Monday, June 23, 2014

HIIIIIIIIIII i love you all. More and more every day. 

This week was incredible to say the least. Like the best week of my life :) 
On the first day of summer I was in snow boots...then I got a call from Sister Hendrickson telling me that Emmeline is getting baptized next Sunday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so so so excited and am going to ask President if I can skype in.. I'm not sure if i told you much about Emmeline but she is amazing. She is 16 years old (in Fredericton btw) and attends church every week with her mom but she is not a member because her dad wouldn't let her get baptized and he was teaching her all of these anti lessons but she finally got permission. She is so strong and patient and I am so happy for her. The Hendrickson's are driving out there for the baptism - i wish they could take me with them!!! So that was the best news ever.

Then our cute investigator Elaine came to church!!!! And she is on date for July 26. Our lessons with her have been so powerful. Elaine is in her 50's, she smokes and loves her 3 cats. She is so humble and sweet. She has a strong desire to follow Christ and she loves reading the Book of Mormon. She was just moving into her house when we found her so she had boxes covering almost every inch and cat hair covering everything else. Her place was a mess and she kept telling us that she was in "disarray" (but she kept pronouncing it desire - like the name SO CUTE)..the apartment smelled strongly of smoke the first time we taught her but as we have gone back it is miraculous to see the simple changes. The Spirit truly can be felt in the tiny living room. She dug out her only purple dress and was so excited to come to church. She doesn't have any minutes left on her pone so we can't call her to confirm any of our appointments (and she lives 15 minutes away in Pictou) or to make sure she was ready for church but every lesson went through and she was waiting for her ride to pick her up on Sunday morning. I have so much love for her. It is amazing how much you can love a person when you think of her as a precious daughter of our Heavenly Father, When you try to see her as Christ does. Truly the worth of every soul is great in the sight of God.

Another miracle came as we taught elaine one rainy afternoon. I was testifying to her about Joseph Smith and the Restoration and I felt the Spirit so strongly testifying more to ME that the things I was saying are true. SO TRUE. It was a beautiful experience and I am thankful that my testimony grows every time I share it. 

Heavenly Father is aware of us. We talk to so many people who don't believe in Him at all and some even say mean things which pierces my very soul because I KNOW that he is there. There is nothing that anyone can say that will make me think otherwise. I am so grateful to know that there is something bigger than us out there. Who is watching over us and sending us help. He loves you and me and emmeline and elaine SO much. He does all that He can to help us succeed and we simply have to help him by doing our part - choosing the right and LOVING HIM!

There is so much potential here in New Glasgow and I love it. Sister Drew is doing great - i love her too. She is hilarious and could quote movies ALL DAY LONG.

I'm so thankful that I am learning things I didn't even know I was missing. I'm grateful that the Atonement allows me to change my nature so that I can be better and more Christlike every day. I'm so grateful to be part of the gathering of Israel - on the front lines!! I couldn't ask to be part of anything greater. There is an incredible talk in the ensign this month by Elder Holland - he explains that Zion is no longer WHERE we live but HOW we live. Elder Holland says, "When Christ comes he should find us doing our best, trying to live the Gospel, trying to improve our lives and our church and our society the best we can. When he comes I so want to be caught living the Gospel, I want to be surprised right in the act of spreading the faith and doing something good. I want the Savior to say to me, 'GRACE, I recognize you not by your title but by your life, the way you are trying to live and the standards you are trying to defend. I see the integrity of your heart. I know you have tried to make things better first and foremost by being better yourself and then by declaring my work and defending my Gospel to others in the most compassionate way you could.' He will certainly add, ' I know you weren't always successful with your own sins and with the circumstances of others, but I believe you honestly tried. I believe in your heart you truly loved me.' "
I LOVE THAT!! I don't only want to preach of Christ, I want to live like He did. I am so grateful that we have this life to prepare to meet Him. And I hope just like Elder Holland that he will catch me in the act of spreading the Gospel and helping someone out. Making the world a better place. Don't you?? 

My mission is full of moments that take my breath away..I am truly happy.
Thanks for your love and prayers and for being alive because you are my heroes. 
Miss you!
Love, GCG 

Oh and of course there were weird, frightening hilarious moments too - like when a friendly smoker man told us that "they are getting smarter sending pretty girls to the door and not two men in suits. ALL the guys will answer!!" umm thanks....? And another old Irish Catholic man kept calling us the "morons" - he told us that the lady up the street used to call all of the neighbors and inform them that "the morons are coming up the street!" hahaha then he casually gave both of us a big kiss on the cheek..frighteningly close to my mouth. SO that was fun!! All is well. Good times. Bye

Monday, June 16, 2014

ROADTRIPS!! woot woot.....

Hi everyone,
SO happy to hear that you all survived another week. Thank you for your support and love and hard work. It is truly inspiring. And I'm glad all the parties and wedding and stuff went well. Dad - i missed you yesterday but I'm so thankful for you. The way you taught me to love my life and to laugh at myself. I miss hearing you sing and hearing you call us LOUDLY to scripture study every morning..I'm sorry we all came in looking like zombies but I really loved it. And i miss it. And jake - you are so grown up which is happy and sad. I hope you had a good day. I hope that you know I love you and am thankful for the example you set for me. You are a hard worker and you have a heart of gold. I miss your hugs. I sent you all a package this week so hopefully it gets there soon. 

I also sent a letter to grandma and am sending one to nana soon. And i got a letter from papa and sara and dad this week :) they make me SO happy. I have the best role models in my life. They keep me going. They teach me and encourage me. Their testimonies bring me comfort and strength. THANK YOU

Today it's misting..not exactly rain but in the same category. I like it.
I thought I would start off by telling you a little bit about my life as a missionary..
  • I wake up every morning at 6:30 am
  • I roll out of my bed and onto my knees to pray. 
  • I head into the "workout" room and do my 5BX and the three pull ups I can now do.
  • I eat breakfast (usually toast and an egg) - then I get ready for the day. 
  • At 8 we start personal study  
  • At 9 we study as a companionship. 
  • At10 we get an extra hour to study - because Sister Drew is in training so we do the 12 week program..lots of role plays and great things. 
  • At 11 we walk downtown from our apartment to street contact. It's funny because there is a man who we see almost everyday walking towards us and day after day he sees us, stops in his tracks, turns around and quickly heads back the way he came. We have to laugh. After an hour of "excuse me's?" and several interesting conversations 
  • we walk home for lunch. The afternoon is spent hunting down less actives, trying to find the homes of potential and former investigators and of course some knocking. Then we eat dinner and head out to work again. 
  • At 9 we pull into our apartment, pray, plan for the next day, write in our journals (Sister Drew films videos of herself..) pray again 
  • And then we go to bed at 10:30. Day after the day that is basically our schedule. And each day I learn something completely new and different, my testimony increases and we always laugh a lot. 
                 It's a GOOD LIFE. 

Sister Drew and I
This week was particularly sweet. We drove with the other Sisters to Dartmouth on Tuesday for Zone Conference. This zone conference was with a General Authority, Elder Snow the church historian so we were especially excited (plus I got to see Sister Turner and the Hendrickson's!!!!) 

Monday night I got a call from the assistants telling me that I had been randomly selected to have a personal interview with Elder Snow - I was a little nervous but mostly grateful. I was one of only three missionaries in the whole mission who were selected!!! SO we arrived around 9:30 in the morning and drove into the parking lot to see the BEAUTIFUL, tiny Halifax temple. I almost screamed I was so excited about it. 

Then I went in and was interviewed which was a wonderful experience. Elder Snow asked me simple questions and I just felt so happy to be in his presence. He asked me to pray which was of course a powerful spiritual moment and then he sent me on my way. The zone conference was inspiring. Elder Snow reminded us simply that the key to success is hard work and obedience. There is NOTHING that can stop the work from progressing so never give up. Never lose the faith. Make a vision - and follow your heart. You can achieve greatness. Sister Turner is doing so great and I was soooo happy to see her and Sister Strarkie..LOVE THEM. And Sister Hendrickson of course freaked out when she saw me :) she had brought me a giant bag of skinny pop from Coscto - I LOVE her too much. It was a good day to say the least.

We also had the most incredible experience earlier this week. One day i will tell you the full story but for now I think it is enough for you to know that 
MIRACLES come from listening to the Spirit and acting in faith. 
We were knocking and three people were outside on their back porch so we were about to pass by and avoid an awkward situation. The Spirit reminded us "TALK TO EVERYONE" so we went back and started up a lovely conversation. The people were nice and interested in us and what we do. I explained what a blessing this Gospel has been in my life and how it has brought my family and I so much joy. 

Debbie (the mom) started asking questions. We found out that her mom, who was an extremely good person had terminal cancer and Debbie was angry at God. She wanted to now why bad things happen to good people. And she wanted a PERFECT answer. She was a strong Catholic but her beliefs were not helping her so I think at first she wanted to test us..Sister Drew and I bore testimony. 

I talked about Sophie and the Atonement. I talked about God's purpose and plan for each of us and I told her that there may never be a perfect answer as to why this is happening to her and her family but I know that Heavenly Father is aware of her and that she can receive strength enough to endure with faith in our Savior. She thanked us and said that she respected us and our faith but her heart was still on the harder side...then the Spirit strongly prompted me to pull out my Book of Mormon. I thought of the story of Alma and Amulek watching the innocent people burn in the flames. I did not know exactly where the scripture was but I had faith that Heavenly Father would lead me there and He did. Alma 14:8-11. I read it, Debbie was crying. It was the PERFECT answer. She gave us both about 7 hugs. We gave them our phone number, they thanked us over and over again and we walked back to the car. When we arrived the Book of Mormon was still in my hands (I HAVE NO CLUE WHAT I WAS THINKING) so we drove back down and gave her the Book. She was overjoyed and quickly marked the page of that perfect passage. 

Debbie and her husband are not new investigators but they are so much more to me. I witnessed the Book of Mormon soften someone's heart entirely. I felt the Spirit working through me and I will be forever grateful. We couldn't stop smiling the whole way home. It was an unforgettable experience. 

I love waking up every morning KNOWING that I am exactly where Heavenly Father wants me to be and doing exactly what he wants me to be doing. 

I love you all and hope you have the best week. 
Love, Sister Gochnour
Sister Starkie me and Sister Turner
Sister Hendrickson and Sister Turner

Monday, June 9, 2014

Keep the Faith


Mom I am so excited that you are having a taco truck at your party - you will always be young at heart (just one of the teenagers) and I LOVE IT!!! Take lots of pictures!! And 50 is not that old :) especially when you think about eternity...

School is out - SO FUN!! Just soak up the sun and eat island flavor for me. The ninth grade party looked like SO much fun and I bet jake looked totally cute with whitish pink hair. I will print out these stories you sent me mom and read them this week so thank you. Tell grandma Happy Birthday last week for me (i will send her something) and HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU AND JAKE AND HAPPY FATHER'S DAY TO DAD!! AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO CAMILLE B. AND NANA - love you both so much!!

So many fun, happy things going on - wow!

Training is great and hard and funny. Not too different from normal missionary just get to learn more and have a few more responsibilities which is always good. So i have loved it - Sister Drew is totally a people person and has been learning quickly. We laugh a lot and are working hard. This week it rained and I pulled puffy out AGAIN but today is warm and the beginning of the week was HOT so yeah the weather is just weird and unpredictable from one minute to the next. 

We found an investigator!! His name is Ben and he is from the Philippines. He is SO sweet and SO prepared. We chose a street to knock but when we got there, we discovered that there were no houses on the street......(that is not the first time that has happened) so we said a prayer and were led to Ben's house!! He works at McDonald's :) and has a strong faith in God and a strong desire to do what is right. He said the sweetest prayer at the end of the lesson. I know that we were lead there by the Spirit and I am truly grateful. Sadly, his visa is about to expire and they have not renewed it for him yet so he may be forced to return to his home in the Philippines but he really wants to stay here so we have been praying for him. Hopefully we can get an update this week! 

This week I have pondered a lot about the simpleness of this Gospel. Of the message we share. It is so simple but so complete and I LOVE IT. 
     God loves us unconditionally (1 John 4:7-9 - God is Love) so He wants us to be successful in this life and return to live in His presence. His whole purpose is to grant us eternal life (Moses 1:39) SO He prepared a plan for us to make that possible. He gave us our families and the scriptures and Prophets to guide us along the way. And told us that ALL we have to do is be OBEDIENT - that's it!! BUT we are human so we make mistakes and God knew that would be the case so He gave us a Savior! To make up the difference. Christ's Atonement frees us from the burden of sin and gives us the strength and faith necessary to overcome our trials. That's just it. We make covenants along the way, we pray to know which direction to take. Sometimes we laugh and sometimes we cry. And we help our friends find the path until finally we make it HOME! And live happily ever after. Oh how I love the plan. I love simplicity. I love the church. It is Christ church and it had been restored. 

In Mosiah chapter 2 King Benjamin tells us that we must give all the thanks that we can render to our God who has given us EVERYTHING!! And still if we serve him all the days of our lives it will not be enough. But verse 22 "ALL that he requires of you is to keep the commandments, and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye would prosper in the land. And he never doth vary from that which he hath said, therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you." 

So that is what I want to be better at - testifying simply of this simple but incredibly powerful message. And I want to remember this simple plan when life becomes crazy and distracting. When I feel like I am caught up in my weaknesses or mistakes. I want to share a part of my journal entry with you - from last night - i said....

Sometimes it's hard to come home from a long night of knocking, rejection and unsuccessful former and potential finding because you have to wonder why? Why didn't we meet someone tonight who wants to come closer to Christ..someone who will simply experiment upon our words? I was so sure we were going to find that person that the Lord is preparing here. I fasted today - for them. We were exactly obedient. Church was a beautiful, uplifting experience. We did service (sang hymns at a nursing home :)), we prayed, and I thought my faith was sufficient. I tried to listen to the promptings of the Spirit and ACT, we knocked on the last door at 8:52 pm and still...NOTHING. Nobody would hear us out so I'm wondering WHY? What is Heavenly Father trying to tell me? What lesson does He want me to learn? BECAUSE I WAS SO SURE. I HAD FAITH. Two words came to my mind immediately. Patience and faith. You can never be too patient and you can never have too much faith. That's what He wants me to know. I must be patient..and I must increase my faith still - find out if it can withstand the test of time. If it remains unshaken on the long, disappointing nights, if i will continue to trust in the Lord and His timing. So i can't give up. Like it says in the last paragraph of the Fellowship of the Unashamed - I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go until He returns, give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He stops me. And when He comes to get His own He will have no problem recognizing me. My banner will be clear. 
SO I'm going to KEEP THE FAITH! 

Have a better week than last. Laugh at yourself and be a member missionary. I love you.
Love always, GG

PS: Random things - that I will mention briefly..Sister Drew got stung by a bee this week so now we literally sprint away each time we see one. We knocked on a disabled mans door, he called us inside, his dog escaped, he asked us to chase it down, we ran after it and it started SPRINTING away, we had to corner it, try to feed it grass and practically tackle it to bring the stinking dog our skirts (Sister Drew threw her bag) it was so funny. We met a man who sadly has fallen away from the church because "we billed him for starving" (bless those missionaries hearts they didn't explain fast offerings well enough). I have an ingrown toenail but it's ok - i have been brushing up on "missionary medicine" AND our branch mission leader is amazing but he is afraid of germs and won't shake our hands. He told us this week "Spread the Gospel, not disease!!" Oh happy day. BYE BYE FOR NOW

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tap Dancing With Lyla...

Sister G and Sister Drew

Beautiful day, hey? I'm starting to talk like a Canadian (or trying to) so that's fun.


Sounds like things are absolutely insane back at home - that kind of stresses ME out just hearing about it but good luck!! Keep on keepin' on! (That's what people tell us when they want us to get off their doorstep but I think it works in this context as well..)

This week was fun and awesome and I love being a missionary MORE than ever. I'm glad that your fast Sunday was good - I have truly grown to love fasting and though it's not easy to put on a big smile and talk to people when your breath smells bad and you haven't eaten in hours but WHAT A BLESSING. I love that we get to fast simply so that WE can have more faith. So that WE can be humble and closer to God. 

Things are coming along one step at a time. Today we went running, that was hard..but good. 

We had a Canada wide stake conference this weekend and we got to hear from Sister Burton, President Eyring and Elder Holland .. what an inspiring and empowering meeting.
We (the 4 sisters here) sang a musical number at the beginning, Nearer My God to Thee, it was beautiful and the spirit was strong in our tiny branch. We were reminded by Sister Burton to REMEMBER WHO WE ARE. Through the Atonement we can be healed. The Lord hears and answers our prayers - keep the faith. Elder Holland reminded us that through our faith in Jesus Christ we can have access to His unfailing help. All we have to do is COME UNTO HIM - Matthew 11:28-30. Live with greater faith. Believe more. Repent and trust in the Lord. He wants you to feel safe and secure in His hands. He wants to protect and empower us. When we are on sturdy ground we must help others. We must be a healer and a helper - to lift their burdens and to make everything around us BETTER. Have the faith to COME and be HEALED. And President Eyring talked of eternal families. Of the joy that comes from a knowledge that we can spend forever with our BEST FRIENDS! He told us that we need to rescue those in our family who have fallen off the path. We must serve and teach our children the principles of the gospel. He said that little children are fearless. They don't care what other people think, they are not afraid to be missionaries, we have got to be more like that!! 
Fearless and full of faith. HUMBLE. AND HAPPY.

I have been thinking a lot lately about spiritual gifts, another message we heard on Saturday night was about seeking first the Kingdom of God. Earnestly developing the gifts and talents that Heavenly Father is waiting to grant us. Seek and ask for the gifts that will make us perfect. THE ATONEMENT ENDOWS US WITH POWER BEYOND OUR OWN!!! SO this week I will pray and ponder and study about the gifts that Heavenly Father has given me. Then I will work on them and use them to bless the lives of others. I want to be more bold. More thoughtful and more knowledgeable. I want to trust completely in my Savior because His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I want to lose my life in His service - 
because that is the only way to find MYSELF! MY PATH. MY LIFE.

What a beautiful message. This week was full of laughs. One night we knocked into Lyla - she is 90 years old and was wearing bright pink running shoes. I knew we would be fast friends. She let us in and started talking and talking and talking...we soon realized that her memory and mind were going...but it was ok because she still remembered how to tap dance. She and her twin sister, Willa, used to tap dance all over Pictou we asked her to show us. She did :) and then taught us some moves..we were holding her hands in the middle of her tiny living room. Both Sister Drew and I struggled .. she asked Sister Drew if she knew how to count to 5..hahaha and it was a lovely experience. She even had her Christmas decorations still up and showed us her light up tree!! 

We also had this conversation with a man, 
Me: " you believe in God?" 
Him: "Oh yes but I'm an alcoholic, I have a beer right here in my pocket (crooked smile)" Me: "That's ok, do you want to get over your addiction?" 
Him: "No I like it.." 
Us: "Ok.." 
Then he walked away.. 

We also taught two lessons!! One to a lady from Scotland who talked like Merida on Brave - we left her with the Book of Mormon and she told us that everything made sense - and that she really likes her other church..but she will give ours a chance. The other to Tommy and His girlfriend..he believes that he has had visions in the past and after hearing about the Restoration and Joseph Smith's vision he said he felt a "good presence". We explained that he was feeling the Holy Ghost - then his friend Joe barged in and started preaching at us..he was a little crazy so the end of the lesson was a little scattered and difficult. Then Tommy asked if we could take a picture with him and wanted to give us a hug on our way out. We quickly shook his hand and left. SOOO.. 

The work is progressing. Nothing can stop it. We just have to work harder and smarter and with more faith than ever before. I know there is someone here just waiting for us to find them..I wish they would come out already but we'll keep looking.

Can't believe it's been 5 months - feels like yesterday I was in the backseat of our cute car with you and lucy..holding your hands SO frightened but excited about what was ahead. I love reflecting on the lessons I've learned and the fact that I could not experience these things any other way - only on a mission. I love it here. But I love you more than you will ever know. I'm so grateful that I get to spend eternity with the most amazing people on the planet. 
YOUS GUYS ARE THE BEST!! (as the maritimers would say..)

Tell ella good luck and that I love her and that she will be a bright light and inspiration to all those she meets. Tell her to embrace the hard days and awkward moments. Sometimes it hurts to grow but with Christ on our side it is always worth it. WE DO OUR BEST AND JESUS DOES THE REST. LOVE YOU. BYE!!

Love, Sister Gochnour