Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"Never, ever take movie theaters (or anything) for granted!"

Dear Family:
 Great news!!! I've not been transferred, but I received a new companion!!!!!
I've not made mention of what has been happening between my last companion and I in an attempt to focus on better things and to be more positive, but I'll just tell you now that despite all the baptismal success that we've had, he was the laziest and least diligent missionary with whom I've served thus far.
  I am, however, grateful that we were, at least able to get the vast majority of our work effectively and sufficiently done. I'm also thankful that, despite his laziness, he and I were able to effectively teach and work together and we were able to develop a great relationship with our investigators and recent converts; which, I suppose, is all that really matters in the long run.
  I have, though, learned many important lessons while working with him. Some of which consist of the following: never judge nor worry about what others are doing; just focus on what you're doing and make sure that you do what you know to be right; charity is imperative to a happy life and unconditional love is necessary to have in order to get along with others with different perspectives and so forth. At least good things have been the result of working with him in the end.

 Wow, all sorts of awesome things have been taking place over here as of late!!

 The Lord is filled with goodness and has been exceedingly generous to me in granting unto me a countless amount of tender mercies through out the entirety of my mission. Not only that, but He has kept His promise made to me through Bishop Roberts when he conferred upon me the Melchizedek Priesthood. I was promised that while on my mission that every worry that I would ever have would been taken care of by the Lord. It has been a very wondrous and reassuring blessing in which I've learned to believe with all my heart, for the Lord has made manifest this blessing more times that I could count.

 Well, so far my new companion is quite an interesting person. He is patient, adaptive, easy to get along with, very diligent, ridiculously motivated, appreciates hard work, has a desire to do all that is required of him, is excessively clean (far cleaner than any missionary I've ever meet), and respectful.
  It's nice having such a wonderful change -- a clean apartment along with a diligent companion. He's also very respectful and willing to do everything that's required of him. Oh, how I love answered prayers.

 The district that I am now in, consists of Elder Atherton from Utah and his companion Elder Joseph (my old companion) along with my new guy named Elder Ndibu from Congo, Ninchasa and then me. In any case, my guy and I have been doing what we need to be doing and it's been great. Although, it is somewhat difficult to catch up to the pace that I've been wanting to run at, after having been coasting by for so long. It has been a bit of a spiritual work out, but that's exactly what I've been praying and hoping for so it all works out for me.
 Prayers on my behalf to overcome the tiredness that I've experienced this past week would be much appreciated. I want to be able to get through this mission at full speed without being held back. If my tiredness increases within the upcoming months, I pray that the Spirit of the Lord will be with me so that my integrity and will power will be strong enough to overcome it. The things that motivate and push me to do my best to do what I need to do from day to day are my investigators and recent coverts. I couldn't help them if I wasn't willing to help myself by doing what I teach others to do in order to help them come unto Christ and be saved.
Productivity is back up to speed! I've been able to do companionship study and leave to the secateur on time every day and it's been absolutely fantastic!!
 In any case, all is going extremely well, investigators are progressing, recent converts are doing great and have been progressing more and better than ever and I am at last content and happy with all that I've been able to accomplish along with all that I'm able to now do.  
 Family, may I be so bold as to exhort you with every thing I got to never, ever take movie theaters for granted!!! Despite how expensive it can be, its completely worth it!
 There are no theaters, or cinemas as they are called in French over here; however, the majority of the people in this part of the city have TVs. The people here have movie nights from time to time where large groups of people gather together along side of the road and watch a movie set up either on a TV or a projector screen. The father of my recent convert Sr. Nicole installed a projector screen made from a large slab of white painted wood posted into the ground in the courtyard situated in front of their house and that of their neighbor's. There are long benches positioned before the screen made of cement, on which movie viewers sit.
 Actually, we should strive to never take anything for granted, for we have been given more than we can possibly imagine! Although, let this serve as a warning and an invitation to us all to be ready and willing to act by rendering service at every given moment and opportunity, by magnifying our callings to the best of our abilities, by wisely spending our time and consecrating as much of it as we can to the Lord, by setting time apart for the temple, family and friends, and by realizing that we will be held accountable for the works that we will have accomplished or failed to do so at the judgment bar of Christ. Let us all remember that "to whom much is given, much is required" (I forgot the citation).
 I've learned many things as a zone leader within the past four and a half months of my mission, especially within the past week.

  I'm distraught to report that during our last zone meeting, there were Elders who are new and old in the zone that literally challenged everything that my companion and I were teaching by asking us ridiculous questions and by trying to provoke us so that we would negatively react to what they were saying. Never in my entire life have I seen such derogatory behavior. I was surprising calm at first due to having dealt with these kind of situations all throughout my mission; however, to have that actually directed towards me by people who are supposed to support me and be on my side, try to tear me down and make me look bad in front of the entire zone astounded me. There are many cultural differences that have yet to be overcome, but there are some in particular that the Elders from the surrounding countries have difficulty to maintain, which are pride and envy for leadership power. I've come to learn that the only reason why I was treated in such a way is because of where I'm from, because of who I am, and because I was chosen to be in this position and they were not. My companion has had much experience with these kinds of situations, seeing that he was, at one point of time, on their side of the spectrum; he was, therefore, able to quite cleverly handle the situation, which was quite impressive. My companion, to whom I will be forever grateful for this, supported me and confounded their words so that I could keep directing the meeting and do what was required of me. On top of that, and to my surprise, there were several sister African missionaries who stood up for me and told them to stop what they were doing and to listen to what I had to say so that they could learn what they needed to know in order to accomplish what our leaders have asked of us. They also told them that as missionaries, they should be supporting and sustaining their leaders rather than try to bring them down. As sucky as of an experience as the last zone meeting was, I learned many what-to-do's and what-not-to-do's during a zone meeting and that experience had shown me how great it's going to be to have a wife who will be courageous to stand up beside me in order to sustain me. The amount of support that I had withdrawn from them was astoundingly amazing.
 I thank you all so much for you prayers and for everything else that you do for me. Oh, speaking of which, I just received the package that you sent to me for Christmas! Thank you so much for that! I really appreciated the letters that you had written to me! They're the best part of the package! They were very encouraging and filled me with joy, faith, hope, and love. That being said, I'll be keeping them forever!

 Well, my family, duty calls! You're in my prayers and I love you all so much!!! Until next week, God bless you and I hope you all have a most wonderful week and that everything works out for your favor.     
Love, your brother and son,
Elder Gonzales    

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