For some reason I haven't shared one of the most important things I've been learning recently. I've spent most of my mission rushed, feeling like I need to keep my lessons to half an hour so I can get out and teach someone else or get something done. People's personal interests or personalities didn't really interest me that much. I considered missionaries like navy seals: highly trained individuals who come in with a specific job to do. You need friendship? Well yeah, I care about you, but that's what the members are there for. I never took time to get to really get to know people, have any fun with them, or let them get to know me. What I've been learning over the last several weeks is that in order to really help people receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they have to know you care, and they have to trust you. Otherwise, they don't open up about their real obstacles or concerns, and we're almost wasting our time. As one of the apostles said in the Work of Salvation broadcast in May 2013, "love is the lifeblood of missionary work."
Here are some pictures:
1, This is a less-active member we ran into. That little guy is Rocky, his pet squirrel. Yep.
2. Rocky likes Coke.
3. I finally got to be in downtown Dallas! We helped out an interfaith organization with a multi-cultural event last Monday and with TubaChristmas (as seen in this photo) on Christmas eve! Over 200 tuba players played Christmas songs and the audience kind of sang along.
I know the Savior lives, and He will help when we trust in Him. He knows us. Again, it was great to see y'all. Till next week!
We had a pretty good week. We've been having some incredible experiences as we visit with members and investigators. Yesterday Alfonzo, the boyfriend of Ana and stepdad of Analee, got up in front of Elders quorum, and said that finding the Church and being there with his family is the best Christmas present he has received. He bore his testimony, and sat down. It was awesome! This Christmas, I have been humbled and deeply impressed by God's love for us. By the truly inexpressible gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. It fills me with peace when I consider that we have such a Father, and that Christ really is as loving as He is. I often feel inadequate to wear His name every day and know that I am among His representatives on earth. I can only do so because I know that through His Atonement the Lord permits me to.
"For unto usa child is born, unto usa son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mightyGod, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
I testify that He lives. Of that I feel certain. The best I can say, as the prophets and apostles put it in The Living Christ, is this: "God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son!"
I love each of you, and I'm so sorry for any lack of support or care I've showed throughout the years. Thank you for everything you are and do. I can't wait to talk on Thursday!
There's not too much to write about this week, but we're blessed. We've seen a great change in some of the people we've been working with. Alfonzo and Ana, the family we've been working with for months, are really making progress. They came to church again yesterday, are talking about getting married, and are a lot more open with us. Alfonzo, who 3 weeks ago was hiding from us, now calls US to confirm our appointments and offers us rides. Personally I think it's because he's feeling the Spirit more in his life and wants more of it.
Also, we had a great experience with a young man last night right before we finished visiting for the day. He's been a less-active member for years, and made any attempt to come closer to God for a long time. Last time we talked to him we invited him to pray and bore our testimonies of how it would help him with all the stresses and problems he was facing. When we saw him last night (two weeks later) we told us he prayed that night. He said that when he started, he just felt like someone was listening "all-ears". He told us he has more energy, feels better, and even prayed for and received help to resolve an argument with his girlfriend. We were amazed in the change we saw in him.
This winter has been awesome! We wear short-sleeve shirts during the day and just have to throw on a jacket at night. We'll see what happens in the coming weeks, but I'm ok if it stays like this.
It's Christmas time! The decorations are starting to go up in our apartment, and we've been listening to Christmas music since I got here 4 months ago. We are prepared. And we've had another good week! On Monday all the missionaries from the Dallas stake got together and played sports and had lunch, which was a lot of fun. Here's something I learned from the experence: leaving hotdogs in an oven, even if the door is open and the temperature is on "low", does not keep the hotdogs warm. It chars them. (Anyone remember Mike's charred chicken sandwiches? It wasn't that extreme, but they were getting there).
The temperature has been surprisingly warm here over the last two weeks or so, which has been a huge blessing. We've seen a lot of good things happening with the work as well. Just as an example, the less-active families we're visiting are opening up more and more, and Ana and Alfonzo (Analee's mom and soon-to-be step dad) came back to church after about a month of working Sundays.
Something I'm coming to believe firmly is that, as President Sabin once said, "People only get into trouble when they do not understand who they are or they have forgotten." This last week I studied different parts of the Book of Mormon trying to better understand what contributes to and damages unity. The understanding I came to as I read about the well-known cycles of pride and humility is that pride really comes down to this: forgetting our relationship with God, losing the influence of the Spirit, and basing our self-worth on comparisons to others or on having nice things rather than our identity as a child of God who is loved by the Savior and has access to His Atonement.
I'm sorry, but no pictures again... I'll harder try this week. We might be going to the temple on Friday, so we'll try to at least get some there! Love, Elder Gaughan
P.S. I just have to share this again. If you haven't seen one or either of these videos, please check them out. They really will give you more hope and make your day better.
We had a good week. Thanksgiving was pretty good. We had two delicious meals and had a first visit with a family of 8! It turned into a long visit, but they asked us why there are so many churches today and we had a great discussion with visual aids.
He is the Gift. You've probably already heard about, but if you haven't seen it yet, watch it. It's incredible. And after you watch it, please pray to know how you can apply the message and who you can share it with. http://www.mormon.org/christmas. If you share it please let me know! It inspires me.
Not too much more to say except that I feel like my understanding of what it means to really apply the gospel is growing a lot this transfer. It's honestly been painful and frustrating as I try to change a lot my mindsets and behaviors, but I'm feeling the Spirit more and feel more peace.
Remember the Rodriguez family? They are one of the most fun, generous, and rewarding families to work with that I've seen in my mission. Unfortunately, during their trip to Mexico last week their house was robbed. As Elder Del Aguila and I talked about this this morning, this quote from Joseph Smith came to mind:
‘You will have all kinds of trials to pass through. And it is quite as necessary for you to be tried as it was for Abraham and other men of God, andGod will feel after you, and He will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings, and if you cannot stand it you will not be fit for an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom of God.’
To be honest, I don't know anything about that. But I have met and talked to many people who have, and I know it is one of the most difficult yet essential parts of our mortal experience. I know that through the enabling grace of Jesus Christ that we can overcome and be better because of our hardships and sufferings.