Monday, August 25, 2014

From 15 cities... to 10 square miles

Well, things are a little different here than my last area! I didn't realize it but I was literally sent to the other side of the mission--Longview (my last area) borders Louisiana and Grand Prairie borders Fortworth. And let me tell you, it is different. I'm now on a bike for the first time, and we cover a section of one city. It's still the same great work though and it's been a good week.
    I'll start off with the best part of this week. The man in this picture is Steve Valdez. You might find something about him in my emails from July and August of 2013 when my trainer and I knocked on his door and started visiting him. Yesterday I saw him receive the Melchizedek priesthood!! The last time I saw Brother Valdez, he had no intentions of being baptized and had told us that he felt that the Book of Mormon was fiction. Yesterday, hardly believing what I was seeing and hearing, I listened to him describe how after I left the area, he kept listening to the missionaries, reading the BoM, started attending church, and how he started to open his mind. After much fasting and prayer, he received the answer that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. With time, he gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon, and finally was baptized. He just looked so happy! And he had changed. 
   If you know someone that has turned away from God, fell off the path, or isn't open to listen at the moment, don't give up on them! Keep loving, serving, and inviting. I've also learned in a very real way that anyone who will read the scriptures, pray regularly, come to church, and earnestly seek to know if this Church is true and what they should do to follow Jesus Christ, will receive an answer. Not only that, but their hearts and minds will be softened, and they will find strength and hope. 
    My new companion is Elder Fisi'iahi. He's from central California, has only been out for 4 months, and is a great missionary. He definitely grew up in a different situation and culture, but we've been able to find things in common (for example, we both played rugby and volleyball before the mission), and are learning a lot from each other. And we get along well! He's really strong and told me he used to get into some pretty serious fights during high school, so I'm trying really hard to keep it that way. A member from Longview taught me some Tongan phrases the night before I left like "ofa lahi atu" (I love you a lot) and "fefe hake" (how are you?), which made Elder Fisi'iahi pretty excited.
    That's all the big news though! We've had the opportunity to help some really special members and investigators this week, and we're excited to see what happens. 
Ofa lahi atu!
Elder Gaughan

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