Monday, December 29, 2014

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

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.

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...


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.


Love, Sister g

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


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