Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Early Thanksgiving! (or dia de accion de gracias) | week 60

Hola Familia!!!!
Como estan?! I hope your week was great this week. My thoughts were with you lots this week as I thought about all of you and about Grandpa Cahoons funeral. I hope that you could feel of my prayers for you. I love you all!
We had a good week here in Tucson. I feel like every week time flies by so fast that I can barely get a grasp on it!!! I have the sneaking suspicion that is kind of what the rest of my life will feel like haha. We had a busy week of lots work! Unfortunately we had some downer moments with our investigators this week. M who was doing wonderful and progressing a lot, is now unable to meet with us or come to church. Her husband who she was getting a divorce with came back to live with her and he really doesn't like Mormons at all. It is sad, but he has banned her from meeting with us and from coming to church. That was kind of a bummer, but we have to trust in the Lord and in his timing. Many times we as laborers in the vineyard are preparing the ground for future missionaries to harvest. It saddens us, but we move on. D as well is really struggling this week. We are hoping for a better week with him this coming week. Because of all that we have been focusing a TON this week on finding. We have been praying lots to find people that have been prepared by the Lord to receive the restored gospel. The Lord truly answers prayers. We have been blessed to find some really cool new investigators this week that we are excited to begin working with more. One guy is named J. We found him yesterday. He is going through a tough time in life and we had a really powerful lesson with him. The spirit was so strong and he recognized it. He commited to be baptized on the 21st of December. I have a really good feeling about him and am excited to teach him again tonight! We also are teaching his next door neighbor now as well! I love the opportunities and hope that finding new investigators can bring. Finding truly is all about faith. I have learned that lesson the hard way a lot as a missionary through failure, but truly the Lord leads us to his elect when we have faith.
I have talked with some of the most precious older catholic ladies here. I truly believe God loves these ladies so much, they are so awesome. What an example they are to us.
We have kept working a lot with R. She is an inactive woman that I have come to love so very much. I have always felt a special connection with her. We are working hard to build her faith and help her return to activity. The blessings of the gospel are truly always there waiting for us to come and claim them!
It surprisingly hasn't been to often that we have taught people that are very aggressive in trying to prove us wrong, but we taught one guy like that this week. We were out with some members that came with us to teach, and we decided to stop by this guy's house that we had contacted before. It was a very interesting, and tense lesson as the whole time he was trying to prove all of our doctrines wrong. This time like many others has increased my testimony and love for the Book of Mormon SO much. I have such a love for that book. It has saved me so many times as a missionary. All that we believe and all of the questions that others can bring up to us really all boil down to the question of if the Book of Mormon is the word of God. It truly is! I am so grateful for it.
We had a half mission conference this week that was wonderful!!! Elder Paul V. Johnson of the 70 came and taught us. It was amazing. He is the head of the Church Educational System, and is a powerful man of God. It was an inspiring and uplifting day. It never ceases to amaze me how the spirit is capable of teaching us so personally. I felt at times that he was speaking right to me. I have learned so much this week, and am excited to apply the things I have learned. We talked a lot about following the spirit, and about turning outward with charity towards others. Truly that is how we have true joy in life is when we forget ourselves and focus on how we can help others. I have felt that over and over again on my mission. I am the most happy and the most joyful when I forget about all of my little problems and focus on how I can reach out and help someone else. President and Sister Killpack gave wonderful talks as well. I love them so much, they are both powerful leaders.
IT RAINED IN TUCSON!!! It was a miracle. It was actually pretty weird. I had come to believe that it never rained here haha. It actually rained for two days straight, it was really nice. Everything feels so fresh and beautiful after a good rain. The last couple of days are the first days that have actually felt like fall. It finally came! I keep forgetting this week is Thanksgiving!!! It came so fast! What are your plans for thanksgiving this year?
We had stake conference this weekend in the Tucson Arizona stake. It was wonderful. The spirit was powerful and strong. What a glorious purpose we have as missionaries and members to bring souls unto the savior. This week I feel like I have finally come to understand what my purpose is as a missionary. I love this work. I love the joy it brings to my life and to everyone who will try it. 
You all have been in my thoughts this week a lot. As we approach the holidays I have been thinking lots of you. I miss you so much. I smile when I think about all the wonderful memories I have of Holidays with you. Thank you for those memories. Much more are ahead. I will miss you all dearly this week, but know that I am happy and well. I am so incredibly grateful for each of you. I am sooooooooooooooooo thankful to be part of such a wonderful family. I love you so much. Eat lots of stuffed mushrooms and pumpkin pie cheesecake for me!!! I will miss you this week like every week, but know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Hughes

Monday, November 18, 2013

Happy Fall from Elder Hughes (the Taylor version) | week 59

Hello there familia!
I am really sad to hear about grandpa Cahoon. I am sad that I didn't have the chance to say goodbye to him. I know that he is once again reunited with grandma Cahoon. What a wonderful reunion that will be. I had the feeling that he wouldn't make it before I returned from my mission. I will miss him, and all of our christmas day memories at their house. He always showed me so much love. I always knew that he cared. He was such a happy and calm man. I am sad that I won't be able to be with all of you this week at the funeral. Please give everyone my love. Give grandma and grandpa a big hug just for me. I love them so so so so very much. Give everyone my love. I will write them an email as well. I am so glad that it all happened calmly at home with his family. I have gained and understood better than ever how beautiful the plan of our heavenly father truly is. Death is just one step in that plan. It is one necessary piece of the puzzle. It makes me realize how incredibly grateful I am for the savior. He truly overcame death for us. It is funny because my companion and I were talking this week about death and how there truly are things much worse than death. Death is just a new step, it is a moving on, and one day we will all pass through it. I love grandpa rolly and I know he is in a good place. Reading the scriptures always fills me with hope and with the spirit. It really doesn't matter where we read, it always blesses us the same. Read them when things are hard this week. That's what I do.

Your trip to Oregon looks like it was a blast!!!! It looks really cold and wet there. I haven't felt cold or wet in a long time haha. It is finally actually feeling a little bit like fall this week haha. It makes me laugh that it comes around mid november that it actually cools down a bit. What a good time. I miss our family vacations. I always tell people that we didn't even leave our state for most of our favorite vacations. That is why I love cali.
How awesome the pictures of Spencer coming home!!! Those make me so happy to see! Mark and Jamie and Spencer all look so happy and wonderful. That day will come fast for us, so don't worry about it :) I am SOOOO excited as well to talk to you all soon for Christmas! It should be wonderful.

As for this week. We had a pretty good week. As always we had not enough hours in the day to accomplish all that we needed to do. I am so grateful for the immense opportunities that we have as a missionary to serve. Really we are always missionaries and we should always be serving, but as a full time missionary we have so many opportunities to serve. I am so grateful for your sacrifices to make that possible for me.
We had a full week of lots of teaching. D is progressing well. M is also doing great. We had some really good lessons with her. We found an awesome new investigator named S. It really is a miracle that we found her and started teaching her. We have a bus stop that we seem to always find people at. We call it the magic bus stop. We have found quite a few referrals and investigators there. We were walking past it, and now we ALWAYS talk to everyone there when we go to the bus stop, because it is so magical. We met S there and she kind of laughed as we went up to her and talked to her. It turns out she laughed because she says that mormons seem to find her everywhere. She had a really good mormon friend who influenced her alot, and then in jail she went to the LDS worship services, and then we 'happened' to find her at this bus stop. We have started teaching her and it is going really good. She is really pregnant. The pregnancy has been making her really sick, so our lessons have been getting interrupted alot for her to go throw up in the bathroom. It has been an adventure haha. We laugh about it alot. She is doing really well, and I can really feel like the Lord has led us to her.
This week the Sisters had an eventful baptism. I interviewed the family that got baptized this week. I love baptismal interviews. They are so awesome to see. It is like seeing a mini conversion story every single time. It was a mom and her 3 awesome kids that got baptized. The kids by far had the best interviews. Truly children are the closest to the savior. They said some of the most hilarius and amazing things. They call their baptism their "second chance." I love that. It truly is a second chance, and we get that second chance every single week as we take the sacrament, and every single day that we repent. I love second chances. This truly is a gospel about second chances and third chances and fourth chances on and on until the day where we wont need any more chances, we will be perfectly clean and happy. Their baptism was crazy. They actually got pulled over on their way there and got their car taken away. So one of the members had to go pick them up on the side of the road so that they could get to their baptism!! Meanwhile Elder P and I entertained the awaiting audience for an hour haha. With lots of singing and messages. The baptism went great in the end, and the spirit was really strong. Yay for second chances.
We had the primary program this weekend. The missionaries were honorary members of the primary this weekend haha. There was only 6 kids in the program so they called us in. It's ok we still feel like we should be in primary anyway. :) I have been thinking alot about small and simple things. In life really the small and simple joys and acts of love matter most. As a missionary I have learned so much about how the gospel really is so simple and beautiful. We sometimes complicate things for ourselves. As things were really hectic and crazy before church, because sometimes our branch is just barely holding it together haha, I was NOT thinking alot about the small and simple things. I am grateful as we sang with the primary that the spirit reminded me about how important the small and simple things are.
I am really excited for a new and exciting week here. We have lots of good things happening in our area. We are having a mission conference this week, a member of the 70 is coming Elder Paul V. Johnson. It should be great. I am really excited.

My thoughts and prayers are with you always but especially with you this week as you have the funeral for great grandpa cahoon. I love you guys so much. I wish I could be there to give you a big hug. Just send a prayer up and I know that the Lord will be able to give you the hug I can't give. I love you all. I am so incredibly grateful for the plan of salvation, and for this gospel of second chances. I love you. Give all of my extended family my love and hugs. I truly love all of them.

Elder Hughes

PS read this amazing article. What an honor it is to be a missionary. The Lord always protects us.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A mi querido familia y amigos! | week 58

Thank you for your emails and all the pictures. WOOOOOOWEEEEEEE madre. Your pictures look great. You are beautiful in every way. Inside and out. I miss you! Your hair has gotten so long. I carry the picture of me you and tanner in my scriptures because people don't believe me sometimes that I am a twin, and everyone always comments on my beautiful sister. I then correct them and say it is my mom! I love you guys. I love all the news from the homefront. HOW EXCITING that Spencer is coming home. Give him a big hug for me and tell him hi! That must be a crazy feeling. Time flies, I am so glad that I still have some time here to accomplish the Lord's work. Have an awesome trip to oregon! That sounds like a blast! I miss our family vacations. We truly have fun no matter where we go or what we do. To answer your question about ipads and facebook. You know about as much as I know haha. We talked with the Killpacks this week and they don't really know anything either. They said we should get facebook "soon" and it sounds like the ipads might not be here until right before I go home.... but they really don't know haha. They said they pretty much just know rumors. Congrats to Z man on his talk! What a stud! Enjoy our big ward. We are fighting the other end of the problem here in Los Reales. We are lucky if we can get 30 people to come to church... It sounds like everyone is doing great. It doesn't really feel like fall here to me, because it is still really warm outside haha. Sometimes I don't believe it is November :)
As for my week here, it was really busy as always. I am coming to you a day late because yesterday all of the libraries were closed for the holiday. I feel like this was one of those weeks where I look back and wonder where all the time went!!! But it was a good week. We had interviews with President Killpack this week. I always love the opportunity to talk with him. He is such a wise and amazing man. Because of the size of our mission, it is rare to have time to talk with him, so it is always great to have a few minutes. We talked alot about our branch and the things we as missionaries need to focus on here. Our branch is really struggling, and so we are going to focus alot on working with, and strengthening the members and reactivating the nonmembers. It is a challenge and alot of fun to be here in this branch. It has brought many opportunities to serve in ways that we don't always get to serve. Elder P and I have been doing family history with many member families. Almost no one here has ever done it, and almost all of them have expired temple recommends. It has been a miracle to watch. As we sit down and help them find their ancestors to take to the temple, without even saying anything they immediately make plans to renew their temple recommends. We both felt like this was something we could do to help the branch in that way, and it is working. Just today we were helping Hno Valensuela to find his ancestors, and as we were leaving he commented that tonight he was having his temple recommend interview, and his temple rec has been expired for many years. It has been awesome to see.
With our investigators it was a tough week. Lots of fallen appointments, but that is kind of our life haha. We are pressing forward. D is doing well. Because of his work schedule we had to push back his baptism a little bit, but he is still doing great. He is a great guy, and it has been amazing to see the changes that are taking place in him. M we had a hard time with this week. She didn't show up to any appts but she came to church which was awesome. We are going to focus alot more on her in the coming week. Other than that we have been spending alot of time trying to find the elect! It is always an adventure. The Lord has blessed us alot here. I feel blessed.
Some funny things about life here. One is that on P day when we go shopping etc I can't tell you how many times people think that we work at the stores we are shopping at. It is really funny. Everyone comes and asks us on what aisle something is on.
This week I spoke in church. It went well. It is a whole diferent ballgame to speak in church in spanish. I spoke about repentance. It was something that I have been thinking alot about. Truly repentance is such a wonderful gift. The parable of the prodigal son is so awesome (Luke 15). We at times are just like him. Far away from home, unhappy, broke, and humbled. No matter where we are at or what we have done our father is waiting for us. He is waiting to forgive us. We just have to repent. We just have to lay down our pride and change, and have faith in the savior. We can change fast. I have seen it in my own life and in the life of others. There is no better feeling than running back into the arms of our waiting father. Like the young man we only want to just be put in as a humble servant, but the Lord rewards us with grace!!! It is truly the most wonderful feeling in the world. The Lord wants to forgive. He is just waiting for us. I have seen the power of every day repentance in my life. It has changed my life, and it can change every person that uses the atonement, no matter who they are or what they have done. It is such a miracle to watch that process in the lives of others.
So we are pressing forward! Many times we just do all that we can, and press forward no matter what. That is when the miracle come. I love this work. Sometimes I just smile and think about how wonderful it is to be alive, and more importantly to be a serving. I love you all so much, I miss you! I can't wait to talk to you on Christmas, it is coming quick!
les amo mucho
Elder Hughes
I completely forgot to tell you in the email! That we worked at a mormon heritage festival here in Tucson this week. It was awesome. We were in charge of the encampment booth which had to do with the mormon battalion. So we got to dress up. It was a blast. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Happy Fall from Arizona!!! | week 57

Helloooooo there familia!
As always I love to hear from you, it sounds like all is well. I love those words all is well. Because all really is well when we put things in the right perspective. Thank you for your words and updates! It sounds like Katie Hughes Photography is gonna go worldwide soon haha. I love how awesome it is going. I am so proud of my madre!!! Remember to take time for yourself as well. We can't run faster than we have strength. I have learned that alot on my mission. Missionary work is exhausting in every single way, so I have had to take times to slow down and make sure that I am not killing myself haha. Lunchtime naps have literally saved me out here. I know, tell Riley and Zach that they should email me more often!! It only takes 5 minutes :) I love all of you so much. I talk about you every single day. I can't wait to share with you guys the joy of being a missionary. It is not easy, but it is so joyful.
THANK YOU FOR THE PACKAGE! I loved it. I love the pants and the party in a box. Unfortunately I got it the day after halloween so we had a delayed halloween party with it.
This week was a pretty good one. I feel like a broken record on here sometimes. Alot of things just don't change alot in our work, but we had a great week.
D, our investigator is doing really well. He is going to be baptized on the 16th. One of the fascinating things about being a misisonary is that every single investigator is so different. They all have very different needs and we teach differently to each of them. I love the challenge that each person brings. D has such a pure heart. He really loves to just be with us, and be with the members of the church. The Holy Ghost is really a feeling, it is the best feeling in the world. That is what really brings people into Christ's restored church. I have learned that lesson alot. It really doesn't matter so much about how good we are at teaching the principles of the restored gospel. What matters so much more is if we have the spirit with us. That is what changes people. That is what has changed me and touched my heart forever.
We started teaching a lady named M this week! It was awesome. A member reffered her to us, which makes all the difference. She was recently divorced and she is facing alot of trials in life. The gospel and the missionaries seem to find those that are burdened down and heavy laden. We came in and got to know her and her daughters and then we started to teach. The spirit was so strong. It was amazing. There is such a difference when we are teaching someone whose heart is open and humble. We had a powerful lesson, and she came to church on Sunday. We are so excited to continue teaching her and her daughters. Teaching families is the best!
We are still visiting and teaching R alot. Her faith is so strong, but she continues to face intense trials in life. We had some more powerful lessons with her. One of them this week, was so good. She was struggling so much. There is really no one in her life who tells her that she is valued and loved. People must hear those things. It is so important. After the lesson we had to give her a hug (it is technically against the rules), but there was no way I wasn't going to hug her. She needed it.
We are have been continuing to find and teach some new people. I love this work. I have learned so much here.
Elder P and I have had some of the most amazing conversations about the gospel this week. He is an awesome companion I have learned so much from him. Yesterday we had one of the most emotional and powerful conversations that I have had on my mission. We discussed alot about missions and the hard things about serving a mission. Sometimes we don't have as much success as our high hopes would tell us. That can be so hard sometimes, but I have really come to learn that when we do our very best and we use the atonement every single day. All is well. The Lord is fitting us to be missionaries not just for 2 years but for our whole lives. In all of our lives we just continue to be transferred. Transferred home and one day transferred to the spirit world. I have a testimony of this great work. It is real, and we are all part of it. We have so much potential and power to touch others lives for good.
I love you all! Not a day goes by that I don't think of each of you. I miss you and love you.
Elder Hughes