Sunday, March 28, 2010

Email - Received Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hey Family!

Sorry to write again on a Wednesday unexpectedly, but that`s the life of a leader in the mission. I seriously have not realized, until now, that it is because I`m a District Leader that my schedule is so abnormal all the time. However, the abnormality of the schedule this week was due to a rather...normal reason. This week was a change week and I`ve begun my 8th change in the mission. My District saw quite a few changes, but luckily Elder Garcia and I are still together. I was so bummed 9 month ago when they took my Trainer (Elder Molina) from me after just one change. I was happy that President Baldwin spared that experience from effecting Elder Garcia`s mission. Now I`ll have the next 6 weeks to fill in all the holes left in the training that Elder Garcia received at my hands. We`ve talked about it a lot, we have set good goals for obedience and work ethic, and we are excited about the opportunities that these next 6 weeks will bring. However, in my District the changes were big ones. Both Elder Rodriguez and Sister Cruz (Trainers and Senior Companions) were changed out and sent to new areas. Neither of them is training again. Sister Cruz only has two changes left until she goes home to California, and I was sad to see her go. Her and I had a very special friendship and were always able to be our true selves around each other. Her ¨daughter¨, Sister Mascareño was also sad to see her go, and I will need to make sure that she keeps her chin up and her heart in the Lord`s hands. ha ha Interestingly, no one was sad to see Elder Rodriguez go...he was one of those elders that takes everything too far and complains about every little pain. However, he worked like a draft horse, set a good example for his ¨son´, Elder Chavez, and his work ethic will be missed. Sister Campos came in to be with Sister Mascareño, Elder Lopez came in to be with Elder Chavez, and then they divided the Elders`s area of Villa Canales and put a new pair of Sisters there to open it. Their names are Sister Ramos (she entered the field with my same group) and Sister Rojas (a new Sister from El Salvador). So now District Santa Elena Barillas has four Elders (of which, I have to most time in the mission) and four Sisters. Sister Campos has about 4 months more than I do, so I`m not officially the oldest in my District, but it`s interesting to know how many ¨young¨ missionaries they have put under my stewardship. I know how to be a District Leader well now, after two changes of practice, and I have confidence that I will be able to inspire my District with the scriptures and personal testimony and, more than anything, the help of my Lord. Now lets just keep our fingers crossed and a prayer in our hearts that nothing horribly difficult happens so that everything will go smoothly and we will be able to focus well on being a hard-working, spiritual district.

Speaking of ways to be spiritual, I have a cool bit of news to share with everyone. President and Sister Baldwin have introduced a new project in the mission that dates back to the missions of Elders Cook and Holland of the Twelve. Those two participated in a similar project and still benefit from the lessons and blessings it gave them so many years ago. The project has to do with the Book of Mormon, a red and blue marking pencil, and a Mayan hieroglyphic symbol, nothing more and nothing less. =P The project is called ¨Utchi¨, which is the name of the Mayan hieroglyphic symbol. The symbol is translated to mean ¨And it came to pass...¨ and is of Hebrew origin. The fact that archaeologists have found this symbol here, in Central America, is physical proof of the movement of groups of people (and their literary and language structure) from Jerusalem to the Americas. In simple words, it proves that Ancient America was influenced by the Ancient Holy Land. The Church`s explanation: see the Book of Mormon to learn HOW it happened. =P So here`s the project: Each missionary in the mission was given a soft-cover copy of the Book of Mormon in his or her native language, and we will all be reading them cover to the period of 6 changes (8-9 months). This first time through, we are marking with red pencil ALL the references to Christ (his names and pronouns that refer to Him) that we can find. The second time through, we will mark with blue pencil all of the doctrines and principles of the Gospel that we can find. Interestingly enough, I had already started a similar project of my own (reading the Book of Mormon cover to cover, marking all the scriptures that called my attention or that help me personally to be a more Christ-like person, and then sending the marked up book all of you! =P) about 2 months ago, but I`ve replaced it with ¨Utchi¨ now because it involves a prize! =P After the first time through, marking with red, Sister Baldwin will give us a figure of the symbol ¨Utchi¨ to put on our desks and take home as a memory of what we accomplished as a mission. It`s gunna be awesome, and I`ll show it to you all when I get home. Of course, I will finish my personal project later and send that book home as well so that my Family can benefit from my studies in the mission. But what do you think? I think the new project is awesome and I`m already blasting through the first time through. I`m in Mosiah 20 and we just started two weeks ago. =) I`ve shared the project with a few friends in other missions and they are all excited to do it too. FUN FACT! Elder Cook and Elder Holland say that when they go to prepare talks for General Conference, they still use their red and blue marked, soft-cover copy of the Book of Mormon to find and explain the Principles of the Gospel that they teach us over the pulpit. =)

Alright, well that was the business part of the email. Now for the personal part. HOPE TUCKER!!!! I am SO FREAKING PROUD OF YOU!!!! I must have the most naturally talented swimmer of a little sister ever. You`re totally going to the Olympics. It`s only your second year going to state and you qualified for SEVEN EVENTS! Holy crap...that`s cool! Then you passed preliminaries for FIVE EVENTS! Dang can swim! and then you FREAKING METALED in TWO EVENTS! I`m....speechless. You blow me away Hope, I`m just sorry that I wasn't there to see it. However, like Mom and Dad said in their emails, in two years I WILL be at State and I`ll be there to see you do even better than this year! I`m so happy for you. I love that you have a passion for swimming because it is a sport that will bless you and our family for your whole life. It will keep you healthy, fit, and happy. As long as you can keep everything going well at school, you`re on an excellent track for your very bright future! =P That`s all...sorry, I kinda freaked out there...and sorry Mom, for saying ¨freak¨ so`s kinda a habit of Mission Central missionaries and it`ll take a long time to break the habit when I get home...I`m just apologizing in advance. =P sold you bike... ha ha I`m not going to lie, I had hopes that you were going to keep it and then sell it to me when I got home so I could have transportation in the 2011 summer and so that I could learn to ride with the Tucker Clan. =) It`s okay though, I`ll get home, work hard, make money, and get me what I need anyways. And Dad, as long as you have your bike, you`ll still be able to teach me how to ride with the big boys. I`m excited about that, if you couldn`t tell. Dad, I`m so glad that you are putting so much effort into your new job, building you team, and trying hard to safe me a spot on that team for when I get home. I would love to work with you again, and I promise that when you meet me once again, after I get home, you`ll want me working for you as soon as possible. ;P Dad, I already do realize the opportunity that lays before me. I have a year left to show the Lord exactly what I`m made of and do everything I can to Return with Honor. just time now. I have a year behind me, and a year ahead. I have faith Father...I understand it more than you give me credit for. I know that my Family is WELL taken care of and that all the blessings that Heavenly Father has prepared for me will be waiting for me, if I work for them diligently, at the end of the airport terminal on the 5th of April, 2011. I believe in Christ, I believe in His power to exalt me in the Heavens and bless me here on Earth, but more than anything I BELIEVE Christ. I know he can do all the things he has said he will do for me. I know with all my soul that He IS who He says He is. I know these things of a surety, but I have faith as well to back all that ¨knowledge¨ up. I understand the Laws of Justice and Mercy, and I constantly seek to allow Mercy to justify me and satisfy the payment that I constantly owe to Justice. I trust in my Heavenly Father, and I trust in my Brother, and I trust in my Earthly Family. I know these things to be true, and I apply them more and more each day. Therefore, let thine heart be at peace, my Father, rest thy soul of its anxiety for thy child and allow thyself to be embraced in the arms of his Love and Honor. ha ha A personal, scripturized phrase from me to you Pops. I hope you liked it.

Well, I`m out of time for this week. i should be able to email on Monday, the 29th. If not, please still write BEFORE Sunday night and wait patiently for my reply. I love you all dearly and will have you in my prayers and in my heart all day, every day.

Love Always,

-Elder Preston William Tucker

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Email - Received Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hey Family!

I love you!
So sorry that we couldn`t write on Monday, again, but I have absolutely NO control over the schedule of President Baldwin. haha When he wants to have a meeting, we have to change or completely clear our schedules to fit his desires. Last week it was Interviews. This week it was a Trainers Meeting. So here I am finally, writing on Wednesday, and I would like to ask a special forgiveness from Grandma Welling...I know she gets a little crazy when Dad doesn`t post my emails on time. ;P

Okay, so I`m going to share first a few things that happened in my week, and then try to answer all of Dad`s questions and fill you all in on a few more aspects of my mission.

This week...was an emotional rollercoaster. First of all, my district had three baptisms two Sundays ago. This last Sunday, we had 5 more. It`s awesome being a leader when the members of your team that you direct have success and are all happy and content. The sisters, Hna. Cruz and Hna. Mascareño, had two baptisms, both young men, soon to be Priesthood holders. The elders, Elder Rodriguez and Elder Chavez, had six baptisms. In our area we are still waiting on our three baptisms, but I`ll have good news about Adrian and his family soon. =) We`re all working hard and enjoying success, but we still have a lot of room to grow as a district and as individuals. That`s the good news! Now, here`s the bad news. One of our former investigators, a member of a part-member family of all girls, died this week. We have been praying and fasting for Ana Marìa for about two weeks now (we even sent her hand.written letters to get her spirits up), but I guess that Heavenly Father needed her back Home. She passed peacefully, I believe. She was on the mend, making plans to get baptized, get married to a return missionary, or serve her own full-time mission, all for when she would come back home, but I guess she had to go. It was a tough experience for me, not because Ana Marìa died (I already knew exactly where she was, that she was at peace, and that she`s ready the moment she`s able to be baptized and confirmed), but because of the completely overwhelming presence of the Catholic Church in all the proceedings of her funeral. True, she was a baptized Catholic, but her whole family are members of the True Church. Nevertheless, the entire community swarmed the scene with their crosses, and their pantings of heaven and hell, and their repeated prayers, and their incessant tears and yells. We, as elders, helped the family, we taught them, we comforted them, but we could not guard them from centuries of conditioning and practice of an entire community in the erroneous traditions of a false Church. It made me angry...but I hid my anger behind a prayer in my heart. No one, besides the family of Ana Marìa, wanted to hear us. No one wanted to hear about the Atonement or the fact that our souls will rest in paradise if we prepare ourselves well. No one wanted to listen to the Restored Gospel...they just wanted to keep walking blindly in their old ways, and not open their eyes to see the real and true Light. This was hard for me to take...but I took it. I will be dedicating Ana Marìa`s grave next Sunday as a sacred place of rest for her until the Second Coming, and I`ll find comfort in that. I love my family and wanted to thank you all for helping me to grow in the knowledge about the True Gospel, the True Church, and the True Atonement and Redemption through our older brother Jesus Christ. I will always be eternally grateful to my family for the part you all played in MY progress to the point of when Death has no sting for me, just comfort and hope and joy. =) Please pray that the Familia Mancilla will be comforted and that they will find hope in the Gospel, to dry their tears and endure to the end.

Alright, I don't have a lot of time left (I kinda went off rambling...sorry) but I`ll try to answer a few of your questions now. My relationship with President Baldwin HAS grown a lot in these last two changes as a District Leader and now as a Trainer. I have had more opportunity to get to know how he really is and to let him know who I am too. He is almost always serious, but can have his fun moments as well. I still don't feel like he is a Dad-figure for me, but maybe eventually he will get there...He directs the mission well, and I now have a testimony that his decisions and our changes are truly inspired by God. He is not what I was expecting, nor what I was truly wanting in a Mission President, but he is a good man, and teaches me well. I have not heard anything more about the new mission, besides the fact that it will probably begin functioning in June or July of this year. I still have a suspicion that the new mission will take experienced missionaries as a Trainers for the new missionaries in the new mission, which means I could possibly change missions, but its definitely NOT a sure thing. Our Sunday services are from 9AM to 12PM and we only have one branch to direct and teach. Every fourth Sunday is set apart for the Mission Work and we are asked to talk every time. I`m given a talk on ¨Every Member a Missionary¨, and my next subject (self-chosen) will be one ¨Love¨. Unfortunately, I do not have the measurements that Hilton took for m y suit, but He says that it will be ready by next Tuesday! I went in to him yesterday for the final adjustments...and I must`s going to be HOT! haha It`s an awesome, pin-striped black Kashmir wool suit, with two pairs of pants to match, and the Guatemalan Flag sewn in as the liner in my jacket. It`ll be one of a kind and it will only cost about 1100 Quetzales, about $130. It`s gunna make me look good...DANG good! haha I`m excited. I`m still skinny and this change I`ve actually been receiving a lot of comments that I look even thinner than I did a couple months ago. =) Now I`m going to try and bulk up with muscle, and keep trimming the fat. =) Perfect I come. We cook for ourselves for all three meals and I`m learning many dishes, both familiar and native to Guatemala. =) Yesterday I learned how to make ¨shukos¨, basically a hot dog, Guatemalan style. =) It`s fun. That`s what we`ve been doing for P-Day this change. We pick a dish we want to make, we learn how to make it, and then we make and eat it on Tuesdays. =) And finally, Hermana Xiomara Zumeta washes our laundry, BY HAND, dries it, irons it, and folds it, then gives it back to us in TWO DAYS after we hand it off. Isn`t that AMAZING, without not one machine in the process. =) Alright, did that cover all your questions for today? Keep them coming.

Alright, I`m out of time. I`ll write again on Monday. I love you all. Keep your chins up, your views always set on Heaven, and I`ll do the same knowing my Family is on it`s way to ETERNAL GLORY! =D

Love Always,

-Elder Preston William Tucker

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Email - Received Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hey Family! (especially Mom and Dad and Hope)

Haha! At least now I know that my family understands the meaning of ¨true repentance¨! Puchica! (that`s a Guatemalan word that means ¨wow¨ and other exclamations) I was very happy...grinning from ear to ear actually...just now to read and reread the emails that I got this week. You guys are pretty cool...and when you forget to do something, you make up for it in Spades! =) I felt extremely supported and loved to hear the news and come to know that I`m missed by family and friends alike throughout all the circles of society I`ve been a part of. Music, school, dating, family, sports...I loved being a part of it all, and right now it`s paying off big time. I miss my old ward, and the way things used to be, but I know that the Lord has blessed my family infinitely and that I will have SO many more opportunities in my near future to enjoy life and give love and support to all those that love and support me. I want you all to know that you have been on my mind alot lately, especially this week, and I have said many prayers in my heart for your sakes. Dad, I absolutely LOVE to hear about how your job, your success, and your love for the Gospel and our Family is progressing. I think that your news was my favorite this week for many very important reasons. Mom, I LOVE hearing the updates from you. I think you`d be an excellent news anchor if you had to be. You give it to me straight, with love, and you don't leave much to the imagination. All very important things for me, as you already know. Hope...your talk made me laugh, smile, and cry. I miss you so much...I can`t describe it, but I CAN say that I love you. You`re the best little sister a missionary could ask for. And just do me a favor, and don't freak out when Mom accidently splashs water on my letters to you. There are many more to come. I think you and I will always be very close and I will always support you and give you help and counsel whenever you need me.

Alright, so the gospel lesson that I`m learning recently is PATIENCE! Training is tough, in all the ways that I never thought of before I recieved this assignment. I love it, it`s so fun, but it`s very frustrating and hard at times. Usually all the best things in life are the ones that start out hard, but end up having the highest value. Elder Garcia will be a wonderful missionary, and he IS learning, but I think he`s having trouble with growing up. He doesn`t want to leave his behaviors behind and has a hard time learning life lessons. He did not have a great relationship with his family before the mission, so I`m guessing that lack of a support system contributes a lot to my responsibilities now, but I`m grateful for the opportunity and I love Elder Garcia with my whole heart. Dad, your counsel helps me immensely, that which you gave me before the mission and that which you`re giving me now. haha I actually DO feel like a dad when I`m teaching Elder Garcia. I have to teach him mission lessons, as well as life lessons, and I feel like its preparing me for when I myself have my own family...weird, but I like it a lot. =) Things in our area are...progressing, but slowly. Pray for us, I know you always do, but we need it always. I dont have a lot of time left, but I wanted to say thank you, like always. I showed my thanks in different ways too this week. Dad, you have a personal letter coming to you, in response to the first one you wrote a couple months ago. Sorry it took so long. The Family in general too will receive a letter that can be shared with all, and taped to it are not one but TWO microSD cards with pictures inside. Sorry I waited another 6 months to send them, but they have over 300 pictures all together, so I hope you`ll enjoy! =)

Love Always,
-Elder Preston William Tucker

P.S. Thanks for the news about Meg and Josh, that made me happy to know that they are happy and doing very well. Give Meg and Brandon my congratulations and let them know that it filled my heart to the brim to hear that they will be ¨Happily Ever After¨ soon. I love that woman, she changed my life, and now she too will enjoy the blessings of the Temple with the man that she`ll love forever. That brings me peace and lots of very deep joy. =D And as for Josh, I`m working on writing him a letter and will get that sent soon as well. It made me DANG happy to hear about his responsibilities and mine reflecting each other over the miles. I know he`ll do an awesome job! I miss that man... =)

P.P.S. Mom, for the package, I need you to start looking for a voice recorder, the kind that records on little cassettes that a missionary can easily send through the mail. Elder Ostler did that with his girlfriend, and it was an incredible blessing for him. I want to start recording for my family, and there`s another special someone that I want to send my voice too as well. =P I`ll tell you more about her another day. ;P So I need the voice recorder, blank tapes, AND it would be really cool if you sent me a digital card reader for USB ports. I`ve seen them and their awesome. You put in your SD memory card, and then plug the USB end into the computer, then it reads it like a normal USB flash drive. Then I`ll be able to send pictures with emails and also store my pictures more easily too. I`m sure you all would enjoy that, and I dont have the USB cord for my camera, so this is the solution. Also...for Hope, but also for the whole family, I found a pirated copy of Harry Potter 6, the new one, and it`s completely movie theater quality. I bought it and want to send it, but I first would like to know if you`re okay with that. Hope, I know when you read this you`ll be saying ¨YES YES YES!¨, but I need Mom and Dad`s permission first, okay? Alright, so let me now.

P.P.P.S. I ordered my suit, got my measurements taken, and will probably have my brand new, cashmire wool, super awesome suit with two pairs of pants to match...soon. In like two or three weeks I`ll get it. =) It`s going to be one of a kind and even the Tailor is excited to see it finished. =) I`ll be paying him soon, and thank you for sending money for m e to do this. It`ll be money WELL spent. =D

Love you!