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