Sunday, April 7, 2013

6 month mark | week 26

Hola Familia!!!!!!

I am here coming to you from good old NOGALES, Arizona. It sure feels like Mexico though haha.

Sorry the letter is a day late. Transfer day yesterday was insane, and by the time I got here the library was closed. So that is why you are getting an email today.

Thank you for your letter this week. You guys sound really busy. I have been as well. It was wonderful to hear more about the miracles and experiences you guys have been witnessing at home. I have continued to reflect on all that Heidi was able to do in her life here. I am so grateful for this gospel. San Francisco looked awesome. I love those Giants. I wish I could have been there with you guys. It was great to see pictures of you guys. I love you all so much. 

So tuesday was transfer day. It was an insane day. Transfer days always are. I was sad to leave Duncan, because of the many memories I was able to be a part of there. I went around and said goodbye to as many people as I could. I love the people there so much. I know that the Lord needed me there for a time. It never ceases to amaze me how his hand is in the work that we do. He truly is at the head of this work. I have found as a missionary as we are in the service of others I have found a greater capacity to love others than I have ever felt in my life. That is why I love being a missionary so much. The time is flying by WAY too fast. I want it to slow down.

I got to Tucson and met my new companion Elder W. He is a great kid. He is from Portland Oregon. He just finished training, so we are both pretty new. I am excited to work with him. I have such a great feeling about the work here in Nogales. I haven't even met hardly anyone yet, but I just have this feeling like the work is going to be really good here. There has been lots of success in the past. Our area is basically the North half of Nogales. There is an English ward and a Spanish branch that meet here, with 8 missionaries covering the two wards. My good friend Elder D is my District Leader here. We were together in our district in the MTC. I love that guy. I was so excited to find out he is here with us. Elder D and his companion, the zone leaders, Hermana's and us all work together in the wards here alot.

I am going to be able to use spanish ALOT here, which is really exciting. I am a bit nervous, but I am so excited to really learn it. We have alot of potential people to work with and will be really busy.

I am excited for the new challenges and miracles that I will be able to see here. It is such an exciting time to be a missionary. 

This weekend is general conference, and I am SO excited. What an amazing opportunity we all have to drop everything and listen to the words of apostles and prophets. I know that if we all go into this weekend with specific questions in our hearts, the Lord will answer them through his servants. I know I am going to have a list of my own. I know that President Monson truly is a prophet of God. I think for me that is something that I have never doubted. Listen to all of their words this weekend. I will be listening with you. The spirit can unite us all through that.

I am so excited to be in my new area. I have over used that word excited, but that is really how I feel. I love this gospel, and I love all of you. Thank you so much for your love and support, I feel your prayers. I know the Savior lives and loves us.


Elder Hughes

Monday, April 1, 2013

Pictures from Duncan AZ

Taylor is unable to email us pictures each week. The computers and internet are just too slow in Duncan. Here are some of the latest that he sent home. Now that he has been transferred, I hope to get pictures from him every week.

I love you guys! | week 25

*We talked to Taylor on the Saturday before this letter was written. A phone call to a missionary from his parents is never good news. Unfortunately, we had to let him know that his very good friend, Heidi Greenwood passed away suddenly from a pulmonary embolism. Both Tanner and Taylor were very close with Heidi. They loved her and the Greenwood Family. Taylor sent this wonderful picture, through a member in Duncan later that day, what an amazing young man!

Hey Family!

Thank you for your email today mom and dad. It was great. I love to hear more about the kinds of feelings and the spirit of what has been happening. Man, I don't even know where to begin this week. I am doing well. Saturday was a really hard day. I had a really hard day concentrating and it definitely was the really tough day for me. Your call was so great. I found myself throughout the day reflecting on it, and the words you guys were able to give me. I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to send the Greenwoods a message. Give them big hugs for me. I have been able to reflect so much in the last couple days about the reality of the plan that our heavenly father has for us. It is so real. It is why I am out sharing the gospel. I am so grateful for the spirit that comforts me. 

I love all the little miracles that you talked about. How wonderful that you got to witness all of that happening. I have seen a couple small little miracle for me here as well. I know that the Lord leads us to others and he leads people to us. It goes both ways. Right after the phone call I was having a really hard time. It takes a few moments for it all to set in. When I was talking to you guys, I still was a bit in shock. We went to go wash our car at this car wash. I was really struggling. Then K happened to drive by and she stopped. K is an AMAZING recent convert here. She was baptized in the fall here in Virden. She is so cool. She has an amazing story of how she joined the church. We have worked with her alot. She is like our best friend haha. So she came to the car wash. We were able to talk for a while which is what I really needed. Sometimes you just need a hug :) I of course wish it could come from you guys, but I am glad that there are so many wonderful people here. I wrote the Greenwood's a letter, and I mailed it to you guys. So if you could deliver it to them that would be awesome. Then that night we ate dinner at the Stake President's house. I have told you a little about him before, but the Stake President here is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. He lives right by us, and him and I have become good friends. It was a blessing to me that we were able to spend time with them on Saturday night. Him and his wife helped me out so much. We were able to talk alot about everything. Also on Saturday I got to spend a few minutes in the chapel, actually during the time that the funeral was going on. The spirit truly comforted me there. I know that the savior lives and loves us. The spirit has whispered something to me over and over. It has told me that THIS is why I am serving a mission. Our family and Heidi's family are united through eternity through the blessings of the temple. I am here to bring that to others. I have gotten so much peace from the blessings of eternal families and sealings in the temple. I am in Arizona to bring that blessing to other families.That thought has pushed me to work harder, to commit even more to do everything I can to bring the blessings of the temple to as many families as I can on my mission. It has made me see that I cannot take even one day for granted. Every day is precious. Things like this let us see the true perspective of what really matters most. I hope that I can see that perspective every day without having to have something so tragic to happen. When I was reflecting back on Heidi, I kept thinking of laughter. Everyone that around her was smiling. There was always laughter and joy wherever she went. I know Heidi is in the arms of her Heavenly Father and her Savior. What a wonderful knowledge we have. Now I have to go and share that. I know the Plan of Salvation is real. I have felt through the Holy Ghost of it's true power.

As for the rest of my week. I was really sick for a couple days so that made it a bit of a slow week. We have continued to stay busy though which is the way I like it. The one really amazing thing about this week came on Sunday. A and his wife Y spoke in church. That is a missionary's dream come true when we get to see our investigator bear his testimony in church. I couldn't stop smiling, it was so awesome. Y said something that I will never forget. She talked about the process about how they moved here to Duncan. She said that she truly felt guided as they made the move here to Duncan. She said that now she knows that they moved here to meet Elder Z and I. She said that no other missionaries had touched A's heart. She said that she knew that they had to come here for A to meet us. I cannot even describe how that feels as a missionary to know that I was led to come here. The Lord uses us as a tool in his hand to accomplish his purposes for us. There is no better feeling in the world to know that I was part of helping a family take steps to becoming an eternal family.

It was spring break this week. So many people were out of town, and many of our investigators were gone as well. But we are looking forward to a good week this week.

On a lighter side note. We did have one hilarious thing happen this week. We have been visiting a member who knows an inactive that we want to start helping. One night a couple weeks ago it was dark, and I fell into one of these insane holes that are right by where we park at his house. It was funny then, but then on Sat. we pulled up to his house again. Elder L said "Don't fall in a hole!" I was in the middle of saying "That was so funny when I fell..." when I fell into a hole again. Yeah... it was a pretty classic Taylor move. I make a fool of myself on a regular basis as always.

Transfers calls are on Easter next Sunday. SOOOOO I might be somewhere new when I email you on Tue. next week! There is a pretty good chance I will be leaving Duncan. Which is bittersweet. I love the people here so much. I finally feel like part of the ward :) Happy Easter. I am singing your favorite hymn mom in church next week as a special musical number. I truly know that my redeemer live.

Thank you for your love. I feel your prayers. I wish that I could be with you guys at this time, but know that I am doing well. Saturday was really tough, but things are better every day. It makes me want to work even harder to find those that the Lord needs me to find. He has already done that for Adrian, and I am excited to see what else he has in store. In honor of Heidi and her life I want to do all that I can to bring others to our Savior. I know that he lives! I know that because of him we can live again. His arms of can comfort us. They have done that for me this week.

I love you guys so much. I can't even express it. My love and prayers go out to all the friends and family of Heidi. I love you all. Turn to the Savior. He knows how to help each of us. I love you and miss you guys.


Elder Taylor Hughes

Hello from the ATM (arizona tucson mission) :) | week 24

Hey Family!!!!!
Happy St. Patrick's day to you guys as well. Yes I wore a green tie. It sounds like life is as normal for you guys. Sometimes I feel like the same way in my emails to you guys now haha. Things are great here in Duncan! As for the new missionary email rules, I have heard about that. I am pretty sure it was for all missions. President Killpack hasn't informed us formally yet, but I am pretty sure that it is for us too. That is awesome. It will be nice to be able to email a bit with my missionary friends and with grandparents etc. That is awesome your guys' act of kindness. I am so much more aware of those things as a missionary. Truly serving others helps the giver more than the reciever. We find opportunities for serving all the time. I love it. Just this week there was a funeral here and they cooked way too much food. So naturally they call us, because everyone here thinks we are starving (not true, I have gained 5 pounds since I came to Duncan haha). They had a ton of food. So we immediately thought of one of our contacts who we know doesn't have very much food. We were able to take it over to them.
It has been a good week here in Duncan. It was one of those weeks where the 'numbers' didn't reflect the success. We started off the week in Silver City, where we had zone meeting with President and Sister Killpack. It was SO awesome. They both have a way of reminding me how amazing it is to be a missionary. President Killpack is very bold and very realistic about missionary work. We all talked about alot of the challenges and issues we face as missionaries externally and internally within the mission. It was great. I left the meeting wanting to be so much better. The 40 day purification we are doing has helped me a ton. There are many many things that I have to improve on, but it is amazing to me how the Lord answers prayers and how if we get on our knees he will help us. Sometimes we think we have to face our weaknesses all by ourselves. The Lord is the FIRST person that wants to help us be better. So yeah, our zone meeting was great. One thing President Killpack said blew me away. He talked about how he feels an urgency with the work that he cannot describe. We are missionaries at one of the most amazing times in the world. Oh by the way, I wanted to travel back in time and force my 13 yr old self to keep taking piano lessons. No one at the zone meeting could play piano.... so naturally my companion volunteered me. And as I badly plunked through the right hand of some hymns, I couldn't stop thinking "mom was right." Anyway, I never would have guessed all those years ago that I would be cursing myself 6 years later haha. Like always, you were right mom! :)
We spent much of this week looking for new investigators. That can be a big challenge here in Duncan. Not alot changes here over the period of many years haha. BUT we did find alot of inactive members tracting that invited us back. That was a big focus of our week to 'find the lost sheep.' There are many of those people that have strayed. They need the blessings of the gospel just as much as anyone else.
We started teaching this week a family, the G's. We have met them before now, but we started really teaching them this week. B, the mom, has some really serious alcoholism problems. Whenever we go over we have to make sure she isn't drunk because she is completely insane when that is going on. But she really wants to quit and they have taken the lessons before from some other elders. It was great the other night to talk to her husband. He really opened up to us about the trials he faces. His family is falling apart in many ways. He has alot of faith in Christ. There are so many people out there that have so much faith, even if they aren't members of our church. I have seen that alot here on my mission. We are out to share our message, and it is the true church, but I have seen alot more how people can have so much faith and be very in tune to the spirit in all faiths. So we are excited to keep working with them.
S and T are still doing great. In our lesson with them this week we really focused on helping her get a true answer as to what choice to make. The spirit prompted me to really commit her to praying to know. That is the key to the gospel. We can teach and testify until we are blue in the face, but eventually the investigator has to act for themselves. I can tell that S has felt the spirit. She loves the Book of Mormon, and she likes many of the doctrines of our church, but she also has fears. I think she is a bit afraid TO ask Heavenly Father, because the answer might be yes haha. I am always amazed at how the spirit guides us as missionaries.
The weather has been wonderful here. Absolutely perfect. I wish it could stay like this always.
To end I want to share how thankful I am for prophets! We have sooooo much revelation at our fingertips with the scriptures and with the words of living prophets. What a blessing!!!! I have thought alot about that this week. We have so much to learn from them. I started reading the Old Testament for the first time, something I never thought I would do haha. It has surprised me how much there is to learn from it. As I finished the Book of Mormon recently, the thought came to me that one of the main ways MY testimony has been built is through the words of prophets. It is all a little bit diferent for all of us. The spirit really does speak to me through their words. We have general conference coming up, and I am SO excited. I have always loved it. Continue to treasure the words of the prophets. Their words help me every day. I know that the Savior lives. I try to emulate him and remember him every day. He is the way we can have real peace and joy in life.
I love you all so much!!! I am so grateful for your love and support. I could never have gotten here without you all. Until next monday!
Elder Hughes
PS Tell grandma's and grandpa's to email me! I would love to hear from them!!!!

It's warming up | week 23

Hola Familia!!!!

It sounds like you guys are all doing great!!!! I love hearing from you guys. What an exciting time it is for everyone there. Your pictures look awesome mom. I KNOW that I need to be way better at taking pictures haha. Thank you for your heads up on that. I will improve mucho on that. I am doing great here in Duncan. The weather is heating up! We are going into the 80s this week, and it scares me because once it is hot here it never stops from what I hear. 

This week has been a good one, not nearly as crazy and exciting as Tanner's sounds haha. Duncan is a very small town with very down to earth country people, so life truly does move a little slower here. Sometimes I really like that, sometimes it is tough, just because change can be a slow process here. We went and taught a guy we found tracting a lesson, his name is D. He was cool, he only really wanted to talk to us though to find out facts about our church. That can sometimes be a challenge to help people feel how important our message is and to help people know what our purpose is as missionaries. On Tuesday some members gave us some money to go out to eat. We couldn't decide between the 3 places to eat here haha so we flipped a coin. Turns out as we walked up to the lucky winner Hilda's Cafe, T and S, our investigators walked up to eat at exactly the same time! It was a crazy 'coincidence' and I have learned on my mission that there truly are no coincidences in the work of the Lord. It was great to be with them. They are such wonderful people. We had more lessons with S this week, and they all went good, we are still trying to help her really progress. BUT hopefully this week we can have a breakthrough. One of our lessons right at the end, it was pretty cool, I just had this random prompting to ask her husband T if he had received a patriarchal blessing. We talked about it for a while, and are working to help him to get his. He is an Elder and grew up in the church, but never got one. It is amazing to how the spirit whispers to me every day. That is the best feeling in the world to get a prompting and to follow it. 

We had a great Zone meeting this week. I need those 'pep talks' that Dad wrote me about once. Sometimes as a missionary I need a pick me up and that is how our meeting was. They challenged us to start and awesome program. It is called a 40 day purification. We each fasted for 24 hrs and made a list of all the things that we need to do in order to have the spirit with us more as missionaries. Then for 40 days we pray morning and night and go over our lists and how we did each day. It is definitely not an easy thing, but it has already started to help me out alot. It helps me focus on all the MANY ways I need to improve as a missionary, and then really apply it. I am excited to see how it goes.

I also went on exchanges this week with my District Leader Elder E. He and I have been in the same district for 3 transfers and we have become really good friends. It was alot of fun.

I FINALLY got to have another lesson with A. It was SO great. I love that man and his family so much. Every time I am with him it reminds me why I am out here serving. He is a wonderful guy. I feel so blessed that I got to be even a small part of his conversion. 

We worked with alot of inactives this week, which is really important. It is great to be able to help the lost sheep come back into the fold.

I finished the Book of Mormon this week. I love that book so much. IT IS TRUE. It has changed my life. I am always amazed at the lessons I learn from it. 

Funny story from church, A's little daughter is adorable. I accidentally left my scriptures at their house at the lesson. (typical Taylor) I went back and got them the next day. Well A's daughter I guess kept saying 'oracion left his scriptures'. Which oracion is the spanish word for prayer. So we were all cracking up because I guess she attributes us as missionaries to the word prayer. Pretty awesome.

We went on some amazing hikes today in Clifton. and YES I took pictures haha.

I have grown alot this week. I have learned so much about patience out here as a missionary. Sometimes it is hard when people aren't progressing or no matter how hard you try you can't find anyone to teach. Many times we want to see success NOW we want blessings NOW. I have learned so much about how the Lord needs us to be doing all we can do, and that we then have to wait patiently for his timing. That affects all parts of our lives, but I have seen it even more as a missionary. I am so grateful for all that I have been blessed with. I love you guys so much. Thank you for your sacrifices in helping me serve. Every day I strive to do all that I can do to honor your sacrifices for me. There is no way I could do this without you guys. I love you all so much!!!!


Elder Hughes

Coming to ya this week from good old Safford AZ | week 22

Hi Family!!
Happy Monday to you guys! I love mondays too because I get to hear from you! We had to come into Safford today for a check on our car so I am in Safford right now. Sounds like everything is life as usual at the Hughes household. Everything sounds good there, we are having beautiful weather here in Arizona! It has been perfect. We have been trying to get out of the car as much as possible because of how nice the weather is. I need to start putting on sunscreen everyday haha because I have been getting a BIT sunkissed haha. Baseball and lake tahoe and rocklin 1st ward all sounds like usual. I love Rocklin so much. It will always feel like 'home' to me. Kind of like Layton is to you guys. Congrats Dad, making it up on the stats board :) I'm not surprised. You are one of the hardest working people I know. Give everyone there my love.
Things are really good here in Duncan! We had a great week. It was really sweet. We did quite a bit of tracting this week, and actually founds some success!! Which we are super excited about. We have 2 people that invited us back. (That NEVER happens especially in Duncan) So that has been great. I really like to get out and walk around and talk to people. I did get attacked by my first dog haha. It was this insane little guy that clamped onto my leg haha. I had to give him a nice kick. Elder Lane meanwhile couldn't stop laughing. You know just my usual self making a fool of myself haha. We went over to a family's house earlier in the week that we have met before. They are former investigators and we think they have alot of potential for us to start teaching them again. This visit was alot better than the first haha the first time the wife was SO drunk that it was not real pleasant :) We are having an FHE with them and their member neighbors tonight.
A was still working 12 hr shifts every day this week, so we couldn't meet with him. I talked to him on the phone for a while though! He told us that for sure this week we will be able to meet. They have been crazy busy since his baptism. So I am excited to see him this week for sure.
We continue to teach E and M. They both came to church this week which was awesome. T and S came also! That is the BEST thing to see as a missionary is your investigators coming to church. Definitely brightens our Sundays when that happens :) We have been able to do alot more service for them this week also, which I love.
The highlight by far of the week was S and Ty . We taught them the Plan of Salvation on Wed. and that went really well. They are so fun to teach and talk to. Then they came to church on Sunday, and we taught them later on Sunday night. The lesson last night was SO AWESOME. The spirit there was so strong. We had it with their member friends the S family. They are the best members to have at a lesson. They really know how to do missionary work. The lesson was the first time on my mission where I felt the whole lesson guided by the spirit. It never ceases to amaze me how the spirit can lead us as missionaries. We have to rely on that so much. Elder L and I were so pumped, after the lesson. The spirit was there so strong. I am so excited about S. We are gonna keep working hard to get her baptized. She is one of the nicest, most spiritual people I have ever met. So that was a great way to end our week.
This week I have been strengthened so much by the scriptures. It is one of my favorite parts of the day to sit down and feast on the words of Christ. There is truly no better way to start off the day then to be immersed in the scriptures. My love for the Book of Mormon has grown so much. READ IT. It changes lives.
I have felt recently like I have really finally settled into missionary work. As I am approaching 6 months now, I am alot more comfortable and I am able to really BE a missionary. There are always challenges. But it has helped me so much to concentrate on each day, and do all I can to lift and serve others each day.
Time is flying by, I can't believe it is march all ready. It was just Christmas!!! I am so happy and doing really well.
I mailed off my SD card with pictures the other day, you guys should be getting it soon!
As for things I need.............. this is like the 'what i want for christmas' question that I can never answer haha. I really really really can't think of anything haha. I have MORE than enough food. I always like new music. :)
I love you guys so much!!! I loved all the pictures. Your photography looks awesome mom.
Elder Hughes