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

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