Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happy Easter!

Salut ma famille!!!

 For Easter my companion and I cooked up a ton of rice, made an awesome sauce comprised of a ton of peppers, tomatoes, chicken broth and spices, and last of all, two pieces of grilled chicken. This is about every meal of my life, but the way that we cooked it up tasted magnifique!
 But hey, check out the good news: we've finally had investigators come to church!!! So, two Sundays ago, we had an entire family come to church with us! It was so awesome! They weren't able to come this Sunday because of the Paque, or Easter Sunday, but we did have two other investigators come to church instead. One of them, named Emmanuel, was someone that I met when I was with my first companion and the second, his name is Clemient, and he's one of our newest investigators. With Emmanuel, we just called him and he said he'd come; and surprisingly enough, he actually came. As for Clemient, we beat him and his buddy Aldolf at a game of soccer last Saturday, which my companion and I played with our missionaries clothes on and we won by one point (only because the other two gave us the win), and so I guess you could say we won his coming to church. Also, on Saturday, before we four had our soccer match, we went to a baptism for two investigators of the other two elders in our apartment so it was a really great opportunity for our investigators to see what takes place during the baptism and also how to find the church. Adolf didn't come last Sunday, but he said he'd come next week so we'll see what happens. As for other good news, we've set two dates of baptisms the 18th of April for two of our investigators named Caroline and Adel. These two sisters have been coming to church on a regular basis and they've already been taught almost all the missionary lessons from two missionaries who had been transferred. So, all we have to do is pick up from where they left off and get that baptism done so they can start preparing themselves for greater things to come in the temple.
 I've been having many wonderful experiences these past couple of weeks; and no matter how hard it gets, I've been making sure to write in my journal every night so I can share these experiences with you all when I get back in greater depth. I tell you what though; this mission is definitely the refiner's fire. It's exhausting in many ways, spiritually, physically, and mentally, but in the end it'll be the experience that refines me into what the Lord needs me to become. Thank you so much for your prayers, by the way. I have no doubt whatsoever that the prayers you've made for me have genuinely helped sustain me in many more ways that you all could imagine. Lately, I've been struggling with speaking while teaching due to not knowing what it is that I should say along with learning the scriptures to an extent that I can use them to their full capacity. I realize that I need to be patient and that all good things come through the trial of faith and time, but a bit of extra faith to help me overcome these weaknesses would be a miraculous thing. However, I am getting better and I'm learning more and more as I keep going on and simply just doing everything that I possibly can. But don't worry I'll never give up trying to improve my testimony, my knowledge and understanding of the scriptures, and my capacity to teach and to speak.
  Throughout the whole week my companion and I have been in and out of the hospital so the doctors could take tests on my companion to see what's going on with his incapability to sleep due to his insomnia. We haven't received any definite results at the moment, but we'll be going in tomorrow again and so we'll see how he's doing from there. As far as we know, there's nothing wrong with his brain but it may have something to do with, I want to say his thyroid glands? But yeah, we're not quite sure yet. At least he's still doing alright despite his lack of sleep.

 A couple exiting things have happened with the past week! (1) Today is my companion's birthday, (2) We've got a new American in the house, (3) We've started working in the new secteur and (4) We had a baptism last Saturday.

 (1) Nothing too exciting took place today as of yet, other than going to a restaurant to eat hamburgers and charwamas (chicken burritos) for breakfast.

 (2) His name is Elder Rich and he's from Logan, Utah. He replaced Elder Kandua's companion and he is now our new district leader. He's super great, really hilarious, easy to talk to and likes to listen, genuinely motivated and willing to work and lead, and it's just really cool to have him around because he alongside with my companion are true friends.

(3) My companion and I are opening a new secteur (area) that no missionaries there have yet worked before. We've been going around talking with a lot of people and we've found a few who are interested in hearing more about our message so hopefully we'll continue to be able to work with them. As for talking with people, here's what we do: "Okay, where should go? Well, there's a door. Let's knock on it." From there, we present ourselves to whomever answers; we present our message, and give the person at the door a brochure. There's that, but what's even better is going to what we call "quartiers." It's basically a row of small houses linked together confined by a surrounding wall with a small courtyard in front of the houses to walk, wash clothes, cook and so forth. It's there where we find lots of families and people who are generally more interested in and more open to what we have to say. It's people living in these living conditions who are much more ready and willing to receive us and hear about the gospel. 

(4) Our friend named Soeur Adel who was in our last secteur chose to be baptized and we were able to attend her baptism last Saturday! I was so happy that she was finally able to be baptized because she's so kind, she loves the missionary lessons and understands them really well, she always keeps her commitments by reading the brochures, assigned scriptures and going to church, and she always gave us a bag of bananas after teaching her because we would always do the teachings by her fruit stand. What's also great is that we would only have to invite her to act upon a commitment once and she'd do it without us having to bug and persist her to. That, and she comes to church all on her own every Sunday. Unfortunately, we're no longer in the same ward so we won't be able to continue teaching her. We did, however, introduce her to the new missionaries who recently came in to take over that part of our old secteur and so they'll be able to pick up where we left off. Another great part of all this is that she has friends who are members in the church. I tell you what, if the people are able to become good friends with the members, they're glued right in and I absolutely love it. 

 Well, as for me personally, I'm doing really great and everything has been going just fine. My health is good, I've been eating alright, and I haven't been getting sick. I'm becoming more patient, loving, caring, and genuine with everyone around me which has been such a wonderful blessing. I'm learning so much every single day and it's really unbelievable just how much a person can continually progress every single day of his or her life. My capacity to speak with others and testify to them is developing, my tiny knowledge of the gospel is increasing, and my desire to share this gospel and serve Heavenly Father is growing. I'll be frank, this mission is not always easy, but it's a once in a life time privilege and opportunity and so I will strive my best to work as hard and effectively as I can in everything that I do.

 Hey, I found a really cool chapter in the Bible this morning during personal study in Acts 17. It talked about the Apostle Paul as a missionary going  about preaching to the Jews somewhere in Greece about the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ when we later then came across a people in Athens who were given in to much idolatry. With the people that he found there, he spoke really well on the true nature of God in verses 24-30.

He told these people that it's not man who created God but its God who created man. It's through God that we are living, breathing beings, having been given all things. It's says in verse 27, according to the poets of Athens, that we are the race of God. In the following verse, we see that if we are indeed the race of God, then how is it that we as humans can say that God is made of temporal, non-lasting, man-made things? 

 There's a lot more to the chapter so I invite you to read it because it's actually really cool; however, I'm going to go, we were invited to a family night at the Relief Society President’s house.
Alors, ma famille, voila, la bonne nouvelle de la semaine.
(Well, my family, there you have it, the good news of the week).  

 I love you all so much, I miss you and I sincerely hope you all have a wonderful week! Stay strong, be safe and God bless you! Oh yeah, and Happy Easter!!!
Dieu soit avec vous jusqu'au revoir.
Avec amour,
Elder Gonzales     

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