Saturday, July 15, 2017

Chimbote Interviews!

Dear family and friends,

The craziness continues! This week was another wild one.  The main event was interviews in Chimbote and Casma.  Chimbote is about 2.5 hours south of here in the bus (I'm getting awfully used to taking that bus after 19 months of commuting back and forth!), and Casma is another 45ish minutes.  We headed down on Tuesday night and stayed with some zone leaders down there, Elder Rhoton (Idaho) and Elder Pierce (Arizona).  They're pretty fun guys. Then we were super busy the next two days! There are four zones in all, so we did one in the morning and one in the afternoon both days.  Elder Rice took a district and trained, I took a district and trained, and President took a district and interviewed.  Tell ya what, giving the same training about the area book ten times wiped me out haha.  It was really good though, it was fun being with all the missionaries and feeling their excitement! Also got to see lots of old companions and such; I even saw one of the members from Bellamar when we went to their church which was another highlight!  We've got three more zones this Wednesday and Thursday!

The food situation is interesting as well.  Almost all missionaries have a pensionista for all three meals, where we only have on for lunch.  We do our own breakfast and dinner.  Add in the traveling, and there are lots of nights we're eating in nice restaurants and lots of nights we're eating crackers or soup.  It's a lot more like any other mission in the world, I think having a pensionista kinda spoiled me a little!

Well, that's all for today.  I should have used my hour of internet time better but I didn't, so that's all she wrote! Love you guys a lot, have stellar weeks, and keep living the gospel!

Love, 
Tanner

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Huaraz

Dear family and friends,

What a week!!! It's been the longest/fastest week of my mission! There are just a billion things on my mind I don't know where to begin.

Last Saturday, President Rios gave the office permission to go the temple Saturday night, the last session! So we were all super pumped.  Well someone said the last session was at 7:00 and no one thought to check, so we showed up at 6:30 all ready to go! Well the confused looks on the temple workers faces told us that there was no 7:00 session haha.  They suggested that we could maybe do initatories, which we agreed to.  The only problem was that the temple workers were in training, so we had to wait a few minutes.  As we were waiting for them to call us back, one missionary realized he didn't have his recommend, and another realized his recommend had expired the day before.  So they agreed to wait for us.  That is, until the temple informed us that the training would last pretty much until the temple closed, and that there was just no way to even get us in.   So that whole thing was pretty much a fail.  Even the pictures we tried to take turned out bad haha! 

Monday we sent off the group of going home missionaries which was another crazy thing to experience for the first time! I knew most of them: Elder Anco (my second companion), Elder Tuares (lived with him in Virú for three months), and just a bunch of good friends that I've been in zones and districts with.  Tuesday, we welcomed the new missionares! Two from Argentina, one from Colombia, one from Bolivia, and two from Perú.  I felt so bad for those poor missionaries; they were up since two in the morning! They were pretty nervous (I remembered the feeling well) on top of being dead tired! But they were champs and kept their legs moving haha.  I got to direct the meeting and introduce them to their new companions, a meeting that I also remember well from the trainer and new missionary perspective! 

Thursday, we went to Huaraz! It's a mountain city seven hours from Trujillo, the most far out city of the mission by far.  It's all within about three hours, and then there's Huaraz.  President Rios picked us up at 8:30 in his car and we made the seven hour trip! Again, the theme of the week was new experiences.  It was fun hearing some of his mission and life experiences, listening to the recent mission president training, and seeing the scenery! There's a mountain in Huaraz called "La Huascarán" (not sure if I spelled it right), but it's the mountain that the Paramount Pictures logo is based off of!  I was colder than I've been in a long time and saw my breath for the first time in 19 months! The chapel doesn't have heaters of course, so I was pretty cold as we trained the missionaries Thursday night during interviews and Friday morning for the zone training.  I've turned into a wimp during my mission when it comes to temperature.

We're teaching a couple named Robert and Laura, and they are such good people! They told us this week how much their lives have changed since the missionaries showed up just four weeks ago.  They said they probably would be divorced right now if not for the gospel, but because of the missionaries they feel more love in their relationship than ever.  I just thought it was so interesting, because the missionaries never gave marriage classes! They surely never taught from their own experience about how to fix relationship problems.  They just taught true doctrine, and the Holy Ghost told Robert and Laura all things which they should do! True doctrine understood changes behavior, I know it! They'll be married on July 26th and baptized on August 12th, the day before Elder Rice goes home.  Laura went to her home town, Tumbes, this week to get all the paperwork, so we're hoping that everything goes smoothly with that!

I love you all so much and will talk to you next week! We got permission to go to Hermana Kattia's baptism (who I taught before coming here) so we're headed over there right now!

Elder Hart




















Saturday, July 1, 2017

Breaking Peruvian Myths

Dear family and friends,

This week we found a lady named Stefany, the wife of an active church member.  She's been going to church for 2 YEARS, and the missionaries have never visited her! They used to live in a place called "La Esperanza," and for some reason that we don't know, the missionaries never made it to their house! Well, they moved here to Monserrat about 3 months ago, we talked to them and they invited us to their house, and she's pretty prepared to receive the gospel! She's been to a baptismal service, has had lots of gospel questions answered by her husband, and, that we can see, has no impediments to joining the church.  It was a little miracle! 

Also, when people hear "Perú," I think I know what comes to mind: adobe and dirt houses, poverty, heat, etc.  Well in this part of Trujillo, called Monserrat, that's prett much false.  People have so much money here! It's a rich area.  For example, Stefany and Luis' (her husband) house is huge! It's super modern, giant, and probably the nicest house I've ever been in in my life, including in the states!! And about the heat: it's getting cold at night! I've been using a sweater pretty much every night, it dips down to probably 40-50 degrees! 

On Wednesday, we had to print off some document and take it to some sister missionaries so that they can change pension (the lady who feeds them).  Their area, Salaverry, is about 20 minutes away from our area in a taxi. At least when there's no huge crash on the freeway....which there was on Wednesday.  The trip there was 45ish minutes, but luckily the taxi driver (a member who we often call to take us places) knew a shortcut to avoid the traffic on the way back! It was a little tiny barely-two-lane road that about a thousand other people other knew. The way back? An hour and a half.

We were in a lesson on Thursday night, teaching Hermana Kattia about tithing to prepare her for her baptism on July 8th.  As we were starting the lesson, President Rios called us and told me I would be headed to the office as his assistant this transfer! They gave me 24 hours to pack and say bye to members and investigators, and yesterday night I was at the assistants' house! Our P-Day is on Saturday, which is why I'm emailing today haha.  I have mixed feelings for sure: nervous about change and the unknown, but super excited to learn and serve in a new capacity! I'm with Elder Rice from Provo until he goes home in August, then I'll get a new companion and most likely finish here in November! 

I love the numerous times in the Doctrine and Covenants where the Savior states; "I am in your midst and ye cannot see me"; "There will I be in the midst of them—even so am I in the midst of you" ; "I myself will go with them and be in their midst"; and so on and so forth.  What a comforting promise! I myself will go with them! There certainly has to be some element of faith and confidence that enters our mind when we consider that the Savior himself will be with us! He is in our midst, even though we can't see him! I have lots more to learn about the topic, but it's been on my mind lately.  

I love you all tons, have a wonderful week!

Elder Hart











Monday, June 26, 2017

June 26, 2017

Dear family and friends,

Last Monday, Elder Alarcon and I went to an elementary school to teach a bunch of fourth graders about the church! Something that definitely wouldn't happen in the US in a billion years haha.  Church and state is pretty intertwined in Perú! But anyway, one of the teachers asked for two mormon missionaries and, lo and behold, the lot fell upon us.  I was envisioning a bunch of bored nine year olds who didn't care at all about religion, but that was not the case! These kids had tons and tons of questions! There was, however, one problem: most of the questions were about Catholics or the differences between Catholics and Evangelicals.  All the kids come from really rich catholic families! It was a strangely hostile enviornment haha.  We did our best to teach some basic principles about prophets, scriptures, and revelation, and left them each a pass-along card.  An interesting experience to say the least!

Tuesday morning we had a multizone conference, which are always kinda fun.  Learned about the role of the Holy Ghost, and our job to search for and analize their needs in weekly planning and companionship study.  I led a little ten minute discussion on "why we have to identify our investigators' needs" which went pretty alright! 

We heard a pretty good excuse this week too.  Many of our investigators are catholic for tradition, but don't actually go to church.  We asked one this week why he didn't go to church, and this was his response: "Think about the number of Catholics in this city. The cathedrals only hold 200ish people.  If everybody went, we wouldn't all fit! That's why I don't go."  It's interesting logic to me....

Spiritual thought for the week: the Lord's counsel to Oliver Granger in the 177th section of the Doctrine and Covenants! He said, "his sacrifice shall be more sacred unto me than his increase." There isn't anything we can earn, gain, or do in this world that is worth anything to the Lord.  He made the earth and the heavens! He gave us our physical bodies and the opportunity to come and learn and gain experience.  If we focus on things WE can do for OURSELVES, it won't be worth anything to Heavenly Father! However, as we sacrifice our will, offer up a broken heart and a contrite spirit, we give him something of real worth! In the end, it's the only possible solution for us, and the only thing that will contribute to his glory.  Our sacrifice is much more sacred to Him than any increase!

Love you lots! Talk to you next week!

Elder Hart

Monday, June 19, 2017

Weekly Planning With President!

Dear family and friends,

Lots on the lineup today! For one, we went to a place called "La huaca del sol y la luna" last week for PDay.  It's the remnants of two old temples and a bunch of artifacts from the "Moche" civilization, which existed from 100-800 AD.  It was pretty neat walking through the temples and seeing a bunch of old artifacts.  Pretty interesting that even though they were completely apart from everything else in the world, they believed in going to temples to worship, the importance of sacrifice, dedicating their lives to please deity, etc.  The light of Christ is in everyone! 

We had a fun thing happen this Thursday! As we sat down to begin our weekly planning, we got a call from President Rios: "Elders, I'm here outside your room! I want to weekly plan with you!"  I'm not going to lie, I was pretty nervous when I heard that! But he came in and we got started and everything went back to normal.  He watched as we planned and made the occasional comment, then bit by bit started to take over a little more.  It was a pretty deep planning session--we did less than half we normally do in the designated three hours--but it was a fun opportunity to at least talk to President a little more and spend a morning with him! 

Okay, one thing about Peruvian culture that drives me nuts: they lie all the time!! The mom will send their little 4 year old son to the door to say, "No, no one's home!" when it's completely obvious that no sane family would ever leave a four year old kid at home alone! Haha, or sometimes we'll be knocking on a door and a random person will be walking down the street and say, "No one's home there!", or, "No one even lives there anymore!".  It's always funny when they say that and then someone opens the door that very moment.  We were knocking one house this week, but the family was outside playing at a little nearby park.  The little girl said to her mom, "Mom, someone's knocking on our door!".  The mom came and said, "No one's home there!".  We asked if she lived there and she paused for about three seconds before saying, "Nope!".  "Where do you live then?"-- four more seconds -- "Oh, around here.".  It was obvious that she wasn't interested, but "wo unto the liar..." ;)

The miracle of the week is Carlos.  We found him looking for a former investigator, of who he is the dad.  We asked for her, but he said that she had gone to Lima! He let us in, and started to cry as he told us how he had hit his wife last week and they all picked up and went to Lima.  He was really repentant and expressed lots of desires to change and get his family back.  Ironically, he and his wife were married almost seven years ago in an LDS chapel! We committed to doing all we could to help him, and he was really receptive to everything we invited him to do.  Looking forward to working more with him!

Well, that's all for this week! Love you lots, have a wonderful week!

Elder Hart

Monday, June 5, 2017

Soccer

Dear family and friends,

Mabye the biggest event this week happened on Wednesday.  I went into the mission office to finish up the work for my Brazil visa, and just happened to see the Whitneys (a senior missionary couple) there.  I realized when I saw them that it was their last day in the mission and that they would be leaving later that afternoon.  So it was a pretty lucky thing that we were able to be there and say goodbye! I lived a floor above them for about 7 months in Virú and did lots of stuff with them then, and it will be sad to see them go! 

Elder Alarcon likes soccer a lot, and few days this week we've gone out to the sand soccer "field" in front of our house for exercises.  He has a little ball and we've been kicking it back and forth and running around a little.  Let me just say....I have a long way to go haha.  I'm definitely more comfortable with my hands! It's been fun playing though, and I may be 0.001% better now than last Monday!

To stick with the soccer theme, the championship game of the Champion's League was this past week, and everyone was home watching! It reminded me of big sporting events in the US (I'm concious of the current NBA finals, for example) and made me remember all the games at home! It was a little tough to enter houses during the game for sure!

Sorry for the lack of email this week, I got started on the group email a little later than usual! But I love you all lots and hope you have a great week!

Love, Tanner

Monday, May 29, 2017

Peru vs. Chile

Dear family and friends,

Leading the area! It's been a fun challenge. We only really got lost one time, which is better than I was hoping, but we've walked a ton! I've always wondered what our total number of steps would be if we were to wear one of those step-counter things.  I swear we walk like 8 miles a day.  

Elder Alarcon, my first Chilean companion! He's pretty cool, definitely my quietest companion I've had! He's a hard worker though and super duper humble.  As I was getting ready for church on Sunday I noticed that he had shined both my pairs of shoes for me! It'll be fun to work with him for a while, most likely until August at least! And then he finishes in September. People here give him a hard time for being Chilean, though.  There's an old Peru-Chile rivalry based on land I think...haha funny.

One of the worst feelings as a missionary is working hard all week to get people to church and having no one there! That happened yesterday and I felt like a complete failure of a missionary haha! To add insult to injury (never knew what in the world that phrase is supposed to mean but I'm pretty sure it fits here), the other two companionships in our ward didn't have anyone either! The bishop, who teaches gospel principles, came in the classroom, saw us six missionaries with our ward mission leader, and said, "Well, let's just go to Sunday School.  There's no point in being here."  Ouch!! I'm so motivated to just get out and run around sharing the gospel with people this week.  If only it were that easy! 

In moments like that I'm inspired by Elder Neal A. Maxwell, who said: "What can we do to manage these vexing feelings of inadequacy?....We can know that when we have truly given what we have, it is like paying a full tithe; it is, in that respect, all that was asked. The widow who cast in her two mites was neither self-conscious nor searching for mortal approval."  It's hard to not SEE success! I love the principle though, that when we give all that is asked, it's always enough!

Love you all, have a great week!

Elder Hart

Monday, May 22, 2017

Praise to the Man

Dear family and friends,

Starting out with transfer news: I'm staying here! Not too big of surprise since I've only been here six weeks.  My companion, Elder Salazar, is off to the cold mountains of Huaraz.  It'll definitely be sad to see him go, he's a great companion and I only spent four weeks with him! My new companion is named Elder Alarcon, from Chile! I'm actually pretty nervous to lead this huge area after just four weeks, so wish me luck! It'll be interesting to see what this means for my future in the mission, too; Elder Alarcon finishes one transfer before me, so it's pretty possible that I'll get changed one more time before I finish! Haha we will see...

Last Saturday, we were having kind of a rough day.  Things weren't really going our way, and lots of appointments were falling through.  As we walked to another appointment, a guy in the street casually said, "Elders," as we passed by.  It seemed kind of strange to us (lots of people do that, but most are drunk people that are trying to be funny, I guess, while he was obviously not), so after the appointment fell (of course haha) we went back a talked to him! He was cleaning an adobe brick wall out of his house, so we helped him as best we could in our shirt and tie, and as we worked, we talked.  Turns out the sister missionaries visited his family two or three years ago, and they were getting ready to be married and baptized when they found some unfavorable information about Joseph Smith on the Internet.  They stopped progressing and, when the wife was hospitalized for a sickness, the visits with the sisters kind of came to an end.  We visited them twice this week and they're such a great family!! We connected with them right at the start.  Many of the same doubts arose in these first two visits, but we're determined to help them! 

We were up super late every night this week, getting our room 1000% clean for Sister Rios and finishing our whiteboard project, which took way more time than we thought! It looks pretty dang good though! And we have a new rule of no shoes to keep it perfectly clean haha.

My mind has been super focused on the family I mentioned, the Becerra Guerrero family, and their difficulties this week.  It seems to be a pretty complicated issue, but it really isn't I don't think!  In Christ's day, "Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying (Christ proclaiming himself as living water), said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? So there was a division among the people because of him."  There have always been, and always will be, divisions among people when it comes to identifying prophets, even when identifying the Christ! People make wrong conclusions based on partial information, and others spread false rumors and twist facts, their only motive being defame the prophets! It's important the declaration that Moroni makes that, in order to know of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, and consequently of Joseph Smith as a prophet, one must first have "faith in Jesus Christ." Why?? Because "if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good."  One who truly has faith in Christ will not be able to deny the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, and of the doctrines restored by Joseph Smith!  I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored by the prophet Joseph Smith, allowing us to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father! 

Love you lots!

Elder Tanner Hart

Monday, May 15, 2017

Extreme Home Makeover

Dear family and friends,

All the days blend together here! Except for Sundays and Mondays.  The work continues, and we're still trying to get some momentum and movement here in Moserratt!

We had our Mission Leadership Conference this past Tuesday, mainly just focusing in on key indicators; their purpose, how to use them, etc., as well as an actual analysis of the indicators of each zone.  We left feeling motivated to change some things in the zone, and have a plan that includes a huge whiteboard and lots of phone calls. :)

Okay, definitely the most important thing that happened this week: it was a calm Thursday morning, weekly planning as usual and a calm breeze flowing through the open window.  All of the sudden, my companion´s phone rings: Hermana Rios.  She likes making room checks for cleanliness and such.  Anyway, we weren't worried at all because our room was clean!  Or so we thought....okay it was pretty clean though.  The problem was the many desks and furniture we have in there for other missionaries, when areas get closed and stuff.  What followed was a remodel from Hermana Rios and a 20 item list of new things to buy (new beds, dresser, new brooms, new trash can, new curtains, etc.)  Some words she said were, "There will be no PDay for you Elders!" meaning that we'll be cleaning, reorganizing, and shopping all day!  So that's what awaits us after I finish writing haha!

Here's a neat thing I was learning this week, about "Earnest" in the Bible Dictionary.  It says that earnest means "A pledge or security. The word thus translated is a commercial term denoting the deposit paid by a buyer on entering into an agreement for the purchase of anything. As used by Paul (2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:14) it means that the Lord gives us His Holy Spirit in this life as a foretaste of the joy of eternal life. The Spirit is also the Lord’s surety that He will fulfill His promise to give eternal life to the faithful." In other words, the Lord is the buyer.  When we are baptized and show our willingness and desire to follow Jesus Christ and enter into a covenant with Him and Heavenly Father, they agree to "purchase us," or give us eternal life.  Obviously, the promise is conditional upon our future obedience to the covenant we've made, but to show that He's "purchased" us, he "makes a downpayment" of sorts and gives us the Holy Ghost up front! Sorry for the many quotation marks used in this paragraph, but I think it's such a neat analogy used by Paul! Missionaries help people enter into that agreement that Heavenly Father has established, and thus help them receive 1) eternal life in the future, and 2) the Holy Ghost to help them get there, a sign from God of the agreement.  

Mmm...that's it.  Love you lots, have a wonderful week!!

Elder Hart





Monday, May 8, 2017

Football (The real kind)

Dear family and friends, 

We had a sweet P-Day today! We hiked this sand dune in a place called Salaverry, it´s a little port town on the beach.  It was a fun little climb that definitely killed my legs a lot more than I thought it would.  It was straight sand!! It was fun though, we borrowed a football from one of the missionaries in another zone and threw it around with some of the missionaries.  That was probably the best part of all! It feels good to play that kind of football for a change! We also ate Papa John's delivery, which was a plus.

Elder Salazar and I realized the first week I got here that we didn´t really have any investigators that could progress towards baptism in May or June.  So we pretty muched wiped them all out and started over! We hit it hard and found 15 new investigators this week, many of which have potential to progress! We'll see what happens...

Also, I started my Brazilian visa this week! I mean, it doesn't really mean anything, cause I guess Brazilian visas take a pretty long time to go through, but it was still an interesting feeling! As I was doing that, Elder Salazar was at the dentist learning that he had three wisdom teeth that have grown into the bone somehow.  So he has a possible operation coming up, which sounds quite painful to me.

I continue to study all the references to Jesus Christ, this week I hit his postmortal appearances and ascencion.  He really lives; he actually, physically, literally resurrected and ascended to heaven!  He appeared to the Nephites on the American continent, then appeared to the boy Joseph Smith to restore His church! That strong belief in things unseen motivates me to act and spread His teachings! I know He lives and love serving Him as a full time missionary!

Have a great week!

Elder Tanner Hart




Monday, May 1, 2017

Monserrat!

Dear family and friends,

The first week in a new area! It´s always a challenge getting to know investigators, members, learning the streets and adresses and basically everything all over again! Even just the way of life of a new companion--favorite phrases, funny habits, etc.-- have to be learned again! I like it though.  My area is called Monserrat, it´s basically downtown Trujillo.  It´s by far the biggest area I´ve been in so far, and the nicest as well! The pensionista also volunteered to not give me rice (she knows North Americans by now!) so that´ll be a good little break haha!  My companion´s name is Elder Salazar, he´s from Lima, district Independencia.  He's a hard working, obedient missionary, so I'm super excited to work with him!  

There was an activity this week called "Capilla Abierta," or open chapel.  The public was invited to tour the church buildings, and the missionaries were really involved with the members in making it a success.  There were elders street contacting like crazy, others at a table getting everyone's name and address, while the sisters were assigned the stand-and-the-banners-and-teach position, along with many members.  The ward we did it for got about 25 referrals, and it was so fun to just go contact people in the street for a change! We don't do it very often here, weird as it sounds coming from a missionary.  I thought before my mission that I would do it every day, but we work mostly through references! But anyway, that was fun.

You'd think that in a transfer week there would be a million things to talk about, but I have no idea what else to say!

Oh yeah.  I'm pumped about the Jazz!! They'll probably get beat in 5 by the Warriors, but it's sweet anyway! Next year they're in the finals for sure! ;)

Love you lots, have a great week everyone!

Tanner

                                                                     Leaving Bellamar