Monday, April 27, 2015

Birthday, Elder Johns, Leadership Conferences and Elder Ochoa

Hello Family,

What a fantastic week that we've all had! I loved reading all of your letters and not just cause they all said "Happy Birthday" but because everyone is doing just great. I am feeling great and I'm excited to go preach repentance and baptize. I have prayed for you this week and I know God has answered my prayers. Hang in there Kyle and Kristen! Finals are exhausting (or so I hear).

First off, here in Honduras, they love to throw eggs at people on their birthdays to celebrate. It's supposed to be fun but it's not. They also throw you in the pila... yeah the pila. BUT luckily I didn't remind anyone it was my birthday (actually I totally forgot it was my birthday until 2 in the afternoon) and only one family remembered but they were kind and didn't throw me in the pila or mess up my clothes with eggs because "Soy guapo!" Some freakish 30 year old started flirting with me and tried to give me a hug and then another 18 year old tried to hold my hand extra long when I gave her a handshake. Well, it's cause I'm single, "rich"-class, and white. (Shout out to Nate Shaw and Kaleb Boyer: "Let me all tell you what it's like, being male, middle-class, and white!")

Other than that, nothing happened on my birthday and I'm am extremely happy to avoid ALL attention on birthdays here in Honduras. No wonder everyone is so depressed here... they throw eggs at you on your birthday!!! ;) I prefer the Angel Food Cake with Triple Berry and Cream to celebrate a birthday but ice cream was good enough on Saturday for me :D Hope you all enjoyed it!

Elder Johns is my new companion and is from Colorado. He loves hunting and cowboy things and sports (football mainly). He had problems with his last companion and told me that he was planching in the last few weeks (or being disobedient). So he's not going to do that anymore he said and he realized he feels happier to work. I'll tell you more later and send pictures.

We had fantastic conferences for two days with Elder Ochoa and I got to ask some questions to him and I loved the answers. Lastima que no tengo me libreto de apuntes! Pero si, fue rico espiritualmente ;)  (Too bad I do not have my notes booklet! But it was rich in spirituality.)

One of the main things that we discussed was baptizing every week instead of subconsciously planning on baptizing in the ends of every month or every change. We talked about opening our mouths TONS more to FIND more of the elect of God that are ready to be taught. We've found some pretty good people. I'll share one of these experiences:

I decided to open my mouth more and on the buses to Tegucigalpa and back I met a man named Abraham that was really closed to listening to me at first, and all he wanted to do was talk. But I patiently listened attentively and directed my questions to help him learn of God. Then at the end, I gave him my Book of Mormon and asked him to read 3rd Nephi 11 while we were on the bus. He read the entire thing and LOVED it! He told me after, "This book is so much more clear and better than the Bible! Why do people say it's so bad?" So he's already been in touch recently with the missionaries and I gave him a number he can call to get a free Book of Mormon and then I wrote down where his mom lives and I hope that he can find the church and investigate soon.

Vicente and Sandra and Yilda have a fecha planned for June for their baptisms but it's not very set yet because they still need to be married and need to come to church more. Vicente needs to have a miracle happen so he can keep working but not on Sundays. They are the greatest. Vicente said that he knows he needs to be baptized and he also said that he believes this is the true church but I hope the members can actually follow through visiting and getting to know him so he feels comfortable in the church.

Love the mission work, even though it's not the most rapid thing right now and it feels like we have to drag the ward sometimes, it's great. We are changing a lot of things now including ward unity and reverence in Sacrament meeting. The members here need to learn that they can't just visit whoever they want. They need to visit their assigned members and they need to go with their companion. Thank you Dad for teaching me how to do it right so that I can teach them how to do it right. Am I allowed to take the initiative to teach the Elder's Quorum president how to run the visiting teaching stuff? The ward is doing very badly right now (63 came to church this Sunday) and everyone that's not coming says it's because we are the only one in the ward that visits them. We are planning an activity this coming month called The Battle of the Baleadas and all the organizations will group together to buy and make the best of the very best baleadas! Guess who'll be the judges! THE ELDERS :D ME and ELDER JOHNS! That's what I call being efficient: getting free food and strengthening ward unity. What are your ideas? Can't think of anything too extravagant because there's not much to work with here in Honduras.

Love you family! I just wanted to finish this week with my testimony of the gospel. I know that Jesus Christ lives and that He and Heavenly Father love all of us sooo much. I know that we can be lifted up by Christ to have peace and feel his everlasting comfort. I know that this is the true church without a doubt. I know that missionary work is the greatest work that we all can do. I am a witness that God cares for each of us and wants to talk to us and bless us. I hope that we can do everything possible to recognize His voice by reading His words, praying to Him, and pondering His teachings in our heart. He lives!

Have a fantastic week and be good!
Hurrah por Israel!
Elder Tuft

PS Love the pictures Megan! Ava is so sweet! I got to see puppies being born this morning because the bishop's dog was VERY pregnant and had her babies! It was awesome!
Kristen, thanks for your quick letter in the library! I hope your studies go very well and the tests even better! $4 for gas is unheard of. Here in Honduras they all put diesel engines in their cars even though it's not fuel efficient.
Kyle and Jess, thanks for the pictures! That smile of Milo's is adorable!

I hope I didn't forget anything but I'm sorry if I did. Gtg
Tell the ward and friends hi for me! :D

PPS I'll call you after church on May 10th. We have church at 9 too :D Same passwords and usernames right? Can you send the information again Mom? Thanks.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

New companion, training again, problems, still healthy!

Hello Family and Friends,

I'm really excited to write all of you this week. A lot has happened and to say the least, I'll be tons happier to begin working again as soon as possible. My new companion is from Honduras and is waiting for his Visa to go to Mexico (not the same mission as Kyle, unluckily) and his name is Elder Castro. He's my second missionary that I'm training but it looks like the training will be cut short because of a few problems. He'll be going home because of some mental issues with anxiety and nervousness and he's had some other problems. FOR ALL FUTURE MISSIONARIES THAT READ THIS: LEAVE EVERYTHING AT HOME (AND FORGET ABOUT THE GIRLFRIEND... PLEASE!)  [Girlfriends are the worst UNTIL you get back home. I say that because all of Elder Castro's problems began because he started thinking about the girl back home and the "promises" they made each other. Don't think you are exempt. Just forget her. Thank you.]

Now with such an introduction to my letter, I must say how much I love the mission. It is so great! After the rough first few months learning a new language, the mission is sooo awesome. Every night I write in my journal about how awesome the mission is. Sounds like a lot of my friends will be leaving again soon and yet others are coming back home. One thing that I've learned and still have to learn is following the Spirit and relying more on the Lord for guidance as to where to go. If we listen, he will guide us.

In regards with Elder Castro, I love that man soo much. I have sometimes sat in my desk while he lays in his bed and I have wondered, "why?" But I have felt the love and mercy and grace that God has given and gives to Elder Castro and I love him too. He will return to be a missionary again. He had his interview with President today (we went to Teguc and back in one day and that's why I'm writing late) and he talked to his bishop and his mom and will be going home (Wednesday, I think). I don't know anything else about what will happen but President just told me to keep working hard -  that's easy enough. I do not judge Elder Castro for what he has done or for his decisions but I am happy to know that he's on the right track to become who God wants him to be. I'll be in contact with him still to try and help him. He's put a lot of trust in me and we've become great friends in 5 days but I know that he'll be better off to go home and then come back as a PREPARED missionary. That preparation is very essential. No one can just "show up" to the mission and expect to be the best missionary that they can be. The Lord expects more from his missionaries.

As far as my health. I asked for a blessing last week when all the Dengue and Chikungunya was starting and I've had probably the quickest recovery that the mission has seen. I don't hurt anymore in my joints and I walk just normally now. Everything finished in about 5 days and by the 7th day I was back to normal platelet levels and healthy again. Thank you for all your prayers in my behalf and for all that you guys do. God has blessed me more than you can know and so I thank you because of your sincere prayers and fasts in my behalf. Thank you.

I'll let you know how everything else goes this week. I won't be working hardly at all in my area for one more week because of this little bump in the road but I'm still SUPER excited to be doing everything I can to serve in every moment. Kyle told me something that he learned from his mission, that sometimes the most important conversion is your companion's conversion. Not only is that true but also our personal conversion is very important.

Something special I've learned this week: service doesn't just happen on the dirty streets helping a lady with her heavy bags or when we clean out a neighbors house. Those are very critical things but have we thought about our words, our feelings, our thoughts and our actions? We do a more personal service when we become a servant and not just a person who goes through the motions of service. We cannot comprehend the service we do to the whole world when we make good choices. We can serve one another with our words and kind thoughts and smiles. These little services are results from becoming servants and not just doing the motions of service. When we are better prepared, we can serve (and learn to serve) with even more of our heart, might, mind, and strength.

I send my love to all and especially my family. I got the package! Best B-day ever! I forgot about everything not being wrapped so I had a mini b-day the other day. I love the Yoga. In my mind, I have to imagine the relaxing voice, "Touch your foot to the top of your head. Then throw your other foot over your shoulder like a scarf, and relaaaaaax...." (Kyle, that was the Brian Reagan quote for you!) But seriously, I like relaxing and exercising by Yoga in the morning. It wakes me up really well and then I can take a Freezing, cold shower to wake me up the rest of the way. What a way to start the day FRESH! :D

All my love,
Elder Tuft
¡Hurrah por Israel!

PS Mom, I'm pretty sure I had both Dengue and Chikungunya because of the joint pains. Dengue only has body and muscle pains but I had joint pains especially in my knees and ankles. That pain is very typical in Chikungunya. But I'm all healed now. Please forget about it now and don't worry. I talked to Rigby and I'll be fine for the rest of my mission. I'll let you know about the application of the oils later. I don't know right now nor do I have time today to write more. Love You! Glad you had fun on Choir Tour! And Brittany cut her hair and dyed it! I was shocked but it's great! :D Say hello to Ava for me! She looks soo adorable! And that little Audrey has the cheesiest smile! Hahahaha :D Talk to you on Mothers day (when is that?)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sick with Dengue... and two cool updates :D

Hello Family and Friends!

Life is going great and I'm happy so that's all that matters. Yes, I have Dengue but no one should worry about it. I'm pretty sure I have Chikungunya as well but there isn't a test that you can get here to check to see if you have it. 

Dengue hasn't been that bad at all. I just had a fever but that's gone away and I'll start working again soon. I just have been soooooooooooooooo bored laying in my bed. I had to rotate from my bed to sitting in a chair every 20 minutes for 4ish or 5 days. I also said I have Chikungunya but we can't be 100% certain. When I first woke up on Wednesday, I felt paralyzed for a little bit until my joints adjusted. That symptom and the rash I've had is from Chikungunya. For a month or so, I'll be waking up in the mornings to little joint pains until it fades away. The Dengue part was just the fever and confusion. I haven't had any other symptom from what I can tell that is from Dengue. I feel great now though, just a little low on energy and ankle sores. After changes I bet I'll be working like normal again. When I went to get the blood test and got the results back, I was shocked to learn that I'd already had Dengue in the past as well. I do remember in El Sitio that I got really sick for one day and E. De Jesus gave me a blessing and the next day we were working again. Hermana Bowler said she's never heard of a one-day-Dengue Fever and that whatever it was, it was a miracle. Other than that, I haven't been sick at all on my mission. 

If you are worrying, don't worry. I'm fine. Life is still normal and I'm not dying in my bed. Even when I had my highest temperature, I just hopped in the freezing shower until it went down. :D I haven't had a fever for 2 days now. That's one plus of Honduras: cold, cold water.

In my spare time, I got to read and sleep. I read a bunch of the Book of Mormon again and the Pearl of Great Price... reading I've been wanting to get done for a while now. Elder Saucedo did a ton of reading too.  He was able to visit one of our investigators (Maria) and she committed to be baptized on the 2nd of May and Mia (her daughter) also said she'd be willing to listen to us again. Elder Saucedo told me it was an awesome lesson and that Maria started crying as she prayed about being baptized and was receiving her answer in her prayer. She is very ready to be baptized... She just needs to GO TO CHURCH! :D

On Tuesday, we had a run-in with a teen-age "hostile venue" as D. Todd Christofferson called it. We knocked on a new door the other day and a group of teenagers where there studying for school and invited us in. We asked them if they had heard rumors or jokes or anything about the church before but they didn't say anything. So I continued with the first article of faith and someone started asking the question if we worship Josè Smith or not. That was an easy question to answer. As we kept answering questions, the teenagers opened up and began asking questions freely. A few of them tried to contend and tell us lies and false perceptions about the church from what they've seen but we answered all their questions boldly and even the toughest questions they had for us, we answered. At the end of 40 minutes we invited them to learn more and they all wanted to but they were just on vacations from school that day. Every day they are at school until 10:30 pm  and they work during the day. So we pulled out all the pamphlets we had and wrote our names and number on them and they took them all. In total, I think we had a audience of 10 teenagers. One of them said we could go to his house on Sunday (yesterday) but I couldn't leave except to go to church yesterday. So, we'll go find him again and teach him again. I think we left a great impression with them. Most importantly, we felt the Holy Ghost as we were battered with questions, and the promise was fulfilled that we would have words fill our mouths as we spoke. It was a great experience. Hopefully we'll see a baptism or two from it in the near future.

Nothing else happened this week. I did get to listen to all the Oct Conference again from the MP3 you sent me, Mom. So thanks for that.

Love you all, and thanks for your prayers. Again, don't worry for me! I'm doing great and happy! :D
Elder Tuft
Regarding the mosquito spray... I can't use OFF spray anymore because it gives me a rash on my skin. That's why I have Dengue. The mission has been slow to get me a net for my bed until now. Hna Bowler executively ordered one for me. I've asked and asked and asked but missionaries come and go and forget and so it never happens. I just have really delicate skin so maybe a lotion would be the best solution for right now.

The scripture in Isaiah 58 was used in conference and I reflected over it afterward as well. I love the promise that God gives us that when we "shall call... He shall say, Here I am." We have a loving Heavenly Father. This week, I felt His love very clearly for me. Mostly, he shows His love for me by a warm, strong assurance that He's there for me.

Exciting news as always. Things are bustling! Glad you had some free time to yourself. :D Have a fun week! :D

I just wanted to clear up that Hna Bowler called because I said she should before I wrote to tell you I had Dengue and not because I'm in a bad condition. Dengue hasn't been anything but being bored and out of energy. Thanks for the prayers and fasts for me though :D I love you guys too!  

Just FYI: I can have Dengue four times and each time it's supposed to get worse. I guess I have two times to go then... ;D I won't be going to the south anytime soon either. It's really, really rare that I've had a mosquito bite here in Danli. There are more in the city areas and in the south area of the mission.

I'm glad you had a good time on choir tour. I don't know if you are still there right now but the pictures are great! Looks like you had a lot of fun. :D Phantom of the Opera was always one of my favorites for the music abilities that the actors have. It always blew me away!

I read your other letter but that was a BIG letter! WOW! No wonder it didn't send! :D Although I won't comment on it because I'm short on time, I just wanted to say that I did get and read it. :D Glad you loved conference! I loved it too!
Yay for making it into the Music program! That took a long time for them to respond! I've often tried to imagine my life before the best two years and then I try to imagine going back to it. It'll be rough for me as well. It's just a new lifestyle that is necessary to provide for even more growth and more experiences and more happiness. 
When did anyone tell me the gender of the baby? You may have told me but that tidbit didn't register until just now... Congrats! :D 

Elder Tuft

Monday, April 6, 2015

Happy Week, General Conf, Easter, etc

Hello Everyone!

I hope everyone is doing fine and from what I've read, things are spectacular. My family and friends are such good examples to me and I thank each and everyone of you for being great people and role models in my life.

Quite the Gen Conf... I loved it a lot. I had a lot of questions answered. One of my questions was, "What do I tell people that tell me, 'I already go to another church?'" I thought about that for a while. My answer came twice, as if God was making the point VERY clear to everyone. I learned that we need to explain the reason for going to church better: we go to church because the church is like a hospital and everyone is sick or hurt; we go to church because it's like a repair station and everyone is in need of repair and maintenance.

That was just one of the questions I had answered. I thought a lot about the Springville tradition of buying ice cream at Reams after the Priesthood Session and I recalled all the times Dad, Kyle, and I went to the Priesthood Session together. If I recall right, we went one time with Grandpa in Monroe and then shared ice cream at the local restaurant there. It's the simple things that make life worth living. Love has been the center of each of the memories I so dearly treasure.

I loved the phrase, "A Saint is a sinner who keeps on trying." That also was another answer to my questions. Many people wonder why we call ourselves Saints. I just tell them because we are working to perfection but I like this new definition better. :D

Every new talk that was about marriage I just looked around the small room of English speaking missionaries that were there and I pointed to each of them that were leaving really soon. It's just a friendly joke that let's them know that I'm going to miss them.

I LOVE THE PHRASE: "They lift me, and I lift thee, and we ascend together."

I also have adapted the phrase: When we try to complete and not to compete, there is more love in the home. :D

I also starting laughing inside when Dallin H. Oaks said, "If you are playing, texting, or whispering during the Sacrament, you are severing your spiritual roots and moving to stony ground." There is much more I really want to study and ponder in all the talks from this conference. (In reference to last week's email about the ward there doing a lot of talking, texting... in Sacrament Meeting.)

This conference, when Micheal T. Ringwood talked about our motivation that Mom always told me, "Wow! You are really self-motivated!" I haven't always been really self-motivated but it's something that I realize that the world needs more of. I need it a lot more still!

Many of the talks just went right over my head because I was learning so much and so I'll have to go read them all again and learn even more. I LOVE GENCONF!

I really loved President Henry B. Eyring's talk about Revelation from God and that we have the right as Priesthood holders to act and speak in the name of God but that it doesn't happen casually or just because we have been ordained to a priesthood office. We need to live every moment in our lives in a way that the Spirit can give us inspiration every day, every minute, and every second, to act and speak in the name of God. The guide of the Spirit is not acquired casually.

Okay, enough with GenConf for right now. I really loved it though!

We have just three investigators that are progressing right now. Maria, Daniela, and Sonia. I'll just talk a little about each briefly today.

Maria is reading and studying a lot. She loves to read the D&C and Pearl of Great Price but she should be reading the Book of Mormon more. She was an investigator from waaaaaaay back and it's been 15 years since she's started investigating the church. This time in her life, she looks and feels the most ready that she has been in all of her life. This is the investigator that got rid of her beer business recently. Her baptism is planned for the 18th but it may be a little bit later. We are going to talk about it more this week. Maria went to the first session of Conference and LOVED IT SOOOO MUCH! She wants a copy of the Liahona now and we are going to ask her to be baptized on the 18th again.

Daniela is really new. We've just been to her house three times but she LOVES the story of Joseph Smith and she wants to be baptized, "but not yet!" she says. Her mom is a really thick evangelist and when we taught about prophets she was astonished and didn't have anything to rebutal and so she just sat and learned for a while and answered our questions (I love inspired questions!). But when we started teaching about Joseph Smith, she told us that she wanted nothing to do with him. So we showed Daniela the Restoration video (the hour long one) and Daniela was so excited and enthusiastic that she asked to borrow the movie to show to her mom. That is a total miracle! This way her mom (Ana is her name) can watch and overcome her pride and misunderstanding without having us there and without having la pena (what is pena translated in English? [Penalty]) of being completely wrong about Joseph Smith. We feel that her mom is shutting that part of the Gospel out because she doesn't want to make a big change in her life. She knows what we teach is true and is afraid for the story of Joseph Smith to be true. Great things happening with this family.

Sonia is having a rough time right now. She might be thrown out of the room she's renting in the "cuartería" and has no where to go but to the streets. She has four little boys and no other family that want or can help her. The ward has been a huge help with her. Once her house situation gets settled, we'll be able to help her even more. Today is when she finds out if she has to leave or not. She loves the gospel and comes to church every week because she feels good there.

Damaris is at a standstill right now. She doesn't want the interview yet and said she'll tell us when she is ready. For now, I don't know what more to do except teach and extend compromisitos and promises filled with the Spirit so that she can feel motivated to make a choice on her own. We each will be backed against our own wall of faith eventually and will have to say yes or no.

Vicente and his family are needing some time and continual teaching as well. Sandra (the mom) doesn't understand that she can't go to her same church still if she knows the Book of Mormon is true. We are a bit puzzled by her slowness to understand that principle but I think she'll turn around eventually. The power of the Spirit and the hand of God change the hearts of all the children of God so that they will follow him of their own free will. Eventually, all will be judged by the desire of their hearts.

Leydi is still going to school on the weekends and so she can't be baptized but the ward is aware of her. We are still teaching her weekly and now we are teaching her neighbor as well.

We hope to see even more success this week, seeing that the last week no one was home or in the streets and we had a low week in numbers but in quality of the lessons, I'd say it was a great week. I'm happy for what we've been able to accomplish. I may be leaving this area next week but we'll see. :P One thing is for certain, the stereotype that every week we have a baptism is completely false. But the people here are in extreme need of the gospel in their lives. "Every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is the Christ." :D

Have a fantastic week family! I love you all!
Kristen, I didn't forget about your birthday did I? Weeeell Happy Birthday if I did! From: Your ADORABLE, BABY hermanito! :D
Dad, Easter week was great. As you probably read, this past week we didn't have very many lessons or high numbers but the quality and the amount of the Spirit we felt was great. I'm really satisfied with our work this week. We got to see all of Gen Conf and we even watched the Spanish speakers in Spanish which is sooooo much better than a translator. In the talk about the house with the light that the girl had to walk to after seeing it in the distance, the translator for Spanish started crying as he was translating. It was really powerful! :D The follow-up with Alexander's family is going great! Alexander's mom made a 180 degree change and loves the story of Joseph Smith and believes in modern revelation and the whole sha-bang! She apologized for being so hardened to listening to us but thanked us for being patient. She made the change when we weren't there in the house. We asked her to read the Joseph Smith Pamphlet and she told us she was going to fast before reading it (I don't think she fasted but she did pray!) and God changed her heart through the testimony of Josè Smith. When we arrived to do the follow-up and she was reading the pamphlet for the second time around :D. I'm stoked about helping her progress. Who knows? She might become Relief Society counselor in a few years! :D

To answer your last question, this week is looking great! I love it here in Danli. I can't describe the change that has happened in me starting with Elder Huff and now with Elder Saucedo. My patience and love has grown and I don't want to leave this area now. I want to help this people sooooo much! I don't want to leave! But I have repeatedly felt like I will leave this next change. If not... YAY for one more change! :D

As in the thing of the thing... "in that regard", I'm doing great ;D
Mom, Are you okay? I didn't get a letter from you so I was just wondering if you got a big headache and forgot to write. I love you! Have a fantastic week and a late Happy Easter! Your Schnookie!

Elder Tuft
¡Hurrah por Israel!