Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Out of the MTC and currently in Togo!

Well, it has taken me 50 minutes with this terrible internet connection to get on myldsmail so I could write to you all. I'm in a computer pub, if you will, and I had to pay 1,500 CFA for ten hours worth of connection. Which is great, because that's approximately 3 US dollars.

  I'm currently in Togo and I have a French-speaking companion from Cote D'Ivoire (or Ivory Coast) named Elder Dioulo. Thankfully he speaks enough English to help me understand what he's saying when I don't know what he's saying, which is all the time.
 The French here is very hard to understand, but there's something I've learned while in the MTC: When a bird lands on your head, shew it away before it builds a nest. So, the moment a thought of discouragement arrives, I get rid of it from my mind right then and there. I'm really glad I picked up this trait right away because if I hadn't, there would be no way I'd be able to have the Spirit. And if I didn't have the Spirit, I couldn't learn and wouldn't be able to teach the little that I know in French.

 Speaking of teaching, I taught three people my first day basically right after I arrived. Teaching here is actually really great because the investigators understand me when I speak with the Spirit. By the way, contacting is not in anyway an issue because if we chose, we could easily talk to hundreds of people a day because there are thousands of people out and about doing their thing. It's also nice here because people listen to what we say and always want to learn more about the church.

 Before I left, I prayed to go on a mission where I'd have the most success; well, I sure got it. I'm so happy that I've been called to serve here in Benin. Despite being a run down, almost third-world country, this place is full of love, faith, joy, and moto's (motorcycles). Seriously though, thousands of moto's pass us by each day. It's pretty crazy. But even if I nearly get ran over by a moto every day, the work is wonderful. Don't get me wrong, the work is hard, but it sure brings me a great amount of joy.

 Everywhere I go, the children, and sometimes the adults, call me out and say, "Yovo! Yovo! Ca va / bonsoir?" Yovo, by the way, basically means "white man" in the Togonese language. The majority of people here have never seen a Hispanic American so people are always interested in meeting me. I really wish I knew how to make solid conversations because I'd love talk to and share the Gospel with even more people.

 Please keep praying for me so I can continue to have a good attitude and that I'll be able learn this language! If I can, I want to learn in two months time; however, it may end up taking three. Either way, I want to speak French in the shortest amount of time possible so I would genuinely appreciate some extra faith from you all.

I'm so glad that you are continuing to read the scriptures every night. Remember that it is so important to have family and personal study. It may not seem so at times, but I can promise you that reading the scriptures, pondering the messages and praying to know if it's true is absolutely critical to know the truth and to have the capacity to come unto Christ. I've restarted from the beginning in my French Book of Mormon and I'm to read it entirely before the end of my training which is three months time. So, with that in mind, I'll issue a challenge for you all to read the BofM cover to cover. I know that by doing so, it will help me and yourselves to become better missionaries and fellow disciples of Jesus Christ.

 If you're able, please do all that you can to help and serve others, especially non-members and the missionaries. It's so important to step out of our comfort zones just as Peter the Apostle stepped off the boat so he could walk on water to Christ. In the field, the greatest success we've ever had is when the members of the church helped us by teaching with us or giving us referrals. So please, will you render missionary work and do all you can to see to the needs and concerns of these people? We've all been given talents, so let us not bury the wonderful blessing of the Gospel like the frightened servant but unreservedly share the truths we know to be true with others. It is hard, but the more you do it, the easier it will become and it will bring others many wonderful blessings.

 Anyway, like I was saying, everything is going very well over here and I'm happy as can be. 
 I hope you know that I love you all so very much and you're in my prayers continually.
A la semaine prochaine,
Elder Gonzales

Friday, December 12, 2014

First ripped slacks!

 My first ripped slacks that tore while wrestling one of my zone leaders. Note to self: Don't wrestle in slacks, or at all because I'm a missionary and should not participate in contact-related sports. I figured out how to sew fairly well because of a couple other incidents so hopefully I'll be able to fix it.

 It is very hard for me to not be able to be there for you all to help our family in every way I could. However, I'm in the Lord's hands now, and tomorrow I fly out to Benin where I will begin the proselyting and serving portion of my mission.

 This scripture in Mosiah 2:41 describes three things: The Doctrine that God is our Heavenly Father, the Invitation to keep His commandments faithfully to the end and to remember that "these things are true", and the Promised Blessings that follow by doing so, which include "blessings in all things, both temporal and spiritual" and "they may dwell with God in a state of never ending happiness."

 I'll invite you all to read on your own Alma 50:20-23. These scriptures really pertain to the scripture in Mosiah. I also think that this scripture can really relate to us in our time of hardships. However, despite all that we have to suffer through, I know that as we do as these scriptures direct and remain faithful to the end that everything will be okay. In fact, more than "okay" because we'll be blessed in All things. The Lord is aware of us and will deliver us from our sorrows and pains. All we need to do is continue to rely on the Atonement and place these burdens on Him who suffered alongside us.
Indeed, we are blessed!

I love you all so very much,
Elder Gonzales

Thursday, December 4, 2014

"We have so much to be thankful for."

How blessed are we to live in the promised land. Never take what you have for granted. Based off of all that I've seen these past few weeks, we have so much to be grateful for.

Last week, when we went to the temple, I had the priviledge of being one of the missionary's escort while going through an Endowment session in French. It was such a great experience!

But oh man, did we celebrate Thanksgiving. We had an awesome breakfast which consisted of a crape, a huge chunk of pineapple, and eggs.

For lunch, we celebrated Thanksgiving and had mashed potatoes and gravy with a side of onions and green peppers as well as glazed carrots, which were fantastic, and grilled, boneless chicken. This was probably by far the best Thanksgiving meals I've ever had only because this was the best meal I've had since I've been here. We also had sugar cookies, a pack of icecream, and a slice of cake. Best enjoy this while I can because I probably won't be able to celebrate Thanksgiving next year.

 After lunch, we were able to watch the movie Meet the Mormons from the projector in the chapel. That movie was actually really great! If you guys have an opportunity to go see if, you really should go for it. This movie is a really great means in which the church can show what it is that we
truly worship. It portrays members throughout the world who are just normal people who love and serve God, Jesus Christ, their families and others.

As much as I've liked it here in the Ghana MTC, I'm also really grateful to finally be out of here in less than two weeks.

Will you please continue to pray for my and the other missionaries who are learning the language, that we may continue to have success in our labors and that we may have the strength to continue to press forward? Once I get to Benin, I'll have to say good-bye to English for a couple years and so a little extra help and faith will truly mean the world to me.

I'm so grateful to be out here, having left everything behind for a short while to serve God and His children in Africa.

 Je vous aime, ma famille! Je parlai avec vous semaine prochaine! Aussi, bien jour de reconnaisance!

 Avec amour, votre frère et fils,

 Elder Gonzales

I miss you all very much and I look forward to seeing you all again. But, before I do, I got a couple years of precious and sacred work to do.