Monday, February 24, 2014

Another Good Week!

It's been a good week! Lots of learning opportunities about planning and using time effectively. The best thing that happened is we found a great new investigator named Bernardino. He's a young Hispanic guy that lives on the same street as Jason Quinteros, our recent convert. We knocked on his door and he answered--he told us all of his housemates were drinking, but he was willing to listen to a message (that was a fantastic sign to start out). As soon as we sat down he told us he didn't have much faith in God, but really wanted to come to know him more. We had a great lesson about who God is, and how we can come closer to Him (prayer and the scriptures). He said wanted to come to church and asked for the address, and we taught him how to pray and he offered a prayer asking to know if God exists. The next day we had another great lesson about the Restoration, and he understood everything perfectly. We explained church a little more, and when we said it was three hours but the first hour (sacrament meeting) was the most important, he said, "Hey I've got the time, I want to learn everything I can." He also accepted the baptismal invitation, and now we just have to set a date. Unfortunately he didn't make it to church (we're almost positive it was because of his work schedule), but we'll see him again this week.
  What amazed me about this is that we've been on that street literally almost every single day for the past 3 months, and never met him. I assumed we had talked to just about everybody and really didn't expect to find any new investigators there. It taught me that there are great opportunities (in missionary work as well as in general) around us that we sometimes fail to notice and are right in front of our eyes.

I testify that Jesus Christ is at the head of this work, and that He restored His church. Yesterday a man named Steve was baptized in Oak Cliff, my first area as a missionary. I found him with Elder Walker last august, and never thought it would go anywhere. The man was a former Baptist missionary and had specifically been taught about why Mormonism is false. He objected to almost every uniquely LDS doctrine we taught at first. Those who seek diligently will find an answer about this message, and we can have confidence in that! This gospel is true.

Elder Gaughan

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

D&C 84:20-21 Explained

D&C 84:20-21: Therefore, in the aordinances [of the Priesthood], the power of bgodlinessis manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the aauthority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is bnot manifest unto men in the flesh.

Personally, I could never make sense of this scripture. I knew it was important, but I really wasn't sure what the Lord was getting at; I always assumed it meant something like feeling the Spirit really strongly when you participate in ordinances, but that didn't seem to be the answer. Well, the Dallas East Stake President, President Larsen, visited the Dallas 5th Ward for Ward Conference and explained this scripture to the elders and high priests of the ward. He explained that through the ordinances of the Priesthood, truly miraculous things happen that can only be done by the power of God. When we are baptized, are sins are washed away. When we receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, we receive the right to his constant companionship. When we are sealed in the temple, we are bound by the power and authority of God to those we love for all eternity. If that isn't the power of godliness made manifest, I don't know what is. I realized these ordinances are essential for our process of conversion and becoming more and more like our Heavenly Father.
    For example: I remember very clearly our first visit with Jason Quinteros after his baptism. We had visited with him in his house more times than I could count, and we had definitely felt the Spirit there before; but we went in after immediately after he had received the Gift of the Holy Ghost, I noticed right away that the "vib" of the house had changed. The Spirit was already there when we came in. Soon into our conversation with Jason's father, Elder Trujillo said to him, "Your house feels different you know." I was surprised, because I hadn't commented anything to him. I have no doubt that was a direct effect of Jason's decision to worthily participate in the ordinances of the priesthood.

I've come to develop a strong testimony of the true power of Priesthood ordinances--they are real, and in the "power of godliness is manifest." It is only through that authority, worthily exercised, that we can receive the full blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I testify that that is true, and that is why it is important that we share this message with everyone who is willing to listen.

Elder Gaughan

Monday, February 10, 2014

Where he left off...

It's been another great week! I'll start with finishing the story from last week though. This doesn't so much show what we did as much as how Christ is with us through our trials:

The Oliva family didn't know what to expect when we got to the hospital. When we finally got to see her, you could tell she was in bad shape, but not as much as we were expecting. One of the first things we noticed was a famous LDS portrait of Jesus Christ above the girl's bed. The mother told us the situation: for the past several days, their daughter had been talking about a man that was behind her in the room. She told her parents that he been there for looking after for awhile, and that he ought to go by now because he had been there so long. They couldn't figure out what she was talking about, until they got a package from Sister Oliva. They opened it up and right there at the top was the picture of Christ--then the little girl said, "mom, look! It's the man!" 
    The Thursday before we came, the girl had a dream with the Man. He told her that everything was going to be ok and she needed to trust the doctors, and it wasn't her time. When we gave the blessing, Elder Nebeker felt impressed to echo the same message. Let me tell you, this was one of the most emotional and miraculous situations I've ever seen. The last thing we knew, she was going to go into a seriously risky, last-option surgery. But we asked Sister Oliva about it just a day or two ago, and she said it went just fine and she was recovering.

Ok, now something lighter. Last night we had a pretty funny experience with an investigator. She's older and doesn't remember things well, and the last reading assignment we gave her Moroni 10, which has the famous invitation to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. Well, she told us she went back a few pages and read chapter 9 as well, which if you're not familiar with it, is one of the most gruesome and saddening chapters in all of scripture. When she told us she read it, I said, "Yeah that chapter is... uh..." "absolutely beautiful. You know, I liked it so much I read it twice." I'm really not sure what happened... my best bet is she read something else.

I know this work is true, and I'm grateful every day to be a part of it and represent Jesus Christ.

Elder Gaughan

For a preview of next week's email, read D&C 84:20-21. We had a great lesson from the Stake President on what that actually means.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Finally a letter!

I usually wish I had an extra 2-3 hours to write this letter--there are so many incredible things that have happened and miracles we've seen. The biggest news though is that I got a new companion! Elder Trujillo was transferred out and I'm staying in Seagoville with Elder Nebeker from Idaho Falls, Idaho. And yes, I'm training him. Haha every time I train it makes me see my faults a little larger, but I also love the opportunity to teach a new missionary and watch him learn and grow. We've had some amazing things happen in the last few weeks, it's hard to know where to start!
  Miracle #1: Maria Socorro (the woman I wrote about a few weeks ago and sent a picture of) is getting baptizd this month!! We invited her to be baptized 2 or 3 times, and every time she said that she felt good about everything we were sharing, but that she was catholic, needed to be sure, and might be ready in A FEW YEARS. On Elder Trujillo's last Monday night before being transferred, we had a lesson with her and asked if she had prayed about being baptized. She told us that it was funny we should ask, because the day at church she was sitting in sacrament meeting and this strong, wonderful feeling came over her and she new she needed to be baptized. She accepted a date for February 22!! She comes to church every week, and is helping us get appointments to teach her family as well.
   Miracle #2: About a month ago, a family in the ward called us up to come give a blessing to their niece visiting from Mexico. She was about 4 years old and was very sick, and her mother being a less-active member though a blessing might help. We went over the same day, gave the blessing, and didn't hear anything about it until Elder Trujillo's last day. We were on the phone with the family so that Elder Trujillo could say goodbye, when they told us that the little girl got better almost instantly after the blessing, and if I remember right her mother came to church the next Sunday.
   Miracle #3: Late last night, we got a call from a member, Sis. Oliva, asking us if we could come give a family friend a blessing. She told us that their daughter was literally on the verge of death--she had battled cancer for months, and now was having an extremely serious problem with her lungs. The situation became worse last week, and Sis. Oliva asked the family if they would be open to having the missionaries from her church give her a blessing, and they said yes. We went to the hospital this morning, and to make a long story short, the little girl was doing incredible. For lack of time I'll finish the story next week.

I've been thinking about a scripture a lot recently, 1 Timothy 4:12--"Let no man despise thy youth, but be thou an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in purity."  In the church, things tend to happen a very young age--we get baptize at 8, young men receive the priesthood at 12, we send out missionaries at 18 and 19 years old, and we usually get sealed for time and all eternity in our early 20's. This is the Lord's pattern because our Heavenly Father trusts us, and uses the weak and simple things and people to confound the wise and learned. As children of God we have more potential to be excellent than we often think or expect, if we include the Lord.
   I'm so grateful to be a full-time missionary and be in this work! Love you all!

Elder Gaughan