Monday, July 27, 2009

Email - Received Monday, July 27, 2009

Hey Mom and Dad! (and all my beloved Friends and Family) =P

I want to start this email off with saying a huge and eternal Thank You to all of you, especially you two Mom and Dad. I´m sorry I didn´t send a general email for the Blog last week, but a few things happened that prevented me from doing so last week. Mom, Dad, and Hope, your emails and love have reinforced and built me up this week at a time when I needed them more than ever. I can really tell that all of you are in tune with the Spirit and are doing your very best to help me in this work. Mom and Dad, as always, your advise and counsel was invaluable and I will never forget what you did for me this week. Yes Mom, I loved your analogy and I am trying my best to apply it to my mission every day now. I´m SO proud of you that I´m not able to express it, even if it WERE possible to express with words, I wouldn´t be able to do it. You´re doing everything to the limit and you´re changing your entire life because of your determination. You´re right, if I were there I wouldn´t let you stop, I would cheer you on loudly every single hour of every single day. You´re doing it Mom, you´re making the change and you´re doing it in all the right ways. Your son is SO proud of his AWESOME Mom! And Dad, I dontknow if you remember when I used to look up (now down ;P) into your eyes and say ¨Hey Dad? I´m so glad that you´re my Dad!¨ but...I want to say it again. I´m so glad that you´re my Dad, that you have such high expectations for me, and that you´re helping me to realize my true potential. I´m not the best missionary the world has ever seen, but I´m doing the work and I´m getting better at it every day. I have the determination, the motivation, and the drive to complete my portion of this work and I´m going to do it. You´re a part of it, and together we´ll make Heavenly Father proud. Thank you. I love you. End of Story. =D

Okay, so I have a few things I need to tell every one, but the first one is for Mom. Mom, I hope you haven´t sent that care package yet, cuz I need a couple more things. The main thing is a HUGE bottle of some REALLY good multi-vitamins. I´m getting fed, but I dont think my body is getting all the nutrients it needs. So please send that, and maybe a cheap wrist watch. I love the pocket watch Jason got me and I carry it all the time, but I need a cheap watch so I can stop annoying my companion with asking ¨Que hora es, compa?¨ lol Yeah yeah, I know, you told me so. =P Besides that I think that´s the end of the list. I do have a bit of bad news though. We found out today that the Guatemala City Central Mission doesn´t get pouch service anymore... Before you ask questions, know that I dont know why, how, and when this happened. I just know that we can still receive international mail sent through USPS, which is more reliable anyways. I knowyou said in your last letters that you were going to start writing more letters by hand, and I´m way stoked for that, but make sure you send them by international post now. Sorry...that´s all I know. =/

Now, I´m going to use the rest of my time to tell you about how the work is going in my area. In my district we just had 9 baptisms in the last two weeks, none of them were mine, but that´s still awesome. Unfortunately, the work has really slowed down in Promision. I dont know what happened, but suddenly we have barely any new people to teach and our efforst at finding people to teach have not yeilded much success. No worries though, we´re planning an activity with the Elder´s Quorum and our District this week to help us find more investigators. We still teach plenty of lessons to members and recent converts, but we haven´t had new investigators in a while. We did teach one to two separate men this week that might be interested in continuing to learn, but we´re not sure about them yet. There are a ton of churches down here and most of them are Evangelical. This makes the work difficult because everyone tells us that they´re already christians and that their pastors tell them that the Mormons have nothing good to share with them. Also, it´s difficult to give service to non-members because everyone says in the moment we ask them that they´re fine and they dont need our help. I made a joke, in good humor, in the home of Familia Morales (our best investigator) that it´s all because I´m ¨canche¨, which basically just means a ¨white boy¨. They all laughed their guts out and said that I´m probably right. Haha I dont know...we´re going to keep trying every day and we dont let ourselves get discouraged because there are always a ton more people to invite to listen. I never realzied it before this week, but my area is actually really big. There are a lot of people in San Jose, Villa Nueva, and I´m thinking there HAS to be a family here that´s waiting for us. I know we´ll find them. Just keep doing what you all are doin, prayin and hopin, and we´ll do just fine. I know I may not be ¨harvesting¨ much these days, but I know that I´m definitely a ¨sembrador¨, which means a planter. I´ve heard that those are the two type of missionaries, the planters and the harvesters. I dont care which one I am, I just care that I dont give up and I keep trying until I´m doing my very best. When I get there, I wont stop, but instead put myself on cruise control when I´ve finally hit top speed. I keep learning every day. I keep praying and doing what the Spirit directs me to do. I know the value of this mission now and I´m going to do everything I can until I literally have to crawl home like Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said we should. I love you all. I want you all to be able to experience this mission with me, so ¨get ready, it´s gunna be a wild ride!!!¨ =D Thank you for every thing you´ve done, everything you´re doing, and everything you will do to help the Lord advance His work. It helps helps me...and most importantly it´s helping your brothers and sisters here in Guatemala. Keep it comin and remember that Preston loves you!

Love Always,
-Elder Preston William Tucker

P.S. I sent an email to Hope too. You can post it on the blog if you´d like. =D Until next week!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Email - Received Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hey Mom, Dad, Hope, and Everyone!

Sorry that this letter is later than usual, but we had changes this week and on change weeks we have our internet time on Wednesday. As for the update on how these changes effected me...well I have a lot to tell and not much time to tell it. I only got half of my wish, I was allowed to stay in my area of Promision, which is a wonderful blessing. As for the other Trainer, Elder Molina, got changed to a different area and is going to train again while being District Leader in his new Zone. That´s a lot of responsibility and I know he can handle it, but I´m extremely sad that I didn´t get more time with him. I think out of all my companions so far he has been the best friend and the one with which I´ve created the strongest bond. I will never forget him, and I think he would love to come visit us in the States when I´m done with my mission. He has three changes left, has already completed 14, but still told me with sincerity that I was his best companion yet. He taught me how to have fun in the mission, and I´m thinking now that his advice is going to be invaluable as I am going to HAVE to have fun to keep going. I see some missionaries serving their missions with seriousness and complete focus, but they dont have joy. I want to have joy in my mission...if I dont, I dont think it will be of any value to me in the end. I´m doing my best to keep my spirits above water after having such a hard-hitting change, but I still need your prayers and support. My Family and Friends, you are all helping me so much with your support and love, and I know that without you all, I would not be able to do what a mission requires of a man. Some missionaries think it´s easy to serve, some dont like to serve but continue on, but for me it has become a very personal experience. The mission is full of internal struggles for me, and with the help of the Lord and my Family at home I am able to complete each day without much or any damage. You all know how much I love you and I know that the Lord knows how much I love him. However, I´m finding that love, although it is an eternal blessing and comfort, also becomes a kind of tug-of-war between all of my desires and dreams. I love and miss my Family, I want to be with you all every day, enjoying the blessings that God has seen fit to give us. I love my Friends and constantly think about all the possibilities that our lives hold, together, as interconnected as we all are in this life. It´s summer and at times I feel I´m missing out on what ¨could be¨, but I continue on in service of Another, whom I love as well. With the guidance of the Spirit and the blessings of the Savior, I have come to love the people that I teach and serve every day here in Guatemala. I truly believe that this love that I feel for them is nothing but an extension of His love for all His children, Heavenly Father´s way of showing me one of His mysteries. Can you all see how this creates that ¨tug-of-war¨that I mentioned earlier? The mission is the hardest thing I´ve ever done, but not because the work is hard or that it´s difficult to walk miles each day. It´s hard because I love you, I love you all. I want to be with you, all of you, share this life and enjoying it to the fullest. But I´m doing what so many of you (and my heart) tell me I SHOULD be doing in this time and season in my life. Your news, your support, and your love bouys me up, keeps me going, so please...never let it stop. I need you all in order to complete the work the Lord has called me to do. Every time one of you sends me a letter, or pictures, or news you become what President Hinckley called you to be. ¨Every Member a Missionary¨ he said. You all are part of my mission and I share my love for you with these people in Guatemala every day. Surprizingly enough, my experiences and feelings for you all give me the examples and testimony I need to share in each moment with the people I am teaching. I talk about you often, all of you. If you don´t believe me...well, you´re choosing not to believe in something I think is a real miracle, but I hope all take my words for what I mean them to be worth..which is EVERYTHING! If, when I finish my mission, it means everything to me, it will be because you all (My Family, Friends, and Neighbors) have made it so. These are the feelings and words that I wanted to share with you today. They´ve been on my mind all weekend and it feels good to finally get them on the page. =)

Alright, now it´s time to respond to everything you all sent me. Mom...thanks for checking up on me. =) I really appreciate your love and care, even over the 2200 miles it has to travel to get to me. I do have a little list of things you can include in a care package if you see fit to send one. I need: another tube of hydrocortizone, a big (or a couple) bottles of benodryl (yes, I´m getting bitten like crazy I a need some relief, and yes, I´m taking measures to decrease my ¨biteability¨), of course more chocolate (I am just about finished with the candy packages you sent, it was awesome, and yeah, I made it last =P), some more pictures (include some of how the Bear Lake House looks now please :P), and just for fun...a pair of size 34W 34L jeans. =) Yes, I´ve lost a lot of weight. My black Missionary Mall pants are all but hanging off of me and I´m on the last hole of my reversible belt. Even my old size 36W jeans are too big in the waist now! It´s fun to see what losing weight does to a person´s wardrobe. I think I´ve officially lost about 27lbs. And physically I feel great. No, I´m not ripped and have a six-pack, but I definately look a lot better than I did 4 months ago. =) Anyways, enough of that. More about home. =)

I was keeping track of the days so I kinda celebrated the days that Josh and Rob had changes in their addresses. It´s weird to think about all of my guy friends and how their lives are all changing like mine. Really, if I were home right no I´d have almost no one to hang out with anymore. haha! I´m excited for Josh Grow, sounds like a fun mission! Wish him luck for me. I´m happy to hear about all the changes that the Bear Lake House is going through and I REALLY want to see what it´s looking like about now. Mom, Hope, Metzie and Dad, you all are working very hard to turn it into the Bearadise we all imagined and I´m just a little sad that I can't participate in it´s metamorphasis. It´ll be fun to enjoy it when it´s all finished in two years though. =P Hope, I keep hearing from Mom that you´re doing a wonderful job with being obedient and loveable. Keep up the good work! You´re such a blessing to our family and I want you to always remember how much I love you! Try your very best to DO your best every day. That´s what I´m trying to do too, so we´ll be progressing together. I think about you all the time and miss our Family. Take care of them and when I get home we´ll all take care of each other again! Awesome to hear that you all are enjoying the boat and the summer at home. I really want to see everything that you´ve all perfected by the time I get back. It´ll be a CRAZY awesome summer in 2011! Mom, I wish you all the best in your studies, your summer, and your health. I know that changing is hard and it makes me cry at times too, but know that you´re only trying to complete all that the Lord has asked of you: to take care of your family, your loved ones, and especially yourself in body and spirit. Keep working, you´ll be eternally grateful for the blessings that will come for your efforts. I promise! =) Dad, I love you too and hope that you´re doing everything you can to support yourself, your family, and your business in their health and spiritual well being. You are a chosen father and I am grateful every day for the effect you´ve had on my becoming who I am today. I would love to hear about the business, how things are going with it, and how you are doing in all that you choose to pursue. I´ll wait patiently and hope that I´ll get to hear from you soon. =)

It brings me joy to hear from home and I cherish every word. I will tell you all more next week and hope everyone enjoys this letter. Next week I´ll know more about my new companion and what it´s like to have more responsibility as a missionary, so I´ll be able to share more. Again, I love you all to eternity and back. Until next week, I miss you.

Love Always,
-Elder Preston William Tucker

Monday, July 6, 2009

Email - Received Monday, July 6, 2009

Hey Family and Friends,

I got a lot of love in your emails today, Mom and Dad, and I wanted to finally return the favor by answering your questions and telling you all about what´s been going on with my mission. I never thought so many people would be interested to hear about the everyday life of a missionary, but that´s what you all are asking about, so this email will be mostly about that. But first of all I wanted to thank everyone that sends me news and love. Dad, I´m glad you understand that the news from home keeps me grounded. Yes, I know it does not make it easy to completely "lose" myself in the work¨, but it keeps me sane and that´s a good thing. =P I´m happy that everyone had a good time over the weekend with 4th of July and everything. Good to hear that the Bear Lake House is serving it´s purpose perfectly by bringing family and friends together in comfort and love. I´ve been realizing lately that everyone, all my friends at least, are either going on their missions, busy with school, or getting married. Kinda weird to think that if I were home it would kinda be a ghost town for me in a way...but it´s great that everyone is enjoying their lives in all their separate ways. I have to strengthen my resolve to serve every day because in reality, this work is definitely not easy if you´re doing it right, but know that all your experiences, love, prayers, and happiness gives me that sufficient strength each day. Okay, now I guess I´ll get to what you´ve all been waiting description of my mission life so far! =)

Okay, so the missionary schedule is pretty solid and I must say that I´m really liking it so far. The study time in the morning is invaluable and I enjoy it every day. Currently I´m studying the Bible in English and the Book of Mormon in Spanish, but I think I´m going to shift my focus to Preach My Gospel and just the Book of Mormon in both languages. I´m finding myself lacking in scriptures that I can share to enhance my lessons (my trainer is full of good ones though, so he saves my butt a few times a day by jumping in to share a scripture that supports what I´m saying) so I want to study in a way that will fix that problem. We get one hour to study personally whatever we´d like (but we try to gear it towards what our investigators need), then we get one hour to study as a companionship, usually we use this to plan our lessons and then study together the material that we want to share, then we have an hour of language study. My companion usually uses this hour as personal study, as his English is sufficient for his desires, and I try to use it to study my scriptures in Spanish. I need to find a more effective way to do this, so I´m going to try a few new things this week. I´ll let you know what ends up working well for me. After study we usually either have about an hour to two hours to go out and find new people to teach or give service to the members and others. Sometimes this time is effective and successful, other times it isn´t. Contacting and knocking doors is really just hit and miss and it´s hard to find the ¨elect¨ (those that are ready to hear the gospel) that way. Luckily we have a ward full of people that have good references to give us and we´ve found our best investigators through friends and family that our ward members would like us to teach. I´ve had my best experiences in the homes of these reference investigators, the spirit is so strong when you´ll teaching someone who is ready and has a desire to learn of their inheritance in the Gospel of Christ. After the finding activities we have lunch. Now, as for food and meals here in Guatemala, I´m definitely NOT in Utah OR Arizona anymore... Most often we get beans, rice, and eggs. Sometimes we get a really good cheese called queso fresco, but most often, the food is the same. The good thing is that I´m really content with the food that our cocinera cooks us. She finds ways to make things taste great. Like her beans...surprisingly...i love em. Mixing black beans and rice makes everything taste good enough to enjoy. She makes great eggs, but notas good as Mom´s. Sometimes (very rarely, it seems) we get meat in some form. Not even chicken is really abundant here. When we DO get meat, it´s in small portions and just makes me miss Mom´s wonderful cooking. But don't worry, I´m never really hungry and I´m definitely not in bad shape at all. Everything agrees with my stomach and I haven´t really had any problems so far. Now remember that this is just my first area...I still have a lot to experience later. =P But yeah, moral of the food story, I miss Mom´s cooking and I could really go for a green salad and a steak right now. ;P After lunch we just try to fill our day with visits to investigators to teach, members to earn trust and give service, and less active members to reactivate and reanimate their testimonies. Luckily we have pretty good success with keeping our days full. When we were sick it was hard to leave the house, but we did, even though we weren´t at 100% efficiency. This week we are rededicating ourselves to increasing our work load and finding a lot of new people to teach. Pray for us. Pray for the people we will talk to, that their hearts will be softened and that they will receive us so we can bring them Home. Truly I can feel the Joy that Heavenly Father feels every time a soul decides to return to Him. It´s a wonderful feeling and my experiences with it so far are priceless. We work hard almost every day, and when we get home we´re always tired, hungry, and happy. I don't think we´ve really come home unhappy yet. My trainer ranks me as his second favorite companion yet and I would have to say that I feel wonderful that my experience is the same. I love teaching and living with Elder Molina. He´s a wonderful person, laid back, funny, knowledgeable, spiritual, and just a bright soul. I really believe that my prayers inspired President Baldwin to make him my trainer and I will always be grateful for that decision. I wont forget my trainer and I am having a wonderful first change. Always 5 full weeks of success, challenges, trials, and love. I´m seeing and feeling the same way that I did before my mission, which is through the eyes of a loving Heavenly Father. The way He sees His children, the Earth that His Son´s all just perfect and beautiful. Truly, there are challenges here in Guatemala that I have never imagined before in my life, but the people here are a happy, peaceful people. They have great spiritual potential, although they may be stuck living in poverty the rest of their lives. I´m eternally grateful that I was sent here and I know that it was no coincidence. Jason would say that I was made to Serve here and I think he´d be right. I love Guatemala and plan oncoming back again and again after I´ve served my full mission. I love you all, but I´m out of time for today. I will share more specific experiences with you soon, don't worry. Now I hope a few of your questions are answered and if you have more, don't be afraid to ask! Love you Mom, don't worry, I´m taking good care of my self and miss you every day. Love you Dad, and I´m so grateful for the example an the standards you set for me throughout my life, they are truly invaluable to me now. Love you Hope, hope everything is going well for you and that you are enjoying your summer. Love you Family, your love and support strenghthens me sufficiently to finish each day with a smile on my face and love in my heart. And I love you, my Friends, your strength is mine. I believe that i chose my friends well in my life and I will forever be grateful for your examples and words of comfort and support for me. Josh, I hope you are excited to go to Peru and that your MTC experience has been all you hoped it would be.Now I have to go. Talk to you all next week! Can´t wait to hear about more for Home.

Love Always,
-Elder Preston William Tucker