Monday, June 29, 2015

Beloved Mother & Father

Spencer Tuft (back to the right) on the boat taking them to the island off San Lorenzo. 
Hi Mom,

I'm doing great this week and not much has happened on this end. We've had a lot of visits and a lot of knocking on doors but it's really slow. Sometimes I just stop and look at my companion and smile because it's really hard. But then God opens a door and we step through it. This past week, we were sick on Tuesday but it was just a flu-ish thing that went away quickly. Now we are better. 

This week was hard for one of our investigators because we started him reading the Book of Mormon and he's read a lot. But then his girlfriend called him up and is a little bit jealous and wants to get back with him again and he doesn't want to... so there's been some drama there and we haven't taught him because he's not been there when we have appointments. But we have a visit with him today and we'll see where that goes.

We went contacting in an area that Elder Cruz has already contacted before but we just started taking turns and were kind of exploring as we contacted. Every door was another person not interested and we had only taught one lesson up until that moment in the day. We just kept going and we finally found a door that let us in. There were two young adults there that attended us. One told us his name was Enrique and that he was already baptized in our church. The other is now our investigator and his name is Franklin. Enrique and Franklin were really upset about a new Bible (BoM) and so we started to explain using the bible and 2 Ne 29 and that cleared up all their doubts and were going to come to church but didn't come. We'll call them today to find out why. 

We've also been teaching Ana. She came to church yesterday and asked us after church, "What do I need to do to be baptized?" then her sister, who's older and has a baby and a "boyfriend/partner" and she asked us, "Can you baptize my baby?" I just smiled huge and said, "Your baby is sooo precious that she doesn't need to be baptized. We'll explain why later..." But the older sister is named Elizabeth and their mom is named Suyapa. We taught all the Plan of Salvation in five lessons with them but now they all want to be baptized because they know it's the true church based on just the Plan of Salvation. We'll have to keep teaching them and Suyapa needs to go to church but they're progressing now.

We also received a reference from other missionaries that is basically a baptism next month. He called us and said, "Hey, the missionaries in the other ward taught me all the lessons and I prayed and God told me this is the true church, can I be baptized on the 18th?" So he has a date for his baptism and he's progressing as well. He asked us as well, "When you guys leave, who will visit me?" So I'm hoping that this ward gets their act together and does their visits. They never do home teaching here. 

So those are the most positive investigators right now. We do have more but not any progressing. This week we need to look for more so we can be baptizing every week.

Many member Hondurans this week asked me, "So... your country is allowing gay marriage now, huh???" I was sooooo upset about that. That should be a decision of the state and not made by nine people.

That's awesome for Nate, Andy and Zac. Tell them all hi for me and congradulate them for me. The missions up north in Honduras are a lot different from what I hear from people who have lived there. Andy has a part in his mission that has black people that speak a form a English but it's very different at the same time. But it's more industrious up north. Everyone that lives there is a little more wealthy or a lot more poor, from what I've understood.

Love you Mom!
Hello Dad,

I hope you can read about the investigator status that I sent Mom cause I won't write that again ;)

I'm a little bit stressed all the time for the welfare of the zone but like it says in God's Army, "I can't convert you, Elder." And that's the same for every missionary in the mission. Me and my companion have talked about problems in the zone and a lot of missionaries say they are working but don't have hardly any lessons in a day. There are so many reasons to throw in the towel or just keep banging your head on the same brick wall. So we have a saying that comes from Elder Cruz's dad, "Don't drown yourself in a glass of water." So thanks for the little sayings at the end of your letter. They make a great addition.

Our novel approaches are teaching the members the lessons again to get rid of apostasy and we teach them humility in all things. We are really hitting it off with a training meeting we do every Saturday that we started two weeks ago to help get references from members. We are opening the mouth in every opportunity possible and asking for references from non-members too. We do a lot of contacting every day with the Book of Mormon. We want to fill San Lorenzo with so many BoMs that the people have to read it because it's driving their curiosity insane! :D Just a few things we're doing...

I didn't wish Lindsay or Megan a Happy Birthday last week because I ran out of time but I did think of them as I logged off and all through-out the week. So Happy Birthday to them, if you can tell them for me :D

We will be going to the temple soon, as well, but we don't know when. This will be the second time.

As you might notice, I've taken out more money in this change from my bank account. That's because of missionaries being sick and traveling and wanting to eat WELL and not just garbage. We don't over-do but we do like to enjoy a good meal twice a week that costs a little more. I'll just have to adjust to ZL conditions.

I didn't tell you but Elder De Jesus has been the AP for the past six months and now he'll be done next week when this change ends. 

Love you Dad! Don't burn up in the heat of Utah ;D
Elder Tuft

PS I logged on to my missionary account and the page was translated into Spanish and my name showed up as Elder Copete which means, Elder "Tuft of Hair". So I'm Elder Copete now :D 

Spiritually Minded Is Life Eternal (SMILE) 2 Ne 9:39

Monday, June 22, 2015

Feels like it's been a while...

Dear Mom and Dad,

Happy Father's Day Dad! I was just thinking about you and the family and remembering all your hugs before I left at the airport. That was one year ago now. Cool right? It's been quite the journey to get to this point in my mission and I look back and I'm so grateful for the blessings I have for being "born of goodly parents".

Sorry about the rush last week. I wasn't able to write at all OR read until I got home and read your letters that I printed off. The reason being is because my companion got mad at me for being on the computer too long and told president and so president told me that he understands writing for extra long... etc but I can't write any longer than one hour. So I've been really good but I don't want you to be sad if I don't write a longer letter or answer all your questions or if I don't respond to everything that happened. I hope you can understand that the length of my letters and what I write does not determine my love and care for my family. Also, the computers here have problems with speed and I can't change that. I am in HONDURAS people! ;D

We haven't had any baptisms recently in my branch but we're hoping for a few in the next month or so. We have one investigator named Jimmy Mejia that's really awesome. We just taught him yesterday and I felt the Holy Ghost super strong in that lesson. We'll see how it goes with him in these next few months.

Yesterday, we had two new investigators come to church with us and everything was excellent. Sometimes the branch really worries me here though. I don't trust hardly anyone with teaching my investigators and that includes most of the leaders. Sometimes what they teach is correct but the way they teach is apostasy because they have no love and are full of pride and thirsty for power. They don't want to talk to our investigators or visit the less-actives but we'll keep doing the missionary work and teaching them how to help us and the Lord.

One of the things that is starting to help is that every Saturday we have capacitation meetings and we teach everyone on missionary work and then we do practices. It's like mini district and zone meetings.

We have visited almost all of the leaders' homes and they are all excited. I'm excited for them. It's an upward climb but it's worth the great view up on top of the mountain.

The best thing about San Lorenzo is that it is both physically and spiritually a refiner's fire. The people are generally nice but this area was an area that the past presidents have used to punish missionaries and so it's really hard to get in the doors because the people have already heard from flaky missionaries and they think it's the same.

Dad, The branch is named Mongollanos and as far as I know that could be the name of a person that first settled there. This week, a missionary has been sick and so just about all my money is gone from travel expenses to do divisions. But that's part of ZL life I guess. My interview was five minutes long and President just encouraged me to keep going and I was done with the interview. He just told me to not write for more than an hour and we shared testimonies and I left. Really short.

We go to other areas walking a lot of times because it's expensive for ZLs to take buses and taxis everywhere. I wish I had a bike sometimes but that's not allowed in all of Central America now. That was the decision of the Area Presidency.

Danli is doing well but I haven't talked to Elder Johns since. We aren't allowed to call other missionaries just to chat or talk about our areas so I have no idea how Danli is doing.

We use the Book of Mormon every day. The story of Elder Robbins was exactly how my conversion and Elder Cruz's conversion took place. Everyone must sincerely ask God if the Book of Mormon is true and they must read it. If they don't read, it makes the conversion process much more difficult. When I started here in San Lorenzo, I felt like something was missing in our teachings. I asked out loud to myself, "How do I know this is the true church?" I responded at the same time with my companion, "The Book of Mormon!" And since then, it's been the only way we teach. Honestly, I hate carrying the Bible because it's huge and sometimes useless when talking to these people down here. But we use the Bible and the Book of Mormon equally most of the time.

Mom, I am doing everything I can to keep away the bugs and mosquitoes. I haven't received your package though. It got lost remember, but Hna Bowler I bet has it now in the office waiting for me in two weeks when we go for Changes. Thanks for all the updates! I hope Lindsay has a great experience at EFY and that she writes everything down so she can remember her experiences.

I haven't met an Elder Putnam but if I do I'll say "Hey, my Mom has told me a lot about you!" ;D Love you mommy! Keep clunkin' along with that cast till MONDAY! :D

Elder Tuft

Monday, June 15, 2015

Quickie today


Sorry about this week. We had an Elder that is going home right now because of family reasons and so we were running all around the whole south today to get that worked out right. I hope you've had a good week. I'll write you next week and print off your letters to read this week.

FYI, we went to Amapala today to play soccer and volleyball on the beach. It was great and I took some pictures to send next week. Amapala is an island in my zone so we got permission to go and visit today.

Have a great week. Sorry Mom... I know you don't like these kinds of letters.
Elder Tuft
Hurrah por Israel!

PS The baggage got lost on Putnam's flight but they found it in Georgia and so my stuff will get to me in a week I bet. We'll see. Hermana Bowler is really on top of things with this package. (They had to have found it because some of the other mom's who sent things heard from their kids who received them.)

Monday, June 8, 2015

San Lorenzo is hot! It's also like re-opening an area.

Hello Mom and Dad,

Well hello family! Seems like it's been two weeks since I've written you guys because I hardly wrote last week. I'm trying to be more obedient with my ONE, short, tiny hour of writing and I can't lie... I'll probably go over today as well. However, this week was just fantastic. I'd compare it to tracting in France, like Dad did those many moons ago. We aren't opening this area but it feels like it. When I got here we had two investigators because, apparently, there "aren't any investigators" here. But we've found a lot, tossed a lot, and contacted for days on end. We're tired but satisfied when we get home. We will be working more with the members this week as well.

The ward here was struggling before but I've been blessed to come here at a time where things are looking up. Siempre hay desafios pero los sobrevivimos! (There are always challenges but we survived!) I always think of the phrase: Return with Honor.

The only stress I have right now is that this zone does not have very much faith or hope. They are just there to be there. We taught them how to become better and why they need to be better and this week we'll be capacitating them in what EXACTLY they need to do. It seems a little arrogant to talk about baptisms and teaching a zone how to get baptisms when we, as leaders, aren't baptizing still. So, this coming month we may have one or two baptisms and more to come. My faith has grown sooo much in this past month. I believe that God is preparing people for us to baptize. It's just been hard to find them. I think we've talked to over 2000 people this week... :D

Funny story: My companion walked out of the bathroom this morning and said, "Something reeks!" I had already showered and so I thought it couldn't be me but then he walked over to me and was blown away by my stench! He said he could smell me from two meters away! BUT I HAD SHOWERED! So the investigation begun and guess what... my microfiber towel that I just started using, after using it for 6 times in a row without washing it, was the source that transferred to me the wretchedness while I dried myself this morning! So I had to shower again and then I washed that microfiber towel and I used extra deodorant. (Thank you for sending me on the mission with extra AXE deodorant Mom.)

The rama (branch) went up in asistencia this week. We had 61 there! Last week was down near 30 people. This rama has been here for 60 plus years and it has never grown to be a ward. Well, we're going to change that if we can. We want to make this rama into an ARBOL(I'm thinking that is WARD instead of tree!) people! Echando el Agua Espiritual del arbol de la vida! (Partake of the Tree of Life people!) :D I'm just really exciting to have found more faith and happiness in the work. I'm really grateful that my Heavenly Father sent me to this ward and with Elder Cruz.

And Dad, Elder Cruz is a really awesome missionary from a tough background. But he's not the person he was from before the mission. His whole family and uncles and everyone related to him are members of the church. His uncles have all been his bishops. Talk about privacy in family matters! ;D He's helped me see who I am better and more clearly. I'd been praying for something or someone like him to help me to progress. I just was stuck in the rut of Danli for too long, now that I look back. Still, I miss Danli but I'm happy to be here.

Okay, GTG now but I'll update you on the investigators next week. They are looking promising!!! And I learned something that I wanted to share really quick. Everyone here says that they don't know why it matters what church they attend if we all worship the same God and so I was talking about this to Elder Cruz and we had an "Ah Ha!" Moment. We just started talking and I could see the revelations coming little by little and really fast. And the answer we got to answer this question is... TaDah! THE BOOK OF MORMON: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. It sounds stupid of us to forget the best of all the tools we have. We've just been using our testimonies as the primary conversion tool but we forgot the BofM! So we carry one or two (each) everyday and give them out and we are literally going to FILL all of Mongollanos, San Lorenzo with the Book of Mormon until even the hardest of hearts will be obliged to read it to find out what it is. We've had a really positive response in all the lessons that we've taught to the pueblo here. (The trick is just getting in the door. That normally takes a while like I said before...)

So, if anyone you talk to this week asks why religion is important and if it matters what you believe, you can respond with the Book of Mormon :D.

Have a fantastic week! We have interviews tomorrow with President as well!

Elder Tuft
Hurrah por Israel!

PS Thanks for that smacker of a kiss Mom! And the Hyperthyroid Mom photo. Love you to the stars and back! That's farther than the moon :D And Mom, could you update my blog and post it of FB every week??? I'd love you even more I have some people that aren't getting my letters and want them to but I can't write everyone of my friends. Thanks!

This was his "kiss from Mama" photo. HA HA!
(This is his "hypothyroid photo".)

Dad, I'm going to print the story off and read it! Have fun shooting tonight! Mom might say, "Don't make the news!" Love you too! And here's a hug for both of you.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Transfers to the south and ZL

Hey Mom and Dad and Family,

This week was really eventful with changes and going to the south like Hermana Bowler told me I'd likely never do, but I'm happy to be here and enjoy the humidity and the heat :D.

My new companion is Elder Cruz, from a place called Adequipa, Peru. He's been ZL for about two changes now and this is his third change as a ZL. I'm really shocked to be ZL and also to be here in the south. There are more mosquitoes but I'm using the oils that you sent me Mom, via Elder Rigby.

I was able to talk to the president of the branch here in San Lorenzo and we are on great terms with him. He gave us an assignment and we are going to be working with a less-active this week so that this less-active can be the next YM's advisor. We've also talked to the Relief Society President and the Elder's Quorum President. And we had a few lessons with members this week that are really good. This area is really empty of investigators right now and I've had more doors slammed in my face than in any other area in the mission. Last night we went contacting and it was really windy and starting to rain and so we contacted one house and all the people inside stopped talking and turned off the music and then turned off the lights like they weren't there anymore. It was a little rude but I'm adapting to that kind of response. It's like in The Best Two Years! I even look like Elder Calhoun! Take care this week. I don't have much time and this computer is malfunctioning so I've got to go before the computer shuts down. Thanks for writing me and I hope that this letter makes sense to you guys.

Love you guys tons! Sorry about not responding to your letters but así la computadora manda para hoy.

Hurrah por Israel!
Elder Tuft

If that picture stays right in the middle of the letter I will not be too happy but... We'll see. Actually you'll see it and I won't ;D