Monday, June 30, 2014

Hello! | week 91

pretty awesome street sign

Hello there family!

It sounds like you guys had a great week and a good time with grandma and grandpa! We are quite the giant's family!!! I think you guys have gone to more games in the last two years of our missions than our whole life combined haha. I love to see the pictures of your smiling faces. I hope you gave grandma and grandpa my love. I love them and think about them often. Benson is a train town so trains come through it every couple hours, and I always think of you grandpa.

Well, things are very hot here in the desert as well! I have gotten used to hot temps the last couple years :) I am very grateful for air conditioning.

Other random news: There was an earthquake here on Sat night!! I was laying on my bed reading, and our trailer shook pretty good. I honestly thought that there was an animal under our trailer. Then the members we live with txted us and told us that it was an earthquake! The epicenter was right by Duncan!

On physical fitness news, we participated in a cross fit event early sat. morning. It is called "the murph." It was pretty tough, but I have gotten alot stronger and it went well. It is a mile run, then 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, and 300 squats, then another mile run. I did it in 47 minutes. Watch out Tanner, when I get back I am gonna take you down :) and we will have to find a cross fit gym because I really like it :)

It was a good week for us here, kind of an uneventful one. We have been laboring on to find more people to teach. That is the hardest part of the work here in this stake. There are lots of mormons and EVERYONE knows who we are. Elder T and I always joke that in Benson we never have to introduce ourselves. It really is no joke, we never have to. People usually say "we know who you are" and then shut the door haha.

We are going to focus alot on finding through the members this week. We have made a plan, and we are hoping to engage our whole ward in the work. I think I have learned as much about being a member missionary as being a full time missionary here. I believe that is one of the many reasons why I was called here to Arizona. I have learned so many things.

We had some really cool experiences this week with some less active members. One lady named D, is kind of a funny story. We found D tracting one day. And we started teaching her, and weeding her front yard. Well the next week in ward council we were going through the ward list and D was on the ward list!!! She had us fooled. Well this week we made it back and taught her again, and asked her if she was a member. She then told her story of how she joined the church, but lost her way. Well we taught her again, and invited her to church. Her neighbor is a member and didn't know that D was a member of the church. So D's neighbor brought her to church, and D loved it. It had been 20 years since she had been back. 

Some Elders in our zone had an amazing baptismal service this week. It was for a lady that I interviewed for baptism. Her name is Da and she is so special. Her interview was so wonderful. She has an incredible testimony. It strengthened mine. She has suffered a couple of strokes, and so she has difficulty expressing herself, but she was able to convey all that she needed too, and the spirit conveyed more. She has been a recipient of the ministry of angels. Her baptism was no less inspiring. I was grateful to witness it.

That experience has made me reflect alot on expressing ourselves, and communication. Sometimes I feel very much like Da as a missionary, where I just can't seem to get it all out coherently. Our words can sometimes feel weak, simple, stumbling, and inadequate. It is hard to express what we feel, especially spiritual truth that is only truly conveyed by the Holy Ghost. I am ever so grateful for that precious gift. We as missionaries pray for his help before every lesson. I am grateful for that kind of spiritual communication that reaches far deeper and softens hearts and souls. In Darlene's interview, I felt much more than she said. That is what the Holy Ghost does for each of us. It bridges a gap that we cannot close on our own. So remember to look for his help!

We just got a txt that President and Sister Passey just arrived in our mission! Today is the transfer day for them! We will meet them this week, we are very excited.

Thank you for your continued love and support. 

Next week I will most likely be coming to you from a new location...... :( Transfers always make me sad, but this will be my last one probably until my transfer to Rocklin :)

I love you all so very much!!!


Elder Hughes

Monday, June 23, 2014

Happy Monday Family | Week 90

Taylor with President & Sister Killpack. He loves them so much.
Hola familia!!!!!
It has been a week of many emotions here in Benson. We have been very blessed! Here are some highlights:
We had our last zone conference with President Killpack this week. It was a very emotional day for all of us. It was very special. The spirit was very strong, and I learned much as he gave us some of his parting counsel. Sister Killpack and him shared what they have learned from their missions, which was amazing to hear. We have learned some of the same things. It was a spiritual feast. We talked alot about the great blessing it is to have the calling that we have been given as full time missionaries. There is a special power that comes with that calling, that both humbles me and makes me so happy. There is truly nothing like being a set apart missionary for the Lord. I have been blessed by that calling, and it has come by trying to bless others. Some quick highlights from what he shared with us: "If you talk with everyone possible – you will baptize everyone possible." "You cannot socialize someone into the Church and have them stay." "Be obedient." "Your success as a missionary is measured by your commitment to be a missionary." "Your commitment to be a missionary is measured by your work ethic and your obedience and not by the relative success of your area." "A mission should not just change your behavior, it should change your nature." "You shouldn’t just go through your mission, your mission should go through you." "Do not waste one moment of the time you have been given to have the mantle of a full time missionary." "You WILL become what you want to be, by consistently being what you want to become." I have come to cherish the word's that he has given us. This is only a small part, but more importantly it is about the spirit. I love President and Sister Killpack so very much. It was very hard to say goodbye. They made us sing that awful song "God Be With You Til You Meet Again." We all bawled like babies. Truly we will all 'meet again at Jesus' feet' as the song goes. I am so grateful for their leadership and example. In our own personal goodbye's President Killpack told me some very special things. I love them, and will miss them, but I am excited for a new experience and new insights from another wonderful mission president.
I went on exchanges this week with Elder P. We had a great time. I got to speak alot of spanish which made me very happy! We had a really cool miracle that night. We were eating dinner at a member's house and another member came over (who had given the misssionaries a referral a couple weeks ago). The elders had tried many times to contact the refferral, but nothing ever worked out. When the member came she said that we should call them again. So Elder P did so and she finally answered and said we could come by right then. We did so and we had a really good lesson with them, a really cool family. It turns out M (the referral) was really struggling that day with many hard trials. She has been really sick, and she lost her job, and her mom is going into surgery in LA. We gave her a priesthood blessing, and it helped her alot. The spirit was very strong. Right as we were about to end the lesson, M stopped us. She said, "I have to tell you about what happened to me this morning. I was really struggling this morning, and my youngest daughter saw that. As they were leaving for their summer camp, she stopped me and said Mom, God is going to send you angels today. They aren't going to have wings, and they are going to call you and knock on your door." It almost made me cry to hear those words. They were so special. It is truly the sweetest feeling in the world to be the answer to someone's prayers. It was a true miracle in every way. Now the Elders are teaching their whole family.
We had an accident with a deer this week....... We were driving home, and we live on a dirt road way out in the boonies. There are a bunch of hills and as we came over a hill a stupid deer jumped in front of our car. :( Elder Teichert yelled out and I looked and saw it. Thankfully we were able to swerve a little bit, so he only dented the side of our truck a little bit. It scared me have to death though.
For other wild animal news, I saw my first Gila monster this week! I have always wanted to see one, and we finally saw one on the road this week. I will send you some pictures of that.

Max got baptized!!!! It was a great day and a great baptism! It all went very well, and the spirit was strong. Max is a really special kid. I don't think I have ever met a more spiritual 9 year old. As we were meeting with them the day before he said, "I can't wait to be a mormon!!!!" He is going to do great things, I can feel it. Alfred his dad got to baptize him, which was really special.
We have found some more really great people to teach, and we are excited with the work here in Benson. We have been very blessed. I love being a missionary so much. All the hard things about it, are NOTHING compared with the joys. It is a very unequal balance.
I love each of you so very much. I am so incredibly grateful for the blessing each of you are in my life. Keep going strong in life. Remember what is most important, the gospel of Jesus Christ!
all my love
Elder Hughes

Monday, June 16, 2014

Happy Father's Day | Week 89

another Arizona sunset
Hello Family!!!

First of all Happy Father's day to you Dad! You were in my thoughts alot yesterday. I am so grateful for you and all that you have taught me throughout my life. Your example is what has taught me the most. You are a true example of honorable manhood. I think of you often, and I use what you have taught me every single day. I love you, and I am so blessed to be able to call you father.

It sounds like all is well at home. I like that. All is well here in Benson as well. It is a good place, and we have been blessed.

The week was pretty good for us. We are in the final preparation stages for M's baptism. He is getting baptized this week. He is doing great, and is so so so excited to get baptized. It has been exciting and wonderful to be a part of this process with him. That day for him will chart a course for his whole life.

We have been busy still trying to find more people to teach. The Bishop gave us a very long list of people on the rolls of the church who no one really knows, or knows if they even live here still. Elder Teichert and I have spent many many hours as 'God's FBI' of sorts searching for these people. It has been amazing to see the little miracles that took place. Most of the people have moved, but some are still there, and we were able to reconnect a number of people with the church. Through it we have also found a couple of part member families that we may start teaching. It has taken us a couple weeks to do all of it, and we are almost done now.

We are continuing to teach C this week. It is really a blast to teach him. It is fun to teach people who are committed to truly learning and growing in truth. It is a challenge, but it has been great. He reads every single thing we give him, and he really studies it. It has prompted lessons of very in depth discussion about the principles of the restored gospel. He is doing well. He will not be a fast progresser, but I know that he is genuine.

I went on exchanges this week to a tiny little town called Elfrida. It is real small. Smaller than Duncan even. It was a good day. We met an INSANE Japanese man. I don't think I can really describe him at all. I will not soon forget it. I didn't know whether to laugh or just sit there in shock. I enjoy being with the missionaries and helping them with the things they struggle with. Missionary work is not easy for any of us. It is a very challenging work. I have learned a couple things that have made all the difference in my mission, and have tried to pass those on to others.

This week is shaping up to be a good one. We have lots of good appointments set up. On a sad note, this wednesday will be the last time we will see President and Sister Killpack. We have our last zone conference with them on Wednesday. I am sad just thinking about it, but we are excited to get their parting counsel. I will miss them both dearly. I love them.

I love this gospel, and this work! I love the word's of the prophet Joseph Smith. They inspire me "Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad." I love those word's. Our cause is great! Shall we not go on?

I love you all so much and pray for you often. God bless you.


Elder Hughes

Monday, June 9, 2014

Is it really Monday again? | Week 88

Hello Family!

I share your feelings this week on the week going so fast. It flew by for us as well. This morning I was trying to think about what to write about, because I feel like I just wrote!!!

I love all the pictures that you sent! The hot tub looks good!!! I can't believe that Riley and Zach are growing up so fast! What happened?!? Sometimes I feel like I haven't gotten any older, but I got a little freaked out this week as I remembered I am turning 21 in the not so distant future.
It sounds like your summer is going to be packed full of fun stuff! Our families summer's were always packed full. All your trips will be great! That will be such a fun opportunity to learn more about photography. Is Riley working at sunsplash this summer?
As for us it was a busy and good week. Sometimes I really don't know what to write to you guys, because sometimes missionary life is pretty predictable, and just normal sometimes. We have been blessed with some really cool people to teach, they aren't progressing as fast as we would like, but we are enjoying teaching them.
As always I am just enjoying so much being a missionary. There will be no other time in my life when I can devote this much energy to the work of the Lord. I cherish that opportunity. I have been amazed to see the Lord's hand in my life, and the life of those that I teach. Elder T and I are also blessed with an amazing zone of missionaries. We have almost 0 problems, and everyone is working hard and seeing miracles.
We are teaching a man named C, and he is very unique. We came back after the first lesson, and he had studied intensely all the materials that we had left him with. Which is awesome. He is a researcher and an intellectual, so he has a very logical look at religion. That can be very good to an extent, but it also made me ponder the importance of how we learn spiritual truth through the spirit. It is through the spirit that we know of truth. All the other ways of learning are important and can apply to an extent to us spiritually, but the spirit is the ultimate teacher. We taught him very clearly about how to learn about spiritual truth. It was a very spirit directed lesson.
We are still teaching A's son M. He is doing great and is set to get baptized on the 21st now. We love being with them. I love their family so very much.
I love the ward here in Benson. It is filled with wonderful people. We have been blessed here, and we just keep pressing onward.

I have learned alot in the scriptures this week. I love the Book of Mormon. I think I should make a t shirt with that on it. It is such a wonderful book. It has guided me, strengthened me, and helped me throughout my whole life. Joseph Smith said it right when he said "a man would get nearer to God by abiding by it's precepts than by any other book." I know that is true, because it has been true in my own life.
I love each of you so very much. I pray for you every day. I am looking forward to being with you, in the meantime, there is still work to do!
I love you
Elder Hughes

My Companion is an Artist

Monday, June 2, 2014

Happy Monday | Week 87

Hello Family!
I loved your letter as always mom. I am so happy that all is so well at home. That gives me so much peace and happiness to know that. There is nothing more that I want than my family to be happy. I bet we have you beat on the temperatures right now. It has been blazin here in the desert. I love your sunday picnic idea. We truly are so very blessed. Life is so so so good. It has been very good to me as well. Give the Voges my love. I miss them :)

It has been an exciting week here in Benson! We had a wonderful week. A week full of miracles. It has been great! We started off with transfers, which is always crazy. We are in charge of a transfer site here, so it is always crazy for us, but everything worked out well. Then we set to work. We saw many little miracles this week, of being in the right places at the right times. We have met some very prepared people to hear our message. Which is what we have been praying for!
We started teaching a family, they are really great. We just met them as we were walking to an appointment. The T family is their name. The husband C is a true seeker of truth, which is so exciting for us. One thing I love about our message is that it is all about a search for truth. They are a really nice family, with great kids, so we are excited to see them again this week and keep teaching them.
We started visiting a young inactive couple, who are really awesome. Teaching them has been really special. They have a hunger for more gospel knowledge, and to go to the temple. They have desires to go to the temple. They have some roomates that live with them, and we have started teaching them as well. One girl named A has been looking for help and spiritual strength. We taught her a lesson on prayer, and it had been years since she had prayed. She gave a beautiful heartfelt prayer at the end of the lesson. She has been looking for a job so that night she prayed again. Then the next morning she got a phone call saying that she had gotten the new job. It was amazing to see how excited she was. That answer alone has renewed her faith in a God who answers prayers.
We have received many other referrals, potentials, and opportunities in the last couple days so we have a full week ahead of us to tackle the work the Lord has placed before us. It has been very exciting for us. We feel like our prayers have been answered.

M is still doing very well. He is progressing, and absolutely loves church. He gets so excited to go.
Another miracle this week. We were walking across a crosswalk in town, and someone honked at us. It is pretty common for members to honk, so we turned around to see who it was... and it was RM and HR from Tucson! R is the lady Elder  and I helped reactivate. They started freaking out when they saw me. It was a very small world moment. They happened to be sitting at the light as I walked past. It was crazy. We chatted for a bit, and took a picture to prove that it happened.
We had another mini missionary with us this weekend. Missionary work must be really exhausting because this kid could not stay awake in lessons haha. He fell asleep in almost everyone. That made for some interesting moments :) We had fun.

A highlight of the week this week was MLC. It was the last one with President Killpack. It was very emotional for all of us. We had the meeting on top of Mt. Lemmon in Tucson. We drove all the way up to the highest peak, and we all hiked in to a look out point with a gorgeous view. It was awesome! (and 40 degrees cooler) We received training and instruction from the top of this mountain. It was really cool. The spirit was strong. President gave us alot of his final counsel and reflections. What a special man he is. No one put on sunscreen, so we all got REALLY sunburnt, but it was worth it. I have lots of great pictures, but I am mad at myself because I left my camera card reader at home, so you might have to wait until next week to see. It was a day I will not soon forget. I am grateful for the chance to be a missionary. I have loved every minute of it, and I am so glad that I still have more time.
It was a great week. We have been blessed so much.
We discussed a parable at a our training this week that has caused me to reflect alot.

"A merchant man seeking precious jewels found at last the perfect pearl. He had the finest craftsman carve superb jewel box and line it with blue velvet. He put his pearl of great price on display so others could sharehis treasure. He watched as people came to see it. Soon he turned away in sorrow. It was the box they admired, not the pearl."
We related this story to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Church of Jesus Christ.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the pearl. It is the pearl of great price. It is precious. It is worth far more than the box. It is of more value than anything else. The box holds the pearl. It is like the church. It must contain and hold this pearl of great price.
Where is our faith? Where is our trust? Do we spend more time fussing about our box, and not enough time on the pearl? Have we forgotten about the pearl? Do we remember that the box was built only to give honor and place for this wonderful pearl?
The greatest joy of my whole life has come when I have become more concerned with the pearl. The box is VERY important, but it is not the MOST important. It is possible to be active in the church, and less active in the gospel. I know that we have a savior who lives and loves us. His gospel is what makes all the difference.
I love you all so very much. I think of you every day.

To close I will leave you with a baseball quote I heard yesterday. We are a baseball loving family, so it fits well.
"In baseball, as in life, the most important things happen at home"
How true that is. Thanks for making our home so wonderful.


Elder Hughes