Monday, April 20, 2015

4/13/15 – General Conference Reflections and Joy in the Work!

Hello Friends and Family,

This has been an interesting past week. Humbling, on top of the craziness. First of all, Elder Duano is one of the best missionaries I've served with. He's very on top of everything, very good at one on one ministering to other missionaries, and is truly utilizing what he has learned on his mission thus far. He only has 3 months left on his mission, he goes home June 23rd. He will be going to BYU-Hawaii for school, he wants to become an international businessman. He fits that role too from what I've seen thus far. Elder Duano and I are going to get work done! It's extraordinarily easy to make plans for the zone with him, one of us presents an idea and the other says, I like it, let’s add this, this and this to it as well. I'm extremely excited to see what miracles are to come this transfer. I also hope to be able to utilize and apply the things I learn from him this transfer. I think my biggest worry really is that he won't be here for very long.... There is a slight chance he gets moved or I get moved for his last 6 weeks. It will work out though I'm sure, "No circumstance is simply happenstance" - Elder David A. Bednar. 

The mission's goal to reach the standard of excellence in May is really building a greater spirit of missionary work than I've ever experienced on my mission. When we accomplish this, so many missionaries’ testimonies will be strengthened and there will be more than just 200 converts (mission baptisms), there will be 400 (added with missionaries) in a single month. To quote Despicable Me, It's so fluffy I'm gonna die! OR Alma 29:14-16. (“But I do not joy in my own success alone, but my joy is more full because of the success of my brethren, who have been up to the land of Nephi. Behold, they have labored exceedingly, and have brought forth much fruit; and how great shall be their reward! Now, when I think of the success of these my brethren my soul is carried away, even to the separation of it from the body, as it were, so great is my joy.”)

I don't know how to appropriately express the excitement I have for the up and coming events in the mission and in my personal life. I've been so grateful for the experiences I've had and grown from on my mission. There is no more important thing I could have been doing at this point in my life to better prepare myself for the roles I have to play as Husband and Father. It's kind of scary how close those things really are. I've made many life-long friends in this life and have learned the importance of being an example of good, NOT being a good example. The scriptures have become an important part of my life as I've been striving to truly understand what God is speaking to me. I have striven my whole mission to truly understand his will for me. I've striven to gain a great testimony of prayer and fasting and its importance in everyone’s lives. The small and simple things in the gospel are what will truly bring joy. I love what was said during General Conference, so many things I took note on that spoke to me directly. President Packer was by far my favorite talk! One thing in particular was when he spoke of our bodies and our spirits. Our Spirits, when damaged, will have no remnants of the past because of the healing power of the atonement! Unlike our bodies, which when scarred have some remnants until we are resurrected with glorified bodies. I've had countless prayers answered throughout my life, some instantaneously, some over a period of months, regardless I testify that God does answer prayers, but not always in the ways we want. Strive to look for God's hand in our life. 

Elder Gillespie

Elder Olson got to come back to his area for a day and was in a trio with us for a day! 

Elder Duano's and I comp personality in one picture!

4/6/15 – Transfers – Farewell to Elder Olson & Hello Elder Duano

Elders Olson & Gillespie during a baptism in March

Transfer info: ELDER OLSON IS LEAVING!!!!!! MAN...................
We were in high hopes that I'd be able to 'kill' him (send him home) with him only having 1 transfer left. Instead he is being moved to serve as a District Leader in our zone with a trial missionary, who oddly enough was, at the end of his 3 months (Trial missions = 3 months), reassigned to continue serving here for the rest of his days. He's from Boise. My new companion will be Elder Duano, he's Filipino, but he's from Virginia. He's the third Virginian companion I've had and all in a row. All of them are from the northern part of Virginia as well. He speaks fluent Tagalog, so it will be interesting to have my first non-white boy companion. He's probably just as white as the rest of us though, being from Northern Virginia. This is the second week in a row that I've forgotten to bring my camera so no pictures again this week! 

In other news... As time goes in it appears to me that the Prophets and General Authorities, as they get older, are getting so much the wiser! Or am I simply opening up my aperture a lot more and allowing more light to come into my life? I think by far Elder Packer’s talk was my favorite. I think everyone had a hard time understanding a lot of what he said, but regardless, the Spirit taught me what I needed to know and my prayer was answered. I loved all of the emphasis on Families, marriage being between a MAN and a WOMAN, Satan is striving diligently to destroy the good that comes from families. "The family is THE MOST important social unit in time AND eternity." The family is where the most joy in life can be felt.  

The work is going well here, in our area we personally have 4 baptismal dates with a 5th we will be trying to set tonight. So many more opportunities for sharing the gospel here than what I remember in Firth or Shelley. It's a lot more transient, larger, and the housing additions are more compact so that we can actually find people out and about walking, riding bikes, working on their cars, hanging out at parks, that we otherwise would find as a rare moment in the smaller towns. I do miss the small towns though, I think that would be where I'd hope to settle in and raise a family, not sure yet, I suppose it depends on what the future wife wants to do and where my career takes me. 

The zone is doing GREAT!  When I first got here we had about 10 baptismal dates as a zone, 3 of which were ours and 4 of which were the Sister Training Leaders. The zone has been on an upward escalator with every phase/aspect of missionary work. One thing we emphasized when I first got here was extending baptismal commitments DAILY and a lot of the zone has been converted to doing that. A lot of companionship's in the zone have found that they are teaching more than usual. I've been able to give two zone trainings now as a Zone Leader and it's very different being in that situation. To be fair, when I was in Shelley, the District had 6 companionships in it and I was ridin' solo. Now, as a Zone Leader, since so many missionaries are going home, we only have 7 companionships in our entire zone as of this Wednesday. So it's really not all that chaotic. The zone now has 21 baptismal dates with a goal of having 24 for next week, and keeping in mind there are only 7 companionships, where as some zones have had or currently have 12 companionships, 21 is pretty good. I don't send the 'logistic/statistic' emails very often, so here ya go. 

Love ya,

Elder Gillespie