Monday, January 24, 2011

Second to Last Email

Good Morning Family!

I have to apologize from the beginning of this email because I suspect that it´s going to have to be short. I also apologize if I have a lot of misspelled words in here...the keyboard of this computer is old and doesn’t type as well as I´d like it to. It sounds like everyone is getting super excited about my Homecoming...and I am too. This week was wonderful and I had the chance to work every day in the field and have a great time with my companions. On Wednesday I received my final change. I was sent to a new area with a new companion. My area is called Las Flores and it´s in a Zone called Zaculeu. This area is right in the middle of the city of Huehuetenango, one place that I hadn´t gotten to see in my entire mission, but had many desires to get to know before I left Guatemala. It´s a big, beautiful city in the rolling hills of northern Guate. It´s considered a border city as it has a large highway that runs right through the middle of it, and is very close to the southern Mexican border. It´s very beautiful here and the culture is a little different than that of the rest of the Xela Mission. I feel almost like I´m back in the capital city again with all the busy streets and busy people. It brings back wonderful memories of the beginning of my mission. This area is home to a ward of about 130 members and yesterday we had Stake conference. It was refreshing to finally see a chapel, it´s overflows, the cultural hall, and several other rooms full of members there to receive the Word. There was probably well over 1000 members there, and there was a lot of talk about the possibility that the stake will be turning in application papers for a 3rd Stake here in the city of Huehue. (pronounced "way-way") It´s was very exciting and President Lorenzana was there and gave a wonderful talk about renewing and keeping our faith strong. My new companion for the next week and a half is Elder Zimmerman. He is t19 years old, from Draper, Utah, and has about 6 months in the mission. His Spanish is wonderful, he is a hard worker and very obedient. I love and enjoy my time with him. It´s really a shame that I couldn´t have been here, with him long before now...we would have done a LOT of good work together. As things are right now, we had no positive investigators, but we´ve been contacting a lot, serving, and working hard to find new people to teach. We have a couple promising contacts and keep our energy up as we continue to work. I´m really trying hard to keep my head up. working hard, and continue learning and teaching those around me. I truly have come to love and enjoy every aspect of the mission, even though it´s never been exactly the way that I imagined it would be.

I wanted to share my most spiritual experience of the week with you before I have to go. On Wednesday, we received our emergency changes (not just me, a LOT of elders were changed around in preparation for a big push to purify the mission and lift its level to where it needs to be.) On the bus ride from Xela to Huehue (about 3 hours long in bus) I sat in the front seat to enjoy the ride. To my surprise, the man that sat next to me was a member and we had a good time talking about all the different parts of Guate that I´ve come to know and love throughout these two years. However, the source of this spiritual experience was the young man sitting behind me on the bus. Before we left the terminal, he casually asked me to translate a text message that he had received from a friend, as it was written in English. I translated it for him and began to talk to him about normal things, just shooting the breeze. Eventually he asked who I was and why I was wearing a white shirt. I began the explanation of my missionary status and my two years here in Guate, a story that I´ve become very good at telling. haha Eventually I saw the opportunity and I began to teach this young man, David Carreto, about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was extremely receptive and had all the right doubts and questions. Honestly, he was the golden investigators, the best of the best, and I just drank it all in. I was teaching him alone, but the member beside me was helping me to hold my Scriptures and hand me all my "tools of the trade" as I worked through the lesson´s principles. It was incredible. I loved it! Eventually we got the Joseph Smith´s story and he related perfectly with it. I taught him about the Book of Mormon and he ate it all up. I gave him a copy, with a pamphlet of the Restoration, and all my contact information. Then I started in on the commitments. I committed him to pray and ask if the Church is true...he accepted. I committed him to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it was true as well and is Joseph Smith is a prophet of God...he accepted with energy. And then I asked him, if he came to know though prayer and the Spirit of the Lord that these things were true, would he follow the example of Jesus Christ as be baptized by someone holding the Priesthood authority of God...he ACCEPTED! It was wonderful. Unfortunately, he lives in the coast in a place called Coatepeque. I´m going to pass the reference off to President Lorenzana and he has promised to call the Stake President of Coatepeque personally to make sure this man gets his chance to be baptized. I just share this story because it´s the perfect example of the success that the Lord promises his servants if they will obey him. Obviously I won’t be the one to baptize David, but honestly, I don´t care, because I know that someone WILL do the deed. I love finding the Chosen People of the´s what the mission is all about.

Well, I’ve run out of time and I´ve got to run. Today I might get to go see another Mayan ruin here in Huehue, and if I do, I´ll take tons of pictures to share in a week and half. I´m very excited to turn 21, everyone knows I´ve been waiting my whole life for that day. I can´t wait to celebrate it with you all, my Family, once I´m home. I can´t wait to see all of your beautiful faces, hug you once again, and tell you that I love you. It´s coming soon. Until then I´m gunna work, and be obedient, and enjoy every minute until it´s over and I walk off the plane.

Love Always,
-Preston William Tucker

Monday, January 17, 2011

Good Emails = Happy Missionary!‏

Hey Family!

I love you all to the Moon and back 17,000 times! =) Oh man, this week has been extremely full of a LOT of events for all of us, and I can imagine that we`re all ready for a calm week to settle back into our grooves and get ready for coming events (a.k.a My Homecoming! ;P)! Personally, I have been changed out of my area in Momostenango, had a wonderful interview with President Lorenzana, I`ve been put with a pair of Zone Leaders and their (now, here in Xela Mission, most of the ZL`s have younger companions as well as work with the other ZL on zone business) since last Thursday, I`ve enjoyed being obedient to the mission rules and the Gospel Commandments, and this week I think I`ll receive a new companion and a new area to finish my mission. Crazy huh? Well, it`s all due to some very strange and very sudden events that have happened in the Xela Mission as a whole, and my mission individually. I`ll tell you all about the reasons for "why?" once I`m home, so don`t worry about it right now. Just know that I`m clean, I`m happy, and I`m enjoying the blessings of obedience to the Lord`s will. Oh, I`m also having a great time in my Scripture study and have been learning a lot of about Church doctrine lately. I think besides reading all my favorite books once I`m home, I`ll want to start a section of my hardback collection with Church books. Ya know, Doctrine of Salvation, Mormon Doctrine, books on the Atonement, and modern studies of the Standard Works. I`m getting really interested in getting to know as much as I possibly can about the Church and the True Gospel Doctrine. Just a hp, I guess, that as soon as I get home, I`ll start studying to be able to blow you all out of the water with DEEP doctrine. hahaha Just kidding, that`s not my purpose. I know you all think I`m weird for thinking this, but I think it`s just plain fun to learn it all. =) Yes, Mom, my BS file is about to get a LOT bigger. ;)

Well, this week I`ve had the opportunity to be around many different types of missionaries. I`ve been around disobedient missionaries, obedient missionaries, old missionaries (with regards to time in the mission field), and very young missionaries. I`ve even met a couple missionaries from Tremonton! =) Oh man, it`s been a fun week for me. As I haven`t really been in an area that I can call "mine" I don`t have much news about investigators or the work, but I have a lot to say about what the mission means to me.

My best moments this week have been spent with an Elder from Idaho by the name of Eric Larson. He is finishing his mission this change too and we have had a lot of fun talking about all the wonderful things that we miss about home, all of which we will be able to enjoy in about 17 days time. On the other hand, we have also spent a lot of time talking about the good times in the mission that we have grown and learned from, all those wonderful Gospel principles that we`ve studied and tried to apply in our lives and the lives of others. Elder Larson has not baptized very much in his two years, just like me, but both of us have had WONDERFUL experiences getting to know and love and serve the Guatemalan people, getting to know our own selves, and getting to know the Lord Jesus Christ. It`s been wonderful for me to think back on all of the beautiful experiences of my last two years of life, and thank Heavenly Father for everything that we have ALL learned as a result. I am happy to be coming home, but I am also happy and grateful for the time I was given here. It was all truly a gift, from my Father to Me. I can only hope that all those lessons that I`ve learned and taught in the last two years will stick with me and that I will continue to serve Him throughout the time I have on this Earth. Also, I`ve reviewed my actions over the last two years and I`ve compared them with the news that you all pass me each week through email, and I noticed a district correlation between when I was being sensitive to the Spirit of the Lord and when I was heeding to the wrong spirit as well. This week is a perfect example of that correlation. Last week it seemed like everything was falling apart...and to be honest it was because I wasn`t obeying the voice and will of the Lord at that time. THIS week, however, according to the wonderful, uplifting emails that Dad and Whitney sent, according to my obedience to the Lord`s will...I and my family were immediately blessed. Yes, Dad is still looking for a better job situation. Yes, Mom may be a little stressed with school and preparing for the new semester. Yes, Whitney is still getting teased and picked on because of the infinite and UNDYING love that we share for each other. ;P But, everything just seems to get better as I choose to be obedient (and as we ALL choose to be obedient TOGETHER) and follow the Lord`s plan rather than my own. I guess what I`m saying is that I`m beginning to really taste and notice that all blessing truly ARE predicated on our obedience to the will of the Father and His Gospel Plan.

Family, I love you. I can`t wait to see you all again. It`ll be an incredible day for me and I`m sure that I`ll never forget it. I want to thank you all for all the support, love, and prayers that you`ve given me over these last two years. I can`t describe to you how good I feel when I think of my family and how blessed I was to be chosen to come to you. I hope, once I`m home, that you all will allow me to love, and serve, and maybe even teach you as I have these Guatemalan people. Because that is now my life...and I dont really want that to change. I will listen and understand you. I will counsel and serve you. And I will love you...until the end of Forever! ;)

-Elder Preston William Tucker

P.S. The Elder that I met from Tremonton, his name is Elder Seederholm and he graduated with Katie Howard. On Friday, him and I spent about a hour talking about how much we love Tremonton, Fielding, and Garland and all the awesome, epic memories we have there. While we talked, I was reminded of several things that I want to eat and enjoy once I`m home. One thing that I want to ask Grandma Welling to make is her homemade bread with butter and raspberry and strawberry jam. Another thing, a junk food item that I want on Saturday with the potsticker dinner, is Pizza Plus breadsticks! =) Just two suggestions that, when we thought about them, made me crave them super bad. Let Grandma know, please? Also, Mom and Dad...very soon after I get home, we all need to go to the Pie Dump and get some hotrolls!!! Then I got to take some pictures with them and send them to Elder Seederholm. Okay? Okay! =) haha I love you and I hope you`re all game for those three suggestions, cuz I want em! =)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Uneventful Week

Hey Family,

This week I`ve been missing my last area pretty bad because there a lot would happen every week and I would have plenty to write about on Mondays, but here in Tierra Blanca every day is much of the same. It`s okay though, I just keep myself focused on the fact that my time is running out quickly and that I just need to work hard and study my best until I`m released. Three more weeks...okay, my baggy moment in this email is over, now I can talk about the good stuff.

I was really happy to hear that our family is going through a little bit of rough times right now because recently I`ve heard a new phrase that I really like. The phrase goes more or less like this: "Heavenly Father never sends big trials and challenges to the weak, only to the strong." He does this because He knows that we have the ability to endure and come out on top. He does this to make us stronger. He sends small, trivial challenges to His children when he knows that they are weak and cannot handle the big challenges yet. He sends to BIG stuff to His children when he knows that they`re ready to grow and learn and become even stronger than they were before. In my case, I think the Lord put me in my current area for my last change NOT to make me baggy, or to make it hard for me not to think of home, but to help my patience grow even more and to help me spend time reflecting on and relearning ALL the wonderful lessons that He has taught me over two years through the Scriptures, my companions, my Presidents, and the people I have served. We receive trials to make us stronger, but we NEVER receive trials that we cannot overcome. That`s the lesson that I`ve learned this week. I hope it helps some of you to look at your/our situation with new perspective and give it all you`ve got to come out on top. I know it`s hard. I know it`s not fun. But I also know that the rewards that await us are worth every second of effort that we spend in consulting the Lord and doing His will.

The only news that I have from my area is that we`re teaching a 18 year old girl that is the only child of a less active family that hasn`t been baptized. She wasn`t baptized with her family because she had been baptized in another church as a baby and didn`t want to offend God. We`re teaching her the Gospel on a very simple level and we`re preparing her to be baptized on the 29th of January, my last Saturday in the mission.

I love you all. I think about you often and pray for you constantly. Help me and my prayers to have an effect in your lives. Listen to the Spirit of the Lord, NOT the spirit of Satan. Be strong. The Lord and I have faith in you. Remember that we love you and that I`ll be home soon to listen, teach, love, and serve you once again.

Love Always,
-Elder Preston William Tucker

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Family!

2011 has finally come! Holy cow...I never thought that this moment would come. I never believed that I would finally be counting down the time until I´m home in a matter of a few days rather than in a few months. But the time has finally come. Here in the mission, missionaries are now calling the year that they spend completely in the mission field (from January 1st to December 31st) the "Black Year." I have finally completed my black year and it went by so fast. MUCH faster than I ever imagined it would. I´ve seen good times and bad, but mostly they´ve been VERY very good! I´ve become truly converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and have finally learned the grand lesson of putting the Atonement of Christ in effect in my daily life. The amount of goals and ambitions that I have accomplished and obtained this year astounds me. Some missionaries say that living the two years in the mission is like living 20 years of normal life all at once. I feel like they may be right. I wont lie, yes, i feel tired and ready to come home, but I also feel a little nervous to leave behind the world that has become my life and reenter the "real world." However, my nerves never have the chance to turn into fears because I know that I have a wonderful, strong, loving family that is waiting to receive me with love and joy. I´ll walk off the plane without fear, knowing that I´m not leaving one battle field for another, but knowing that I´m leaving the mission field for the paradise of my own home. However, I still have 4 weeks to make a little more difference here in Guatemala, and I intend to do my very best to love, serve, and if it be the Lord´s will, baptize.

Things here in the branch of Tierra Blanca are not in a great position for immediate growth. As with many of my previous areas, this branch has been beaten down by Satan and the lack of hope and true conversion. However, I´ve become a much more able servant of the Lord to deal with that type of challenge and I know that my companion and I will be able to do several wondrous works before I must leave it all in Guatemala and come home. We´ve met a lot of the branch´s active members, although we still dont know very well exactly where they live. We have had a couple very good meetings with the current branch leadership and we have been able to listen and participate to set goals for the new year and to get to know what expectations the branch presidency has for us as their new elders. The hardest part about this area will be finding new, positive investigators. It is yet another very Catholic community, and there are many roadblock in the minds of the people that dont allow them to freely accept the True Gospel. However, we have the right tools, fasting, prayer, hard work, service, and love. We´ll do our best to be instruments in the Lord´s hands, and He will do with us as he sees fit. We currently have NO investigators. The previous elders left us with nothing...but it´s kinda a good means a fresh start and anything that we leave behind will have all be fruits of OUR labor. I actually really enjoy my companionship with Elder Jimenez and we get along just fine. On New Year´s Eve and Day we were ordered to stay in the house because the communities ge dangerous with alcohol and guns. So we just enjoyed basically tow full days getting to know each other and laughing our butts off about the stupidest little things. I love the feeling of aching ribs after having laughed until you cried. Elder Jimenez teaches me many cool things about Mexico, where he´s from, and I enjoy learning the slang that he used to use there. Needless to say, I´ll be able to hold my own in a Spanish conversation with American Hispanic once I´m home. =) I´m sure I´ll make friends in the Latin community very fast.

Well, there´s no other news besides the fact that we´re finally ready and correlated with the members to work hard in these next weeks and try our best to do the Lord´s will. I´ll be home soon, so have all your questions, party junk food, and favorite meals ready for me. Can´t wait to party it up with my family in my own home. =) i love you all. I loved talking with you all on the phone. Can´t wait to be there in person and start out true adult life. Until next week...

Love Always,
-Elder Preston William Tucker