Monday, January 30, 2017

5.6 Baby!

Dear family and friends,

What a crazy week!!! Crazy, crazy, insane, crazy.  I´ll start off by sharing the scariest experience of my life.  Or one of them at least.  So we were just sleeping on Friday night/Saturday morning, calm as can be, when all of the sudden we were woken by our room shaking.  Our room was literally shaking!! I can´t even explain how scary it was.  There´s this plastic/glass door to our bathroom and that thing was rattling out of control.  It lasted like 15 very long seconds.  Then Elder McMillan and I just sat there shocked.  I was so frightened, you feel so helpless in that type of situation! So we were awake for like 20 minutes calling our district leaders to make sure everyone was fine, which they were.  We found out the next morning that it was a 5.6 earthquake off the coast of Chimbote.  I mean, 5.6 isn´t huge, but it´s the biggest one I´ve ever been in! It was kind of good though; we´re now very prepared and know exactly what to do if a bigger one ever strikes at night.  

Then, the next day, I did a dumb thing.  Obviously we don´t have our own car here, so it´s either walk or public transportation.   We take lots of taxis.  As I was getting out of a taxi on Saturday, I did a quick check to make sure I had my cell phone, and thought I felt it in my pocket.  Well, as you can probably figure out, we got back to the house and I realized it was in fact not in my pocket.  We called it from Elder McMillan´s phone....nothing.  I left it in the darn taxi! I couldn´t believe it, it was such a silly thing to do! Then I had to call President Rios and tell him I lost the phone, which was almost as scary as the earthquake;)  But all is well, I got that over with.  Now we just have to deal with only having one phone which is frustrating, but all is well.  I remembered reading a story from Jaxon when he dropped his phone in water on his mission.  Now I know how you felt Jax!

Of course the worldwide broadcast was incredible.  Elders Oaks, Bednar, and Anderson teaching truth after truth after truth.  It was impossible to catch it all in two hours.  I left feeling so inspired and excited! And daily planning in the morning is lovely. 

Hmm...what else, what else? Here´s a few quick hitters I guess:
--We´re working with a girl named Mitzuka, she´ll be baptized on February 15. She´s been investigating for like 2 years and is the girlfriend of a returned missionary, but her whole family are Jehova´s Witnesses.  She´s always wanted to be baptized for her and not for her boyfriend, and finally feels that her testimony is sufficient to take that step.
--It´s still unbelievably hot here.  So hot, in fact, that it´s now approved to wear hats and sunglasses when we proselyte! Before that was only for missionaries with medical problems, but now it´s for everyone.  So later today we´re going hat shopping!
--We weighed ourselves today.  I´ve gained 8 pounds since the MTC.  Acceptable.
--We´ve been talking a little more Spanish, Elder McMillan and I.  He felt like he was forgetting some Spanish words so we decided it would probably be good to at least not get too rusty.  Our conversations are kinda funny as we switch from English to Spanish to English with no rhyme or reason, whatsoever. 

That´s about it for this week! I love you all tons and hope you have great weeks! Stay safe! 

Love, Tanner

Monday, January 23, 2017

Close to the coast

Dear family and friends,

My first week with Elder McMillan is in the books! We´re super excited to work together and to work with our zone; there are tons of humble, hard working missionaries and we feel like there´s so much we can accomplish in the next 6 weeks! Well, now 5 weeks.

It´s so hot here though.  90-95 degrees and we´re close to the coast so it´s humid too!  And of course there´s no air conditioning.  I sweat at night, take a cold shower in the morning, then start sweating again and it doesn´t stop! They say it´s going to get hotter in February, which would be...not good.  We have a nice little fan that works pretty well, and just open the windows whenever we´re at home to try to air it out.  But wow it´s warm!

We had Mission Leadership Council this Friday which always makes for a fun interruption in the week.  We traveled at 6:00 on Thursday night, were up in Trujillo by 9:00 and hung out with the office missionaries that night.  Then the next day from 8:00-5:30 was the meeting! It was the longest one anyone had been a part of for sure.  There was lots of focus on Chapter 8 of Preach My Gospel, which talks about using time wisely and goals and planning and stuff.  It´s been a big focus in the mission for like the past 4 or 5 months, and the goal right now is to have every missionary carry out "clear goals and careful planning." We have a zone training on Tuesday to transmit all that information to our zone, and they only give us 1.5-2 hours to do it! Haha we´ll see how that goes...

I´m loving being with Elder McMillan.  We´re speaking lots of English in the room, which feels kinda weird.  I get nervous I´m going to forget my Spanish!  Up until now we´re all good though, haha no signs of forgetfulness as of yet.  It has been fun to talk about stuff like Cafe Rio and Imagine Dragons though! First time on my mission that my companion knows what those things are!

I´ve been really striving and trying to receive revelation these past months on how to change and baptize more.  I know that changes need to be made but I don´t know where! As I was thinking about it, I remembered Moroni´s teaching that the Holy Ghost teaches truth only to those with a sincere heart and real intent.  If we search for revelation to meet personal goals or have personal recognition, the Lord won´t give it to us! Only when our hearts are sincere will his promptings come!  So that´s what I´m working on!

Love you all so much, have a great week!

Elder Hart

Monday, January 16, 2017

Apostasy and Revelation

Dear family and friends,

Things are beginning to develop in Bellamar! It´s so interesting how missionary work is: sometimes, it feels so lifeless and impossible to get any momentum going, and sometimes the hand of the Lord is so obvious and things just roll smoothly.  I guess that´s not just missionary work; it´s life in general haha.  But we were on one of the "ups" this week! We´re finding really solid people who are going to church and reading the Book of Mormon, and they can feel of the truthfulness of our message.  More info coming, but here´s to hoping that we can help them continue to progress to baptism and full activity in the church! 

One thing that´s kinda....frustrating? Funny? I can´t find the word.  But it´s that we find straight girls between 19-23 years of age! We´re definitely not favoring them in any type of our finding activities, they just show up out of nowhere! I mean, it´s fine and we´re happy to teach all people searching for truth, but might there be a potential elder in this city?? Or a young family? Haha the joke is that we´re finding all these young adult women because we have multiple single returned missionaries who have yet to be married.   So maybe even though we aren´t finding families yet, we can help create future ones! 

I was studying in the Bible Dictionary this week, a super neat resource that we maybe don´t use enough.  I was just kind of flipping through and came to the part about the Revelation of John.  As I was reading, I came across a pretty cool phrase: "Apostasy and Restoration are relatively gradual events. Compare the setting and the rising of the sun. It does not become dark or light all at once."  It´s such an interesting concept to me!  A few investigators this week have asked, after learning of the apostasy, "And we´re still in the apostasy, right?"  For those who haven´t yet heard of the message of the restoration, the apostasy continues! Like the sun rising and light gradually spreading until everything is visible.  Little by little, we drive the darkness of apostasy away!  I like that imagery.

Quick transfer news: I´m staying.  My companion, Elder Fernandez, is headed off to Virú, in my old area!  He´s gonna enjoy it.  I´ll be here with Elder McMillan from Murray, Utah.  I know him a little bit and am super excited to get to work and see things happen in the zone and in our area.  The only problem? He´s a pretty big University of Utah fan....

Love you lots, talk to you next week!!

Elder Hart

Monday, January 9, 2017

American Candy (the album and the stuff you eat)

Dear family and friends,

First and foremost: big thanks to the Butterfield Canyon 2nd ward for the package! Dang that was so sweet, I was pumped to get it! There´s nothing like american candy to brighten up my day! :)

We had interviews with President Rios this week! It´s always an interesting experience haha.  It´s fun though, all the office elders come down and the Whitney´s too and there´s a bunch of training and teaching going on all over the place.  We got trained on goal setting and planning and baptizing, with Sister Rios taking over the cleanliness training! It was a pretty good time.  The best was the interchange after.  The interviews finished up at about 6:00, so the office elders had like 2.5 hours to proselyte before they headed off to Casma (another zone about an hour away.)  The assistants came to our area, and Elder Benitez and I hit it hard for a few hours.  He was my district leader when I first got here and a great friend who helped me through that adjustment. I really respect him a lot.  It was so sweet! Imagine the Oregon Ducks offense proselyting (the offense of the past...I heard they weren´t that good this year).  Fast, efficient, hard, natural and super fun.  I felt like we got so much done in those two hours! It was sweet, and it gave me a clear goal to work on all of 2017: become that type of missionary!

Fun Peruvian culture: HUGE parties for babies turning one year old.  Like, big big big parties.  Lots of themed decorations, hiring people to come and act as certain characters, really loud club-style music, lots of food, etc.  It´s wild.  The most popular themes are Frozen and Jake and the Never Land Pirates.  Why did my parents not know about this when I turned one?? ;)

I talked a bit about studying in Spanish last week, and I learned something else this week that has impacted the way I teach. Here are the Lord´s words to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon as they taught the gospel far from their homes: "But a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall declare whatsoever thing ye declare in my name, in solemnity of heart, in the spirit of meekness, in all things."  1) We have to declare it in his name! That´s a neat opportunity and privilege all missionaries have: speaking in Christ´s name as His representative.  But it has to be something he would say! Something based on his doctrine.  2) We have to be serious! Be bold! Solemn! Realize the importance of the message and don´t treat it lightly.  3) We say it in the spirit of meekness.  Humbly and with kindness! With a smile on our face and love in our heart! What´s the promise we receive as we declare things in Christ´s name, with solemnity and meekness?? "And I give unto you this promise, that inasmuch as ye do this the Holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say."  I´ve been trying to apply that in my teaching.  It´s fun. 

Have a great week!  Talk to ya next monday!!

Love, Tanner

Monday, January 2, 2017

¡Feliz Año!

Dear family and friends,

Feliz año nuevo! So here in Perú, New Years is a bigger deal than Christmas.  They go all out for their New Years party!  Lots of fireworks at midnight, lots of food and alcohol, and lots of noise! Much like Christmas, Elder Fernandez and I went to bed at 10:30, only to be waken up by the all the fireworks at 12:00.  We turned on the light, rushed up on the roof, and took in the scene.  It´s pretty neat actually, all sorts of fireworks in all directions.  Then the next morning it´s dead! Haha no cars, no noise, just lots of garbage in the streets.  That is, until about 3:00 or 4:00, until they start up again.  Our church now starts at 2:00 in the afternoon, and we had a less-than-average attendance haha.

I went on an interchange this past week with an Elder Diaz from Lima.  He´s 25, was baptized at 19, is a concert piano player, and is a really super solid guy.  I loved just being with him and working super hard in his area! We also found a family that seems pretty cool which was a fun thing.

We had, at one point, four investigators that we thought could be baptized.  One of them moved to another area, one of them won´t come to church anymore because the schedule change conflicts with her work, one of them won´t give up his beliefs about the Holy Ghost and how it´s recieved or given, and so we´re left with one! Daniela.  She went to a baptismal service two or three weeks ago and described it as "feeling sacred," which really got her thinking about her own baptism.  We have a soft date for January 21, so we´re gonna work super hard with her so she can be ready for that day! 

For the first time in my mission, I studied in Spanish today.  Not really to focus on language skills, but because reading in a different language makes you see things you didn´t see before! Every word counts.  It´s weird, but I did it to change things up a little bit.  As I was studying 3 Nephi 12, I came accross this verse in D&C 103: "For they were set to be a light unto the world, and to be the saviors of men; And inasmuch as they are not the saviors of men, they are as salt that has lost its savor, and is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men."  Wow! Covenant makers are set to be the saviors of men! The church wasn´t just established to be attended, but to save the children of men! If we just fall into our routine of going to church and the activities, without trying to save men, the church doesn´t serve it´s purpose! So invite your friends and spread the gospel! :)

Love you all, happy New Year! Talk to ya next week!

Love, Elder Hart 
This is what happens when you combine two aspects of the culture here.  Tons of fireworks on New Years, and lack of parental supervision.  Crazy! The owner of the car wasn´t even in town and didn´t even find out until a week later when the neighbors sent him a pic!