Monday, November 24, 2014

A Learning Experience...

Alright, so this week has been what you might call a LEARNING EXPERIENCE. I'll share a small portion of it. 
   This last week we had the opportunity to attend a monthly meeting with leaders from all over the mission. It's called the Mission Leadership Council, and although about 30+ missionaries attend, our mission President really does treat it like a church council in which we have a guided conversation as we try to resolve difficulties or different things with the mission. More than anything it was amazing to me to see how the Spirit guided. This time the main issue we discussed was how to help missionaries use their time more effectively between the hours of 10:00 and 5:00, when many people are working and not available to be visited or taught. More than once I had a specific thought that I felt needed to be shared but couldn't find a window to do so with all the comments that were flying back and forth, when someone else raised their hand and shared the exact same thought!
     At the end I was especially amazed. The meeting ended up running going three mornings straight, and at the close of the final council, during the closing prayer, I had the question come into my mind, "Ok, we've figured out a good way to balance our time as missionaries, but how much should I dedicate to the zone? I know at the moment it's not enough." As the closing prayer ended, President Taylor stood up and said, "We could spend another three days talking about this, but I'll keep it down to 2 minutes. How much time do you think you should dedicate to helping your zones?" People began to suggest time percentages and it was quickly agreed on that about 25% of our time was reasonable. President Taylor seemed to agree with it, and that was the last thing discussed. Incredible, right? 
    Also, Elder Del Aguila. The truth is, as a missionary there are a lot of things we are instructed to do, be, and teach, and report, and if you're not careful, you can become more caught up in fulfilling the things you've been trained to do than really worry about the eternal welfare of the souls of the members and nonmembers with which you work. Elder Del Aguila is a convert to the church of about 5 years, and is different than many missionaries I have met in his way of thinking about the work, teaching, and interacting with his companion. During the last two weeks as we've come to know each other, I've been able to reflect upon and see more clearly the priorities I've had as a missionary, and take off the "missionary goggles" that can sometimes actually impede us from having true charity and a focus on the eternal well-being of others. I've reflected a lot recently on the follow scriptures:
2 Nephi 2:30
And I have none other object save it be the everlasting welfare of your souls.
2 Nephi 33:3-4
But I, Nephi, have written what have written, and esteem it as of great worthand especially unto my people. For pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and cry unto my God in faith, and know that he will hear my cry.
And know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people. And the words which have written in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal.
That's about all for this week! But I'm doing well, and the people we're working with are coming along line upon line. 
Love you! 
Elder Gaughan

Monday, November 17, 2014

Transfers Again...

So, as you already know my time with Elder Pigott ended up being pretty short. I almost put "unfortunately" at the beginning of that last sentence, and then I remembered that our mission president and the assistants spend several days praying, counseling, pondering, and seeking the inspiration of God as they make these decisions. So, although I don't know why, the Lord has blessed Elder Pigott and I with new companions. There was room to do better on my part, but I really enjoyed being with him, learned a ton, and we're staying in touch! So all is well. 
     Seeing Tommy at transfers was way exciting! That morning was pretty interesting because they totally changed the way they announce which missionaries are going where. 
     My new companion is Elder Sergio Del Aguila. We've been acquainted for a long time (he's been out for 20 months) but I never really new him. Interestingly enough, he's my third companion that is the only member of the church in his family. I'll try to write more about the perspective that's given me in an email soon. He's also a great teacher and missionary (and is just fun to be around) so it will be a great transfer! 
     Truth be told, I haven't had to endure a lot of hardships as a missionary. Last night an investigator was telling us how she felt bad for everything we went through after she saw "The Other Side of Heaven," and I just laughed--honestly, it's not even CLOSE. No starvation, life-threatening diseases, or rats chewing on our feet at night here in Texas. Life really is great. We are so blessed here! The hardest physical or circumstantial challenge I've had to face is being on a bike area in winter. Obviously that doesn't even begin to compare, but going through it this time (I was in a car last winter) has  me reflect more on the sacrifices of the early Saints crossing the plains, and the hard, unpleasant, challenging things that others before me have done to follow God or help those they love.  
     And speaking of the cold, it snowed last night! 
Our investigators are doing alright. If you could please keep Nora Rodriguez and the Saucedo/Chinchilla family in your prayers, I would really appreciate it. Of all the people we visit they have the most potential and have grown and progressed in my time here, but they both need some miracles and a little more help to make the steps toward full repentance and baptism.
Love you! I think I might have said this last week, but I just love being a Gaughan! I love it when I get to talk about y'all when other missionaries, members, or investigators ask me about my family. 
Elder Gaughan

Bonus Picture!

This is the Rodriguez family! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Look Who It Is!

Tommy Hainline and Elder Gaughan! 
Tommy was dropping of the Elders from his ward in the Mission Transfer Zone and spotted Elder Gaughan! Always nice to see these smiling faces! 

Monday, November 10, 2014

November and More Pictures!

Hey everyone! 
I had a pretty cool experience on Friday and Saturday this week. A few weeks ago I mentioned that I had the opportunity to see Steve Valdez, a man my trainer and I found the first week of my mission in Oak Cliff, be ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood. Well, on Friday we did exchanges with our zone leaders, who are currently serving in Oak Cliff, and Friday night we picked up Brother Valdez and he came to our lessons! If you had told me that would happen a year ago, I never would have believed it. It's amazing to see how he's changed and grown, and I could tell by the way he speaks now that he's put his trust in the Lord in a way he didn't before. Haha it was a little surreal when he accompanied us back to Grand Prairie to exchange back and met Elder Pigott, seeing as they are two of the biggest miracles of my mission. It struck me how the Lord really does send us tender mercies and miracles that increase our faith. 
     There's a possibility that one of us will get transferred tomorrow, but we still don't know! Normally we get the call Saturday night, but this time we'll get the call tonight just to know IF we'll be transferred, and won't find out where to or who will be our companion until we get to the meeting on Tuesday. 
      I learned a pretty important last night about helping ourselves and other repent and keep the commandments. As Chapter 3 of Preach My Gospel points out in the section about the commandments, “God gave unto them commandments, after having made known unto them the plan of redemption” (Alma 12:32). We're teaching a couple that is living together but are not married, and yesterday we felt the need to talk to them about that. Rather than just jumping into how they are breaking a commandment and it's really important that they start keeping it, we tied it back into really good lesson we had a week or two ago about the plan of salvation, the role of the Atonement and what we need to do in order to access its power. It tied the commandment back into something they already understood and accepted as important, and why a change is necessary in their lives in order to progress in God's plan. They understood, and accepted the invitation to pray about it. 
   As in all things, God is our perfect example. It's important that we explain or consider the plan of salvation--our purpose, who we, our Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ are, the importance of His sacrifice, and where we're going after this life--as we strive to live or help others live the gospel. It gives it clarity, purpose, and strength do what is difficult and not give up on God when things when things get hard. 
   Love you! I hope each of you have a great week! 

Elder Gaughan

The Molina family. Bro Molina is the Elders Quorum President, and their whole family is awesome!

Bishop & Sister Weenig. Bishop Weenig served in Salt Lake Spanish speaking, and is one of the most missionary-work oriented leaders I've ever seen. Another great family! He's also a hard core Star Wars fan, in case you were wondering. 

 The result of our struggles two weeks ago with the time change:

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Lesson From the Mission President

This week I'd like to start off with a thought from our mission president, President Taylor. Every week he sends an email out to all the Texas Dallas missionaries, and part of his message this week really impressed me.
Speaking of Moroni 7:48, he said:
"[It teaches] the singular eternal truth that ‘when he shall appear we SHALL be like Him.’ ‘we shall be like him’ means in every way we will be like Him, not that we will just look like him.  Then, the beautiful attendant doctrine that should give us great cause to be filled with continual hope – ‘that we may have this hope, that we may be purified even as HE IS PURE.’  To become perfectly pure and purely perfect is the eternal blessing of the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and is His inestimable blessing upon and hope for us all.
That is often a hard thing to comprehend. Can we really be so thoroughly forgiven and perfected? Can we really come anywhere near His infinite love, mercy, courage, patience, knowledge, power, discipline, and wisdom? Personally I have a hard enough time satisfying me own standards and goals, or raising my  let alone becoming like our Savior. But the answer is yes! An incredible, unexpected, merciful yes. As we talked about obedience with a family this week, the wife asked us, "But we can't become perfect in this life, right?" My response was something I myself needed to hear. I told them that no, we cannot keep God's commandments with perfected exactness and integrity. But, if we will enter into the path of faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and striving to do our Heavenly Father's will, we may retain a remission of our sins, and through the grace of Jesus Christ, be accepted as perfect--perfectly pure--and be welcomed into our Father's presence.
    We had a pretty stinkin good week. Unfortunately we saw two people that we visit and love make some poor minor choices, but a lot of great things happened as well. For example, Alfonzo, the guy I talked about last week, read the assignment we left him in the Book of Mormon, came to church again this week, and accepted the invitation to work towards his baptism on December 21! As you've probably noticed by now, these dates fall through more often than not. However, if he keeps up like he is and we continue visiting the family, by the grace of our Lord he will be ready. He told that he feels more peace since he started coming to church, and his girlfriend, Ana, said that she has felt more love towards her family since she began to listen to the missionaries. It's always awesome to hear things like that and realize that, even sometimes people don't show it or recognize it at first, the things we share are making a difference. 
   Halloween was pretty uneventful here--we had a zone meeting and played sports for the night, which was really fun! 
   In case any of you are wondering if your intellectual skills/knowledge will decrease during your mission, the answer (at least in my case) is yes. I am praying they will quickly return to me when I get back into school. Saturday night, as you know, marked the end of daylight savings time. And honestly, Elder Pigott and I felt like we were dealing with advanced college-level logic trying to figure out how to be sure we woke up on time. We always wake up to our phone's alarm, and we weren't sure if the phone's clock would automatically fall back an hour... so after about 15 minutes of debating how to solve the problem, I went to the bathroom, and Elder Pigott used our whiteboard to write out the possible outcomes if we left our phone alarm at 6:20 (see his email for a picture), and everything turned out fine. 
Love you all! Hope you have a great week! And please pray for opportunities to serve and share the gospel with those around you! They will come, and as Elder Ballard said,
" These opportunities will never require forced or contrived response. They will flow as natural result of our love for our brothers and sisters. Just be positive, and those whom you speak with will feel your love. They will never forget that feeling, though the timing may not be right for them to embrace the gospel. That too may change in the future when their circumstances change.
It is impossible for us to fail when we do our best when we are on the Lord’s errand. While the outcome is result of the exercise of one’s agency, sharing the gospel is our responsibility." ("Put Your Trust in the Lord," Oct. 2013 General Conference)
Con mucho amor, 
Elder Gaughan