Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Semana Santa | week 26

after my first district meeting

Hola Familia!!! 

Hey guys HAPPY Lunes! Thanks for the letter and your support. Mom, like always, the pictures look so great. Andrew looking pretty studly haha! I was thinking this week was spring break but I wasnt exactly sure. San Francisco just looks awesome. Especially since the Giants are reigning world series champs once again haha! Wow the painting of Heidi and the Savior is just breathtaking. Whoever did that, great job, her depiction and smile is right on and to see her in the Saviors loving arms is just amazing. Because I know thats exactly where she is at right now.

Here in Guatemala this week they celebrate something called Semana Santa. It is really big for all the Catholics here. The traditions include tons of processions in the city and other parts of Guatemala. Literally everyone goes to the beach hahahaha. It is really the only time that mostly all of the people here have work off for a couple days. For the missionaries this can be good and bad all at the same time. The streets were just dead thursday and friday with everyone out "paseando" and traveling. Yet at the same time some families that normally are hard to find are in their houses!

We told ourselves early on this week that we werent going to let this holiday or anything impede us from having a good week. We did alot of walking with alot of the busses not working and were able to find six new investigators and a new family! I really feel like im settling in to being a trainer and DL. We got a call late Tuesday night that Elder O's Visa wnt through and he would be leaving the following day for his mission in Peru. Really felt strange to lose him he brought alot of energy and laughter to our companionship and I just love that guy so much! It has been really cool to see how much he has learned and changed in just two and a half months here. There is a different feel in our house right now but it is so great! Elder M and I get along really well! He is super calm and just a go with the flow guy.

We received a new family this week from the Hermanas! Always nice when that happens haha The R family was taught originally by the Sisters who used to be in my district. The husband has already read the whole Book of Mormon and prayed about it. My jaw dropped that just never happens haha. He did it all in a month too. They have a little one month old girl S. I am so dang excited to get these guys ready to be baptized. Me and Elder M both feel like we are on the edge to seeing quite a few baptisms. Its always in this crucial part of conversion where Satan works the hardest on the investigators. We are praying and working as hard as we can to help these amazing people enter into the gate of baptism and receive so many blessing from the Lord.

President and Hermana Watts came to our sacrament meeting on Sunday which is always so cool! I love my mission president and his wife soooooooo much! Hermana Watts called me this morning to talk about Heidi and everything from this last week. Wow, her words and love just inspire me so much. I am grateful for the relationship I have been able to develop with them its amazing!

I had the oppourtunity this week to teach some families about the plan of salvation this week. There is no knowlege in all of this world that holds more worth to us here than the Lords plan of happiness. I have been able to testify in a special way this week. Greenwoods your family and the fact that you are an eternal family sealed in the temple is changing lives here in Guatemala. I pray for you guys daily and thank my Heavenly father for this knowledge and comfort he has given us. I have felt my testimony grow and strengthen is week as I reflect about the events of last week. Heidi's life was defined by her love and example of the Savior. I feel priviledged to be able to teach others of him. And I know that now more than ever before Heidi knows what we are feeling and is going to be there to lift and strengthen us.

Just want to share a quote by President Uchtdorf " Because we all depend on the mercy of God. How can we deny to others any measure of the grace we so desperately desire for ourselves? My beloved brothers and sisters, should we not forgive as we wish to be forgiven" What powerful and meaningful questions he raises. I know that Christ lives and can and should be a part of our daily lives. As we watch conference this week I know there will be a message directed specifically to each one of us. Watch and listen for your answer and I know that through the power of the Holy Ghost we will all be uplifted and recommitted to living this gospel. I know this church is true. Love you all!

Until next week! Let us keep the Savior and Heidi in our hearts.

Much Love

Elder Hughes

Heidi | week 25

Hola familia!

Just like you mom this letter is hard to start. Whenever a missionary returns home to find a missed call from their parents it is never a good sign. This week has been filled with alot of ups and downs, blessings, and prayer.

Saturday we returned from changing a less actives lamina roof. I'm getting pretty pro at doing that, haha. Too bad there isn't much of that in the States ha. I was shocked to see a missed call from you mom. I was just like that cannot be a mistake and cant be good. Called President and waited for a few hours for them to get out of a meeting. Got permission to call and started calling home. Of course right during the service... So just waited for what seemed like a long time waiting. I'm so grateful that I had the chance to talk to you guys as I heard the news. Also felt so touched by your words, Paige. You are such a strong Mother I cannot imagine what you have felt this week. Tears just kept coming to me after the call. Thoughts of Heidi and everything that we have done together just kept running through my head. As I have spent alot of time on my knees reflecting and asking for help. The heavens have been opened to me here in Guatemala. 

A few thoughts and reflections of Heidi. Heidi was truly a special person in my life. I feel so blessed to have had a close relationship with her. I loved her and I still do. Heidi was one of the purest, nicest, most loving person I have had the priviledge to know. She has a sincere way to simply care for people and children. She touched many lives and changed mine forever. She taught me how to love, how to laugh, and most of all how to live. Oh, how she touched my life. There are countless memories and times we were able to share. She made us laugh haha I will always remember her asking me for back massages hahahaha " Hey Tanner ...over here!". That was just one small thing that I was able to do for Heidi. I thank my Heavenly Father for the angel he sent into my life. It saddens me to know she won't be there when I return. Yet I do know we will meet again. Ok, Heidi I will take a heavenly back massage any day hahah

Saturday was a tough one. But I can testify that our Father in Heaven knows us perfectly. He will never leave us alone. I have felt a different spirit in these last few days. In a very subtle and tender way the lord has brought me perfect comfort. There is so much power in prayer. The Lord patches up our broken hearts and lets them swell and grow with love. Sunday I gave my first talk in Sacrament Meeting here in Llano Largo. During the sacrament hymn "I stand all amazed" the sprit touched me in a way I have never felt before. I fervently asked the Lord and Heidi for specific help in my talk. Walked up as the last speaker without flinching or stuttering once I gave my fifteen minute talk. I have not once in my life felt more supported from the other side of the veil. Thanks Heidi. President Murphy said something when I got set apart that I would receive help from people in the spirit world. I felt that help so strongly on Sunday more than I have in my whole life. I thank my Heavenly Father for the help and comfort I have received the last few days. My thoughts and prayers have been with the whole Greenwood Family, and everyone back home. I cant image what this is like for the Greenwoods. Paige, Brian, Dana, Lisa, Amy, Erin, Jason, and Rachel are all specifically in my prayers. Dana I wish I could be there to give you a hug.... Know that I pray and think of you! I love you all back home. Been thinking and praying for Lauren Byers, Rachel Buxton, Shea Barker and many of the other people that she was closely associated with. I love you all and I know we all loved her alot.

Richard G Scott said something very profound last spring that I would like to share. " Relationships can be strengthened through the veil with people who we know and love. That is done by our determined effort to continually do what is right. We can stregthen our relationship with the departed loved one by recognizing that the separation is temporary and that the covenants made in the temple our eternal. When consistantly obeyed such covenants assure the realization of the promises inherent in them"

I love this gospel. Our loving heavenly father has given us the oppourtunity to have and develop wonderful relationships here on the earth. Why would he not allow for these sacred things to continue? I know that Heidi Is doing so well right now and watching over each one of us. I know that Christ lives and loves us. Heidi was too pure too wonderful to stay with us. The Lord needs her. And she will forever be in my heart. I love my family so much. Families are eternal they truly are. No gospel truth brings more comfort and purpose than that. I have been stretched and tried in big ways this week, while also feeling the Saviors loving arms wrap around me. Pray, and ask for strength, I promise it will come.

Until next week. Stay safe and show some of Heidi´s love for someone else. I feel privledged to be here helping and loving the people of Guatemala.

Heidi! We will go on a run in heaven!

Love Elder Hughes

Mi querido amoroso magnifica familia! | week 24

Hola familia! 

Sounds like baseball season continues to get heated up! I dont think alot of people know what baseball is here haha And to be completely honest here I had no idea it was St Patricks day this last week. There is a holiday coming up here called semana santa. They take this thing seriously. There are a ton of processions with all the Catholic Churches and everything. For alot of people it is the only day or two they have off of work for the whole entire year. I hadnt heard anything about this new email policy but I,m definetly a fan haha Matthew wrote me this week telling me too so it was really nice to hear from him as well. I just loved your story in the donut shop Mom and Dad. I beleive there are oppourtunities all around us like that, we just need to be looking for them and sensitive to the spirit.

To summarize my week it was a challenge. We struggled all week to find people in their homes with appointments falling right and left. I have been very busy with the work, the district, and alot of little details that go into each day. By the time we get back to the house I get all the numbers and calls done for the night, we plan for the following day I'm usually crawling into bed a little bit later haha. One of the challenges we have seen this week is just how to help these investigators progress. Many times we set baptismal dates early and the progression is like pulling teeth. To really gain a testimony, and find the peace and blessings that come from the gospel people must read the Book of Mormon, Pray and come to church. There is no other substitute. I have learned this week how the lord tests and stretches us. He molds us into who he needs us to be. The witness always comes after the trail of our faith. This applies to all of us as missionaries and for the people we teach. But despite some challenging days we can always find joy and happiness in the work and life. A couple experiences I had this week....

Went on my first division with Elder D in my district! I spent my Wendsday in Los Pinos where I was able to see his area and help him a little bit. We are working to get things moving for him. I can honestly say I learned a ton for the division. I hope I was able to help him out. Just like preparing a talk in church, If its done right the speaker gets more out of it than the congregation. Thats how I felt in the division.

Hermana S was baptized on Saturday! After more trails than I can remember it happened. There was some drama with her family. I directed the small baptism in the church. Elder O and I gave the talks and all ended up smooth. I will include a picture! And people here in pictures dont smile alot because they are worried about their smile. hahah They are happy I promise!

Lastly we probably had one of the saddest moments in my mission so far. I wont get specific but a member of my ward that I love alot. This Hermano was in church last sunday doing great. Progressing, and really happy. We found him in the street with all the drunks in our area. Dirty, drinking, and lost. I honestly couldnt beleive it for a minute. We passed this same area the next day and found him sitting still not doing good at all. We talked with him for a minute.... I just decided that we were going to take him home. Lifted him up and walked him about two miles back to his house. We all felt alot better knowing he was home and off the street. I pray for his little son who was asking us where his dad was a day earlier. I felt grateful for the oppourtunity to help my good freind in our ward. The mission is alot more than teaching and sharing this message its about being a witness of Jesus Christ and doing what he would do.

As we walked this man to his house a quote popped into my head that I found later that night by Elder Jeffery R Holland "However late you think you are, however many chanves you think youve missed, however mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you dont have, or however far from home and family fou feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love, It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christs Atonement shines" I love these words because they are true. We can ALWAYS repent and change. If we have problems, weaknesses, shortcomings or sins. They can change. That is the majesty and hope we find In Jesus Christ. He knows us and our sins were paid in full. I know the Saviors loving arms of mercy are constantly outstreched towards us. I have felt this in my own life and felt the effects. I also see it in the mission feild. This is the message we bring to others. One of hope.

I love you all so much! Thanks for your support and love! We are going to have a zone conference this week that im excited about. The rumor is an area seventy is going to come but we will see! I love this work and the people. Until next week! Les amo mucho y se cuida! 

Elder Hughes

HEY! | week 23

Mi querido familia! 

Hey guys! Hope everything is going well! First thanks for all the pictures wow I just loved them. Riley you look like a stud bro. The first thing I thought of is wow you look older and more grown up. You look great. And I just loved the pics of Sarina and Christian! You guys look awesome and the pictures came out amazing. Congratulations. When is the wedding again? Mom I thought of that the other day about how many great memories we have made at the ball park. For our family that was a place where we were always together. 

Well been a week of change for me. On Wednesday I went to the conference of changes to get my "hijo"! There were alot of Elders and Hermanas there that I hadnt seen in a long time! The assistants called me into an office to let me know that I would be training and the new District Leader here........ I literally almost fell over from pure shock. Just insane! They just told me President has trust in you and good luck, hahahah. So in my district there are four sets of missionaries. Seven Elders and two Hermanas. My new Companion is Elder M. He is from here in Guatemala a place called Antigua one of the most beautiful cities here In Guatemala. I think It has won a bunch of international awards also.

The first couple days this week were a bit stressful. They dont really tell or train you on how to be a district leader but the advantage I have is I got to watch Elder G for three months. I can honestly say that the Lord always provides a ways for his missionaries to accomplish these assignments. Wendsday night I plead with the Lord for help. Help with the area, with the language, with my new responsibilites. On Friday I finally felt settled into everything. We had a productive week in our area. Found five new investigators that we are going to continue to visit. With the F-R Family we are so close! They are only missing a little bit more with the paperwork to get married. So we are hoping to see them bet Baptized around the 26th or 27th of March! 

We ate a really interesting meal this week called K´aqui´k its a native soup with chicken. It comes from Coban where the secret ingredient is Cobanero peppers! Man this stuff is hot haha I will say that during my time here I have developed a love for hot food haha They put salsa on pretty much everything.

As I have reflected on this week I have seen a change in myself as a missionary. From sun up until about 10:45 at night Its always going, running, making decisions. Everyone always talks about losing yourself on the mission. I feel grateful for this oppourtunity I have to grow and develop as a person. I love the missionaries in my district and this just gives me another oppourtunity to help people! Thats really what life is all about is helping others. Thats what Christ did and its what we should always look to do. There is no such thing as a little act of kindness. I feel so happy! I have learned out here that Happiness is not measured by anything that comes from the media or physical entertainment. True happiness comes when we can say I am obedient, striving to be better, and im helping other people. I wish I could just reach through the screen to all my freinds and family and tell you I care and If you ever need anything ASK ME! hahaha 

To close just want to share a quote to think about this week. "The face of sin often wears a mask of tolerance. Do not be deceived, behind that facade is heartache, unhappiness, and pain... If your so called freinds urge you to do anything that you know to be wrong, you be the one to make a stand for right even if you stand alone" President Monson
That sly guy satan is always trying to deceive us. We know what is right. We know what isnt right. Wickedness never was happiness..... It never will be. I love this work. I love being a missionary! But most of all I just love to help hahahaha 

Have a great week and always keep things positive! Love you guys!


Elder Hughes

Changes! | week 22

Hola familia!!!

Well honestly I'm not quite sure where to start about this week! As a whole it has been, busy, crazy, and completely not normal. Sounds like everyone is doing well and warming up in Rocklin. So just to get things going we got changes last night........................ ( and on a side the mission is crazy we have so many missionaries coming in as we get ready to split)......... I AM TRAINING! I am staying here in Llano Largo for two more changes to train. I am in such a mix of excited and very nervous. I will go to the change conference on Wendsday to pick up the new Elder. Elder G has a change and looks like he is going to be a zone leader somewhere in the mission. Elder O is going to stay with me for a little bit. From what we have heard his visa should be here very soon. I have thought about Matthew recently because I know he trained after two changes also. It is definetly very humbling to have this oppourtunity to serve. I would be lying not to say im a little scared hahah. I know who the Lord calls he qualifies so I am going to do everything I can to ask for his help because I cant do it alone, especially here in Guatemala.

Sounds like all is well in Rocktown. Thanks for the sports updates and everything! Mom your photography is looking awesome. I loved the picture of Jordan how cool is that. The new camera is good. As you guys remember I have buyers anxiety haha It killed me to buy a new one but its a samsung with 16 mega pixels. I love you guys so much!

Well week "7" in this change was just insane. Elder G even commented this week that it was the weirdest, craziest week he has had in his whole 16 months on the mission. Im just going to start from the beginning and give you guys a small snapshot of what went down. To start our week we found a new family! The familia D C, these guys are golden. We found them through a reference here. Mom, Dad, and two kids are so sweet. One of them is special im not exactly sure if its Autism or what but she is the sweetest thing ever. What makes this family so great is they honestly have desires to change and learn. They commented to us in the second lesson we had with them this week that they felt we had been sent to them from the Lord. I also felt and mentioned this to them in the first lesson sometimes you can just feel that our path was guided right to them.

The first few days this week were just super hot. Its summer time down here in Guatemala and for the first few days we just roasted! One thing that I almost forgot existed was air conditioning. So when its hot the cement house just traps all the heat in the house hahaha. This leads us to story number one this week. Wendsday night we decided to sleep on the roof! So we brought our beds up a sketchy ladder and slept under the stars haha! When we woke up everything was super damp because of the humidity haha! On Thursday the adventure continued when a few of our afternoon appointments fell through we decided to go to a colonial in our area that we havent been to before. It sits way out on a ridge across a valley where we live. At about 5 o´clock we had to be back to meet up with a member. We could see our colonial across this valley haha. After talking to some of the local people they told us oh yeah you can cross the valley and get back to Hermano Pedro. Somehow we ended up in the bottom of this gorge with grass taller than we are trying to find our way out. After about an hour of climbing out of the gorge we found the exit! Then met a really mean dog that chased us through someones property and over a fence hahahah. By this time we were covered in grass and ash!

Im not sure if you guys remember the Family F-R. We have been working with them to get them married so I and his son B can get baptized. M and A the mother and daughter are already members. For the longest time it looked like they were going to separate. I just did not want to get married. We have seen just the coolest change with this family. After alot and I mean alot of lessons, and problems we have seen a new light in this family. We went over one day and everything changed. They wanted to get married and the family just had a unity and happiness that we have not seen with them. The gospel blesses families and they are the perfect example. We had them scheduled to get baptized this last Saturday but with the goverment here its super hard to get married if someone came from out of the country. The biggest headache in the world haha. They were missing a few papers still so hopefully we can marry them and baptize them next Saturday. The sweet thing here in the ward is the Relief Society President is a lawyer so we got connections baby!

To make a really sad long story short. We organized and planned a baptism for Hermana C this week. She was excommunicated from the church. We were in the church I was dressed in all white and Hermana C ready to have a small simple baptism for her. To make it really simple we found out at the last minute that she had not had a certain interveiw that is required. We have just been following the direction of the Bishop with her baptism and everything seemed ready to go. She has gone through alot to be able to be baptized and it just ripped our heart out to have to sit her down and tell her she had to wait to be baptized atleast a week. Thorugh a lot of tears dressed in white it was a tough time. Unfortunately the church doesnt work as smoothly down here in Guatemala. There are alot of leaders that are still learning and communication is key. We experienced the effects this week of bad communication. But we are going to keep working with her and the leaders.

Some more notable headlines this week include....Changing a lamina roof that hadnt been touched in 20 years in the poorest condition I have ever seen in my life!

The area here in Llano Largo is on fire we are prepped to baptize this next change which is so exciting. It is completely impossible to document this week. Just add about twenty other crazy situations and things that happened to us. I have just loved having Elder G as my Trainer I love this guy so much. I am going to miss him alot. I am still in shock that im training. The mission is getting so big and I really feel so priviledged to be apart of this great and marvelous work. The mission and this week was tough. As I look back on the experiences and lessons I have learned this week and in the past three months here I am amazed. Through the adversity and opposition in our lives we truly become refined. I love this church and I know that it is true. All you have to do is test it. Read the scriptures, read the Book of Mormon, obey the commandments that God has given us and the witness comes. This next week is going to be a big change. Alot of responsibility has just been put on my shoulders. Sometimes I wonder if im ready. But I know that with the Lord everthing is possible!

I love you Mom and Dad; Riley and Zach! I got the package from you guys this week thank you so much! Have a great week!

Love Elder Hughes