Friday, June 27, 2014

Elder Tucker Sighting!

A friend ran into McKay at the MTC tonight.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Week 3: Kissing in The MTC

Hello family and friends,

I made it to another Thursday! I am so grateful to be here at the MTC; it has been another terrific week. First off, Mom, thank you for all of the DearElder letters (and thanks to Ashley, Abby, Dad, and Tara too) I really appreciate them. Mail just makes my day. Ash, thanks for the scripture reference (Deut 4:29-31) I totally loved it and shared it with about nine people. I love it. I love how it talks directly and specifically to us in the "latter-days" and how every time if we seek out the Lord we will find him. I think the most oft repeated commandment in the scriptures is "seek and you shall find" (okay, I guess it may be a promise more than a commandment) and I love how no matter what the Lord will not forsake us, will not forsake me. Though, we do have to recognize that the promise in Deuteronomy is predicated upon our turning to Him for aid when we are in tribulation and being obedient to his voice (and we can tack on the voice of His servants too because my main man Amos says that they're the same thing in chapter 3). I keep learning here that obedience is the most critical thing. The Lord loves everyone but if we "do always those things which please him" then we shall always have him to be with us. Obedience. So good.

This week the MTC felt pretty crowded. For pretty much the entire week we had the New Mission President's Seminar going on so 1M (the main building and Caf) had security to the nines. It was pretty much on lock down because over the course of the week the entire First Presidency and Quorum of the 12 were in the house. As far as my tally of General Authorities goes I did  alright. I didn't see any of the 12 or first presidency up close but Elder Christiansen and I did run into the entire presidency of the 70 on our way back from the copy center. I was just like "oh, hello Elder Rasband, Elder Holstrom, how are you?.." It was neat, though I was kicking myself right afterwards for not shaking any of their hands. There were a couple of close misses on the Apostle watch, though. I just barely missed seeing Uchtdorf, Bednar, and Packer. Maybe next time...

On to the Sunday night devotional. We were all hoping that because all of the big dogs were at the MTC that we would hear from one of them for our devo, but it was not to be so. We showed up and found out that the keynote speaker was Janice Kapp Perry (composer of songs like "a child's prayer", "I love to see the temple", and "we'll bring the world his truth", and "sister's in zion". So it was a little sad that we couldn't hear from President Monson, but I think Sister Perry was a good alternative. Actually, her talk may go down as a first in MTC history, Here's why: so we had a great time singing some of her medleys and she shared with us some experiences from her mission and from her song writing, but the best part was her account of how she and her husband met. They were both music majors studying at BYU and had about four classes together. They went pretty much the entire semester and never said a word to each other. She said that she was waiting to go in to the professor and take her test on the clarinet (they had to learn all of the instruments. wow.) She was wetting her reed in preparation when Brother Perry turns to her, pauses for a second, then says (as his very first words) "it seem to me that those lips of yours were made for something better than playing clarinet.." Sister Perry says this and the whole auditorium breaks out laughing. There was some cheering and some general guffawing. So great. We start to calm down and Brother Perry stands up and starts walking towards Sister Perry, presumably to confirm the story or something, He gets right up to Sister Perry and then he kisses her! We're talking 10-15 seconds and if I thought were cheering before then I was mistaken because we nearly took the roof off. Everyone was clapping and cheering, cat calls and applause ringing through 19M. So great. I feel confident in assuming that was the first in-devotional kiss in the MTC history. It was hilarious.

On a note related to the devotional, I don't know if it has been published or not but Sister Perry played for us a new version of As Sister'sin Zion with new lyrics that reflect the swell of sister missionaries since the missionary age has been lowered. Actually, here at the MTC the numbers are nearly equal with Sisters making up 43% of the population. This work is so inspired and I can feel Elder Ballard's words: this truly is "the greatest time in the history of the world to do missionary work!"

Our Tuesday night devotional was keynoted (is that really word? spell check didn't pick it up..hmmm) by my good 'ol pal D. Todd Christofferson. His talk was centered on the worth of soul and how great it is. One of my favorite quotations was that "the worth of a soul is as great as its potential to become as God." It is humbling and comforting to realize and contemplate my real identity and my potential. and your potential. And I think the remainder of my email will be devoted to 2.0 to share some of the more spiritual matters.


Because our souls are so precious and so linked to the glory of God, he sent His son to suffer so terribly for us. That is so great to think about. Whenever or if ever you feel angered at someone or just can't seem to get along, perhaps imagine them as God sees them. See them as they were born to be, glorious and like Him. It changes our perspective.

There is no greater work that that which I am doing (missionary work). It is the same task He has appointed to Himself -to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Missionaries must act in love. They must have charity, the pure love of Christ.

One last thought I learned from Brother Lee of the Branch Presidency. Two of the most dangerous thoughts you can ever have are:
1. I know it all. I understand everything about this and don't need to learn anything else.
2. I don't need help anymore.

This contradicts both 1 Corinthians 8:2 and 2 Nephi 28:30. Always continue to ask God for help. Help to pay the mortgage, help to raise the children, help to pass your class, and especially for help to be more like our Savior. We sing and must keep singing "more holiness give me."

And lastly, I love how the lord takes Nephi and the Brother of Jared and others to the promised land. He moves them and takes them to the very best possible place for them to be. And He does it capital "h" HIS way. We aren't in charge and His way is always better. You betcha it will be difficult, the high road always is (and I'm convinced that the straight and narrow way that leads to the Tree of Life is an uphill climb) Take His way. What is your promised land and where are you going? Is He leading the way?

The church is true. I know it. Keep moving forward. Onward and upward! On to the victory!

Elder Tucker

MTC companion Elder Christiansen

MTC District
Top Bunk Selfie!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Week 2: Hair Full of Secrets

June 19, 2014

Family and friends (Dear Mom),

First off, I hope that you guys received the letter I sent last week saying that my P-day was today. the Korean missionaries have Thursday preparation day so I had to go eight day before doing laundry...and letting you know that I'm still alive!...What to say? The MTC is amazing. I remember lying on my bottom bunk Saturday night thinking that this is the best summer camp ever! I have been so busy; it's crazy! We probably spend an average of 9-10 hours a day in our classroom doing various studies, the hardest of which is hon gu mar. (the closest Korean spelling of Korean) I'm going to tell you straight up: learning Korean is the single hardest thing I’ve ever done. I'm told that it (along with Finnish) is the most challenging language for English speakers. I think my biggest regret at this point is not studying up on the alphabet before getting here because reading Korean is so challenging. The other elders in the district agree that Friday last week was the worst day of their lives. We spent about 10 hours just learning Korean and it just wasn't coming. It was a dark day.  (It was also overcast so we had the whole oppressive atmosphere as well) I felt so discouraged and disheartened, pretty much I felt like I could never learn Korean and that I was completely for the work. It was a dark place to be. But then I remembered that Satan is a LOSER and that the Lord qualifies who he calls. Korean will be the hardest thing I ever do (for the next two years) but with the Lord I can do all things. I mean exclamation point...with the Lord I can do ALL things! It is comforting to know that.

I spoke of the elders in my branch. Let me describe them. My companion is Elder Christiansen from Lehi, Utah. He is a terrific guy and we generally get along like two old school mates. He is 6'5 and rail thin and actually reminds me of Ichabod Crane in more ways than one. (translate as you will) I feel so blessed because like me he just wants to work hard and become the very best missionary he can. He's wanted to go to choir practice with me and is always supportive and congenial. He is first rate. The other two elders in the room are also great. We have elder Murdoch from Alpine, UT and Elder Woods from Austin, TX. We're all going to Daejeon and we all get along so great. Funny enough, I'm actually the shortest elder in the room and like 7th in the district. There are some giants here; I've never felt so short. We (all of us in the room) are also all recent graduates. I think there are 6 in the district of 12 missionaries. Now to the district: There are 12 missionaries (2 sisters) and they are my second family. I love all of them and would go into greater detail on all of them if it weren't for time constraints. The Korean branch here at the MTC is one of the biggest. I think by July we will be the biggest with nearly 80 missionaries and I just love our presidency. President Yost is a little man who is seriously the happiest, jolliest man I have ever met. Think Santa with no beard. His three counselors are also all first rate and they are actually all former Korean mission presidents. I am seriously so blessed. There is a tradition here at the MTC: the Korean branch is known here as the "celestial branch" and we strive to live up to that. We try to live with what they call "quiet dignity". We have to always have our suit coats buttoned when standing, we never have out hand in our pockets, and pretty much always operate with a heightened level of professionalism. I love that...though I don't know what to do with my hands.
This week should be exciting because all of the new mission presidents come in. Come Saturday, the main building, the one where we hold sacrament meeting and get to the cafeteria through, will be on lock down because pretty much the entire quorum of the 12 will be here and perhaps the First Presidency too to address and teach the new presidents. Awesome! I hope to see some of those great brethren. Or at least more than I've already seen. Tuesday's keynote speaker was Elder Ballard and he was fantastic. Mom, you would have loved to have been here on Sunday because our speaker was Sister Sherri Dew (not sure if there is one "r" or dos). She is amazing. I had forgotten how accomplished she was as an individual (here I was thinking I was busy as a missionary. She's a CEO and general authority and so much more...) though it made sense that she was able to do so much after listening to her. She is so polished and eloquent and her reliance on the Lord was inspiring. She is first-rate. Plus, she has that really awesome "Provo Utah hair" you know, where the volume is crazy high and you think her hair is full of secrets...also first-rate. I want to share with you some of the things I've learned this week. There is so much the Spirit and the Lord have taught me and I can't share everything but here are some of the points. I feel like this part of the letter is actually the best part so I feel like it can adequately be labeled the 2.0 section.


I learned from the District presidency that I should always be in a tri-panionship. The scripture goes something like "out of the mouth of two or three witnesses shall the truth be established." I've got to have the spirit with me and my companion so that we can establish truth. There isn't really an alternative.
Brother Lee (the native Korean member if the branch presidency) said in his sacrament meeting address that "Ammon, Aaron, Omner, and Himni are my best friends!" I believe that and am excited to have such great company in the missionary world. He also said that "Ammon did not choose to be comfortable; he chose to be a missionary." This work is hard. But if it were easy, then it wouldn't be hard. And it was never easy for Him.
Sherri Dew addressed us on Father's Day and she said that it should apply to all men, not just the papas. She wished us a "Happy Divine Nature of Men Day." her address was focused on grace and grace in our lives. She said that Jesus already triumphed over sin, death, hell, trial, and everything else. We have the power of the Atonement and can overcome everything and anything by it. "The key to unlocking the power of covenant sons and daughters of God is all of us learning how to unlock the power of Jesus Christ." "We have to determine if we'll serve alone or if we want to unlock the power of Jesus' grace." In order to learn Korean or to do anything else that I need I need is "greater access to the Savior's grace. He has the power to do all things. Like Paul, I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me." That includes Korean or swim team, or my desk job, or being a mom, or whatever thing is going on in your life. He will strengthen you and make you equal to the task. I learned that learning to hear and use the voice of the Spirit is not unlike learning Korean. There are grammar, syntax, and vocab rules and the quicker you learn the rules, or once you learn them, you can communicate with heaven and can learn so much more.  Do you ever ask God what it feels like for you when the spirit is talking to you? Ask him how you receive personal revelation. There are language rules. Ask for the gift of languages. For every weakness you think you have there is a gift of the spirit that counteracts it. ---For every single weakness. If there is a difficulty in your life figure out what gift you need and pray to know how to receive it.
I learned that obedience brings forth blessings and that exact obedience brings forth miracles. I will be exactly obedient.
Well, my time is up and I have to check the dryer....I love all of you and I feel your prayers. Keep praying for me. I need all of the help I can get. This is His sacred work. I love it. The gospel is true. Keep the faith and keep on coming unto Christ. Press onward. Onward and upward! On to the victory!

Elder Tucker

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Week 1: Empty Sea!

June 12, 2014


I love you!  I also love being here at the MTC (empty sea!)  It was amazing, as I walked through the front doors I was just washed over by the biggest, happiest feeling.  It was astounding and comforting because all my fear just evaporated.

Then I walked into my classroom and both my teachers only spoke Korean.  Like no English at all and they never will.  Yikes.  I guess immersion is the best way - just like baptism.

I wanted to write you so you know I'm safe and doing good and also because I learned that my first p-day will be Thursday so when you don't hear from me Monday, don't panic.  I am so glad to be here and I am certain that Korean will be the hardest thing I've ever done, but it will also be the best.  The Church is true.  Keep the faith.  Your in my prayers.

❤  Elder Tucker

*Editor's note:  When McKay's oldest sister was small, she had a hard time understanding where her Uncle Bubba had gone.  She knew he had left on his mission, but couldn't place him.  She asked me, "Is he on a boat?"  And when I said no, "He's in the MTC for two months, and then he will go to Argentina."  she asked, "Well, will he go to Argentina on a boat?"  So I told her that no, after the MTC he would go there in an airplane.  Finally she asked "Well, why do they call it the empty sea, anyways?  Isn't there any water in it?"

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cousin Meetup and Arrival at the MTC

Two of McKay's cousins and an uncle were at the ready in Salt Lake to pick up McKay at the airport.  They enjoyed lunch before they dropped him off at the MTC.

Uncle Paul Tucker and 2 of the Oakie cousins
Lunching... .last American restaurant for 2 years

Two John Tuckers!

Let's do this!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

And So It Begins!

Elder Tucker reports to the Provo MTC today. He left early early this morning from Phoenix Sky Harbor. God be with you til we meet again....