's girlfriend has been sick for six months about. And every time it got worse, she asked the missionaries for a blessing, and every time she got better for a time and then it got worse again. Well, recently, it got a lot worse and then she went to the hospital and then came back. Then it got bad again and on the way to the hospital she died. So that was really hard for the ward and really hard for Angel. They were going to get married and had already talked about it a lot. We've called Angel six times and the first time he answered but was at work and so we didn't plan another appt with him. Now he hasn't answered us and so we don't know if he will be baptized this week, or if he'll be baptized at all. We pray for him every night and I hope that he'll answer tonight again.

We're set for the other baptisms, and we're just going to have the interviews and then the baptisms. We're checking up on the two that we have today and tomorrow just to make sure it's what they want to do and then talk about how we will do it. So.... yeah, I'm excited for them. The ward has been the key to help them. They just jump in and make friends, which makes them the best ward ever.

On Sunday, we went over to the Bishop's house to eat for dinner (right next door) and had enchiladas but they are Honduran enchiladas, so they're very different. It's like an American taco or Kyle, it's basically a Mexican taco like you probably had on your mission. Anyway, Elder Saucedo poured on the hot sauce because he thought it tasted good and I didn't stop him cause I don't know if that's normal in his culture, but that hot sauce doesn't burn until 2 or 3 mins later. So he began to chow down his food and then I heard, "Auuugh..." and looked up and saw my companion feeling the burn finally. Well, in two seconds, his face was dripping... I MEAN DRIPPING (it was the equivalent of a tropical storm!) with sweat. The bishop ran to get a towel for my companion and the bishop's wife poured a huge glass of cold juice for him to drink and after about 5 mins more, everything was back to normal. But, I've never seen someone eat something so hot that it makes them sweat so much and so fast before. It could be compared with how much I sweat when I played soccer for Springville last year. THAT MUCH! Wow... that blew me away. Sufficeth to say, my companion will never touch that hot sauce again and he didn't finish his food that day either.:D

On Saturday, we were contacting and were about to finish and then I looked left and saw a door open and the Spirit whispered, "When a door is open, that's a key indicator that you'll be able to talk to someone." and so we went there. An old lady came to the door and said, before we even said anything, "We have two of your guys that live here. One of them is sick and has been for a year and the other only comes on the weekends at night." I was confused but I just guessed that she was meaning, there were two less-actives that live there, and so we walked in. She led us back to the sick one. He was lying on a bed, with his legs curled up, and a beanie on his head, and he was just skin and bones. He is 80 years old. The lady told us that he's been sick for a year and that she's been taking care of him for that time. She's bathed him, dressed him, fed him and changed his diapers. When I saw him (Pablo se llama), I saw Grandpa Tuft again, laying on the bed in the care center. We sang, "I am a Child of God" and said a prayer where I cried and then we left. We went back the next day when the other old man would be there (Ernesto se llama). Ernesto is the brother of Pablo. We went back and gave a blessing of consolation and left again. I'm so grateful to hold the Priesthood. We're going back next week but I don't know if Pablo will last that long. He had two seizures a year ago that left him dumb and deaf. If he has one more seizure, he will die. It is sad to see death but happy to know that he'll be going to a better place where he won't be suffering so much.

It's going to be a great week this week! We have our work cut out for us and we're ready to go! We have a lot of people that need some friends and motivation to go to church. We've got a lot of appts to go to already. We almost have this whole week filled already with appts. Normally we don't have the next day full until the night before! So this will be a great week. We always look for the little chances to make a change in someones life. We always smile to make someones burden feel lighter. And we always look one way at least before we cross the street...... :D (He's making fun of his mom with that!)

The last little thing I wanted to write about is just that we had a fun service project this week.... Stabbing old water bags with knives to empty them of the water. It got creative on ways to stab the bags... never dangerous, just creative :D And that was a fun relief from chapeando (chopping at the grass with a machete because they don't have law mowers here).

There's the mission stuff. Now here are my comments for the week:

Another sister? I have four sisters now, sort of. Well I want fotos of course! :D  If I haven't seen her then I can't say I have a sister when I don't know who she is. ;D  Well, welcome to the family Giavanna! We're a bit weird but we're a family and that's what's important. It's hard to be in a new place and leave your life behind from what it was. I left on my mission about eight months ago and it's been hard to adjust, but it gets easier and more comfortable with time. Hope you enjoy the good ol' room with the map and the mirrors. Keep Lindsay in line for me ;D

(He sent a personal family paragraph but I omitted it from the blog, and this next part goes with it but I liked that acronym so I left it.)
One of my friends from school wrote me a letter before I left and it talked about how I always smiled. I have started smiling again, and you know what? I feel happy again! SMILE is also an acronym: Spiritually Minded Is Life Eternal. So Smile! :D

I just read Dad's letter, and I'll have to print it out to study more but I did mention last week that I didn't want to serve just to go through the motions. One thing that I did learn this week is that we can serve with our heart and more fervently when we listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost that tell us to serve at specific times. If we listen to the Holy Ghost, then we will be able to serve more completely and like the Savior did. 

Dad, every time you tell me to sing a hymn or tune for you, it touches my heart and I remember it when I sing. When I sing a song for other people, and for you, the Spirit testifies to me and to my investigators of eternal families and the love that a Father has for His sons and daughters. So thank you :)

Love you all! Have a wonderful week full of fun surprises and gifts everyday from our loving Heavenly Father.

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder Tuft

Monday, February 9, 2015

Consejo de Líderes, Sick and Rough week, but Happy

(Spencer sent this today but he went to the temple a few weeks ago.)
Hello Family,

Thanks for all your letters and support. I love reading every week about your weeks and how things are going back at home. I love you all and want you to know how much I miss you and pray for you.

I've been studying a lot in the Book of Mormon again, and I just finished reading all the Isaiah chapters in 2nd Nephi. It's hard to get a lot out of Isaiah but I managed it all right. I had to switch back to English to read that part. I love to read Chapter 29 to the people here that tell us we are blasphemous for having another Bible. That always shuts them right up. Even though they know what we teach is true, sometimes, they shut us out. It's like you wrote, Dad, about the message from Pres. Eyring, that we can have a testimony but not a conversion. We must allow that testimony to grow in us and to change us. We must act and not be acted upon. That reminds me of James 2 in the Bible when it talks about Faith and Works.

This week we had a conference as leaders from all over the mission. We all went together as ZL's and DL's and slept in the AP's house. That thing is a MANSION!!! We went to the meeting and I learned a lot. This mission hasn't been doing so well and so the AP's and President Bowler put together a slide show to show us all the problems we are having in our planning and in the datos (what's datos in English?) (data) We have 3 golden rules now, 1. Invite to be baptized in every lesson; 2. Invite to come to church in every lesson; 3. Ask who else would benefit from our message in every lesson.

So we've been doing that in every lesson and we have 18 people now with a baptismal date set. We just need to get them there now. We've been intesifying our lessons too. I've been working and teaching the doctrine really simply and really short so that everyone can understand it. Elder Saucedo told me recently after a lesson, "Elder, how do you do it? You play with all the investigator's minds until they find themselves agreeing with you and accepting invitations." My only thought on this was that this next week will be really hard if we aren't on top of everything in making and setting appointments, and following up on commitments.

I'm grateful for all the thoughts that you all shared. I've been praying for answers and for help and for courage to keep going. I'm glad I have a loving Heavenly Father who answers my prayers through my family and friends.

We didn't have the baptisms this week because we talked to both Alan and to Angel and both still will be baptized but not until the 21st. We talked to Alan and asked if he would like his mom to be able to come to the baptism and he said yes, so we moved to baptism till the 21st. That will give us more time to prepare too. Angel is really ready to be baptized but he just needs to learn all the Commandments. We've already taught them once but he's forgotten because it's been a while. So we're teaching the commandments and then he'll be baptized. Also, his girlfriend is a member and got really sick and he wanted her to be there for the baptism so he was grateful that we could postpone it.

So we'll have three baptisms on the 21st of Feb. Alan, Angel, and Miguel Antonio.

Miguel is also ready and still reading the Book of Mormon. He's finishing 1st Nephi now but hasn't been able to read as much because school started up here again and so he's been involved with a lot of homework. But he's still progressing towards baptism. He didn't come to church last week but I didn't see his sister their either (his sister's a member) and so they must have had something as a family come up. We're heading to his house this week to see how he's doing.

If you could send some yoga exercise workouts my way for my birthday, I'd love that :D. I'm just looking for something I can do in the morning to wake me up and keep me stress-free. There is a lot of stress on the mission and I don't like feeling tons of stress. I think if I had some yoga workouts in the mornings, I'd do better to focus.

We were sick this week too. I just got a headache and runny nose but Elder Saucedo is just adjusting to the food and had his insides turned around. He's doing better now, just drinking a lot of water like Hermana Bowler told him to do.

This week, I wanted to practice exercising charity more. I want to love the people more and I don't want to just go through the motions of giving service. I want to feel what I'm doing, more. What are your thoughts about charity? I'm going to be studying everyday this week to help me make my mission touch me more in my heart.

Thanks for all your prayers, thoughts and help. I'm really happy that something finally started happening to help Lindsay get better.

Hurrah for Israel!
Love, Spencer
Mom, Thanks for your thoughts that you shared with me. That was what I needed. The testimony of parents has a life-long impact on the strength of their children. When everything is looking dark and dreary for me, I too, just pray and sing a hymn. I don't know if you remember at the beginning of my mission when I was sick, but I couldn't sleep and my body hurt so much. But, when I sang "I am a Child of God" I saw you and Dad singing to me and I couldn't feel the pain anymore. As long as I was singing, I didn't have the pain. Thanks for helping me learn the power of Hymns as I grew up, both you and Dad.

Dad, We didn't have the baptisms this week but we'll have three on the 21st this month. I'm really excited for that and we're already planning it all. I did an interview this week actually for an investigator that's preparing to be baptized. It's interesting to conduct an interview but when I do it, I try to think of how Bishop Walker conducted his interviews with me and how I felt while talking to him. I also think of how I feel when President Bowler interviews me. I want to help the investigators feel the same way that I have felt in my interviews. I feel lots of love and kindness. It doesn't feel at all negative but it feels just like it does when I talked to Grandpa before he died. Sincere and helpful, only uplifting, and the Spirit was there.

As far as how Sundays are, this last Sunday was great! We didn't have many people come and there are a lot of people sick in the ward but the lessons were still great and we discussed a lot about Agency and how we draw closer to Christ. Agency and The Atonement are inseparably connected and forever will be. Agency, I learned is an infinite law of heaven and that without it, we could not exist because God would not exist. I am eternally grateful for a Savior who loves me personally and knows me perfectly. I feel his love every time I read his words and every time I ask for forgiveness.

When Elder Saucedo became a member, he was the only one in his family to convert. His mom is now listening to the lessons. He has shared his conversion story and how he prayed to know if it was all true. He said that he hungered, kind of like Enos when Enos prayed for forgiveness. And when he prayed for forgiveness, he felt forgiven. He felt the Spirit testify to him about the Savior and the love that God has for every one of his children. After that, he decided to be baptized and then now he's serving a mission. I have a really strong testimony about God's love for us. The Savior wants to forgive us. And even though we are weak and stubborn sometimes, God is always there and he will always listen and never will turn away from us as long as we try to come unto Him.

Finally, Dad, I just like you letters. The format doesn't change the feeling I get when I read letters from home. Just keep writing because I love you and I feel your love and mom's love everytime I read your letters.

Kristen, hahaha thanks for the pictures you sent me. You are really white. I remembered this week, randomly, that one time you told me as we walked to early-morning seminary, "Spencer, you are just a zit-face!" and that always just cracks me up. :D Thanks for the humor you send my way to lighten the days and the load.

In my patriarchal blessing it says that I will be sent to a difficult land to serve my mission, and sometimes it seems like the bad outweighs the good. Even though it might appear that way, bad will never overcome the good.

D&C 18:15 says, "And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!"

...and in Alma 41:5, "The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good..."

...and finally, Nephi wrote that they "lived after the manner of happiness" (2 Ne 5:27).

I don't know why I wrote you about happiness, but it made me even happier. So, if you benefit from it or not, I benefited from writing about it. Love ya! :D

Keep smiling... cause, as the family of a dentist, we all have great smiles. ;D
Tons of love, Spencer

PS I sent a picture of me at the Temple a little while back. I don't know if you have it already but there it is again for you guys.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Stuart's Baptism, Family Martinez, Training E Saucedo

Happy Day Family,

Well, another week has gone by and it feels like just yesterday I was in the shoes of my Trainee learning all the ups and downs of the mission. I look back, and well... hindsight is 20/20. It was really hard then but mostly because I didn't live up to my own expectations. My expectations weren't realistic. Everything is changing inside of me, and Elder Huff and Elder Saucedo helped, and have helped me make that change. I don't have tons of time this week but I want to share a little about the baptism and another family we started teaching recently.

The baptism was for Stuart and went really nicely. I can't say that it went really smoothly because a few bumps in the road came and we started 45 minutes late... (Soooo embarrassing)... and then the ward dumped all the blame on us. I'm just glad that the baptism went well once we started :) Stuart looks really happy and always has a bright smile. The bishop talked to us the other day and said, "Now, in a year or two, he'll be out there serving like you guys." The ward is really supportive here. They have their personal problems and difficulties that they have to work through but it's nothing that I'm worried about.

This week we have two baptisms planned but it may only be one baptism in the end. Alan, Fernando's brother is getting baptized this Sunday. He's really excited for that. His mom told us yesterday to come visit her today at 4:30 and so we're headed off to work before P-Day is even over. That's why we don't have tons of time today. AND MOM, we played the card games you sent us and I don't know if you'd played "It Came to Pass" but that is quite the riot of a game. In the middle of the game, teams can start to form and when that happens, the game calls it "Secret Combinations" which is the perfect name for it. It reminds me a little bit of UNO and GREED combined. You have to play it if you haven't already. You'll have a blast, but you need to have all 8 people there to make it even more fun! Let me know how it goes.

This week, I have to go to the Mission Consejos (where the ZLs talk to president, but this time he's invited all the DL's as well) and so this Wednesday, we'll be doing splits for the day. Then we were reading in PMG and it says that whoever does the interviews needs to be the one to fill out all the paper work and then go to the baptism to hand the papers over to the person presiding. We didn't know that, so we also have to do splits again this week to get the interviews for both the ZL's and in La Conce (my area).

Also, this week we had a lesson with Family Martinez. Two of them are members but never went back to church after they were confirmed and so they forgot everything they ever learned. The other, Darwin, never was baptized but he's really interested. We taught the restoration of the gospel to them and they read the homework we left and so we taught about the homework we left which was Lesson 2, The Plan of Salvation. They ATE that lesson up! So this week we will be teaching more about The Gospel of Jesus Christ and teaching them more about prayer and the Commandments. Hopefully, everything goes well and the ward can help us with them to become active in the church again.

Dad, the weather is always great here in Danli. This morning it was Brisando, or misting (not quite rain but a lot of little water particles falling like someone is spraying a water bottle lightly). Stuart is the only one in his household that is a member. I say household because he has a sister that doesn't live in the house but she is an active member of the church too. His Dad threatened to ship him off into the mountains if he chose to be baptized and the last time he said that he wanted to be baptized his dad actually shipped him off. This time he didn't tell his Dad because his dad doesn't live with him, and now that Stuart is 18, he can make his own choices.

Elder Saucedo is from Barranquia, Columbia. That's where Shakira is originally from... she's a Latin Pop Singer that knows five languages or something like that. haha I didn't follow her music ever and I'm glad.

Church was just dandy. I love being chewed out for a baptism starting late because the person doing the baptism did not show up on time... But Sacrament Meeting went well and the bishop had a bunch of young men give their testimonies and some did a good job. There were a few that just said, "This church is true. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen," but it was probably the first time that I did a complete and full fast that I am satisfied with. Before, I've done fasts but I've sometimes forgotten and eaten something or sometimes I've forgotten completely. But this time, I was able to complete a full fast and donate all the money that I would've spent on the food. It feels good to pay a full fast and tithe.

I loved the scripture you sent me about the vineyard too. Mom, I printed off the picture you sent me of Christ and the missionaries walking together a little while back and I still have it. I see it every day.

Lastly, you said, "the Gospel is not an umbrella to prevent us from getting wet -- it is a foundation that will not fail." I just wanted to say that it's not a "fix-it-all-up-and-make-it-perfect" wand either, to connect it to "The list of batons and sticks of Spencer's arsenal-belt of tools".

Love you family. Sorry I couldn't write much more. Mom, you guys would have to email president to see if you could come. I'm fine with what ever but you know... I won't be seeing you when you come. I'll probably be in the south by the time you come. Also, you asked last week for something I want for my birthday but I have no idea... Maybe my CTR ring? I won't have my hand chopped off here. That was a myth that they spread on the internet. The only place anyone has to worry about is in Tegucigalpa but I'm not there and I have a feeling that I'm not going to be for a while. I did have one question, did you guys happen to put together pictures for the cover of my agendas for my mission? Kristen made one for me a little while back and I really like it. I can put them on my agendas but I just want pictures from you guys. Kristen, can you help the family get some pictures together? You know how to make the Agenda Covers and so you can help the family.

Love you guys, I'm praying for you too.

All my love,
Elder Spencer Tuft
Hurrah por Israel

PS an investigator stole my watch and claimed they didn't a little while back and I forgot to tell you. Good thing they don't know how it works. But I'm watch-less. And the USB that you sent me, Kristen, a missionary took that one from me. I had it on my chair and got up to talk to the Zone for a minute and then sat down again and it was gone. I asked everyone and checked everywhere on me and many missionaries looked in their bags but no one fessed up. It's just those little two things that I'm missing now and want back. (Spencer's body stops/breaks battery watches so we bought him a wind up one and then changed the band so it's not even matching. I don't know why someone would want his watch. Darn!)