Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hello Family | week 99

Helloo there family!!!
Thank you for your words and experiences. It is wonderful to hear about all that you are doing. Life has not slowed down a bit for me either. I have had one of the busiest weeks of my whole mission this week. Which is WONDERFUL. Busy is good for us as missionaries. It means people are listening.
To answer some of your ?s:
Yes, we are still doing cross fit. It has been kicking my butt. I am going to have to convert you all to it when I get back. It is quite addicting.
My companion Elder G is great! We have quickly become great friends. He is from upstate new york, an hour away from Palmyra. He goes to BYU as well, and he is in the Army. He is an outstanding missionary, and we are doing very well as a companionship.

First of all, serving in YSA is so wonderful. It is a blast. Our wards are FULL of recently returned missionaries who know how to share the gospel with their friends. It is incredible to see. If we could get the whole church to do missionary work like they do, we would see astounding growth. We have started teaching 7 new investigators this week who have been brought to us by their friends. It has been amazing to see, and the miracles have been pouring forth.

A is still doing wonderful. I LOVE teaching him. He soaks up all that we teach. I call it 'sponge mode' it is pretty much the best thing to see in an investigator. He is progressing well, and he will be a very committed new member of the church. It has been amazing to see God's hand in the whole experience.
We have started to teach a girl named J this week. All of her roomates are members, and it was a miracle how we found her. We felt one night as we were planning that we should go to some apartments and meet the many YSA members who have recently moved into them. We started knocking on doors and introducing ourselves to the members. We had just finished talking to one sister, by the bottom of some stairs when two people started walking down towards us. We contacted them and we met J who is not a member. We ended up teaching the entire first lesson to them on those stairs. The next day as we met with them again, J opened up to us. She explained that right before her and her roomate left their apt the night we taught them, she had a distinct desire to ask her roomate more about the church, but she felt scared so she didn't. Then they walked out their door, and down the stairs, and found us at the bottom! She said it was an answer to her prayers. I have seen countless times as a missionary, that the Lord puts us right where he needs us. We had some more powerful moments with her this week as we taught her the plan of salvation. It really struck a chord in her. She got very emotional, and the spirit witnessed to us all of the truthfulness of that plan.
Another miracle this week was in teaching K. We started teaching her when her friend brought her to us. She is so prepared. She is also so excited to act in faith. That is our favorite thing to see. She has a baptismal date as well.
There are many others who we have made contact with. It has been so exciting. The Lord has been pouring out his blessings on us.
On Sunday, Elder G and I spoke at a tri stake YSA fireside, with lots of people. We talked on missionary work of course!
Yesterday Elder Malm of the 70 visited us. There was quite an outpouring of the spirit, it was a wonderful day!! I wish you each could have been there to hear his testimony, and to be taught by him. He is truly a man of God, and he is a master teacher. I learned an immense amount, in fact I am still digesting all of it. He and his wife are from Sweden. They were so wonderful. He taught us much about how to teach by and listen to the spirit. He taught us about how to have a spirit of optimism. He taught much about our premortal life, and who we were and are. It truly does help us in our lives to know who we are and who those around us truly are. We must see past what we see on the outside. The spirit was poured out upon us in rich abundance. It was a wonderful day. I always leave those experiences energized and excited to take on more of the Lord's work.
I had the chance to be interviewed by Elder Malm as well. It was wonderful to recieve personal counsel from him. I learned alot.

I leave you with my love. This week at the fireside I talked about love and how it relates to sharing the gospel. If we truly love those around us, we will open our mouths and share with them the gospel. In a book I love "the power of everyday missionaries". We are taught in that book that when we take someone figuratively by the hand and lead them to Christ. We come to know how much God loves the person who's hand is in ours, and how much he loves us. I know this to be a true principle. I have felt it in my life as a missionary. It is real.
I love each of you so much. Thank you for all you have done for me.

God bless you
Elder Hughes

for more interesting news! a Hermana Toledo is serving in the spanish branch that covers Rocklin. She is one of my good friends from my mission! She is so awesome. I gave your address so she might stop by and say hi. I served in HER branch in Tucson and her and her mom did so much to help us there. They fed us every single week and more sometimes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Fresh New Transfer | week 98

Hey there family!
Thank you mom for your wonderful message. I hope you got some more sleep :) I loved reading all the small and simple joys that come into your life. I have found that you can really tell alot about people by what small and simple joy's they see in life. I loved all the pictures. Rafting looks like it was a blast. And so was the first day of school. Riley and Zach man look SOOOOOOO old. What happened?!?!?!? How tall is Zach? We had our own 'first day of school' here at EAC yesteday. It was the first day of classes here. Boy, has it been quite a week for us here at EAC. Lots of exciting things are happening. It can be kind of overwhelming at times. A feeling I know each of you are acquainted with.
I am short on time today, so I will have to be brief. We had transfer calls this weekend. Unfortunately Elder H got transferred. I will miss him, he has been one of my favorite companions. Elder G is here with me now. He is really awesome as well. He is from upstate new york, and goes to BYU as well. He is a great guy. It is going to be a good one. They combined two zones so we are now over 30 missionaries. We have been running around like crazy today trying to get everyone situated. Between last transfer and this transfer there are 8 new missionaries in our zone, so we have been very busy.

School started this week! It was very exciting!! THERE ARE PEOPLE HERE NOW!!! YAYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (That is how I feel about it) We cover 4 wards, of a total of 400+ YSA's here at the college. Sunday, all the ward were combined into a mega meeting to re-figure out the boundaries. It was quite a sight. We are excited to get to work! We have already received some referrals.
Last week we started teaching an amazing investigator named A. He is from Mexico, and he only speaks Spanish and French. He is 25, and is a dentist in Mexico. Through a series of miraculous events with members of the church, he immigrated here to the US to come here to study English. He has been very prepared by the Lord. He is hilarius as well. I have never laughed so hard in lessons. He is also very spiritually attune, and we have already had some wonderful experiences with him. He is one of those people who is not afraid to act in faith. He will do anythings we ask him to do. That is really what it is all about! Those are the kind of people we are looking for. Those who will act in faith. We asked him to pray about the Book of Mormon, and he got right down on his knees and prayed about it. We have been marveling. The spanish sisters in the branch here have been helping me teach him, so I don't have to do it by myself. He has a baptismal date for the 13th of September, which is very exciting. I am so excited for him.
This week I also had the chance to attend Hope's funeral in Duncan. Elder M, who is here in the Gila Valley (who served in Duncan as well) and I got permission to go to her services. It was very sad, because she died so young, but there was also so much joy in knowing the plan of salvation. We laughed alot during her funeral as people told stories from her life. She was a very entertaining and wild lady, so she had some pretty great stories. It was wonderful to remember her in that way. Everyone was smiling and crying at the same time. Funerals have a way of putting everything into perspective. One person who spoke said something that really touched me. They talked about how we forgot to tell the people we love how much we love them. We forget to put things into the right perspective. That it is sad, that sometimes it is only at times of someone's sudden death that we realize what is really important in life. It really shouldn't be that way. They spoke about the importance of telling the ones we love, how we really feel about them, while we still have the chance.
Those thoughts led me to each of you. I cannot every say enough how much I love you. I am so grateful for your sacrifice, love, help, guidance, and support that you have given to me throughout my life. I stand all amazed at how blessed I have been.

We have a very busy, and very exciting week ahead. A general authority is coming for an all day conference on monday, so P day will be on tue again next week. We have a new zone to get organized, practically a new area to begin, and lots of the Lord's work to do. I am so very excited. I love with all my heart the opportunity I have had to be a missionary.
Hurrah for Israel!!

Elder Hughes

Monday, August 11, 2014

Hola! | week 97

Hola Familia Marvillosa!!!
It is good to hear from you as always!  Thank you for your love and support. It sounds like all is normal, and well at home. All is well here in Arizona as well! We had a good week.
We are at the start of a very exciting week, all of the students move back this week!!!!! YAYYYYYYY!!!!!!!! I have never been so excited for school to start. We are gearing up and ready to go. We have spent alot of the last couple weeks getting ward mission plans made, working with our new ward mission leader, and working with the bishop. We have transfers next week, and they are probably going to be splitting our area with some sisters they will bring in. So we will probably by covering the one ward that is all on campus, and the sisters will cover the other three. They are also going to combine two zones, so we will be over one big zone of 32+ missionaries. Should be quite an adventure.
We had some really cool experiences this week. We have been led to some really cool experiences. I have truly come to see that God is so aware of every single one of us. He is aware of all of his children.

One day, our appointments had fallen through and we were just walking along the street. We walked up on a lady in the family ward we cover who was just leaving her work and getting in her car. We didn't know her very well from church, we had only said hi in passing. We stopped and talked to her for a bit, and she opened up to us about some huge struggles she has been having with her faith and testimony. She is a very active member with a beautiful family, but because of some things that have happened, she has recently been thinking about leaving the church. She opened up to us about all of this and we had a good conversation about it. We all talked together about the gospel, and our testimonies and the 'why' of our service in the church. After a bit, we all went our separate ways. As we walked on, Elder Hales and I both had the distinct impression that we had been led to that sister, at that time, for a special reason. I really know that we were led to her that day.
Another 'right place, right time' moment came this week as we walked down the street. We saw someone kneeling down on the sidewalk with their bike. As we approached we saw that she was hurt. We helped her up, and it turns out she is a YSA that just moved here, and she had just been hit by a car on her bike! It was crazy. It was a hit and run. Thankfully she was pretty much ok. She was banged up pretty good and bleeding, but mostly in shock. We carried her broken bike back home for her. She had just been hit when we walked up. 

The family that we have been working with are doing pretty good. Slowly but surely we are seeing progress in their lives. We had a surprise yesterday when one of the kids W came to church!!!! That makes our whole day when investigators come to church. I love it.
Also yesterday there were some cool experiences as an inactive member who we have worked with was recently reactivated. He served a mission and married in the temple, but over the years, he slipped away from activity. He taught the priesthood lesson on Sunday in his new calling, and it was so powerful. He was very personal about his journey, and his gratitude for his friends and neighbors for helping him come back. It was so powerful for me. It is amazing to see. The atonement is at work every day. I have come to love the challenge and joy of helping the lost sheep return to the fold. I have seen great joy in that aspect of the work.

We started teaching a YSA this week named J. He recently got out of jail, and he has a very pure heart. It has been really exciting to teach him. He can be really hit and miss with appointments, but every time we teach him things go so well.
We are looking forward to an exciting week. We are going to be spending alot of time helping people move in!!! YAY! That will be a good way for us to meet some potential investigators. It has already been fun contacting some people. Most of the people here right now are the football team. They are all from the south it seems like. Huge, intimidating black guys ;) They are pretty funny.

One of the days this week I was feeling a bit down. We went over to see Elder and Sister M, the senior couple we work with, because they had some things the needed to talk to us about. Just being with them made me so happy. I have learned alot about our influence as children of God. We have so much power to influence this world for good, if we will just let it. Elder and Sister Mathews have been that kind of influence for me. Along with countless others. When you are with them, you cannot help feeling happy, enlightened, full of the spirit, and full of hope. They inspire that in other people, by just being who they are. There is so much WE can all do to be just like that for others. More than just doing, it is actually about BEING. We can be a light to the world, to our friends, and family. There is enough despair, negativity, evil, hate, envy, lust, and sin in this world without our adding to it. I am so grateful for the lights in my life that have inspired me to keep going, and to be my best self. My family, you each have been those for me. For that I am so grateful. I love you so much for that.
I love you all!!!!!! Have a wonderful week. Serve someone!!!
Elder Hughes

Monday, August 4, 2014

Happy August to YOU! | week 96

Hey there family!
It is a beautiful morning here in Thatcher. Thank you for your letter mom! I always love to hear about your thoughts, and feelings and impressions. I know what you mean! I know how you feel. As a missionary it is inherent in our work that we are focused on things of great importance. There are still distractions for us as well though. Especially here in the United States. Sometimes I find myself asking the same questions as you. I have come to learn that when we evaluate and take life one day at a time, life tends to work out. We take all the good lessons we can from the past and we move forward in faith to create a future of joy and success.
You have done everything you have needed to and more. I have felt of your prayers and I have felt your love through all you have done. It is you and Dad's support that has made all of this possible in the first place.
I like the fall as well. Although here in Arizona it never really feels like fall. We always say there are 2 seasons in Arizona. Really hot, and less hot. I can't wait to do all the fall things that we always did.
Things are well here in Thatcher. We had a good week in the work. We are gearing up for the return of all the students! We are quite excited for that. We are starting to see people come back every day. We had some cool miracles to share.

One day this week, on Tue I believe, we were about to leave the apartment, and we always pray before we leave. We prayed especially to be placed in the path of those who have been prepared to receive the gospel. We walked out the door and there were some people right by our apartment. We started talking to them, and the guy pointed to his girlfriend and said "She wants to take the missionary lessons!". God answered our prayer about 10 seconds after we asked. It was so cool. I couldn't stop smiling for a while. We had to pass her off to the other elders here, but they are teaching her now and she has a baptismal date. Pretty awesome.
Another cool one we had this week. We were walking and we met a family that had recently moved in. We came to find out that they are both members, but are very inactive. We came back another night and we started talking to the wife. While we were talking with her, her husband came up really really drunk. He started cussing us out and yelling at us. He told us to leave and never come back. For some reason we felt like we should keep talking to him. He eventually calmed down, and we tried to answer some of his belligerent questions. As we talked, his heart softened. He started to break down, and he explained how he so badly wants to stop drinking. How he wants to be a better father. He explained that he knows the church is true, but that life is so hard. We ended up leaving with a return appointment and him begging us to come back at that time. We assured him we would. It was quite a change from beginning to end of the conversation. I have come to see that the latter end of that conversation is usually inside of people. Sometimes the tough and hardened exterior's block our view of who people truly are, and their true desires. I believe there is so much good in people. Sometimes it just takes further, careful, loving, and spirit-led conversations to find out their true heart.
I got some really awesome news this week! If you remember M L, our investigator in Deming who is so awesome, who was waiting for his parents permission to be baptized. He is getting baptized this week!!!!! It made me so happy to hear that.
We had dinner this week with Bishop B and his wife and President L who is in our mission Presidency. It was wonderful. I love each of those people so so so so much. Elder H and I afterward were talking and I said I believe heaven must be something like that night. Being with people you love, eating great food, and talking about the wonder and majesty of the gospel and of the Savior. That seems alot like heaven to me.

We had some non member single adults come to church yesterday. It was exciting. One guy we have to pass off, but another one we are going to try and start teaching. He is a big football player here.
We also had MLC again this week. It was wonderful as always! The spirit was strong, and I learned alot. Elder H and I had to give a training about integrity. In studying for it I thought alot about integrity and how important it should be to us. I am grateful to each of you for your examples of integrity to me. Integrity is captured in being true to who we really are. It is embodied in vigilant honesty and it is demonstrated in obedience. The world is in desperate need of men and women of integrity. It is a trait that is so rare in our government, our businesses and our communities. It is vital in the church as well. People of integrity are those that we can trust. Thank you for being people that I can trust so much. I love each of you and trust you.
I love you all!!! We are pressing forward in the work of the Lord here! I love this work, and I know it is true. Onward to another week!

Elder Hughes
PS small world mormon stuff. I just met a very recently returned missionary here. Elder Goodman. He just got back from the Honolulu Hawaii mission. He knows Rachel Hodgson!!! He said she is an incredible missionary. No surprise there :)