Wednesday, May 20, 2015

"Now that right there is what this work is all about."

Salut ma famille!!!

 Hey Mom, I received your letter a couple days ago!

I'm so glad that you sent me that because it really helped me out.

 In fact, after I read that talk, I followed Elder Holland's invitation of praying to Heavenly Father and telling him, "Here I am, let me be an instrument between thy hands. I know I'm not perfect, I have a lot of weakness, and all I ask is that thou wilt help me to overcome them that I may be able to speak and testify more often than before; and, if thou wilt accept me, I am willing to be a vessel by which thou wilt accomplish thy work." The prayer I made was something along those lines, but I did something that I've never done before. As Priesthood holders, we are capable of calling forth from the powers of heaven unto the ministering of angels. During the prayer, I said "In the name of Jesus Christ and by the authority of the Melchezidik Priesthood in which I hold, I call upon the powers of heaven..." to help me become more of what He needs me to be and to be capable of doing the work that He sent me here to do. Never yet have I felt so capable of doing what I've been sent to do since that prayer. Not only that, but that was a very powerful experience for me because I could really feel the love and care that the Lord has for me and especially for His children here in Togo. I know that the Lord didn't send me to fail, but rather He sent me to serve a people and to do a mission. I know that the Lord will accomplish all His mighty works through all who are willing to be worthy instruments between His hands by the Holy Spirit along with the powers of heaven.

 Since then, I've had many spiritually edifying experiences in briefly teaching and testifying of the message of the Restoration more than I've ever been capable before with a friend of our progressing investigator and really awesome friend named Rodrique along with answering a lot questions to a woman named Soeur Nadege an investigator we met through tracting whom we've been working with for the past few weeks.

 One of the questions Sr. Nadege asked me was "What blessings have you received from the Gospel of Jesus Christ?" At first, I was slightly shocked because that was the first time since I've been here that I've been asked that question. Quite honestly, I didn't know what to say, but only because I didn't know where to start. However, once I got going, an old lady came by and sat down on a crate to join us in the midst of our conversation. If there's one blessing that I've received is the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation. I began answering her question; however, I had directed myself to the woman who came and joined us. There are three questions that can be answered thanks to the Plan of Salvation: (1) Where do we come from? (2) Why are we here/ What is the purpose of life? (3) Where are we going after this life? I had shared each question and then briefly explained the answer to each one. God is our Father in Heaven and we lived with Him as his spirit children before coming to this life on earth. We chose to come here so that we could obtain a body of flesh and bones and to have trials and experiences to learn and grow and to have a family of our own to love and care for. We're also here to keep the commandments of God, to be obedient to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel, and to perform good works. In doing these things, I know that we will be able to return into the presence of our God after this life to dwell in His kingdom to be reunited with our families and to have eternal life. I know that during this life we make mistakes and we sin; however, thanks to the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can receive the forgiveness and remission of our mistakes and sins. Thanks to the Atonement, we can repent of our sins and be saved (Article of Faith # 3).

 Honestly, it was an absolutely amazing experience because the words just kept coming and I kept speaking without hesitation or pausing and the Spirit burned within my heart and warmed the depths my soul as if I was wearing a spiritual electric blanket. After having spoken with her along with giving her a brochure of the Plan of Salvation along with a Book of Mormon, we spoke with her and Sr. Nadege for a little while to have a really fun conversation before we left.

I tell you what, after leaving from the experience I couldn't help but smile with every bit of gratitude in my heart and then say "Now that right there is what this work is all about."

 I've been sincerely blessed to receive new experiences such as these almost every single day. Sometimes it really can be difficult and the integrity of my faith can be shaken; however, thanks be unto the Lord who has had so much mercy upon me in answering my prayers. Thank you all so much for the prayers that you make on my behalf. They sincerely uplift me and give me the strength to always look higher when my struggles strive to drag me lower. Thank you all so much for all that you've done for me and continue to do on my behalf.

After six long months, I can tell you that I know that this church is true! 

Never let your doubts triumph over your faith and never let what you hear against this church disturb that belief and conviction that you have within your hearts! 

Trust in the feelings in your mind and in your heart and know that the Spirit is alive and true and will testify to you if you sincerely seek to find out the truth! (Moroni 10:3-5; Galations 5:22).


Well family, it was wonderful hearing from you all again and I hope you all have a wonderful week. Take care of each other, protect yourselves from the adversary and stay forever strong in this faith (2 Nephi 31:20).


Je vous aime et que Dieu vous bénisse.


 Elder Gonzales 

 P.S. -- I was asked the question "Who is Mormon?" The simple response: see introduction of the BofM second paragraph and 3 Nephi 5:12-14. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Joyeuse fête des mères or Happy Mother's Day!!!

 Joyeuse fête des mères or Happy Mother's Day!!!
That means that we'll be able to use Skype!!! :D

 Oh man, I'm so excited!
I realized something that I didn't quite see before. Sometimes I worry a lot about not being able to explain things very clearly or not really knowing completely what it is that I need say during lessons; however, its not what I explain that will impact these people's lives but its the conviction that I show through my countenance along with the solid bearing of my testimony with a heart full of faith that will genuinely make all the difference.
Well, as for the new area, it's been slow going, having had to show the other missionaries to their new secteurs as well as to their investigators' homes for quite a few days within the past couple weeks. However, the secteur that we work in is in our neighborhood and so it's not difficult at all to get around. Now that my companion is getting more sleep due to the medication that he's been taking, we won't need to go to the hospital anymore; that, and we finished showing the other elders to all that they need to work with so we are now finally free to start pioneering. 
As for the good news, last Sunday, our friend Rodric came to church for the first time in the month or so that we've been teaching him. That, and my comp and I were able to set two baptismal dates with Frère Rodric along with a new investigator in our new secteurs named Soeur Brigitte. We'll see what happens over the next few weeks, but let's just keep hoping that they'll both keep progressing so that we'll be able to help them get themselves baptized.  
As for Boris, I probably won't be able to see him anytime soon because his home is no longer in my secteur; however, I'm going to give him a call here in a little bit just to see how he's doing. I'll see to it that I call him throughout the entirety of my mission to see if he's still going strong in the church and that everything is going okay for him in life. Who knows, maybe after a year he'll be ready to go do a mission -- of which would be so awesome!!!  
 We've been going about meeting new people and sharing the message of the gospel with whomever is willing to hear it. So far, we've received about 20 new contacts through proselyting alone and have had appointments with about five of them on a fairly consistent basis. We hope they'll be able to progress and hopefully some day we'll be able to help a few of them start getting themselves where they need to be -- the temple!
Well my most amazing family, I'm afraid I must now depart to go pick up some pictures that we had printed out for a few members in my last ward; afterwards, I'll be heading over to a dinner appointment with a family whom we always buy our bread from.
By the way, here's an awesome scripture that I read this morning: Alma 37:36 -- The thing that I learned from this scripture was that in every aspect of our lives we should always remember the Lord and involve Him in everything that we do. For me, this scripture truly defines how one should remember the Lord and Savior during and after having taking the Sacrament.
Okay everyone, take care, I love you, God bless you and I'll SEE you all next week!!! :D
 After Skyping on Mother's Day:
I'm so happy and grateful to my Lord and Savoir for the opportunity that he has given me to see you all again. It was truly a really wonderful blessing to hear your voices and to see your faces. I'm so glad to have prayed with you guys as well. That really hit home cause it made me realize that even if we're thousands of miles apart, we're all still there together through prayer. That actually opened my eyes a little because that's exactly what its like for our Heavenly Father when we pray to Him. Though we may be apart, we can still connect with Him through prayer. This life is only but a small moment and so enjoy every single bit of it through good deeds and righteous works. 
à bientôt!!!
Elder Gonzales