Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"these are days never to be forgotten"

HIII happy first day of school!!! Hope you all have a great day - i love school..;) 

And tell Papa HAPPY BIRTHDAY from me!!! Love you papa - thank you for being the best missionary ever. Thank you for your stories and letters. Thank you for believing in me and teaching me to be strong no matter what. I miss you! 

How are yas? All is well in Nova Scotia. This past week was rainy and a bit cold but this coming week is supposed to be HOT!! So yay - people here always say if you don't like the weather in Nova Scotia..wait five minutes (haha I know they say that about SLC too but here it really is true!!). It changes pretty fast. I can't believe fall is here, football season, school, swiss days and the leaves changing color. Oh i love it.

This week we went to zone conference in Sackville (about an hour and a half away) it was an incredible meeting. There is always so much you can learn and so much inspiration you can receive if you open your heart and listen by the Spirit. This particular conference was great because there are a lot of missionaries going home this transfer - our mission is turning into a baby mission..everyone is YOUNG in terms of mission age - and so the "dying" missionaries all got to bear their testimonies. These are missionaries I have really looked up to and their testimonies were incredible. The Spirit was strong. I wanted to share a few things that stood out to me - 

The statement by Oliver Cowdrey 
"these are days never to be forgotten" 
and truly they are. We are here to change for the rest of our lives. Each of us must overcome the natural man throughout our lives over and over again and that is possible through the Atonement of Christ. Forgetting ourselves and thinking only of others allows our hearts to grow and we become happier. We will always have weaknesses, in fact we will always BE weak but Christ can raise us up. Our weakness can be made perfect in His strength. 

One missionary said - Let your mission give you a new heart - I love that, I want a new heart - one that is more gentle, more pure, and more full of charity. The Savior never quit. He never gave up. His life was HARD. So when you think about quitting, when you are tired and want to give up - think about why you started. Think about why you are here on earth and why your Savior suffered and died for YOU. He never gives up on you. DO NOT QUIT. Sometimes the things we believe and know and testify of will not always make logical sense..but that is why we must know they are true BY THE SPIRIT because then nothing will ever shake them. You will never question or doubt because you not only know that they are true but you feel that they are. The Spirit can confirm all truth. We must pray that God will show us the bigger picture and then be grateful for it. President Leavitt reminded us that this work is REAL. The things we are teaching are not just words..they are REAL. Life and death are real and one day we will see God again. SO we must GO and DO the things that the Lord has commanded - for he will provide a way. 

I am so thankful to be surrounded by such amazing people. They teach me so much every day. 

Sometimes the agency of others is hard. We cannot control the choices people make and that can be frustrating at times but it is all part of the plan and has been from the beginning of time. We are free to choose. So we must always choose to follow the light not the darkness. We must do all that we can to progress, to learn, and to lift those around us and not get caught up in worrying about the choices that others make. We have had some amazing lessons with Alyssia this week. She knows that the things we teach her are true and they have brought her so much hope. It is amazing to see the change in her countenance. And she wants so badly to be baptized. However, her father does not agree or want her to be a part of this. He won't allow it and it breaks her heart and ours because we know that it is true and we know it will change her life. But all she can do is press forward. Hold fast to the truth she has come to know and wait patiently. Heavenly Father has a plan and He always knows what is best. I am thankful for her because of the powerful Spirit of love and understanding I have felt as we have taught her. I know that God loves her and is proud of her and I love her too. 

Well my time is up - so GOD be with you till we meet again. I love you. Let us all press forward in the work of the Lord. Be happy and have fun. LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU LIKE CRAZY!

Love, Sister G

Monday, August 18, 2014

"What are you thinking about.......now?"

Hi - it seems like everyone in Holladay is getting married. That is fun. I hope that you have all had an incredible week. I miss you a lot every day!

The start of a transfer is always great, especially when you know the area. It starts to feel like home. Many of the people we meet are people that we see pretty much everyday because they wander the streets just like we do. We've talked to all of them and now we can just give a friendly "hi bob" as we pass. I think some of them are still a little bit worried that we are going to try and talk with them again but oh well. Your relationships with the members are automatically strengthened with the passage of time. I love the people in this tiny branch. They teach me that we are so blessed to have each other as members (it's like having an extra big family) and that we are all brothers and sisters - we are in this together and life is not ever easy but we must hold fast to our testimonies and hope that our loved ones will do the same.

Along with a new transfer is 
a new start 
a chance to improve and do things better. 
Learn who God wants me to be and let Him teach me. 
It is wonderful to know that God will always teach us the things that we need to learn in order to BE the best that we can be. 
I think that a big way He teaches us is through other people. 

Sara sent me a letter about loving people around us. It is not always easy to have that perfect Christlike love for people who are imperfect but that is what we must strive for. Despite the opposition. And we learn to love people by serving them. By sharing the Gospel with them and by kind of wearing your heart on your sleeve.. I know that the people in my life are teaching and helping me grow and I am thankful for that. 

This transfer I have set some goals to help me change - I want to do something nice for someone every day. Funny I am "serving" a mission but that doesn't mean that I am doing enough service - I need to be constantly looking for ways to show my love for others and for the Savior. The fist great commandment is to love God. The second is to love our neighbors. I want to do that so that I can see the good in others and learn to love unconditionally. I also set a goal to read the Book of Mormon five times before I go home. Seems like that would be the easiest goal in the world but there are so many things we can study and learn yet I become more and more aware every day that the Book of Mormon is truly our most powerful and important tool (along with the Spirit) and I have been reading it like crazy every minute I can - I have learned SO much. I love knowing that all we need to do is trust in the Lord, pray without ceasing and be righteous and we will ALWAYS be delivered from the hands of our enemies. I love the missionaries that Alma and Amulek were. And the sons of Mosiah - NO FEAR. They were fully aware of their calling and their purpose. People are so easily led to destruction because Satan is pretty good at what he does and people often give in to PRIDE but the Book of Mormon missionaries knew that they had to declare repentance in order to TRY and save the lives of their people who they LOVED and cared about so much. They knew that the Lord would provide a way. They felt the joy of repentance and spent the rest of their lives helping others feel that same joy. As I read the Book of Mormon I really do grow so much closer to God. He is my best friend and I am so thankful that He teaches me and blesses me as I simply make an effort to read.   

Sister Christensen is funny. She loves cats and ...whenever there is a quiet moment, whether we are walking down the street or going from one door to the next, she will ask me 
"What are you thinking?" 
I have really enjoyed that question because it has helped me focus my thoughts and think about things that really matter. 
We often have very uplifting conversations following that question 
it's amazing the things you can learn and the testimony you can gain simply about thinking about things that really matter. 
Thinking about Christ and all he did for me. 
Thinking about loving the people even if they are a little bit rude. 
Thinking about becoming a completely new person - changing - in order to align my will fully with God's. 
Thinking about the things I love about being a missionary. 
Thinking about how listening is so important. Especially as a missionary Satan wants to try and use our thoughts to distract or tempt us because that is one thing he can have a great influence over but as we turn our thoughts to God - we feel so much happier. More complete and strong and able to resist the temptations of evil. 

This week Papa sent me a letter - he talked about eye contact. So recently I have worked hard to look people directly in the eye as I bear my testimony to them. Never looking away - holding their gaze. It was interesting because I felt like it was easier to speak the words that God wanted them to hear because it felt like my Spirit was speaking to their Spirit through our eyes - if that makes any sense? It was very cool..you could tell when someone was sincere because they would open up. One guy explained that he never ever walked that way but he did that day and he met us. I was able to bear testimony and look into his eyes and though he didn't want to meet he said that we gave him a lot of things to think about. 

Brother Edwards came to church!!! It was incredible, he is doing so great. And alyssia texts us all the time asking what more she can read out of the Book of Mormon and letting us know all of her questions and thoughts. I love them both so much and am so thankful for them. 

Mom you hadn't told me about Genevieve but that is incredible!!! (This week I had the honor of going to the temple with my Mom and Dad and sealing my namesake and Aunt who died at a young age - to her parents!) Oh what an amazing experience that must have been. I am so thankful for the temple and eternal families!

Hope everyone is doing well. Happy Birthday to Olivia this week!!


Love, Sister G

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"You're gonna Miss This...."

There are so many things I could say about everything that is going on in the world and at home but I just want everyone to remember that 
life is hard. 

It is never easy and we knew that. 

We wanted so badly to come to earth so that we could gain a body and CHANGE. 

To be worthy enough to live in the presence of God who is our perfect Father. 

I hope everyone takes a minute to smile. To close their eyes and step out of the world for a minute. Read your favorite scripture. Tell someone that they are loved and that they have divine potential. 

Look at the BIG picture. 

Always strive to please God not man because God knows and loves you more than anyone else. Don't let Satan make you angry or sad or frustrated or prideful - none of those feeling ever come from God. I love you all and I love being on a mission so so much. It is saving me. Please read Moroni 7:12-17 God simply invites us to do GOOD continually. I love you all. I want you to know that I pray for you and EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OK!!!!

So here is the news..I am staying in New Glasgow and Sister Drew is leaving to my home in Fredericton!!!!!!!! I am so happy for her but so sad that she is leaving me. My new companion will be Sister Christensen who was in a trio with Sister Turner and I for a little while. It will teach me a lot and help me grow and I am grateful. I know that my work here is not done and I am so excited because we are seeing such wonderful things happen!! Every time Sister Drew does something funny that drives me insane she just sings that song by (I can't remember) it goes - "you're gonna miss this...you're gonna want this back..." hahahaha she kills me. And I will miss her. 

We have the cutest investigator name Alyssia - she is 17 years old. We met her on the street one day and later that week we gave her a church tour and taught her the Restoration. She had a lot of question about heaven and hell and if the Atonement really can make up for any sin. I felt so happy when I was able to testify that Christ suffered and died for every sin..every mistake..every heartbreak or frustration. He covered it. And helping her see that no matter what she has done, no matter how low she has felt. Christ can walk with her through it. Baptism can cleanse her and help her turn a new page. We didn't get to meet with her this week but she has been texting us and asking for more passages in the Book of Mormon that she can read. She says that her life has felt so different, so peaceful since she has been reading and praying and visiting with us. It is such a beautiful thing to witness, the power of the Atonement changing peoples lives. 

The man I told you about last week - that we met on the bench - he loves being called Brother Edwards, we have had two amazing lessons with him. It is hard because he is very involved in his church. He works as the sound technician so he has to be there every week but he has opened up to us and has such a desire to learn. We invited him to be baptized and he said that he needed to think about it because all of this is so new to him. He wants a sure answer from God and we shared with him the scripture in 2 Nephi 28:30 that explains how we learn line upon line - wouldn't you want more wisdom from God if He was willing to give it to you? We are simply adding such amazing promises and knowledge to the truths that he already cherishes. Everything makes so much sense to him. He wants to change because of Jesus Christ. He wants to stop smoking, he wants to do what is right. I am so thankful that we get to help him. 

This week is going to be a crazy one. Lots of goodbyes and packing and hard work. It is starting to get a little bit cold again but I'm actually excited. BRING ON THE TORRENTIAL RAIN!!! I love new challenges and new experiences that make me grow. I am thankful that Heavenly Father knows me and knows that I needed this mission. This time to give my life - my heart and soul to Him and His great cause. The salvation of the human race. It is so important and I love it. I love all of you. I miss you and hope you have the best week ever. Talk to you l8er. BYYEEE 

And good luck on your mission Theo - you will be such an amazing light to all those you meet. 

Love, Sister Gochnour

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

"Who against hope believed in hope.." Romans 4:18

Dear all of you people that i love so much...

Hope you are having a really good day. I saw a momma deer and a baby deer so that was cute. "DK" (dessert king) Willy - I hope you had a great birthday. I love you and am so thankful to have a big brother like you. A small package should arrive this week..:) 

Today we are going to Cole Harbour for a visit with our sister training leaders..we are pretty excited for the road trip. And I will get to see the temple again and probably Sister Hendrickson..YAY!!!!

It has been a good week - nothing crazy has happened but we met a few amazing and interesting people of course. 

One man we met was named Brent. He was sitting on a bench as we walked by and we decided to talk to him. We walked over and he greeted us and mentioned that he was a christian. Then he preceded to tell us how he came to know Christ and how the past two years of his life - everything that he did was influenced by his knowledge of Jesus Christ. He has made a lot of mistakes in his life and though he has found a church he is comfortable in and his life is centered on Christ we could tell that there was a piece of his puzzle missing. 

Sister Drew and I testified to him of the Book of Mormon. We explained that we cannot convince anyone that the Book of Mormon, or anything that we say is true but God can. We simply invite people to read the Book of Mormon and to ask God if it is true. They are promised then, that they will receive an answer if they ask with a sincere heart and with real intent. They will come to know just like we know. He said that he would allow us to come to his home and share the Book of Mormon with him. Brent has truly been prepared by our Heavenly Father. He hopes that whatever is missing - whether he recognizes it now or not - can be found in this church. What a blessing it is to share this with him.

Two days later in almost the same exact spot we met Becky. 
Becky had three piercings on her lip,her eyes were dark & her head was down. 
She spoke quietly. 
We asked her if she was having a good day 
She replied that she wasn't. 
We invited her to learn more and asked her if she believed in God
She said that she did believe in God but that she was not interested because        she did not agree with organized religions. 
Sister Drew gave her a card to mormon.org and instead of trying to help her        see why she was wrong or why she needs this church..
We simply told her that God loves her so much. 
That he is aware of her and that she is here on earth for a reason. 
He has a divine and perfect plan for her. 

Then we left. 

Sister Drew looked back and told me that she was crying. 
I know that we met Becky for a reason. 
Even if she is not ready for this message right now
I will be forever grateful that we got to help her see that she matters. 
That she is loved by a perfect father & that she means something to the world. I believe that we gave her a tiny glimmer of HOPE.

This is what i have learned about this week. HOPE. 
In Romans we learn about Abraham and Sara - they were old and had not been able to have any children. But Abraham had been promised that he would be the 'father of many nations' and so he never doubted. The circumstances seemed less than ideal. We might have even thought it was impossible for them to have child but in 

Romans 4:18 it reads; "Who against hope believed in hope...
Abraham was full of hope and faith despite his situation. 

What an important lesson for each of us. 
I believe that I have faith. 
I have faith that the next person we talk to will be the one prepared person we have been searching for. 
I have faith that if we work hard we will see success. 
I have faith that the last door we knock on will be THE door..
But I'm not sure I always hope it will be. 
I often lack hope. 
That abiding trust in Heavenly Father's promises that Abraham had. 
I am thankful that because of Jesus Christ there is always HOPE. 
There is no place too dark, no trial to overwhelming, no weakness too overpowering when we have hope and faith in Jesus Christ. 
I love my Savior. I love the people we meet every day. 
I love the scriptures and all that they are teaching me.

Believe in HOPE. Hope for a better world. Hope that those who do not know God will come to know him. 
Hope that we will make it back to our heavenly home someday. 

I love you all. And I miss you. Thank you for letting me serve.

Love, Sister Gochnour
I learned a new braid :)

Monday, August 4, 2014

"whenever I get sad...I just stop being sad and start being AWESOME!"

Winner!!! not a chicken dinner but a LARGE STUFFED LEOPARD!? 
Hello - 

I sort of have a lot to say but not too much has happened this week. We received a lot of referrals that sadly did not turn into investigators. We are struggling to work with the branch but we so desire and need their help. We are happy and trying to eat healthy. Sister Drew and I are a little worried for transfers because we're not ready to leave each other or New Glasgow...but we will go where the Lord wants us to go. 

 AND I TRIED SUSHI!!! It was fine .. I don't need to ever eat it again but I was proud of myself for finally tasting it!

Heavenly Father taught me a lot of important lessons through others this week...He has placed such incredible people in my life and for that I will be forever grateful. 

     Katie sent me a letter, in it she quoted the talk by Elder Holland -- 
Missionary Work and The Atonement. He says, "As missionaries, we have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane..take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary, in order to better understand what Christ did for us." 
       That hit me hard. It is true, we will never be able to fully comprehend the pain, suffering and sadness Christ endured for you and me and everyone else who has lived or will yet live on the face of the earth. But i do grow to love my Savior more and more each time a door is slammed in our faces, when someone mocks the Book of Mormon or the Prophet Joseph Smith, when people hurry across the street to avoid us or when people laugh as we bear testimony and invite them to come unto Him. 
       These rejections are so small compared to what Christ went through. I'm thankful that each day I come to know Him and understand Him better. Each day I get to wear His name - on my heart. I am so thankful that I get to stand with my perfect Savior and testify that He lives! To know that He knows exactly what i am going through, exactly how I feel. 
      Elder Holland goes on to say, "I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are the Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our great and eternal head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him?" I am glad that this work requires effort, it requires our whole soul but because of Him - WE CAN DO HARD THINGS! I can't wait to get out and work again. To invite as many as I see to COME UNTO HIM and be saved. This is the best, hardest, most rewarding work in the world. I love it. 

   Then on a sisters conference call we had with President Leavitt he reminded us that we cannot be discouraged, even if all we are doing is finding. We cannot be sad. He told us that we are accomplishing much more than we think. He talked about Zion's Camp - simply the refiners fire for those early saints. So it is with our missions "you are being refined" - everything that I am experiencing, whether trial or joy is making me "fit for the kingdom" .. President said, "Let the work purify you. Let it make you a better person. This way Satan will have less power over you." He reminded us that every soul is great in the sight of God ( D&C 18:15) - you are precious to God. Your personal conversion matters so much to Him. 

There is the sweetest old man in the branch named Brother Hodder, his wife has been in a nursing home for several years. She has Alzheimer's, she can no longer talk or walk but he loves her so much. He drives 20 minutes there and back two times everyday just to be with her. To sit in her room and to see her smile. We went over Thursday night to sing to her. She can't respond but she did smile and Brother Hodder just sat there staring at her - thinking she was the most beautiful person he had ever seen. He loves her with the love that spans the eternities. It does not change with time or circumstance. It is such a beautiful thing and I am so thankful for his example. For his and miggy's (margaret) pure hearts and unchanging love for each other. 

Sara sent me a letter and told me how nana and papa went hiking with the family and on the way down they ran into them still pressing on - papa had tied a rope around nana and was pulling her up behind him. They were not going to give up. I am thankful for their love and the example they have set for me. Dad also sent me a sweet letter and told about your 30th wedding anniversary. He said, "mom is my best friend and makes me better every day" I am so thankful for your legacy of love. Each of you make me want to be a better person too :) 

We MUST have the Spirit in order for us to succeed. It is one of the greatest gifts of God. Papa told me of an amazing story from his mission. The importance of prayer and the Spirit - how he changed the course of an entire families lives - that influenced several generations to come - because he prayed and listened. In the letter he told me, "The most important thing in the mission field, is not baptism - it is having faith, being humble and forgiving, studying and praying, and being led by the Spirit in your mission and for the rest of your life." I am thankful for his wisdom. We all must learn to recognize the voice of the Spirit - prompting us to choose the right, to share the gospel, to serve your family members and friends, to go the extra mile and to say your prayers. I am so thankful that I get to learn more and more every day about what the Spirit's voice is like - though I do not follow its prompting perfectly I strive for the ability to do so - to never miss an opportunity to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord.

Sorry this is sooo long but I just love you all and wish we could talk for hours and hours on the phone about all of the things we are experiencing and all of the crazy emotions I feel in the space of a day...I am crazy. Thank you for teaching me and loving me and helping me feel the love that Heavenly Father has for me. Miss you to the moon and back (if that makes sense to miss you that much?)

Love, Sister G by the Sea

PS: Tell Robin and Victoria and Madeline that I am sooo thankful for the cute package and also a birthday shoutout to Joey Spafford. LOVE HIM!!!! Bye bye