Monday, June 23, 2014

June 23, 2014

 "If you're here to talk to me about God, why was the first thing you asked me was if I wanted a card from your church?" That's what one woman asked us this week as we contacted on a public trail. That question hit me pretty hard. Yes, the point of asking "hey, can we give you a card from our church?" is usually just a way to start taking to someone, but her question made me reflect on what my priorities are when I'm talking to someone. Is it to get them to listen to our message? To convince them they need to come to our church? To help them feel God's love for them? 
     The Lord's organization, and the priesthood authority that accompanies it, is necessary for our eternal salvation, and I can't adequately express what a blessing they are. But that, like every other principle of the Gospel, is an appendage to the message of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the hope, understanding, love, and healing that are only available through His Atonement. If people don't feel and understand that as I talk to them, I don't think I'm really doing my job. The biggest thing I learned this week is the great importance of learning how to love people and be more focused on helping them come unto Christ--as we share the message of the Restoration.
       We taught a new investigator last week, and out of the blue he called us four or five days later and asked us if we stole his watch and gun. I thought he was joking at first, but then he asked again, and when I told him no, we hadn't robbed him, he said goodbye quickly and hung up. When we tried to confirm the next appointment we had with him he told us he couldn't make it and didn't want us to call him again. We were confused and a little sad when we saw that, especially because he seemed like someone that really needed the gospel. 
   We had two people commit to a baptismal goal this week! It's been awhile since we've had a date, so we were excited. Their names are Norma and Rudy if you want to keep them in your prayers.

Elder Gaughan

A New Photo!

Monday, June 16, 2014

I love being a missionary.

I love getting know to know people, share the Gospel with them, and hear their stories (even when they take 45 minutes to tell them). I'm grateful that the Lord has given me more patience to listen. Yesterday, a man told us about how he recovered from brain surgery with God's help. It's hard for me to comprehend how God can be so good to so many people. Yes, there is more suffering, hurt, hate, sin, and ugliness in the world than we can grasp or would like to think about, but I can testify with certainty that our Heavenly Father also loves His children and works miracles--real, inexplicable miracles--every day. 
      One of the most satisfying and exciting things I've experienced as a missionary is hearing about previous areas where I have served. Just today I was looking through the list of people baptized in the mission, and I saw a man from my last area that wouldn't even sit down and talk with us when I was there! I also received the news that a woman that I taught for about 5 months passed her baptismal interview and is planning to be baptized in two weeks! 
     The most exciting thing we saw this week was Elizabeth and Martin G. come to Sacrament Meeting. They both work like crazy, and when they aren't, they are remodeling their mobile home/doing errands/dealing with 2 extremely wayward children, etc. They only let us come by on Saturdays when they're both off work. They face a lot of difficult situations, but they love the church and have told us they don't want to go anywhere else. 
     Other than that it was a pretty normal week though. We had our last meeting with President Durrant which was pretty sad, but he showed us some clips from his basketball days at BYU, and another of when he gave a talk in General Conference right after his mission which lightened things up a bit. We also had the opportunity with 4 other companionships in the our zone to teach about a chapter from Preach My Gospel at the Longview Stake Youth Conference (I think dad should have gotten a picture from a sister there), which was a good experience. 
      Have a great week! and act on those promptings to help someone or share the gospel! 
Elder Gaughan

Monday, June 9, 2014

Life is Good.

We had another great week! Like always there were some disappointments and frustrations, but we also found some amazing new investigators and are continuing to work with some great people we started teaching last month. One example is Norma G. The English missionaries knocked into her and gave her a Book of Mormon, but she preferred Spanish so they gave her our information. She was raised in another church, but she said more than anything she wants to follow God. We taught the Restoration and both Elder Ballstaedt and I were really surprised--she captured every principle and its importance, and agreed with everything we shared. We talked about Joseph Smith and she liked it and understood exactly the significance of the First Vision and the restoration of the Priesthood. She committed to read the pamphlet we left and pray about it, and asked for a Book of Mormon in Spanish, which we happily gave her.
     One thing I've been happy to notice recently is that I've become more focused on people than on simply teaching the lesson and getting the commitments to read the pamphlet/Book of Mormon, pray, and setting an appointment to come back. Sometimes there is so much structure and evaluation as a missionary that it can be hard to focus on the most important thing--the spiritual progression of the people we teach. I think part of that has come from our focus as a companionship and zone on our missionary purpose-- invite others to come unto Christ by helping them live His gospel (faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, enduring to the end). My testimony has strengthen of the importance of maintaining the most basic principles as we go about our day. 
     Other key events of the week: 
-Elder Ballstaedt got a package from his family on this last week with 3 boxes of Chips Ahoy, the last of which will probably be gone tonight. We need to improve our eating habits. 
-We're getting a new Mission President this month, which is in some ways a real shame. President Durrant is one of the more dedicated and Christ-like people that I have ever met, and I can't begin to count the ways he has influenced my mission. But obviously it will be exciting to have someone new, and I'm sure President Taylor has some great things in store for us.
-We knocked a very memorable street of mobile homes this week: we were told there were almost pure hispanics there, and then the first 4 houses we knocked we Americans saying that same thing (one of which was an old man with a VERY strange home interior and story. Ask me about it one day after the mission and I'll share the details). We finally found a nice hispanic family that night, and came back the next day to teach 4 more lessons, including one to a less-active member that wasn't on the ward list.

I love the gospel and what it does to people! I love how merciful and patient God is, and how He allows us to struggle and fail. I love seeing the promises of the gospel fulfilled in my own life and in the lives of others. God's plan and love is perfect, and the biggest thing He has left to us is to make the right choices in the little things every day. Have a great week! 

Elder Gaughan

P.S. If any of you think about buying a small dog, such as a Chihuahua... just don't. Please. I've met about 5 cool ones on my mission and about 1,000 that just yap and yap and yap and try to bite you.  

Monday, June 2, 2014

Short and Sweet

We had a great week! It was a little overwhelming with some of the things we had to take care of for the zone and the fact that I'm still fairly new to the area didn't help, but we saw success and are excited for this transfer. We have lots of big plans! Unfortunately we have to get a big training ready for tomorrow so I don't have much time today, but I'm grateful for each of you and keep you in my prayers. Thank you for everything! 
Elder Gaughan