Monday, March 31, 2014

Another week has flown by | week 78

Happy Monday again familia!

I hope that your week was great. I love all the updates! Tell all of my old young men's leaders hi for me!!! I am doing great here in Benson. It has been another whirlwind crazy week here, but it has been amazing. We are being blessed ALOT right now. It has been amazing. That is sad to hear about Ronin, I love that dog :(

We have been running around teaching ALOT this week. Our investigators are all progressing and doing great. Like I said before we are being blessed alot.

D who we have been teaching for a while, is doing amazing. She has totally changed in this last week and a half. For a while we were really confused, and frustrated. We almost dropped her as an investigator, but we had one really powerful lesson with her, and since then she has pressed forward and hasn't looked back. She is doing wonderful. We got the word of wisdom issues worked out, and she has a strong testimony of the truthfulness of this work. It has been amazing to see. I am so excited for her. We have seen the spirit really come in and change her heart. She passed her baptismal interview this week, and will be entering the waters of baptism on the 12th of April. I am so excited for her!!

A and his family are also doing wonderful. I am so proud of him. He quit smoking a week ago, and it has been really hard for him. He has been fighting through cravings and anxiety, but he is doing amazing. It is awesome. Him and his family came to church this week again, and loved it. A as well has undergone a huge change. Before he found the gospel he was lost, without much hope. It has been a blessing to be a part of the process with him. We are going to commence the wedding planning this week! We had a really cool experience on Sunday. We went in with him and his wife to the bishop's office to talk about the logistics for a wedding. Alfred briefly explained his process of finding the missionaries etc. and he also talked about his testimony. It was the first time that I heard him talk to someone else about his testimony, and it really touched me to hear it.

A and A are also continuing to progress well. They should be baptized on the 12th as well.

One cool miracle this week. We were looking through our area book, and we were picking out former investigators to go and visit. I picked one, and when we arrived we got there and the lady we met was very emotional. She said that just hours before she had been diagnosed with cancer. She says that the Mormons always show up at her door when she needs help. We talked with her about trials and the purpose's of them. She was very emotional, and we gave her a priesthood blessing. It reminded me once again that god is truly aware of all of his children. He knows what we need, and he always sends help. 

We found another family to teach this week that are really interested, so we are also excited to keep teaching them.

We have a really busy week coming up. We are getting a mini missionary this week! Just like the mini mission that I did when I was 16. It should be fun. It is kind of weird to be in the opposite role as my mini mission. I learned alot from doing that, and I think they are awesome. So for 2 days this week we will have him with us. Should be awesome! We have mission leadership council this week as well, and general conference!!

OH HOW I LOVE GENERAL CONFERENCE!!!! I hope that we can each come ready to receive the words of prophets and apostles of God. Think about how amazing it is that we get to sit at the feet of these master teachers and learn about God' will for us at this time!!!! IT IS AWESOME!!! I have been thinking alot about change this week, especially because I have seen it so much in our investigators. Becoming more like the Savior is our eternal goal. The Holy Ghost is a sanctifyer and a perfect teacher. Write down your questions, fears, and doubts before conference and the spirit will teach you exactly what you need. I plan to do it. I am so grateful for these opportunities to step back and learn what the Lord needs me to learn, so I can go forward and do what he needs me to do.

I love you all so much. I think about you often. I pray for you every day. I am happy and well here in AZ. Thank you for all of you support and love. I can never express that enough.

much love

Elder Hughes

PS we are going to get a taste of the wild wild west today! Our zone is going to visit Tombstone! It is a famous tourist attraction here by Benson. It is a super old and infamous western town. Should be fun!

Monday, March 24, 2014

It's Heating up in Arizona | week 77

Hello Family!

Thanks for the updates from the homefront. It sounds like all is well. I will keep grandpa Shirley in my prayers for sure. It is starting to heat up here in AZ as well. Although it never really felt like winter at all. I only wore a jacket for a few weeks this year. I completely understand why people have winter homes here because the winters are wonderful, now we just have to gear up for a roasting of a summer. :) Riley and his friends all looked very classy. You looked great Riley! They both looked wonderful. I am sure they had a blast. I remember those days well. They seem like yesterday. Your pictures look awesome mom. I definitely know the tired from a long week feeling. That has become a very normal feeling for me in the mission field. Lunchtime power naps have saved my life out here in the mission field.

As for our week, Elder F and I had a good week. Sometimes I feel like a broken record in these emails because our life doesn't change too much from week to week. Overall I feel really good here. I have felt and enjoyed alot of insights and peace this week. The work is progressing well. 

A is doing wonderfully! I love teaching him and his family. They were captivated by the bible videos we shared with them this week. I LOVE teaching people about the life and ministry of the Savior. I also love to learn more about it and ponder it myself. He is progressing well. We are in the final stages of getting him to stop smoking, and we are starting to plan a wedding for him and his girlfriend.

The twins we are teaching are also progressing well. They are set to get baptized here in a couple weeks.

Our investigator D has been stumping us big time. There are alot of complicated things with D that I don't really know how to explain well. Both Elder F and I and the members that we have brought with us have been having a 'stupor of thought' about it. We aren't really sure how to help her. That has brought us to our knees alot to seek help from the Lord.

We had zone conference this week, which was awesome. I love being taught and instructed by our leaders. I always come away with many goals and plans of how to be a better and more effective missionary. The spirit was strong. I talked to President Killpack while we were there about being able to extend for two weeks and go home when Tanner heads home. He said that can be arranged easily. He couldn't say 100% for sure, because he won't be the mission president in October, but he said he is 99.9% sure that it will work fine. He joked that if they could keep me another year they would, I told him I would love that, but that my mom probably wouldn't haha. 

We have big goals this week to find some progressing investigators to teach, we have been blessed with many opportunities to serve others here. I am grateful for that, and I feel the Lord has even more just waiting for us.

On Saturday Heidi was in my thoughts and prayers alot. In her honor Elder F and I went on a long run for our morning workout. I always feel close to her as we do that. I can hardly believe it has been a year already. She is such a special girl. I am so grateful for the Plan of Salvation. What a treasure it is in our lives to have knowledge about that plan.

I was reminded this week about something that you always told us Mom. You always said that God gave us a time to sleep and rest so that we could start over and begin a new day free of mistakes. That is so true. And the atonement and repentance help us do that over and over again. One of the most important words in the english language is the word remember. We forget so easily. Every single aspect of the gospel, (the sacrament, the temple, the scriptures, prayer...) is to help us remember. So we MUST go to church and we MUST go to the temple, and we MUST read the words of the prophets, and we MUST pray. That is because we MUST remember. Many times we are remembering things that we learned in our life before this life. I hope that you and I can always remember and never forget the Savior. He never forgets us.

I love you all so much. My heart is full today as I think about each of you and how much I love you. Never give up doing what you know is right.

all my love

Elder Hughes

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patty's Day | week 76

Hello there family!!!

Happy St. Patricks day first of all. To be completely honest I had no idea it was st patricks day until we went to walmart today haha (sorry irish people). I love to hear about all of your adventures and life at home. It sounds like fun! There is so much joy in every day life. I have thought back alot on my mission as I have been away from each of you about how some of my most cherished memories are just being together with each of you. We were talking about kitchens for some reason at a dinner appt this week and I told the family we were eating with that the kitchen was where my family gathered alot. Food tends to do that. I have thought alot about the amazing little conversations and every day moments that we get to spend together as a family. I have come to learn they are the most important. 

Sorry we are emailing late today. We went to the Kartchner Caverns today. It is a REALLY cool cave system right here in Benson, that was really cool. We went with our zone. Unfortunately we can't take pictures there, so I didn't get any. :(

That is awesome that you talked to sister vansickle. She is awesome!! She fed us the other night, and her and her family are so wonderful. I LOVE the members here in Benson. They are so great. Like I said before they treat us like their own family.

As for our week. It was SUPER busy, which is really good in missionary work. We had an amazing week. One of the best I have had in a long time. The work is rolling forward here in Benson. Our mission has standards of excellence, and they are very challenging to achieve, and this week we hit them. The Lord has blessed us ALOT. It has been amazing to see.

Our investigators are all doing really well. Darlene is doing great. She is working through some last minute word of wisdom issues, but she is soooo close. She is such a good person, and her faith is so great. She is one of the most unique people I have taught on my mission, and that is sayin something because I have taught some fascinating people haha. Darlene said something this week that I love. I wrote it down because I loved it so much. "Coincidences are when God performs a miracle and chooses to stay anonymous." -Darlene Houtala. How awesome is that! 

Alfred is doing really well. We had a bit of a set back because his big toe nail had to get removed this week, and so he couldn't come to church. What has been amazing with Alfred is there has been a huge change in him as he has been taking the lessons and coming closer to the savior. I didn't know pre gospel alfred, but Elder Fairbanks says he is so completely different. The gospel is truly all about change (the good kind.)

One of the biggest blessings of the week was getting to meet and work with a guy named Dan. Dan is the brother of one of the best members ever here in Benson Sister Heaton. He has been addicted to Heroine for many many years. Sis Heaton has been praying and fasting for decades for him and also that they could even find him. Through a succession of miracles Dan ended up coming here to Benson to enter rehab and be close to his sister. He is a baptized member of the church, but doesn't know/remember hardly anything about the church. When he first got here he was in really bad shape.. REALLY BAD. It was pretty intense. But we have spent this entire week visiting him and teaching him every single day at the rehab center here. I don't know if it has been more amazing for him to see the miracle of the change in himself or for us to witness it. We had some very powerful lessons with him. One lesson I will never forget we talked to him about hope. What a simple and beautiful principle that is. As we learned about it together with him, the spirit witnessed to all of us about the hope that the Savior can give. I am so grateful for that hope. It is especially tangible and miraculous to talk about hope with someone that needs it so much. There is nothing quite like that. I am so grateful to have been able to work with him this week. It has been a true miracle in every way.

Another cool experience I had this week was at ward council. The ward here is awesome. I LOVE the bishop here. He reminds me alot of Elder Eyering. No joke. And in Ward Council it was amazing to watch the love and care that the bishop and all the members of the ward council had for so many people. We spent 2 hours talking about how we can help some of God's children here in Benson. It was really cool to see, and be a part of.

Some sad news in the week was that one of the councilor's in our mission presidency's wife passed away from cancer this week. It saddened me as I always loved her testimony and her spirit. She was an amazing woman. She always loved a poem that she shared with us missionaries alot. I really like it too. It is about raising a child with disabilites, but it applies to all people that enter a path in life that they hadn't really planned on. That is really all of us in the end. In her honor I want to share that poem with you.


Emily Perl Kingsley.
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

I am so grateful for all of my many blessings. Life is not always exactly like we imagined it would be, missions can be the same, but it sure is great! I am so glad every day to be able to be a missionary. Thank you for that opportunity. It has changed my life, and I hope done some good for some other people's too! 
I have been thinking alot about small and simple things this week. They are what make all the difference in life. It is the small and simple things that really can mean the most, and make the most difference. Look around this week to see if there are any small and simple things you can do for someone else. I know the Lord will give you that opportunity.

I love you all so much!!

Elder Hughes

Monday, March 10, 2014

first week in Benson | week 75

Hello there familia!

As usual it sounds like all is well on the homefront. That is always so good to hear. I love to hear how well all of you are doing. It makes me so happy. The Lord has been so good to our family. I hope we all remember that. I have witnessed alot of really sad families here as a missionary and it makes me so grateful for all that each of you have given to me. Riley I think you would love Utah State. Some of my companions have gone there and they all really like it. I 100% agree about Dad. He is the best dad in the world.

As for the new area here in Benson, I really like it!! The ward here is really awesome. They treat Elder F and I like we are members of their own families. I am still getting to know people. It was really weird to be at church yesterday with so many people. I have gotten used to being in branches where we talk to everyone at church, because there is only 30 or 40 haha. I felt like there was so many people :) The field is white already to harvest here. There are lots and lots of reactivation work, lots of part member families etc. We have our work cut out for us.

Yes we do live in a 5th wheel trailer. I actually really like it. It is super small, REALLY small, but really nice. It has everything we need. It is out back behind a members house, and we are literally just part of their family. We even helped them do their family garden project on Sat. morning. They are the Garner's and they are really awesome.

On a more mundane note. We have a gym here that lets us in for free, and so we have been really good this week about working out, which is really good, because I NEED IT.

There is lots of things going on in the work here. We are teaching an awesome lady named D. She is one heck of an old lady. She has lost a large portion of her brain to cancer, and other things. She has had an insane life, and now she has found the gospel. She has gone through a complete change and conversion as she has been being taught. The first time they met with her she got really angry and they almost dropped her, but since then a huge miracle has taken place. We felt the spirit alot this week as we have taught her and prepared her for her baptism. She was scheduled to get baptized this coming week, but some word of wisdom problems came up last minute, but she will get there. She is hilarious  and kind of stubborn, but the Lord has softened her heart so much.

We are also teaching this guy named A, who's wife was an inactive member, and now he is preparing to get baptized. He is doing awesome. We are helping him quit smoking, but he is doing great. He came to church for the first time ever on Sunday and loved it. I loved it too!!! He has a pure heart, and I really feel he is going to progress really well. I am always grateful for the love the savior has for each of these people. I believe that he gives us just a taste of that love when we serve them, and minister to them.

We are teaching lots of other inactive members. There are TONS here in Benson. One of my favorites is this lady named M from Alabama. She cracks me up, and she came to church on Sunday too!!

One miracle from the week. We were walking down a road on our way to visit in an apartment complex, and I had the really distinct feeling to knock on a specific house. I don't get those feelings all the time, but this one was strong. We knocked it, and sure enough, it was an inactive family that we were able to have a really good visit with. I don't know all the reasons of why we needed to be there that day, but I know the Lord wanted it.

It is life as normal here in the mission field. Kind of like your life as normal at home. I LOVE being a missionary so much. I am starting to feel the pressure to accomplish all that the Lord needs me to do while there is still time. Time always seems to be slipping from our fingers, so we must make the best of it.

Here are some inspired words from President Killpack:

I have been recently reminded of two scenarios in life in which we can wisely use our agency. One is when we can control the outcome of a situation by the correct use of our agency. When we make the right decision, we are blessed for doing so. When we make the wrong choice, we suffer consequences accordingly.I have also found that it is easier to make the big important, life-changing choices when we consistently make the small choices correctly. The other scenario is to use our agency by wisely reacting to circumstances over which we have no control. Sometimes we are left to deal with situations of which we had no control, but need to learn to use our agency to react to the situation in a positive way.  

I have learned alot about the power of our agency, and power to act and choose as a missionary. So many people let their 'circumstances' take control of their lives. The gospel of Jesus Christ is all about taking initiative, and using the atonement to become something so much greater than we could be on our own. I have learned that lesson the hard way and the easy way out here. It is reflected in every single life of all that are around us. I love our mission's motto 'choose to become.' becoming is a choice, and only we can make it. 

I love you all so very much. I cannot even begin to describe it. I pray for each of you. Every day. Have an awesome week!!!!

until next monday,

Elder Hughes

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Happy Tuesday from...............….. | week 74

Benson, Arizona!!!!

Hey there family! I am coming to you from a new location! I am here in Benson Arizona, a little town between Tucson and New Mexico! We got the transfer calls in, and I had to leave my precious "ramita" in Deming. I am sad to leave Deming, because I loved it there so much, but I am excited for a new opportunity to learn grow and serve. That is how almost all change really comes out to be in our lives. As missionaries it happens pretty often, and I never really get fully used to it haha. I am in an english ward here. My year long streak of serving in a spanish branch is coming to a close. I am really excited though, and hope to help the work of the Lord continue forward here as well. From what I have heard of the ward, it is doing really well, and there have been lots of success here for the missionaries. My new companion is Elder F, he is from Mesa AZ, and he is awesome! We have been on exchanges before, and we have always gotten along really well. So it should be awesome.

THANK YOU for the package!!! It was perfect. I love everything that you put in. They were very much needed, thank you. I love the book you put in. You know how I am with reading. I have already read half of it, and I feel like you were inspired to buy it for me because it has already helped me alot. Thank you!

What an exciting week for you guys! Z man got some braces. I remember those days like they were yesterday. The good ol' rubber bands haha. Tell Zach if he wears them he will thank himself later, it pays off :) Riley going to prom, how exciting. All of those days also seem like yesterday. Mom and Dad, thank you for your loving support always. I always love to hear your words dad. I love you more than I can say. You are my hero, and I trust you so so so much. Mom sounds like she is preparing for the storm haha. Please Dad make sure she eats, sleeps, and takes a moment to rest. Maybe sneak in a little bit of scriptures in there too. Don't forget those. 10 minutes a day will save your life :)

As for the week. It was a CRAZY week. I can honestly say that it was THE number one fastest week of my mission. It flew by. I am having a hard time remembering all that has happened. One of the days I went on exchanges in Duncan. It was a blast to go back to my 'home' area. It was great to teach people there again. I taught some of the same people I taught there a year ago, small towns don't change much. The missionaries there have been baptizing a TON. It was great to spend time with some of my favorite members and investigators there. Going back there as a missionary a year later helped me realize how much I have changed as a missionary and a person in this last year. I have sure learned a whole lot. Sometimes the hard way haha.

We also went down to Tucson this week for Mission Leadership Conference. It was awesome as always. The spirit was strong, and I learned alot. President Killpack gave an amazing training on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. What a miracle that atonement is. It is the miracle of all miracles. We are like little children in our understanding of it. He can help us and succor us in whatever we face, if we allow him. If we live his gospel. That 'if' should spur us all to action.

Our investigators in Deming are doing great. I feel that we have been guided by the Lord to find them. I love each of them, and feel that they will continue to progress. I am so grateful for the chance I had to serve in Deming. Every area I always come away a different missionary than when I entered. And Deming was no exception for me. I spent yesterday going around to say goodbye to some of the people I have come to love so very much. I will talk about them more in the pictures, I love the members and recent converts there so much. 

So it is onward to a new adventure! I just arrived here in Benson 20 minutes ago, so I don't know much about it yet. It will be great. The Lord always helps me to do what he needs me to do. I have felt that. It should be a whole new experience here. I have heard that we live in a fifth wheel trailer, so that should be fun haha.

I love you all so much. Never forget it!!! Have an awesome week!

 con mucho amor,

Elder Hughes