Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!!!‏

Hey Family!

Happy Birthday Mom! I´m not gunna say the number, because in your email you made it very obvious that you aren´t too happy about it. hahaha Mom, don´t worry about it at all. You´re still the super fun, ultra loving, mega service-oriented, selfless Mom that I´ve known my entire life. You´re one of the greatest sources of learning, love, and comfort that I have in my Life and you need to know that your son loves you more than you will ever know or least until we´re all exalted in the Celestial Kingdom. hahaha Anyways, Mom, happy birthday...enjoy it, and have fun tomorrow night with all your sisters and Grandma. Give Grandma Welling a huge hug and kiss from me and let her know that she´s on my mind. Also, apologize for me for slacking so bad on writing letters during my mission...there really just isn´t enough time to write everyone in between in the work and the fun of the mission.

This week was a good one. Elder Solis and I worked hard to visit the members and get to know more of them. It kinda sucks that it´s taken this long to get the support of the Branch Presidency and get them to help us find our way around the area. Our area is huge and a little mountainous, so it´s a little hard to know who lives where and where to go to find them. Definitely don´t want to get lost in the mountains of Guatemala and never get back home. haha When we visit members, we try to talk with them about every aspect of their lives...temporal and spiritual, so that we can measure exactly where they´re al individually and as family in their progress. Once we´ve measure where thay´re at, we can begin to select lessons from the scriptures to teach them, left their spirits, inspire them, and get them working towards better lives and a stronger branch in San Corlos Sija. Our church attendance stayed about the same as last week, but a ton more less active and inactive members came this week, which shows big progress. We still don´t have many investigators, but that´s okay because our job for now it to get this branch back on its feet. On Saturday Elder Solis and I had a wonderful meeting with the Branch Presidency and they basically gave us an idea of the overall state of the branch and the requirements of the Church for our branch to eventually become a ward. It´s a long road ahead of us, but we´re hoping to install a turbo charger in the engine to get things progressing a lot faster. We´re doing well. This week will be full of work activating members and finding partial families (families in the which not everyone has been baptized yet). We got the good news yesterday that there is a partial family of 13 people (only 6 baptized) that wants to come back to the Church and just needs our teaching and help to get there. I´m hoping to have a lot of good things to look forward to in the progress of the branch of San Carlos Sija. I´ll keep you all posted.

Dad, you made reference to the fact that maybe I have been holding back emotions and thoughts about my missionary experience from you guys and that it´s difficult for you as a father to know what my experience has been like. I just want to tell you that I´m 100% sincere in my emails and letters, although I admit to holding back certain emotions and experiences that may have been a source of worry or concern for you and Mom and the rest of the family. I´ve held certain things back only because I don´t need to focus on them and they really wouldn´t HELP my family at all. You also said that I continually have expressed my growing testimony about certain aspects of the Gospel and that you feel my growth and love for the Gospel. You´ve also expressed that you finally feel like I´ve become a man and that I´ve turned out almost exactly the way that you and Mom hoped I would. Dad, that IS my mission. I have not baptized hundreds, nor even 20, but I have changed lives and allowed my testimony to be filled and stretched and grown my experiences. I have experienced a true, eternal, powerful personal conversion and I will never fall away. I have become the man that the Lord needs me to be to achieve the many great and wonderful works and heights that He has planned for me. I have come to know my Savior and my Father. I understand their Love and I understand the power and the purpose of the Atonement. I still have MUCH to learn and a TON of room to grow, but I´ve made HUGE progress and I know HOW to get to where I´m going now. Dad, that IS my mission. You will be happy with what the Lord is about to give back to you in the form of your only Son. I caution you all, however, about one thing. Once I´m careful about what questions you ask me, because I will NOT linger on the emotions and experiences that brought me down. So, if you ask a question and I don´t have an answer for you once I´m home, don´t worry, just focus on the wonders that were worked in me and marvel at what I´ve become by passing through the hands of the Master. Sound like a deal? I´ll answer almost ALL of your questions, just don´t ask questions that won´t have uplifting answers. I´ve learned to fight the negative and focus on the positive in my life. I will continue that course and I will bring anyone that is will to come along with me on the journey! =)

Love Eternally,
-Elder Preston William Tucker

Monday, October 18, 2010

Enjoying the Mission!‏

Hey Family!

I`m glad that everyone thinks that this time in my mission should be my "golden age", using all the talents, lessons, and scriptures that I`ve learned thus far in the mission, because that`s exactly how I feel about this time in my mission too. I`m in a beautiful area with a wonderful companion around very kind people, although still blinded by apostasy and pride. haha I`m loving my mission and enjoying every day, even though it`s constantly in the back of my mind that I get closer to home with every passing day. I`m so glad that my family is still doing wonderfully with providing me with the news of the family, whether it be good or bad (even though I`m sure that you`ve been sugar-coating everything just a little bit for me whole mission, but that`s okay cuz I don`t mind the sweet outer layer haha). Yes, Dad, I`m well aware of the upcoming birthdays and holidays in the family and amd actually rather pleased by the fact that Mom and Grandma`s birthdays both fall on a P-Day for me. It should be a great email for them next week. I thank everyone for trying their very best to get along, even though we should all be able to realize that everyone stumbles and falls down every once in a while. The Gospel Plan in that we just keep getting back up, brushing ourselves off, and trying harder to do better the next day. That`s actually what my companion and I are trying our hardest to do right now for our branch.

Right now we realize full well that we will NOT be able to baptize in this branch until it has been strengthened, purified, and lifted up on the shoulders of the Strong One. We`re trying our best to find the members of the branch (no one has taken the time to take us around our big area and show us who lives where...that`s a stumbling block for right now) and then to gauge their situation spiritually and temporally. We need to know what`s going on in each family so that we can tailor our teaching to THEM and be able to lift them up on the wings of mercy. I feel like I can answer almost any Gospel related question that anyone ever asks me now, as long as it doesn`t involve Bible-bashing...I don`t do that...anymore. hahaha It`s a great feeling because the members here are all relatively new and have lots of questions and doubts. For example, yesterday we spent the entire afternoon reading the book of mormon out loud with members and answering the questions and doubt that the reading inspired. It was a great experience and I LOVE reading that book! Honestly, the Bible hold little value for me just because the Book of Mormon is so INCREDIBLE! haha I`m going to blow you all away with my BoM knowledge once I get home and involved in family scripture study! hahaha Be prepared. Well.l i don`t have any specifics to give you all about this week because the truth is that just about everything we did to gain investigators failed. But this week will be better, I promise.

I love you all and think about you often. You`re my favortie people on the planet, and the Lord knows how thankful I am for each and every one of my family members. I hope that once I get home, you all can either ask me questions that you have in your heart, resolve your doubts through my help and the Spirit, or allow me to teach you what I`ve learned by the Lord`s hand so we can lift our family up to it`s rightfu place among the Strong of the Church and the World. I have faith that our family could be GREAT in the eyes of all those that see and know of our righteous example. We just gotta work hard TOGETHER to get to that point and be humble enough to help all those that stand in need around us. I want to use what I`ve learned to HELP my family, never by force, but by love always. I hope that you all can be prepared and willing to accept or ask for that help once I`m back. Again, I love you all and I want you to know that I love you ALMOST as much as our Father does. Christ is our Savior, and will heal us if we come to Him humbly and ready to learn.

Love Always,
-Elder Preston William Tucker

Monday, October 11, 2010

October always goes by FAST!‏

Hey My WONDERFUL Family!

I miss you all so much today. It´s a beautiful day here in Xela and I could just imagine, as I looked at the park outside the Internet cafe, all five of us just walking together in the city or the park, enjoying each other´s company and presence. It´s a wonderful feeling, knowing that that daydream will soon come true. However, I am still working hard to be a good missionary and to raise these Guatemalan people up to a higher spiritual level so they can enjoy the blessings of true family relationships as well. I think that my goal in this area will be, of course, to baptize those that I can, but also to meet, teach, and measure all the members that I possibly can. Then, after getting to know their spirits, Elder Solis and I will work to elevate each member to a higher level of spirituality and personal progression so they can start really enjoying the Gospel plan. =) I´m talking about helping them prepare to receive Patriarchal Blessings (thank you, by the way, for sending the copy that I requested over the Internet) and entering the Temple for the first time and also receiving their endowments. Our efforts will also stretch into the realm of helping members be relieved of their Church Disciplinary actions through ¨good behavior¨ so to speak. It´s sad to know that some members´bad choices have crippled them spiritually, but it gives me how and purpose while I´m in their homes with them. I know that my testimony and the Gospel I teach will help pick them up, dust them off, and show them the right path. It´ll be a fun ride here in San Carlos Sija!This week we started a new class for anyone that wants to attend. We call it ¨Que Quieren Aprender¨ which means ¨what do you want to learn?¨ Basically, we show up, allow anyone to ask Gospel-related questions, and then my companion and I study the answers, and answer them in the class time. Afterwards, we play soccer and just have fun. It´s a great activity and it´s helping me learn a LOT about what the Mission has taught ME in specifically.Also, we´re thinking about starting an English class for anyone that wants to come, and a class to teach the members how to prepare lessons and sacrament talks. Really, in this area, we will NOT have success in baptisms until the members are back on their feet and again progressing towards becoming a strong ward, instead of being a weak branch.Okay, no for the personal part. This email will be dedicated to Mom. So anyone that isn´t interested in hearing about how much I love and appreciate my can stop reading here.

hahaha Mom,I love you more than any other person in this world. (Sorry, Dad, Hope, and Whitney, but Mom´s got ya beat just by a tad ;P) You´ve done so MUCH for me in my life and I recognize the lessons you taught me throughout my youth by word and example. Here in my new area there is a woman that treats my companion and I like her own children. She takes care of us well and I know that she cares about us, but she also is hurting on the inside and hasn´t found the way to true happiness through the Gospel yet. She feels lost at times, alone, scared, and under appreciated. My companion and I both care for Sister Irma Perez very much, so we took the time after a meal to teach her and her family about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Mother, I would like to express to you that you taught me more about the Atonement than any teacher or companion ever has...because of the love and selfless service you have ALWAYS shown our family, and especially to ME. I KNOW how my Savior and Redeemer loves me, because I´ve experienced YOUR love, Mom.
You picked me up, cleaned my scrapes, and kissed me all better every time I fell down. You´ve fed me and cared for me every hour of every day of my life, only thinking of MY well-being, without regard to your own. You serve me without thought of receiving thanks (although you ALWAYS taught me to the grateful in everything I do) and by doing so, you have taught me what true service really is. I know WHY my Savior came to earth, why he suffered and died for me, why he was resurrected for ME...because of my Mother´s love. Paula Welling Tucker...I love you more than I could ever express and I want you to know that you Son is who is he is because his Father in Heaven loved him so much that he blessed him to be born to YOU. Without you in my life, Mom, I would be nothing. But WITH you in my life, Mom, I am EVERYTHING the Lord ever planned for me to be. YOU did that Mom, side-by-side with Dad, you two worked a miracle that I will forever be grateful for. So Mom, smile, laugh, and feel the Spirit testify of the truth of my words. KNOW that your worth is GREAT in the sight of God, and just as GREAT in the sight of your firstborn, loving Son. I love you, Mom. In the hard times, when you want to give up, remember that I love you. Say a prayer, thank your Father in Heaven for your blessings AND your trials, and allow the Spirit to pick you up and push you forward. I constantly look forward to the moment that I step off the plane and take you into my arms and whisper, ¨I love you Mom...I´m home.¨ Paula, your Son loves you and appreciates you, as does your family. Be grateful and prayerful, and never forget that you are a divine Daughter of God!

Love Always-
Elder Preston William Tucker

Monday, October 4, 2010

GOOD Changes! Sooo happy!‏

Hey Family!

I love you!

This week was change week and I´m sure that ALL of you, because of my short email last week, are anxious to hear about what happened, where I´m at, and who I´m with. Well...I´m still in Los Riscos and STILL with Elder Kahawaii...JUST KIDDING!!! That is exactly what I feared would happen. I wasn´t dreading it or anything like that, but to be honest, I was suffering spiritually for those two changes that I was with him. I tried so hard to change things. I served him without looking for thanks, I prayed often for strength and guidance and help, I studied the Scriptures to find answers, and I even fasted to help things workout. Apparently it wasn´t meant to work out because hardly anything changed between us and last week we both received changes. I want you ALL to know that I am EXTREMELY happy with the changes that I received. I will finally be free and able to develop EXACTLY what the Lord has planned for the rest of my mission in these coming changes. So here´s they are, my changes for at least this change cycle:

Companion: Elder Solis (yes, the Elder Solis that I spent 3 days with in Momostenango right after I switched to Xela mission)
Zona: Xela (I´m part of the Central Xela zone, so we have all our meetings and P-Days in the beautiful city of Quetzaltenango!)
Area: San Carlos Sija (pronounced "see-hah")
Responsibility: Normal, Good Old-Fashioned Missionary!!! =D

Okay, so I´m with Elder Solis and we´re already best friends! I spent three days with him when I changed to Xela mission while they were trying to figure out my changes and where I would stay. In those three days we became great friends! We served, worked, talked, and had fun! Now we´re permanent companions here in BEAUTIFUL San Carlos Sija! My it is wonderful. Everyone calls it the "mini-Momos" because it´s nestled into the mountains around the city of Xela. It´s mostly rolling hills and a couple tall mountains, but not anywhere near as rugged as Momostenango is. Walking pretty much anywhere will be easier than it was in Momos, being there really prepared me to be able to fully-enjoy my new area I think! =) The people are very nice and everyone is willing to say "hello" to you in the street. It´s a cleaner town than Momos is and the streets are clear and well paved (with paving stones like puzzle pieces). There is only one market day a week, so the streets stay pretty clean all day every day! I´t has been raining since I got here, but today it is beautiful and sunny so I can enjoy the green hills and the colorful buildings. The only member family that I have been able to meet so far is wonderful and kind! They are the Perez Family and their names are Efraín (Dad), Irma (Mom), Marcony (Oldest Son, 24), Ingrid (Oldest Daughter, 21), Claudia (Youngest Daughter, 20), and Kevin (Youngest Son, 9). They have lots of problems in their lives and need strongter testimonies and to participate in the repentance process so they can become strong enough to overcome their challenges, so we see they on a daily basis to teach and inspire them to change. So far, we´ve had a lot of very spiritual lessons with their family and they´ve begun a significant change in their lives. They treat us as Elders like their own family members and Hermano Efraín calls me "nenón" which is basically really caringly calling me his very large son (baby boy)! haha He also calls me "hombre blanco" which is just calling me "white man". haha They are wonderful and feed us good, home-cooked food. I´m very happy and filled with the spirit when I´m around them. I love them very deeply already. They are all either doctors or studying to be doctors, so we have very intelligent conversations too, and you ALL know that I love that! =D I need you to pray for them so that they can have the strength to learn the Atonement and prepare to repent and receiving their Patriarchal Blessings. =) That was a bit of inspiration we had in last night´s lesson with them after Conference. We found out that no one in the Perez Family has their patriarchal blessings, so we want to help them prepare to receive that road map for their lives. Thank you for your consideration for their sakes.

We´ve (Elder Solia) and I have had wonderful luck with finding investigators in the last few days too! Good, prepared investigators that don't have major challenges or roadblock in their way of being baptized. Namely, we have found Margarita, a wife of a less active member, with their two small children. She needs to receive an answer to her prayer of whether or not the Church is true. We´ve also found a young couple with a 11 month old baby. Their names are Edward (22) and Brenda (20). I contacted them in the bus going to Xela, and they were very interested in learning more. We will need your prayers and help so we can find their house and teach them more of the Gospel and the Restoration. They seem very positive candidates for baptism. That would be my first complete family! I want that sooo bad and I´m going to work to acheive it. We also met Sergio yesterday in the bus home. He is a long-haired, rugged looking man that lived in California for 24 years. He has a small son and maybe more family. They live close to the Perez Family. We want to teach him in his home and get him to the church. He would be wonderful Priesthood. =)

Okay, well, to answer Dad´s questions, I used my last two months trying my hardest to overcome a bad companionship through fasting, effort, and prayer. I learned MANY lessons that will serve me well in the mission and in life in general. I finally learned how to be happy in ANY situation, no matter HOW uncomfortable or dreary. My secret to achieving this is wonderful and I will share it with my family once I´m home. I know that Elder Kahawaii and I could have done MUCH more if we would have been able to BOTH be humble and willing to work to achieve unity, but that was not the case. However, I grew a TON with him and my companionship with him definitely has prepared me to approach challenges in a different, more Christ-like way. The only challenge that I can´t ever change is the consequences that come from the way other choose to use their free agency. The next four months will FLY by, but I will be working as hard as I can to achieve everything possible. I will serve my Mission President, my companion, and my Lord. Look forward to a lot of fun, spiritual stories to come and good news. I feel free, strong, full of love, and I´m ready to finish strong. My goal now is to fill myself so full of love that it will become impossible for people not to allow us to teach them and help them come unto Christ through the Holy Ghost. Charity...I want to be FULL of charity, that is my goal. Be irresistible through pure love. =D I will achieve it!

Love Always,
-Elder Preston William Tucker

P.S. I LOVED General Conference too. I took 5 pages of notes and learned MUCH. I also had a wonderful sensation for one of the first times in my life. The sensation was comfort and love from my Father when He lets me know, through a general authority´s message, that I am keeping the commandments and He is happy with my performance in a certain area of his Gospel Plan. However, I will never allow that feeling to inspire overly-proud feelings, I will always focus on what more I can learn and what I lack so I can become better constantly.

P.P.S. The other night, Elder Solis and I were talking in the house after a VERY spiritual lesson. He bore his testimony to me and then proceeded to tell me about everything he had come to know and learn about ME, who I am as a person. His testimony and words penetrated me to the core and helped me to know that I have become almost exactly what the Lord wants me to be as a Man and Son. I can´t describe everything Elder Solis told me, but just know that I AM who the Lord wants me to be and ALL of you will be inevitably impressed by the change the Spirit has effected in me as Preston William Tucker. I love you. I make these changes for YOU. I make these changes for Him. I am who I need to be to eventually return to my Father, WITH my family, to dwell in His Kingdom!