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

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.

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

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!
Elder Tuft