Monday, July 28, 2014

East Texas

Hey everyone
Sorry again for not sending out anything last week. Here are a couple of the big updates:

-I don't know if you all remember when I talked about Maria Socorro, but she was baptized! I taught her almost daily for about 3 months, and when I left that area I wasn't too sure how things would turn out. But she made it! And to make it even better, the companion I found her with baptized her (Elder Trujillo), and my next companion confirmed her (Elder Nebeker)! She's not very good at writing, has bad eyesight, and doesn't have email, so I haven't had any contact with her, I've heard it was a great baptismal service and she should be doing well.
-We saw a "milagrito" (little miracle) the other night. We were coming back from a city about 30 minutes away from Longview, and we found ourselves almost home with 10 minutes to spare before 9:00 (when we need to return to our apartment). We turned off into a mostly American-populated neighborhood near our house wondering where in the world we were going to find a Hispanic to talk to. Incredibly, we quickly spotted the house of a Mexican family that had been busy the first time we came by, so we walked around to the front of the house to find a woman with three of her children on the front porch. We started to talk, and she told us she had had a pretty bad day due to marital problems, so we talked to her about how God can help, said a prayer, and set up another day to come by. 
-We're teaching a man named Juan that has grown a whole lot closer to God since we met him. To make a long story short, for the first time in his life he started recognizing the influence of the Holy Ghost and receiving revelation. The last time we came by he told us that things were clicking, he felt different, and he was spending more time with his kids. He prayed about Joseph Smith and the restoration of Christ's Church, and he said he felt good about it. In the end of the visit we set a baptismal goal with him for September 20th!
-We found ourselves riding bikes a good portion of the week due to a lack of allotted miles on our mission car, which always makes things a little more interesting!
-Last week I spent a day with an English missionary serving here in Longview, and it was an interesting experience. Seeing as Elder Ballstaedt and I only speak in Spanish to each other, it felt a little weird speaking English all day. At one point without thinking a started talking to him in Spanish, and didn't catch myself for about twenty or thirty seconds. haha we both got a good laugh out of that one.
-Sequedas. They are everywhere. Also, the have wild, 400 lbs hogs here. That's East Texas for ya.

So things are good! We definitely have a lot to improve, but it's amazing to see how God guides and helps us and others as we seek out His will.

Love you!

Elder Gaughan

Monday, July 14, 2014

Back to Basics

Hey everyone! 
So, because of that experience with the man last week that, out of nowhere, told us he didn't believe in God, I've been thinking a lot more about helping people understand the basics--even those raised in a Christian home.
   The first thing we share with people is usually the principle that God is our loving Heavenly Father, we are His children, and that Jesus Christ, His Son, is at the center of Heavenly Father's plan for us. One of the scriptures we've been using lately to teach this is Psalms 147: 
He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.
He telleth the number of the starshe calleth them all by their names.
Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.
The Lord lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down tothe ground.

Here we learn about some of the fundamental characteristics of God: 1) He wants to heal us when we are suffering, and can do it. He's truly sad when we suffer, and wants to help us. He loves us. 2) He knows, by name, His creations. He is very much aware of each of us as individuals and everything that is going on at every moment. He knows everything that we have and are experiencing. 3) God can do things. Anything, actually. He is omnipotent. So why doesn't He always snatch us out of our hard situations, or stop all the pain and heartache that we experience? Why does He let our plans fail or let us fall short? Because His understanding is infinite, and sees things that we don't. 4) He expects things from us. He blesses us for doing and striving to be good, and punishes us for when we do wrong. He wants us to be obedient and gives us strength, guidance, and miracles when we do His will. 
Unfortunately my computer just told me I have 2 minutes left. My testimony is that God is our Loving Heavenly Father, and we are His children. Jesus Christ is the center of His perfect plan. 

I love you all! Thank you for everything! 

Elder Gaughan   

Monday, July 7, 2014

Good Two Weeks

Hey Gaughan fam! 
It's been it's been a good two weeks! Sorry I didn't get this sent out last week. We're using library computers and the time limit ended before I did. Our area is definitely improving though! For the last two weeks we have had double the number of people we've been working with in church than we've had in the last 3 months! Elder Ballstaedt is a very driven missionary and is always looking for ways we can improve our teaching, planning, and how to help the branch and those we're visiting more. The most exciting thing that we saw this week was that a man the missionaries have been visiting for quite some time, Rene, finally came to church. For the last 11 months he has been reading the Book of Mormon (which he recently finished and started again from the beginning), listening to the missionaries, and making the changes in his life necessary to be baptized. The only thing that prevented him from taking that step was the fact that he worked on Sundays, and couldn't come to church, which finally changed! He's now preparing to be baptized on the 20th of July. Never in my mission have I seen someone so patient and dedicated to following the Lord in spite of his obstacles. 
      Our new Mission President is great! I was really surprised by the way he started everything in our first meeting with him. Rather than talking about baptismal numbers, goals, teaching tactics, key indicadors, or anything else, he bore testimony of the Savior, and taught us out of John 15 and other scriptures about the importance of depending on Christ, becoming unified, and loving and serving one another. He taught about what it means to minister to others and what the most important responsibilties of a leader are.
      I was studying one morning about a week and a half ago, and I realized that I could improve a lot in depending on the Spirit to know where to go, what to do, and what to say. Time is one of the most precious things you have as a missionary, and when you have plans to visit someone and they don't answer the phone, or you're trying to decide where to knock doors, the only recouse you have is the guidance of the Spirit.
      With that in mind, I began to pray to know where to go whenever our plans fell through and at the beginning and end of the day, and I was amazed by what happened. For the next two or three days, we kept finding ourselves exactly where we needed to be, when we needed to be there. I have never experienced anything like it. Peoples names would come to mind, and we would stop by just when they had some down time or got back home. We taught more lessons and used our time more effectively, and I enjoyed each day more knowing the Spirit was leading us.
     We also learned the importance of really getting to know people as we begin to share the gospel with them. There's a man we starting teaching about 2 weeks ago that lives with some friends. He seemed to have a good testimony of the existence of God, so we didn't spend as much time on that concept and moved on to other things. All of a sudden we got a text from him last Sunday saying that if God existed, He never would have separated this man from his family, and told us not to visit him anymore. We had no clue about his situation or the resultant pain and doubt he was experiencing. We never asked. As the hymn says, "In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can't see," and as disciples and representatives of the Savior, the experience taught me that we need to love people enough to get to know them, and help them with the real problems they face.   
Thank you for all of your prayers, emails, and letters! I love you!
Elder Gaughan