Monday, August 31, 2015

Great week just to reflect and think

Elder Tuft with his new suit made special for him in Honduras

Elders Tuft and Laureano in San Lorenzo, Honduras

San Lorenzo Zone 2015 August
Hey Mom and Dad,

Well, that was a lot of interesting news that you shared with me this week. That was a lot of stuff that's happened but I'm really happy for you guys. Sometimes when I go through weeks like that, I just say, "Just keep swimming. What do you do? You keep on swimming." like Dory does in Finding Nemo. Going in to the unknown is not always pleasing but the only way to grow is to be out of the comfort zone.

The members are fine. They are doing really great, even though we have few numbers, they are moving along. There hasn't been money for the branch for my whole time here because President Oscar lost the check for a month and so the church waited until he paid it back... (they don't trust Honduran judgement always...) So that's all over and the branch will be starting to do fun activities. There still isn't a teacher for the YMs but we've given the responsibility to the YM to teach in the class and challenged them to come to church early to be able to participate in the Sacrament. They're getting better to say the least.

Dariela is progressing to baptism. She has an interesting case right now with her ex-husband. They separated and he still controls her because she can't work and so to pay for her and the girls she has to obey him. He doesn't want any connection to the church and is rude to her when he finds out she listens to us. She told us to stop coming and then we had one more visit and she decided to press forward with faith. But that night she left her girls in the room she's renting to go and buy some food real quick and her mom passed by and took the girls because they were alone. When Dariela found out where they were, her mom told her how horrible she was and that she was a bad mom and street trash. That night she called us at 10 pm and told us that she was wanting to kill herself and we calmed her down and we got off the phone with her. Then my companion told me to call her again ten minutes later and we called and she was crying again and so we calmed her down again and told her to go to sleep and then in the morning we'd pass by to go to church. Everything went well and she went to church and liked it. She wants to be baptized but is scared and I don't think she is ready still but she has a date put for the 19th of September. We'll see how that goes.

We met with President Flores (Branch President, I'm guessing) this week and talked to him about reactivation and retention efforts focused on getting them to the temple. So we made some plans and President is going to meet with us again to tell us how we can help.

We talked to the 2nd counselor and his wife on Sunday by surprise and told them to go to the temple and that 4 years have passed since they were married by law and so we'll see what happens with those plans. The wife wants to go and be sealed but the husband just puts it off. He told us that he wanted to get out of his current job in December first and then they would be married in the temple but that's a terrible excuse and the wife knows it. The wife (her name is Francis) wants to get sealed super bad!

A lot of what we've taught this week has been focused on temples and families. I like it better that way. The work is easier when we don't just focus on baptism, but when we focus on the temple. Baptism is just a small step on a trail of many bigger steps to make.

We're working again with Suyapa and Juan so that they can leave behind drugs and alcohol (the little that they drink) and so they can get married and move on to a better life. Juan had that revelation a few weeks ago and he knows the church is true but he double thinks and has a few doubts. But he likes the doctrine. We talked more about eternal families and our life before the earth with them. Then we taught baptisms for the dead and how their daughter who died three months ago can still live with them again IF they go to the temple. :D

That's all for today!
Love you,
Spencer James

PS I read all your letters and it was a roller-coaster ride for me but I can't respond to everything right now. ;D and tell Gma that I love her SUPER DUPER much! You're a fantastic example Grandma and I can't wait to start working on family history with you when I get back (not trunky!). And tell Brad and Jake that they are stud muffins! :D Best cousin-pal awards go to them hands down. I've missed my cousins.

Love you all!

Monday, August 24, 2015

President Nelson, Singing, Book of Mormon

Feel free to go by my Facebook post and listen to the quartet. Elder Huff sent the audio to his mom. WOW!Hello Family,                                                                                                       

This week was a really unique week. I don't think I'll ever have a week that comes close to being similar. 

I'll start with President Russell M. Nelson coming because that was the biggest highlight. It was awesome to sit and study and prepare for him to walk in and then when he walked in everyone stood up. We got to shake his hand one by one and when I shook his hand, President Nelson looked me right in the eyes and said, "It's good to see you Elder Tuft." 

We got to sing right after the opening prayer, and that was really awesome. We were all so nervous and my legs were shaking uncontrollably. But it went really well. President Nelson wanted to see our faces but the camera angle on the screen for the people sitting in the stand blocked a few of our faces. But he liked it. Then we heard from Elder Duncan and his wife and the two presidents from the missions Comayaguela and Tegucigalpa and then it was President Nelson's turn. And guess what... you won't believe this but he said, "I loved the quartet. It was a beautiful arrangement. I just want to pick on Elder Tuft for a moment. Elder Tuft, can you come up here?" I was really shocked but I stood up and about half way he said, "What should you always have with you?" So I turned around and grabbed my scriptures because I thought they are pretty important and then he said, "Your companion Elder Tuft." And Elder Laureano was shaking a ton at that point too! So we made it up there and he gave us both big side hugs and then asked us to introduce ourselves and then asked us questions about the branch. He asked us, "Who's you best friend?" I said, "Victor Alvarez, the Elder's Quorum President." and he asked me who else was my best friend and I mentioned the President of the Branch and then he gave me one last try and I said, "Well I think the Young Men are pretty awesome in the branch," and he laughed at that. So he helped me out and said, "The Ward Mission Leader should be your best friend because he links you to the ward or branch. Your second best friend should be the ward family history consultant." And we talked a lot more about the things we should focus and learn more about to be able to teach Honduras better.

President Nelson also talked about an experience he had. He said that one night he was sleeping and two girls that he had operated on 50 years ago came to him and woke him up. They told him that they wanted their sealing work done. So President Nelson asked his wife to search the names in Family Search and he found out that the mom of the girls had died but the dad was still alive. So he met with the dad and asked him, "Will you work on getting to the temple to be sealed to your family?" And the man replied in tears that he would. It was a great experience to listen to.

President Nelson also told us, "There are more men without the Priesthood than with the Priesthood in the church. The Lord is not pleased with this." And that hit me hard. We need to be working on FAMILIES. He also said, "Let me help you missionaries see the vision. Faith, Repentance, Baptism, The Gift of the Holy Ghost, Endowment, Sealing, Endure to the end. Do you understand that we need people going to the temple to be sealed for all eternity?" 

At the end when President Nelson finished, he left an apostolic blessing on us and our families. He told us that if we are true disciples of Christ, we will be attractive to those around us and people ready to hear the Gospel will come to us. Then he said that if we had sick family members, they would be fully healed according to the Lord's will and our faith in Christ. It was a spiritually moving moment. When Elder Nelson left, we were so filled with the Holy Ghost that many remained seated and didn't stand. Elder Laureano and I stood up and then our Zone and then the whole back part of the chapel stood up one by one as Elder Nelson waved good bye. I wanted to spend the whole day with that man. I felt special listening to him. I can't even imagine what it'll be like to see Jesus face to face and touch his hands and feet and listen to him talk to us. That will be an awesome day.

So I finished the Book of Mormon in Spanish and English now and I'm starting to read the D&C now along with the Bible. I'm learning a lot and I'm becoming a happier person too because I understand the importance of what I'm reading. 

I also gave a talk in church this Sunday. Elder Laureano was going to give one but the District President came and wanted to take a few minutes. I talked about Covenants and Sacrifices... those were two of the things that Elder Nelson wants us to teach to everyone, Members and Non-Members. I feel so happy that I know what I need to be teaching... or in other words, that I know how I need to be teaching the lessons. What President Nelson told us, opened up my eyes to see more of what we need to do as missionaries.

Mom and Dad, before my mission, I didn't know I had so many doubts about the Gospel, or not doubts but many questions. Now I know that the answer to some questions I might not receive real fast or even never. But I know that God lives. I know Joseph Smith was a true prophet. The Book of Mormon was inspired scripture by God. I have no questions about those things. Sometimes God withholds his mighty revealing hand to help us, just like Milo is learning to walk. Sometimes Milo needs to walk on his own and fall so that he can learn. But that doesn't mean mom and dad aren't there to help catch him. The same applies to God and us. 

I'll print off your letters and respond next week. 

Love you,
Elder Tuft

PS. Dad, I was looking up at the stars the other night and just wondered about God for a little bit. Taking time to be still is very important.

Mom, Elizabeth had her baby and she's very healthy right now. They're doing great but can't go to church quite yet.

Monday, August 17, 2015

A short one today...

Hi Family!

Well tomorrow we'll find out who has changes. I don't think I'm leaving yet. There won't be many that leave.

I don't have much time this week to write. There are four other missionaries that need to write in a half hour.

I'm able to print your letters off this week and I'll write you all the answers and comments that I have next week.

GREAT JOB KYLE (on graduation)!!! Love you tons big brother. Thanks for setting a great example for me.

I'll write about Elder Nelson coming in my next letter. OH! And I have the privilege to sing with Elder Huff, Elder Hirschi, and Elder Westburg when Elder Nelson comes! I'm so excited, we'll sing How Great Thou Art! I have been companions with two of those three! hahaha :D God wants us to sing a lot, I think :D

Talk to you later,
Elder Tuft

PS. I'll try the suit washing. Mom, you can deposit $200. That would be fine, I'm not planning on using any extra money this month. I'm working out a budget book right now.


Monday, August 10, 2015

The ward, and cool news

Hello Mom and Dad,

This week was a hectic week with a Zone Leader Council on Wednesday. When we have Meetings in Teguc, we have to go a night before and sleep in the AP's house. So we went and I ate Subway which was a little expensive. They say Five Dollar Foot Long, but here it's, "Five Dollar Half-foot Long". And that's without a beverage. So that was costly. And while we're talking about money, don't freak-out when you see that I took out a lot of money from my debit card. I took it out because I ordered a new suit. The suits here are really nice and much cheaper than in the US and my other suit can't be washed here and it's really, really gross right now. Just imagine wearing a suit for a whole year every Sunday and not washing it. So the suit that is coming has pants that I can wash too and so that's cool. I bought it last week and paid a part of the cost. Next week I'll get the suit and pay for the rest.

On the 22nd this month, an Apostle is coming to talk to all the missionaries in Teguc and in Comayaguela missions. We don't know who but I'll have my new suit by then and be looking a lot better in that. We were instructed by President Bowler to read 3 Nephi 11-27 as many times as week could in the next few weeks to prepare our minds.

There are missionary changes next week on Tuesday as well so a few people will be leaving the zone and others will be coming in.

In the pictures I sent you last week, the two young women are Ana and Elizabeth. Ana is the shorter, Elizabeth is the pregnant one. And she's still pregnant even though I think she should've had her baby by now. She's overdue I think now. I'm thinking this week is the week for her to have the baby.

Ana and Elizabeth came to church but Juan didn't. Their mom (Suyapa) has only gone one time and never came back even though she liked it a lot. Suyapa is trying to stop smoking and I think she feels uncomfortable being in church with so many nice people around. I think she feels out-of-place but she's also been sick these past weeks. We gave her a blessing and she started to cry in the blessing. She has a lot of Faith and she feels and recognizes the Holy Ghost but has been a little out of touch with us lately. I'm hoping this week, she will be able to accompany us in a lesson and at church.

Elizabeth is stuck in making the choice to marry her boyfriend or separate themselves but Danny (the boyfriend) doesn't want to go to church and sometimes makes fun of Elizabeth calling her "Mormon-girl". Danny is a big hurtle right now for her.

Dad, Those comments I made at the beginning of the mission are really dumb comments looking back on when I started. I can see how I've grown little by little. It's almost embarrassing to read who I was because I've become a better person. It's hard to imagine that that was only one year ago.

Sounds like you guys had fun at the cabin. Lindsay, Sing your heart out and do all you can to study. It's worth it in the end. It's much more valuable than hanging out with friends or being glued to a phone. The phone and friends are just temporary distractions but I wish I could have been more wise and more diligent in my study time. If I could go back and do it again, I would put my whole heart into studying and doing many things to learn, progress, and help other people. Keep up the great work! :D

Did Jess win?  If Jess didn't win it's because Audrey won by default.

I just wanted to share what I wrote to President this week. It's probably the most valuable lesson I've learned on the mission. It has to do with loving other unconditionally. I didn't get the "unconditional" part of true love:

Hello President Bowler,
Today was a great week and hard to find people to teach but the people we found could be really great. This week there is a carnival in Centro, San Lorenzo and so a ton of people are going to that at night and there haven't been as many people in their houses. I was happy to see that the members made it to church though. I've been trying to be super nice to everyone and be respectful of other peoples' beliefs. It was really hard when we found a Pastor of another church and he was asking questions to egg us on. But we did good and left without contention. That has been an issue for me. It's not that I've gotten mad at people but I can feel a difference when I'm loving the people or when I'm trying to prove my point. I don't like the feeling I get when I try to prove my point. But I like the feeling and the happiness I get when I know I did what my Savior would've done. When I do what He wants me to do, I feel good inside. When I feel genuinely good, I know that I'm doing His will. It's been a rough road, adjusting to Honduran culture and beliefs and patterns of thinking. It's really different from the US.

I'm really happy to be here in San Lorenzo and for having such a great zone full of great, hard-working, and loving missionaries.

Have a wonderful week Family!
Elder Tuft

Mom, Got you're message right now. Contacting is difficult here right now because of the Carnival. It would seem to be easier but there's not as many people in our area now. As far as other investigators, I'll update you next week. Love you!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Sacrament Meeting and other notitas

Hello my fantastic family!

This was a happy week. I suggested to Elder Laureano today that we say hi and smile to everyone in the street and he took it to another level. When I looked back, I don't think there was a single person who wasn't slightly touched by our smiles and hellos. It made me happy too.

The Zone Conference went well. We had three zones there and we learned more about companion unity. It was great to hear from Pres. Bowler again. There has been some disobedience in the mission recently and it's improving. He talked in the conference about the proper use of cellphones because people are communicating with other missionaries, past converts and members from past areas, and they shouldn't do that. He also talked about health and other rules. Nothing major to do with us (Laureano and I) and I think our Zone is good too but there is always room to become better.

Mom, I would like to have a new pair a blue pants, if possible? Thanks! I like the blue. And some more ties please because the ones I've had are... well, one year with 15 ties and you'll get the idea. But thank you for the ties you sent in the last package. I would wear those everyday because they are super cool but I'll get bored of them if I do that.

Okay, cool story time. This happened yesterday. I wrote this to President Bowler but rather than retell the story, I just pasted it here:

This week we had a really great Sacrament Meeting. It was fast and testimony meeting and I was fasting that the spirituality of our meetings would increase. Everyone that had gone up to give their testimonies had strong testimonies. But towards the end, a really shy member that has never given his testimony before (he hardly ever speaks but he comes every Sunday without a doubt) got up and gave his testimony. He was trembling and nervous but he gave his testimony and tears started coming to my eyes because it was super neat and the Spirit was so strong. Then the leaders were about to close the testimony part of the meeting and our investigator, Juan (he's been really stubborn with us but he's been progressing), sat up in his chair quickly and said to us, "Can I share my testimony?" Everyone in the room heard and was really startled but we said that he could, and he got up and gave his testimony. He said, "These two handsome young men are very special people. I've not been studying with the missionaries but when they come I sit close by and listen to them. One of them told me to pray to know if the Book of Mormon was true. So the other night, I prayed and I wanted to know. That night I dreamed that my stomach was covered in worms and a voice commanded me to remove them. Then I saw these two missionaries in my dream and the voice said, 'Listen to their message.'" Juan started to cry and he bore his testimony that God answers prayers and that this is the true church. He can't be baptized though because he has to be separated from his "wife". Both of them want to be baptized but they don't want to marry each other and they live in the same house, in separate beds. Juan drives trucks all week long and visits when he's not traveling. we'll see how they're doing this week, I think on Wednesday night.

I just wanted to share that cool story. I know God answers prayers too. He loves us and is very mindful of us and our trials.

On top of that, Mom, I just want to share with the ward (this Mom has to speak on her missionary son's mission Sunday in church) that "I've had a lot of doubts during my mission and a lot of trials but I have learned that perfect love casteth out all fear." That love comes from the Gospel of love. All the other churches teach a Gospel that may be good but to understand why this is the true Gospel, you first must try it out, experiment on it, and one will find that they become happier not because of what we teach, but because of the different choices they begin to make because of what they are learning. I have learned in a more personal way, that the Holy Ghost does it all. I have seen him touch people's hearts and those people have changed for the better. It's all about love. It's all about happiness and our families. The true Gospel of Jesus Christ unites families here on earth and in heaven for all eternity.

I'll send the pics of the shoes in a separate email. Love you all! Thanks for the letters Kristen and Megan (and Mom and Dad). Enjoy Midway without me :D Kyle will win if he plays croquet... actually Jess will win over Kyle.

Spencer Tuft