Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Into the green wood...punny

"Rubber Duck" saying good bye to Melinda, Walter, Debi & Sarah

Hi family!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Transfer week is always sooo crazy. I was a tiny bit stressed (unless you ask Sister Curtis she'd probably say my hair is going to start falling out again...) There just seemed to be 85 thousand things to do and I didn't feel like we were focusing on the MOST important things. That added more to my stress but it all worked out. It's a new week. Saying goodbye was also challenging. I sort of felt like I was back in Fiji - our last day together in the village we sang "God Be With You Till We Meet Again" and we all cried knowing that the next time we saw them really might be at Jesus' feet, yet those people had left such an impact on my life. I am more likely to see the members in Amherst again but it won't ever be the same. Walter talked about seeing me on the other side and how great that will be. He said, "I'll be waiting for you!" :)

I made it in one piece to the transfer van on Thursday and we drove to the temple. In there I found peace. After that, Sister Tegge and I drove a few more hours in the pouring rain to GREENWOOD! I was exhausted..I'm still exhausted but it's nice to get back to the regular routine of things. 

We live in a cute yellow house (apartment) on the middle of a country road. The branch has about 50 people who come out regularly. They haven't had sisters in over 5 years so they are all very happy to have us and they feed us A LOT!! Sister Tegge is great. I love her and I think we will have fun together. She has made me a green smoothie every morning so far - and german pancakes our first day together. I am lucky! :) 

It is exciting to be in a new place with new people. For some reason I feel more brave. I feel like everyone needs to hear about the Book of Mormon. And even if they don't feel like listening I am going to tell them anyway..until they walk away or shut the door (which happens occasionally and that's fine) We are going to see miracles this transfer, I know it! 

Yesterday there was a a broadcast from Salt Lake to several of the stakes in this area. I particularly liked Elder Andersen's talk about standing as witnesses of Christ and being a "light to the world." He said that our willingness to stand as a witness of Christ will become more and more important in the days to come. Less and less people are believing in God and Jesus Christ and the numbers are continually declining. It is sad but we know what these people need. He talked about several simple things we can do to FAITHFULLY STAND FOR CHRIST - these are a few points I got out of it:
  • Acknowledge God's hand more openly in your life (in your daily conversations)
  • Keep the commandments so that you can radiate more light
  • Listen to the promptings of the Spirit when you seek to share the gospel
  • Pray to be an answer to someone's prayer
  • Use social media to share how knowing Christ has helped you become who you are
  • Have the faith to let your light shine!
I am so grateful for the light that has come into my life through living the gospel and I am also grateful that we have been called to share that light so that others can be happy too. We are preparing the world for the return of our Savior and we must not take that responsibility lightly. 

I love you all to the moon and back several times. Thanks for bringing light to my life.

Love, Sister G  

Monday, April 20, 2015

"Do you love me?"

SOoo this is it..I'm leaving Amherst. 

I have been transferred to Greenwood, Nova Scotia. It has only been opened for sisters for 1 transfer so I really know nothing about it. It's in the valley which is beautiful. There is a small branch there. A military base..and I'll find out what else on Thursday. I have been released as a Sister Training Leader and am excited to get back to regular missionary work!! My companion will be Sister Tegge!! My OTHER MTC companion!! We were just really meant to be together :)

Yesterday, Walter, Jeremy, and Connor received the Priesthood. Next week they will be able to pass the sacrament!! I was invited to bear my testimony in sacrament meeting. It was a sweet moment for me. It made my heart ache a little when I looked at the teary eyes of the members I have grown to love so much. They really are amazing people. It's hard to say goodbye but what a blessing to have had these experiences. To have met these people who will remain in my heart forever. I'll miss the Pettigrew's two little chubby dogs who remind me so much of Duke. I'll miss dinner with Debi every Tuesday. I'll miss our apartment which is the "Taj Mahal" of apartments. Our neighbors who tease us about everything. Teaching our one student, Marissa, in seminary. I'll miss the snow. The church bells that ring so loudly downtown. And so much more. But change is good. There are always GOOD things to come in the gospel of Jesus Christ. "The Lord has a plan for us in this life. He knows us. He knows what is best for us. Just because things are going well does not mean that we should not from time to time consider whether there might be something better." (Carlos A. Godoy)

Our "hour of power" has been going well. We are working on NOT "taking the Book of Mormon lightly" so we have been sharing the Restoration pamphlet and teaching about the first vision with those we meet. It is amazing to me the Spirit that is present when we bear testimony of that sacred day in the grove. How fortunate we are to have the RESTORED TRUTH that is contained in the Book of Mormon, all because Joseph Smith decided to kneel down and ask God a simple, heartfelt question. 

This week we listened to my all time favorite talk "The First Great Commandment" by Elder Holland. It is so powerful. Elder Holland recounts the moment when Christ asks Peter three times "Do you love me?" and then teaches him to "feed His sheep." 

This is what stood out to me this time - "My beloved brothers and sisters, I am not certain just what our experience will be on Judgment Day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us exactly what Christ asked Peter: “Did you love me?” I think He will want to know if in our very mortal, very inadequate, and sometimes childish grasp of things, did we at least understand one commandment, the first and greatest commandment of them all—“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.”13 And if at such a moment we can stammer out, “Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee,” then He may remind us that the crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty." 

I hope the way I live truly reflects my love for my Savior. When that day comes I hope He will know that I love Him because I was loyal to Him every day of my life - even when it was hard. 

I love you!!! I hope you have a great week. 
Love, Sister G 

Pictures -
The sugar woods :) I'm sending you home some maple butter!! 

Monday, April 13, 2015

S.P.R.I.N.G. FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hiii people! I hope are having a lovely day. 

The sun is finally melting the snow - it's a wonderful thing!! 

Our little branch is doing so well. On Sunday Jeremy, Walter and Connor were all confirmed members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At the end of the sacrament meeting our branch president, President Brogan, invited all three of them to bear their testimonies. (Walter had told Melinda in the car on the way to church that if he were asked to speak, he would pass out..) They were all very nervous but they did such a good job. It was sweet to hear them bear their simple, sincere testimonies of how the Gospel has changed their lives. Walter didn't pass out luckily and Jeremy, with tears in his eyes, thanked us for knocking on his door that cold evening in March. It has been an amazing privilege to see how their natures have changed. Just like the words which King Benjamin spoke, they have no more desires to do evil but to do GOOD continually. <Mosiah 5:2 "And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.">

The missionary spirit has caught hold and inspired the members here to be anxiously engaged - it is so exciting to see. We found two new investigators this week through MEMBER REFERRALS! The first is Nikita, she is Connor's "friend that's a girl." She prayed to ask Heavenly Father which church she needed to join and right after that Connor invited her to his baptism. She came and ended up staying for both sessions of general conference. She loved it and felt the Spirit. Nitika is an incredible person, she has been through a lot in her life and has a strong desire to follow Christ. She is on date for baptism for April, 25!! And then last night as we were out knocking on doors, Melinda texted us and told us that her friend Bill is interested in taking the discussions and that she wanted us to come over at 7:45 pm to teach him. She is on fire!! We had a great lesson with Bill, he wants to know what happens after we die. I felt the Spirit testify to me and to Bill that the Plan that God has for our lives is perfect and complete.  There is life after death. We will see our loved ones again and they are so much closer than we think. I know without a doubt that there are angels round about us - bearing us up. 

This week we decided to start the "HOUR OF POWER". For one hour every day (5-6 pm), both companionships in Amherst (us and the elders) go knocking. The goal is to consecrate ourselves and boldly invite others to come unto Christ, by being baptized. We have a goal to extend 16 baptismal invitations by the end of this week. It is important to FEAR NO MAN. We love these people, we want them to be happy, we want them to receive a fullness of all that our Father has and in order for them to do so WE NEED TO INVITE THEM! The hour of power inspires us to do this, to work with a greater sense of urgency and conviction. How great is our calling!! I'll let you know how it goes :) 

I have been reading about one of my Book of Mormon heroes NEPHI (the son of Heleman). Each time I read this I am amazed by his diligence. He was such a powerful instrument in the hands of God. We can learn much from his faithful example. Despite the wickedness and pride that engulfed the people around him, he never wavered. On his way home from what was probably a frustrating day of missionary work, and no one listening to a word he said. God comforts Nephi with these words, "Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments. And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will." 

He continues in verse 12. "And behold, now it came to pass that when the Lord had spoken these words unto Nephi, he did stop and did not go unto his own house, but did return unto the multitudes who were scattered about upon the face of the land, and began to declare unto them the word of the Lord which had been spoken unto him, concerning their destruction if they did not repent."

Nephi had a great desire to serve God. He wanted to be obedient to the commandments of God and so, when asked to return to the group of wicked Nephites - he did not take a break and rest at his house for a little while to regain his strength and energy. He immediately turned around and with UNWEARYINGNESS declared repentance. President Ezra Taft Benson said, " When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power." I know that to be true. I would encourage each of you to examine your lives and the way that you serve God? How can you make absolute obedience YOUR QUEST?

I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that when we love God enough to obey Him - HE GIVES US POWER TO ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS. We can overcome the world and stand fast in the faith FOREVER!!

Know that I miss you and love you SOO much!!
Thank you for cheering me on!!!! 

Love, Sister Gochnour

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Profound Peace

Cleaning the Font
Hi family!! 

It sounds like you are having a GREAT spring break!! Disneyland and the Duke game - WOW!

I don't know where to start. This week was SO incredible. On Tuesday we went to the temple. It seemed that the adversary was actively striving to keep us from the temple. We woke up at 4 in the morning and left at 5 on our 2 1/2 hour drive to the temple - the session was at 8. HUGE snowflakes were falling fast, the wind was blowing and the roads were very slick and dangerous (#winterinthemaritimes). I was saying a silent prayer nearly the whole drive there. We made it just in time. I can't express the joy and the peace that I felt as I sat in the Celestial room with so many faithful missionaries. It was a slice of Heaven and I felt like my heart would burst. As I prayed, I felt great peace and hope in the future, I felt an assurance that I am where I am supposed to be. I felt that our Savior was close to us. That He works side by side us every day as we invite others to come unto Him. That was one of my favorite talks in conference. Hearing President Monson testify of the profound peace that comes from attending the temple. WE NEED THE TEMPLE.

The rest of the week was busy and exciting as we prepared for the three baptisms on Sunday. Easter morning the sun was shining - I loved reading the account of Christ's resurrection in the gospels of Luke and John during companionship study. What a truly glorious and sacred day it was. Sister Renda had spent the morning baking cinnamon rolls for the linger longer, the whole apartment was filled with the smell of sweet cinnamon. Jeremy and Walter and Connor looked great and nervous. After an amazing first session of Conference, the baptism began. The Spirit was strong as my companions sang the primary song "When I Am Baptized" and I thought back to that day, several years ago when Jordyn and I sat together in the stake center the night that we entered into that covenant with God. That was the happiest day of my life. Everything went smoothly, besides the large spider that crawled across the font while Walter was being baptized that made a few people scream..After the baptisms, Jeremy and Walter were so happy. I could see their countenances filled with light. They both have such great hope and faith in the future and I am so excited to see what the Lord has in store for them.

It was a day I will never forget, nor will I forget all of the miracles we witnessed leading up to that day. I have seen the hand of Lord through every footstep, every moment - HE IS THERE.

I loved so many of the talks from Conference. It is almost impossible to choose a favorite - when Sister Curtis asked me this morning which I liked best I basically went through all of them and told her what I learned..they are ALL my favorite!! The greatest feelings I had were deep gratitude for my Savior and for a living Prophet. My desire to defend the Church and those who lead us. The importance of FAMILY. The joy of gaining spiritual knowledge and so many more. 

My favorite quote - 
Nelson Mandela "A saint is a sinner who keeps on trying." It's so true. And luckily because of the Atonement we can keep trying. Over and over again. I am so grateful THAT HE LIVES. 

Study the talks. Apply them. And you will be happy.

I love you all soo much!! I hope you have the best week.

Love, Sister G 

Me and Sister Renda 
Sister Hoy and me
Walter, Alan and Melinda and me
April in Amherst