Friday, May 8, 2015

Final Thoughts

"I'm very, very grateful for the experiences I had and all the people I met. I've come home with an unshakable testimony of a loving Heavenly Father that has a plan for each of us, a Savior that allows us to change, and the reality of the power and gift of the Holy Ghost. I know that the Lord consecrates our efforts to the welfare of us and those we serve. My life has more direction than ever, and I know what it takes to find peace and purpose in life. I'll forever cherish and thank God for the two years I had to fully dedicate myself to the Lord's work."
--Elder John Gaughan
A Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Our Eternal Family

It's really only since I've come home from my mission that I feel like I understand the roll of families. But as I stood and bore testimony in the Plano chapel where mom received her testimony and investigated the church, I felt the Spirit bear witness to me as powerfully as He ever has that our family will be together forever if we're faithful. I know our family was ordained and prepared by God, and that each of us are a part of it for a special purpose.
--Elder John Gaughan

Our Forever Family

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Elder Gaughan is Home!

Elder Gaughan Returned with Honor from his Mission on April 29th, 2015. 

Gaughan Family Waiting for Elder Gaughan to Arrive!
Kyler and Penelope waiting for Uncle John

Reunited at last

Elder Gaughan with Mom and Dad

Alex and Elder Gaughan

Mike and Elder Gaughan

Ky and Uncle John

Welcome Home Elder Gaughan! 

Monday, April 27, 2015

One Last Testimony

"Behold say unto you, how great reason have we to rejoice; for could we have supposed when we started from the land of [San Diego] that God would have granted unto us such great blessings?

And now, I ask, what great blessings has he bestowed upon us? Can ye tell?" (Alma 26:1-2)

We'll need to get together to start recounting them in full, but I'll tell you a few from my perspective.

I have felt and seen the grace of God in your lives through your letters and stories, and have seen and heard more examples than I could begin to tell here in Texas.  We have been through trials and situations that have refined us, brought us closer to God, and deepened our commitment to love and serve Him. We have seen miracles as we have prayed and served. We have been preserved, protected, and prospered by the power of God. We have grown in our knowledge of the Gospel. My appreciation for you and the type of family we have has increased.

I have seen people transformed and blessed by Jesus Christ through their faith and repentance, and the ordinances of the Priesthood. My companions and I have been provided for and loved by more members, people we were teaching, and random strangers than I can possibly keep track of. I know that I have been and have seen others be guided and inspired of God. I have had run ins with old friends, made many new ones, and seen almost everything in the range of lifestyles available, which teaches invaluable lessons about life, attitudes, and family. We have been rejected, shouted at, and mocked, and have seen some of those same people turn around and receive the gospel. 

As I prayed and meditated on the blessings of these last two years the other night, I felt peace and gratitude. There have been so many people and experiences that have been such a blessing, it truly amazes me.

As my last electronic testimony to you as a full-time missionary, I would like to say a few things. I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father. I know that Jesus Christ, His Son, is the Savior of the world, and lives today. I know His Atonement can transform our lives as we trust in His promises and live the gospel. I know that the power of the Holy Ghost is real, and that it gives us knowledge, peace, guidance, and enhances our mortal capacities. I know that the power of God can be accessed through the Priesthood. I know that the living apostles and prophets that guide this church are men of God, as are both of the mission presidents I have had. I know that I and every other missionary for this church has been called by divine inspiration to teach the gospel to all the world. I know that reaching out to everyone around you and inviting them to do good things brings happiness and miracles.

Thank you. Thank you for your emails, packages, letters, examples, prayers, and for following Jesus Christ. 
Elder Gaughan

Monday, April 20, 2015

More to come next week

It's been a pretty good week. We saw some great things happen with an investigator we recently found and with two less-active brothers we've been working with! I'm sorry this is so short. Things are going well, and I will do my best to give this last week to the Savior and my brothers and sisters here in Texas. Unfortunately there's not much time, but I'm working on a longer email that I'll send next week. Strive to talk to everyone around you and extend an invitation this week! 

Monday, April 13, 2015

2 Part Letter

Life goes forward here in Plano. We saw some great things happen this week! There's a brother named Mark that we visited a few times, and we saw him for the first time at church yesterday! He struggles with depression and is the only one in his family that isn't active. Also we met a man named John that has a relationship with the gospel and the church like I've never seen. This man started associating with members of the church in high school, and since then he's had a fascination with the church and it's teachings. He has watched General Conference, read through the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. I'll tell you more, but a woman from a ward just told us her house is flooding and needs help. Love you! 
Ok! The flooding wasn't too bad. We just had to dodge dog droppings as we dumped the water! 
  Anyway, about John. So the man also has the Gospel Library app on his phone, knew about the missionary age change, etc. He makes jokes that only people in the church would understand. Literally, he's like a member without a testimony! His hangup is that he has doubts about different teachings and doctrines in the church, but he's an honest seeker of truth. I was very inspired when he said in our first visit Saturday that he just wants to do God's will. Amazingly, he had never been to church. So we invited him and he came! We'll see what happens in this coming week, but he's a great guy--very funny and animated. 
   I came to the realization this week that we really do need to take care of the poor and forgive the offender. As I read this scripture this week, I imagined how I would feel if God applied this to me when I asked for help, forgiveness, or grace: 
"The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—". What a miserable existence this would be. Does God think of us that way? No. Maybe He'll allow us to suffer for a time as we come to the realization we need to repent, but He's always willing to bless and forgive. 
"For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind? And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy." -Mosiah 4:17, 19-20
Love, Elder Gaughan

Monday, April 6, 2015

Raising the Bar

Unfortunately, this is one of those weeks where I've saved the family letter for the very end. So apologies if this is shorter than usual! 
    If you're wondering why I haven't sent any photos recently, it's because 1) I left my camera in another city last semester 2) I keep forgetting that Elder Hill has a camera because he never takes pictures either, and 3) some of the families in this ward have been awesome about sending yall pictures for us! But I'll try to take some this week. 
    How about conference?? I swear, the sessions seemed to get shorter and shorter every time I watch. I loved Elder Ballard's talk about young people needing to "raise the bar." Something I love about him is that he's always building and expanding upon thing's he spoke about in the past. I just love the consistency. We were only able to get one long time investigator to come to a session at the church w/ us and it was his first time, so we'll follow up with him today. 
    We helped a girl who recently graduated high school set a baptismal goal this week! Her name is Morgan. We've only had two lessons but she seems very willing and like she could fit in great with some of the YSA's and young women in our ward. Please pray for her to progress, create friendships in the ward, and that the rest of her family will begin to investigate! 
Elder Gaughan

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Birthday Celebrations!

Elder Hill and Elder Gaughan Combined Birthday Celebration! 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Small Miracles

Happy Easter everyone!!
I know it's next week, but it's time to start gearing up! Honestly, getting older it kind of frustrates me that we do the whole Easter bunny/egg thing. It just distracts from the glorious, wonderful message of this time of year. It's been a great week! We're seeing some real progress in a lot of the people we're teaching. We're teaching a young less active man named Chris who is struggling a lot with his testimony of God, and this last week we invited him to prepare as if he were going to serve a full-time mission, thus showing Heavenly Father his willingness to act when he receives a confirmation. He was really taken aback at first, but as we talked about how it was the best way to invite revelation, he liked the idea and accepted! So please keep him in your prayers as he makes this big step.

Another little miracle: we had a lesson with our bishop and his wife, Bishop & Sister Lucero, and invited them to pray for us seven times the next day so that we could have success in our missionary work. The next day, as I was taking a phone call just after leaving the house, Elder Hill decided to talk to a man in his car nearby. When he approached the man and started a conversation, one of the first things the guy said was, ""Do you know the Lucero's?" It turns out he was a friend of the Lucero's and had once been to their house for a family home evening! This was literally the first person we talked to that day. Although he initially turned down our offer to come by and share a message, we told Bishop Lucero about the experience. Bishop called him a day or two later, explained the miracle, and the man said he would talk to his wife and try to work something out! So we're pretty sure we'll have an opportunity to share a message with them in the next week or two. We prayed for the Lucero's to have missionary experiences the next day, and he invited one of the part-member investigators we teach to be baptized that day! And while the brother didn't commit to a date, they had a great conversation and we're seeing amazing progress him.

We've been doing the same thing with a lot of families this week--inviting them to pray for us seven times one day, and then allow us to do the same for them the next day. It's been a great experience! I think prayer is one of those "small and simple means" by which God "doth bring about His great and eternal purposes... and bring to pass the salvation of many souls" (Alma 37:6-7). Please pray for opportunities to "mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and stand as a witness for God," and He will grant it to you. Pray for your missionaries by name, and they will see miracles.
Fun things over the last two weeks:
-We met a professional 20 year old race car driver! He wasn't interested in the message,but he was a really nice guy
-There's a family we've gotten close to in the ward named the Walkers, and they made me a birthday cake last night! They also gave me a dictionary of how to speak Texan. It's pretty hilarious.
-Elder Hill and I sang "I need Thee every hour" in Spanish in sacrament meeting yesterday. And it actually went pretty well!
-I learned how to say, "I'm a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" in sign language!

I love you! I know the Savior lives, and will help us as we exercise faith in Him, repent, strive to keep His commandments, and follow the Spirit.
Elder Gaughan 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

From the Lucero Family

Dear Hills & Gaughans,
Here are a couple of photos of your amazing sons. We love them so much and are so happy that they are serving in the Plano 3rd Ward. Again, thank you for sharing them with us. They are doing a tremendous work here and we are blessed by them. Not sure if they told you, but they finally met our 20 discussions per week goal. It was a lot of work, but they did it!
May the Lord's blessings be with you,
Bishop & Sister Lucero 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sincerity and Testimony

Buenos dias!
It's been a pretty good week! Unfortunately we don't have much time again because we have to take care of my passport, get groceries, go to an early appointment, and mow someone's lawn... but I'll say what I can! 
    One of the best visits we had was with a new family we met through a couple in our ward. Her name is Ellie Leon, and she looks after her 3 grandchildren, Anthony, Susanna, and Chris. She was born in Spain and raised in Argentina, so we had a good opportunity to use our Spanish again. We had a great dinner with them and the couple that introduced us to them named the Richmonds, and then taught about who God our Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are and how to pray. Ellie is not very religious and wasn't willing to participate much in the lesson, but her three grandkids were amazing. We helped each of them draw out their "prayer sandwich" ("dear Heavenly Father" and "in the name of Jesus Christ, amen" being the the bread on the top and bottom, and saying what's in your heart as the ingredients in the middle). I expected them to read the prayers they had just written out, but when we gave each of them a chance to pray, they really understood the concept and said something totally different. 
     I wish I could remember the exact wording or who quoted it, but in the last General Conference one of the speakers quoted Brigham Young saying something to the effect of, "I would not wish any member of this church to do or believe something just because they have been instructed to it by the leaders of the church. Each man should seek out a confirmation of the Holy Ghost of anything I say." 
   It's sometimes easy in the church to assume that we should shove to the side the things we don't understand in our hearts and keep saying "what we're supposed to say" about the gospel.  I've come to realize in a very real way that we can only speak with true authority and with the Spirit when we share that which we know to be true in our hearts by experience and the power of the Holy Ghost. In other words, when we speak 100% sincerely rather than following the "script" as we teach and share the gospel. You can feel, see, and hear the difference when someone is talking about what they know to be true, and when they are saying they're "supposed" to say. The latter sounds like a "tinkling cymbal"--it's almost meaningless to the speaker and the hearer (1 Cor. 13:1). On the other hand, "when man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men" (2 Nephi 33:1). I have never felt the Spirit testify so strongly as when I look someone in the eyes and bore a sincere testimony of the the things I know to be true, or visa versa. If you are struggling with your testimony or with feeling the Spirit, bear testimony to someone of the things you absolutely know are true, and the Holy Ghost will bear record of it to you both. Fan the flame of faith which you already have. 
I can't look you in the eyes, but I'll still bear my testimony. I know that God loves us and is a part of our lives. I know He has a plan for us. I know the Holy Ghost can illuminate our minds and allow us to do the will of God. I know that visions, blessings, and miracles are real. I know that Jesus is the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. 
Till next week!
Elder Gaughan

Monday, March 16, 2015

"Behold, what desirest thou?"

This week has been amazing! We left Plano Sunday night and didn't get back until Wednesday night--three exchanges back to back. That's why I hardly wrote anything last week, I was only able to take 10 minutes in the evening before we all took off for East Texas. On Monday I went with Elder Fisi'iahi (one of my companions from Grand Prairie) and Douthit and it was great. I also went to Tyler, Texas with Elders Malpartida and Thompson. And get this! Elder Thompson's sister served in the Spanish branch in Poway for like 6 months! He said it was her favorite area. We taught an incredible woman named Sandra. She's definitely been prepared to receive the Gospel. She prayed about and set her own baptismal date, and our lesson was about baptism and the law of chastity since she's living with her boyfriend. After we explained it and told her it was a necessary step to repent and be baptized, she said, "Ok. I'll talk to my boyfriend. I want to follow God, and if he doesn't want his salvation, I'm going to pursue mine. I'll find another place to live." Holy cow!! Talk about "dropping your nets" and following the Savior like the apostles of old. The downside of that exchange was that I went to a delicious barbecue place called Stanley's and ate on a full stomach, which lead to an up-chucking session that night on my arrival to Longview. After that I really started to enjoy being back in Longview!
Last Sunday we were singing the song, "As Now We Take the Sacrament". That song previously had very little significance to me, but as we sang the line, "with hands now pledged to do thy work," the Spirit hit me so strong about the significance of the baptismal covenant. I'm coming to see much more clearly the whole purpose of the church and our covenants: it's to help people! Sounds insanely obvious, I know, but I'm just coming to realize that we organize ourselves into a church to do the work of Christ--to reach out specifically to individuals and family in harmony and love to help them with their temporal needs and encourage them on the path to eternal life. If we're not working to meet needs we're not doing the Lord's work. And we figure out people's needs by spending time with them and asking questions. There has been so much more purpose and satisfaction in what we've been doing since we've begun to strive to meet the needs of our ward and the individuals we teach. The Spirit is with us more, our lessons are more powerful, and I can feel love and concern for others rather than pressure to say the right things. I've come to realize that the question posed to Nephi by the Spirit of the Lord is extraordinarily powerful: "What desirest thou?" (1 Nephi 11:2).
So, my invitation this week is to get to know someone, figure out how you can help them, and do it!  
Elder Gaughan

Monday, March 9, 2015

Quick Message

So, we're doing exchanges straight from Satruday night to Wednesday night. I have about 3 minutes right now. Just so you know, I'm doing great and have had some incredible experiences recently. Plano is good. Lots of snow. Love you!! And so does the Savior! Be sure to share that with someone today.
Elder Gaughan

Monday, March 2, 2015

Spiritual Thoughts for the Week

As Moroni concluded his father's writings (the Book of Mormon within the Book of Mormon), he made this comment: 
"Condemn me not because of mine imperfectionneither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been' (Mormon 9:31).
I came across this scripture as I was studying about weakness and how the Lord sees our imperfections and mistakes as opposed to how we see them. As I changed the wording, this verse became veru personally significant:
"Condemn not yourself because of your imperfection... but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you your imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than ye have hitherto been."
The Savior wants to forgive. He knows we make mistakes, and He has suffered for them so that we do not have to do so continually. If we will turn away from our self-criticism and doubt, and look up to God in gratitude for every mistake, He will raise our vision, our hearts will be lighter, and we can continue to do His work and the resulting peace and joy rather than remain immobilized by the buffetings of Satan. He is teaching us wisdom when He allows us to fall! Did He intend for us to rewrite our identity and shove aside every blessing to focus on our mistakes? No. Thank the Good Lord for the Atonement.
This week I met the first missionary ever from Syria! His name is Elder Ahmad, and he's serving in Frisco. Elder Callister actually talks about his family in the last October General Conference in "Parents: the Prime Gospel Teachers of Their Children". He's the one on the right in the picture next to Elder O'Neal, another great Elder from Frisco that we went on exchanges with this week. 
   We had some great miracles happen in our own area too. Specifically Elder Hill and a member were able to give a blessing to a young woman who was in a car crash and paralyzed. A family from our ward met them at the hospital while there for their grandmother. And today we're going to go by and teach the young woman's family. Also a man that has been closed off to missionary visits for a long time (his wife is an active member of 50 years+) has agreed to let us come by and read together with him from Jesus the Christ and watch the Life of Jesus Christ bible videos with him and their home teacher! The Spirit was really strong as we presented this idea to him yesterday and gave him a copy of the book. We think something really good is going to come out of it.  
I love you! Thank you for blessing the lives of so many people, including mine.
Elder Gaughan

Monday, February 23, 2015

District Building

Hellooo Gaughans (and anyone reading)!
I had a sinking feeling in my stomach yesterday when I realized that I'm entering the second-to-last month of mission. I wouldn't trade for anything the feelings I have had, the understanding of the Savior and the gospel I've received, and the people I've been able to know. I know that a relationship is healthy and inspired of God if you are the answer to each other's prayers, and in essence help "fix" each other through the Atonement. I don't know if that makes sense, but I've experienced that somewhat in my mission, and there are few more beautiful than when God blesses a group of people with that. 
     Something I haven't been very open about is that I've experienced waves of depression throughout my mission. I don't want to go very deeply into the reasons and what it was like, but I want to say that gratitude, bearing testimony, hearing or sharing heavenly truths, and service opportunities have helped me regain hope and continue forward. What has NOT helped is trying to ignore it and not acknowledging blessings. 
     It's been a great week overall though. We had two "district building" sessions this last week, which consists of several leaders in the mission going into a district for a day and half to do exchanges, play sports, have a delicious breakfast, and hold a District Council to discuss our mission's vision and how to better work with members of the Church. Elder Hill and I usually end up going to different districts. This week I was back in Oak Cliff where I started my mission, and in the Carrollton/Coppell area. It was a blast! It takes tons of organization and planning to put everything together, but it's worth it when they go well. 
      My companion is hilarious and absolutely incredible. The Elders Quorum President called him a "walking Preach My Gospel" the other day, which is pretty accurate. And he has the most diligent, upbeat attitude I've ever seen in a companion. The other day we tried to start up a conversation with someone and his response was to keep going because we "worship a false god and a false Jesus." Well I was a little upset about that as we rode away. Then I heard Elder Hill say "Elder!" and I looked over to see him with a huge grin on his face and in a hilarious/ridiculous pose on his bike that you really need to see to appreciate. He constantly builds up everyone around and just never stops! I hope I can be like him when I grow up.
Love you! 
Elder Gaughan

Monday, February 16, 2015

Week 2 in Plano

Hey everyone! 
Today's email will be short and sweet. And most of it will be explaining why that's the case. To start from the beginning, when President Taylor arrived to the mission, the first thing he began talking to us about was unity--with Christ, amongst each other as missionaries, and with the members. Which all sounded good and really helped me understand the gospel better, but since he's arrived it's been a process of understanding what that really means and how we can do that as individuals, companionships, districts, zones, and as a mission. 
      Elder Hill and I, along with 14 other missionaries, have the assignment to do exchanges across the mission this transfer. They're calling us District Builders, and basically this group divides into three and goes to three different districts for a day and a half to help build, inspire, and love the missionaries, and help them catch and apply our mission's vision of unity. That's pretty much all Elder Hill and I have been talking about for the last two weeks, and it's been amazing to see how my perspective has changed. It's hard to describe, but the more I've learned about becoming one with God and with others, the more I realize that that is the central purpose of the gospel. That's why it's called the At-one-ment--God's greatest desire is that we repent and do what is necessary to become one with Him and with each other.
       It's an amazing project but it takes TONS of coordination and planning. And since we have one tonight, that's we've been working on almost all day in preparation. 
     As you heard, I got to see the Davis's yesterday!! It was so great getting to see them. Also, I went by the old Gaughan house on Hearthstone and met the people that bought the house from our family! Their son, Ryan, said that the Halloween after they moved in all the kids referred to their place as "the witch's house".

As I've continued to study "The Living Christ" on a daily basis, it's become more and more meaningful to me and built my relationship with the Savior. 
    Along with the apostles and prophets, 

"[I] bear testimony... that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son."

Elder Gaughan

Monday, February 9, 2015

New Pictures and Stories from Plano!

Hey guys! 
This last week has been about 180 degree flip from the rest of my mission. I know y'all have already heard from one of the members here but I should still officially announce it... I was double transferred into Plano!! Not just in Plano, but in Plano 3rd. The house where Nick was born is about 4 blocks from us, and I met mom's first bishop, Bishop Byrd, yesterday. It's a little bit overwhelming sometimes to realize just how many miracles God can do for us. To be honest, I questioned for a long time if  I really came out on my mission at the right moment or if I had made a mistake. But the Lord has clearly shown me several times know that this was part of his plan. 
      Strangely enough, when I was waiting for a transfer call at the end of my time in Longview, I was convinced and felt the Spirit tell me I was going to serve in Plano, and I told Elder Ballstaedt so for about a week... only to get a call saying I was going to Grand Prairie. By the time transfers rolled around last week I hardly had Plano on my mind. But lo and behold, here I am. And in an English ward! What in the world. The work, culture, food, and everything is VERY different. Before my mission, middle-upper class white culture was all I ever knew, and I assumed it was the norm. It wasn't until this last week when I was taken away from a Spanish ward that I finally saw the differences. And it was made me appreciate the true importance of diversity in the world. I really do love the Hispanic people and how open and relaxed they are. Many of them simply trust you, joke around with you, and make you feel like part of the family. 
     Elder Hill (my new companion who was in my district at the beginning of my mission) and I were both convinced we were translated to the celestial kingdom when we got here. It's amazing!! We haven't gone a day with someone feeding us dinner, whether or not we had a member signed up that day. We live with an awesome couple named the Midgely's. Elder Midgely is in charge of the mission's apartments and proselyting materials. I've known him my whole mission but had no idea about his life--turns out he built his house by himself and has a PhD in astrophysics. Mom, you would love sister Midgely--she's a longtime costume seamstress for plays and is all about natural foods and multi-vitamins. I tried raw milk for the first time, and it's actually really good.! 
     There's so much to share... this week Elder Hill and I have been talking a lot about unity with the Lord, as a companionship, and with the ward, and we've been able to teach with the Spirit in a way I haven't seen for most of my mission. The Lord is greatly blessing us. 
Love you! 
Elder Gaughan
1. I'm sitting down near the left hand side! Obviously this is when Elder Nelson visited the mission. 
2. Alfredo Rodriguez. This is one of the funniest, good-hearted people I've met.
3. The Chinchilla family! Left to right it's Blanca, me, Analee, Aleeya, Aleeza, Ana (the mom), and Alfonzo
4. Me with the missionaries from my district at the Rodriguez' house for a going-away party! Yep, that's a missionary cake--a tie and a bike.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Elder Nelson, Transfers, and more!

We saw Elder Nelson this week! We had another mission-wide meeting (we've had 4 in the last 6 months, which is 4 times as many as we had in the previous 18), and he, Elder Lynn G Robbins, and Preisdent and Sister Taylor spoke, and incredible. There's a lot I could share, but I think the most important was a quote from Winston Churchill. It goes more or less like this: "Success lies in going from failure to failure with a loss of enthusiasm." Like many, I have not fully followed that counsel for most of my life. The more I've allowed it to play through my head though, the more I realize that that's what the gospel of Jesus Christ should and does allow us to do when we consistently study and live it.
    So, the time has come and I'm leaving Grand Prairie! We got the call this morning, and tomorrow I'll find out where I'm going and with who. This area has been exactly what I needed. I've learned about what it means to love and serve people; I've seen miracles; I've faced my weaknesses; I've made mistakes that have made me better; and I've learned more about the Savior. 
     The work here has been exploding as well. Yesterday, between the 3 companionships in our ward, 18 nonmembers came to church, and several individuals and families that have been reactivating came again. We've been greatly blessed.
Love you!
Elder Gaughan

Monday, January 26, 2015

New Photos!

Heey Gaughans!
We've had some great things happen recently! Yesterday a less-active brother that we haven't taught in weeks just showed up to sacrament meeting yesterday with two of his daughters, which was a great surprise. Also the Honduran couple that showed up two weeks ago came back! We had ward conference yesterday and it was one of the better 3 hour blocks that I've been to in awhile. Basically all the stake presidency talked about was the basics of the gospel--the importance of praying, reading, and obeying on a regular basis, living our baptismal covenants, and building our lives on Jesus Christ, the ordinances of the Priesthood, the scriptures and living prophets.
    Next Sunday night/Monday morning is transfer calls, and seeing I've been here in Grand Prairie for six months I've got the feeling I'm leaving. But we'll see! I've really enjoyed my time here and I feel like I've grown more than any other time in my mission. There's a giant mural of Ensign pictures that cover about a wall and a half of our bedroom that past missionaries put up, and it's helped me to look over the different pictures (Jesus healing a leper, the Title of Liberty, the Pioneers, the Tree of Life, the Savior in Gethsemane, during his trial, and on the cross, Jonah, Moses, Joseph Smith, etc.) and meditate on what the gospel really means and how I can apply it to the things we face day to day. 
Love you!
Elder Gaughan
1. Hermana Blanca Chinchilla. Basically my hispanic grandma. She feeds us every week and we've been teaching her daughter and soon-to-be stepson for months.
2. Hermano Canales and I. He's our Ward Mission Leader and is extremely helpful towards the missionaries. Haha and yeah, that more or less the normal height contrast for me and hispanics.
3. Elder Loch. A really great missionary I went on exchanges with this week. He was in musicals before the mission and read a lot of the same books that I did (philosophy, political science, etc.), so we got along really well! 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

MLK Delay

Hey everyone!
Due to it being MLK day yesterday, the library was closed. That's why I'm writing you today!
   So, I had to dig pretty deep this week and use my old acting skills. That's right! On Thursday we had a meeting with all the missionaries in the stake to have our personal interviews with President Taylor and to present the 2015 Texas Dallas Mission vision, part of which has to do with becoming one like the Stripling Warriors. As the other zone leader, Elder Del Aguila, and I were talking about the best way to present it, we decided on a Stripling warriors skit, featuring Elder Del Aguila as the break-dancing captain of the Lamanites and yours truly as Captain Helaman. (A video may or may not end up on our mission's facebook page.) It took a lot to get out of my comfort zone in that way again, but we had fun and it seemed to get the message across. 
    The people we're visiting are doing pretty well. Unfortunately at the moment we don't have anyone that's on the verge of being baptized in the next few weeks, but we're seeing progress! Yesterday, mostly due to my incredible companion, three less active young men and two nonmembers came to play sports with the missionaries! It was a living testimony of one of my favorite quotes about missionary work, which goes more or less like this: "The Lord is not asking us to add another activity to the many which we are doing; simply to change the way we do what we already do." If we are looking for opportunities to love, serve, include, and share the gospel as we go through our daily tasks, hobbies, and activities, God will give us those opportunities. 
    I know that Jesus Christ lives and loves each of us as an individual. I know He will save us from our sins, frustrations, sicknesses, egoism, fears, and weaknesses (whether it be in this life or the next) as build our lives on faith in His sacrifice, character, and love, and strive to apply His teachings in our lives. 
Elder Gaughan

Monday, January 12, 2015

Another week of Miracles!

We saw some great miracles this week! We visited a semi-active family last Monday and met a woman named Lizeth that is staying with them. She's going through a hard time right now and told us that she needs something more in her life. She told us that she has been to just about every church you can think of and tried every means she can to fill the void in her life, but still hasn't found the answer. Then she told us that she has family that are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and talked about the difference she's seen in her cousins that have served missions and how there's a very special spirit in the LDS homes she's been in. We had a great visit and taught her how to pray, and hopefully we'll be going back tonight. It was one of the precious moments of my mission when I knew without a doubt that we had been guided by the Spirit to the exact place we needed to be.
    Then yesterday, a Honduran couple, Jairo and Helen, showed up to church yesterday out of the blue! I talked to Jairo and found out that he was baptized as a boy in Honduras with the support of his grandmother, but eventually went inactive after his grandmother's death and life-threatening area in which his church-building was located. Honduras and el Salvador have been scenes of some serious carnage, corruption, and violence in recent years, it's unbelievable some of the stories people tell us. But, he just arrived to the US 3 months ago and he and Helen decided they wanted to come to church. This is the fourth less-active and/or part-member family like this that we've come across since I got to Grand Prairie, which has been really rewarding to see. We also saw a member that the other Elders in our ward are working with come back to church after 19 years of inactivity. Isn't that incredible? 
Elder Gaughan

Monday, January 5, 2015

Let's Be Builders

Hey guys! Feliz ano nuevo!!
Hmm... I'll be honest, there's really not much to say this week! As always we've been greatly blessed and have seen some great things happen. New Years Eve I was on exchanges with Elder Huber from our district, and that night we went to a ward party to meet the members and be with our investigators there.
Things have been good with Elder Del Aguila and the zone too. I'll be honest, I've been around few missionaries that are so willing to follow the Spirit and strive to really help others overcome their obstacles in the Gospel. What came to my mind this morning as I was thinking about the this last transfer and a half was this: we're all "investigators." As missionaries it's often easy to put the people we visit in one box, and the missionaries in another, the members in another, etc., and often treat each one differently. But that's wrong! Just as we are put in positions to teach and strengthen others, someone else has been called to teach and strengthen us. We're all someone's investigator--whether that be our bishop, home/visiting teachers, quorum/auxiliary presidents, parents, etc. That gives me strength, and helps me want to be more sincere and do more for those I'm called to help. There's no need to patronize, talk down to, or put on a face for those under our stewardship, just as we wouldn't want others to do so for us. 
In short, just build everyone around you! And let others help you build yourself. Take counsel as freely and humbly as you would have others receive it from you, and consider how your Heavenly Father feels about you when you get frustrated, disappointed, or impatient with those you're trying to or have been called to help.
I love you! Thank you for being my family, as odd as that may sound. You bless me and many others every day. 
Elder Gaughan