Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas and Changes

Good Morning Family!

I love you! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I was sad about missing the Welling Christmas party...I´m sure that the food and the fun were excellent. Next year, by the time we have the party, I´ll be out of finals at ASU and I´ll be able to come back home for a visit. Again, it was a little weird to be in Guatemala for another Christmas without all of the snow and lights and music everywhere...but this time I wasn't sad because I knew that I´ll be home soon and next year I´ll be able to enjoy a truly North American, traditional, Welling/Tucker Christmas together with the family I love so much! My companion and I had the usual dish of pasta with prepackaged red sauce for dinner, read the scriptures a little and talked about what we learned, and then spent the rest of the night talking about what we were going to talk to our families about the next day. It was actually a very comfortable, very calm Christmas night for me and I really enjoyed the time getting to know me companion.

Okay, so I better tell you all about the changes that I experienced this last week, before I forget to talk about it. So, I had told you all in previous emails that I was also SURE that I was going to stay in San Carlos Sija for my last change and that I was going to stay with my companion Elder Bergquist. What made me so sure about it was the fact that the Stake President, the Branch President, and us as missionaries, we had all asked President Lorenzana, and the Lord, to let me stay. We had big plans for the area and were ready to put them into action. I guess the Lord´s plans, for ME at least, were a little different. On Tuesday night, at about 11:30PM I got a call and was told that I had changes. They didn´t tell me where I was going or who I was going to be with, but they told me that Elder B was staying and that I was going. So on Wednesday Morning I got to say goodbye to the Perez Family, then ride with them into Xela to the bus terminal and receive my changes. Once I got there it was a madhouse of activity and I just waited until the assistants saw me so they could give me my changes. Imagine my surprise when they told me that I was headed back to Momostenango for my last change! Not only that, but my new companion was going to be Elder Jimenez, another missionary that was transferred to Xela, originally from Guatemala Central Mission as well! I didn´t know Elder Jimenez at all before that moment, but I´ve gotten to know much more about him in the last 5 days, and I get along with him wonderfully. He is from Mexico, he is 19 years old, has about 8 months in the mission, and has a identical twin brother on a mission in Honduras. He is from Tobasco, Mexico, and wants to go to Cuba after his mission to study medicine. He was trained by Elder Carcamo, an elder that entered the mission field with me when we left the CCM. We talk a lot about the differences between Central and Xela Missions, and we enjoy the relaxed, hardworking attitude towards the Mission Work.

Yesterday was our first Sunday in the Tierra Blanca Branch. It was a madhouse! haha kinda fun actually. Yes, I´m serving in another branch, but this one has a few more members than the last couple that I´ve served. Tierra Blanca (White Land) has a normal attendance of about 70 members, and it stays pretty constant. Here´s the thing´s mostly little kids! Seriously, most of the Sacrament Meeting room was FULL of little children. I don´t know how many of them are baptized or how many were just friends of the member´s kids visiting the Church, but it was crazy. Crying, spilled drinks, women breast-feeding their children, chaos everywhere! hahaha It´s great though, the prophets tell us that it´s very important for us to bring our children to Church, so we tried our best to feel the spirit and serve every one we could. The classes were normal, but the members don't participate much. We´ll change that. =P The year of Old Testament came to an end yesterday, so next year it will be easier to understand and participate. =) The Branch President has only been in his calling for a month, and the last Branch Presidente was assigned from somewhere else, so we don´t have a ton to work with. However, now I know well how to work with these circumstances, and we´ll turn things around quickly.

Maybe it would interest some of you to know that Tierra Blanca was the area where Elder Kahawaii finished his mission. It was funny because when we got to the chapel (we live in a room in one of the small classroom buildings) I fond a lot of very familiar articles of clothing and papers that Elder Kahawaii left behind when he left for home. The area has been closed for a month and a half, so any investigators that he used to have, will be hard to find, but we´ll do our best to pick up where he left off. Alright, my time is up. Pray for us this week. We´ll have a couple activities and a big New Year´s party in the branch so we need to make sure those things go well. We need to find, teach, and serve all the members of the branch this week, win their trust. Please pray that we will be able to to do effectively, and I know everything will go well.

I enjoyed every minute of our phone call on Christmas. We got everything that I wanted to talk about worked out and I´m excited to come home and see my beautiful, powerful family once again. I love you and miss you every day. I´ll be home soon, but for now I´m gunna work hard to come home as tired as I can. ;)

Love Always,
-Elder Preston William Tucker

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Last Change!

Good Afternoon Family!Sorry again for writing later than expected. Yesterday the mission had a soccer tournament among all the zones. Elder Bergquist and I attended and it was fun to be around all my missionary friends and see a couple guys that I hadn`t in a while. The only bad part was that I was having shin splints in my left leg and I couldn`t run or play. It was fun though,.I changed into comfortable clothes and hung out with the guys, drinkin 7UP, waiting for the secretaries to bring us pouch. This will probably be the best news of this entire email...I got my Christmas Package!!! =) I got the package that you all (Mom, Dad, Hope, and Whitney) sent, and I also got a package from my good friend Lillian Cruz! They were wonderful! FULL of candy and love. haha I`m actually wondering if I`m going to be able to finish it all becfore I come home! haha I`ll share the love and make sure everyone gets a taste of good old Tucker Love. =P The only bad thing is that only packages came, no letters. Still waiting on the letters. President Lorenzana has now been personally informed by me about my situation and the fact that I haven`t received physical mail for 5 months. He authorized me to ask Elder Ava, the pouch secretary, to call the Central Mission, make sure nothing got sent there by accident, and also to revise the whole Xela Mission office to find what he can for me. If it`s not there...I guess it got lost and it`ll eventually get to me. It may have just been the Lord`s way of trying my faith, but don`t worry, my faith is still VERY intact. =) I love you all and know that you`re always thinking about me, praying for me, and missing me. Never doubted it for a second. I love my Family!

This week was interesting. I don`t know what it is about the difference in the Latin and North American cultures and our seperate upbringings, but sometimes it creates tension and small problems out of no where. At times lately, it`s been hard to understand the actions and attitude of the latin elders that we live with here in Sija. Sometimes things will be fine, but suddenly the atmosphere will change and I feel like I`m walking on eggshells. It`s okay though, it`s teaching me to adapt and to love unconditionally. Today I had a good dose of the relaxing powers of preaching the Gospel. Tuesdays are the usual day that we have district meetings, and lately the focus of the mission has changed from focusing on entire zones, to focusing on the wellbeing of the individual districts. I have a wonderful district full of a mix of experienced and relatively new missionaries, and we have good times together. So, as a part of the new focus on districts, in my calling as a District Leader, I`ve been asked to direct and teach everything in the meetings. It`s a little tough to prepare for 1-2 hours of instruction, but the Spirit helps me to find the right words most all of the time. =) However, today, in our house, we woke up with tension in the air and me not knowing how to fix it. Elder Bergquist and I left early, without Elder Solis and Elder Barrios, to the meeting and I was fuming a little...I wasn`t in a good mood and didn`t have a good attitude. I wasn`t in good shape to teach with the Spirit at all, but I was going to try anyways. Before we began, I told Elder Boren, our zone leader, that my message was going to be maybe 10 minutes long at the longest and he looked a little worried. However, as I began to pray for guidance, calm and love filled me and I was shown what to teach. I taught about how we can help our investigators go to Church and experience the right Spirit throughout that experience. I also taught about the follow-up that we must give those investigators that accept baptismal dates, and the importance we have in that short time from commiting them, to entering into the water. The words and lessons just flowed...I didn`t open the Scriptures or Preach My Gospel not once, but the doctrine and teachings flowed perfectly. I felt peace, and my heart was conforted. By the end, almost the entire district was feeling the Spirit strongly and we all left ready, enlightened, and willing to put in practice what we learned. The Lord continues to remind me, every day, of the lessons that I`ve learned in the mission. The only difference now is that he`s helping me apply those lessons to how I will live my life once I`m home and released. It`s an interesting experience and I`m loving every day. =)

I love Elder Bergquist, and I hope that tonight (change night) they tell us that nothing is going to change for us and that we will finish my mission together. =) Keep your fingers crossed for me, okay? I love you!Okay, so I have to admit something, I`m not going to send a Christmas package this year...hahaha BUT, I AM constantly on the look out for fun things that I can bring home as souveniers for everyone and for my own personal mission collection. It`ll be a very fun show and tell the night I get home. By the way, Mom and Dad, if you could help me out with a little cash, the day after I come home, I would like to take a trip to the Distribution Center and buy a whole new set of garments. I was folding my garments last night and realized just how trashed some of them are, and it was kinda embarrassing for me. I want to start out my new adult RM life with new, white, clean G`s. Let me know if you`re planning on helping me out with that. =P Today I got a true blue Guatemalan hamock! =) You`ll all love it, but it`s MINE okay, so don`t steal it from me once I`m home. =) hahaha I`ve also bought some other cool little things that I can`t wait to share. Be excited. P.S. Dad, if you wonder where my personal funs go...that`s where, I`m buying up memories and getting ready to show off my mission once I`m home. =P Any requests of stuff that you`d all like me to look for? I`ve looked all over the place for traditional Christmas stockings here, but there aren`t any...they were just a thing I found once in Antigua Guatemala that one trip as a zone...sorry.Okay, about my phone call. I`m planning on calling you all at about 9AM on Christmas morning. I`m glad you`re all staying home, just so that the reception on both ends can be great and not a word will be lost. As far as I know, it`ll just be Mom, Dad, and Hope, so you`ll have me all to yourselves. Just like I do with President Lorenzana before my interviews, I think you all should think about what you`d like to talk about and what questions you`d like to ask me. I don`t know how much time I`ll have to talk, but we`ll live it up while we can, okay? I`m sure there wont but much to arrange for the day that I come home or anything, so I`m not going to worry about that. You`ve got my flight plans, you know where to be and when to be there, I`ll just have a couple requests and questions for you and then we`ll talk about other things. =) I don`t know if Daylight Savings time will mean that when I call it`ll be 8AM or not, but be ready. haha Plus, it`s Christmas, Hope will have you all up before 8 anyways! hahaha I love you Family! Can`t wait to hear your voices again!

Love Always,-Elder Preston William Tucker

Monday, December 13, 2010

No Changes for Elder Tucker!

Hey Family! I love you more than anything in the whole world! This week was FULL of meetings, activities, and traveling to and from Xela for me and Elder B. Thus, we didn`t get much of a chance to workin our area like we would like to. However, I am completing my role as a District Leader and a Senior Companion, and I am finding happiness in the things that we ARE able to achieve in th time that is given us.As you all know, last Monday w had the Christmas Lunch of the whole Mission of Xela. It was fun and we were served good food, even though we didn`t receive nearly as much portion-wise as we all paid for. haha It was like eating in a French restaurant...super small portions, but they were all very pretty and very flavorful. All the zones in the mission put on an act of sang hymns. Most of them were good, but like always, they didn`t give any of us much time to practice or prepare,so some of them didn`t turn out so well. hahaha The only thing that got on my nerves was that a couple zones decided that they didn`t care about the rules that President set for the skits, and decided to break them all for the sake of making it funnier or more fun for them. One zone reminded me REALLY badly of High School, where there is always a certain group of punk kids that think that they`re all that and that the rules dont apply to them, so they do whatever they want and don`t care if they make themselves look like fools in the process. haha It`s obvious that not ALL elders mature to manhood during their missions.Anyways, that was Monday and we all enjoyed. Then on Tuesday we were supposed to have a P-Day, but the Assistants tried to organize an activity last minute and made it SUPER difficult for anyone to really"prepare" themselves for the week. The results were that I had to rush to organize my district so that we all could use Internet at the same time in the same place, and that result difficult. This is why I ended up having to write you all on Wednesday, because there were no Internet cafes that had enough working computers that I could write at the same time that my district was writing. SO I took one for the team and waited until Wednesday to write, I hope I didn`t stress anyone out too much at home. (ahem...Mom, Whitney, Grandma Welling...ahem) hahaha=P So lately the stake presidency has become VERY involved with the mission work here in the Quetzaltenango Zone. The had set expectations and goals for us to reach by the end of January of next year. The stake needs to provide two new, strong wards of 150 members in order to help organize the fourth stake in the city of Quetzaltenango. We,here in San Carlos Sija, have to lift up the branch to the point of150 active members in order for it to become a ward in the new year.It wont be easy, but we`ll do everything the Lord asks us to do in order to make it happen. I don`t think it`ll happen while I`m still here, but we can try as hard as possible while I have time. Also, the First Presidency of the Church have set new standards for full-time missionaries all over the world. They have asked us to find at least one full family and one future Melchizedek Priesthood holder everyday. They have asked us to baptize two full families and two higher priesthood holders every month per companionship. All I can say is that it`ll be tough to do almost anywhere...but we`ll do our best and the Lord with qualify us for the task. Elder Bergquist and I try our hardest every day to keep me working to the very end and to lift the attendance in the Branch and help the members become truly converted to the Gospel. The work is going well, and we try every day to help it move along faster. As a result of our new assignment of reactivating and retaining members and new converts, Elder B and I have no positive investigators right now, but this week will change that. I appreciate your prayers and all the support and spiritual help you send us across the miles. I look forward to the day that I can step off the plane and thank you all personally for what you helped me achieve here in Guatemala. I`m thinking you`ll all be rather impressed with the Preston William Tucker that comes home to you. =)
Well, as you all know, it`s about that time. I think I really wrote a novel this week. I still haven`t gotten anything that you have sent me for Christmas, whether it be packages or letters. I verified with Whitney the correct mailing address of the Mission Office and I think you`ve had the right address the whole time. Who knows what`s been happening to everything...I don`t. But I`m being patient. Just 7 more weeks until I`m with you all in person, so I`m not going to complain. Oh, I almost forgot to explain the subject line of this email. Because the Quetzaltenango Stake has so many high expectations and they`ve put so much effort into training us missionaries in our zone to achieve this goals, President Lorenzana has decided that unless someone in the zone wants changes, he`s not going to change anyone in our zone from where they are now. So that means that I`m going to get my wish. I`m going to finish my mission, my last change, here in San Carlos Sija,with Elder Bergquist, doing what I do best, reactivating, retaining,and converting the "chosen people of Guatemala" to the Everlasting Gospel of Christ. =) I`m very happy about that, as you can tell! =)I`m going to celebrate Christmas, New Years, and my 21st Birthday herewith my companions, the Perez Family, and all the people I`ve come to love so much here in Sija. The hard part will be to leave this all behind when my time is up, but I will leave a legacy of service and love behind and many will remember the Tucker name with love and respect for years to come here in San Carlos Sija. =) I love you, Family. I`m so grateful every day that I have you. I ask Heavenly Father, on my knees, day and night, that He helps you and protects you. I know you do the same for me. Can`t wait to show you how much I love you in person. Just do me a favor and save a little of the Christmas chocolate for me, okay?! =P A bag of Peanut Butter M&M`sand a half pound Symphony Milk Chocolate bar would be awesome "welcome home presents"! ;)

Love Always,-Elder Preston William Tucker

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas lunch and Delayed emails!

Dear Family,
First I´ve got to apologize for the tardiness of my email. I´m sure you all assumed that something catastrophic happened and that I´m either dead or maimed in some way, but I´m not, I´m just fine. Hahaha It´s just that lately the Mission´s Schedule has been switched around so bad that I haven´t had the opportunity to write my family until now this week. On Monday, the mission had its Christmas Lunch all together in a big convention center. They served us a “gourmet” lunch and everyone that had mail waiting for them received it, all wrapped in Christmas wrapping. I didn´t receive anything…I was a Little upset about that. Something has been happening lately with my mail…I haven´t gotten a scrap for about 4 months. But I´ve decided that that´s just fine. I´ve only got a month and a half left until I get to speak with all of you in person, so I´m really not upset about receiving written communication any more. Plus, I think it would kinda be cool to receive envelopes and letters once I´m home that were supposed to get to me in the mission. =P Anyways, after the Christmas lunch there was no time to get online and write, so they told us that our P-Day would be on Tuesday instead. Then they spring it on us Monday night that on Tuesday there was going to be another sports activity on P-Day and that if we didn´t want to go, we didn´t have to, but in order to use Internet in the morning we were going to have to organize it with my district and write somewhere within my district´s boundaries. That made a mess for sure! But eventually I get it all organized for my district that we would use Internet together in the sisters’ area. However, the internet that we went to was rather crappy and it didn´t have enough machines for all of us to use at the same time. So my companion and I went looking for another Internet close by. In route, we found Sister Pierce and Sister Redden, the Mission nurses who are both part of my district, and they were setting up a stand in the local market to preach to everyone about the Gospel. It turned out that the Sisters had been praying me there, praying that I would come help them and teach them how to make their contacting more effective and make their market stand activity work. I had done something similar in Momostenango with Elder Kahawaii every Wednesday in the central park, so I knew what to do. I showed the Sisters how to effectively contact, and when I looked at them after my demonstration they had their jaws on the floor and their eyes as big as dinner plates. Hahahah It was awesome! So Elder B and I said goodbye to the Sisters and kept looking for a good Internet. We found a good one, but all the computers were occupied, so we were out of luck. So that´s why I didn´t get to write yesterday either… I´m sorry if anyone freaked out or was let down, but now I´m online, making sure I get a good email sent for this week. =) I hope everyone had a wonderful week and is exercising faith and doing their best to do better every day.
This last week was full of meetings and traveling and NOT being in my area, and I fear that this week too is going to be exactly the same, so I probably won’t have a lot to report about the work we do in my area. However, in the time that we HAVE had, we have tried our best to find the inactive and less active members of the Branch and start serving them. President Lorenzana and President Cifuentes, the Xela Stake President, have assigned Elder Bergquist and I to focus on the reactivation and the retention of members so we can increase the attendance at church and strengthen those that have already been baptized. Elder Solis and Elder Barrios have been assigned to focus on finding and baptizing new investigators. So that´s why you haven´t really heard much about new investigators or baptisms. But you will hear a lot, I hope, about reactivated and truly converted members. =) Of course, there will be some members of the inactive families that have not been baptized yet, and we will baptize them, but it wont be because we knock doors for hours on end. Haha I feel really wonderful about this new direction in our area because this is what I have been good at for my whole mission! And I love teaching Elder B all about the most important parts of the mission work and the important lessons that he will learn throughout his time here in Guatemala. I´m finally leaving behind a great legacy, finally making the people want to remember the Tucker name with love and gratitude. It feels wonderful! And the best part is that it wont end the moment I´m released…it´ll never end. What I´ve learned in the mission will become a way of life. Service, love, friendship, and charity. It´ll be who I am for everyone that cares to accept me. =) I´m not gunna be nosey, I´m not going to be a nuisance, I´m just always going to offer my help, knowledge, and love…especially for our family members! I want my whole family to be strong, blessed, and obedient to the Lord´s Plan. So I´m gunna do everything you allow me to do to achieve that goal. =D
Alright, I´m out of time and I´ve got to get moving for the day. Wish us luck in finding and reactivating all the lost sheep and we can find! We´re going to be fasting for these families and I´ll tell you their names as we find them. For now, pray for Esgar Reyes, so that he can feel the need to be baptized and complete his family. =) And pray that the Gil (pronounced “hill”) Ramirez family feels the need to return to the Church together as a BIG}, already baptized family! =)
I love you all and miss you so much. I´m not counting down the days, but I´m aware that I only have 8 weeks left. That´s such a small amount of time…I´m almost done. I´m coming home with honor and blessings and plans for my future…it´s gunna be awesome!

Love Always,
-Elder Preston William Tucker
P.S. President Lorenzana said something last night during our meeting that made me think that he´s not going to change anyone in the zone this change that´s coming up in two weeks. So, it´s possible that the Lord will allow me to finish my mission and my legacy here in San Carlos Sija with Elder Bergquist. Please pray that this will happen…that would be the best Christmas present I could receive in the mission. That´s how I want to end, helping the people I love with the companion that I Love as well. Emotionally, it would be easier for me to leave the mission if I change to a different area with a different companion because then I wouldn´t have established connections and relationships to say goodbye to…but the Lord never said things would be easy…he just said that they would be worth it. =) I love you all and hope to have good news next week about how the work is advancing. Have a wonderful week.