Monday, February 19, 2018

Una Semana Bien Rara....

Hola Familia!

Another good week as a missionary here in Portland! I didn't get to baptize Damian Lillard this transfer like I was hoping, but some crazy things happened this week.

Early in the week, for the first time in my mission, Elder Valentine and I met with an openly-gay, middle-aged man named Johnathan at this restaurant called Cruisers. He told us about himself and how despite everything, he accepts Jesus Christ as his Savior. This was pretty cool for me to hear. So we talked to him about how much love the Church and especially God has for all of His children. He had some questions for us about the Church's stance. We didn't have much time to met with him that night, but maybe he'll be open to hear more another time.

Later, we had a FaceTime lesson with a member who had just moved into our ward, Jesse. Jesse had just recently converted to the Church when his Elders quorum President told him that he needed to have a vision confirming the truth of the Book of Mormon before he was to receive the priesthood. This caused him to be really confused and grow a little inactive. Well, after telling him that what his Elders quorum President said was crazy, Elder Valentine and I felt impressed to draw up the Plan of Salvation focusing on the role that the Priesthood has in all of it. Very powerful. You could tell he was receiving a lot of the answers to his questions. Then on Sunday, after Sacrament Meeting, we met up again with Jesse in the Bishop's office and helped confer the Aaronic Priesthood upon him! Hopefully, he'll participate in the blessing or passing of the sacrament next Sunday. I'm so excited for him.

Thursday, I got flown down solo to Las Vegas to meet with the Mexican Consulate and finish the process of obtaining my visa. It hadn't really hit me until I walked out of the consulate building, that I was all alone as a missionary in the middle of Las Vegas. I didn't have a phone so I walked to the closest place I could find with free WiFi which ended up being an outdoor mall called Las Vegas Premium outlets. I had some lunch at Shake Shack and then borrowed the mall customer service place's phone to call my zone leaders in Portland. They got the number of the local Elders in the area I was in for me and I called them and told them the story and they were so confused like "I've never been in a situation like this before. We're gonna have to call the APs and the mission President and ask". Hahaha. But they ended up driving over to come get me. Elder Roberts from Idaho and Elder Roberts from Vancouver, Washington!! Crazy! They took me with them immediately to an appointment with a woman named Cheryl who had just been baptized on Saturday. We went over the Restoration with her. Then, the elders took me to the nearest chapel where I met the President of the Las Vegas West Mission, President Walker, and his wife. They took me to the mission home and I went on a walk around the neighborhood with President Walker. He was very nice to talk to. Then they fed me some pizza for dinner and paid for an Uber to get back to the airport. Elder Broadbent and Elder Valentine picked me back up in Portland at 10:15 PM that night. Hahaha crazy day.

Sunday, Elder Valentine, Brother Wells, and I all spoke at church. I was assigned to speak about Elder Quentin L. Cook's talk in the April 2016 general conference called See Yourself in the Temple. Very important principles in there. James, our investigator, AND Sister Bacso, less-active (returning), attended church which was the best. Sister Bacso got to go to the temple prep class and says she can't wait to come back next week.

Another miracle that happened this week was with Sister Fuapau, the less active member with four sons that we visited last week. It was her birthday this week, so we weren't able to go over on Tuesday, but our ward mission leader dropped off some cupcakes for her saying they were from the missionaries of the ward. Then on Sunday, we get a text from her saying she's trying to get back together with her husband and that they ALL want to be taking the missionary lessons as a family!!! Wow. Pray for the Fuapau family because this would be an unbelievable blessing if it worked out!

Regarding my return to México, President McAteer told me that he still hasn't heard anything, so it's possible that I'll be staying in the Portland a little longer than I thought. But I don't know, I guess we'll see. I'm praying that I can return to Cuernavaca as soon as possible.

Anyway, have a good week! I love you all.

Elder Tucker
There was a blizzard last night

We made a pumpkin pie. Elder Valentine's family had sent him the ingredients on Thanksgiving

Portland Temple. We went to the visitor's center with Sister Bacso and her friend on Tuesday

Working with the Elders in Las Vegas

I made some delicious pancakes for breakfast on Friday

Last District Meeting 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Hola Familia!

First of all, Happy late Birthday to my awesome sister Abby!!!!!

Hello again from Portland, OR. The weather has been so great lately, I don't think it's rained all week! Still a little chilly for this Arizona boy but not bad at all.

Anyway, on Tuesday, Elder Valentine and I had dinner with a part-member family. This was an inspired appointment that Elder Broadbent and I were able to set up last week. The mother of this family is actually the daughter of the second counselor in our bishopric and she's been less-active for a while. She's currently separated from her Methodist husband and their 4 sons, 14 years-old, 13, 10, and 7 are not members. At the beginning of the visit, the mother was polite, but kind of skeptical with having missionaries in her home. We asked if we would be able to continue coming back and teach her sons the lessons, but she just maybe and that she would have to reach out to us another time before we came back. Well, after reading a little in the Book of Mormon and talking about prophets with them, we totally gained their interest and by time we were about to leave, the mother was scheduling our next appointment! And on top of that, she said she would try to make it to church on Sunday. She didn't end up coming this time, but it was another witness nonetheless of the Spirit that is felt through reading in the Book of Mormon. They completely changed in a matter of minutes and were willimg to hear more. We'll be seeing them tomorrow night.

Wednesday I had my last exchange with Elder Vance in Cherry Park. We visited Sister Bacso, a less-active, with Brother Claycomb again and gave her a blessing. Immediately after, Sister Bacso informed us that she had been shaking all day and that the blessing made her stop shaking entirely. Such a powerful experience. After that, we got to hear a little bit more of Sister Bacso's conversion story and how even before becoming a member, she had seen pictures of LDS temples and had a desire to go inside. We set up going to the temple visitor's center tomorrow with her so I'm really excited for that.

Thursday, we visited another less-active, part-member family, the Knights. They have this huge organ set up in their house with a bunch of other instruments and gadgets just like Organ Stop Pizza. It's crazy, I've never seen anything like it in someone's home. And Brother Knight is amazing at playing it. He played us the Star Wars and Star Trek themes with this light show and it felt like we were actually in a movie theater hahaha. Definitely the most unique moment of my time in Portland so far and that's saying something. We listened to him again on Sunday.

Friday was Elder Valentine's 20th birthday! Unfortunately, Michelle failed her baptismal interview with President McAteer and said she doesn't know about us visiting her anymore, so that was a bummer, but at least we had a good Tongan dinner that night and the members gave Elder Valentine a birthday cake. Also, we taught Juston the entire Gospel of Jesus Christ lesson in five minutes because he had to leave, but he was loving it.

But the best part of the week happened a few minutes ago when I got a call from the mission office telling me that my Visa is ready and I'll most likely be returning to Cuernavaca at the end of this transfer which is next Wednesday!!!!!!!!!!! Wow! What amazing news! I couldn't be more excited! It happened even faster than I thought it would and I just feel so blessed to get this opportunity to return to my Mexican mission.

So I'm pumped. Ready to keep working hard. More adult things I've been doing lately, I've been cooking like crazy and I'm actually pretty good. I got hard boiled eggs right the first time ;) hahaha lol. Also, I'm becoming a pro at public transportation here in Portland. We got these sweet hop passes which allow us to get on all buses and street cars.

Have a great week everyone!

Elder Tucker

1, Hop pass, waiting for the street car

2, Portland street car

3, little bday present for Elder Valentine

4, Valentine's day pizza hut special

4, Birthday cake

Monday, February 5, 2018

¡Un fin de semana lleno de milagros!

Hola Familia!

Another good week out here in Portland and it feels good to be writing again!

On Wednesday we did another exchange with the zone leaders and I worked in Cherry Park with Elder Broadbent this time. Elder Broadbent is 23 and had almost graduated from BYU-Idaho before coming out on his mission so he is very smart and mature. It was a blast working with him and we got some good work done in the area. He's a Spanish speaking elder as well so we talked Spanish throughout the whole exchange. He speaks pretty well.

Then, Thursday evening, we had our regular appointment with our investigator, James, where we finished teaching him the Plan of Salvation and then discussed the importance of making church a priority. I began feeling a little discouraged with James because it didn't seem like he had really been keeping his commitments, but it was a powerful lesson and we definitely got him thinking.

Friday, we met with a 41 year-old member named Roger. He converted to the Church when he was 16, but hasn't been very active since. He also just broke up with his girlfriend of 6 years and he takes care of his 11 year-old stepson and a 2 year-old daughter that he had with the ex-girlfriend. Very polite, humble guy. It always throws me off a little bit, though, when some of these people in Portland tell me their age because Roger, for example, looks and talks like a younger person maybe in their late 20s. Anyway, we had a great visit with him where we talked about the Joseph Smith story and patriarchal blessings actually and about coming back to church and he was loving It! Later, we had Michelle's baptismal interview scheduled with President McAteer, but at 6:45 PM, when we got to the cancer center where she stays, they told us that she had already gone to bed for the night. Pretty embarrassing having President drive down for that hahaha.

Saturday was a miracle day of catching people at home! First, we helped a couple inactive people move into their homes and then we were able to stop by and visit three different investigators, Jeanne, Juston, and Ed which never happens. We're working with Jeanne to accept a baptismal date. With Juston, we gave him the chocolate cream pie that one of the inactive people had given us for helping him move which Juston said made his night. And we got to read in the Book of Mormon with Ed. So awesome to be able to catch people at home!

But now for the best part, fast Sunday! I REALLY wanted people to show up to church yesterday and my prayers were answered when James AND Roger walked in the chapel. I can't describe the rush of joy I felt for seeing mine and Elder Valentine's hard work paying off by seeing those two men at church. What a blessing and faith-builder! What a miracle! I now have even more motivation and hope to continue helping these men and many others in their conversion to the Gosepl!

So things are going great over here. I'm learning so much and feel like a more effective missionary everyday. I also have been so good at doing adult things lately like shining my shoes, cleaning/organizing the apartment, and trying to teach myself how to sow haha. It feels good. Anyway hope you are doing well! Keep hitting me up with the emails. Thanks so much for the love and support.

Elder Tucker

Turns out an apartment building in Portland houses Darth Vader 

Bishop King took us to a nice Chinese restaurant and I got a NICE fortune.  Hope it comes true soon! 

Elder Vance and Me 

Monday, January 29, 2018

No somos llamados a un lugar sino para servir...

Hola Familia!

My third week in the Washington, Vancouver Mission has been great! Can't believe I'm already halfway through a transfer.

On Wednesday, we had a multi-zone conference here in Portland. We heard some amazing talks from President and Sister McAteer and the local stake president, President Dickie, and his wife. The Spirit was so strong and it made me even more motivated to keep working hard. Then we received some trainings from the APs, Portland zone leaders, and President and Sister Gamett of the mission presidency. I learned about being obedient and using the Book of Mormon more with my investigators. Then we had a testimony meeting where we heard from all of the missionaries going home at the end of this transfer. I had never been to a zone conference like that before, but I loved it.

Then, as if the Spirit couldn't get any stronger, we got to go to the Portland Temple on Thursday! It was special because, since it's just outside the mission, we're only allowed to go twice a year and I got to go! One of the most beautiful temples I've ever been to.

Saturday, we had ward mission correlation meeting and all of the members present were impressed by the work Elder Valentine and I have been doing with our ward mission leader. How we're able to communicate and record everything with our devices and have a more spear-headed, organized effort It motivated them to be more involved in the mission effort which, in turn, motivated us even more. One of the best principles that has come from Preach My Gospel is that, as missionaries, we teach people instead of lessons. Meaning that we work with people's individual needs and help them to progress towards conversion instead of just giving them a robotic lesson.

Yesterday, we had stake conference. We were really hoping our investigator, Michelle, would be able to attend, but when we went to pick her up from the care facility she lives at, it turned out that she was still sick from pneumonia and wasn't able to go. Fortunately, she told us this with a Book of Mormon on her lap with a bookmark in Alma chapter 4! We just got her to start reading on Thursday and she's a quarter of the way through! "This is a lot more interesting than I thought" she said. So we have high hopes for Michelle. Her health just needs to improve for her to be able to be baptized so keep her in your prayers.

Lastly, after a long afternoon of failing to be able to visit people on our ward focus list yesterday, we received a referral from a temple visitor's center sister. His name was Justin and he had just been to the visitor's center that day. We looked for his address which was perfectly between us and our dinner appointment so we contacted him a few minutes later and he is Golden. 50 year old, buddhist, vietnamese man who was mesmerized by the organization of the Church and our focus on The Family. He said he has a bunch of festivities and traditions to do for Chinese New Year at the beginning of February, but he says after that, he'd love for us to visit him! What a miracle to have found him and so conveniently. The Lord really doesn't do random.

Well it's been great and I'm ready for another hardworking week here in Portland. Thank you for the emails and love and support. Have a good week!

Elder Tucker

Monday, January 22, 2018

Second Week in The Vancouver, Washington Mission (Portland)

Hola Familia!

Another good week here in Portland! I've started to get used to the differences in work over here and to the personality of my comanion, Elder Valentine and we've been getting some good work done together.

So for anyone that still doesn't know, the motto/slogan for the city of Portland is 'Keep Portland Weird' and I can tell you that they do a great job of staying true to that goal, especially my area, Cherry Park. It's almost impossible to see two people of the same ethnicity walking on the same street althpugh there are a lot of tongans which is pretty cool and there's so much art and LGBTQ and Black Lives Matter signs and recreational marijuana is legal haha. And I guess a lot of homeless people around the country migrate over here because they've heard of all the benefits.

On Tuesday, we did exchanges with the zone leaders. I got to work with Elder Vance in his area while Elder Broadbent worked with my companion in Cherry Park. It was really great! Elder Vance went to Perry High School in Chandler, AZ and is cousins with the Vance family in my home ward. He's a really good missionary and I learned a lot from him that I was excited to apply in my area with Elder Valentine.

Like I said last week, there's a lot of less active and part member families in Cherry Park. Luckily, we get to give a lot of service this week. We gave a couple blessings some people that were sick and we helped another family rearrange a bunch of furniture their home. I think service is a great way to gain the trust of people and Heavenly Father blesses us so much because of it. It reminds me of the Book of Mormon when Ammon began his mission to the Nephites. He was captured and brought before King Lamoni who asked "What are you doing here?" and Ammon said that he was just there to serve.

Anyway, Sunday was really cool for a lot of reasons. One of our investigators, Juston attended church, the ward started a new Spanish speaking Sunday school class which I participated in, and we had another lesson with the Matsushima Family. The Matsushimas are a family with three teenage sons, and they're all members except for the Dad, Mark. His name was saved as Mark 'Eternigator' in our cell phone because I guess he's been on and off investigating the church for 14 years. But we feel like now might finally be his time! So we taught him all about gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon and the importance of it. He committed to study in it everyday and to pray and eventually fast to know that it is true! The Spirit was so strong. And it's so awesome as a missionary to be able to make the promise that if we honestly strive to know if the Book of Mormon is true that we will without a doubt receive an answer through the power of the Holy Ghost. And if we receive that witness we know that all of the Restoration must be true. It's the evidence. I know the Book of Mormon is true and that is a huge blessing in my life.

Things are going well and I have a feeling that they'll be getting even better this week. I'm learning so much and have been keeping up on my good habits. I finally made Elder Valentine help me take down the Christmas decorations so I got one step closer to having a clean, organized apartment haha.

Thanks so much for the love and support!

Elder Tucker

Some houses have these cool bookcases in front that say take one or leave one so we left a book of Mormon

another pic of our cool ward building constructed in 1929

Avalon theater

playing scatterball with the zone

Monday, June 12, 2017

Cambios en Ocotito

Hola Familia!
It was another good week in La Gran Misión México Cuernavaca! Today we had changes and I´m staying in Ocotito with a new companion, Elder Lopez, from Guatamala City, Guatamala! Also, Elder Stevens, one of CCM companions, got transferred to the Chilpancingo Zone as well which is sweet. Elder Silva and I got along well and I learned a lot from him, but I was ready for a change of things and I have a feeling Elder Lopez and I are going to work even more effectively together.

Elder Lopez, 20,  converted to the Church when he was 17. He has 16 months in the mission. His parents are non-members and his siblings are less-active in the Church. I met him for the first time in Cuernavaca when we got called to be trainers and then I saw him again when we first got called to be district leaders. I already have a lot of respect for him.
This week, I went on exchanges with Elder Chiquete in Chilpancingo and Ocotito while our companions went to leadership counsel. Also, I finally decided to repent and clean the house this week and I´ll have to send pics next week because it´s so much better. I was scared to send some before because it was pretty nasty hahaha.
Other than that, there´s not much more to say this week, but we found some NICE nuevos that I´m excited to start teaching. Excited to get to work with Elder Lopez! Have a great week!

Elder Tucker

View in Chilpancingo

Hermanas y Sombreros

Elder Silva and I with a member in Chilpo that has a ton of sombreros

Compa nuevo mientras escribir

Monday, June 5, 2017

!Bautismos en Ocotito!

Hola Familia!

First of all, Happy Birthday Dad! You´re the best and I love you so much.

Another great week down in La Gran Misión México Cuernavaca! It´s been starting to rain pretty often now and I´m loving it. Yesterday, I completed 8 months as a missionary and 3 of mine and Elder Silva´s investigators were baptized and confirmed this weekend!

Marlen, 28, is a single mother of 4 that lives in a town in our area called Tierra Colorado (Colored Earth). It´s only about a 20 minute taxi ride from our house, but it always feels like it´s about 15 degrees hotter over there. Anyway, Marlen has known about the Church for a while, but has had a bunch of family, financial, and spiritual difficulties that have impeded her from progressing. She has a long story. Her four kids come from 4 different fathers. Elder Silva and I have worked to help Marlen understand and achieve true repentance. Through many commitments and perseverence on both ends, Marlen passed her baptismal interview with President Ávila. Only in certain cases do investigators have to interview with the mission president. She is now one of the most sincerely repentant women that I´ve had the privilege of knowing. Last week, after attending stake conference, she shared with us that she felt more peace, comfort, and joy that she had felt in a long time and that she knows the Church is true.

Jazmin, 11, is Marlen's second daughter, and she´s so awesome. She´s a bit shy and hides her face when she prays or reads scriptures in front of us, but she completes all the commitments we leave with her and has a strong testimony. I was shocked to see her walk up to the pulpit in front of the whole branch this Sunday to bear her testimony during sacrament meeting, the same sacrament meeting that she had been confirmed a member of the Church. But then she roasted me after Church when she said, Elder Tucker, why didn't you bear your testimony? hahaha

The only other child of Marlen that is old enough to be baptized is Rosa, 13. Rosa is really great too, but she´s had some very hard situations in the past that have lead her to have some psychological problems. It´s hard for her to trust men, especially new ones that come into her live like me, so she wasn't baptized this weekend, but we´ll keep working to help her. She attended the baptisms and confirmations of her mom and sister this weekend and was sad because she realized she wanted to be baptized too. I´ll keep you posted on the progress. I´m not giving up because part of our purpose as missionaries is to unite families.

Nora, 58, is a street contact of Elder Silva and his last companion. She´s a widow. She has the best personality and the best laugh. Reminds me a lot of Margie Aslett. She´s a golden investigator. Gives great prayers which almost always lead to tears.

Great, great week. I am learning so much from Elder Silva. My testimony is stronger than ever. The work moves on! Excited for what´s ahead.

Élder Tucker

1,2- baptisms

                                                                    3- Perfect Companions

Letter Number Two:  

Hi Mom! Sounds like fun at the new house! Sweet that you made Al Pastor, it´s my favorite. Yes, sometimes we have guacamole! Sweet that Alcatraz is coming up! You´re thoughts about the temple are so true. Keep going!

Sometimes as members, we think, that there are two parts to the Church- Missions and Local. This isn´t true at all, missionaries and members are part of the same Church. In order to have the most success en building God´s Kingdom, we must work together and have the same purpose. Sometimes it can be scary or hard to share the Gospel with someone because we fear that we could risk losing someone as a friend. Our friends are sons and daughters of the same Father in Heaven and they need what we have. 

Other times, we think, this person could never repent or accept the Gospel. When we say or think those things it is a lack of faith. Not only that, but its as if we said to Jesus Christ himself, your atonement wasn't enough for that person, you should've have suffered more in the Garden of Gethsemane. He already paid for the sins of the world. Have the faith that all can accept and be redeemed of Him. 

I've meet a lot of really humble people on the mission her in Mexico. Through all their trials, they find strength in the Gospel. Also, I´ve realized that Heavenly Father is always helping and serving us, especially when we serve others. The times where I have felt like I´ve been doing the most to serve others on my mission are the times when I´ve received the most support from my Father in Heaven.

One of my zone leaders is named Elder Carter from Independence Missouri, and his grandpa served a mission with Grandpa Funk in Brazil in 1956! Heres a pic of us.

Love you Mom

Elder Tucker