Tuesday, June 21, 2016

"Signing out!" and "Signing back in!"

LAST LETTER HOME!!!  This Mom's getting giddy!

Hello Wonderful and Terrific Family,

I hope you can feel how excited I am to see each one of you face to face! I have been dreaming the past week and have had a preview of Mom's and Dad's hugs. I can still feel them from when I left the airport two years ago.

I've had the impression this week to tell you all (and it's more for myself) that even though I'm leaving, I'll really never leave. A part of my past will always stay here in Honduras. A part of me will never be able to "sign-out". That part of me will be 100pre Catracho! Now, I'll need your help and patience because I'm not in the loop of things at home. I'll have to "sign-in" again to real life. Truth is, I'm nervous about that part because I'll have to rediscover how to live life. Honduras life is an extended camp-out. Life in Utah is a dream.

I feel torn in my heart (part of me longs to stay with these people and the other part longs to be home). I love these people. Nephi describes best what I feel: (I'm changing the verse a little bit)

"But I, Spencer, have spoken what I have spoken, and I esteem it as of great worth, and especially unto my Hondurans. For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry.

And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people. And the words which I have spoken in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal.

2 Nephi 33:3-4

I'll tell you more when I get home. It's been an amazing two years!

All my love,
Spencer James

PS to Mom:  As far as my arrival, I'll just be happy to be home, Mom. I might be hungry but I think I'll just want a P&J sandwich and some 2% milk. Thanks :D

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Earthquake, Family Nights

Hello Family,

I hope this week has been as great for you as it has been for me. There wasn't much new but it was fun.

Talking about the earthquake, I didn't feel anything. We were on splits with the Assistants when we heard a rumbling but Elder Bustillos and I were on the bed and he was moving his foot up and down so we didn't notice it very much. We had a few members call us because we live on the second floor in our house in Danlí. They were worried about us and I thought that was really nice of them to think of us. I think that God protects me a ton. I've been in two places where an earthquake has occurred but I haven't felt either of them. In Guatemala, I was asleep and in Honduras I was on a bed. I think I should keep away from the beds if I ever want to feel an earthquake.

We had 12 investigators in church this week. We brought 5 people (all were kids ages 10 to 12ish) and 5 got there on their own, and 2 came with a member. It was crazy when we realized we couldn't do it all on our own. The members stepped in and did their part and it all worked about very well.

Elder Bustillos and I reflected on why so many investigators came this week. Some came because of the Noches de Hermanamiento that we are doing. Others came because of lessons with members.

In the family nights/noches de hermanamiento, we play games with the families to get them to interact more. They love it! :D I love it too! We tried to teach them some boy scout games that I've learned over the years but I think the Honduran mind just can't keep up with advanced American boy scout minds... ;) We had to change the game because they just aren't capable of so much fun in one night. hahaha ;D

Dad, This week we were able to draw up a list of people to visit about Family History. We also were able to get empty family trees to be able to fill out with recent converts and less-actives. This week, we're planning on making the initial visits about the family history and then we'll commit them to keep on it and not stop. Every month, the ward goes to the temple, so we can use that as motivation for them. This month, the ward went and actually, one of the ward members took 2 names to the temple and did all the work for them. I think the ward is doing better than we've been thinking. It just takes time to show the results.

I'll be going to the temple the day before I get on the plane (22nd of June) so I'll go to the temple with Edward I. Johnson here in Teguc. I hope he doesn't have to fly far in the spirit world to make it here to Teguc on time. ;)

My plans for this week: Work it! I just wanted to let Mom know that I took out all the money of my account to go shopping. So, I still have the money. I don't think I'll need two suitcases actually. Can I give one away??? It's just that, I don't think I'm going to bring very much home.

Mom, can you send a list of things you for sure want me to bring home? That would help me a ton! :D Also, I still have the oils from Elder Rigby. There is an Hermana in the mission that is very allergic to deet and I was wondering if I could give the oils to Hermana Oldroyd so that she can manage them and give them to people that have allergies as well? I used them in the south but when I went to Teguc, I stopped using them. Here in Danlí, I've used OFF but in lesser portions and I've been fine. I think I used OFF so much at the beginning of the mission that my body started to take on an allergic reaction. Now that I haven't used it for a year and a half, I'm fine to use it but not as much as I did before.
Only 6 of the 10 Americans are going home this transfer. The rest extended another transfer.

Also, about contacting drunk people: I've only every contacted drunken men this once. President didn't tell us to do it, he just shared a story with us that happened to talk about contacting drunk people. He wanted us to learn that: 1)we need to follow the Spirit always, 2) that we need to be creative and try new things. There are many drunk men that I would never contact but the nicer ones are really funny to talk to when they are drunk.

I hope I answered your questions. I got to get going now.

Love,
Elder Tuft

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Service Project, Service Video, Interview with President

Hello Family,

It's hard to know what to write because my mind is flooded with emotions and important things left to do today.

Yesterday, we visited a 16 year-old girl that already has a one-year-old baby. Her name is Keidy and she's super awesome. She didn't want to pray at the end of the lesson but when we taught her, she did it all on her own. We all three prayed actually, and it was neat to feel the Spirit there with us. We taught her about repentance and baptism. She wanted to go to church yesterday as well but told us she slept in until 11am.

We also found a less-active family while contacting the past week. We went and shared a message with them and the husband looked like he was soaking it all in. He looked like he was determined to make a change in his life. Today, we'll go back to visit them and we'll watch the movie, Together Forever, with them.

We also have a psycho investigator named Natzy. The mom, Nancy, had a bar in the house before and so that gives you an idea of how their lifestyle is. Elder Bustillos wanted to go up on their roof to see the surrounding neighborhood and they let us go up. Well, I took a picture of all the garbage they had up there! It was insane! Almost all of the bottles were beer bottles. It was incredible. The other pictures are the after shots of what we did to clean it all up. It was a great change for them. Nevertheless, their hearts still are hardened and didn't come to church this week. They also slept in and turned off their phones. But they were really nice and gave us a little breakfast afterwards.

I also had an interview with President this week for my new temple recommend and I didn't know that the questions changed after going through the temple ordinances but it makes sense. It always makes me smile that the answers I give always start, "yes, yes, yes, yes, yes," and then suddenly, "NO, NO." hahaha because it starts asking about committing crimes and such.

Dad, We wanted to take up your Family History challenge this week, but we came up with nothing mostly because we had to travel to Tegucigalpa for meetings and then have more meetings in Danlí and doing splits. But this week we are going to do it. FOR SURE! 100%!

The temple name that I got from Grandma was Edward I. Johnson. Would you be able to search out his background info so that when I go through the temple, I know who I'm going to accompany there? Thanks :D

In the meeting for just zone leaders this week, President told us a story of some missionaries in his son's old mission that had a lot of success doing new things to find new people. They would contact the drunk men in the street and ask them to take them to someone who would receive us. So that's what we did, just to see how it would work. The idea was that the Spirit would work through them in their drunkened state, to lead us to the chosen ones. So the first pair of drunk men we found, we contacted. One of them told us, "I'll take you to my girlfriend's house!" and then added as an afterthought, "What do we do with the rest of the beer?" Elder Bustillos asked, "Can I chuck it?" The first drunk man said "Yes! Throw it far!" But the other drunk man was really sad, really really sad, when Elder Bustillos grabbed the bottle and threw it. It was hilarious. Well, we went to his girlfriend's house and now we are teaching his girlfriend and her mom. Hahahaha It worked! :D They aren't super positive but they learned a lot and were attentive.

Mom, we were carrying pamphlets in those boxes. And I do remember Bro Nachos! (we say Nachos but we know it's Nackos.) Thanks for your testimony.

Dad, It's been raining here in Danlí so there have been more mosquitoes and so I use a little bug spray but not as much as before. I just apply a lot less and it seems to help.

That's about it for this week. I got to go now.
Love you family!
Elder Tuft

Monday, May 30, 2016

Perseverar hasta el fin




Hello Family,

I'm really enjoying the mission. It's been super tough, but I'm loving it.

Lots of things to write but little time to write so I'll try my very best to cover everything that is needed.

We won't have the baptism this week for Ana Bran because she is working on not drinking coffee and she has to make it to church these next few weeks. She'll get there but we'll have to be patient with her. She couldn't come to church this week because of not sleeping at all during the night. Her baby boy doesn't sleep at night because it's so hot inside her house. So she was exhausted and wasn't in very good condition to go to church.

I wanted to thank you, (along with that man, Herold Pierre, that you met at the Payson temple) for what you've taught me all my life. You are a great Mom. I always am amazed by the great blessing I have to be a part of a wonderful family with wonderful parents that love me.

Dad, I'm doing excellent today. We went to the cascades here in Danlí again and I loved it more this time because we hiked all the way up the mountain and took a few pictures. I've attached a few pictures from our adventures. I hope you can imagine being on top of the tropical mountain with me eating lunch like we've always done every summer.

There is a Pizza Hut here in Danlí. Honduras has rich people and then there's a big gap and all the people that live farther away from the main roads are dramatically poorer. In fact, we went again today and I like Pizza Hut here a lot but I think it's always better back home. The Oldroyd's are the only other couple here in the mission with us. Elder Oldroyd is in charge of housing and Hermana Oldroyd is the perfect nurse for the whole mission. I love them a lot. They remind me of you and Mom. Hermana Oldroyd pulled a "Mom" the other day when we went to the office. She pulled out a jelly belly bean game and we spun a spinner to decide which bean to eat but the difference was that there were bad tasting beans and good ones so there was always a 50/50 chance of eating a bad bean.

I'll take you up on the challenge for Family History. I just wanted to let you know that I forgot to look at the temple name I have to tell you who it is but I'll send it next week for sure!

I'd love to play Greed in Oregon. Just saying that if we can, I'd love to play that one with the family. Also, I'd like to learn how to play Nertz (or Charlie like Grandma says) again.

Thanks for the great poem. I'm going to print it off. I hope Kaleb enjoys the mission. It's too bad that I won't see him for 4 years now... yikes that's a long time.

Love you family SUPER DUPER! AND LET'S PLAY DRESS-UPS WITH THE SCOTTISH KILTS! but mine has to be green and red please! And I want to be barefoot on the sand when we take the picture in Oregon! :D I'm stoked. (This was a joke, and we are not wearing kilts for our family pictures.)

Love,
Elder Tuft

Monday, May 23, 2016

Housing Checks, Coming up soon: Baptisms, Family History

Hello Family,

I'm doing fine this week. I little tired but well. We've been working really hard and I've learned a lot.

We went and did housing checks with all the missionaries in our zone, with Elder & Hermana Oldroyd this week. They are funny and great people. I liked spending the day with them. There was only one house that was in bad condition because the Elders hadn't cleaned in at all for a few months. So they are cleaning it today. We went to Pizza Hut with them as a little treat. They were so nice to us and asked us what our plans were after the mission. We started talking about school and we ended up talking about marriage. They gave us a few tips and gave us some great advice.

We had mini-transfers in the zone this week and we are really happy for the changes. A few missionaries were assigned to be the new district leaders or trainers and they really stepped it up. All they needed was the little motivation and trust in themselves and they became better missionaries on their own. God sees us for who we can become and not for who we are.

We have a baptism not this week but on the 4th of June. Her name is Ana Bran. She wanted to be baptized this week but we did the pre-interview and she's not quite ready. Pray for her baby and for her. Her newborn doesn't sleep at night and keeps her up all night long. In the day he sleeps and she can't sleep because her house gets really hot and uncomfortable. So she's draining in energy. She's also a single mom and has two kids.

As far as Family History work goes, they haven't done anything this week with it. They don't have much direction but not because they can't do it but because searching their ancestors is the hardest part for them. I don't have much control over Family History. We'll see if we can talk about doing an activity for Family History and Missionary Work combined.

Talking about Family History work, Grandma gave me a name to go through the temple and do the work for him. I don't have the name right with me right now but I'll send the name to you next week and you can send me a little bit of his story so that I know who I'm going through the temple for.

In the ward right now, we are doing activities every week to help bond the members better and to help them bond to the new members and investigators. It's working really well right now. I hope it keeps going.

I read Section 109 of the D&C this week and it was interesting but I apologize beforehand because I can't remember what I wrote down about it. However, I have always had in the plastic holder for my temple recommend, a little quote which is from D&C 109:13 and I like it a lot. It says: "That all people who shall enter upon the threshold of the Lord's house may feel thy power, and feel constrained to acknowledge that thou hast sanctified it, and that it is thy house, a place of thy holiness."

We had five members from our ward receive their endowment this past week and they've grown so much from the experience. Two of them were sealed as well. They shared their testimonies in Sacrament Meeting this week and the Spirit touched my heart. The temple is beautifully simple and simply beautiful. Because of the way we are taught and the symbolism, the teachings of the temple intrigue the mind of the learned, yet is enriching to the unlearned.

I love being in the temple. I remember that before I came to Honduras, I went very frequently to the temple. I love the temple. I wish I could go more often as a missionary. I feel sad for missionaries who can't go to the temple because there isn't one close by. There is an indescribable feeling of joy and peace and happiness inside, especially for those who take the names of their ancestors to the House of the Lord.

Love you family,
Elder Tuft

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Family week, temples, answers to questions

Hi family and friends,

This week was family week and we had a few activities planned as a ward. Everything turned out great! On Monday we went to a family home evening with the family Tovar and they had invited another family to their home and we shared the movie, "Together Forever" with them. They are a new couple and are thinking about marriage. So Dad, relating to what you commented in your letter, I've found that telling someone that they need to get married isn't a great option. But teaching them correct principles and letting them decide for themselves is always the better option. We are teaching one family right now. It's a couple. They are expecting a baby but aren't married either. I think it would be best to share the movie Together Forever with them, as well. That movie has a great impact on new couples, I have seen. It's a really simple and easy way to share our beliefs and then testify that those principles have brought you happiness and peace.

Running out of time, but I just wanted to say that I LOVE THE TEMPLES! They are truly the "House of the Lord". "I have a family here on Earth. They are so good to me. I want to share my life with them through all eternity. Families can be together forever, through Heavenly Father's plan. I always want to be with my own family. And the Lord has shown me how I can."

Just a quick comment about Daysy. She didn't go to church this week because she went to her mom's house this weekend. Pray for her and for us. God will bless us if we have faith, hope and love.

Mom, talk to Dad about the SLIDER account. I think it was him on Friday that "hacked" my account. If not, just change the password.

I haven't been with a companion that has had Dengue in the transfer that we were companions. Elder Bustillos and I are looking good so far so we hope we don't get Dengue and we can have a healthy transfer.

Dad, Everything has been pretty normal this week. The investigators that came to church are people that members have brought and we haven't taught yet. We will be teaching one of them next Sunday because he lives so far away that he can only come Sundays to church. Good luck in the garden. I look forward to working along side you in the garden. I didn't work a ton in the garden with you before but I feel like I'd like to more.

The family history part of the ward is a little disorganized right now. They just called some new young adults to work as a team to teach the ward about family history. It's not been too productive up til now. We'll see how things go this week. We've been trying to attend their meetings to know how we can help but they haven't had a meeting for a few weeks now that we know of. I'll look into it.

I'll read D&C 109 this week and tell you what I learned and think next week.
Thanks!

Love you all,
Elder Tuft

Monday, May 9, 2016

Poem, Last Transfer period starts this week, Elder Bustillos

Hello Wonderful Family,

Well this past week we have had quite the roller-coaster ride. Elder Bustillos has been a little delicate on the health side of things and I think it's because we are working ourselves really hard. Some mission leaders have told us that if we are not baptizing it is because we don't have enough faith but I'm here to tell you that there are somethings that your faith cannot control and so I don't worry so much about the results as much as I worry about doing my part the best I can and leaving everything in the hands of God.

We have a really positive investigator named Daysy. I think I told you about her last week but she's been really great and doing all the commitments except she hasn't gone to church yet because of the holiday. I hope everything goes well with her.

We did a lot of splits this past week. I told you guys in the phone call but if you didn't understand, I just wanted to clear that up. I think that's the most exciting thing that has happened yet. They are really great.

Elder Bustillos and I went home early yesterday because he was going to throw up and I fell asleep at 8 pm. I slept solid until 6:30 this morning and I was still in my church clothes. I remember nothing... :P I'm pretty sure that I needed that sleep because we've been working super duper hard.

Kyle,
Here's the Robert Frost Poem that I translated:

Nature's first green is gold,
its hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower,
but only for an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
As Eden sank to grief,
so dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

La primavera, oro ha de ser,
color que no se sabe mantener.
Su hoja fina es el flor.
Tiempo es su cobrador.
Hojas se envejecen.
Así se puso en Edén,
como el sol obedece.
Jamas el oro permanece.

That's the best I could translate the poem and still retain the rhythm. Hope you can make it better.

There's not much more to say but I love you all! Have a great week!

I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. He is God's Only Begotten Son. They both love us so much and that's why we are serving missions: to bring to pass the imortality and eternal life of man. The Book of Mormon is true and it stands as its own witness. Anyone can read it and ask God with real intent and receive an answer by the power of the Holy Ghost. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Tuft

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

New Investigators, answering questions, and Skype

"A picture Elder Bustillos took of me a week ago. I love climbing trees but this will be the first and last tree climbed in missionary clothes."
Hi Family,

This week was a great week for us. We didn't find many new investigators but the ones we did find are really great. It was interesting to see that, in the stats for our zone this past week, those who contacted less had more new investigators and those who contacted more had less new investigators. We're still investigating the matter...a little curious.

One of the new investigators that we are teaching is SUPER cool! We found her when we talked to an old lady (her grandma) in the street and the old lady told us she wasn't interested in listening to us because she always goes to another church. We asked her if she knew anyone who would be interested in listening to our message and she shouted and pointed at a young lady (her grand-daughter) and said, "She doesn't go to any church and would be happy to listen to you." So we set up an appointment and this week we visited her for the first time. We taught her the Restoration and she had already read the pamphlet of the Restoration that we gave her. It was really easy to teach her. While reciting the First Vision to her, she was very attentive and quiet. After, no one wanted to move or breathe because we felt the Spirit so strong. When she finally reacted after a few moments in silence, she said, "How neat would that be to talk to God!" And we told her, "You can!" And so she said she would talk with God in prayer and confirm the truthfulness of our message. She was going to go to church but something happened and she couldn't come. We are hoping and praying so much that she can make the right steps towards baptism. We left the discussion with a new energy that night. :D

We also went to a baptism that other missionaries had. We sang "A Child's Prayer" to the sister that got baptized. The Spirit was really strong there as well. The family members were all crying as the sister (Patricia) gave her testimony after the baptism. It was quite the emotional day for them, and for us missionaries.

Now, lots of questions to answer. I'll try to answer all the "loose ends" that I've left undone.

I've been back to full strength for a while now after dengue and we've been working really hard.

For my birthday this past week, a few people wanted to smash eggs on my head and throw me in the tubs (the pilas) full of water. That's what they do here in Honduras. But I'm happy to say that I've escaped two birthday's now without those birthday surprises happening. I didn't tell any members of my birthday until after the 26th and then justified myself by saying that the 26th had already passed and that it wouldn't be right to celebrate my birthday on another day.

Dad, we had a change in the stake presidency and the whole attitude of the stake has changed. There are usually things that aren't 'perfect' about the meetings on Sunday (or any other church meetings) but it's gotten a lot better in a very short amount of time. My first few Sundays here in Danlí were a little difficult for me because I wondered what church I had wandered into. But it's gotten better I'm happy to say. We don't have a ward mission leader anymore because the stake leaders released him from that calling and gave him a stake calling as a High Councilor, visiting our ward still. So we still see him a lot but it's not the same as when he was the ward mission leader. He's a great guy and has touched my heart because of his sincerity, hard work ethic, spiritual power, and humility. He's making differences in the lives of many. He truly magnifies his calling.

I haven't heard much more about Stuard still. I always ask about him but he's still in the process of his mission papers.

I read the thoughts you shared about the talk from Elder Bednar and I liked it. I wish that all the missionaries in this zone could comprehend that obedience for love and not by force will always bring us more blessings and spiritual power. There are some who struggle in that aspect.

We still haven't gotten the conference addresses. We are anxiously waiting for them. "I WILL GO AND DO!"

Mom, I'm not in Paraíso but the first counselor in our ward bishopric is named Nery.

May Day is the day that I got Baptized! :D

There was a storm here that kicked the power out for a few hours but we're back to normal from that storm. I like the temperature that we enjoyed this morning. It was cool but not cold. It was just perfect.

I haven't been using the rain boots because people here look at me like a weirdy, but I have used the umbrella, and the rain coat on occasion.

Enjoy the electronics Lindsay! I never had them up until Kyle came back from his mission and even then I was begging mom for an iPod. JUST. AN. IPOD. Not even an iPhone or anything! Use them wisely. I dislike it when I'm talking to someone and they are texting on their phone or otherwise ignoring me basically. It happens a lot when you're a missionary.

SKYPE: 3 or 4 o'clock is fine with us. We don't have many members with internet and Skyping capabilities in our ward but we'll see what we can do.

Love you all! I hope I answered all your questions!
Spencer James

PS I've gone over the time hour limit of my time to write. But don't worry if I don't answer all your questions in the future. It's really not a lot of time to read and write you guys.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Lots of birthday wishes - Thanks everyone!

Hi Mom and Dad,

Yay for 20 years, 7305 days, or 631138519 seconds of the life of Spencer James! Thanks for all the Birthday wishes.

Happy Birthday to Jess and Ian!

I'm glad to hear that everything has gone really well for the family and friends.

This week we contacted a ton! :D It was great and we found 9 new investigators and many more pending new investigators. I pray that someone will get baptized in this wonderful ward. And I hope it's a dude (&/or family too) because there are too many women in this ward, but not many Priesthood holders.

The Sacrament meeting was super great this week and also the classes. It was really great because I could feel the Spirit so strongly. I'm so grateful for great, true, spiritual leaders here in Danlí. I have witnessed and I know that God has called and is actively working through the Stake and Ward leaders here in Danlí Stake.

I've got to go and I'm sorry for not writing more. I got a lot of birthday wishes this week, so thanks to everyone :D Did you put it on FB, Mom? :)

Love,
Elder Tuft

Monday, April 18, 2016

Investigators, zone, answering mom/dad's questions (YEA!)

Hi Mom and Dad,

There's nothing really new this week from Honduras. It's been hard to find new people to teach. We did find a really awesome less-active sister, and one new investigator. The less-active's name is Heici (said hey-sie). She was the young women's president in Tegucigalpa but she moved to Danlí because it's a lot safer from the gangs because she's a single mom. She went to church a few times here but no one really knew who she was and didn't talk to her much. But she's going to go this next week.

The new investigator is called Angeli. She's just 13 years old but she's super self-motivated and has the support of her mom but not her stepdad. She's gone to church twice now. It's hard to teach her though because she's hyper-active (she gets distracted very easily) and it's difficult to teach something that she'll understand. So we teach her with members or other investigators now and she seems to pick up more that way. But she loves the church and wants to get baptized the 5th of May. She even picked her baptismal date!

Now to answer your questions:
Dad- This week has been great and I've been super tired... Elder Bustillos as well. We both have been really tired. This week it was interesting to note something with Elder Bustillos and myself--- I was trying to prepare to leave the house after lunch and I still had to brush my teeth and he tells me, "Let's go!" and so I responded, "I'm brushing my teeth." He was a little impatient with me but we finally left the house. Later in the week, he was contacting a little too long and we were late to an appointment and while he was writing down someone's information after talking with them, I told him, "Elder, we're late. Let's go!" and he responded (without meaning to) in the same tone that had I responded to his impatience earlier in the week: "I'm writing," he said. So I learned that we are a lot a like and sometimes that's good and sometimes that's bad. I'm learning to have more patience with myself and with Elder Bustillos.

I couldn't print Elder Bednar's talk last week because we were late but I'm going to print it in just a minute.

We haven't heard anything about a program titled "My Plan" yet. I'll ask President about it.

Our zone has the most baptisms for the month so far, Yay! Buuuut that's a bad thing because our zone only has three baptisms soooooo I think it's been rough for all Honduras Tegucigalpa Mission this month. Like you said, we have to just keep plugging away.

The Zone is doing better and we're much happier, I feel. We have some issues in how missionaries are teaching (like teaching robot lessons or the same lessons over and over and over again to all the investigators) but they're trying to be obedient and I'm confident that we're heading in the right direction.

Splits are pretty cool but we haven't done any since I've been sick. We're thinking about doing splits this week with one of the district leaders but we don't know which one yet. We're still thinking about it.

They do have donuts but they don't come from Reams or Krispy Kream. They are homemade generally. In Teguc they have Pricemart donuts which are really good.

Mom- Yay for not having more dengue! :D Thank you for your prayers for Dirian! She needs this!

I haven't been informed of flight plans yet. That's weird that Elder Jones already has his. Maybe he shortened his mission... I don't know. I haven't gotten flight plans yet. (Spencer is set to come in June 23 in the evening, but I found out from another Mom up the street who has a son who left the same day.)

I open my mouth more than 100 times every week in daylight, Thanks! :D And why did they not ask me first before they signed me up for a talk in church??? jk ;-D (Spencer will be speaking in church on July 10 at 11 am.)

Kristen did write me about Jazmin and I think that's such a cool experience! I'm super happy for her and Jazmin.

Too many weddings going on! Wow!

Have a great week mom! Love you :D
Elder Tuft

Monday, April 11, 2016

Dengue has passed, Dirian, Contacting

Hello Family,

This week I'm feeling a lot better! I'm thinking more clearly, as well. It was a little difficult with dengue because I felt like the negative thoughts were a lot more present. It was ugly... but doing great! I didn't have pain in my body at all. Since we couldn't go out last week, we were preaching the gospel from our balcony area and we called old investigators and talked to them over the phone. We were in our house but not off-duty. Everyone looked at me and said, "You have dengue???" because I didn't feel the effects of dengue nearly as strong this time around. All the little kids have had the same thing this week and it's frustrating to see that the parents think that taking them to get a non-professional massage will fix everything. That's what they do here if you're sick! They tell you that you are empachado or "stopped-up" or "plugged in your gut" and then you go to the massage therapist that has no licensed degree or study or education and supposedly that does the trick! Well, it doesn't. Superstitions are very real here.

Dirian is doing great. Her DVD player didn't work and so we watched The Restoration (20 min version) and she said that it cleared up a lot of questions she had (but didn't tell us what questions it cleared up). We're going to try to watch How Rare a Possession next time. We asked about what her dad thought or said the last time that he came and we were teaching her. She told us that he scolded her for listening to false doctrines but she told us that she doesn't see what's so wrong about listening to us. It's going to be fun getting permission for her baptism... :D

The rest of this week was contacting like crazy. And we've found a lot of potential investigators. Elder Bustillos and I always say to each other, "I fear no man!" and we go for it, trying to find all the people that are ready to hear us and follow God's voice. Los míos me escuchan y siguen en pos de mí.
"Mine listen to me and follow after me."

Thank you for all your prayers. It's not been easy these past few weeks without baptisms. Sometimes it's our turn to find, other times it's our turn to teach, and other times to baptize. Everything will run it's own course like the rivers that run freely around all obstacles. Elder Bustillos and I continue to practice how to do a baptism so that we'll be ready when the day arrives to baptize. :)

Love you all
Elder Tuft

Kristen,
Thanks for your letter. I stopped writing in my journal while I was sick and now I've gotta keep it up.

Dad,

I'm going to print off the talk you told me about and study it this week. I'm studying a lot about the Pearl of Great Price right now and I'm in the middle of Abraham already. It's super cool when you have a study manual on the side of the scriptures to help understand what the verses are saying.

Mom,
LOVE YOU! I think I answered all your questions in the letter but if not just send me a quick note for next week about what I left out.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Dengue update, Elder Bustillos, Conference?

Sunday afternoon, Sister Bowler (who is Spencer's mission president's wife) called and told us that he has dengue fever for a third time. They are monitoring him now, and have been out two years and haven't ever had a missionary with it a third time. Spencer is allergic to the OFF bug spray, and uses alternative methods but because there really aren't very many mosquitoes right now, he may have slacked off using the other methods too. She said he is tolerating this well and President Bowler just missed Conference and drove 4 1/2 hours to get him and his companion and drive them back to the mission home. IF needs be, he is also nearby the really good hospital. Yesterday, there was even talk that if this became worse, they could hospitalize him, and then send him home when well enough to travel. They do not want him to get this AGAIN, a fourth time. It is up to the Area Medical people, which they are required to report it to. Of course they take in to account what the President's recommendations are, and also the nurse in the mission. Right now, he looks really good, and I'll try and add a couple pictures Sister Bowler sent me yesterday. PLEASE CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR HIM to recover, be able to finish his mission the end of June, and that he won't have life-long complications that could come from this illness. THANKS to all who are and have been! Then this afternoon Sister Bowler texted me his blood counts: His WBC is improved at 5.3 and is back in the normal range. His PLT improved to 150, from 130, which is barely in the normal range. His HTC shows that he is dehydrated, so I will keep him here to monitor his water intake!! We will test him tomorrow, just to be sure his PLT's are headed in the right direction. He's doing great. (Your prayers are working!) She also said this is the first time she's ever seen platelets go up before Day 5. The Dengue test can't be taken until Day 5. 

Hello Family,

I'm doing really great actually. I didn't know I even had Dengue... it's still not definite until we test for it tomorrow. I hope that I don't have Dengue. Elder Bustillos gave me a blessing and I know that without that blessing, I'd still be struggling through this third time with Dengue. It's a puzzle really. No one knows why I'm doing so well for not having a great blood count. President saw me and said, "You look great Elder Tuft! Are you really sick?" Hermana Bowler said the same thing. I haven't had a fever since the first night. I just feel tired and a little weak but I'm not one of those who likes to be in bed or sitting down doing nothing. It's a challenge to get myself to lay down and go to sleep. I didn't get to see the Conference sessions on Sunday and Saturday night Priesthood was a little hard for me to concentrate a lot on the talks. It all was a blur to me. I'll have to read all the talks again because I couldn't focus well. I'm glad a went though.
 
Mom/Pam has included this for those wondering what Dengue is:  Dengue fever is a severe, flu-like illness that affects infants, young children and adults, but seldom causes death. Dengue should be suspected when a high fever (40°C/104°F) is accompanied by 2 of the following symptoms: severe headache, brain fog, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands or rash. Symptoms usually last for 2–7 days, after an incubation period of 4–10 days after the bite from an infected mosquito. Severe dengue is a potentially deadly complication due to plasma leaking (hemorrhaging), fluid accumulation, respiratory distress, severe bleeding, or organ impairment. Warning signs occur 3–7 days after the first symptoms in conjunction with a decrease in temperature (below 38°C/100°F) and include: severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, rapid breathing, bleeding gums, fatigue, restlessness and blood in vomit. The next 24–48 hours of the critical stage can be lethal; proper medical care is needed to avoid complications and risk of death.

And if you're still wanting to know more, another site has this: 
Those who become infected with the virus a second time are at a significantly greater risk of developing severe disease. Symptoms are high fever, rash, and muscle and joint pain. In severe cases there is serious bleeding and shock, which can be life threatening.  Treatment includes fluids through IV rehydration and pain-relievers. Severe cases require hospital care. There are 4 distinct, but closely related, serotypes of the virus that cause dengue (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4). Recovery from infection by one provides lifelong immunity against that particular serotype. However, cross-immunity to the other serotypes after recovery is only partial and temporary. Subsequent infections by other serotypes increase the risk of developing severe dengue.

Back to Spencer's letter:
On Saturday in between the Afternoon and Priesthood Sessions, we visited Dirian, an investigator that is looking really positive. The lesson went well and then her dad came to pick Dirian up to go home after work and we sensed he wasn't happy that we were teaching his daughter. We are going to show her a video of the Book of Mormon: How Rare a Possession. We believe that it will help her a lot because it helps give a great example of a man who changes from being a Pastor to being excommunicated from his church because he believed in a book without a title (it was the book of Mormon). I hope it'll help her have the motivation to make the right choice. 

Elder Bustillos is from Chihuahua, Mexico. His dad is Catholic and his mom is LDS. His dad told him this last Christmas that he would stop drinking and change and be baptized when Elder Bustillos got home. He loves music as well and plays the guitar. Before the mission he was in a band. He's super relaxed and well motivated. He works hard and efficiently. The other night, I was talking with the District Leaders and he stands up next to me and starts making strange movements. I looked at him and then did a double-take and realized he was practicing submerging someone below the water and practicing the baptismal prayer. I starting busting up but we're confident that we will baptize this month-she seems golden.

I'm getting tired and when I get tired, Hermana Bowler said I need to go home and sleep. (He's staying down the street at the Elders' apartment who are in the area of the Mission Home.) But I hope you get better, Mom, and Dad I hope you enjoy the break this week. I love my family more than anyone could imagine.

Love, 
Spencer James

PS Mom Hermana Bowler will get the test results today in just a few minutes and we'll see if my white cell blood count went up or down again. She'll let you know as soon as she gets the results back. Yes, I think I'll "die" with Elder Bustillos as my companion ... ;D (Meaning Elder Bustillos will be his last companion & send him home.)

PSS I haven't sent pictures for a while because they are so darn hard to upload and send. They take up so much time on slow internet connections. I didn't see Ian in conference... I couldn't concentrate very well that day.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Easter Week, Missionary Changes, Pday

Hello Mom and Dad and Family,

I love you all so much and I always wish the best for you all. I hope you recover Mom and Dad.

This week was the famous Semana Santa. Their weren't a lot of people here in Danlí.  But we did find a few potential new investigators that are really positive.

Estefany, Cleymer's daughter, got permission to go to church yesterday and she LOVED it!!! All the teachers were really impressed with her intelligent and great answers. She said she learned about the prophets and the Holy Ghost and that she can "listen" to the Spirit in her heart. She says she'd be going to church the next week as well and try to convince Cleymer to go as well. Cleymer just needs to humble herself and repent of her sins so that she'll feel okay and comfortable to go to church.

Fun experience this week: Elder Guillen and I were walking down a hill and he looks at me and says, "It reeks of less-actives..." And I said, pointing to a mother and her small family at the bottom of the hill, "It's them." We drew close to them and received the courage to talk to them and they told us, "We're members but we haven't gone to church for 7 years." And Elder Guillen looks at me and I look at him and we just start busting up laughing that we "smelled them out". Hahahaha! 

I have repeatedly felt that as Elder Guillen and I have grown closer, we have also been able to read each others minds and feelings really quickly and easily. We've also been able to teach with a great unity between us and the Spirit. I have felt more impressions of the Spirit with Elder Guillen than with any other companion, I believe.

My new companion will be Elder Bustillos. Elder Guillen will be going to the Travesía (Where I just came from) and he's going to love it! The changes will take place tomorrow at noon our time. I'll be staying here in Danlí to work with Elder Briones (DL) while Elder Bustillos comes back on the bus.

Since my first day here in the area, I've seen a lot of personal growth in each of the members and my perspective of their problems and what I can do to help has been cleared up. I feel more in tune with them and focused on what's truly important, BAPTIZE! I'm hoping to see 3 baptisms these next changes. 

Cool insights from The Pearl of Great Price: Eve was not literally made from the rib of Adam and when it mentions that we are created from the dust of the earth, it refers to the natural elements and not literally dust as in dirt. Also, when the Gods separated the water from the water, in Genesis, it says firmament; in the PofGP it says "expansion". I was thinking about what an expansion is and it occurred to me, "God is expanding his kingdom and so he had to separate some of the waters in heaven from the waters in the earth (or in other words, outside of the heavens).

Brigham Young also said that Joseph Smith was one of the "Gods" to create the earth just like Adam or Abraham. He asked his audience, "and why not Joseph Smith?" referring to him as one of the elect creators of the earth or the Gods.

Just a few things I read this week.

Pday was great today! We hiked to a waterfall and played soccer nearby on the property of a nearby villager. It was a cool hike and I really enjoyed it.

Love you all,

Elder Tuft

Thanks Mom and Dad for all your support! You are my heroes! Oh and Mom, I found all the money I took out of the bank a month or so ago. It was stashed in a book on my desk and I found it while reading the book. So it turns out that I never even used it. 
And please take some cookies to Sister Eldon for me. She gave me $50 in a letter she sent so that Elder Guillen and I could enjoy some ice cream and subway sandwiches. I also want to buy Elder Guillen a new shirt because his are all ripped up. Play some cards or something with her because I want her to know that if I was there, I would spend some time just helping and talking to her.

You're the bestests!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Meeting with new Stake Presidency, New Investigators

Hello Mom and Dad,

The electricity went out for a while so this will be a short one but I'll print off your letters and read them more carefully this week.

We've found quite a few new investigators and we are really optimistic about them. One is a family, Carlos and Carmen. We explained to them the Plan of Salvation and we had passed the part about Adam and Eve and all of the sudden, we see Carlos thinking really hard, and shortly after, he smiled and said, "So it was God's plan to have Adam and Eve fall?" and we could see the gears turning in his head. He's really funny that way. He captures everything but really slowly comes to realize what it all means to him and then he'll react suddenly in a positive way :D. His wife is a little more doubtful. She always asks us for scriptures in the Bible, and that helps, but we'll see how it goes with them this week.

I wanted to share a poem that I found from when I was in 9th grade:

Nature's first green is gold,
it's hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower,
but only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
As Eden sank to grief,
so dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

I really liked that poem and I found it in my journal for some reason that I don't remember. It's a great poem about Adam and Eve, as well. I've been working on the translation for Spanish but it's difficult. I've almost got it.

This week, Elder Guillen and I went on splits with some Elders in the zone and I was reminded a lot about starting the mission because I went with a new missionary from the companionship. It was a good reminder about patience and my own process of learning. He also taught me that simplicity is key :D.

Love you all!
Elder Tuft

Monday, March 14, 2016

Investigators and more...

Hello Family,

Sometimes I look back on the week and I don't know how to start my letter to all of you. I'll try my best.

This week we had 47 lessons with investigators and I think 15 of those we did in one day :D. We also met our goal of 15 lessons to retain members. :D I was happy with that. We just keep moving along.

Our zone has responded finally and our prayers have been answered! We've seen them working hard, and they've realized that it's important to be obedient. President Bowler once said, "Obedience with exactness doesn't exist. We either are obeying or we are not." I liked that thought a lot. Can we say that we are obedient if we disobey the little things?

"Cley" has been having issues accepting the doctrine that God the Father and Jesus Christ are two people but it's not because we haven't taught it well, but it's because she's scared, I think, that the answer will be the one she doesn't want. So we have her reading the Book of Mormon and praying. She told us that one night, she couldn't stop thinking about us. She couldn't forget the promises and the testimonies that we had left with her and the Spirit whispered to her repeatedly that she needed to act on what we said. That night, she dreamed that someone told her, "The Mormons are right." She told us that story but she still wasn't convinced. Some point in the lesson I asked her, "Cley, if you come to know that these things are true..." and she interrupted me to say, "I know what you're going to say and the answer is yes IF I know it's true."

It was a cool lesson. They haven't gone to church yet, but we're hoping that this Sunday they'll go.

"H" and Nefi weren't there this week and "H" hasn't answered her phone or called us back. Keep her in your prayers please!

"M" (I don't remember if I've told you about her) has had a headache for the past few days and they don't know why. Keep her in your prayers, as well. We haven't actually seen her because she's been in her room in bed and so we asked if we could sing her a hymn, her sister (who's a member) just looked at us and briefly explained that she wasn't very decent in the moment. Her brother, R answered the door the last time we visited and when we asked for R, he gave us a look and I looked at my companion and said, "He thinks we're hypocrites for not asking how his day has been and because we've only been visiting them recently to talk to M and not to talk with him." I looked at R and asked if it wasn't true what I read from his facial expression and he was really surprised but said yes. Elder Guillen looked at me and asked, "So what am I thinking right now." And I reluctantly told him he shouldn't ask for signs. He was really surprised, as well because that what he was thinking.

Well, to finish things up about M, she has a baptismal date for the 9th of April but we're already seeing Satan trying to dissuade her from making that choice and he's keeping her so busy that she forgets to read the Book of Mormon and pray. We all do that sometimes, don't we? We're too busy doing good things, but then we don't do the things that really matter the most eternally.

E told us that she didn't want to go to church this week but she's reading the Book of Mormon and praying... maybe not as sincerely as she should but we're praying that she will do it for the right reasons and not just go through the motions. We don't like teaching while the dad, R, is there because he talks a lot about stupid things and he's proud and thinks he knows more that two young men. Please pray that we can remember him in our prayers (because we sometimes forget) and have an opportunity to serve R this week. We have a lot to do in these next few weeks.

From the first day in this area until now, I feel like we've made progress and I'm happy about that.

Have a wonderful day today family and HAPPY BIRTHDAY KRISTEN! After I left the computer last week, I remembered IT'S KRISTEN'S BIRTHDAY THIS WEEK! I felt so bad all week long but I didn't forget :D

Mom, can you tell Sister Eldon that she's the most wonderful 3rd grandma I could have! She sent me money to buy something I needed and she always sends me the ward newsletters. I love reading them every month.

You can put me in that apartment Mom. I said a small prayer right now and I feel that it's right. And $200 is alright - thanks. I'm trying to remember all the things that we did with that money previously, but I think it was just because we bought better food than rice and beans and eggs last month and I think we bought cleaning supplies to clean the house. It was super dirty...

I didn't get sick this last week either from the chilaquil :D

Dad, we're still in the same apartment. We sing a lot but this week we've talked so much that we've had raspy throats at the end of a few days. Elder Guillen loves singing. I don't know about S still. E's dad, I think, would give her permission if she wanted to be baptized. We'll talk to Cley about what she wants. This week we kind of did that and she wants to go to the USA and leave her kids with her sister. I feel like she wants to run away from responsibility and her problems. She also needs to find work but there is NO work here in Honduras if you are middle class.

I learned that the condescension of God, that Nephi talks about, refers not only to the condescension of the Son but also of the Father.

Got to go! But I could say more :D
Love Spencer!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Conferences with Elder Alonso, Divisions, Investigators

Hello Fantastic Four (and the rest of the family that aren't living at home) :D

It was a great week this week. I've been doing well health-wise but I'm wondering about the chilaquil that I ate for lunch today... hahaha I'll survive :D Everything is well in Honduras.

This week we had a special conference with Elder Alonso.  We were excited to learn more about opening our mouths more to find more people to teach. Elder Guillen and I will be singing more to soften the hearts of the people in order to teach them, and hopefully, they can feel the Spirit and invite us to come back.

The surprise investigator last week accepted our invitation to listen to the missionary discussions and she had a friend there when we went. Her name is Helen and the friend's name is Nefi. But Nefi isn't a member and neither are his parents. He doesn't know why his name is Nefi but he's interested in learning about who Nefi is. :D

We also had some normal divisions with the AP's. We had a normal day and worked hard. We had been contacting for two hours and had a lot of rejections and so I wanted to say a little prayer with Elder Padilla (AP) but then someone interrupted us and we got a phone call, etc, and forgot to say the prayer. I just learned that when things aren't working, stop doing them and do something different. If we keep doing the same thing then we'll keep getting the same outcome.

Erika C. is doing alright. She didn't like the conference last week and so she said she didn't want to go this week either. Next Sunday she wants to go because we won't be in a stake conference and it'll be more interesting. Her dad basically told us that we talked to much about the new prophets and the Book of Mormon than about the Apostles and the Bible. I told him to hold his horses and relax and that we hadn't talked about anything else because they hadn't understood the basics and so we couldn't teach him the other. He told us, "You're saints of the latter-days, so you guys think your holy or something?" To which we responded, "Have you read the Bible?" He said he hadn't. "Would you take some time this week to read the letters of Paul that are found in the New Testament. We promise you'll understand why we are saints of the latter-days if you study those on your own." We are hoping that he will do something of his own free will instead of ask us interrogating questions before we return. We also hope to find Erika and her mom at home so we can visit with just them briefly.

Cleymer is doing alright as well. She doesn't want to pray with us because she feels shy and she always promises that she will the next time, but never does. While we visited her this week, we asked her how she was and she said, "Bad. I've tried to be good for so long that I'm going to be a bad-girl now. It's easier to be bad than good." We sensed that there was something that had happened because she's not usually like that and we found out that some people had done some bad things to her and so she felt that it wasn't worth it to be good. She felt like bad people always get what they want and she wants to be bad to get what she wants too. So we said a prayer with her and sang a song and everything just calmed down. Then her daughter (Estefany) says, "Mom, you need to say the prayer. You never say the prayer and you lie to the missionaries." In the end she promised to practice saying prayers and we're going to call her today to remind her to practice and tomorrow, she's doing the first prayer before the lesson.

We also found a new apartment but we want to get it approved. It's close to where we are currently and it's bigger. However, it's humble and humble is good.

I just wanted you guys to check the bank account and see if you could put more in money, in case of another emergency or to buy little gifts for you all before I come home. Just a little something.

Dad, President just told me to Open the Mouth more. I'm trying, and changing things EVERY day to be able to Open the Mouth but nothing ever goes exactly as planned. We're working on it.

Elder Guillen is really great. I woke up this morning with a crick in my neck and he massaged most of it out of me. I feel better thanks to him.

Stuard is doing great and I'll be asking for permission to go to the temple with him as soon as he submits his papers and sets a date to go. I'm really excited.

Love, Spencer James

Monday, February 29, 2016

Hello Family,

This week I have a lot to write, so I hope to get through it all.

We had stake conference and I saw a million people from my time in La Conce, Danlí. That was super awesome. Stuard, that I baptized, is turning in his papers to go on a mission and he asked me to be his escort through the temple! :D I just need to ask President if that's alright and... I'M SO HAPPY FOR HIM! :D I also saw a less-active woman that we contacted, by accident, in La Conce a year ago and she is going to church now (she never went while I was there). I saw Maria and Mia, that got baptized after I left La Conce. They are super active in the church and I think it's thanks to them that the less-active woman, Carolina is going back to church.

The stake conference was really awesome! I got to see who the new stake presidency was. All the counsel, advice and everything they said was soooo precise! They talked a lot about protecting the children because 85% of LDS primary children in Honduras (or Latin America... I don't remember) don't go through the temple or go on missions and/or become less active. They also talked about Lehi's dream. I was so happy to hear that because Elder Guillén and I have been teaching Lehi's dream this week a lot. It was a good preparation to all those who we taught and then went to the stake conference and heard it again.

I'm reading the Book of Mormon again with Kristen and Ian, and I've been reading it with a study manual and it is really interesting to know that the Brass Plates contained the same stuff as the bible and much more. (1 Nephi 13? - I think that's the chapter that I read)

We cleaned the house again today... I hate hard water stains!!!

This week, Erica C. went to church and her friend brought her. We didn't have to do much. She made a comment afterward about baptisms for the dead and thinking that it was satanic. We've got that one in the bag when we show her our family history tree and all the stories, as well as the Plan of Salvation. I'm really excited for that lesson coming up this week.

We also had a surprise investigator show up at stake conference with her friends, and again when we went to eat at a member's house afterward, she was there. When the time was right, I asked her if we could teach her the missionary lessons and she said, "What time?" I looked at the member's face and she dropped her jaw... :D It was a great moment. We'll see what happens in the appointment we set up.

Have a great week. :D
Love,
Spencer

PS - If you could look at the bank account again, I took out the money you sent and I used a bit but I still have over 600L of it left over. The mission didn't send us money so I had to take out money for me and my companion and then he paid me back.
PSS - I got a package with a Christmas tree in it that you sent me forever ago (early November). It came finally. :D
PSSS - And Happy Leap Day!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Two weeks in ONE today!

Valentine's Day, Miracles, New House?
15 February 2016 (Didn't send because the LDS server was down last week so almost NO ONE got emails from their missionaries all over the world.)
Hello Beautiful Family,

I'm super happy to see all your shining faces in the pictures you sent. Kyle, there's a forest on your face... :D I hope Jess likes forests in the winter season.

Thank you for all you've done for me and for the people that you are. This week was interesting... actually every week in Honduras is a little that way. You never know what to expect.

This week, God showed me that He puts His mighty hand between me and danger (for some missionaries, they haven't always had that same blessing). So we were walking home this week at 9 pm and I saw a teenager that was covering his eye, and my first thought was, "I hope he's okay." So I said hello and smiled to help cheer him up. We kept walking and he turned around and asked for two lempiras (probably to buy a cigarette) and we told him no. Then another teenager started running at us from behind. I turned around and when he saw that we had seen him, he stopped walking and we walked faster. When he was out of sight, we went home. Elder Guillen chastised me and told me, "Never say hello to a stranger at night. Those two teenagers could've robbed us." I didn't argue because they could've, but I trust that Heavenly Father protects me. I don't think he will allow something to happen to me if he doesn't want it to happen. Trust is greater than fear.

We haven't had a very good week for finding people that are ready to be baptized but we have felt the Holy Ghost and we know that God has been guiding us to help specific people. We are laying the foundations of a more perfect work and since day one I have felt that I was needed here to improve the atmosphere. The goal is always conversion and baptism but I think the ward needs some help before the community will naturally feel drawn to the righteousness of the Saints.

A lot of changes in the next few weeks to come. We had found a house before but they wanted 5000 lempiras and we said we'd talk and call them back. We didn't call cause it was so expensive and we felt bad to tell them no. So we said many prayers for finding a new house and then we found the owners of the 5000L house in the street and we told them why we hadn't called. So they said they'd rent the main part of the house to us for 3000L and I was so excited that I almost said yes on the spot but I still have to talk to my companion more and pray before we make a decision.

Elder Guillen and I always sing in the lessons and I have felt the Spirit more. What shoos the Spirit away are distractions and also because I occasionally dominate instead of sharing the time with my companion. But I'm working on it. It's just a bad habit that I got when I wasn't with Elder Reinoso for 2-3 weeks straight. PS Elder Reinoso is all better now. It's a bit strange but okay.

Rachel won't get baptized this week I think but we'll try again. The mom, Johana, wasn't there and then Johana and Rachel didn't go to church this week. They promised next week they would. We still need to teach the lessons to Rachel and teach her more frequently.

The zone here is a bit rebellious but they've improved a little since last week. This past month, we've only had three baptisms, between 22 missionaries. That's a little saddening but I hope we all can  make changes for good this week. I hope that I could transfer all the information and experience that I have, and put it on a hard drive and uploaded to the brains of the new missionaries. They just act like little kids though, immature. (I wonder if the former missionaries would have said that about his 30+ who came to the mission at the same time 20 months ago?)

We did a lot of service projects on Saturday (washed a vicious dog, cleaned corn, lifted heavy objects) but we hope that by loving and serving, we can be an influence for good in the ward.

Love you all,
Elder Tuft

Mom, Keep up the hard missionary labors! If we bring but one soul back to God, how great will our joy be in heaven! Follow the influence of the Holy Ghost and pray fervently like you've always done. :D Love you to the sun and back.

You can enter into my FB and send me a list of friends that want to add me and I'll tell you which ones. They won't be able to add me if I don't accept their request so don't worry about that. :D Thank you.

Dad, Thank you for helping me to see that I'm doing better than I think I am. It's saddening when we need to be an example but even our house is chaos. I feel ashamed to do splits with other missionaries. I feel ashamed to report the daily and weekly stats. It's not that we are doing badly, we are doing really well. We just haven't been able to see the fruits of our labors yet. It's like the tree that hasn't brought forth fruit yet. It takes time. I feel barren without fruits to show the Lord of our labor. It's like coming to him with nothing in your hands when he's commanded us to work and let ourselves be laden with sheaves. But I know that He understands and He will bless us. He will bring forth miracles from small things. We will be diligent and He will be obligated to bless us.
=========================================================================
Stake Conference in Danlí, Contacting, Cleaning the House
22 February 2016 (He sent both of these today)
Hello Family,

Not much has happened this week so I'll try to take a little time at the end to respond to some of this week's family email.

We have Stake Conference this coming week in Danlí Stake. We will be getting a new Stake Presidency and so Elder José L. Alonso from the Area Presidency will be coming with President Bowler, to the Stake conference.

Elder Guillén and I have been contacting every single day this past week. We haven't found a lot of people to teach but we've had a lot of people invite us in. What usually happens is that we teach the restoration and invite them to read, pray, go to church, get baptized, etc. and then they say, "But we already go to a church." So it takes patience but we usually leave a commitment with those that will accept it and then come back to see if they really want to know more. The people here are so nice that they never like to say no. That has some ups and some downs.

I'll give you updates on those that start to progress later on.

Rachel's mom, Johana, said that she's considering letting Rachel get baptized. She said that she would pray about it and we hope that she gets an answer.

We finally have a Ward Mission Leader. He's whipping us back into a team! :D He doesn't live in the ward boundaries (he moved the same weekend that they extended the calling) but he prayed about the calling that the bishop extended him and felt that he should accept for the time being. His name is Jared Masaya.

We cleaned the house a ton today. I've just had the hugest desire to clean everything and do it quickly, even if we are going to move soon. Well, today I learned why I felt that way so strongly. President Alonso is going to visit some of the mission's houses to see if they are clean and adequate. I'm super happy that we cleaned a lot today. That gives us a chance to clean the rest before he comes in March for the check-ups.

Love,
Elder Tuft

Monday, February 8, 2016

Danlí, Elder Guillén, The House

Hola Mi Querida Familia, (Photos to be posted later today or tomorrow.)

I hope all goes well for you this week and that there won't be anymore knife-cutting involved in our daily activities. (hmmm, Kristen) ;D I'm really excited to be serving in Danlí again. I'm serving as ZL still and I'm with Elder Guillén. He's really awesome. He's from Guatemala and came in my group to the mission. The house is messy, dirty, hard to clean, disorganized, and so we are looking for a new house because it's also really small. I wasn't super happy about that. I would feel embarrassed to have any missionaries from my zone in my house for divisions. It's pretty bad. So I cleaned as much as I could while we find a new house. :D Wish us luck!

A little more about Elder Guillén: he loves music and singing, he likes writing poems and songs, he works hard, and is a very kind and loving person. I appreciate his high level of patience and dedication.

We are working hard and have had a lot of connection with the bishopric and the stake presidency this past week. My first day in the area we had a meeting with the stake presidency to coordinate the mission efforts. We are trying to visit all the members' houses in our area this week but the problem is that we share our ward with other missionaries and literally all the leadership positions are filled by people in the other side of the ward (in the area of the other missionaries). But we were successful in talking with a bunch of leaders in church. We are going to plan divisions with the other elders in the ward to be able to get to know all the members better. After that is all done, we are going to start with the less actives and looking for the members on the ward list that no body knows of.  We've got a lot of work but we're marching on.

I was asked to give my testimony in sacrament meeting yesterday like a "get-to-know-you" kind of thing. I gave a simple testimony and sat down. After the meeting, I was conversing with a few people and they all thought I was a new missionary. When I asked them why, they said, "Because you still have the energy and enthusiasm for missionary work." Another member told me the same thing but added, "Normally an older missionary has a worn-out look on his face and you can tell by his clothes, but you still have energy and a smile and nice-looking clothes." I was truly happy to receive those comments. I'm glad to know that I'm not seen as trunky missionary!

The area that I'm in is really small. There's only one hill in it and we hardly go up it because most of the houses go around the hill and not up it. It's a pretty easy area walking-wise. I feel like I'm opening an area because we didn't have a single investigator when I got here (Elder Guillén was here for a few changes before me but they baptized all the investigators they were teaching). The missionaries before Elder Guillén and I didn't leave a clean and organized Area Book either. I wasn't too happy about the condition of things when I got here but it's getting significantly better: the house, the area book, new investigators, member relations, etc.

We are only teaching one investigator currently, Rachel. She's nine years old and wants to get baptized. She has a baptismal date planned for the 20th of Feb. She's really excited, and we're helping her mom, as well. This week, we're going to get the mom's signature to make the baptism official. Rachel is really smart and loves participating in lessons. She has made some really sharp observations in the lessons. The mom, "J", is a little slower and has Word of Wisdom/Law of Chastity issues. Pray for them so that they will be able to make the right decisions in their lives.

Love you all!
Elder Tuft

Mom,
The missionary broadcast isn't an annual thing. They only do it like every 10ish years.  I took notes on it but it was hard to focus with all the problems with Elder Reinoso being "sick". I wanted to watch it again later but we've not been given that chance yet. So I'll look forward to that.

Keep up the missionary work in the ward! :D You're awesome for just making a personal visit to "E" and her family. :D

Hermano Perez is a good friend of mine so you can add him to my Facebook.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Missionary Changes (I'm out), Updates

Hello Family,

Another week has passed and Elder Reinoso is all better and working full-time again! The ward has really picked up the pace and are starting to update their members list (they have 900 members in the ward but only 131 came to church this Sunday). I'm really sad about this because we were going to be doing a workshop to teach all about home teaching, organization, and teaching skills. It was going to be fantastic and they will still be doing it but I won't be here. I got a message for the changes and I'm off to Danlí again. I'm going to the neighboring area from where I was before in La Concepción. Fun fun fun... ... ... ... not... I just keep singing, "A donde me mandes iré!" with a big smile on my face. That's how life goes though. I'm out!

I was sooooo excited to help the ward get organized. I could and can feel the energy building as we start to accomplish the goals that we've set. Yesterday, the bishop, Bishop Salinas, invited us over to eat lunch with him because he has appreciated the work we are doing. We have been super organized with all the mission correlations and with our records. I was so proud of our Area Book that I challenged the rest of the areas to follow our example and keep an organized and updated area book. We also invited them to review our Area Book to just see what it should look like (people/ missionaries can be really disorganized or lazy with paperwork sometimes but it's growing on me and I'm starting to like it).

Two months in La Travesía wasn't enough for me but I guess it'll have to be sufficient.

Mom, the money never came to my account. I've been checking this whole week and it hasn't been there. I checked this afternoon and it still hasn't arrived. I don't know if it takes super-forever but I thought you deposited money a week or two ago... just checking.

Today, we visited Victoria Gonzalez from Los Quebrachitos. She and her husband were my investigators in El Sitio and got baptized. She is still going to church but Santos (the husband) stopped going a month ago. One of the boys got baptized as well. I never knew him. Another one of the little boys turned 8 and will be getting baptized soon (I hope). They've had a lot of progress. I left a new shirt and tie for Santos to help him get motivated to go to church. :D I hope he does.

Have fun with your 8" of snow and I'll enjoy the 88° heat for now :D. I'd love to go to Oregon though, Mom. I just can't imagine what kind of entertainment is better than reading the scriptures. Seriously, I hope I never change my way of thinking when I get back. Smart phones are only useful for the LDS apps and indexing for me now. hahaha I'm good with whatever you guys want to do. I just want to be able to say hello to my friends in their homecoming talks.

Lourdes and Jaime are still doing awesome. It's hard to explain the differences between the Bible to and the Book of Mormon to Jaime. He thinks that we just copied a lot of the Bible and made the Book of Mormon up, but he's at least reading a little. Lourdes understands because she's read a lot. Ana has read more than Karla and loves it. She's reading along with the cartoon book of the Book of Mormon because she understands the plot better that way. I think Jaime should read the cartoon book so he can feel and see the difference but that's entirely up to Elder Reinoso now. I'm super excited for them. Lourdes is out doing visiting teaching already and she loves working in the Library. The library is quite the project because it's a little unorganized. It's improving little by little.

Dad, Franklin and Claudia disappeared. I think it has to do with Mercedes, Franklin's dad, going to work selling clothing in another pueblito. We'll keep trying (Elder Reinoso will. I keep forgetting that I won't be here anymore!)

Interesting thought about ministering and administering. I believe that ministering of angels refers to missionary work. John the Baptist held the keys to cry repentance and to baptize all people. I think the power to call others to repentance and to convert people is the ministering power of the preparatory priesthood. All the Aaronic priesthood administers (or proportions) is the physical and basic ordinances or principles of the Gospel.

We've been contacting more lately in the mornings. I'm really happy with that. Today we've had 5 Open the Mouth opportunities already and it's P-day, so we've started off well.

Have fun with the Family Night and give my fellow missionaries a greeting from their distant fellow-laborer in the vineyard. I've learned that if I don't talk as much the Spirit speaks more. Just a thought. I don't know how you've been with your discussions, but I'm "getting out of the way" so the Spirit can talk and converse more with the heart of investigators. Elder Bednar shared that thought a little while ago, and then again, recently in the missionary broadcast.

Is Kyle doing alright? I went to the temple this past week. That was incredible. I didn't have questions, I didn't have anything to pray about. I just was grateful. I just sat and enjoyed the peace. Peace and stress-free. A lot of people have their watches on while they are in the temple but I took mine off. I don't want to feel stress in heaven. Oh, right, I mentioned Kyle because I was thinking about people to put in the prayer-roll and I just thought "Kyle." So I put his name on. I could've put any other name on but he was who I just kept thinking about.

Keep in there family! Five more months of the hardest and best work!
Love,
Elder Tuft

Monday, January 25, 2016

Hey Family THIS WEEK'S LETTER/LAST WEEK'S LETTER! Working with members, finding new people, Elder Henrriquez


25 January 2016
Hello to all mis seres queridos! (my beloved ones!)

This week was a great week and I'm sorry that my letter didn't get to you but I found it in the draft tab on my email and sent it again. I hope you like it.

I just wanted to remind you to keep the letters a little shorter if you can. :D

I pray for every single one of you morning and night. You never leave my prayers.

Speaking of prayers, I was studying one day and I thought, "How can I have more meaningful prayer?" So I asked God and I felt that I needed to pray mouthing the words that I wanted to say instead of just thinking the words in my mind. I have often found that if I don't mouth the words that I want to say in a prayer, then I start drifting in my thoughts. But as I have tried to follow this counsel, my prayers have become far more meaningful, sincere, and heartfelt, and guided by the Spirit. I also was praying one night and I thought of something funny in my head and immediately after I remembered the times that Mom has told me, "Don't be silly, Spencer." So, I felt a little corrected there and I've appreciated more, the time I spend on my knees.

Elder Reinoso is getting better and can walk. I think today we are going to visit all the appointments together.

Jaime and Ana (Lourdes' Family) have a date set for their baptism on the 28th of Feb. Jaime is still a little unsure but he's committed to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. I'm confident that he will receive an answer. Ana wants to be baptized but not without her dad. So they'll have to get baptized together. :D We'll see how it goes. The other day, Jaime went to church and saw the members of the elder's quorum practicing ordinances and he made a comment to Lourdes afterward, "In my church, we don't put our hands on people's heads to bless them." and Lourdes responded, "It's because your church isn't the true church." And Jaime started pondering about that for a while, she told us.

Dad, Franklin and Claudia have disappeared and we're still trying to get in contact with them again. They haven't been in their house nor answered their phones this week. We'll keep trying because I felt, and Elder Henrriquez felt, that they were a very special family for our Heavenly Father right now.

Dad, I also had been asking myself about that scripture the other day and I just feel like missionaries are angels and just generally people who serve others are angels. So I think that the keys of the ministering of angels is talking about the authority of the priesthood to administer to principles and ordinances of the Gospel to others who accept it. It's not a really deeply thought out thought but that's what I thought when I was studying that phrase a week ago.

Mom, Tell Conner that I miss him too! Yeah for the snow and the temple! :D Yeah for money in my account (although I'm planning on not using it at least until the last few weeks of the mission). We sang happy birthday to President Bowler in the Tegucigalpa conference we had.

Just a little about the conference real quick. We talked about how to reach our goals better and one of the things that has stuck out to me was that we should contact first thing in the morning and not stop until we complete a large portion of the daily goal. That's because we have more appointments at night and we can't contact as much. We will always contact wherever we go but I liked the idea of contacting more in the morning. That's all I remember off the top of my head.

I keep smiling and I keep going. Today marks 19 months... :D
Love you family!
Elder Tuft======================================================================
18 January 2016
Hello Mom and Dad and Family,   (This email came today but was supposed to send last week but didn't.)

It's been a hectic week but I'm doing just fine and dandy. Actually, today we went hiking to the Cascades in Valle de Angeles and I enjoyed the time to just relax and be in nature. It helped me to focus and carry the calm. The cascades were just great. They were the same cascades that I visited one year-ish ago.

Elder Henrriquez got his mission call this week and opened it and he's going to Guatemala Cobán Mission starting on Feb 9th speaking Quetchí. He's really excited. He was only here for a few days and  home. His family aren't members, but he's a great missionary. I saw him grow a ton in just a week being here.

We've been motivating the members to get their visiting teaching done. This week we talked to the Elder's Quorum President and asked for him to partner us up with someone and to assign us families to do home teaching. We are also planning a Home Teaching MTC kind of activity. The purpose is to teach the priesthood holders, 14 yrs and up, how to do their visits. This ward is blessed to have 3 missionaries from Mexico City (E. Miranda and E. Quintanar), and Guatemala City (E. Reinoso), two major cities where the church has been for many years now. They all have experience in Home Teaching and I hope the activity goes well. We're planning it for February but it might be in March.

We've been finding a lot of new people and the members have been helping us with divisions. This week we had 26 lessons with members present and 3 other lessons. Almost every lesson was with a member this week. I think that's the greatest miracle. :D The members here are just great and are working hard.

Franklin and Claudia have called and cancelled two appointments this week and so we'll see about our next appointment this week. I hope they don't call to cancel again. They've said that it's cause they've been busy.

I haven't visited Karla and Lourdes this week. Only Elder Reinoso has gone to that sector all week long (splits). He says that it's easier for him to work there because it's flatter and he doesn't have to worry as much for his ankle. Jaime and Ana came to church again this week with Karla and Lourdes and Ana has been saying in the lessons with Elder Reinoso that she wants to be baptized but she won't unless her dad gets baptized, as well. I haven't been there in the lessons to know much more than that.

When people ask me about how much time I've been in the mission I just tell them and smile because I know what they're going to say next, "Ya se va!!!" (Almost going home!)

Family, This week we have a broadcast for missionaries in the whole world and so I'll tell you about it next week as well!

Love you Megan and thanks for the letter and pictures! Keep in there! The tests are the joy of the journey!

Love you all,
Elder Tuft

Monday, January 11, 2016

New mini-missionary, Lourdes and Family, Franklin, etc.

Hello Mom and Dad and Family,

I love you guys a lot. And one day while I was eating, I noticed a calendar. That was a bad thing. So, I counted the weeks until I'm home. 23 or 24 weeks. ;D And they will be the best weeks of the mission! I love the mission and my heart breaks to think that I have to leave this country one day. It also gets annoying when the members ask, "How long have you been on the Mission?"

I received a mini-missionary (Elder Henrriquez from Amapala, Honduras) this week to help me while Elder Reinoso is recovering. We have a member (YM) that is helping us from our stake to take care of Elder Reinoso. So that makes it easier for me to work with the mini-missionary full-time. We had some interesting, fun, and great experiences this week. I'll tell you all about later.

Elder Henrriquez is awesome and I love how simple and humble he is. He's quiet and he's helping me to be quiet and talk less. I talk a lot less now and I see that the investigators have opened up to discussion more. It's part of teaching people and not lessons, I think. I just have gotten in the routine of things and it's been good to be shaken up a little and remembered of the fundamentals of Preach My Gospel.

We taught Lourdes this week about the Three Kingdoms of Glory. Ana was there and Karla, but Jaime was sleeping. Karla is a sponge!!! She noticed how the preachers here in Honduras always say that if you do good things, you go to heaven, and if you do bad things, you go to hell. And then she said, "But then they start talking about a judgement and so I've always been confused about that part." So we helped her out a little there but she understood without us explaining much. Ana is also a sponge but she doesn't react or talk a ton. But she listens and observes and thinks a lot.

Franklin and Claudia (wife) are doing great. We just had one visit with them this week but afterward we went to set up a new appointment and they told us to come back the next day. We couldn't the next day so we set up the appt. to be in two days and were super excited for us to come back. Then I got a call the next day and they said that an emergency came up so they couldn't receive us. Then we set up the next appt for this week. I hope Claudia read the pamphlet we left of the Restoration and so that way it'll be super easy to explain. They are two really special people. Elder Henrriquez told me after the lesson that he felt that God wants them to get baptized sooner than later.

Elder Reinoso started walking slowly without crutches today. The therapies are working and he's overcoming the pain. He doesn't have a serious injury. He may have had just a sprain but he stopped walking on it and so it got worse. Now it's getting better that he's moving it more.

Leadership Council was awesome: we had a few changes from the Missionary Committee that we received this week.
1. There are no more official meetings to be able to do missionary changes every 6 weeks. They will be sending us from area to area by phone calls every 6 weeks instead.
2. Missionary Splits are changed a little as well. District leaders and zone leaders are not to do splits in other areas. They are only allowed to invite their district missionaries to their area. That means that for the day, there will be four missionaries in one area doing splits. The reason is because the leaders should be an example. So all divisions will be held in the leaders' area. To do baptismal interviews, leaders are to go and do the interview and then return immediately to their area.

That's all I can write for this week! I'm out of time. Take care and I love you all! :D
Elder Spencer J. Tuft

PS
Dad, I was with Franklin's Dad, Mercedes, when we taught him the first time. These week was the second time but we didn't teach with Mercedes because he wasn't home yet from work.
Karla is working on her family History but is a little hesitant to start working because she wants help from Sammy, her partner in the Family History Depot. (Karla was given the calling to serve as a family history consultant with Sammy). We haven't taught about the Family History part yet because we have been re-teaching the Plan of Salvation and we just finished the other day. This week, I believe we will start on the Family History again. Jaime was asleep because he's super tired after work. I'm sure you can imagine exactly how he feels some days. Ana is reading the Book of Mormon and coming to church and the other day I asked her if she had thought about baptism and she said, "mas o menos". But she won't put a date because she doesn't feel like it's time yet. So I told her, "Ana, since the first day I walked in this house, I felt like the whole family was ready. It's your choice in deciding when, but you are ready, Ana." She looked at me like, "Really??? I'm ready?" And then looked at her mom and gave me a smile.

Mom, Keep up the missionary work! :D You're doing great!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Update on E. Reinoso, A lot of studies, etc, etc etc


Hello Mom and Dad,

It's been a really calm week this week. Actually, it's been pretty hectic but I have felt for the most part peace and calm. There have been a few issues with Elder Reinoso and that's basically it. I'll explain about that later in the letter.

I went on a lot of splits this week. One night we went to visit a new investigator that we contacted also this week. We were going to have a first lesson with him and I was with another missionary, Elder Miranda, at this time.  But the investigator wasn't there. But Elder Miranda shouted "BUENAS!" so loudly that the family, who were seated outside in the little street/sidewalk area, all flipped their heads to see us and figure out what was going on. The mom of the investigator was one of them. We went over to talk to them and teach them the gospel. I had been tired of being cooped up for hours in the house and was grateful for the time I had to leave and walk and teach and find new people. I was super nervous to talk to this biiiiiiig group of people. I don't know why I was nervous but I started to teach them and they responded well. They told us to give them the message right then and not wait for a next visit. So we taught them in this little street. I felt so free to testify that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon is true. It was super special. As a result of the message, we were able to set up an appointment with two of them in their homes this coming week.

We also taught the son of a new convert. The lesson was really spiritual. He's not married and doesn't think he'll get married right now. His "wife" and her family are strong in another religion supposedly. The man, Franklin, has an Evangelist background. I was with the new convert on splits and so I talked most of the time. I laid out all the cards so that there wouldn't be any surprises for him in the future and he was really meditating on changing his life. At one time, I saw that his expression changed and I asked him if he had a question and he told me, "No, I just am thinking a lot about what you just said." I hope that he will want to make the changes necessary so that he can be happier. His dad, the recent convert, has been praying so much for this opportunity to teach his son. :D

Elder Reinoso is not super good right now. I offered to give him a blessing so that he could get better faster but he said he was alright. I'm writing so late today because we were at doctor's appointments. He has something wrong with his Achilles tendon in his heel. It wasn't that bad when he first sprained it but the doctor gave him a shot and told him he was good. Now the shot has worn off and he's bad again. So he'll have to do some shock therapy to help him for two weeks and then he can start to walk gradually again for another two weeks. President is going to send a mini missionary to work with me and Elder Reinoso will be resting. If he's not recovering soon, then President will send him home. Elder Reinoso was crying because it looks like going home is a 50% possibility right now. But I told him that if God doesn't want him to go home, then he will not go home but will get better in these next two weeks.

But I'm doing great. We haven't been able to do much with many investigators. Jaime and his family came to church (all of them). And Jaime even came in a white shirt and tie in his suit. Last week he came in a colored shirt instead of white. I think he likes church at least a little bit. We've been teaching them the Plan of Salvation again. I can see how the Holy Ghost has enlightened Lourdes and Karla. They had great questions and understood really quickly. Jaime's grandma had a little trouble understanding though.

Tomorrow we have Leadership Council (I think that's what it is called in English). It'll be great to see the new changes and to learn a lot.

Pray a lot for Elder Reinoso this week. I don't want him to go home (and he surely doesn't want to either).

Love you all! Have a wonderful week full of adventures and excitement!
Elder Tuft

PS I just got the Wedding Invite in the mail. Cute picture Kristen and Ian! :D Love you guys!