Monday, January 28, 2013

Wow! What a rollercoaster ride this week | Week 17

Hey Family!
I'm glad everything went well this week with the bithday and everything! Its kind of hard for me to believe that Riley is already sixteen too! Good luck on the driving test! And Mom dont worry, nothing wrong with having a little missionary mom moment. Sometimes out here the missionaries have well.... "Missionary" moments sometimes also. And thanks for sending letters from Matthew and Spencer, I enjoy reading them. Sounds like everyone is doing really well.
So this week was.... wow a little crazy! We continue to work really hard in our area. And with a trio right now we are able to do divisions and get more done at one time. Its kind of hard for me sometimes because there is just no reasonable way I can describe all the experiences and things that I see on my mission. So alot of things go to the Journal to be reveiwed later Ha! Well the week starting getting a little different on Wednesday. Elder G had to go to the area of the Zone leaders to do 7 baptismal interveiws for them! Which took pretty much all the day in their area. Since we are in a trio we left Elder O with a member to visit and teach all of the appointments we had planned. Since Elder G had to do all the interveiws I played with all the little kids for hours Ha! So that was actually pretty fun, I honestly love the kids here in Guatemala. They are a bit different than kids in the states! Not that kids in the states are bad but when you grow up in poverty, and all the conditions they do. Just pretty tough little guys.
Well sometimes I'm not sure what kid of details you guys want to mom Ha! But I'm just gonna tell you how it is. Went to bed Wednesday night and around midnight my stomach woke me up! It all began Hahahah! As Brian Regan says it best "my insides feel like they want to be on my outsides".  I spent the rest of the night throwing up and sitting in the bathroom. I dont think I've ever had it that bad in a really long time. To be honest there was a moment where I just started laughing at myself. Just the image of myself kneeling in the middle of our little house throwing up in a pan just made me laugh. Kind of like the time we got food poisoning on the way home from Utah. Just the image was pretty funny. So the next morning I stayed in bed not feeling too great. My goal was to get to our interveiws with President Watts and Sister Watts later that Thursday. Which thankfully I was able to do Yay! I was dead but I went and had some awesome interveiws with President and his Wife. I love them so much! They always give me such great advice and encouragement! Honestly this kind of stuff is a rite of passage here! We are pretty sure it was something someone gave us to drink. Because Elder G and O got sick on other days. But definitely hit me the hardest Haha.
The great thing about this week is we BAPTIZED! I baptized F on Saturday in our big ward baptism. The ZL`s baptized a mixed family of brothers, sisters and their kids which was 7 in total. The Hermanas in our ward baptized a man named I who is in a wheel chair which was super cool. And we completed a family with F. I love this man and his family so much. I think I talked a little last week about the changes he has made in his life, wow such a cool story. It never gets old at all to have the opportunity to baptize someone. When I lifted him up out of the water he was just overcome with emotion. Nothing but tears from the moment he came up. I just gave him a huge bear hug!! Nothing sweeter than being a part of the Lord's work. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true. The Lord's kingdom has been restored back on the earth through a living prophet Joseph Smith. The saving ordinance of Baptism is critical in out lives. We return every week to renew our baptismal covenants during the sacrament. There is no gift more precious on this earth or in the heavens than the gift of the Holy Ghost. We receive this gift when we are confirmed a member of the church after our baptism. I know and have seen the redeeming and changing power of the Atonement work in my life and the life of these investigators. I feel so blessed to have been able to be just a part of F´s life. It was so cool to see 9 get baptized! We are really blessed all the missionaries in our ward area great and everyone is working super hard!
Days like Thursday on the mission are tough. But I can tell you that days like Saturday make everything worth it! Life is not easy for anybody. The most important thing that we can control is how we respond to our problems, afflicions, pains, and even sicknesses. We have been given a perfect example of how to respond. Jesus Christ took upon himself all of our pains and afflicions and at his moment, he responded. "Not my will but thine be done". We have all been given the gift of agency. We cannot always control what problems we face, but every problem brings another oppourtunity to respond with courage, diligence, and faith in Jesus Christ. For this I'm grateful for tough days sometimes. They test us, but the beautiful thing is to watch someone respond like Christ would.
I love you Mom, Dad, Riley and Zach! I'm doing great! I'm so happy to hear how well everyone is doing. I love you guys so much. Enjoy every day in life! We only get so many here on the earth so make them count. Read your scriptures and say your prayers!
Love Elder Hughes

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Trio time! | Week 16

Elder Hughes & Elder Gondola, these two have grown up together and are now both serving missions in Guatemala. Shaun is in the South Mission & Tanner in the North Mission.

Buenas dias Familia!
Glad you guys had a good week! To start things off Happy Early Birthday Riley!!! Cant believe your going to be sixteen how crazy is that! Im thinking about sending a card and some money Haha! If you can find a way to use "Quetzales" in the states then your good! Your going to have to tell me how everything went this next week... ie first date? Niners are in the Super Bowl! Dang look what happens when I leave Giants and now the Niners If those teams are smart they will just pay me to stay down here in Guatemala HA! Wow Rachel is going to Hawaii that is so cool. Im sure Keri and Dave are already planning to go pick here up when she finishes. So exciting to hear about all these mission calls. Sheldons going to do awesome too!

Happy anniversary Mom and Dad! 21 years together whew! Congratulations you made it to 21. You guys are the best parents ever. Its so true. Im sure Dad has something good planned already Ha! He taught me everything I know about how to take a girl out haha! Stud!

So a little about my week. Lots of cool changes and experiences to share. On Tuesday we picked up our new companion... Elder O, he is from here in Guatemala. He is a temporary Elder here right now he is waiting on his visa to go to Peru. But I guess its super tough to get one right now so he isnt sure how long he will be here. This guy is awesome. So funny! Me and Elder G have been laughing so hard this week! Again we feel so blessed to have a great companion. At first it was pretty weird to be in a trio but we are getting used to it. The really nice thing about having a latino comanion is we speak spanish all day long non stop. So yeah I can pretty much say goodbye to english, kind of crazy! But my Spanish has improved so much just in the five or six days he has been with us. So feeling really blessed I could not have asked for a better way to start the mission.

We have been working the new guy hard. I remember how I felt those first couple days in the field...very tired. But he is doing great! Thursday we had a huge conference in the capital with Elder Christopherson and three different missions here in Guatemala. The south, central, and north missions! All the zones outside the capital couldn't come but it was cool to see freinds from the ccm and people in other missions there! One big reunion. The whole time I was looking for Elder Gondola "Shaun" He is serving in the south mission. At the end of the conference I finally found him! So cool to see him he is doing really well, looked super happy! I was able to snap a quick pic so I will send that over to you guys. Conference was amazing. You guys probably dont know this but Elder Christopherson can speak really good spanish! We heard talks from the area authorities and then from him for about an hour and a half. So powerful... Elder Christopherson talked alot about the atonement, repentance, and the sacred nature of our call. At the end he left us with a promise that in the next couple weeks we would all receive some sort of manifestation that god knows and loves us personally! The spirit was so strong throughout the whole thing. I love stuff like this because sometimes missionaries need that little boost of determination to keep working hard and doing the best we possibly can. One thing he said that I liked was the "load of the lord is always less than the weight of sin" Sorry that probably sounds weird all my notes are in spanish and dont always translate over super good haha!

We had a good week in our area. Lots of running around picking up Elder O, the conference and other things this week but did manage to get some baptism dates with some of our investigators. We are working with a couple younger kids J and J. We have activated both of there families and are working to get them baptized in Febuary. Also set a date with a girl named C. She is seventeen years old and already has a kid on the way. Unfortunately we see this alot here in Guatemala really really young mothers. She wants to make some changes in her life which is always the most important thing to look for because thats exactly what the Gospel and the Atonement of Jesus Christ is all about. F had his baptismal interveiw on Saturday and we are going to baptize him this coming Saturday! After the Interveiw we sat in their house while his wife L bore her testimony and he expressed his feelings. Both of them starting crying.... Tears of joy of course because of all the blessings and changes they have seen in F and their family in general. I love this family so much. To be able to see the power of the atonement and the lords church change these people is amazing! In our ward we have seven missionaries. The zone leaders, hermanas, and us! This next saturday we are going to have a huge baptism of nine people into this ward! Its going to be AMAZING! We are going to invite President Watts and Hermana Watts to come! I hope they can I love them so much.

Im doing great and I feel so much better this week! Being sick on the mission is not fun... But just part of the journey. I want to share a little message today about knowledge. I love studying the scriptures and other good uplifting books. Obtaining knowledge and constantly learning is so important! I think I am just now really fully appreciating my oppourtunity to learn at this time in my life. There are only a couple things that goes with us when we pass from this life to the next and that is our knowledge of the gospel. our testimonies, relationships with others and in general what we learn here on the earth. This is a major step in the Lords plan for us on this earth. To obtain a body and to learn and grow from our experiences. Learning is the best! And lastly keeping an eternal perspective in life is really helpful in our day to day life! Make everday count! I know that Christ lives and our Heavenly Father loves all of his children in a perfect and personal way. Have an awesome week!

Love you all so much!

Elder Hughes

 and all this time we thought that Tanner was just short, NO! Elder G is just very tall!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Change number one in the books! | Week 15

Check out the weights we can lift! 
Cans filled with cement and a metal bar hahah! hey whatever works!

Hey!  Hope you guys had a good week. Was a pretty tough one for me and Elder G this week but we are doing well. We just finished change number one for me in the field. Time is just flying by! So some big news we received on Sunday night. We are going to get another companion. Elder G is going to train two "hijos" at once! I’m going to have a little brother haha! We will go pick this new elder up on Tuesday and be in a trio. We are thinking it’s going to be a Latino since there are already two gringos here together. I think this is going to help my spanish progress even more too! So we are pretty excited. The scary thing about all of this is Elder G thinks they are setting it up for me to be senior comp and finish his training for my third change! AHHH The mission is crazy and we never know what’s going to happen but anything is possible. I have so much more to learn this next change in the mission it’s insane but I’m up for the challenge.
So a little bit about my week... Not going to lie one of the toughest I have had in the mission so far. Elder G and I got sick this week at the same time on Monday evening. Everything is different here in Guatemala same with getting sick. All week we had this weird "gripe" or cold. That made us super tired all the time and tons of other weird side effects. Not fun... On Tuesday we had a ton of stuff to do with investigators and members so we decided to still work. It was challenging but we toughed out the day and had all of our lessons. Wednesday we were dying so we didn’t leave the house. We were both out for like four hours in the day. The rest of the week we still felt like someone was taking a hose and sucking all the energy out of us…. weirdest sickness ever ! Staying in the house is not fun at all and we have so much work to do here so we toughed out the next three days. We ended with a solid week of lessons, commitments and new investigators! Last night and today Elder G and I are finally feeling better! Yess! There were many times this week where we just looked at each other like "I don’t think I can do it today" Yet something just kept getting us out the door. Looking back I really felt the Lord helping us do his work even though all we wanted to do was lay in bed! In all my journal entries this week I just kept saying this has been such a fight this week! But all is well. That’s how the mission is sometimes, you have to fight through difficult problems, sickness and it all will be ok!
So enough about the negative! Because of our work this week we saw some awesome stuff happen. We have been working with a family here in our area. F, L, and V. L the wife is a recent convert and she was baptized a few months ago. The missionaries here have been teaching her husband and daughter for three or four months! When we started with this family it was pretty tough. F had some major doubts and fears. For three weeks now we have been trying to set a "fetcha" or baptismal date with him. He is so ready to be baptized. We have been praying so hard that he would finally accept a date! On Saturday he did and he is going to be baptized on the 26th of January! This was definitely a team effort because multiple sets of missionaries have taught him. I love this family so much. They have us over every Saturday night for a lesson and some dinner! The crazier thing is we asked him who he wants to baptize him and he picked me…. what the??? This was totally a surprise for me. I can’t believe it... I love this family so much and I feel honored to be able to baptize him! This week we also found a new family of seven that we have started to teach. We continue to work with J also. The mission is so awesome! There is no sweeter joy than helping others come unto Christ and his church. The reality of the mission really set in for me this week. No one tells you about the times when you’re sick, and everything seems so hard. It can be so sad sometimes to watch people struggle as we invite people to change and exercise their faith and nothing seems to happen. Satan really works on investigators. I learned the most about myself and the mission in one of the hardest and most rewarding weeks of my life! 
The mission is getting crazy here! With all these new missionaries coming in they are trying to get areas ready to open up. It’s going to take more time. So I think that’s a reason why we are going to have a trio here. We have a meeting with all the missionaries in the capital on thursday. D. Todd Christopherson is coming from the quorum of the twelve. How cool is that! I hope I get to see Shaun Gondola there….. maybe! I know he is in the south mission so who knows… that would be insane! Spanish is still coming along. It was a tougher week this week speaking. Doesn’t help when you’re sick that’s for sure. But I feel more and more comfortable every week.
Can’t believe one change (six weeks) is already done! Time is flying by way too fast. I love my area and my companion. I’m going to set some new goals and really continue to learn as much as I can because who knows what’s going to happen next change! This church is true and it blesses people’s lives. I want to share a little bit about charity this week. Christ told us the greatest commandment is to first love the Lord with all your heart, and then love your neighbor as yourself. Nothing is more important than charity for everyone. Bruce R McConkie said "Above all the attributes of godliness and perfection, charity is the one most devoutly to be desired. Charity is more than love, far more. It is everlasting love, perfect love, and the pure love of Christ which endureth forever" In the scriptures we are told if you don’t have charity you are nothing! Wow strong words! I know we can cultivate and develop more charity for others. I am trying to look at people not as they are but what and who they can become. That’s what the prophet told us to do this last conference! Love and Charity make everything better! That’s my focus this week to show and develop the Christ like attribute of Charity because there is nothing more important!
I love you all so much! I’m feeling so much better now! Took about a week but we are back to normal. Have a great week and share the gospel….. there is nothing more rewarding!
Elder Hughes

Hola!!!!! | Week 14

Hola Familia!
 Glad all you guys are settled in and getting back into the routine of things! I remember mom that was your favorite "routine". You are right this last year was a little crazy for us and the whole family! I don’t think we will ever forget 2012! I’m glad everything is going well. Wow! Z-Man first place in the wrestling tournament Dude! I wish I could of been there to cheer him on! And thanks for the email Zach I’m so glad you sent it! I’m glad the snow is better for you guys this winter, last winter was kind of tough. It’s kind of weird to think it’s actually January because it’s pretty warm here. In the 80´s usually. And the sun always feels really strong here! Mom I love your goals for this year. They are awesome! Goal setting is really important in our lives. Without goals and specific plans to accomplish them we really would not get much done or become the people we want to. A lot of times people get caught in the idea that things just happen to us in life and we are what life gives us. Yet we should set goals and take action to change and become more Christ like. Sometimes the goals seem pretty daunting... let me tell you guys, learning spanish can feel that way sometimes. Yet as the scriptures say "by small simple things great things are brought to pass". As we diligently work every day we look back after a while see something great we have accomplished. The mission is really teaching me this principle of planning and effective goal setting.
So, a little about my week. Sometimes I feel repetitive in my letters, but honestly the weeks can be very similar sometimes. We continue to work hard in our area! And this week Elder G and I have begun to see some "fruits" of our labors. We have been working hard with the members to try and receive contact references. Honestly the most effective missionary work is done with the members. Had a couple funny experiences this week. We have been working with the R family in our area. The husband and wife are having some problems with a lot of things. Tuesday we were able to give the entire family a priesthood blessing for school and for the parents, they all wanted one HA! As we were wrapping up they brought their dog over too! They wanted us to bless their dog! We said "Oh no we can’t do that but we will pray for her" The kids then asked if we would pray right now.... "Ok I guess we can do that" HAHAH Can’t forget… they made sure we knew her full name Nena R. It was pretty tough not to laugh HA! So our best of the week was one prayer for dog with a member present.... by name! We found a new investigator this week named J. This came from the family M who we have reactivated and got coming back to church. He is their grandson, his mom and sisters are less actives but we are going to get them back to church too! They really do want to come back. We really have felt blessed to find some investigators this week. There are others this week but it would take forever to tell all their stories! Just know things are heating up in Llano Largo baby!!!!!!
It still just is amazing to me the trials and conditions that these people face. I ask for your prayers for these people. Many tears are shed by single mothers and struggling families. I love these people and more importantly I love to show that love for them in what I do. That is the thing that gets me out of bed in the morning. Just the prospect of finding someone in need and sharing a message, smiling, and doing as Christ would do. On Thursday Elder G had to do an exchange with some elders in the district. This was kind of freaking me out the night before. Because a latino came to be my companion for the day and who didn’t know the area at all. Time to step up HAHA! The division actually went really well and built my confidence. We actually had a productive day and I was doing pretty much all the talking. Honestly I felt the help of the lord because let me tell you…I couldn’t have done it alone. Being the senior companion is tough…but taught me a ton!
More than anything else this week I have seen a huge jump in my spanish. It is really weird when you make the switch in your head when Spanish becomes... well spanish and english something else. I have a ton to learn but I feel for once comfortable. And I’ve been having like big sections of my dreams in spanish HAHA! Not a full one but tons of different parts ! A lot of people tell me my spanish is way good for three months in the mission but HONESTLY it is attributed to three years in school, and the spirit that literally is the greatest teacher. 
I read President Uchtdorf´s talk from this last conference this week and I recommend it to all! It’s called of regrets and resolutions. Life goes and passes us by really quickly. My focus this week has been to implement the teachings of this talk into my life. He talks of three regrets that people have in their life and how the teachings and application of the gospel can help us avoid having them. They can actually become strengths. Regret 1. I wish I had spent more time with the people that I love. In our day it is really easy to just pretend to spend time with others. We have to spend meaningful time with the ones we love. Do things that cultivate memories! This is one thing I feel so grateful for in my life. I officially want to thank my mom and dad for spending meaningful time with me and cultivating memories. There is nothing that I cherish more. Regret 2. I wish I had lived up to my potential. We must follow the example of the savior to not have this regret. I love his quote here that "we certainly cannot do this with a dragging our feet staring at the watch approach to discipleship" Wow… life is a lot easier when we pick up our feet and make every day count! Last regret… I wish I had let myself be happier...We can’t wait to be happy at some later point in life where we will have some specific job, talent, skill or pretty much every other worldly thing, before we realize that happiness was available the whole time! This was my focus this week and I put it to the test. Yes it works! I’m naturally a happy guy but I found myself enjoying things a lot more and despite the circumstances smiling and just being happy! So that’s my challenge this week!  Read the talk and put it to the test. I can honestly say it works! BE HAPPY!
Thanks for everything! Mom get feeling better ok! I will be praying double time to get that head cold away. LOVE you mom, dad, riley and zach!!!!! And everyone who reads!

Love Elder Hughes
On the roof for the Christmas Eve fireworks!

Guatemala City

El Año nuevo! | Week 13

Como le va familia?
 Hey! I hope your week went well. It was so nice to talk to you guys on Tuesday. Wow the call went by so fast. I’m glad everyone had a good Christmas in Utah with all the family. Wow I’m not usually a cryer but you guys got me at the end of that call! It was so nice to talk and I just feel so grateful for all that you guys have done for me. So thanks again. That’s cool that you talked with Aaron and Mr. Conner while you were out there. Dad your teaching primary! Nice new calling for you, the kids here in Guatemala make me laugh they are awesome. I’m so pumped for Sheldon and his mission call. Tell him I say congratulations… he is going to do great things. 
So a little about my week... well Christmas Eve was good. A little crazy on p-day because everyone in Guatemala was taking the bus places so a little nuts. And it can be a bit more chaotic here than in the states. At 11.30 or so we got on our roof with chairs, cookies, milk to watch the fireworks. Everyone here in Guatemala goes outside at midnight to "quemar quetes" or light off fireworks. It was CRAZY! I’ve never seen so many fireworks at one time, really quite a sight to see. Kind of hard to get to bed after that because our neighbors were lighting them off really late into the night. Pretty different but awesome way to celebrate the holiday. Like I already mentioned I loved the call on Tuesday so much! So great to talk to all of you guys.
 Elder G and I saw some miracles this week wow! Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were all really tough ones. Sometimes it feels like you’re on a missionary work treadmill, where you’re working and running so hard yet it feels like you’re not going anywhere! Lots of appointments falling through and nothing going the way we want or plan it to happen. It always seems though that after a string of really challenging days we receive something wonderful after! On Saturday we returned to the familia M to see how they were doing. (Hermana M has been really sick, her kidneys have shut down... I’m not a doctor but I know that’s not good. The doctors said she didn’t have much time left. Well, we gave her a blessing a few weeks ago… I can’t remember exactly. Well she looked so much better and she was walking around and everything. She told us that they went to the doctor and miraculously her kidneys were functioning again. The doctors asked her how this could be possible. They were in awe. She bore her testimony and said she received a priesthood blessing! There have been other miracles this week with less active members that we have been helping. Some of the experiences are a little bit too personal to share. But the Lord is blessing these people. One experience I had yesterday when went to a city with Hermano D who is a member in the ward. He is an "abogado" or lawyer. We arrived at one of our new families houses... but not home again :( As we were walking back to his car (So nice to ride in a car doesn’t happen often) I saw one of the new families we had contacted across the street walk out of their home. We have not met the father and kind of got "rechezado" or rejected the last time. But we went over and met the husband. To make a long story short we ended up meeting with them in their home. This family has had some hard times. They are very poor and the father has had drug problems in the past. The spirit was VERY strong in their home. He opened up to us about all his problems and how he wants to change and be a good father. Wow!  These are some of the moments I just cherish on the mission. We sang a hymn and said a prayer and this father of two little boys smiled through his tears. I’ve never felt the spirit hit me like that before. After they were literally asking how to get to the church on Sunday. I’m so excited to work more with this family and it’s going to take a little time because he is from Honduras and to get married in Guatemala to a Guatemalan is quite the process. But remember who we "happened" to be with at that time a lawyer! It’s amazing how the Lord guides us. And many times we don’t know it’s happening. The lord placed in the right spot at the right time with the right people WOW! I love missionary work!
We have a new ward mission leader that’s going to help us here a lot! Hermano S actually works for the church here in Central America doing all the travel coordination for the missionaries. He is also a secretary of President Watts! He is so enthusiastic about the work. And he is a do-er this guy gets stuff done. Spanish took a big step forward this week. It is a process but after a month in the field things are starting to get easier with the language. Very humbling to learn any new language. If you want to learn more about yourself give it a try Ha!
We are working hard here in Llano largo. I can’t believe I have a month in the field. We are starting week five of my first transfer or change in the mission. Time is just flying by! As we start 2013 everyone has new year’s resolutions. I think this is a good time for me and everyone to "Renovar" or renew our commitment to a few things in our life. I think New Years is not a time for resolutions but a time for recommitment. First and foremost to Jesus Christ and his gospel. A commitment to not just be a part of his church but to live the gospel. I love the concept of agency and choice. We always have the choice to be happy! And I can tell you that nothing else will bring true lasting happiness than living the gospel of Jesus Christ. Happy New Years! WOW its 2013 this year just flew by! I officially dedicate 2013 to this work HA! I know good things with be in store this year. I love you all! And anyone who reads this!!!
Elder Hughes

Its Christmas Eve! or the "noche buena" here in Guatemala | Week 12

Que hondas!

I hope you guys are having a good Christmas Eve! Whew kind of a crazy week but it was good! So first off I got your package on Wednesday, thanks so much. Seriously I was like a little kid on Christmas morning. Mom you’re so creative, twelve days in the package, I love it! And thanks for the music and the speaker, which just made our Christmas. We have been listening to Christmas music nonstop in the house. Since it's all the music you would play in the house it feels so good. Thanks for everything all the books and stuff I loved it all so much. I love you guys. I’m so excited to talk to you guys tomorrow, honestly that’s probably the best Christmas present I could ever wish for anyway.

So a little bit about my week. We have been working really hard in our area. The work was a little slow here a lot of people are busy during the holidays. We had one night where we called literally fourteen members to have someone to leave with, crazy! We are working really hard to find some new investigators and especially families. Some tough moments this week. It’s hard when we show up at all our appointments and they are all gone. Sometimes I look at Elder G like "what is this?" "Welcome to Guatemala Elder Hughes" Ha! Elder G is awesome we get along really well. I feel so blessed to have him as my Trainer. We work really well together. We did find three new families this week which was awesome. The lord has led us to these families so we are going to teach them next week.

I have a couple good stories this week. We were heading to a ward activity on Saturday. The bus was packed as usual. All of a sudden even more people got on the bus and Elder G and I were stuck in the middle. I mean literally stuck. We were holding our backpacks above our heads and pretty much standing on one leg. We were laughing so hard because we could not get off the bus! Yeah so twenty minutes later enough people got off so we could barely muscle our way off! We were cracking up. The image of us stuck on the bus twenty minutes after we were supposed to get off was hilarious! So we had to grab a bus back the other direction to finally make it to the church. Another experience I had this week as we were walking to that same activity we saw a lady with only one leg and no shoes crawling up the stairs out of a colony area. Of course we ran over and helped this lady. We asked her where she was going she said "Oh to the church" We asked…Are you a member? Yes she was...Wow ! Just the image of this old woman crawling up the stairs with no shoes and broken crutches. I will never forget it. Elder G and I carried her the rest of the way to the church. I have never seen so much faith in action. I can never ever say it is too hard for me or any other person to go to church. I have seen people with this faith already on the mission and they just inspire me so much! There are so many small experiences that we have every day in this work it’s amazing I wish I could share all of them but that would be impossible.

Wednesday we had a Zone Christmas activity which was awesome. We went up early to an area near us where our zone spent two hours in a shelter for the elderly. Amazing experience.These people are so great! I took some pictures so I will send those. We talked with them and sang Christmas songs too. After the service we had a meeting with President Watts and Hermana Watts. They fed us lunch and we got to watch our yearly movie Finding Nemo! It was pretty weird to see a movie but we loved it. Later President Watts talked to us. Wow he is such a great and spiritually powerful man! I love the Watts so much! Our mission is in a very exciting time right now. This next change we have 41 new missionaries coming and only 10 going home so it’s going to be crazy! It looks like we are going to open up some new areas in the mission where there have never been missionaries before! This means we could be way out in the middle of the jungle and the mountains Ha! I came into this mission during a really exciting time. 

I am doing well. Honestly it’s a bit harder this time of year to be away from home but I know what I’m doing is so important and I’m learning and growing a lot. It really is amazing to be a missionary during Christmas time. All the gifts and Christmas traditions are great, but true joy comes from serving and doing what the Savior would do. This season is so amazing. I have spent this week thinking and pondering about the Savior and this Christmas season. We have all received the greatest gift, the gift of repentance. Because of the Saviors infinite act of love for all of mankind. It’s amazing and simple. We can pray, repent, be forgiven, and change. The unfortunate thing is many times this gift gets left under the tree unopened. Why is this? The greatest most amazing gift of the atonement sits under the Christmas tree collecting dust. This is exactly why the Savior commands us to repent. Open the gift!!! It’s not always easy but I promise we can receive peace and true joy as we open this gift. So that is my invitation this Christmas season is to open not only the physical gifts under the tree but to open the Saviors gift to all of us. The Savior was born in a humble setting in a manager. Similarly we can only symbolically be born again and cleansed when we humble ourselves. That’s why it’s hard for people to unwrap the greatest gift, it takes humble hands to get the paper off. 

I love you guys so much! I’m so excited to talk tomorrow morning. Enjoy this Christmas Eve and tell everyone and all the family that I love them all! Feliz Navidad

Elder Hughes