Monday, November 30, 2009

Email - Received Monday, November 30, 2009

Hey Family! Guess what? I love you!

Holy cow! This week I got an overflow of wonderful emails and information and news that made me smile until it hurt! =) I`m so happy to hear so many wonderful things from home, and that happiness is sufficient enough to make any homesickness go away and be replaced with love for my family and thanks for my Heavenly Father. I know that He is blessing me and is very aware of every thought and feeling that I have, every little thing that I do, and every effort we make as a family to honor and respect the blessing we have of being eternal! I still need to do a lot of work on learning how the Spirit speaks to me individually, but I know that my awareness of Heavenly Father`s hand in my life is now almost crystal clear! Thank you for keeping me informed on all the wonderful challenges and blessings that you continue to receive, for each and every one is a blessing to me. =)

Well, I`ve got some very sad and shameful news this week. I didn`t remember which day was supposed to be I didn`t all. haha It wasn`t until after our Executive Commitee meeting with the bishopric that my new friend Elder Wernli said and quote ¨ was Thanksgiving...¨ haha! I didn`t even know it. What kind of American am I?! haha A good one...just not one that remembers the dates of Holidays that aren`t on the same day each year. I`m extremely aware of Christmas, but Thanksgiving (in a country that doesn`t celebrate it) kinda just slipped by me. Yes, yes...let the jokes come. =P

Alright, a little about my companion and I. We are now great friends, after two weeks of getting to know each other and working hard to make them good weeks. We had our first baptism together this last Sunday: a little girl of 9 years named Meylin Morataya. We taught her every day for a week and a half and baptized her as quick as possible. It was great! Sorry I didn`t give you any prior notice. =P I think we`re going to do the same thing with two more young kids this week to come. I really liked it, I just wish that the rest of our investigators could be like that (available every day for two weeks straight). Elder Alvarez is great. A little shy at times, but beneath the calm exterior, he`s a lot like me! He loves reading, video games, and his family! He`s read a lot of the same books that I have (but in Spanish) and has a great memory to tell stories. He is also learning English, and asks me to check his homework in the workbooks that the Latin Elders receive to earn their BYU certificate as certified English speakers. We get along really well, which is the first step to a successful companionship. Now we`re focused on working on our skills, trying to get better at teaching, sharing the time, and learning the doctrine in its most simple forms. He is sincere and humble, two wonderful traits. I believe that this could be one of those mission friendships that last a lifetime. I really hope I get to spend two changes with him, although it might not happen. We`re having a tough time with our cut-down area, but we`re making the best of it and have taught at least 20 lessons for two weeks in a row. =) Unfortunately that is including the few lessons that we have with loyal members, but we`re getting up there little by little. We have to fulfill those Rules of Excellence that President Baldwin gave us so that we can begin to have more success, but we`ll get there soon. So basically, I`m happy this change, excited for what comes next, not too pressured as a Senior Comp, but not fancy-free either. A great mix, I must say! =)

My companion has asked me to request a few things that I have offered him this last week. One, we are planning on having a bar-b-q (in spanish it`s called ¨churasco¨) with our ward mission leader, and Mom, if you could, would you send us a great marinade recipe with simple ingredients that we could use for open charcoal bbq? That would be awesome and I`m pretty sure we`ll be able to get any ingredients we need. Two, Elder Alvarez really likes my ¨bullet¨ speakers. Could you send him a pair, as a little christmas present to him. I know that he would love that! He comes from a fairly wealthy family here in the Capital, but they dont have the same technology or products here, so that`s why I`m asking you. =) I know that my family is wonderful and willing to share, so I know that I`ll be able to make Elder Alvarez feel like a new part of that beautiful family. =)

Alright I`m almost out of time. I`m sorry I didn`t respond to all your news and questions, but I had a lot to read today (which I loved). Next week I will write more, but just keep the good stuff comin! I love you forever, I`ll like you for always, where ever I am my Family you`ll be! Oh how great is that Plan of our God, I will trust in Him forever, because He first trusted in me!

Love Always,
-Elder Preston William Tucker

Monday, November 23, 2009

Email - Received Monday, November 23, 2009

Hey Family!
As always, it was a wonderful feeling to wake up today and know that I would get the chance to read some emails, hear some good news, and think about my family. This week has been busy and I have not had much time to turn my mind to family, which in a way is good, but I still noticed the part of me that is missing, waiting patiently in Utah and Arizona. As we continue to strengthen and teach the members and non-members here in La Sonora, I am constantly reminded of the vital importance of my own family. I think often about my current, eternal family (Dad, Mom, and Hope), but interestingly enough I often catch myself thinking about my future family. I think often about how I will know when I`ve found the right eternal comapanion, when and where it might happen, and what I will be looking for if I am continually tuned in to the eternal perspective of life here in the world. There is a young couple of returned missionaries in our ward named la Familia Dubòn, and they have a baby of about 6-7 months old. They call me Tio Tucker (¨tio¨ means uncle) because I am always so interested in and loving with their young son. I dont know what it is, but everytime I look at that little guy, he looks me straight back in the eye and keeps our vision locked together. In those moments I long to experience life as a father and husband to a family that is sealed for eternity. I know that I am only 19 years old and should not be thinking about getting married and having kids yet, but I believe these feelings are the desires of my spirit, my soul, trying to remind me of my purpose here on earth as a Priesthood holder and eternal Son of Heavenly Father. My understanding and testimony of the Plan of Salvation are continually becoming deeper and more real here in my mission, especially when I look in the eyes of young children. I just want all of my family to know that, although I wont be celebrating Thanksgiving with you this year or the next, that I am truly and infinitely grateful to my Heavenly Father and Christ for making my eternal family possible. I am also grateful to you all, for living lives and loving me in ways that make me want to be with you forever.

Here in Guatemala I have to deal with the hard reality every day that the world does not teach these beautiful principles. The world does not want people to stay together, to make convenants with one another, and to be strong against Satan´s constant temptations. I pray and hope that all the members of my family, and my dear friends too, can realize the things that I am realizing all too clearly, and then fight against evil´s influence. Fight, please! Fight hard. I`m here trying to teach people how to be soldiers in defense of their own families, but I know that everyone back home needs that help as well. Read the Scriptures, pray often, accept and partake of Christ`s Atoning Sacrifice, and experience the joy that comes when you do so. Heavenly Father has given us all that we need, and more. It`s up to us to use the armor he has given us. Would you go skydiving without a parachute, or climb a mountain without rope and harness? If your answers were No, then please don't leave home, exposing yourself to the world, without God`s Armor protecting you on every side. I love you. I want to spend eternity with you. Help me meet that goal. I know you can do it! =)

Alright, so that`s it for the testimony for today. Now on to answering questions. Dad, I`m sorry that I have not explained P-Day sufficiently up until now, but it`s a difficult day to put in a nutshell. We do everything on P-Day. We get together as a district and as a zone, we play soccer, we play football, we play Uno, we eat a lot of food, we buy the food that we need in the house, we write letters, we give service, we prepare for the activities that we`ve been assigned to direct during the week, we take a nap here and there, and we teach in the night-time hours, helping and strengthening the lost and wandering sheep of Heavenly Father`s fold. P-Day has always been, and I`m pretty sure it will always be, on Tuesdays. Mondays we email as a part of our District Meetings, so President Baldwin has shortened our P-Days to 5PM. Before 5, it`s up to us what we use our time for. After 5PM, it`s still up to us, but we use it to teach. I realized this week that it doesn`t matter what day or time it is, the way that we use our time here in the mission is always up to us. We`re here and we work because we want to, and if someone really doesn`t want to work in their mission, they can choose not to. It made me happy to realize that I am working because I want to, not because I`m required by President, my companion, or even the Lord to do so. I`m willingly serving, and that`s a good feeling. =)

Now for a few more answers. Elder Child left as District Leader, but Elder Gomez (from Mexico) came to fill his place. Elder Gomez and Elder Rivera (from Costa Rice) are assigned to Barcenas, so the name of our district changed, but it`s no biggie. We did have to move into one of the new homes that we found, and I am now living with Elder Alvarez in the house we found in Valles de la Sonora 1. It`s a comfortable, quiet colony. The house is comfortable, but a little echoey because we have only a minimal amount of furniture. I enjoy living closer to the center of our area, and we are seeing good results from the move. We do not live with other Elders in this house. President Baldwin says that two elders in a house is a companionship, but four is a party. The Lopezes did not stay together. One (from Nicaragua) stayed in Linda Vista, close to us, but the other (from Honduras) went to Palin (the opposite edge of the zone). Overall, everyone is happy with the changes and we are doing well. It`s hard on the two new elders that came to the newly divided part of our area because they are new missionaries as well as being completely new to the area. They are intelligent though, so getting started should not be a problem, especially after my helping them get to know most of the area. Elder Alvarez is also a very good companion. He is a little quiet, and teaches very simply, but he has a testimony and that is enough to start well in this work. We will constantly be working to become better, and I will keep you posted on what happens, but I have faith that we will have a successful change together.

Once again, I love and appreciate your support and love. Your prayers help us, I have a testimony that is true. Keep them coming, please. =) I`m extremely excited for the packages that you are sending. I think they will probably get to me at the same time, but thats just fine. We get our packages in interviews and zone conferences. I just have one additional request: Pictures! =) I sent you some, now it`s your turn to return the favor. =P

I`m all out of time for this week. Until next week...I love you!

Love Always,
-Elder Preston William Tucker

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Email - Received Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hey Family!

Oh man...I love you so much! I just can't get over the fact that each week increases my love and desire for you, my family! I know that I will be more than ready to see you in less than a year and a half, but I know also that I have enough time to show the Lord that I really did come here to Serve Him. It`s interesting to hear about John Taylor and Reggie Pincock coming home because for all 4 changes that I have now completed, I have been extremely aware of the pasage of time, whether it be slow or fast. Up until my second change with Elder Child, time has seemed to pass very slowly for me, but now it has seemed to pick up speed. Now Ryan Hunter and John Taylor are home. Wow! That was fast! I`m coming up on 8 months and my second call home. That too, seems to have come at me fast. Haha I`m suddenly reminded of the insurance commercial that says ¨Life comes at you fast¨. It really is true! Anyways, enough with talking about time. Now down to the news!

Okay, so as Dad has felt very strongly, I did receive some very big changes this week. Elder Child has left and gone to his final area in the capital. I was told that I had an interview with President Baldwin, which almost always means that a missionary is going to receive a new responsibility. I did receive that responsibility. I am now the Senior Companion in the area La Sonora 1. My new companion is Elder Alvarez, a Guatemalan from th capital city, that has completed just one change less than I have in the field. He is a little quiet, but I can tell that he is a great person and will have a lot to offer in our work for the next 5 and a half weeks. He is 19 years old, has a family of 6, all active members. He has a big brother, a 17 year old sister, and a 14 year old brother. I have seen pictures of them and they seem to be a great family, strong in the Gospel of Christ. I am a little nervous about my new responsibilities, but I am praying often and with strength that the Lord will send me all the tools and spirit that I need to complete this assignment well, to His standards. Also, to let you all know, the baptism that we had planned for last weekend went very well. We completed the Aguilar family and they now have their sights set on a Temple sealing! I feel great that we finally helped Hermana Judith, Erwin`s wife, to realize her dream of her husband getting baptized in the True Church. Thank you for all your support and prayers.

It sounds like almost everything is going well at home! That`s awesome!!! I know that the Lord is blessing my family for my sake. Not for the work that I do, necessarily, but so that I don't have to worry about you spiritually or temporally. I love you eternally and want all the best for you all. I know that your habits of study, prayer, and fasting will sustain you during these challenges, and that Familia Tucker will come out on top, shining like the Sun! =D Mom, you`re awesome. I know that you love your job, teaching young minds, and I know that you`re great at it. I have pride in telling my friends here that my Mom is a teacher and that she is the greatest Mom that I could ask for. =) Hope, how awesome are you?! Dad and Mom keep telling me that you fight off sickness, that you play hard, and swim even harder! I am so amazed to constantly hear that you are improving your times and swimming in 5 events or more every meet! I love you and am so proud of you! I want to be there, rooting for you in your meets, but I know that it`ll have to wait. I want you to know though, as soon as I can, Ì will be there to cheer you on. And dear, awesome, strong, happy Dad! I could not have anymore pride in you if you had told me that you had been elected President! You are so strong and you keep our family strong too. I am so grateful to you for so many things that I just can't express it enough. Your fortitude and drive astound me as you enter this new job. It`s really kinda cool to me that this opportuniy is like a second mission for you. I can track your progress just like you can track mine. I like this a lot and hope that you keep me informed! I love you forever and want you to know that deep in your heart. No son could be more proud of his father than I am for you. Dad...thank you SO much for being my Dad!

Something that I forgot to mention in my last letter. My ring size is 11 and 1/2. No, I have not received your handwritten letter Dad. Yes, I received the one that you sent me Hope, and I loved it. This week I also received letters from Josh in Peru and from Sidney Bell. I`m so grateful that I have a family and friends that always support me and keeps me well informed about their lives. I`m also very excited to receive packages this change. I probably wont receive them until Zone Conference, but that`s okay, I`m learning patience here too. =)

I don't have much time left, so know that I love you all! I miss you and think about you every day. Stay strong. Keep praying. Read the scriptures. Be good! and Remember who you are! AND where you came from!


-Elder Preston William Tucker

Monday, November 9, 2009

Email - Received Monday, November 9, 2009

Hey Family! =)

Wow! I received SOOO much news from you this week, and I loved it! However, I did have to read for a while, which doesn`t help on conserving writing time. Dont, get me wrong, I love that you give me lots of detail in the news you send, but I do have a favor to ask. I would ask that you (Mom, Dad, and Hope) write your emails to me BEFORE Monday. Write me on Saturday or Sunday, so that when I get to the internet cafes on Monday, I dont have to worry about receiving last minute emails. It`s happened a couple of times that I haven`t gotten an email from you until the last 2 minutes of my hour, and then have had to read it the next week. It`s not a big deal, but it WOULD make it easier if you wrote a little earlier in advance. Thank you! =)

Okay, to answer the key questions right off the bat:
I need more white shirts and garments because here in La Sonora, the member that washes our clothing receives our clothing on Monday, but does not give it back washed until Friday or Saturday.
I WAS planning on saving half of my clothing for my second year in the mission, but this inconvenience prevented that plan. Also, my first missionary bag (or at least the way that I wore it) wore out a couple shirts in Promision. The shoulders were stained with stains that dont come out, and on a bus one day one of my shirt pockets got caught on a seat as I was getting in, and ripped a large, unrepairable hole in the front of the shirt.
My sizes for garments would be bottoms = 34 and tops = Large. I would like three more pairs, but two would be just fine. I also only need two more white shirts, size 18 neck with half-sleeves. I am still asking for these things because I`ve been hearing that taking a week to wash and dry the missionaries`clothes is pretty common throughout the mission.
Also, If you would like to send my shoes seperately, go for it! I definately do not want to run the risk of having you send and overly-enticing package through Guatemalan post. I`m ever so very excited to get packages. Letters are awesome! But there`s just something extra special about getting a package at Zone Conference.

You are right, changes are coming up this week. This Saturday we will hear about changes, and it`s possible that everything in my area and mission is about to change completely. This coming change the President is dividing my area and assigning four missionaries to the La Sonora Ward. Don't know if he is going to split me and Elder Child up to train the two new missionaries, if they are sending two sister missionaries, or if they are going to just white-wash the area (all new elders, untrained, and unfamiliar). I just pray that, whatever happens, the progress and friendships we have made do not get destroyed with this change, as often happens with missionary changes. I`ve heard bad news that because they white-washed Promision, none of my converts back there are active and that the missionaries they sent have destroyed the member-missionary confidence that existed before. I can only do what it is possible in my assigned area and send a letter or two to my converts to help them get animated again. At times, it frustrates me, how things happen and change, but I know that the Lord has a plan and that no unhallowed hand can stop this Work from progressing.

This week was very busy and a little hectic for us in La Sonora. We received the news about the area division and were then assigned the immediate task of finding not one, but TWO new houses to rent within our area. This was a tough task because almost all colonies here want to SELL their houses, not rent them. However, in the long run we were both able to find the two new houses to rent, AND teach 17 lessons in total this week. I was pretty impressed with us this week, but I know that the coming weeks will check my pride and test me in ways I have not ever been tested before. I ask that you pray for me, that no matter what happens, I will be able to roll with the punches and continue to seek and find success in my mission.

I am currently studying the Book of Mormon from the beginning again, but this time in more depth. I am familiar with 2 Nephi 26, and am very excited and proud that my family and I are on the same page there. I just started into Mosiah (my favorite part) and am learning volumes about the doctrine and atonement of Christ. Thank you so much, Dad and Mom, for sending me with my mp3 player full of great talks and books on CD. They have helped me each night to gain yet another glimpse into understanding the Gospel and the real application of Christ`s Atonement in my life and in the lives of all those around me. Also I am learning even more profoundly how deeply my soul longs to KNOW the scriptures AND to UNDERSTAND them. I know that will be a lifelong journey, but I`m extremely willing to enjoy it! =)

Again, I would like to remind you that this week I will receive my news for changes. If I get changed, it`s possible that I won't write until Wednesday of next week. I will let you know what happened as soon as possible, okay? =P Elder Child has been a wonderful companion, and if we are seperated this change, I want you all to know that Elder Braden Child has changed my life. He comes from a wonderful, intelligent family. He has a deep love and knowledge of the scriptures, and has helped and protected me like a Senior Companion is sent to do. If you ever get the chance to meet him or his family before I get home, please communicate my everlasting thanks to them, because their missionary changed yours in wonderful ways. =)

Just a note, Mom, the CTR ring (the link that I sent) was silver with black CTR. I would actually like the black one with the silver CTR. Ya know...shiny things attract greedy eyes. haha =) Or send both...if you`re feeling generous. ;P

Dad, I love you and wish you the best of luck with your appointments and training. I`m so proud to have an intelligent, loving mortal father that always makes lemonade out of the lemons, and has taught me to do the same. =) Mom, keep working hard! I think about you often, and my soul cheers for you every day. Keep working out, supporting Dad, loving and guiding Hope, and doing everything you can to teach the young minds in your classes. You are so good at what you do and I want you to know that I love you to eternity and beyond! Hope...oh my dear, tall little sister! I love you SOOO much! Today I got your letter, and even though it was short, it almost made me cry because I miss you so much! I want so badly now to be a part of your life. Your schooling, your swimming training, your goals, and your happiness. I miss you, but want you to know that when I get home I want to do everything I can to love and support you while I am at home to enjoy the summer with you! Grandma, I got your letter too! It was wonderful, and I love you. I miss you and hope you can find strength in my spirit. You`ve taught me to love the Lord, and to love my family, and to ALWAYS love my Grandma! I will see you soon, dont you worry! =) and Metzie, put on your strength! You are one of the strongest, most loving women I have every met. I look to you as a sailor looks to a bright star. You give me direction and I want you to know of the happiness you bring me. Stay strong, and when you need more strength, visit my family and you will be rejuvenated. I love you, always remember that!

Alright, well my time is up this week. I have to go. Dang...this hour is always the shortest one of the week. I just hope that I`ve written enough for you all to learn and feel my testimony and love.

Love Always,

-Elder Preston William Tucker

Monday, November 2, 2009

Email - Received Monday, November 2, 2009

Hey Family!

Yet again, it was awesome to hear from you this week. Up until this point in the day I haven`t received an email from Mom, but I did get the email from Dad. Thanks Dad, for keeping me updated with the situation, activities, and relative uneventfulness at home. Haha! I know that when Winter comes everything slows down, but the good news is that we always have another summer to enjoy afterwards. Just use this time and the extra time that you may have to prepare yourselves for the future, to work hard, and enjoy the Family that Heavenly Father has seen fit to bless us with. I`m sad at times that I don't and won't get to celebrate these Holidays with you for another little while, but I have full confidence that you will have a whole bunch of Spirit and energy stored up to help you enjoy life to the MAX when I get home. =) I recently (yesterday) completed 7 months in the mission, and yes, the time DOES seem to be moving faster as I continue to progress and work in the Vineyard of the Lord. I`m enjoying my time now, and am constantly revising my own work to find ways each day that I can be better. I appreciate to Infinity and back the support that ALL of my family gives me each week and the love and prayers that you share with me and my investigators. I know that you all are an integral part of my portion in this work and would just challenge you to keep working as hard as you`re able to establish good habits and gospel testimonies NOW so that we can all be prepared to accept our inheritance as an Eternal Family in the life to come!

This week was a rather eventful week as all of our planned activities and preparations came to fruition during our triple combined Zone Conference with our Area Predisent, Elder Don R. Clark, this last Wednesday. Three zones of missionaries, supposedly called the ¨coastal zones¨, although Amatitlan doesn`t really qualify as part of the coast, joined together to learn at the feet of leaders of this part of God`s Vineyard. Listening, participating, and taking notes while President Clark spoke was an EXCELLENT experience, and I have four pages of notes to show for it. I really enjoyed every minute as he touched on and taught MANY eternal principles that help us as missionaries to be more effective instruments in God`s hands. President Clark is known in the mission for his sharp tongue and his deep dislike for disobedience. Some experienced missionaries came scared that they were going to get chewed out by a General Authority, but I was very excited for the opportunity to learn. Truly he is an inspired man, called of God, to lead us towards our divine potential. I thoroughly enjoyed this change`s Zone Conference.
Apart from this experience, Elder Child and I had a good week in La Sonora. We visited and strengthened Sister Paz, who just got baptized, and also set a baptismal date with an eternal investigator, Erwin Aguilar for the 14th of this month. We are very excited for this baptism, as he has been receiving the missionaries for forever, and his wife has been waiting for him to make this decision for years. They have a beautiful family of 5, three young children, and Sister Judith has already received her endowments. We want this family to have the possibility of being eternal, so we`re doing everything we can in these two weeks to get Erwin ready. Also, things with the Familia Lopez are about the same. However, we have the possibility of replacing Otto`s work with a better one that will allow everyone to attend Church and progress towards baptism. So this week is pretty much all good news.

Love Always,
-Elder Preston William Tucker