Monday, May 31, 2010

Email - Received Monday, May 31, 2010

Hey Family!

kay, first of all...nobody panic...I´m alive, okay? haha Seriously, everyone freaked out this week. Where´s the faith?! Just kidding, I know that volcanic eruptions and hurricanes and mudslides are all very scary things. But everyone needs to know that where my companion and I live, there were hardly any of the terrible effects of the natural disasters from this week. I live in a little city called La Nueva Concepcion, which is comfortably situated about 15 miles away from the nearest beach and about 30 miles away from the nearest active volcano. I realize that volcanoes and hurricanes penetrate a lot further inland than those small distances, but where I´m at we are relatively very safe.

One of the most interesting things about these disasters is that about 7 weeks ago, in my last Zone Conference in the Capital, all the missionaries received copies of a new emergency plan for the Guatemalan missions as well as the rest of Central America. The plans facets included a plan for floods, earthquakes, civil revolutions (riots and civil war), and volcanic eruptions. The plans tell us exactly what to do and who to contact whenever something that falls under those categories happens or we personally witness it. When we got home that night, I read the plan all the way through and I knew exactly what I needed to do two weeks ago when there was a riot against the police right here in Nueva Concepcion. Also, if I had been in my last area this change, I would have been right there, very close to the volcano that erupted four days ago. Volcán Pacaya was actually part of my area back in Santa Elena Barillas. Family...everyone...the Lord is protecting me in very obvious ways. He took me as far away as possible from the volcano in the last change I experienced. He put me in the very secure place in the coast so that the hurricane would not hurt me either. I don´t know why...but the Lord is making sure that I am very safe and that nothing terrible happens. haha Maybe it´s for the sake of all of YOU guys, so you don´t freak out too bad! hahaha Just kidding, it was awesome to know how well informed my family and loved ones are about the occurrences here in Guatemala and that your prayers are always with me. Thank you for you prayers and support, all is well!

When the storm hit, we just used our common sense (mostly) and stayed safely inside our homes. Everyone in my district was smart and safe, and we just waited on the instructions from the "higher-ups." The Area Presidency of Central America suspended Sunday services yesterday too, all the way across Central America. The chapels were opened as refuges for the homeless and those who needed first aid. That sucked though because my entire district had investigators come to the chapels, just to find out that there wasn´t any meetings yesterday...but it´s okay, this Sunday will be better.

We missionaries don´t read the news very often, so we don´t get hugely informed on all this stuff, but I do get tidbits here and there. So far, with the disasters, there are just a ton of people without homes...not a very high death toll or injured list. Any death is sad, but with natural disasters of this magnitude, it´s amazing that the numbers are so few. We will be doing a lot of service, trying to get things back to normal with members and non members too, but things should calm down very fast. Today it is sunny, hot, and humid...all good signs for the weather...but all mean we´re back to sweating our guts out. That´s okay though, i´d rather sweat than drown! ;P

The Bear Lake weekends sound awesome...I´m jealous, but I love hearing about them, so don´t spare me. Dutch oven sounds good too...I miss Mom´s cooking WAY bad. haha Mom, think you could teach Whitney a few of your signature dishes? ;P

I´m happy that everyone is enjoying their activities. That´s really cool that Grandpa Welling had a reunion to look forward to and that Mom is getting really close to ending her year. Hope, sorry your summer is so short this year, but you´ll be happy about having a longer summer when I get home. Dad...keep working hard! I want you to be really well situated with your team by the time I get home. I can´t wait to see what you´ve built.

This week I have Zone Conference on Wednesday, so I´m hoping to get a bunch of mail and Mom´s care package this week. Next week I´ll let you know how it goes. Also, next week, on Wednesday the 9th, I´ll finally know whether or not I´m being changed to the new Guatemalan mission that they´re creating this July. I´m very excited for that opportunity. If I do things all right, I´ll be able to say that I was not only one of the first missionaries in a new mission, but also one of the "founding fathers," or the most successful missionaries it will ever see as well. I know I have the potential to do it, I´m just not sure yet whether or not I´ll get the chance.

Okay, this email is getting really long and I´ve gotta get going. I love you all, you´re all such a comfort to me. Keep saying your prayers, reading your scriptures, and doing your FHE. Your prayers and thoughts help me. You all are the reason I want to return with honor. I want to honor my friends that believed in me, I want to honor my wonderful family, and I want to honor my God.

Love Always,
-Elder Preston William Tucker

Monday, May 24, 2010

Email - Received Monday, May 24, 2010

Hey Family!

So, everyone is sick of the cold weather huh? Well, come down to my area in La Nueva Concepcion, that`ll introduce you to summer REAL fast! No, actually, it`s really not too hot in my area right now. In other areas of my district, yeah, it`s hot, but in mine it wasn`t too bad this week. This week has been crazy...interesting...great, all at the same time. First of all, I miss my family. My second summer away from home is starting, and I`m going to miss out on a little bit of laid back, comfy summer fun. It`s okay though, Heavenly Father knows my heart and is making the time seem to go faster now. I have been conscious of the fact that my mission is coming closer to an end. Sometimes, with some missionaries, that makes them sad and they don`t want the time to go fast, but with me it`s okay. I just know that every passing day brings me closer and closer back to my beautiful, eternal family. You`re all awesome, and I love you with all my heart.

This week started out very weird. We had a normal district meeting, I was able to write home and everything, but once we got back to our area, I started feelings REALLY odd. At about 5PM, a riot broke out in Nueva Concepcion, the people against the police because the police let a vehicular homicide killer go after he paid off the local government. It started as we were headed to an appointment, and all the sudden we saw a wall of fully armored and weaponized police protecting the police station, so we decided it would be better to go back home and be safe. It was something I thought I would never see, people with rocks, pipes, homemade bombs, and angry faces ready to revolt against "the Man." haha And then about 5 thousand people were just riding around on their motorcycles, being spectators to the riot, it was interesting. So we went home, called the Assistants, and they told us to stay in for the night. We lost the appointment, but yesterday we made up for it in spades, and I`ll tell you about that in the next paragraph. Anyways, that night, my body got really tired, really fast. I didn`t know what was wrong with me, so I laid down. About 30 minutes later, I touched my forehead, and I was burning! I soon got really delirious and started saying stupid things to my companion. I checked my temperature and it was at 102.5 F. I took some meds, went to bed, and decided that if I still had a fever the next day, we wouldn't go to the beach with the Zone. The next morning, I woke up at 4:30AM, my bed and pillow was soaked with sweat, and I had a temp of 103 F! We stayed in all day and my fever fluctuated between 102 to 103.5 F until 7PM. We called the nurse, got some good meds, my companion gave me a blessing, and then slowly my fever disappeared. It was so weird how quickly it hit, and how quickly it left. Power of the Priesthood, all I`ve got to say! So after that, my body was exhausted, but we still tried to have a good week. The highlight was the weekend, and I`ll tell you about it now.

On Saturday, I did two baptismal interviews for Tiquisate, one of the areas of my District, for two REALLY smart, really hilarious kids named Graciela and Josè. They blew me away with how well they knew the commandments, it was awesome. The rising generation is going to be cool to see. After that we went back to our area and helped a family of recent converts, the Cortez family, set up their property for their daughters "quice años" party. In Latin culture, when a girl reaches 15 years of age, she leaves behind childhood and becomes a woman in their society. So it`s like a "sweet 16" party in North America, but bigger. They killed a cow to feed all the people BBQ, for heaven`s sake! haha It was a LOT of good food! There is a little bit of ceremony involved too, but I÷m not going to explain it. The only bad part was that the 1st Counselor of the Branch Presidency got up and gave the girl a Priesthood Blessing in front of cameras and 300÷ people. That was dumb...but whatever, that÷s Latin America. A lot of very untrained Priesthood, that÷s where us North Americans come in to teach them... hahaha Well, Sunday was another good day. My companion spoke in Sacrament and there were a couple other good talks...STRAIGHT out of the March Liahona! hahaha Funny stuff. Now that I read the Liahona cover to cover every months, it`s funny to me to see where the themes for lessons and talks come from...straight from Church magazines. They were good lessons though, and we all enjoyed. Our class GREW this week, but we still didn`t have investigators there. We had 10 students this week, a lot of new ones too, from all ages and genders. It was fun! We get them all to participate and it`s an excellent practice for my companion and I. This week we WILL have investigators in that class though, and maybe we`ll have to use the Sacrament Chapel to fit everyone! hehe =) After church, we had a couple visits, but one AWESOME lesson. The Orellana Family are all members, besides their dad. He`s an eternal investigator, but they`re my specialty! =P The rain came down HARD as soon as we started teaching, but we just decided to yell and scream the lesson over the rain! We talked about families, and how the gospel blesses them, and how we have prophets to guide us and teach us, and how God has made it possible for families to be together forever. The commitment we gave, focusing on the dad was "Will you, as the Orellana Family, do EVERYTHING possible to make sure your family can be sealed in the Temple as soon as possible?" And guess what...? They all accepted the commitment with enthusiasm! Whitney, you÷ll appreciate this phrase more than anyone that reads it, but I want my family to know that this family is the REASON that I am in this area right now. I will baptize this man and complete his family, then next year they will be sealed in the Temple for all Eternity.

That was my week. My companion and I are still getting along awesomely. We`re both excited for what is to come for us. Keep praying for us, but now pray for the Orellana (pronounced Or ay ana) family specifically! I love you all, and will write again today answering your questions, but my time for now is up. I have about a half an hour to use later today, so wait for my other email. Dad, be a good guy and post this email REAL quick! ;P

Love Always,
Elder Preston William Tucker

Monday, May 17, 2010

Email - Received Monday, May 17, 2010

Hey Family!
...and all my wonderful friends that follow my blog so religiously and razz my Dad about posting my emails!
hahaha! It blows me away that my parents keep telling me about how bad they get whomped on by everyone when my weekly email doesn`t get posted. It`s hilarious because when we started the blog...I had no idea that it was going to be popular between anyone besides my immediate family. But, I guess I have a following now! haha My own little Elder Preston Tucker fan club...don`t worry...I`m not getting a big head about it or`s just cool to me that I`m so loved! Thank you! =)

I would have loved to call some of you last Monday as well as my family, it would be great to hear your voices and learn the news in your lives and families, but fortunately, my call to my family was extremely satisfactory and I went to bed that night a VERY content missionary! haha I was probably the Happiest 20 year old man in the whole world after my phone call that night! I love my family! Dad, I want to thank you for appreciating for deeply and explaining for completely the happiness that my family experienced through our call. Sharing your feelings and your pride in me was probably the best thing you could`ve done this week to lift my spirits, give me the desire to move forward, and to serve with my heart, might, mind, and strength. This week will be great, our whole district is focused on finding new ways to use the coastal culture to our advantage and find a whole bunch of new investigators. The coast is completely different from the city, and I would love to explain exactly how it is different, but that will take a lot of time. I`ll give it to your little by little in the emails, but I`m experiencing it first-hand, so it`s a little bit easier for me to "get it" than it is for you all by just reading. First of all, (and this came from the workshop Elder Avilez, one of the elders in my district, gave today in our district meeting) in the coast, everyone has belonged to a church before or at least has grown up christian. Everyone has their own opinion, although not everyone likes to express it out loud. There are people that will just talk your ear off and not let you talk, just so they don`t have to listen to you and allow you to finish your contact. There are people who are just into living their own lives and that will not want to listen at all because of their supposed "to do list." And then, there are those people that just don`t want to say anything...and then we just sit there, awkwardly waiting for them to say something in response to our questions. And then, there are the "escogidos," the people chosen and prepared by Heavenly Father to receive us with humble hearts and true intent. We`re going to find those people, it`ll be great.

So that`s the coast. I learned a lot this week, and I will continue learning, but I`m liking every day and continuing to grow. My companion and I are really good friends and we always get along. My district and I respect each other and we all get along. In our Zone, there are a ton of different personality types and educational levels, so it`s hard to get everyone united, but we all understand our purpose as missionaries and I believe we`re all doing our best to DO our best. Tomorrow, supposedly, we`re going to beach as a Zone. I`ll take my camera and everything, but I`m not sure what a bunch of missionaries will be able to do at the beach...we can`t that`s gunna suck, but it should be fun. Maybe we`ll play volleyball...that might be fun! The only bad part though is that for my companion and I it`s going to cost an ARM and a LEG in transport costs...our area is the furthest away from the Zone Leaders area and it`s going to cost even more to get the beach from Santa Lucia. Grrr...I guess I`ll just fast for a couple days instead of spend money on food. haha Basically I`ll starve. hahaha Just kidding Mom, and Grandma, and Whitney...don`t freak out! haha I was kidding...I`m not gunna starve. I`ll be fine. I`m happy and I`m healthy. I have no idea if I`m still losing more weight or not. We`ll have to see soon. But...I`m not gunna lie, as the body fat melts the mirror, I`m looking better and better. Tomorrow I`m actually going to start an exercise program so that I`m not just doing pushups, but so I can be working out everything I know how to. I`m just afraid that I`ll do it wrong and I`ll end up with problems...I guess I`ll just take it really slow...I`ve got time. =)

Okay, I`m so excited about all the awesome stuff that is going on at home. You guys all say that nothing special is going on, but to me, it`s all awesome. Mom is almost done with school, go go go! You`re almost done, then you get to enjoy the summer! haha So excited for you. Dad is still working like a dog, and that`s good for him. Just keep your immune system up please, and take a little time to watch out for your health as well. I love you. Hope, is just being amazing, keep up the good work. I`m excited as well as I realize that things in my extended family are more or less happy as well. I haven`t gotten a whole lot of news or letters from anyone, but what I do get, I cherish.

To finish up, I`ll tell you about the biggest success of this last week. (Sorry I didn`t answer all your questions Dad, I`ll print out this email and send a letter home about my "management abilities." ) This week, instead of attending Sunday School or teaching Gospel Principles class, my companion and started teaching the missionary lessons during Church members! =) They gave us a small classroom, and said good luck. 8 members showed up, participated well, and learned a LOT! It was awesome. Our goal is to "RE-convert" the members, get their fire back from when they got baptized. It`ll be a success and I think we`ll need a bigger classroom! =P Next week, we`ll have investigators in the class as`ll be great.

Alright, time`s up. I`ll write a handwritten letter to my family this week, so I can answer your questions. I love you all. Stay strong, have fun as summer begins, and know that Elder Tucker loves you!

Love Always,
-Elder Preston William Tucker

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Email - Received Monday, May 10, 2010

Hey Family!

ve got a ton to report this week, even though hardly any of it is about investigators. This week has been completely full of changing plans and getting to know a new companion, area, and branch in a relentlessly hot part of my mission. haha Seriously, I have been sweating my guts out...but, interestingly enough, I don´t feel very dirty or gross due to the sweat...on the contrary, I actually feel energy, I feel clean. haha I feel like in the Capital I was comfortable with the climate, our accommodations in our apartments, and our work pace. But the whole time I was there I felt like I was breathing thick, polluted air, that it was somehow getting to me and making me weaker. Here, in the coast, I feel like sweating so much has cleaned me out, has gotten rid of a lot of the bad effects of being in the Capital for so long, and has given me a completely new opportunity to serve the Lord in a completely new way.

Here´s the news about my companion, area, and branch...and get ready because from an observer´s point of´s not all good. My companion, Elder Segundo, and I get along really well! He´s a little bit of a smart-aleck when it comes to answering to authority (like President Baldwin, and strict Senior Companions), but with me he is just intelligent, fun, and laid-back. I don´t think I´ll have any problems with him the whole time we´re together. When it´s time to rest, we have fun. When it´s time to plan, we plan well. When it´s time to work...I think I´ll have good support from him and we´ll be able to work well together. I think that a whole bunch of rumors have just been spread about him because he likes to challenge authority figures when they attack his "way of life." Anyone who knows about the "Colors Test" knows that that´s exactly how a Yellow reacts to a demanding Red. haha If no one else besides my parents got that...that´s okay, haha don´t worry about it. Now, my HUGE! We don´t have a map that shows all of it, so I´m just going to have to ask for a lot of help from the leaders and get to know it by "feel" rather than by sight. However, where we live is just a HUGE rectangular city that has a couple central points and a whole ton of same-sized properties with a whole bunch of different-sized houses on them. The streets are wide and made of concrete, which makes everything seem more open, calm, and organized...I like that a TON! Everyone zips around town on their motorcycles and it´s all a bunch of activity of motors, buying, selling, moving, and shaking in the center of La Nueva Concepción. It has two markets, and there is a huge supply of fresh fruits, new foods, and a lot of really fun looking products. haha Everyone has shade trees in front of their houses and almost everyone has a few hammocks hanging out front to escape the heat and have a good, long nap! In our house, we don´t have a hammock, but we DO have two big fans that help us beat the heat, so we have them going full blast on us all night so we can sleep without sweating to death! haha I´m thinking about buying a hammock...but I´m not sure if I´ll do it now, or more towards the time when I´m closer to coming´s just that it takes up a TON of space in a luggage bag. About the´s dying! haha Don´t be alarmed, the process CAN be reversed...and I´m just the guy to do it. I told the leadership right up front...I´m not going to be your leader, but I´ll be your servant and I´ll help you organize, revitalize, and gospelize this branch. They have had 6 hard months of inactivation and little to no baptisms, so it´s almost like I have a clean slate, a new canvas, ready to paint a new masterpiece. If I ever had a grand opportunity to leave my mark on an area in my mission, it´s right now. If we give our all and we have the Spirit with us...maybe in a few months I will have wonderful things, news of life and growth to share with you. I feel positive, I feel the desire to help these people, and I already know that they will love me when I show them what I can really do, with the Lord on my side.

I´m out of time for today, but I´ll be calling home tonight. I love you all and I will keep you posted on the changes that we´re going to see in this branch. Pray for us, and I know the Lord will send his support and his angels to bear us up and direct us to success.

Love Always,

-Elder Preston William Tucker

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Email - Received Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hey Family! (yes, all of you)

This week has been completely nuts for me! Nothing happened like I thought it would. My little missionary world got turned completely upside down and I`m not sure how exactly I feel about it. First of all, I`m going to tell you about the changes I received, but then I`m not exactly sure what I`ll say be prepared.

Okay, so everyone that has been reading my blog and/or knows anything about Guatemala City Central Mission knows that my mission has three basic areas, or climates. We have the Capital, the Mountains, and the Coast. I have been in the Capital for basically my whole mission, receiving a variety of different opportunities and responsibilities. I`ve really grown up physically, mentally, emotionally,, and spiritually in the Capital, but I guess it was finally the Lord`s will to change all that. Elder Garcia, my mission son, was left behind in Santa Elena Barillas, while I received a change. I did NOT train again, but I`m still a District Leader. About 2 weeks ago, in my interview with President Baldwin, I told him that I wanted a new challenge, that of learning a Guatemalan Indian dialect. I did NOT receive that blessing/opportunity, unfortunately. I wasn`t even sent to a different part of the Capital or the Mountains...I got exactly what I didn`t want to happen until the end of my mission...I got sent to Zone Santa Lucia, Area La Nueva Concepciò my new companion Elder Segundo called it..."the Hell of the Mission Central"...the Coast. I`ll explain why I didn`t want to get sent to the coast until the end of my mission. I wanted, in my last few changes in the mission field, to go to the coast and sweat off all the rest of my excess weight, right before I get home. I guess the Lord wants me skinnier NOW, and not later. I was way disappointed that President didn`t send me to learn a new language, BUT after reading your emails, I know why I`ve been sent here earlier than I planned. Mom and Dad, you`re right...the Lord has blessed me with the gift to learn and speak Spanish fluently...and I wanted to learn a new language, which probably would have started me back at zero as an efficient missionary. Now is the time for me to stop trying to progress personally, and start helping OTHERS to progress.

I`ve been secretly fearing the point in my mission when I would have to "forget myself" completely, and work completely unselfishly. In my mission, I have always served others, but I`ve also been making a conscious effort to serve myself as well. I`ve been working hard in my studies to know the scriptures, know the doctrine, and deepen my profound testimony. I`m feeling like this change was Heavenly Father`s way of telling my to stop what I was doing before, and to get to know serving "the least of these" His brethren. I feel a little bad for what I was doing before...however I know that I didn`t leave regretful service in my wake. My faith in unshakable now, I will never fall away from this Gospel or Christ`s path, that much I personally know. However, now I will learn to give my all in the teaching and service of others. I feel like I`m confessing a long hidden secret to you now, and I`m hoping that it doesn`t come as a huge surprise, but I`m also hoping that you`ll forgive me and support me in the challenges that lay before me.

Here in the Coast, I will sweat my butt off (I already am...I hope I don't eventually disappear), I will probably experience debilitating sickness, and I will pass through even more difficulty and trial than I already have in my mission thus far. But I will eventually leave this Coast carrying my "sheaves" upon my back, knowing that I know how to be a successful missionary. I do not know whether or not I will baptize many or few or none here, but I do know that there are thousands (or maybe just hundreds ;P) of lives that can possibly be changed for the better by my testimony. I will continue to study and grow in my testimony, but it will be through sharing it with everyone that will listen to me that I believe I will grow the most.

I feel like the emails that I received today were all huge admonitions for me to change, focus, and work. I plan to follow your directions and advice, now humbled and submissive before the Lord. I`m sorry if anything that I have written or said in my letters up until now has worried any of you or made you upset at me for my lack of "forgetting myself-ness." I want my family, my friends, and my future wife and children to have marked, holy pride in the example that I gave them through my missionary service. I don`t want to have regrets...I fear them and I know they would ruin the memory of my mission. So I guess...if any of you feel forgotten or neglected from this day forward...I can only say I`m sorry...others need my help until I can finally come home.

My companion, Elder Segundo, entered the mission field with me a year ago. I`ve taken time these last three days to get to know who he is, and not pay much attention to the stories that other elders seem so eager to share about him. I know that he is here for the right reason, to serve others, but I also know that we might have some struggles ahead of us with respect to how we continue serving the Lord (in what method and how hard). Please, be willing to pray for me to know, through the Spirit, not only how I can help investigators and members, but how I can help Elder Segundo progress and become the man and missionary he is supposed to be. Right now, our area does not have any progressing investigators, but that will change soon. Pray that we can find men, Priesthood. In the Zone Santa Lucia, we are working in a District, not a Stake. All of our congregations are Branches, not Wards. We need to find, teach, and baptize LEADERS. We need strong, intelligent people to come to the Church here so we can continue to establish Zion in this part of Guatemala. That`s what I need from home this week, and all the weeks that I`m here in the Coast.

Also, Mom, in my next care package...I need new, cheap flip flops, a few pairs of Missionary Mall socks (yes, please specifically buy Missionary Mall socks), and a few pairs of garments. The mission office does not have any more garments, and because mine have been washed by hand against concrete and rocks for the last year, they are starting to disintegrate. I need to replace a few pair. Please send what you can.

About Mother`s Day, we will be calling on Monday, the 10th. I will call you in the night time, about 8PM. I`m not sure what the cost will be, but I will talk to other Elders to find out what the best way to do it is. I`m excited to talk to my family, but I`m more excited that it will be just one less call until I`m home. After next Monday, my last call will be on Christmas. How cool is that huh?

Alright, well I`m out of time for this week. I`ll be writing again on Monday, just about mission stuff and what we were able to do in the next few days, so then on the call I can give more stories and specifics about other parts of my mission. I love you all and have sent faith and love in the mail which should be getting to many of you soon. Be faithful, try hard to live the Gospel, and read the Scriptures.

Love Always,

-Elder Preston William Tucker