Monday, December 29, 2014

2.0.1.5.


I can't believe it is the last week of the year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
I loved seeing your beautiful faces on Christmas 
and am so grateful for my amazing family and friends. 

Thank you for the packages and letters and Christmas cards. I really think I am the luckiest sister missionary in the world. 

This Christmas I was more aware of the countless things we have to be grateful for. 
There are so many in the world who have less - who have no family to spend Christmas with, no money or presents, no traditions, no food, nothing to look forward to and the most heartbreaking thing that they are missing is the Gospel. It would not matter if we had NOTHING else because the Gospel of Jesus Christ really is the most important thing on this earth and the greatest gift we can possess. The gospel can bring us peace and happiness even on the hardest days. 

I got to spend Christmas day making a gingerbread house with Connie, a recent convert who was unexpectedly alone on Christmas. Then Sister Coleman and I got to serve lunch at a community kitchen for people who were going to be alone on Christmas or couldn't afford to make a turkey dinner. Well, Sister Coleman and I actually got put in charge of sorting the garbage but it's all the same :) I was so grateful to be helping out. Then of course the highlight of my day was talking to you - thank you for making me laugh and holding duke up in front of the camera in his Santa suit. Thank you for praying for me and supporting me. Thank you for seeing past my imperfections and loving me no matter what. I love you more than I can say. 

Since the year is coming quickly to a close, this week I began reflecting on all the lessons that I have learned over the past 12 months as a missionary. It seems that I knew nothing before I came on a mission because it seems that everything I now know - was a lesson learned on my mission!!! (That is a little sad but also happy..) I wanted to share some of the greatest lessons with you -

  • PEOPLE are what really matter. Every one of us is a child of God. He loves us. We are so important to Him. And He has given us charge over each other here on earth. We cannot take that responsibility lightly. Without charity, we are nothing.
  • There is always something to be grateful for.
  • Happiness comes not from the things of the world but from the things of God.
  • Hope is so much more than a wish. It is an expectation of fulfillment that comes when you have complete trust and faith in God because you understand His character and know that He cannot lie - He always keeps His promises.
  • Having an eternal perspective can make the greatest of trials seem to last but a moment.
  • Each new day is a great gift from God. It is a fresh start a chance to be better than you have ever been before.
  • The Book of Mormon really does have all of the answers, there is power coursing through it's pages.
  • Embrace the awkward moments.
  • The Atonement is everything. It allows us to overcome two insurmountable barriers - sin and death. Because of Jesus Christ we can all live again with God. 
  • God gives us weaknesses to help us be humble but He can also make us stronger than we could ever be on our own.
  • God doesn't give us the spirit of fear but of FAITH. 
  • The best advice in the world is "FORGET YOURSELF AND GO TO WORK"
  • The Spirit is what carries our message to the hearts of the people. The Spirit is what teaches and testifies of truth. The Spirit is what allows us to change our nature and progress eternally. 
  • This is not our work, or my work - it is the Lord's work. He is our Master.
  • It is so much better to laugh at yourself and move on..
  • When we try to see people as Christ sees them, we have a greater ability to love them.
  • When our understanding of the Atonement increases, our desire to share it also increases.
  • We really can do hard things
THE LIST GOES ON...

I am so thankful that as we draw closer to God and lose ourselves in His service - we actually find ourselves. We find joy in the little things. We have the strength to carry on. Let's make this year the best year of our lives!!! Trust God and GO TO WORK.

I love you all with my whole heart.
Love, Sister Gochnour



Connie on Christmas Day making Gingerbread houses



Christmas Day we sorted garbage and helped with dinner for those who had no where to go for Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2014

he is the light, the life and the hope of the world


 I can't believe I get to see your beautiful faces this week - I canNOT wait. 

God has been so good to us this week. I am truly grateful. We have witnessed countless "christmas miracles." 

We found three new investigators, almost all of our plans went through EVERY DAY, 

We fasted with our investigator Jim to help him overcome his anxiety, 

We had a dinner appointments almost every night, the weather is so nice (no, there is not a lot of snow and it is supposed to be +7 degrees and raining on Christmas but to be honest - I can't complain. Being warm makes me happy :)), and 

We have begun setting our new year's resolutions which has never been so much fun. I LOVE SETTING GOALS!! 


Sister Coleman and I have memorized "The Living Christ" and we recite it every morning. What a beautiful testimony to our Savior. I am humbled and grateful to know that God loves us so much that He sent his only begotten son, to die for us, that we might have everlasting life. As I go out every day i strive to remember all that my Savior has done for me and all that He has promised to do for those who believe in Him and "come unto Him." It doesn't matter how many mistakes we have made, or how far from his light we think we are - His love never changes. He is our creator and our protector. He is our advocate with the Father - he will plead our cause before Him. He is our perfect example - "Though sinless He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness." Truly He lives. His church has been restored to the earth. And we are a part of it. Because of Him we can live with our families forever. Because of Him we can progress eternally. Because of Him we can find true joy.

I was reading in the December ensign and loved this - from President Uchtdorf -

"Think of the simple yet dignified way our Heavenly Father chose to honor the birth of His Son. On that holy night, angels appeared not to the rich but to shepherds. The Christ child was born not in a mansion but in a manger. He was wrapped not in silk but in swaddling clothes.
The simplicity of that first Christmas foreshadowed the life of the Savior. Though He had created the earth, walked in realms of majesty and glory, and stood at the right hand of the Father, He came to earth as a helpless child. His life was a model of modest nobility, and He walked among the poor, the sick, the downcast, and the heavy laden.
Though He was a king, He cared neither for the honors nor the riches of men. His life, His words, and His daily activities were monuments of simple yet profound dignity."
Christ came to the earth to do the will of the Father. He was exactly obedient. He never thought of himself, he did not seek for the honors of men.... 

"And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men." (1 nephi 19:9) He loves us so much.

So we must choose to follow Him. To be more like Him. I am so thankful that for 18 months I get to represent Him. "To stand as a living modern witness in word and in deed of the divinity of His great and marvellous latter-day work." 

I love you all. I am so thankful for your love and support and prayers. They truly are being answered. We are witnessing miracles. I love you and miss you.

MERRY CHRISTMAS
Love, Sister G





Tuesday, December 16, 2014

HE is the GIFT


Dear family, 

It has been an unusually warm week in Amherst..there were two days that I didn't even need my coat! The weather is so unpredictable but we are learning to just appreciate it - sun or snow - because it changes too often to worry about. Oh and we found out that Sister Coleman and I are staying here another transfer so we get to be together over Christmas! YAY. 

On Tuesday, we drove to Moncton for CHRISTMAS ZONE CONFERENCE! The conference that is talked about throughout the entire year. We got to watch "Meet The Mormons" which was great! We had a lovely turkey dinner, a talent show, and a white elephant gift exchange. Then Santa and his elf (the assistants) gave us a yearbook, gift card and letter from the First Presidency. Later President read the Christmas story and we sang 
O Little Town of Bethlehem before heading back home. I love zone conferences because the missionary spirit is so strong. 

Due to an emergency transfer we are spending 10 days in a trio. Sister Hughes is from Alaska and is the epitome of warmth, she is genuine and friendly. She has a beautiful voice and is a talented pianist - we have had a great time together. 

I also got a package from Kristin Christensen (THANK YOU SO MUCH - I LOVED IT. It was so thoughtful) and letters that had been piling up at the mission office from Papa and Nana, Sara, Natalie and the 18th Ward!!! They told me that there are 28 missionaries from our ward who are serving. THAT IS INCREDIBLE. I am so thankful for the wisdom, love and support of my amazing family and friends. 

In Papa's letter he posed a significant question for me to ask my investigators and myself - "There may be times when we are called upon to climb Mount Olympus and to sacrifice our Isaacs without a full and prior explanation. Faith is a principle of progress, do they want to progress?" 

We taught a less active this week who is struggling. She wants to keeps the commandments but has been unable to succeed, We asked her, "Do you love Jesus Christ?" She said, " I want to say yes, but the scriptures say - If ye love me, keep my commandments - so I don't know?" We told her that sometimes God asks us to do things that are hard, that we might not fully understand - like Nephi, when he was commanded to kill Laban. But he knew that "...the Lord would provide a way for him to accomplish the things which he commanded them.." When we love Christ we want to keep his commandments because we understand that He knows what is best and He will help us. So we must continually look to Him, move forward with faith and show our love by keeping His commandments. 

As I finished the Book of Mormon this week I reflected on the truthfulness of it. And the joy it can bring into our lives. No one has ever felt sad or frustrated or discouraged or angry when they were reading the Book of Mormon. Sometimes I feel like Ammon, who upon meeting Alma again after their long mission among the Lamanites was so happy that he fainted. (Alma27:16-18) "Now the joy of Ammon was so great even that he was full, yea he was swallowed up in the joy of his God, even to the exhausting of his strength and he fell again to the earth." Mormon adds, "Now was not this exceeding joy?" THAT IS WHAT THE GOSPEL BRINGS. EXCEEDING JOY. So read the Book of Mormon every day and you will be happier, I promise. 

This week we found a new investigator named Jim. We were going to knock Alma street and Sister Coleman and I said - there has to be someone here. So we knocked and at the end of the street Jim answered his door. He lost his wife to cancer earlier this year and she was his world. His best friend and greatest example. Losing her caused Him to question his faith in God. We told him that we know we were led to him for a reason, that we pray every day to know where we need to be and that his wife is closer than he thinks. She is looking out for him. She wanted us to find him. We went back with the Lockheart's and taught him the Plan of Salvation. He struggled with anxiety and depression so having even four of us there was hard for him and he cancelled the following lesson because we had planned to go again but this time there were 5 of us - that was too much for him. But it is a cool story because at church yesterday we were talking to a member and she asked us if we were teaching Jim Williams. Long story short, they had become friends on facebok, started chatting and talking about the church, Sister Strong has struggled with the same things and they connected immediately. Sister Strong told us the Spirit was so strong as she was prompted to message him so now we can move forward with a real fellowshipper!! We are so excited. Facebook really can be an incredible tool and it is amazing to see the Lord's hand in our work. 

The 12 Days Of Christmas have begun and we printed off the 12 day scripture countdown from LDS.ORG so we are doing that as well. To help keep our thoughts centered on our Savior. 

We are also continuing with a random act of service each day. Yesterday we baked cupcakes and delivered them to members with a copy of the Living Christ. Service brings so many smiles :) 

You may have heard of the #sharethegift initiative but we have beautiful pass along cards that we are handing out to everyone to help them keep Christ in Christmas this year. He truly is the greatest gift we have ever been given. "For God so love the world that he gave His only begotten son..." We are loved. So we must love others. Remember that true happiness cannot be bought at a store, it does not come wrapped in a box with a fancy bow. It comes from loving others and serving them, it comes form the Book of Mormon and a knowledge that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that because of Him we can overcome the world. 

I love you all. President Lockheart always tells us, "DON"T KEEP THE FAITH. SPREAD IT AROUND!!!" 

Have a happy week.
Love, Sister Gochnour

Monday, December 8, 2014

Oh Dear This Is SHORT...


hi

It has been a very happy, busy week. I GOT TO GO TO THE TEMPLE!!!!!!!!!!! That was definitely the highlight - it has been almost a year and what a miracle and a blessing it was to be in that beautiful building. We are so lucky to be able to attend the temple. To be taught from on high. To receive clear answers to our prayers and to feel the peace that helps us survive the business of our lives. Go to the temple this week because truly we need it. Following the temple session we were able to attend a missionary leadership council at the mission home with Elder Kacher, he is a member of the Seventy (and gave a talk in this past conference). Elder Kacher is an incredible person, he carries such a strong spirit. 

My time is too short but I wanted to share a valuable lesson that I learned from him. He talked to us about inviting the Spirit into our lives. Each of us has the power and ability to do so. It is the Spirit that helps us understand truth, that helps us learn God's will for our lives, the Spirit brings us joy. As a missionary, if we do not have the Spirit - we will not be able to teach. We will not succeed. The Spirit is so the most valuable thing we can possess. I feel that when we take time to bear our testimonies, or sing a hymn, or recognize the tender mercies of the Lord, or seek out and serve those who are struggling - the Spirit enters into our lives and we are better able to feel God's love. We are happier, there is more peace in our hearts. So I am going to work harder to INVITE the Spirit more fully into my every day life. 

We had a Branch Christmas Party on Friday - we were expecting about 50 people and 75 came!! Somehow we had enough food - like the fishes and the loaves it seemed that nothing was in short supply. More than half of the people who came were less active or non members - it was wonderful!! 

I'm sorry I wish i had more time to write, but I want all of you to know that I love you. And that i am so grateful for the love and support you give me. I couldn't survive without it. I know that when Christ is the center of our lives - we are happier - we are stronger - and more full of hope - lean on Him. He will always carry us through.

NEXT WEEK I WILL BE BETTER!!!! LOVE YOU! MISS YOU! BYE!

Love, Sister g

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

HAPPY DECEMBER....

Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii busy people. Good luck with the gift show mum. I hope EVERYONE comes!!!

It is December - what? where does time go? We have had a busy busy week which is the best thing to b as a missionary - BUSY!!! We literally had to run from one appointment to the next..meetings..lessons..service..dinner appointments.. Sister Coleman and I - after hearing a talk on charity in sacrament meeting yesterday - decided that we are going to do one random act of kindness every day in December. To help us really get into the Christmas Spirit. We started early so..when the snow came and we had to climb a large flight of slippery steps to knock on a  door, we decided to use their shovel and clear them off. They didn't answer...but I`m sure they were happy when they got home :) We also started volunteering at a seniors home here, one of the residents, Jean, is blind and practically deaf but she knows how to talk. Whether someone is listening to her or not she talks and talks and talks. We went on Friday to help them bake a cake for their monthly Birthday party and sang Christmas carols. Jean, despite her blindness, mixed the batter (quite nicely) and we sang with hem - loud and off tune. That was a happy experience. 

A few weeks ago we were in Sackville (a college town about 15 minutes outside of Amherst) on our way to visit a member we passed a lady who was sitting on her steps. We said hi but didn't go and talk to her. When the member was not home we headed back to the car, the lady was still smoking on the step and we knew we needed to talk to her. So we did, we told her who we were and invited her to learn about the Book of Mormon. She said that she was not interested and we went on our way - feeling much better that we had followed the prompting and talked to her, no matter the outcome. A few days letter we received a media referral, 50 Queens Street in Sackville. Tammy`s address. She had requested a Book of Mormon. We called her and she hasn`t been available for us to drop it off yet but that was a sweet testimony for us. God will help us be in the right place at the right time if we will simply open our mouths. 

In my journal I started writing the highlight of each day - I like it so much that I am going to send you the highlight of my week each Monday :) The highlight this week would have to be the mini Christmas tree a member gave us, they don`t have much and when they heard us talking about trying to find a little tree for our apartment, Jonathan the 15 year old asked his mom to give us theirs because they were finally able to afford a bigger one this year. We decorated it with paper chains and it is so cute. 

Today as I was reading the Book of Mormon I came across a verse in 3 nephi, right before the sign of Christ`s death takes place among the Nephites. The people, in their extreme wickedness, kill and stone the Prophets of God. Nephi, a Prophet, despite their wickedness, boldly preaches repentance and faith on Jesus Christ. (7:18-19)

18 And it came to pass that they were angry with him, even because he had greater power than they, for it were not possible that they could disbelieve his words, for so great was his faith on the Lord Jesus Christ that angels did minister unto him daily.

 19 And in the name of Jesus did he cast out devils and unclean spirits; and even his brother did he raise from the dead, after he had been stoned and suffered death by the people.

They could not NOT believe his words because he spake by the power and authority of God. Oh how I wish I could testify like Nephi did. I am so grateful for the miracles that take place in this church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am grateful for the power of God that is given to us - members and missionaries - to help others come to a knowledge of the truth. I am thankful for my Savior Jesus Christ - that he did minister to his ``other sheep`` in Ancient America. That He lives and died for each of us. That He might fulfill the Father`s Plan. So that each of us - through, faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end - can make it through our trials. We can receive the greatest of all the gifts of God. 

I love all of you. I hope that you will strive to recognize the many miracles that the Gospel has brought into your life. I hope that you will look for ways to offer ``simple acts of kindness`` especially through this holiday season. 

Have a happy week!
Love, Sister Gochnour

Monday, November 24, 2014

Light Up The Tree

Amherst and Sister G by the Sea
 HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL OF YOU and happy birthday to my cute cousin ADELIDE!! 

It is very very cold here but it's funny because when Sister Coleman and I are out talking to people and we comment on how freezing it is, people look at us like "you are weird.. and from out of town, this is balmy for us. Just wait until January!!" hahaha yayy :/ it's amusing for them to see how freezing we are. And funny for us to be so unbelievably cold - however, they might be a little bit colder if they spent all day outside like we do..

Everyone in Amherst comes out for the little Christmas celebration KICKOFF.  SO HAPPY! 
On Friday there was a "light-up" . We thought there were going to be lots lights, all through the streets, that would light up like the town in Cars, but the build up was much more than the presentation. They basically just lit up two big trees but the countdown was exciting :) then everyone moved into the Baptist church and we sang Christmas carols, then we all walked up the street to a department store, Dayles, and they had cute Christmas displays set up all around the store and more carols were sung. The next day we went to a Christmas parade. It was long but fun to see all the people there supporting the community. 

Christmas in Amherst
We started teaching a 15 year old boy named Conner and his grandpa, Paul. They are from England and have been meeting with missionaries on and off for a long time. They really want to be baptized but Paul is still dealing with some word of wisdom issues and doesn't feel like Conner knows enough yet so we are looking forward to helping them. The senior couple here, the Lockheart's, are amazing and I love them so much, they are team teaching with us. 

In church yesterday there was a talk given on PRIDE. It gave me a lot of things to think about, a chance to evaluate where I am at - because we all struggle with pride - and where I can improve. 

The Book of Mormon teaches us the consequences of pride. Practically an entire nation was brought to destruction because of their pride. Many times in our lives when asked to do something we think "how is this going to help me?" That is a prideful question. We must then recognize Christ want us to turn out. He wants us to ask "what is this going to do for someone else" or "what can I do for someone else" - despite anything you may have to give up in the process. The other is evidenced in our fear of opening our mouths and sharing the Gospel. Often people think "oh they will think I am weird or pushy if I talk about my faith" Or in other circumstances we fear man, we get caught up in "what would others think of me?" That is a manifestation of pride. We should be only striving to please God, thinking rather "what would GOD think of me?" That is the humble approach. God wants me to share the Gospel. God wants me to treat others with love and kindness. God wants me to see the good in myself and others and not compare myself to the world or people around me who have more, who are better looking or smarter. Let us resolve this week to be a little better at turning out. Of thinking about what we can do for others and pondering on the question "what would God think?"


I love you all. I am so happy to have the gospel in my life. I am so happy that i get to share it and raise a warning voice of the consequences of sin and pride. I am thankful for the Book of Mormon and the examples of the faithful, humble people contained therein. I am grateful for the patience of others especially when i fall short. I am grateful for the cold because it makes me appreciate more fully the warmth.

HAVE THE BEST WEEK AND EAT LOTS OF TURKEY AND MASHED POTATOES.
Love you and miss you all.
Love, Sister Gochnour
NEW BOOTS FOR THE 2ND WINTER...BRRR BRING IT ON!

Monday, November 17, 2014

We caught snow flakes on our tongues...


Hi to my favorite people on the planet.

This week it snowed which actually made me really happy. The first snowfall brought us many miracles. 

THANK YOU!!!
First i got a surprise late birthday package from Heidi and Tessa (Reinemer) and Katie (Nydegger) with some of my favorite things so that was a great start. 

Then simply being in the snow brought back some happy memories, it felt like Christmas time again which always makes me giddy. As we went to work..we entered the negative degrees. Luckily I learned much from last winter and pretty much have the whole layering thing down so the cold really doesn't bother me (too too much...) 

All day I walked around with my tongue out, looking up into the beautiful sky watching the snowflakes fall so gently onto the ground. None of them landed on my tongue but it was still fun to try..We were looking for a former investigator who kind of just disappeared a few months ago and the sisters who were here really wanted us to find him. We went to his house and knocked on the door. No one was home. We got back into the car, trying to figure out exactly where we needed to be next, when we saw a man pulling things out of a nearby car. We hadn't even noticed him before. We sat in the warmth of our car wondering if we should get out again and talk to him. Of course we did..We asked "hi. we are looking for Troy?" He said. "yes that is me." Sister Coleman and I looked at each other - so excited. We asked him if he would be willing to meet with us again and he agreed. So we taught him at the the Tim Horton's (it's kind of like Starbucks but way better) down the road - he is so sincere, we shared with him the articles of faith card and he told us that he believed all of them. He knows that he needs to be baptized and we are looking forward to meeting with him again tomorrow!! That was another snowy day miracle. 

I wish all of you could come and meet the amazing people in the Amherst branch - the feeling of love in that little chapel is undeniable. Each of them, despite their individual trials and weaknesses, has something unique and important to offer. It truly is like a little family. 

Sister Coleman and I were privileged to speak in sacrament meeting yesterday. I spoke about repentance and forgiveness. I talked about the prodigal son (Luke 15) and how beautifully the Savior illustrates these two principles in this parable. He truly is a master teacher. The younger son who went to a foreign land and wasted away all that he had recognized that he had sinned, he was starving and he needed help from his father. So as soon as he humbled himself and returned, intending to apologize and be a servant to his father, he was welcomed home with open arms. His father RAN to him and kissed him. He gave him the "fatted calf" and so quickly forgave him. He said to the other, less forgiving son, "he was dead and is yet alive, lost and is found!" That is a testimony to me. We are all in need of forgiveness. Like Elder Christofferson said in conference, "Christ did not to save indiscriminately but to offer repentance." 

We all have the privilege and responsibility to repent and we must remember that Christ is so willing to forgive us. I don't think we always comprehend that, He died to grant us forgiveness for our weaknesses and sins. When one of us loses our way, Christ is the good shepherd who will leave the ninety and nine to find us. Then "when he hath found [us] he layeth [us] on his shoulders rejoicing" and carries us back to the fold. Our Heavenly Father rejoices when we humble ourselves and repent. He grants us freedom from the burden our our guilt and shame. He forgives us. 

I am so grateful for every day that I can strive to be more kind and forgiving or more humble and repentant. I am grateful to know that we can be welcomed home with open arms as we strive to live the higher law each and every day. I am grateful that we have charge over our brothers and sisters here on earth to lay them on our shoulders and carry them HOME. I am so grateful for our perfect example and Savior Jesus Christ.
I love all of you. And I hope you have an unforgettable week.
Love, Sister G

SISTER GOCHNOUR AND SISTER COLEMAN
Add caption

Monday, November 10, 2014

God Loves You, Even If You Are Weak And Simple...

AMHERST TRAIN STATION
HI - hope everyone is working hard and having fun!! 

Happy Birthday to Sara this week - I love you and am so thankful for your love and example. Hope you have the best day!! Also Happy Birthday to Sandi yesterday, I am so grateful for you and your unfailing support. LOVE YOU BOTH!

There week was sort of a blur..they just keep going faster and faster i can hardly keep up. Luckily I have become quite the packer so it wasn't too difficult to get everything packed and ready to leave Summerside. The day before we left we had some major breakthroughs. It was an unforgettable day. We taught a new investigator and as we taught her about God's love, about the Restoration if the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the potential for each of us to obtain eternal happiness, the Spirit was so strong. I sort of felt like God was speaking to me through ME. It was an amazing feeling. Those are the lessons when you KNOW the Spirit is there, when your testimony grows 10x stronger. I left in awe that Heavenly Father allows us - the weak and the simple and the imperfect - to be part of the greatest work in the world. 

To testify to people every day about what I know and see their countenances light up as they feel the Spirit, or to see the tears flow from their eyes. It is incredible. There have been so many experiences when I feel like Ammon who meets up with Alma after his mission among the Lamanites and is so happy that "his joy exhausts his strength" - HE LITERALLY WAS SO HAPPY THAT HE FAINTED. That joy is only found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it is the best feeling in the world.

We also were able to help our struggling less active see that she does have a testimony. I love that family home evening idea you told me about mom - that was so profound. It goes along perfectly with the talk "Lord, I Believe" by Elder Holland. Simply desiring to believe is enough. There are things we DO know and as we live the Gospel and pray and study and strive to become more like our Savior - our knowledge grows..brighter and brighter until the perfect day. We must hold fast to the faith WE DO HAVE. She has had a hard life, she so badly wants to believe in the Book of Mormon and the Prophet Joseph Smith but she kept saying that she wasn't sure - we bore testimony that God loves her and is proud of her for simply desiring to believe. That is what life is about - enduring - we are never going to know everything and we are always going to face trials but as we are patient and diligent, we receive blessings and our testimonies become unshaken, sure foundations of faith. 

On Wednesday we spent the night in Charlottetown because we had to get up early to drive to transfers. So I
Sister Lewis and GG (taken earlier this year)
got to spend the last night of her mission with Sister Lewis. We talked about the incredible memories we have made and all we have learned on our missions. It was the kind of conversation that you never forget, the kind you want to have with everyone. We talked about the most important things we can do - loving people and striving full heartedly to become more like our perfect Savior. I love her and miss her already.

After a bit of driving and several goodbyes, Sister Coleman and I arrived in Amherst. It is a beautiful place, the architecture is amazing. The people live in the old, huge, Victorian style homes. It is another small area, there were 17 people at church but I am sure it is where I am meant to be. As soon as I arrived we came up with a vision of what we want to do as a companionship and how we can help the sisters. Then we ate a quick lunch and went to donate blood!! We were able to talk to a lot of people and it was a great service opportunity. 

On Sunday, though there were few of us, it was one of the most Spirit filled testimony meetings I have ever attended. One man who said he hadn't born his testimony in years told how grateful he was to be here in this little branch because each member chooses and sacrifices to be there. They don't just follow the crowd and 'go to church', they make a special effort to be there every week. It was a sweet testimony. I bore my testimony about conversion - something I have been thinking about a lot lately as I have read the chapters in Alma when Ammon and his brothers are teaching the Lamanites. It says (of the people of Ammon) "those who were converted, NEVER DID FALL AWAY" no matter how hard their lives became following their conversion. Despite the fact that their brethren tried to destroy them, they gloried in God, they never lost faith, they NEVER FELL AWAY because they were converted. They had the truth and they would not deny it. That is the same with each of us. Life is hard, even after we are baptised we face trials and we are tested but if we are truly converted. Our faith in Christ will allow us to have the strength we need to overcome and we won't ever fall away. I am thankful for my mission and the opportunities I have to bear my testimony every day - because each day is a chance to be more converted.


Thank you for your love and examples. Remember that God lives and loves us. That he works through the weak and the simple because all of us need to feel the joy that comes from sharing the Gospel. Don't forget that simply desiring to believe is the best place to start. LIVE THE GOSPEL AND NEVER GIVE UP.

Love you - hope it is not as cold there as it is here...
Love, Sister Gochnour

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Severe Mercy


 This week has been a happy and a cold one...there is snow falling outside.

Yesterday I found out that I am being transferred to Amherst!! 

Can't believe I am leaving so soon but I am grateful for new adventures and change. 
My companion is going to be Sister Coleman, she is from BC (British Columbia - Canada) and I am so excited to work with her. She is an incredible missionary. 

We also had the opportunity to do some great service this week, one day we were out working and we passed an older couple who had piles and piles of leaves in their backyard and more leaves covering the ground so we offered to help. We spent an hour and a half helping them rake and bag the leaves in our skirts and it was the happiest part of my day. They were so grateful for the help and we had a wonderful conversation with them. It is amazing to see service truly soften hearts. 

We also had the opportunity to help a member put siding on the shed she had just built. We put the pieces together and nailed them up..SO FUN! 

We also made cookies and delivered them to our investigators which made them very happy. 


I got a letter from dad this week AND Sara AND Grandma and Grandpa AND Nana and Papa - BEST WEEK EVER. Thank you!!!

On Monday, Sister D and I were invited to present a Family Home Evening at one of the members homes and we decided to spend our P day creating a board game about the Book of Mormon. The kids loved it and we had a lot of fun. Reminded me of mom getting us all together for a lesson and the struggle that was for her some nights but I am so grateful for those times we spent together. Dad leading the music..mom tearing up and everyone fighting over duke. I LOVE AND MISS YOU ALL!!

This week was full of lessons and moments of "awe" and gratitude for my Heavenly Father and my Savior and the power and peace they bring to our lives. I wanted to tell you the story that our stake president shared with us in stake conference yesterday. 

It is the story of Agnes Caldwell from the movie 
"17 Miracles" however, it is not the part when she and her friend skipped across the snakes. 

This account begins when the rescuers come. Only the saints who were very sick, nearing death, were able to ride in the wagons. So, frostbitten, tired, starving and determined to fit on a wagon - Agnes and her friends thought that if they could run after and catch up to the wagons, surely the men would let them ride. They ran as fast as their aching legs could carry them. One by one Agnes' friends gave up and stopped but she pressed on. As she finally approached the wagon, the driver called out to her "Would you like a ride?" Of course she did, she held out her hand and the driver reached out and grabbed it. Immediately the horses sped up, Agnes was forced to sprint even faster alongside the wagon. She must have thought he was purely evil, she might even have hated him but she had no choice but to sprint, he wouldn't let her go. Just as she was about to collapse. When she had reached her breaking point, the driver whipped her up, wrapped her in a blanket and placed her comfortably in the wagon. Because the sprinting had increased her circulation - Agnes survived. She realized that the man was not evil but that he had literally saved her life. That is what we could call "severe mercy." 

I love that story and oh how beautifully it applies to our lives. God stretches us to our limits, He places us often in a refiner's fire, He demands us to give our all - like Christ did, and there are times in our lives when He is holding onto our hands making us sprint almost to our breaking points - but right before we fall He lifts us up and saves us. 
I am so grateful for that "severe mercy" that God does make us sprint because most of the time 
it's the sprint that saves our lives. 

A missionary who is going home this week bore his testimony at district meeting on Thursday. He said (I believe quoting from Elder Holland) "Our missions are hard because what comes next will be so much harder." I am thankful for the things that I am going through that are hard because they are helping me and preparing me for the rest of my life. 

I am thankful for our Savior and His Atonement. I am thankful that it helps us change and progress. I am thankful that because of Him we can change our natures. I am thankful for God's "severe mercy" and that He stretches us and expects much of us so that we can truly grow. So that we can help others press forward. So that we can understand a little bit more of the pains our Savior endured. So that we can have confidence in ourselves. So that we don't give up early - but finish the race and sprint through the finish line. So that He can save us and eventually grant us ETERNAL LIFE. 

Thank you for your love and support. Thank you for believing in me and telling me that I CAN. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for being my friends and biggest examples. I love you and miss you all. 
BYE BYE FOR NOW :)
Love, Sister Gochnour





Monday, October 27, 2014

I Love The Smell of The Rain

Looks like the dance and Halloween party was lots of fun. Missed being there this year. We had a little branch party on Saturday. I did the candy jar guessing game which was a big hit of course - everyone loved it. But Sister D didn't believe me about the jello spitting so that didn't happen..oh well. 

This week consisted of LOTS and LOTS of rain. And we got to spend most of our time outside..really feeling all of it on our faces. I love the smell and the scene of beautifully colored, wet leaves covering the sidewalks. It is a good conversations starter when we show up dripping on someones doorstep and they wonder what in the world we are doing on a night like that!! Hahaha they admire us for our dedication even if they don't want to listen. 

A few highlights from this week we first visiting with Sister Waugh. 

Sister Waugh and her husband were baptized many years ago in New York, soon after their baptism they moved back to Summerside and were the first members on the island. After two years President Packer (the mission president) drove with his family and a car full of missionaries to help build up the church. Sacrament meeting was held in Brother and Sister Waugh's home for awhile until the little chapel was built. Theirs is a story of faith and commitment. It is incredible to see how the church has grown and listening to her recount the early days of the church here on PEI. 

Another highlight was meeting the first two sister missionaries who served in Summerside 30 years ago. They came back this weekend to visit and I loved seeing how excited the members of the branch were - they were treated like celebrities. They seemed to be two incredible missionaries. I loved hearing how their missions truly changed their lives and have impacted them every day since. It inspired me to want to do all I can to love and serve these people so that is if were to return 30 years later they would be able to remember me and my testimony. 

Finally, we visited another sweet member of the branch Sister Mitchell. She had to spend the week in the hospital for stomach pains so we went after church to visit her. She started telling us about all of the nurses and patients that she had given pass along cards to. Then the elders came to bring her the sacrament and I have never seen anyone that excited to take the sacrament. She had the biggest smile on her face the whole time. That reminded me of how important the sacrament truly is and what a blessing it is to partake of it each week. We cannot take it for granted. 

I spoke in church yesterday - my topic was Elder Christofferson's talk from this past conference. "Free Forever to Act for Themselves" it is an inspiring talk. It focus on our agency and how we must use it to choose to follow Christ so that we can become the people that God truly intended for us to be. I will send my talk home maybe because I don't have time to explain more about what I said...sorry!

I just want each of you to know that I am so thankful for the light that you bring into my life. 
I am grateful that we have each been given our agency and that we can choose every day to use it for good. To serve, lift and love those around us. 
I am thankful for the Book of Mormon that teaches us to "pray always, and not faint;". 
am happy that the smell of rain reminds me that the world is such a beautiful place to live in even when it's wet. 
There is something GOOD in every day. 
We are beautiful in God's eyes even when we fall short, even when we grumble. 
We can't even comprehend His love. 
Knowing that we are sons and daughters of God enables us to reach our full, divine potential. 

I love the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 58: 27-28 that says, " Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do may things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness...inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward." 

BE ANXIOUSLY ENGAGED INA GOOD CAUSE. CHOOSE TO ACT. GO TO WORK. GOD WILL HELP YOU!!

I love all of you and have so many thoughts that take too much time to put onto paper..or the computer. So I am sorry. But know that you make me happy.

Miss you :)
Love, Sister G

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Don't Count The Days, Make The Days Count.

Sister G and Sister lewis
Hiiiii cute family. Thank you for your prayers. Sounds like you all had a happy fall break and now it's back to work and school - YAY

We were so blessed this week. I can't even describe my feelings of gratitude for the miracles we witnessed - pure, inexpressible joy. 

I just have time to summarize the highlights..

On Tuesday we drove to Charlottetown for an exchange with Sister Lewis and her trainee Sister Bowden. I got to spend the morning working with Sister Lewis which was so fun!! 

It's cool to see how far we have come. I was so nervous to talk to people all those months ago....we reminisced on the long, cold, dark nights of knocking in Fredericton. We were so determined to find a new investigator yet we never did. 

We laughed at the rejections we had experiences and the good times we had had, as we walked along the boardwalk on a beautiful, warm fall day on Prince Edward Island - it was a dream. 

We talked a lot about how our missions and our lives - they are not really about numbers or rewards but about people. Our companions, the members, our investigators, our families, and friends - that is what really matter or rather those are who matter. How we treat others. The difference we make in the life of one of our brothers or sisters. We can't ever forget that. 

Dog Bite
Later we switched and I spent the rest of the day with Sister Bowden in Charlottetown (Sister Lewis and Sister Dougherty went back to Summerside and found us a new investigator!!!) - it was a little bit of a struggle at first because 
Sister B did not know her way around Charlottetown and I had never been there in my life so I was flashing back to those moments in New Glasgow, no GPS, no clue where anything was but just relying on God to help us survive and we did. It turned out to be a great night. AND it ended with a badly bruised finger...A DOG BIT ME!! We were knocking, it was getting late and the first door that answered was a lady who was trying very hard to keep her little pit-bull inside the house. He escaped onto the porch and she made it clear that he wouldn't bite so I bent down to help herd him back inside the door and he BIT me!!! Pain shot through my finger but I didn't say anything, just finished the conversation and we walked away..we left and I looked down at my finger, luckily the skin was not broken so we carried on. It hurt for a few days but now it is just a lovely bruise and a good story :)

Wednesday we taught Raymond. We met Raymond when we were out knocking one afternoon. He is in his late 50's and lost his wife 5 months ago to breast cancer. We had the most incredible, spiritual lesson with him. It was a testimony to me that angels really are preparing the people all around us and that God truly and divinely led us to him. We talked about the Atonement and eternal families, about the value of the Book of Mormon and daily prayer. He told us that he felt something strongly in his heart. A feeling he couldn't describe and one that he hadn't felt before. We explained that he was feeling the Spirit - testifying to him that the words we were speaking were true. After the lesson he remarked that his skin was still tingling. I told him that the Spirit can easily leave and committed him to read and pray diligently before we saw him again on Friday so that he wouldn't lose those feelings. We left and I wanted to scream as we got into the car. I was so happy and so grateful.

On Thursday we painted nails for the little old ladies at the senior`s home and played capture the flag at sports night :)

Friday morning we planned for the week then we went out to work.. our day was packed with an hour of finding at 3, a lesson with Raymond at 4, a dinner appointment with a member at 5, and another appointment with a member at 6, then an hour drive to the bridge (in Borden) so that we could start another exchange with the Amherst sisters at 8. Sooo we went out to knock. The rain was falling lightly but the wind was blowing hard and fast. As we knocked the rain picked up until it was absolutely POURING!!!!! And we were not dressed for the weather. Every inch of my body was soaked and we figured that it would be totally rude to leave a swimming pool of water in Raymond's living room so we hurried home, we had 10 minute to change and get to the lesson. We made it..wet haired and ready. We taught him the Restoration with the elders and it went very well. We hurried from one place to the next but in the end it all worked out. We arrived safely over the bride and slept SO great that night. 


Saturday I was on an exchange here in Summerside with Sister Smith, she has only been out one transfer less than I have so working with her was so much fun. She is a great missionary. The weather could not have been better. We spent a large portion of the day just walking through neighborhoods, over the crunching leaves, talking to everyone that we saw, offering service and bearing testimony of Jesus Christ. Another dream. Later we taught another new investigator Sahara. She is 17 years old and so anxious to learn and to strengthen her relationship with God. She goes to the Baptist church with her family but doesn`t feel like she is progressing much. She wants to know what else is out there in the world. We had a great lesson with her. We read from Mosiah 18 and asked her to tell us what stuck out to her. She said, ``What have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord...nothing! I have nothing against that!`` At the end of the lesson we knelt down in prayer and she offered a beautiful, heartfelt prayer to Heavenly Father. It was an incredible day.

Sunday began with no power..so we got ready in the dark but eventually it came back on and we were able to study without flashlights. Church was peaceful, there were 37 people there yesterday!! Sundays are always so wonderful.

I feel that every day really counted this week. Each day brought new lessons, new miracles, laughs and struggles. We cannot sit around and wait for the time to pass. We can't spend every minute of every day praying and expecting God to do everything for us and then never getting up and getting to work. There is a balance in everything that we do. I love the quote... 
``PRAY like everything is up to God, 
ACT like everything is up to you!`` 
We must live our lives to the best of our abilities. And make the most of every minute. 

I love all of you. I love being a missionary. I love the people that I get to meet and the beautiful island I get to live on. I love my Savior and am so thankful that he has led us to so many amazing people this week. I am thankful for the Spirit and it`s converting, life changing power. I am so grateful that God hears and answers every single one of our prayers in the way that He knows we need it. 

Thank you for your love and support. Have the best week. 
Love, Sister G by the Sea

PS - sorry this letter is so long, i hope it makes sense..
Remember when our dear friend Pat gave us these as health snacks?
Sister G and Sister Dougherty
Happy Halloween loved the pkg Nana!