Monday, October 31, 2016

Inside the mind of Tanner Hart

Dear family and friends,

The goal of this email will be to give everyone an idea of all the thoughts and feelings I´ve had this crazy week.  It may be long, and it may be boring, so feel free to move on the the next one if you want;)

Wow! The first week in a new area is always tough.  I miss Virú! The people, my companion, the city, the members.  But, the members and people here really welcomed me warmly.  The best welcome I´ve recieved from a ward so far! And only the third one...

One of the hardest things has been, of course, having to learn all the streets and names and faces! I normally talke lots of time during the week, just as we´re walking or in the apartment, to think about the work.  What we´re doing, what´s not working, possible solutions, stuff like that.  Well, all that pondering time has been replaced with learning all the new stuff! So in that regard, it´s been a temporal-rather-than-spiritual week, if you will.  

My companion is super interesting.  He´s a recent convert, who joined the church because of his girlfriend, who introduced him to the missionaries.  He was baptized, and one year later came on the mission! He´s from the jungle; his town has no internet access.  He found out what facebook was when he was 16!  When I got here, I was kind of suprised to find that the work was kinda slow, and that the missionaries, though not lazy, were just a little more inclined to having fun than what I was used to! I love having fun, but there´s a time and a place, right?  It´s completely to be expected though; I live with three other Elders (for now) and I´m the only one who was born in the gospel! So I´m looking forward to jump starting the work a tiny bit and just getting to work! Elder Fernandez is super willing, and I´m excited to work with him.

One interesting thing in this mission is that we do 0 street contacting.  Nada.  The "Talking with everyone" is lacking to say the least.  It´s true that the best chance to find prepared people is through the members, but I feel that sometimes we have the mindset that we´re only missionaries from 2:30-9:00 (proselyting time), and the rest we´re something else.  I have been feeling the need to really be better at opening my mouth, talking to people everywhere.  I feel like at least it will help me feel that I´m a missionary 24/7!  I´m sure that experience will be the best teacher, but any advice from past, current, or future missionaries would be helpful.  How do you just start up a conversation with someone??

One thing I really want to work on is being more assertive, as a missionary and as a leader.  I´m...not that assertive haha.  All the good leaders in the scriptures were bold when they needed to be bold! It´s something I lack right now, but I´m really focusing on that and trying to be more like Ammon; on his third day, he took charge and saved the Lamanite flock!

I´m loving the war chapters of the Book of Mormon.  Again, learning about leaders, one thing I love about Moroni is his ability to change weaknesses to strengths!  I love that principle: a good leader makes strong what was weak.  What a blessing to have Christ as our leader, the perfect one to make weak things become strong unto us!

And of course, Happy Halloween!!

Love you all, hope you have a stupendous week!

Love, Tanner

Monday, October 24, 2016

Doing it Gladly!

Dear family and friends,

A few fun things have happened this week...I think.  One thing that´s been kinda wild: so we have this recent convert named Tatiana.  She´s been really getting into everything as a new member, which has been great to see.  For example, she decided (completely by herself!) that she was going to memorize the 13 articles of faith.  She´s always showing us the pictures and quotes that she "likes" on Facebook from the pages of the church and prophets.  So that´s been sweet.  The only problem is, she has this "friend."  He´s a guy from another church, one of the angry ones.  When he found out that she got baptized, he started sending her all sorts of discouraging stuff.  She would tell us this and we would just encourage her and tell her to not pay attention, basically.  Well, he started this week to get all this stuff off the internet and twist some stuff and is sending it all to her, and now she´s kinda confused.  We had no idea what to do, except just tell her to quit searcing the internet to find spiritual knowledge! We had a little lesson about that and I think it kind of helped, but we´ll have to see how it all turns out.  If she trusts the spiritual impressions she has received from the Holy Ghost, she´ll be just fine!

I studied a few happy things this week in Alma.  For one, there´s a little part in there that talks about "the sacred word of God, to which we owe all our happiness."  I and many of you can say the same thing about the sacred word of God.  Aren´t we grateful for the gospel in our lives? For the scriptures and words of living prophets?? I really do owe ALL MY HAPPINESS to them. Also, it talks about the believers, and that "all those who were true believers in Christ took upon them, gladly, the name of Christ, or Christians as they were called, because of their belief in Christ who should come."  A true believer in Christ does his work gladly.  Makes and keeps covenants gladly.  Keeps all the commandments gladly.  Shares His gospel gladly.  The knowledge of his atonement drowns out any sadness we may feel for temporal things! 

Transfer news: after five transfers here, I´m off to Chimbote! I´ve already been in that city, but it´s a different zone, Chimbote South.  I´ll be serving as a zone leader there, so we´ll see what kind of crazy things the changes have in store! I´ll just look forward to gladly doing the work of the Savior, wherever I am called! 

Sorry for the shorter email this week! I don´t know what happened, I think time went faster haha;) Talk to you all next week!! 

Love, Tanner 

Saying Goodbye to Virú























Monday, October 17, 2016

Lotsa Stuff!

Dear family and friends,

Lots of stuff from this week, so let´s get right to it:

I don´t think I´ve talked much about my branch president.  His name is President Diaz, but EVERYONE calls him Pionner or even President Pionner for his printing business by the same name.  Why he named his business Pionner? I have no idea.  But he´s super good about just getting out and visiting people, and is always really blunt and straightforward with what he says.  Anyway, he´s been getting really animated about the lack of full tithe payers in the branch, and has turned tithing crazy.  Every lesson, whether it be with a 40 year member or the first visit to a new investigator, it´s tithing.  Every time he stands up in church, to speak or just to direct the meeting, it´s tithing.  If you weren´t a member of the church, or familiar with the doctrine, you´d think he was living off of it haha.  It´s getting kinda out of control, but his intentions are right at least!

I read a quote this week by Joseph Smith, saying that we will never receive an answer to our prayers if we don´t understand who we´re praying to! That we have a real Father in Heaven, with a body of flesh and bones, who hears and loves us.  There´s something to work on with investigators!

The elementary school here is super different.  For one, there´s a billion projects!  Like science fair times 100.  The poor kids literally study at least 6 hours a day! It´s a pretty different education system.  The other thing, is it´s a whole lot less politically correct.  Example: this week, the local teacher (a member of our branch) took us to the home of her 7 year old student to teach him and his mom.  Can anyone imagine that happening in the US without a huge uprising??

We had a fun first lesson this week with someone we found in the house of a less active.  This lady was a recently converted Jehova´s Witness.  There are lots of those here, by the way, and I really respect them actually.  Most of them are very polite and dedicated to their work.  This lady was super sweet as well.  We asked if we could share a message with her, and she agreed.  We began talking about the restoration, like always, and all went normal, until we got to the part about Joseph Smith.  The first time we mentioned his name, she got this huge smile on her face and said, "Oh that´s right! I was just reading about him in my bible the other day!"  ....It seems that the Jehova´s Witnesses are hasting the work by adding Joseph Smith History to their newest version of the bible.  So that´s good news! ;)

I think I talked a few weeks ago about this, but the thing that stresses me most about this work is just the fear of not doing it well enough.  It´s so important! If someone chooses not to accept the gospel out of their own agency, there´s not a whole lot we can do about it.  But if someone doesn´t accept it because we dropped them before they could, or because we didn´t teach with enough power or clarity, or because we didn´t work hard enough...that stresses me! One scripture, however, that has comforted me this week, is the famous 1 Nephi 3:7.  I often thought of this scripture as teaching the truth that in order to not give us commandments that are too hard, Heavenly Father will change or alter the commandment.  That he´ll look at us, his children, and say, "Well they can´t handle this, so let me change it to make it easier...there we go."  Of course that´s part of it, but I failed to learn the lesson taught about the Savior and His atonement.  Maybe Heavenly Father will never give us a commandment without preparing the way, because He already has prepared the way! The Savior is the way! His changing power and grace is unlimited, and every person on this earth can keep every commandment given of the Father by relying on Him.  So even if the commandment to "go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" is daunting, the qualifying power of the atonement and Christ´s magnifying of our weak efforts is even more hopeful.

Well...that about covers it.  Hope you all have wonderful weeks, and we´ll talk to ya next Monday! Thanks for all the emails and pics and everything, they really make my week!

Love, Tanner

Monday, October 10, 2016

You're from Utah, right?

Dear family and friends,

We´ve had a week full of service! Wednesday we cleaned the walls of a chapel here; that turned into a water fight pretty dang fast.  Friday we moved firewood (everyone cooks with propane gas or on open fires) and Saturday we did the good ole "Helping Hands" service, or as it´s called here, "Manos que ayudan."  You can go to gngwhitney.blogspot.com to see pics haha.

Stemming from that service was an interesting drama.  To make a long story short, we had to deny a refreshment that the members had prepared for everyone involved in the service.  Boy oh boy, the members got pretty offended haha.  All day Saturday we were hearing, "Why didn´t you guys eat the refreshement??" It got pretty big haha, all for nothing.  The District President is going to have a talk with the zone leaders and everything! Hopefully it doesn´t affect our relationship with the members too much, especially because the only members there were from our branch!!

One funny thing here: the little kids.  Many of them like to say, "Hello," whenever we pass by.  They think Elder Ricse is North American too, especially for his non-latino last name and the whiteness of his skin.  I´ll be honest, if I saw him in the US, I´d think he spoke English too.  Add the missionary tag and it´s a done deal.  The thing that´s even funnier, however, is the responses of my companions.  EVERY COMPANION I¨VE HAD (all latinos)  has been lightning fast, way faster than me, in responding with a "Hello" of their own!  It´s a funny sight: two latinos, walking in Perú, greeting each other with "Hellos", while the only one who speaks English remains silent.

Elder Ricse and I had a neat conversation this week.  We got rejected kinda harshly by a referral we had received.  As we walked away, he said, "Let´s just let Alma and Amulek teach them in the spirit world." It was funny, but it got us thinking...do you think they´re back together?? Then we started thinking of all the powerful companionships that are back together, doing the work on the other side of the veil.  "Alma and Amulek: The Comeback!" would make for a pretty sweet movie;)

One of the craziest things of the mish also happened this week.  I was standing, minding my own business, buying a flashlight, when a girl approached us and began to talk to my companion.  I didn´t think much of it, that is until I heard, "You´re from Utah, right?".  I was so shocked to hear someone speak English! Next question: "You´re the Mormons, right?" It was some girl from Chicago here doing something with Peace Corps...I think.  It was so weird to speak English with a non missionary though! The first time that´s happened since I got here! So that was funny haha.

Haha sorry for the lack of spiritualness this week.  The work of the Lord continues.  Shall we not go on in so great a cause?? I love this experience.  What a unique opportunity! Talk to you all next week!

Love, Tanner

Monday, October 3, 2016

Hmm...

Dear family and friends,

To be honest, not a lot happened this week.  Hardly anything actually.  I always hated it when missionaries said that so sorry! Haha I´ll do my best...

Also, fun fact: the song that the choir sang to close the Saturday Morning session is the same song the district choir is singing here! It´s such a sweet song! Now if only I could download the dang thing from LDS.org, it´s not working...

We had interviews with Presdent Rios this week.  Solid as usual, nothing much to report there.

Being a district leader is proving to be fun.  I have one other companionship in my district, and they just can´t seem to get along.  We´ll have to see what we can do this week to try to improve things there.  It seems to be the traditional situation, with one solid, obedient elder who´s got a red and white personality, with another elder who doesn´t seem to care to much about anything.  Haha looks like an interchange this Friday!

The conference was so good, as always.  I was literally awaiting it as if it were Christmas this year.  I have no idea why, but I was so excited!! Like counting down the days excited! And of course it didn´t disappoint.  For one, two days of physical rest, not to mention spiritual renovation, are always welcome.  I could go on and on about talks and quotes and all of that, but I´ll let all of you take from it what you will;)  For me, it was and always is an impressive evidence of the restoration of the gospel  through the prophet Joseph Smith.  A church, based on a book, and restored by a 14 year old boy, having a worldwide conference broadcast in all sorts of languages and to all kinds of countries! Covenant makers from all over the world, gathered to hear the words of living prophets and apostles! It just has this spirit of the restorarion that I love, every time it comes around.  Now I´m going throught the post-Christmas depression, the "6 more months??" feeling.  I´m pumped to go back over the talks though and really go in depth!

Sorry for the lack of material this week haha.  Love you all tons and will talk to you next week!