Monday, September 26, 2016

A Priceless Duck

Dear family and friends,

What a week! We started out with a bang on Monday.  I´ve talked quite a bit about the Pereda family, a family that I met in March when I got here and was able to participate in their baptism.  They´re 5, Carlos the dad, Isela the mom, and sons Carlitos, Mathias, and Rosita.  I have really come close to that family, kinda going through a few ups and downs with them and witnessing their conversion! It´s been a really cool thing.  Anyway, on Monday, we had a FHE with them and talked about Alma 32. Keep in mind, this is a pretty poor family, one of the poorest I´ve met so far.  They somehow came across 11 ducks in May that they´ve been raising to be able to sell and make some money.  Well, as we were about to leave on Monday night, they said, "Hold on Elderes!" as they walked out with 7 plates of duck and invited us to eat with them.  The first one they´ve killed, and they didn´t sell it; they wanted to eat it with us! Wow, that was a humbling moment, and one I´ll probably remember for a while.  And it was awfully tasty too haha.  I thought lots of Ammon´s words, " Now behold, we can look forth and see the fruits of our labors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are many; yea, and we can witness of their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us." 

The other big thing that happened this week was the chance I had to participate in two baptismal interviews!  The first one was with an older sister on Thursday night.  The other elders in my district, and my branch, taught her.  She was a super duper Catholic lady! To the point of having one of those statue saint things in her house, always looming in their lessons! None of the ward members thought she would progress at all.  Lo and behold, she was baptized Saturday, and bore quite a sweet testimony after her baptism.  I was kind of cringing with all the members and leaders at the baptism and their "Wow, I NEVER thought you´d be here!!", but it´s true! Heavenly Father is truly working with all of his children! That was sweet to be able to talk to her for a good hour in her interview and be a part of her baptism.

The other interview was Friday, of an 11 year old boy.  A little different than the first one haha.  I love kids! That was a fun thing, and we actually saw him get baptized in the same service as the first lady.  

Mmm...I think that´s about it for the week.  We had a fun zone training on Tuesday about the use of the Book of Mormon, and a sweet branch council yesterday.   The members of the branch are so pumped about missionary work after seeing lots of baptisms this past month.  They were all throwing out names and offering to go out with us, so we´ll do our best to capitalize on the momentum and see what we can do this month! The branch, and the ward mission leader in particular, have come a long way since March.  If I did nothing else in this area, what a blessing to be able to be a part of that kind of growth and establishment of the church!  We were pretty excited as missionaries yesterday.

Thank you all so much for the emails and pictures and words of support and everything! I take a picture of every email I get, and read them multiple times throughout the week! I´ve been so blessed to be surrounded by such loving people.  Have a super week, and I´ll talk to ya next Monday!

Love, Elder Tanner Hart

Monday, September 19, 2016

From the head to the heart

Dear family and friends,

The biggest event of this week was Tatiana´s baptism!  Many of you may remember when I told the story of my pensionista´s (cook´s) son´s motorcycle accident and death a few months ago.  About a month after his passing, his wife-but-not-legally came to us and asked to meet with us.  We taught her the restored gospel for two months, and Saturday she was baptized.  She whispered, kind of to herself and kind of to Elder Ricse as she went down the steps into the font, "I never in a million years thought I would be here." But there she was! The other elders in our branch will be baptizing her aunt and cousin soon, and then all in in the retention effort! She´s super excited for the Women´s session of conference this Saturday and our district temple trip on October 15.  So that was sweet!

An update on the district choir: things are getting out of hand haha.  Sister Whitney was reminding me of my Grandma Hart, trying to teach this teacher, as best she could in Spanish, how to read music.  The teacher didn´t really think much of her advice...that´s when Sister Whitney started to be a little bolder and the Grandma Hart side came in haha.  But it´s pretty crazy, she´s got the poor choir doing all sorts of crazy things, then five minutes later she changes it up.  It´s all be ear!  Then, she asked me to play "How Great Thou Art" for her as she sang a solo.  When she got to the third verse, she asked me to play it in a minor key, because that´s how they do it in a version she downloaded off the internet.  Um, I´m not my dad here, I don´t just "switch to a minor key" whenever I want haha.  The members are such good sports though, and it actually sounds decent.  Especially when I turn the piano volume all the way up;)  The song is "Si la vía es penosa," a really pretty song actually, but one we don´t have in English.  Look it up.  

We met with a less active this week, and her husband showed up.  We´ve taught him before, but he never had any interest.  This time, however, he opened up.  He started crying as we talked about how the gospel blesses families, saying how he never had any sort of a family.  He´s been on his own all his life, and now feels like he wants to just follow Christ and be happy but he doesn´t want to be wrong in choosing "his church."  Wow.  The Lord prepares people.  We had a sweet lesson with him just about Christ and his gospel.  Now, I feel like Nick Kurtz in the BYU Cincinnati game last year (I had to get at least one reference in haha).  Wide open, in the end zone.  It´s right there, he´s so ready!! I know as we continue to trust in the Holy Ghost and teach him truth, and as he acts on what he feels, he will come to feel the truthfulness of the gospel.  

To close: the theme of my mission seems to be experiencing things that I already knew before, but that I had never felt.  Getting the gospel from my head to my heart, as Sister Oscarson said.  Many times, I shared in talks or scriptural thoughts about Christ with the fishes and loaves, and how Christ has power to magnify weak efforts.  Well, here I am, experiencing that first hand! I was kinda discouraged this week at one point, just for the amount of people that we can´t teach basically, when the Holy Ghost reminded me of that.  What a comforting principle! As we give ALL we have, it´s enough.  Christ can magnify our weak efforts to meet His purposes!

Love you all, and hope you have wonderful weeks.

Love,

Elder Hart

Tatiana's Baptism




Monday, September 12, 2016

Transfers...

Dear family and friends,

Dang.  I normally come into these emails kind of prepared with a few things I´m gonna say.  I´ll be honest though...this week I haven´t thought once about it.  So this will be straight from the hip.  Here goes.

The biggest thing of the week was Flor´s baptism! The marriage on Thursday was a success.  I had the thought, "2 years of waiting and doubting for that??"  Haha a little ceremony from the local judge, a few signatures, and that was that! Hopefully her husband will feel the Spirit touch his heart and listen to us more intently, so they can experience a temple marriage and sealing down the road.  I´m sure they´ll find it a lot more gratifying.  Then the baptism on Saturday! It was programed for 4:00, and due to a dance festival that her daughter was in that got delayed, she was baptized at about 6:30 haha.  It was worth it though.  That daughter got baptized right away after hearing the missionaries two years ago, and has been waiting for two years for her mom to take the same step.  We could wait 2 hours for her.:)

I read a really simple verse that for some reason impacted me this week,  It´s in 2 Nephi 26:30, "But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion." It´s so simple, but I love the principle! If you´re gonna labor IN Zion, you´ve gotta labor FOR Zion! If you labor for money, or recognition, or pride, or any other reason, it´s not the right reason!  Pretty applicable to missionaries.

Our laundry lady this week not only gave us our freshly washed clothes, but also a whole 9x13 pan of this pudding cake stuff.  But we were worried the ants would get to it, so we took my towel and made a little hammock and hung the desert from the ceiling overnight.  It worked perfectly. We had a pretty tasty weekly planning.  

We got transfer news last night! Or we should have, but they killed us and made us wait until this morning! We were on pins and needles all night waiting for the phone to right, until we get a text at 10:30: "Thank you for your patience, due to difficulties we´ll be informing you about transfers tomorrow." I slept very uneasily haha.  One of the assistants did call me last night to let me know that I will be a district leader this transfer which I´m excited and overwhelmed about.  But I didn´t know where.  Until this morning when they let me know that....Elder Ricse and I are staying together one more transfer! We were so pumped, we high fived and would have hugged but I was sweaty from running the stairs all morning haha.  We´re super excited for what this transfer holds though.  For example, we found a family of five yesterday that seem really solid.  Safe and sound in Virú until October 23 baby!

Love you tons! Thanks for all the emails and pictures! And for not mentioning the BYU game too much.  Things haven´t changed...

Love, Elder Hart

The hanging dessert

The wedding of Flor


The baptism of Flor





Monday, September 5, 2016

Peruvian Idol and BYU football

Dear family and friends,

I gotta start with the cougs.  I know I´m on a mission and I´m in Perú, but I just have to say I´m pleased with the performance (from what I´ve heard of course), and that Saturday night I was thinking ALL NIGHT LONG about the game.  I even dreamt about it.  Just shows me that I´ve got a long ways to go still, that even here in the middle of the Lord´s work I´m obsessed about a silly little game.  That being said...this week may be even tougher.  At Utah.  Will my prayers make it all the way from Perú? ;) I´ll send a few pics of gameday, after daily planning.  Here´s to college football.

On to the real work now.  It was a great week! We´re still working closely with Flor, who´s got her marriage date all set for this Thursday, and will be baptized the following Saturday.  Friday morning we were running all over the place, from city building to city building, finishing up with a few documents that we didn´t know we needed.  It´s kind of a fun experience that I didn´t expect to have before my mission, but that I´ve now done twice: organize the mission papers for a couple. It´s surprisingly easy, and kind of unsettling, how all of the papers can be done without the couple actually being there.  They just give us their ID (it´s called DNI here) and we do the rest.  But that´s exciting that after 2 years of investigating, she´s finally mustered up the faith to get married and baptized!

Elder Ricse and I nerded out hardcore this week and talked about how it would be if there were mission stats.  Examples: daily distance traveled, most productive hours, luckiest ties, indicators after meetings and trainings, correlation between time spent studying and progressing investigators.  It was quite the conversation.  Send me other ones, I want to hear your ideas haha.

Yesterday, I was asked to support the district and play piano at the district choir practice.  I was like, "Oh yeah, that´s fine, whatever." We show up, and there´s this singing teacher there! That´s a little weird...but no problem.  She was doing these exercises to warm up their lungs.  Well then, she starts doing these audition type things to see where everyone´s at.  One by one, with me at the piano playing the C scale and these poor, great intentioned, humble people who just wanted to sing in the district choir trying to follow along.  They don´t use A B C for the notes here, they just call them Do Rae Me.  It´s a good thing I´m a Sound of Music fan or I would´ve been completely lost;) It kinda felt like American Idol, when they had auditions.  And also in the Top 12 when they went and had one on one practices with the famous people.  Peruvian Idol.

I read in Preach My Gospel this week, something like, "the gospel of Jesus Christ will solve almost every problem we have." Any problem we can think of, the true answer is to have faith in Jesus Christ, place our lives more in line with his will through repentance, make and keep covenants, and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost.  To any problem!! Man, I know a little more how Alma felt in Alma 29 and the sons of Mosiah in Mosiah 28.  We have a solution to all the world´s problems!! It´s so sad sometimes, people don´t know what they´re rejecting! But, I´m just as grateful to know such a perfect gospel, centered on a perfect person.  Shall we not go on in so great a cause?!

Love everyone.  Hope your weeks are stupendous!

Elder Hart