Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas in Texas

It's been a good week! To be honest, there's not too much to write about though. Elder Trujillo and I got Christmas presents from several generous members here, and we had the opportunity to find 12 more people willing to hear the Savior's message. We've seen some great miracles though, one of which I'll tell you about in detail.
     Elder Trujillo and I walked out of a lesson on Tuesday to find a large dent right in front the driver's side door of our car. We knocked on the neighbor's door across the street to see if they knew anything about it, and the mom of the house told us she had done it and was hoping we wouldn't find her. Of course, Elder Trujillo then accidentally broke one of their porch steps as we went back to the car, which was pretty awkward to explain. We spent the next hour or so doing the paper work with the woman, and when we got in the car to drive away, we noticed an older woman waving us down to come talk to her. We drove over and she told us that she was a member that hadn't been to church in years and that her spouse had recently died, and she was ready to reactivate. She's nextdoor neighbors with and an old friend of Brian and Jason, two brothers we're teaching that are getting baptized in two weeks.
   We visited with her later that week, and she told us she had seen us on her way to the store earlier that day, and was praying the whole trip that we would still be there when she got back. As it turned out, our accident was the answer to her prayer.
    The Lord brings about His work and will, and blesses His children in ways we sometimes don't see immediately. I learned this week not to judge situations by the immediate results, but to trust and hope that it will bring about our Heavenly Father's loving purposes.
  The Savior lives, and lasting happiness is only found by living His gospel. Please look for opportunities to share what you have with others! The Lord will help you, as He has helped me every day.

Elder Gaughan

Monday, December 23, 2013


Merry Christmas!

Just to start--follow the Spirit! Always! Elder Trujillo and I were just washing the car before we came to the library for emails, and I had a strong feeling I needed to talk to a guy nearby washing his car. I went over and we started to talk, and it turned out he has a copy of the Book of Mormon (which he's read in part), and he's visited the Hawaiian Cultural Center and the temple there. I couldn't believe it. We took down his information and are going to get it to the missionaries for his area today.
     I'm going to use an analogy to explain what Christmas is like as a missionary. On Sunday, our ward had their Christmas program. It was announced that a brother from the ward would sing Silent Night. He walked up to the stand alone carrying a hymnbook, invited everyone to pay attention to the words of the song, and started to sing. His voice wasn't anything special, but it was good. He sang all the verses as written, and sat down. Sounds kind of boring right? I just couldn't help but smile and enjoy it though! I felt like I could just focus on the words and enjoy the spirit of that song. I absolutely loved it.
     That's kind of what this Christmas season has been like. This is by far the simplest, most low-key Christmas of my life. I feel like all the distractions have been stripped away, and I have the opportunity to celebrate and rejoice in this holiday for what it really is, and think about how I can better thank my Heavenly Father each day for the unspeakable gift of sending His Son to the earth. And I came to the conclusion that I can do much, much more. Especially in terms of just sincerely loving and serving the people around me.
     Well, the big news this week is that we have an investigator that really looks like he's going to get baptized!! His name is Jason Quintero, and he's incredible. He's 18 years old, and has a date for January 11. He's coming to church every week, and gave up coffee and tea even though everyone else in his family drinks it almost daily.
   I've got to get going, but have a merry Christmas!

Elder Gaughan

Monday, December 16, 2013

I'm so sorry I didn't write last week!!!

Elder Trujillo and I just scheduled our day pretty poorly, and a visit for a half-hour haircut at a member's house turned into dinner. But things have been great! I stayed put for transfers, which means I'll probably be here in Seagoville for at least another 3 months. but we'll see what happens! 
     Well the most exciting news here was the ice storm two weeks ago that more or less shut down Dallas for the week. everything froze over with about half an inch of ice--trees (as in every single leaf and branch), cars, the stairs outside our apartment... haha just about everything. The Friday before last there were power-outages all over the Dallas area (including us for a couple of hours in the morning) and we were told to stay in our apartment, and the next day we weren't allowed to use bikes or our car.
    The last two week really have been great. For some reason a ton of people here are willing to listen to us, and we always find ourselves with more investigators than we can handle! It's actually been one of our biggest problems, but I've learned a lot about how to set priorities and focus on the most important things and people.
      Last Saturday I had an incredible experience while on exchanges with Elder Broadbent. Someone requested a visit from (which is like manna from the heavens for a missionary), which we called up immediately. The man told us he was actually an less-active member that had been trying to get in contact with the church, and he asked if we could visit him that day. When we came, he told us his story--about the day he decided he didn't believe in God, how he ended up in jail, lost the trust of his wife and family, and how he finally came back to the Lord during his month in jail and afterwards. He was crying he was done with his story, and told how he wanted nothing more than to get his family back and come back to church for good. I felt completely at a loss for words, but somehow Elder Broadbent knew exactly what to say. With tears in his eyes, he bore testimony to the man of the Savior and Heavenly Father's love for him, thanked him for his courage and willingness to share his story with us, and invited him to keep praying for his family.
     I knew as I watched that happen that the Lord had sent Elder Broadbent to our area to testify to that man. I don't know if I've ever seen a missionary express such sincere, pure love as he did that night. If we're worthy and follow the Spirit, the Lord really will use us as His angels to answer the prayers of others and bring about His divine purposes. I know that's true.
     I need to get going, but thank you for all the prayers and support!! I love it here. I love being missionary!!
Elder Gaughan
More Pictures!
1. Elder Trujillo and I at a dinner for the volunteers for the food bank we do service at every week (mom, you would have loved this woman's house)

2. Elder Trujillo and I with Elder Douthit and Elder Evans (some of the funniest missionaries in our zone).

3. This is Brian Quintero, one of our investigators. He comes from a pretty rough home, but we've been teaching him, his brother, and his dad. We set a baptismal date with him last week for January 11!

Monday, December 2, 2013


1) Elder Trujillo (his companion) and I doing the weekly zone report

2) Elder Henze (see email)

3) Elders Behning and Pearson from our district with Elder Trujillo and I at the temple

4) Elder Trujillo y yo

Another great week!

It's been a great week! We had a great thanksgiving dinner with the Lopez family, a miracle find that is preparing for baptism this month. Their biggest obstacle is that their single mom, Alejandra, works on Sundays and hasn't been able to come to church. But we have lots of hope! Also, after a month of no baptisms, 7 people were baptized this last weekend in our zone! That was really exciting.  
     The biggest miracle Elder Trujillo and I saw this week though was with the Barrios family. The 4 kids and Hermana Barrios have been meeting with the missionaries for over a year, but the dad hasn't wanted anything to do with them--he's sat in for at least one lesson, but he's been the biggest obstacle to the family's progression. On Saturday night we visited with the kids and commited them to come to church, and the next day they showed up with the ENTIRE family, including the oldest daughter's boyfriend and the dad!! We couldn't believe it. They only stayed for sacrament meeting, but Hermano Barrios seemed relatively comfortable, and we think he'll be more open to listening to us now. I was fasting that we would have the opportunity to baptize a complete family this month, and while I don't know for sure if it will be the Barrios', I really hope it is.
      I also gained a stronger testimony that as we keep the Lord's commandments and do His will, he guides us to where we need to be. I was on exchanges with Elder Henze on Friday (maybe next week I'll tell you about how he jumped out at me that night with a gorilla mask when I was coming out of the bathroom and scared my socks off), and at one point we stopped at a 7-Eleven to use the bathroom. We figured we might as well get some hot chocolate and doughnuts while we were there, and as we were in line to leave, I had an impression I needed to talk to the guy behind me in line. I put it off until we got outside, and just as he was walking away I asked him if we could give him a card. We started to introduce ourselves and he said he already knew who we were--his recently-deceased aunt had taken him to the Mormon church several times in Mexico and he had met with the missionaries there. He asked us for the address of the church and said he would come. It's not the first time I've seen something like that happen, but I couldn't help but smile as we talked to him, because something just told me the Lord put us in his path for a reason and that He would continue to work with the man. There's nothing like feeling that Heavenly Father has used you to bless someone elses life or answer a prayer! I understand a little better what Ammon was talking about when he said,

"I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy" (Alma 29:9).   

Each and every one of us, missionary or no, can experience that kind of joy as we find the courage to follow the promptings of the Spirit, look for opportunities to serve, or just open our mouths and speak to those around us with kindness. The Savior lives, He loves us, knows us perfectly, and is ready to pour out blessings as we repent and submit our will to His.

Elder Gaughan

Monday, November 25, 2013

An Exciting Week!

Well it's been an exciting week! On Tuesday our zone had breakfast at the mission home and went to a session at the Dallas temple. It was definitely nice being able to go back! just another 6 months until I can go again. On Saturday and Sunday our stake, East Dallas, had L. Tom Perry preside over Stake Conference to call a new stake president. The Saturday night session was great--all about hastening the work of salvation (aka missionary work). You may not have heard about it, but there was a church-wide broadcast by that name back in May that talked about how members and missionaries can better work together. The speakers on saturday talked about the same thing and had some great insights. One of the best things I heard was that when the Lord asks us to share the gospel, He isn't asking us to squeeze one more thing into our busy schedules--rather to change the way we do the things we already do. I was also struck by Elder Perry's closing remark. After an hour long talk, he closed with the promise that those who participate in the work of salvation will feel unworthy of the blessings they'll receive, especially in pure joy and happiness.
     My testimony has grown a lot recently about the power of prayer. It seems like day after day I'm seeing real, definitive answers in a way I haven't before. yesterday morning is a great example: we were desparately looking for a ride for one of investigators. It was a complicated situation with stake conference, and everyone was busy or not answering.  Just before we left the house, I said a silent prayer that we would find someone available. We said a prayer as a companionship as we always do before leaving, and literally seconds after we said "amen," Brother Smith, a member we had called earlier that didn't pick up, called us back and happily agreed to give us and our investigator a ride. 
    The biggest change is that it got freeeezing this week. On Friday, the temperature dropped from around 65 in the afternoon to 35 that night, and it's stayed there ever since. haha we've had some investigators go cold with the weather too--a family of 3 we've been teaching suddenly stopped answering the phone or the door, along with two dads from part-member families. That's ok though! We started teaching a 17 year old named Jason that's been awesome. He's made some mistakes from the past and wants to get rid of the guilt, and it seems like he's been humbled and prepared by the Lord.
     The gospel is true, and I've never experienced a greater joy than watching people accept the gospel, follow the Savior, and begin to live the commandments. I know this is the path of happiness, that we can apply the miracle of the Atonement each day, and that the Lord will support and guide us as we strive to share that beautiful, perfect message with our friends, family, and others around us.
Elder Gaughan
Transfers are in two weeks--December 10 is the date. Right now I'm in Seagoville, in the East Dallas Stake.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Ups and Downs

There have been a lot of ups and downs this week, but I really mean it when I say I've learned and grown a lot. The highlight was when we watched "Together Forever" with the Barrios family. Let me tell you, that movie is one of the cheesiest things they give us missionaries to use, but for whatever reason the Spirit was really strong when we watched it that night. The mom was crying at the end and said she knew the gospel was true, and Elder Trujillo and I walked out deeply touched. 
    This transfer, the mission-wide study focus is on Chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel, which discusses the atributes of Christ and how we can apply them. Even though it's not one of the ones listed in PMG, I've been thinking a lot about gratitude recently. Twice a week we volunteer at a food pantry, and about two weeks ago they had to close early one day. The woman who went out to make the announce came back and told us that one guy just exploded when he heard. He started shouting at the woman, and told her that the pantry isn't open enough, accused them of misusing the "government funds" they get (even though they work purely on private donations), and that their bread was so hard he could use it as a leathal weapon. ridiculous, right? here's a guy getting FREE FOOD and he's shouting at the people giving it to them about their services. But then I was reading in Mosiah 2 the other day, and I realized a lot of people tend to do that with God. Even though He provides us with absolutely everything, and everything He sends our way is intended for our ultimate growth and benefit, we often complain about what we lack or lost. That's something I love about King Benjamin's discourse--it gives us a good dose of humility and gratitude. I've determined that I want to focuse more on our blessings every day.
     Not too much has been going on though, but things are good. We get fed like CRAZY here (I think our investigators just really like Elder Trujillo), which has been great. And somehow, almost every investigator we find knows other people we're teaching. But anyway, we're seeing lots of miracles and we've got some great investigators. I know this is Lord's work, and that He will heal us if exercise faith in Him.
Elder Gaughan

Monday, November 11, 2013

What happened last week? Read and See!

So you were probably thinking last monday, "wow, Elder Gaughan couldn't even spare 5 minutes to say how busy he is and that things are good." BUT, here's what really happened: I wrote a nice longish email last week and was feeling really good about it, and then, with 1 second left on my computer time at the library, I couldn't get the mouse on the "send" button and my session ended. So, with a few edits to update for this last week, here's my letter.

Well, it's been in interesting week! My new area is Dallas 5th South, which is in a little town in Dallas County called Seagoville. The apartment is awesome--we have tons of room AND a washer and dryer. haha you can't really choose the settings on the washer and you have to use a wrench to turn it on, but there are worse things in the world. My companion is Elder Trujillo--He's from Spanish Fork, is about to hit his year mark, and he's awesome. He's really focused on the work, knows how to get results, and is fun to be around. He comes from a hispanic family, so he helps me a lot with Spanish.
   Our ward is Dallas 5th. It's bilingual, which I didn't even know existed--apparently that's how most of the wards in the satke are here. It was pretty weird talking to white members again and hearing the meeting conducted in English (I think I like it better in Spanish now). There's a sister from the ward that usually translates in sacrament meeting, but we get to do it when she doesn't come. Elder Trujillo did it yesterday, but I'm hoping I get a chance sometime this transfer just for the experience. I found out yesterday that an ENORMOUS portion of the ward is inactive, so I want to try to make helping those members a bigger priority than we did in Oak Cliff.  
   We started off on a great foot too--I got transfered in right as Elder Trujillo and his old companion found a miracle investigator. Her name is Alejandra, and when they contacted her she told them she has a brother that's a missionary in Peru. Elder Trujillo and I visited her on Wednesday, and she showed us a letter from her brother that said over and over again, "look for the missionaries." She's really open to listen, as are all four of her children that live with her. They came to the ward trunk or treat 2 weeks and the kids came to church yesterday! She works on Sundays so we'll have to find a way around that, but she and two of the kids have a baptismal date for December 21.
   Then this last week we had another miracle. We decided to knock right up until 9:00 pm when we have to go home. We started at 8:30 in a trailer park, and everyone until the last two doors either didn't answer or wasn't interested. We finally had a good conversation with someone around 8:55, and we got their information to visit at another time. We had it was 8:59 when we finsihed the conversation, so we decided to knock the neighbor's door and call it a night. We knocked, a guy named Hector answered. He was really nice, and said it was a little late but he would happy to have us come by the next day. We came by for our appointment the next day, and he and his wife told us they are looking for God's true church. We taught the Restoration which they seemed to understand and enjoy, and then Hector said, "so when are you going to invite us to church?" They even fed us after the lesson! They couldn't make it yesterday because Hector got called into work, but we're going by tomorrow.
   Being a zone leader really isn't as taxing as I was anticipating. Haha I remembered Nick's stories about staying up in train stations all night to pick up missionaries for transfers and wasn't looking forward to that kind of stuff, but the biggest sacrifice is just a few more meetings and getting home late Sunday nights when we have to do reports. 2 weeks ago was my first day of doing absolutely no missionary work except for a few contacts--we had a leadership meeting all day and a zone party/meeting that night. It was really interesting though, during the time with zone I quickly grew to love them and got really excited to work with them. I've felt the Lord truly increase my capacity to love and lead.
  We're getting another apostle next week! L. Tom Perry is coming to reorganize our stake. I'll tell you all about it next monday.   
  I know this work is true, and the rate at which it progresses is determined mostly according to our faith, diligence, and love. The Lord works miracles according to our faith--when we determine that we want to accomplish righteous objectives, invoke the powers of heaven, and exercise our faith, the Lord provides the means and miracles to accomplish them. Heavenly Father wants to see us take initiative, and oftentimes requires it before He blesses us ("ASK and ye shall receive, KNOCK and shall be opened unto you"--see also D&C 58:27). The Lord is preparing people in very real ways. I can't tell you how many people I've talked to that have had dreams or revelations that prepared them to receive the restored gospel. The heavens are open.
    Jesus is the Christ, and it is only through accepting His gospel and atonement that we can return to live with our Heavenly Father. 
I hope y'all have a great week! Love ya!

Monday, October 28, 2013

More Pictures!

More pictures this week!!  Yeah!

Well, it's been a good last week in Duncanville. We found a couple named Leo and Clara Monriquez that seems to have a lot of potential. They told us they've been searching for the true church for years, and every church they've looked at in the past has a mixture of great things and "human corruptions" as they put it. The husband has some ideas we'll have to work with (it doesn't matter what church you go to, you can baptized as many times as you because it's just an expression of dedication to God, etc.). They're really open to learn and they both said they would be baptized if they receive an answer. The big miracle this week happened with Elder Powell and Evans from our district. On Thursday night we had a meeting at the church, which they got a ride to from a member. When they got back and were getting ready for bed, Elder Evans looked out the window and saw that their bikes were gone. They called the police who came by and said they'd help out, but we all assumed that the guys that took them were long gone and they'd probably never find the bikes. Obviously we all prayed for the elders that they would be able to find them, but that was about all we could do. Then, a little after 10:30 I got a call from Elder Evans saying that they found the bikes! he and Elder Powell were searching the area around their apartment, and they found two guys riding them around. Elder Evans talked tough to them for a few minutes, and they guys finally gave the bikes back when he said they were stealing from missionaries of God. Heavenly Father really looks out for His missionaries and answers His children's prayers!
      We got transfer calls this week and I'm going to Dallas 5th Ward in Mesquite! My new companion is Elder Trujillo. I'll meet him tomorrow when we have transfers and send a picture next week. I was also called as Zone Leader, which was about as shocking as when I got the call to train. I'm excited for the challenge and opportunity to serve, but I know I'll definitely need the Lord's help!
   Love ya!
Elder Gaughan

Update-Added Later:
The family is the Garcias. She's the sister from our ward in charge of the food calendar--her son Jonathon went out with us a few times and we had a family home evening with them once. I didn't mean to send that one but there it is. Also... I just found out Elder Powell and Evans were pulling our legs about how they found their bikes. They forgot them at the member's house that took them to the meeting. But technically our prayers were still answered!! Also, this should be a picture of our district this transfer on our last Sunday together (I was also District Leader which was a great experience--I learned a lot).

Monday, October 21, 2013

Weekly Email with Pictures!

From this week forward, no more shoddy, 1 paragraph emails. I promise. 

Here's the miracle I was going to tell you about last week:
We've been having trouble getting investigators to church this transfer. Like, a lot. We've been working with some great part-member families and investigators, and they've all promised to come to church, but up until last week we still hadn't had a single person actually come. I finally decided last week that I had to exercise some more faith if we wanted anything to change, so I started a fast that those over which we had stewardship would come to church. We had a part member family, (the familia Hernandez), a couple (Roberto and Gabriela Lopez), and a young man named Tommy who seemed pretty solid, so I was especially praying for them. We had another part-member family I prayed for in a "Thy will be done" attitude, because I had only seen them come to sacrament meeting once to get their baby blessed, and we hadn't taught them that week. 
    When it came time for church to start and we were greeting everyone at the front, I learned once again that the Lord answer our prayers in His way, not in ours. Instead of the two families we were expecting and Tommy, the Mendoza family, a less-active sister, and a less-active couple showed up! The less-active family, Ruben, Nancy, and Maria Valle, was the biggest miracle. Ruben was baptized about 7 months ago, and he and his wife were called as ward missionaries.  we had only visited them once, and it didn't seem like things were going to change any time soon. But there they were! And they not only stayed for all three hours--they attended the coordination meeting for ward missionaries after, Sister Valle came out with us for a lesson three days later, and we had dinner with them last night. 
   For a long time I honestly didn't understand the principle of fasting or see it make much of a difference in my life, but the experiences I've had like this have showed me that it's precious commandment the Lord has given us in order to bless us. It's so important that we take fast-Sunday seriously, choose specific things to fast for, pray with faith, and trust in the promises of Heavenly Father.
    That's the most exciting thing that's happened recently. Last night Elder Sanchez and I knocked three doors and got three lessons, which almost never happens. It's also finally starting to cool down, which has been a huge relief. Other than that, it's just missionary life as usually--insanely busy, slightly stressful, and extremely rewarding when we do it right.
Missionary scripture of the week: "Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost." (Alma 36:24)
Elder Gaughan

1. Personal study!!

2. El Si Hay--the missionary-voted the Greatest Taqueria in Oak Cliff

3. There's not too much o see in Duncanville, but the sunsets are usually gorgeous

Monday, October 14, 2013

Questions and Answers

Mom Asked: 
1. Are you still in the same area you were when you first came out? What's the name of the area? 
2. Why are you so busy--emailing other people?  Playing soccer? Contacting in the library?  Just curious.

Elder Gaughan's Responses: 
1. Yes, kind of. I started out in Oak Cliff West, which included the former Oak Cliff South area (which we literally almost never visited). After my first transfer when I got called to train Elder Ericson, they divided West and South again, and we went to South and pretty much reopened it (let me tell you, it was a project cleaning up the apartment). That's where I am with Elder Sanchez right now. I've been in the same ward, Oak Cliff 1st, the entire time.

2. Well, most preparation days we play basketball or something and go do emails after, and we almost always still have a long list of things to do after that. Or, like last week, we put it off until the very end of the day. and emailing other people/president Durrant. Also, I'm a very, very slow writer.

The best thing that happened this week was yesterday at church. What the--session ending, sorry. I fasted and saw miracles. Bye!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Contacting on a train

Conference was reallly, really, good. I especially enjoyed the Saturday sessions--I don't think they've ever flown by so fast for me. What I realized more than anything this conference is just how much love the leaders of the church exhibit. I did not understand just how much suffering, heartache, sin, sadness, obstacles, and problems of all kinds there are in the world. I can't count the number of people that have asked me to pray for them--and really need it. I had never considered before this weekend the spiritual and temporal load that our church leaders at every level carry, and I'm inspired by the way they do it with so much love, patience, faith, and diligence. Sorry, it's going to be short again this week. So quick recap: went on exchanges with Elder Powell from my district, and get this: he worked for a fishing cabin near Gustavos, Alaska! He was talking about Point Adolphus and everything. Also, contacted on a train for the first time this week--I was pretty uncomfortable with it at first, but we got a good number of referrals and had a chance to teach a few people. That's all I've got for this week, but I love you all, the gospel is true, and look for opportunities to share it! 

Monday, September 30, 2013

More From the Field

Not too much to say about the work this week anyway. We have a good couple we just recently found and a guy in his early 20's, Tommy, that accepted a baptismal date for November 8, but I'll talk about that more next week. 
   We live in a 1 room apartment right across from the local high school. It's a pretty good place (especially because we have the ENORMOUSLY good fortune to have our own washer and dryer AND a dishwasher). We also have a 6-month-old Chevy Cruz, so you could pretty much say we're the bourgeoisie as far as missionaries go.   
    Let's see... one of our investigator's cars burned up this last week. That was pretty crazy. The owner, Juan, is this hilarious old mexican guy we've been teaching for about a month. He's been studying the Book of Mormon like no one I've ever seen, but he accepts all churches that talk about Christ, and doesn't believe there's one true church. 
     I don't think I told you about how insanely young our district is. There are two other elders that have been out as long as I have (a little under 4 months) and the other three are still being trained! 
   Anyway, one last thought as a followup from last week. Unfortunately I don't have my scriptures on me, but as I've been studying the process of conversion, I've come to realize that God has very little interest in insuring that we DO everything perfectly. Yes, we need to keep the commandments, and yes, we will be judged for our works, but the scriptures very clearly teach that unless you repent and allow the power of the Atonement to change your heart, mind, and soul, all the church-going, charity work, and scripture-reading in the world won't do you any good. We will be judged for our hearts as much as anything. Our purpose as missionaries is not to get people to do things--our purpose is to help people come unto Christ and become a new person. The goal is not to get people to stop sinning--it's to help them lose all interest in it whatsoever (see the stories of King Lamoni and his father).
    The work is true! Thanks for all the support and prayers!
Elder Gaughan

Monday, September 23, 2013

Um… mission things

Subjects lines were never my specialty.
Thing went good this week. Sorry, not much time again. My new companion is.... Elder Sanchez! He's from Arcadia Califonia, and already knows Spanish! He's fantastic--I've never been in a lesson with a missionary that speaks so sincerely and makes the Gospel so real, personal, and applicable. We definitely have different tastes and personalities, but I'm excited for the transfer. Not much to report besides that! The Spanish is coming along really well, but I still have to pay close attention to understand everything.
     The Lord really loves us, and watches out even for the small things. I wish I had to time to tell you all the miracles. I've been thinking about the heart and desires a lot recently, and came to realize at a deeper level this week the whole purpose of the Gospel and the Atonement. I'll share more next Monday.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Training Again

  Numbers-wise, we had a fantastic week in most areas. We taught between 35-40, found over 24 new investigators, and set 2 baptismal dates... and then no one came to church. Haha such is the life of a missionary. It's just made me realize we need to shift the focus of our lessons and invite with more power. And get this: I'm training again! I'm definitely sad to lose Elder Ericson. I wish I had time to tell you all about him--he's been an example to me and inspired me since day one when he stopped a 14 year old kid on the street and invited him to be baptized. I'm excited to train again though--I definitely know what I want to change and do better this time. I'm meeting him tomorrow morning at transfers, so I'll be sure to a get a picture with him and tell you all about him next week.
  Also, the meeting with Elder Andersen was great. He spoke about how the Atonement applies to missionary work, and emphasized the need to know not only the doctrines of the scriptures, but to know the stories, speakers, and references too. He spent about 10 minutes just quizzing the missionaries on where different sermons and stories are. We also got to hear from Tad R Callister of the Presidency of the Seventy, and he gave a great talk on the apostasy and the Restoration.
   Oh man, there's one guy I have to tell you about. We met him about 3 weeks ago right as we were about to go home for the night. He was drunk at the time, and told us that you don't need religion, you just need to be a good person. But he said he'd be fine to hear a message sometime, so we set an appointment--which he missed. We ran into him again this week, sat down together, and he told us his story. He was raised Catholic and was super into it--then his friend invited him to another church. He realized that there are people who believed differently than his parents, and it made him start to wonder where the truth really was. He told us he had looked at just about every different type of Christian churchout there, but always felt like they only had part of the truth. He told that the Bible had been changed and corrupted by the multiple translations, that he couldn't believe Jesus and God were the same person, and that all the churches are just caught in a cycle of interpreting the scriptures different ways. Then he paused and said, "have you ever heard of apostasy?" Elder Ericson and I tried not to laugh out of shock, told him we needed to talk again, and went back the next day and taught him the Restoration. He seemed interested, we gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon, and we'll see where it goes. Just made me realize there are people out there that are waiting for this message!
Elder Gaughan

Monday, September 9, 2013


This has been a great week! Wednesday night something changed, and now we're teaching more than twice the lessons and are finding almost double the number of new investigators. Again, not much time this week, but there's not too much to talk about anyway. Elder Ericson is great--he's from Colorado, just graduated high school, and is extremely focused and obedient. I couldn't ask for a better Elder to train. Also, I found out that we get to see Neil L Anderson! We're going this Wednesday, I'll tell you how it goes.
Here's a picture from the baptism! Miguel, the one on the far right, is the son of Hilda Venegas (middle left), the less-active member Elder Walker and I knocked into last transfer. Ivan, the little guy with the big smile, is one I baptized. The family is wonderful--Hilda is always bright and cheerful, and understood everything when we taught her. Miguel and Ivan are pretty quiet, but their great too. Arturo, the husband in the middle, loved the service and started coming to church!
Elder Gaughan

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sorry this is a few days late

None of the libraries were open on Labor Day, so we had to wait until we had a free hour later in the
week. Things are good! Just yesterday we were on our way to visit a less-active member when we ran into a part-member family we've been trying to contact for 3 weeks. Their son was outside riding his bike, and the dad, Alfonso Diaz (not a member), walked right up to us and said hello when he saw us, invited us in for a drink, and we set a return appointment for next Tuesday. Sorry, don't have much time. Things are good. I had my first baptism!! I'll explain more next week and send a picture. I love you!
Elder Gaughan

Monday, August 26, 2013

Another week...

Well, it's been a good week. Elder Ericson and I set our first baptismal date! His name is Bene, he's around 30 years old, and he's from Guatemala. He was recently separated from his wife and children, and his wife has already married someone else (I know that doesn't quite make sense, but that's what he said. Maybe he and she were never married...). We've only had one lesson with him, so I don't know too much else. I swear, half of the guys living in his apartment are prepared. They're also all from Guatemala. One of them, Luis, lived in Utah before Texas. He's been to church several times, read the Book of Mormon, and knows it's the word of God. Otto is very spiritual and regularly reads the Bible. He responded very positively to the Joseph Smith story and said he would read the Book of Mormon. We're really excited to see what happens with them! 
    Also, we're going to have Elder Neil L Anderson visit us next month! There's an area restriction on who get's to go, so I'll find out today if I can go. 
   About the "Are you willing to listen to a brief presentation" phrase, it honest to goodness works. We were eating with members two nights ago and when we invited them to use the phrase sometime this week, the sister said she used it with a friend on Facebook, she said yes, had a lesson, and said she would be baptized if she received an answer. So give it a chance whenever you see an opportunity! 
Last thing. I had a really good experience this week that strengthened my testimony of Joseph Smith. We were talking to someone who had listened to the missionaries before, and, to say the least, he didn't agree with our message. He asked us where the Bible mentions Joseph Smith (in a rather aggressive tone), and when we responded to that, he said that Joseph Smith did nothing. When I heard that, something welled up inside me that told me it was time to testify. I told him he was wrong--that Joseph Smith reestablished the church of Jesus Christ, that he built temples, received revelation, and was a true prophet of God.
     I love this gospel and have always been grateful for Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and everything else he brought forth, but I have never felt the veracity of his calling so strongly as I did that night. God loves us, and he speaks today. He has called men in our days to continue the work of Jesus Christ in the earth. I testify that that is true.
Thanks for all the love and prayers, I can feel it every day!
Elder Gaughan

Monday, August 19, 2013


Things are going pretty well. It's definitely harder being in charge of an area than being the trainee that follows around an experienced missionary, but I'm learning a lot. We found some good investigators this week that we're excited to follow up on, but at the moment we don't have anyone ready for baptism. We're particularly excited about the Sabedro familia. They took lessons from the missionaries about 2 years ago, and when the missionaries changed they stopped coming by. They were really pretty happy to see us, and the mom still remembers about Joseph Smith (and we're hoping some other stuff).
  I had no idea what it meant to have the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many people think it's just another religion and they tell that it all leads to "one God." Well, yes, we are all trying to worship God, but what a blessing to know that He speaks in our day, and that He has blessed us with temples, a prophet, 12 apostles, the Book of Mormon, and so much more! That's incredible to me. I'm inspired by those who are devoted their religion, but it always makes me sad when they turn down the opportunity to learn that we have access to more of God's word.
  President Durrant gave a great invitation at Stake Conference yesterday. It's a phrase you can use anywhere--the grocery store, a restaurant, waiting in line--"Would you be willing to listen to a brief presentation about..." and you fill in the blank: "our religious beliefs," "our church," etc. They important thing is the words "willing" and "brief". Apparently, that seems to get the most positive responses. When they say yes, you write down their name, address, and phone number, and give it to the missionaries. If they say no, just keep having a conversation.
  So here's the challenge: use that phrase 5 times this week, and email me next Monday with the results. I promise that if you're willing to do it, someone will say yes. Have faith! The Lord will help you find the words--trust me.
Elder Gaughan

Monday, August 12, 2013

First Pictures!

Let me tell you, it's been a crazy week. It almost felt like my first week out in the field all over again, but without the comfort of an experienced companion. I've sure learned a lot though, it has been honest to goodness amazing to see how the Lord has supported and provided for us a companionship and me personally. Yesterday, for example, nothing seemed to be working. The members we had lined up to come out with us didn't answer the phone, we couldn't get a hold of our dinner appointment, and our GPS (which I desperately cling to to know how to get to our appointments) stopped working. Right as we were about to leave our apartment, a young man from the ward showed up to come out with us, 5 minutes later, the GPS was working, and last but not least, as we were tracting we knocked into a member family that was literally having a conversation about what to do with their leftovers from dinner. And that's just one example. I'm amazed at the Lord, literally in just days, increased my ability to understand Spanish, to plan, and to speak and teach and feel comfortable and natural while I do it.
     Elder Ericson is my new companion, and he's great. The very first day he was taking the initiative in contacting and teaching, and he wants to be the best missionary he can. We speak a lot more Spanish on our own than Elder Walker and I did which I love, and he's just generally doing a great job. We connected immediately when we found out that we had the same teacher in the MTC and that his district replaced mine when we left. 
    We definitely have a lot to learn, but things are really good. We're teaching the Barraza family right now, and we have a lot of hope for them. The mom and kids are already members and just started coming back to church, and the mom's boyfriend who lives with them, Wally, just started taking the lessons. He loves the church, said he's excited to read the Book of Mormon, and even asked us what he had to do to get baptized. Unfortunately they didn't come to church this week, so we're going to go by hopefully tomorrow or Wednesday and see what happened. 
Elder Gaughan 

1. Elder Ericson (my trainee!!)
2. Here's Elder Walker with his "descendants"-- Elder Ericson (my trainee), me, Elder Walker, Elder Evans (his new trainee), and another elder he trained with HIS trainee.

3. Familia Garcia--recent converts Elder Walker and I worked with a lot. Really, really good couple. Unfortunately their kids aren't members, but I think Elder Walker is still working on a few of them. 

4. Elder Walker, Hilda Venegas, her mom, and me. She's the woman we found that was baptized as a kid and has been inactive ever since. Elder Walker and Evans should are track to baptize her son and grandson next month!

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Work is REALLY Expanding

Well, it's been a very interesting week. I'm serving in the Oak Cliff 1st Ward, which has about 100-150 active members. We have 3 compananionships in the ward now! I got transfered to Oak Cliff South and um... I'm training. I have no idea how that happened or why, but I know it's the Lord's will! I'm nervous since we're more or less reopening our area as well, but I know we can do it with a positive attitude, hard work, and reliance on and faith in the Lord. We have 22 new missionaries coming in tomorrow, and that's when I'll find out who I'll train. Haha it'll be a nice review of everything I just learned this transfer.
    Investigators are doing pretty well. It's unfortunate though, because we got 14 people to church last month (4 of which showed up by themselves, miraculously), but only 1 came twice. We're still feeling good about Hilda Venegas and her family though, and there are some other good ones as well.
    Two crazy stories for the week: on Monday, about 95% of my white shirts somehow got covered in green spots in the dryer. I have no idea what happened, but there you go. Elder Walker and I just laughed about it, especially since it was the first week I hadn't done something dumb doing laundry. So for the next 3 days we tried three or four different cleaning methods, but unfortunately, none of them worked. So I might be requesting a new batch of shirts next week if we don't get that figured out. Also, we knocked into Joseph Smith yesterday. haha he said he gets a hard time about his name all the time.
Elder Gaughan

Monday, July 29, 2013

Missionary 101: Writing Letters Home

I'm so sorry my letter was so short last week. I think I've finally learned how to prioritize my letter writing: Mission President, big one to you, family and friends. It's just hard to fit it all into one hour.
This was a great week. We knocked a LOT of doors (it's Elder Walker's go-to whenever we aren't teaching or have other plans), and we found some people I'm really excited about. One is Lucy de la Rosa. We knocked her door on Saturday. She let us in, and we taught her, her son, and her grandaughter the first lesson, and when we asked her what she thought about the Joseph Smith story, she look at us with tears in her eyes and said, "it's true. I know it's true." She was going to her church every week before and reading the Bible on a regular basis, so I think she could be a VERY strong convert if things work out. She didn't come to church yesterday, but we're visiting her this week to find out why.
Also, the last two weeks we've had nonmembers just show up to church, which was a huge blessing from the Lord because most of our investigators haven't been coming. One of the them is really cool story: the familia Vasquez. The husband has been inactive for years, and the wife and kids aren't members. We stopped visiting them pretty soon after I got here because we could only every occasionally find Bro. Vasquez at home. Then, out of nowhere, they came to church yesterday! And gets better: we visited them yesterday evening, and they told us that they're schedules changed and they're now available every afternoon. I was just blown away by how every worked out. It really taught me that we should never give up on anyone, and any person or situation can change. The field is ripe, whether we see it or not, and it's not ours to judge what people will or won't do.
  The food is delicious. DELICIOUS. I've gained 5-10 pounds since I got here. And the Texas heat really isn't as terrible as every says, or at least it hasn't been so far. 
Also, we taught one lesson to a family this week that believes in a different living day prophet, some guy in Peru I think. So that was interesting. And then we talked to a guy who had converted the back of his house into a church. That was an interesting street.

I hope you're all doing well, 
Elder Gaughan

Monday, July 22, 2013

Settling In...

I am so sorry. I have 40 seconds, I was writing Nick and President and doing some other necessities. Investigators are good. Love you all very much!
Elder Gaughan

Ok, Elder Walker was nice and gave me some of his leftover time. But I'll still have to be short, I'm sorry. Our most exciting investigator is Hilda Vanegas. She's consistently reading the Book of Mormon, comes to church whenever possible, and just gets it. We're hoping she can get her family interested too. No pictures, I'm sorry! I'm buying a camera cord today so I can send some next monday. 

Missionary thought for the week: "Follow thou me, and I will make you fishers of men." Read that scripture, and think about the context. Part of being a disciple of Christ is being bold, both in obedience and inviting others to follow Him. Obviously there's a time and place for everything, but it's a good principle.


Elder Gaughan

Monday, July 15, 2013

July 15, 2013

So here's what's been going on: we have five progressing investigators right now, and I'm really excited about some of them. One is named Moises--the first time we sat down and talked with him, he told us he'd absolutely join a church with a living prophet, and he knew he'd know it was true by the feelings God put in his heart about it. and he lives in our apartment complex, so it's really easy to visit. We've had trouble getting a lesson because he wants his whole family to hear, and they're usually not home at the same time. We'll figure it out though.
    The language is going pretty well. It depends on how fast people talk, but I can usually follow the conversation and can always express myself. I definitely need to keep learning though. I was talking to a recent convert, David Garcia, about two weeks, and we had a little miscommunication. I tried to ask him if he had read about Lehi's dream, but I don't know what he heard, because his reponse was "Si, si... orange juice." Haha it's going pretty well though.
   I'm learning a lot about really being centered on Christ. One of the things that I've loved about being a missionary is talking with so many people who have a strong love for and belief in the Savior. Just before I sat down to email I was talking to a woman for 10 or 15 minutes about how she came to believe in Christ and what that means to her. A less active woman asked me and my companion this week, "Do you really know Jesus? Personally?" I've been thinking about that ever since. There's a scripture in 2 Nephi that talks about rejoicing in Christ, prophesying of Christ, speaking about Christ, etc., and I think we could all doing that--putting him at the center of hearts and minds.
Elder Gaughan

Monday, July 8, 2013

Questions and Answers

I'm on a timed computer at a library this time, and depending on how things go, I might not be able to write more than a few lines. It's complicated. Things are great here though, and the work is going pretty well. We set two baptismal dates this week, which was really exciting.
1. What area/city are you serving in?
 Oh... haha yeah I guess that's important. Oak Cliff West is my area. I think it's about 15-20 minutes outside of downtown Dallas, I don't know in what direction.
2. How are you coming with the language?
 It's going pretty good, I understand about 50-70% of what the native speakers say, and I can usually find the words to express myself. Funny story next week if I remember.
3. What's your favorite/coolest thing about your first week in the field?
 uhhh can't think of anything. no time! sorry! maybe just hearing peoples stories and helping them. I think that's it. People have very different lives here.
Elder Gaughan

Monday, July 1, 2013

Transition to Dallas

I'm not gong to lie, it was really weird landing in Dallas last Monday and realizing I'll be here for two years. We had a day and a half of training, then went out into the field. My trainer is Elder Walker. He's from Lehi Utah (just like my MTC companion) and he's on his second to last transfer. He's really easy going and flexible, so we get along well. The work is going fairly well--I think more than anything we just need to exercise more faith and be more goal oriented. We found a guy yesterday that seems golden--he understood why the message is important, said he wanted to know if it was true and would know by what he felt as he read and prayed. We have a few other great investigators and less-actives we're working with, so I'm excited to see what happens this week.
Oh and guess what? We got into the first house I knocked! Unfortunately we've had trouble getting a return appointment with him, but we'll try again this week.
   It feels so different than I ever expected being in the field, but I'm making the adjustment. I had a moment yesterday when it hit me that every single one of the people we talked to are precious children of God, and that that's why He sends us out to serve. You cannot successfully and diligently minister without a firm testimony of the divine identity and love for those whom you serve.
   The Savior lives, and he is helping us every day in ways we don't even understand.

Elder Gaughan

Saturday, June 22, 2013


Ok, I REALLY don't have too much time today--I have to do all my packing and finish up a bunch of other stuff today. 
It's exciting and a little scary to think I'll be in the field next week, but I know the Lord has been preparing me and those with whom I'll speak. 
Tell the family I say hi, I love them, and to share the gospel! 
Elder Gaughan

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Almost Done

Thank you so much for the updates! I'm so sorry, I was responding to other people and I'm really slow with this, and I ran out of time. Here's the news for the week: I ran into Elder Logan Nelson and Sister Danissa Dunn! I seen other people here that I've known here, but those was by far the most exciting and coolest experiences. I got my travel plans for Texas! I'm leaving the 24th at 4:30 in the morning (from the MTC) with three other missionaries in my district going to Dallas. I'm sad to think I have to let go of the elders and sisters in my district, but I'm excited and ready to go out into the field. The night before on Sunday, I'll be singing in the giant MTC choir for the church-wide missionary work conference on the 23rd. If any of you are going to that, look out for me! Mom I got the package, thank you so much! That was so nice of you to do in the midst of all the packing and everything going on right now. I loved the Sprite packaging too, that was a nice touch. 
We belong to the true the church of Jesus Christ, and this is His work. We have so much to be grateful for! Good luck with finishing the move, I'll be praying for you!
Elder Gaughan

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Missionary Training Center

Well it's been a good week here. On Friday morning, someone from the MTC's PR or something came into our room, gathered together our district, and told us we'd have a group of baptist ministers visiting our class with the president of the MTC and Elder Hinckley (President Hinckley's son, the emeritus General Authority). Unfortunately it messed a lot with our focus for the day, but the experience itself was really, really good. They came into our class, and besides asking a few questions, spent 15 minutes praising us for being here and spending our time in the Lord's service. They even said a blessing over us and prayed for us, it was amazing. And we all got permission to say the baptist "amen" as the head minister talked about how loving the Savior is the great commandment, so that was pretty fun. But really, it showed me that there are good, good people outside of our church that love, serve, and know Jesus Christ, and that it's not quite so much "us against the world" as I always thought. One of them offered a prayer, and it was one of the warmest, most sincere, and most beautiful I think I've ever heard. It made me think a lot about how I speak to my Heavenly Father and how I treat my prayers. 

The MTC is a humbling experience. Every day the Lord teaches me that I need to depend on Him, and that I have no hope of being the missionary, companion, or leader He needs me to be without His help. Especially in terms of learning to love people like the Savior--I'm starting to understand how fundamental that is, and why it comes before everything else. I read 3 Nephi 17 this week, and I feel like I just got the smallest glimpse of how much He loves each of us, and how much He helps us every day. 

Elder Gaughan

                                       Our District during a VIP guest visit

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Life is Good

Wow, things are really crazy over there. I'm sorry, I spent too much time reading and working on other letters so this will have to be a quick one. The district is doing well, we're learning and growing a lot. We set a goal to speak 100% Spanish yesterday, so that was hard, but went well. We're doing good though. I realized the other day that almost whenever I speak I end up slowing down a lot and "um"ing through a lot of my sentences. Haha we taught a native speaker last week, and I had to keep myself from laughing when I heard him talk and realized I barely know what I'm doing. But things are good. Did I tell you that there's a sister from SVU in my district? Crazy right? Her name is Sister Libby Braddy. I didn't know her too well before, but it's been cool having someone from my "previous life" here. Things are good besides that. Your weaknesses really come out in here, and you start to realize just how far you have to go. But every day is inspiring and motivates me to be a little better, and to lean on the Savior a little more. And don't worry, I have a lot of fun too. My district is hilarious and our teachers are awesome.
I'm praying for you guys, I hope everything keeps moving forward well. The gospel is true! 
Elder Gaughan

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Growing and Learning

First of all, I don't know when I'll have time to respond to everyone (I can't believe how many letters/emails I've already gotten), but you're posting this on the blog right? I just hope everyone knows who's written me how much it's meant. Every letter puts a big smile on my face. I don't know if I ever mentioned this to anyone before I left, but I realized recently that at least in part, I wanted to dedicate these two years as a big thank you to all the family, friends, and teachers that have helped me get to this point. I'm here first and foremost because I love the Savior and want to bring His gospel to Heavenly Father's children, but I've been almost overwhelmed recently as I've thought about all the goodness and kindness I've received throughout the years. 
     By the way, I've run into a ton of people I know. I met Bro. Jarman's brother literally on the first day--he taught a workshop my companion and I just happened to run into. Haha I couldn't believe how similar they were, I almost felt like I was back in Green Valley Ward. Elder Wood got a picture of us, so I'll try to send that to you soon. I also run into Elder Justin McBeth every day or two, so that's been a lot of fun,
    The Spanish is coming along really pretty well, we've taught 5 lessons and it's definitely becoming a little easier every time. 
  The gospel has opened up to me both intellectually and practically this week and a half in really meaningful ways.
Love, John
Picture Update: 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

First Email Home

First of all, everything has been a crazy blur. The MTC has been an eye-opening and really good experience so far, but it's definitely a lot harder than I expected. Every second of the day there's something scheduled, you get a lot of (really good) goals and challenges from a multiple, uncoorrdinated sources, we're in class for about 16 hours every day, and we already taught our first lesson in Spanish. It's amazing here though. On the first day they had three big rooms, and they took all the new missionaries in to watch a simulated discussion in each one. Long story short, it really displayed to me the power in this work and the difference we can we can make as representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ. While the intense schedule and demands are already leaving me a little bit stretched, every day I'm seeing little miracles, and there's always at least one or two really powerful moments when the Spirit hits home and gives me a broader perspective and gets me really, really excited for the work.
      My companion's name is Elder Wood. He's from Lehi, Utah, and he's a great young man. He wants to be as obedient as possible, and he's always sharing great spiritual insights with me, which has been great. I can't tell you how grateful I am the Lord gave me a companion that's looking to be his absolute best. We have our disagreements and things about each other that don't click, but we've really been able to help each other be better missionaries. I know the Lord had a purpose in mind when he made us companions. Haha funny story about that though. When I went to class and met my district for the first time, my companion didn't show up. We sat around, had a little orientation, then went to the new missionary devotional with all the elders and sister that reported this week. My comp still hadn't showed up, so I just sat between the other two elder companionships in my district. The main speaker, a member of the MTC  presidency, kept saying things like "Well here you are, presumably with your new companion," and "we have a little exercise for you and your companion" and "here's some advise about how to make the best out of your companionship," so my district got a kick out of that. But we were unpacking in our rooms a little later and Elder Wood finally showed up, and we all celebrated.
       This gospel is true, and this work really is the most important and glorious on the earth. It's hard, really the most demanding thing I've ever done; but there's no where else I'd rather be. I wish I had time to tell you about the first lesson we taught--I've never experienced anything like that. The spanish is coming along well, but I know I can push myself to use it more.
Love you!
Elder Gaughan

P.S. I was called as District Leader yesterday. To me, it's just another testimony that Heavenly Father knows what His children need. I feel like at least in part this was given as an opportunity for me to focus on loving, helping, and lifting those around me. It means a few more responsibilities and meetings, but I'm grateful for the opportunity. Would you mind keeping the district in your prayers? We have a great group of missionaries, but I know we all need the help.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Elder Gaughan's Mission Farewell

Gaughan Family
Nick, Mike, John, Sheree, Frank, Kyler, Alex, Tara and Penelope
All Friends and Family Who Came to Elder Gaughan's Farewell
Gaughan Brothers
Nick, Mike, John and Alex
John and Nick