Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Week To Remember

Hi everyone!! 

I was so happy to come home to snowy little Amherst!! We have seen the sun this week so don't worry!! I keep telling myself that Spring is right around the corner, it's just that the corner is REALLY LONG AND WIDE ;) 

On Tuesday Sister Renda and I get to travel to Dartmouth and attend a leadership session at the temple followed by another all day leadership meeting. This time it's going to be focused on "finding" and we are going to spend the whole day actually doing missionary work! That is exciting. Then we have General Conference which, as you know, is the BEST two days for a missionary, Sunday is Easter and we get to remember our Savior and His Resurrection PLUS Walter and Jeremy are getting baptized!!! They are so ready. Talk about a week "NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN"!! I am very grateful. 

Walter is excited and nervous. His friend Melinda, who introduced him to the church has come back into full activity and is doing so well. Yesterday during fast and testimony meeting I heard Walter whisper to Melinda, "I could never get up there, oh no, how do they do that?" Sister Renda stood up and said that though she has been on her mission for almost 18 months she still gets nervous standing up in front of everyone to bear her testimony. I think we all do. This week I learned something I will never forget. Heavenly Father has provided us with the amazing gift of the Spirit or the "COMFORTER" (John 14:26). However in order for us to access that power we have to go OUTSIDE of our comfort zone. I know that Heavenly Father can give us strength beyond our own - so don't be afraid to do something that scares you!! We had a profound lesson with Jeremy on Friday night. He was having a rough day and questioning a lot of things but not doubting. He still has dreams that he is doing the work for those who have passed on - he knows our message is true. But sometimes he feels that he is being torn down, broken up, and having to start ALL over. That is true, God knows what is best. 

I have heard this quote a lot on my mission and I shared it with him. "Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace." -CS Lewis. 

There were tears in his eyes when he realized that God was making him into something far greater than he could be on his own. He is looking forward to his baptism. We also got to teach the Gospel Doctrines class and the 3rd hour which was combined (for the 5th Sunday). We taught about the tree of life. What a beautiful parallel to missionary work. We must share this precious fruit! We must beckon our friends and family members, even strangers to partake of something that is "most joyous to the soul" - the Gospel of Jesus Christ - the Love of God! Though we had very little time to prepare (they told us about it when we arrived at church) - both lessons turned out very well. Missionary life always keeps us on our toes :)

I hope all of you have had a chance to watch the Easter initiative video #BecauseOfHim. It is so profound. We have been telling nearly everyone we see about it. I am grateful for my Savior and how I have come to know Him over the last several months. I feel Him so close. I know that He lives. I know this because I have felt the gentle promptings of the Spirit leading me and helping me along. I know He lives because when I bear testimony of Him my heart seems to burn within me. I know He lives because I have read about His Resurrection and the precious moments He spent with His children on the American continent. I know He lives because when I pray I feel that He is right there..listening. I hope that you will take time this week to reflect on your knowledge of our Savior and how you came to know that He lives. If you do not yet know - I encourage you to find out. Because He does and that knowledge will change your life forever. The possibilities are endless because He lives!! 

Happy 57th Anniversary Grandma and Grandpa! Thank you for your legacy of love and devotion. I love you! 
​Thank you for all of the letters and the constant prayers in my behalf. I love you all so very much!! Have a happy Easter.

Love, Sister G 

Grace and her Companions (body guards ;)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Missionary Madness in March...

Hey everyone! This has been quite the week. 

We have continually seen the hand of the Lord in our work. We found two new investigators this week, Jeremy came back and is doing so well. We are even moving his baptismal date up! Walter will be baptized in the next few weeks and despite the snow we are having SO much fun. 

On Monday we taught Joanie, she is a sweet lady that we talked to while we were phonebook contacting. We had such a powerful lesson with her. She lost her only son when he was 19, her husband passed away 4 years ago and she overcame cancer. For a long time she was angry at God but now all she wants is peace. We testified of the Spirit world and how close our loved ones are. She was so touched and so grateful. 

On Tuesday, Sister Renda and I traveled to Truro for our leadership meeting. It was a long meeting (9am - 6pm) but so valuable. We also had a lot of fun - we went on a "neighborhood walk" and ate Subway for lunch, Pizza for dinner, we had a plank challenge (they held it for 5 minutes!) and President gave out awards at the end of the meeting. I am very grateful for President Leavitt and the opportunities he provides us with to learn and to become faithful, devoted missionaries and leaders. He reminded us that we "are the light of the world" and that we must be a light to the missionaries we serve. When we attend a meeting like that we need to be forever changed. I learned a lot about the importance of gaining the trust of those that we serve. The difference between management and leadership. A manager is good at organization and "numbers" but a leader cares about the "one." People are who matter to true leaders. Christ was a perfect leader - I am working to study His pattern of leadership so I can implement it in my life. While we were gone, Sister Curtis worked with another missionary in Amherst and they found a new investigator. Michelle had been to church in Moncton once, she had the Book of Mormon and knew about Prophets. She is so prepared.

Wednesday it stormed and President asked me to travel to Fredericton for a week long exchange (due to a unique circumstance) SO HERE I AM!!! HOME AGAIN. It has been so fun to see the changes that have taken place since I was here (A WHOLE YEAR AGO AHH). I am so grateful for the people that I have met on my mission - I love them. I have also loved reflecting on the changes that I have made since I served here so long ago (well it feels so long..) I believe that I have a better understanding of my purpose and a deeper love for my Savior and for the people. I know that the Gospel can change them and that they need it. I know that it is important to be dignified and to remember who we represent. I am less fearful, more faithful. And I know that it is only because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ that these changes can come about in our hearts - what an incredible blessing!

This weekend was stake conference and Elder Wilson, from the Quorum of the 70, came and spoke. On Saturday night he talked about the iron rod and the importance of heeding the scriptures and "clinging" to the word of God. The adversary can have no power over us if we are continually holding to the iron rod with BOTH HANDS. To the youth he talked about the importance of gaining an education. We must do everything that we can to increase in wisdom and understanding. For our knowledge is all we can take with us. In order to lead happy, peaceful lives we must get all the education we can. So that we can better serve others. He told us to "reach for the stars." The theme on Sunday was Omni 1:26 "And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved." I love this scripture. Christ is the way. This is our purpose as missionaries and members - to come unto Christ with our whole souls and to invite others to do the same. We must be holy. We must live the higher law. We can be a "game-changer" if we choose to act TODAY. 

I am so grateful for the scriptures that provide refuge and safety from the world. I am grateful for our righteous and faithful leaders who help us find our way. I am grateful for God's perfect patience with us, His imperfect children. I am grateful for my Savior. I am grateful for modern miracles and the power of the Priesthood. I am grateful for all of you.

I love you :)
Love, Sister G  

Monday, March 16, 2015


Sister G and Sister Renda

Hello - sounds like the sun is shinning over there and Spring has arrived. Lucy even told me that she got a sunburn this week! We just happen to be buried in 3 feet of snow here...They call it a nor'easter. Basically it is an insane blizzard that apparently comes in the middle of March?? I'm not sure the snow will ever disappear. So sadly, church was cancelled yesterday. We were storm-stayed in our apartment ALL DAY. 

With three companions it was even more fun!! Sister Curtis arrived safely on Thursday morning. I love her. We were reminiscing on the good old days of the MTC, spilling milk all over my bright blue dress, walking to the temple, studying for what seemed like 14 hours every day, playing basketball or watching in my case. I miss it!! She is a great addition to our companionship. Sister Renda and I made her go running with us..she'll learn to love it eventually...hopefully. She is a good sport! 

We took some extra study time which I was really grateful for. Then we worked on our "My Family" booklets. I wrote down some of my memories of Dad calling us loudly to scripture study every morning and blasting his "Earth, Wind and Fire" CD on the way to and from our soccer games. I miss that. And mom ordering her meal at the drive-through window "to-go" and laughing so hard that we cry. Family History is the best!! We did phonebook contacting which actually proved to be a success. We received and contacted a referral. Set up two lessons and got 31 contacts!! People in Amherst are actually very friendly on the phone :) It was an exhausting, awesome day! Like President always says "we cannot be stopped!!"

Tomorrow Sister Renda and I are driving to Truro for an all day long, mission wide leadership meeting! Our mission is quite young now and President feels strongly that he needs to train each of us to be better, more effective leaders. I am excited. I know it will be an incredible, learning opportunity. I am looking forward to the Spirit that will be there. President is even flying the Newfoundland missionaries in so this is a big deal!! 

We taught Jeremy on Monday and Tuesday and then he wasn't there for our lesson on Wednesday. He disappeared and we have not been able to make contact with him since. We were also having a Facebook fast so we couldn't get a hold of him that way. We stopped by and called several times. Eventually we were able to talk to his mom who told us that he had gone out of town. We are praying that we will be able to resume teaching him as soon as he returns. Walter is doing so well! We are going to start team-teaching him with the elders. He has been reading the Book of Mormon every day! Unfortunately, since church was cancelled yesterday, we are going to have to push his baptismal date back but I have full confidence in him and in Heavenly Father. Everything will work out. 

I was feeling a little bit down this week due to several different things but yesterday when I was studying the Relief Society lesson from the teachings of the Prophet Ezra Taft Benson, I learned several things that brought me great peace. The chapter focused solely on Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer.

"Only Jesus Christ is uniquely qualified to provide that hope, that confidence, and that strength we need to overcome the world and rise above our human failings. To do so, we must place our faith in Him and live by His laws and teachings. …

Faith in Him is more than mere acknowledgment that He lives. It is more than professing belief.

Faith in Jesus Christ consists of complete reliance on Him. As God, He has infinite power, intelligence, and love. There is no human problem beyond His capacity to solve. Because He descended below all things (see D&C 122:8), He knows how to help us rise above our daily difficulties.

[Those who are] captained by Christ will be consumed in Christ. … Their will is swallowed up in His will. (See John 5:30.) They do always those things that please the Lord. (See John 8:29.) Not only would they die for the Lord, but, more important, they want to live for Him." 

When we turn out and remember our Savior. When we think of others rather than ourselves, that is when we find joy, and peace. Christ is the reason!! He is everything to me and I am so grateful for His Atonement - the greatest act of love in all human history. I know that He can give us rest. I know that we must remain valiant in our testimony of Him and that we must share it with others. I know that it is so important for each of us to be willing to LIVE for Him!! Every day. Have faith that He will lead you safely home. 

I love you all. Mom, good luck with your gift show! I know it will be a great success. You are my hero. HAPPY BIRTHDAY LUCY!!! Thank you for being the best little sister anyone could ask for. You are a light in my life. I am thankful for your strength. I am grateful for your testimony! I can't believe you are 18 - stop growing up so fast! I love you!!

Have a happy week!
Love, Sister G

Throwback to the MTC pictures!


There are a lot of cars stuck in snow..

Monday, March 9, 2015

Walking through Walls

I DON'T KNOW HOW IT IS POSSIBLE FOR THE WEEKS TO KEEP GETTING BETTER BUT THEY DO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are staying in Amherst!!!!!!!!!!!! And we reached the silver standard this week!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Sister Renda and I are going to be getting another companion, Sister Curtis (my MTC comp) and two elders are coming to Amherst as well. One will be the 2nd councillor in the branch presidency and the other, branch clerk. It will be nice to have them - yesterday I was the organist for sacrament meeting - yes ME (don't worry it is an electric piano, I just had to press the buttons..) And Sister Renda and I, at the last minute were asked to conduct relief society and teach young womens! If only we could be in two places at once..it all worked out! It's going to be an incredible transfer and yes mom we have been running EVERY morning (except Sunday of course). I can't believe it! We are hoping Sister Curtis likes to run..and yes daylight savings as a missionary :/ I'm not sure if it is easier or harder. When our alarm went off at 6:10 yesterday morning I literally thought that we had just laid our heads on our pillows. It was so strange but luckily our schedule makes adjusting pretty easy. 

Last week we fasted as a zone that we would be able to find new investigators. The Sunday after the fast (not yesterday but the Sunday before) Sister Renda and I were knocking. NO ONE wanted to talk. We hardly said our names before they shut the door in our faces. I wondered in my mind if we were supposed to be there. Two doors later we knocked into Jeremy. He told us that his faith was lacking. That he had a lot of questions about the purpose of life and couldn't understand why bad things have to happen. We had previously invited a member to write her testimony in a Book of Mormon, which we gave to him and invited him to read Alma 34. The next day we called to FOLLOW UP and he told us that he had read the whole chapter plus 30 pages of first Nephi and he loved it. We taught him on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday - Friday and Saturday and Sunday  and we are teaching him TODAY!

 At the first few lessons he was pretty skeptical. We answered his questions but the answers didn't even satisfy him because he didn't understand who God was. After the second lesson, I was a little bit frustrated. We hadn't really been able to teach much because of all of his questions. He had told us that he was at rock bottom and I so badly wanted him to realize what we were offering him. We had committed him to do a simple thing "ask God if he loves you. Don't say ANYTHING else. Just ask that simple question. We promise that you will receive a specific answer." When we returned on Wednesday his entire countenance had changed!! He actually looked happy. We told him that we were not going to answer any questions until we taught the full restoration and he listened intently. The spirit was so strong. Finally he shared his experience and how he had received an answer, He knows that God loves him!!! Keep in mind that he hadn't prayed for years so that was an act of faith. He told us that he had never slept better in his life, that he had an incredible dream and that he woke up smiling. It has been the most amazing week teaching him - he is so anxious to learn. He loves the Book of Mormon and wants to be baptized on April 18th. This experience confirmed several profound things that I've learned about God. I do know that the power of His love can transform us. It can change our nature!! I am so happy.

Walter is still seeing good things in his life and he is happy. He came to church and when we taught him the word of wisdom this week we learned that coffee was his only setback. He had given up smoking on January 1st and the smell of it now made him sick and he gave up drinking a year ago and was never going to do it again. Then he mentioned that coffee had started giving him heart burn so he was planning to quit anyway!! Again, God's love can change our nature. He is so amazing!! Walter talks about how faith in Jesus Christ can almost make us invincible - so that we can "walk through walls." He used to be a heavy weight lifting champion and it is funny when he tells us about his younger years when he thought he could do anything..he got into a lot of trouble. Now he sees that only keeping the commandment and having faith can give us that power. 

I am so thankful to be here. It amazes me how much Heavenly Father wants to bless us. No wonder sharing the gospel is a commandment - Heavenly Father wants us to be happy!!! I hope all of you realize how blessed we are to be surrounded by people who love us and encourage us to be our best, We are so blessed to have the truthfulness of the Gospel in our lives. We are so blessed to know that our Savior lives and is leading our church today. 

Tell Emma Hi - she looks darling, and thank you Natalie for your email and thank you to Dad, and Nana & Papa for their letters ! They make me so happy. Wow and so happy for Jordyn and Taylor - engaged!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY RALPH!! I hope you have the best day. Thanks for being such an incredible example. I love you big brother!!

Love you so much. Have a happy week. 
Love, Sister Gochnour

Monday, March 2, 2015

"Thank you for loving me enough to cut me down..."

hi happy family!! 

I am so happy that all is well at home. It is good to be busy. Here it seems that the days are all meshed together - time is moving too quickly and I often can't keep up. But I am so grateful to be here - anxiously engaged and BUSY doing the Lord's work.

This week was one I will never forget. Sometimes when we drive home at night and I think about all of the incredible things that took place during the day I wonder "Why is Heavenly Father doing this? Why is He blessings us SO much when I don't feel that we deserve it?" Last night while I thought this - I also thought about the importance of daily good choices. We can't realize the difference that we are making in our lives as we strive simply to do good things every day. Strive to read the scriptures and pray. To be kind, to follow the Spirit, to help someone in need. That is why Heavenly Father blesses us - He notices our righteous actions no matter how big or small. 

So WALTER CAME TO CHURCH!! He is doing so well. He went to the doctor this week and told him how he had been smoke free for 59 days and then said to his doctor, "Do you want to know how? I prayed to Heavenly Father" His desire to smoke has completely left him. He wore his nice white shirt, a tie, and his leather jacket to church and really enjoyed himself. His reading has improved significantly - when we first invited him to read the Book of Mormon he told us that he had never read a real book in his life. As he has acted in faith and tried to read - the power of God has helped him. He tells us that he has a long way to go and he knows that but normally he would feel like giving up - this time is different. He knows this is right and he will not give up. Every time we see him he tells us how good he feels. The only word he can think of to describe the experiences he's had since we started teaching him is "WOW" and his friend Melinda who was previously less active, is so excited about the progress she has seen in him. She bears testimony during our lessons and encourages him throughout the week when we are not around. He knows that this is his chance to start over and to live the life he always wanted to. His baptism is scheduled for March 21st. I am so grateful for him. 

I love Amherst, transfers are coming and it is hard not knowing what will happen. I'm not sure I am ready to leave. 

This week we had a skype study with the sisters in our zone, We each prepared a 5 minute talk and shared them during the call. As I pondered about what I needed to say, "the will of God" kept consuming my thoughts. Interesting how Heavenly Father was preparing me. 

President Ezra Taft Benson said. "The great task of life is to learn the will of the Lord, and then do it." Throughout my mission and my life I have always wanted to do what Heavenly Father wanted me to do. There are many times in our lives when we feel that we know what is best for us. We want answers or blessings that are contrary to the will of God and so, if those answers or those blessings do not come in the way we wanted them to. We are disappointed and we allow our faith to weaken. I have learned very clearly again and again that God knows what is best. We must seek His will and His guidance and then submit our will to it. That is how we can be truly happy. There is a mormon message entitled "The Will Of God"  (link included) 

It describes a current bush who was big and strong but had produced no fruit. So the gardener trimmed him down and cut off all of his branches. The current bush cried and asked the gardener "how could you do this to me? I was doing so well, why would you cut me down? The gardener explains that he is the gardener and he knows what is best for the bush. Eventually when the little current bush brought forth great fruit and grew bigger and stronger than ever before he was able to look back and say to the gardener "thank you for loving me enough to cut me down." Heavenly Father is the master gardener in each of our lives. He will help us become far greater than we could ever be on our own. I am so grateful to know that He loves me and allows me to face trials and disappointments so that He can build me up and make me better, so I can do His will and become His servant. SO I CAN BE HAPPY because that is all He wants for each of us. 

I really couldn't be happier. 
I love you all. 
Love, Sister G