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