Monday, September 23, 2013

Email received September 23, 2013

Hola familia!
How was your week last week? Our week was super hard but super awesome! We had a baptism on Saturday, this girl named Mayra got baptized and it was a super awesome experience, we also had three super awesome investigators attend that baptismal service so that was awesome, the only sad part is that it turns out that one of those investigators actually lives in the assistants´ area she just is always visiting her sister who lives in our area, but it´s fine because the hermanas in the area next door had to pass us a set of triplets that´s been going to church for the same reasons so it´s all fair in the end I suppose. Mayra is cool because she is doing all of this to try and help her little son have a better life. She´s passed through a lot of hard trials so it was cool being able to see her progress in the gospel to baptism. I got really nervous on Sunday because it started to rain and I was afraid that Mayra wouldn´t go to her confirmation but when I called in the morning to tell her to not be afraid of the rain she was already up and on her way to the church and she got there before me and my companion. Even though we had rain there was actually a lot of people in church. It was one of the first Sundays where we as missionaries didn´t have to do anything during the sacrament and it was way cool because I realized of the 4 kids passing the sacrament 2 of them were these previously less-actives that me and my comp have been working with to reactivate and one of them was this kid that the assistants had baptized a few weeks ago! I thought that was super cool! There was also an entire family, mom dad and 3 kids that we´ve been working with for so long and they all came back to church (one of them passed the sacrament on Sunday). I´ve been thinking a lot lately about all of the people that I´ve been able to teach in my mission and I was thinking about my converts. I´ve been feeling a big need to be praying for them and I had a great tender mercy today that has to do with that. I went over with my companion to the mission office so he could sign into the country and there were a ton of other missionaries there. I found the elders where I heard one of my very first converts had moved to, Nidia, and I asked them if they even knew who she was. I was very disappointed when they said no, but then I wanted to make sure so I showed them a picture and he lit up and said you baptized her, I thought she had been a member for years! She still comes to church and is active! I was soooooooooooo excited to hear that because I love their little family. I felt at such great peace knowing that she was still active and that her husband has been making some positive changes as well. I just felt literally like a shepherd who had found his sheep. I imagine that´s how the Savior feels about us, sometimes we get lost but when we come back and do what He asks then he rejoices greatly. It really helped me realize that I haven´t been working this last year in vain. I´m really happy with how my mission has been up to this point and I´m super happy that I still have a really long time to keep working out here. I love my area so much. We got a reference from our branch president, I´m noticing a change in him, he seems like he wants to be more involved in the work now so I´m super pumped. He gave us the reference to someone he´s been talking to at work so we contacted him the next day and he´s super awesome. He´s been to church a lot and was going to be baptized but got a call to go down to Argentina to work for a few months so never ended up being baptized. But he brought his Book of Mormon with him and read a ton and now he´s back and wants to learn more and get baptized. He even came to Mayra´s baptismal service. I also really love Elder Beus. He understands my sense of humor so well and we're working so well together. He´s a big example to me and I feel so blessed that the Lord put us together. He has sacrificed so much and is always smiling and never complains and is just such a solid guy and a real role-model for me. I really love my district and zone. I`m super bummed because my zone leader is going home in just a few weeks and I love him so much, he was actually in my first zone with me, he was training another missionary. That`s the part I hate more than anything in the mission is saying good-bye. But other than that I love my mission so much. I even have grown to love sweating through my shirts because I feel good about having walked under the hot sun all day and put in a good days work. I also really love the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. I love reading it and as a missionary I feel like everything I read in there applies directly to me and to the work, it´s super sweet. Most of all I love the Lord. I love that He´s perfect and knows how to love imperfect people and use them too to help progress His work. I have absolutely no doubt that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the only true and living church on the earth. I can´t tell you how convinced I am of that. I love you guys so much and I hope you have an awesome week. I hope all goes well with Maren´s big party this week too.
Con mucho amor,
Elder Zachary J. Hulsey

Monday, September 16, 2013

Email received September 16, 2013

Hola familia,

Como están todos? This week was pretty great. Elder Beus is a spiritual giant and I really love and respect him and he´s super funny so we´ve been getting along pretty well. He´s actually a lot like Spencer in a lot of ways so it´s been really fun. Our investigators are doing really well. We have one that has been investigating the church for the past like 6 years but she is scheduled to be baptized on Saturday and she is super pumped. She´s been inviting people and everything so that should be a really cool experience. She already knows tons of people in church so the fellowshipping should be great. I´m glad Travis made it safely to Argentina without any visa problems. I had heard that they weren´t even going to be sending Americans there anymore just for the visa problems so I´m really happy about that, he´ll love it so much. South America is such an amazing place, I love it. Haha today we were on a bus and two Americans walked on and I instantly recognized them as Americans because they stood out so much with the light hair and blue eyes. I started chuckling to myself but then realized that if they stick out that much wearing regular clothes how much more do I stick out wearing missionary clothes and being American, haha it was a funny realization that took me a whole year to realize. The big city is pretty awesome. I love being so close to all the action and the missionaries in this zone are the best because they work really hard but play really hard too. We´ve been waking up early and playing basketball in the mornings because the assistants and us both live within like two blocks of the church and the 4 elders that are in the office have a car so they´ve been coming down to play and it´s been super fun. It seems like President Mcmullin doesn't like to take missionaries out of their area very quickly so I´m glad I got placed in such a great area. My apartment is pretty bad. It´s one of two apartments in this mission that has carpet (and the carpet is super gross) so the mission doesn´t have vacuum cleaners in the office to give us and our vacuum cleaner blew up a few weeks ago so it´s kinda hard to keep it clean. But I actually kinda like it because it´s small and close to everything and we don´t spend a lot of time there anyways. I tried sending pictures but this computer won´t let me so hopefully next week. Elder Beus is really funny because he´s afraid of all of the little bugs and germs and everything. I think you all would be very proud of me because I have officially gotten over all of my germ fears, you can´t really have those down here.

I did a division with a chileno this week and that was cool because I´ve been afraid that my Spanish is getting worse with Elder Beus but he told me I speak really well and even have a decent accent. Also today we were playing soccer and I went up against this same chileno and he tried to do some fancy trick but I got in his way and shut him down (I can´t actually say it was with any skill but it looked cool) then took the ball down and scored a goal. haha it was pretty funny and then they made me an honorary Latin. Haha I love Latin people but I'm way too American to be Latin and everyone knows it but it was fun anyways.

So Elder Beus and I had a super cool experience this week. We were teaching this family and it was the first time they had let us in to teach them. We went in and started teaching and I did most of the teaching. I was trying to teach to their needs but I was having a really hard time of getting them to open up. They accepted what we had taught but I felt like they didn´t really understand the importance or anything of it. So then we were finishing up and I looked to Elder Beus so that he would have one last chance to share his testimony before we left. He decided to try and ask them a question and he got it out in the most broken up Spanish you´ve ever heard. I was going to try and re-state his question for him but I felt like I should just let the people try and figure it out. The husband started to try to rephrase the question as he understood it and as he did so he completely opened up. He expressed that they had recently moved in and all of their family lived far away and that they felt really alone and that they didn´t have anybody to help them. We shared with them about how they can always rely on the Lord for help and how in the church we are a giant family and we all help one another. They seemed to really like that and we have another appointment tonight in about an hour to go back and share with them some more. Afterwords I asked Elder Beus what he thought he had asked them and it was not the question that the man had heard. That was a super humbling moment for me because I realized even more how it´s the Holy Ghost that is the teacher and that what we say isn´t nearly as important as what the people feel. I studied a lot more about how to invite the Holy Ghost in my lessons and I realized just whose work this really is. What Dad wrote me is true, we get to a point where we think we can easily categorize people and know exactly how they´ll respond but being here in Trinidad has completely changed my view on that because the people here are different. I feel like there are a lot of people that are prepared to hear and accept the gospel right now. El campo blanco está ya, we don´t have to wait around for it. We have been working with this family that had been throwing the missionaries out of their house for years (they´ve even thrown me out a couple of times) but they are finally coming back to church after years and are allowing us to come by and visit them. They have two daughters that still need to be baptized and then they can enter the temple! The seeds have been planted in many people here and now is the harvest. We are still doing plenty of seed planting don´t get me wrong. We are still having plenty of rejections and not everything is just peaches and roses (I don´t know if that´s a saying but I use it a lot) but I feel like now more than any other time in my mission we´re finding tons of people, less-active members and investigators, that are prepared to accept and live the gospel to receive the incredible blessings awaiting them. As I get to see people come back and receive the blessings it strengthens my testimony so much. Revelation is available to us in the very moment we need it through the Book of Mormon, I know this from personal experience. The gospel blesses families. By small and simple things such as daily personal and family prayer and scripture study and weekly church attendance great things are brought to pass. I know that this is the only true church that has God´s holy priesthood authority, the authority to act in the name of Christ. ¡Que Cosa! I love you all so much and pray for you every night. I hope this week treats you well and that you´re all happy and safe.

con mucho amor,
Elder Zachary J. Hulsey

Monday, September 9, 2013

(no subject)

Email received September 9, 2013

Hola familia,

Hows it going? Life down here is fantastic. Elder Beus and I are getting along great and having a blast! We always joke around and talk about things like, " Well back in the guay" instead of back in Nam, we have really similar senses of humor. We had a baptism last Saturday and let me tell you what, Satan did not want that baptism happening! Friday night somebody had broken into the church and turned on at least one of the sinks and left it like that all night so Saturday morning we went over and everything was flooded and a lot of the tiles in the floor and baptismal font were destroyed. So we spent all morning Saturday trying to get all of that situated, then at the actual baptismal service not one single member from our branch showed up! Luckily the hermanas had come with their little investigator and her grandpa who is an active priesthood holder so my companion and him were the witnesses and I baptized her. In the end it`s all good because it was the baptism of an hermana from the ward that has been reactivating and she was happy to see her daughter get confirmed and baptized. Also there were plenty of people in church on Sunday. I was a little bummed that that´s how Elder Beus´s first baptism went down but I just explained to him how important baptism is so Satan works extra hard to make sure it doesn`t happen. But aside from that we had such an awesome week. We were able to find tons of really cool people to teach and we had some of the most spiritual and powerful lessons that I`ve had my entire mission. We found this one lady whose 5 year old daughter died 2 months ago and two years ago her dad and new-born of just a few weeks if I remember right died as well. Her husband lives apart from them because I think his family takes care of him because he had an accident a few years ago and can`t walk anymore. Anyways as we were sharing the Plan of Salvation with her you could just see the hope coming back that the pain doesn`t have to stay and that she can see her children again as long as she does her part. It was really cool and we had multiple lessons this week that were just so powerful, tanto with less active members como with investigators. There is this part member family that we`ve been trying to work with because one of their kids, this youth of like 15 years, has completely re-activated and now his mom has been coming back too. We`ve been trying to get in and teach them but the dad, who also is a less-active member, always gives us lame excuses and doesn`t let us in. But I`ve been feeling like we should still stop by and just let them know that we`re thinking about them. So on Sunday the wife finally set up an appointment with us and said that her husband mentioned that if she could find him a pair of used church pants that he would like to come back! I told her I have plenty of pants and would love to give her a pair, I don`t think they`ll fit him very well but i`m going to try. This is a family that can enter into the temple here in a few months and will be a great help to the branch so it makes me super happy to be able to help them. I love being a missionary so much because you really get to help people in such a unique way. Well I love you all and hope you have an excellent week. I`m going to send you some pictures of some recent adventures (like today we went to a museum of chairs, it was actually pretty cool and it turns out the tour-guide lives in my area, is the cousin of a recent convert, used to go to our church but never got baptized, and is willing to listen to us again (he even took a picture on his cell-phone with us haha)).

Rohayhu (that means I love you in Guaraní)

Elder Zachary J. Hulsey

Monday, September 2, 2013

(No Subject)‏

Email received September 2, 2013

Hola familia,

Hey sorry that I sounded down in my last letter, I was actually kinda feeling the opposite. I´ve realized so many things that took me a while to realize and that took coming out on the mission to realize, but now I can fix them so I´m really glad. That´s one thing I´ve learned out here, it´s not bad to realize that we don't do certain things right as long as we´re willing to fix them and let the Lord make weak things become strong. So I´m super happy, don´t worry. So we did get changes and my companion left. I got a new companion from Utah and he´s BRAND NEW (I´m training him). His name is Elder Beus and I believe I forwarded you an email from him that has our pictures. Training has been pretty fun so far, I like remembering how crazy and new it all is at the beginning. It´s been weird because I still feel brand new but now being with Elder Beus I realize even more how much I´ve learned in the last year. It was pretty cool because after the training meeting last Wednesday President talked to me and told me that when he was trying to figure out who should train who that he saw my name on the list and had no doubts that me and Elder Beus should be together, he said it was one of the ones that was super clear and that he didn´t have to even think about it. I can already see why because I´ve learned so much from him already. He´s sacrificed a lot to be here and has gone through some incredibly difficult things in the last couple of weeks so I´m doing my best to not be one more difficult thing that he has to deal with. He´s super respectful and brave (he talks to anyone I tell him to talk to even though he can barely form a sentence), but he´s also super green so it´s been pretty funny. Sometimes I feel like we´re in the best two years because we´ll sit down and talk with people and they´ll tell him something and he just gets a super worried look on his face and looks at me and asks me "what did they just say"? Haha I can only laugh because a few months ago I was in the same boat and I can now look back and laugh at myself for all of my silly fears and not understanding. But this kid brings the Spirit with him! We had an attendance of 97 people in church on Sunday (that´s double than the attendance when I first got here)! The weather has warmed up so that has played a big part in it, but he´s also got a powerful testimony. We have had really powerful lessons with people and people are changing their lives. There´s this one girl that about a year ago got in a big motorcycle accident while her and her boyfriend got drunk and drove away and she is now paralyzed and her boyfriend walked away unharmed. She has a lot of built up rage and such as is expected and she doesn´t like visitors, but we went over with this less-active guy that´s her friend and he told us to walk on in with him and she said she would listen. I told her a little bit about my brother because he was born kinda sick, she recently told me that when i told her that for some reason she just trusted me because she felt like I wouldn´t be weirded out by that kind of stuff. She also likes my companion because he doesn´t say much but what he says is always really nice (I think it also helps that hes super blonde with blue eyes). So as we´ve been working with her her heart has been softening a lot and she says she can´t explain it but she always feels really good when we share together (and this less-active guy has been getting super excited about the gospel again too because we always share with him there too). She has changed from saying that she will never leave the house in her wheel chair to now she´s promised that she will come to church (she hasn´t said when but we´re making progress). She also got up the courage and called her ex-boyfriend to tell him she forgives him, he wasn´t home the first time so she tried back two more times! She said she had just thought about what we had taught her about forgiving and how Christ could help her and it seemed like the right thing to do! In the short time I´ve been with Elder Beus we have had multiple experiences like that with many different people and it´s been incredible and super rewarding. There´s a part in Preach My Gospel that says the best way to help someone is by teaching them the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I know that that´s true. It´s not necessarily all about baptizing thousands of souls but you can make a difference in the lives of many just by teaching them true doctrine. Well I´m loving it out here and I´m having a great time. It´s kinda tough because we now do an extra hour of companionship study as part of the training process and I still have to do some things that pull my time out of my area, but it's all good because it´s the Lord´s work and it´s what he wants me to do. I´m trying to do my best to train Elder Beus because I know it´s completely un-related but I really want Spencer to have the best trainer so I feel like if I do my best with Elder Beus than maybe Spencer will for some reason get an even better trainer (if nothing else its helping me be a better trainer so it´s not a bad thing). I hope you all enjoy this week of school.

Con amor,
Elder Zachary J. Hulsey